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Headphones to Fit Your Budget and Needs
Looking for a new set of headphones? Here at Retrevo we have listed some of our picks of headsets for any budget or setting (at the office, in your home, or on the go). Oh, and don’t forget a pair of headphones could make a welcome gift for someone you know of even for yourself this holiday season.

Before we go into our picks for a few of our favorite headphones, we just want to clear up some of the differences you will find between sets. We think it pretty much boils down to whether they are open-ear, closed-ear, or noise-canceling – each offering their own advantage. Open-ear headphones, such as the Grado sr225i's, have open space around the driver, which generally provide a good soundstage and a more ‘natural’ sound – you feel very connected to the music being played. The downsides to these are that they leak sound both in and out the headset, which means that sound from the set can be heard in the room and ambient sound can be heard while wearing the headphones. Closed-ear headphones, such as the Sennhesier HD448's, offer superior noise-cancellation to open-ear headphones. They also have the advantage of not leaking sound, which means you can blast your tunes at a pretty high volume without disturbing someone close by but they can also be less comfortable to wear for long periods. Noise-canceling headphones, which are closed-ear include a microphone and electronic signal processor to ‘cancel out’ incoming sound waves and provide a better contrast between your music and outside noise. Noise canceling headphones like the Bose QuietComfort are very popular among frequent fliers with their ability to block out the sound of a jet engine just meters from your seat.

The amount you spend on headphones should be reflected in the quality of music you listen to. There is little point in getting a pair of $200 headphones if you’re planning on streaming from Pandora. To help get an understanding of the varying degrees of audio quality let’s look at a simple CD-ROM, one of the accepted standards of audio today. The quality of your CD rip can generally be broken down into lossless or lossy audio. Lossless audio, such as the Free Lossless Audio Codec (commonly known as .FLAC) is an exact copy of the music on a CD, with as much detail as possible. Lossy formats such as .mp3 compresses this lossless audio into a smaller file. You will find this type of lossy music across the web and is used in iTunes, YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, and pretty much any other audio site around. The difference between lossy and lossless can normally be detected if you have the ears and proper equipment. A nice set of headphones (any of the ones in the budget category) will help to appreciate the increased fidelity in this music. Many people opt to pay more for headphones for increased ‘soundstage’ or a perceived increase in fidelity. It is worth noting that many people cannot really tell the difference between audio files (as shown here), but I personally believe audio is good enough when you can imagine the instruments playing right in front of you.

Budget Headphones
We’ll start off by talking about the headphones that will give you the best performance for your dollar, let’s say a hundred bucks or less. Throughout the audiophile community, the Grado sr60i or sr80i’s are often considered the best budget headphones on the market and combine a natural, open design with some great drivers which are accurate and durable. However, these sets are known for leaking out so much sound that it becomes a nuisance for people nearby. Buy these if you plan on listening alone in your room, otherwise the Sennhesier HD448's could be a better choice.
Mid range Headphones
The quality of headphones tends to increase drastically as you go past the $100 mark, with some fantastic sets arising. The best choice in this category comes down to personal preference, which can be a very discerning thing as you get into the audiophile scene. A great set (and my current favorites) for an open-ear set are the Sennheiser HD595's, which are on open set that render music very accurately - though there have been rumors that they use the same drivers as the lower-end HD555’s. Other good choices are the Grado sr225i's and the AKG 70 "Whites" – both of which are fantastic sets to own as well.
Noise-Canceling Headphones

Bose is the name that will often come up when talking about noise cancellation, as their QuietComfort series has gained notable popularity in the past years. Now, most “audiophiles” are less complimentary about Bose, claiming uses cost saving manufacturing processes although their noise-canceling headphones are actually quite good as the Quiet Comforts do block out a good deal of sound, which truly is the purpose of them. If you are looking for noise-canceling headphones that offer the best of both worlds, perhaps check out the Sennheiser MM 550's, which also include the cool (but limited) Bluetooth playback feature.
Earbuds
In this category we will go ahead and only talk about sub-50 dollar sets. While there are definitely some high-end in-ear headphones out there, We feel that earbuds are great when you’re on the go or working out, but fall short when compared to full-sized sets. Sennheiser makes some great earbuds, including the CX300's and the CX500’s. These offer surprisingly good sound, great comfort, and some effective sound isolation.

Headphones for an Unlimited Budget

If you got the cash to burn and the ears to appreciate it, throw down for the Sennheiser HD800's, often considered the best headphones around. The Grado PS1000's aren’t a bad choice either...


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Nice article, will use this

Nice article, will use this as a reference on my next headphone reference!