Headphones: Ratings of Sources
Total of 18 Sources
For an explanation of how we rank reviews, see our ratings criteria page.
Best 5 Headphones
by Justin Yu
Our AssessmentCNET's Justin Yu lists the site's top choices of headphones of various types, and links lead to lists of top choices among specific types of headphones. Bose QuietComfort 15 is the top noise-canceling choice, and its sibling the QuietComfort 3 performs well in both this category and overall. Koss PortaPro headphones are a reasonably priced and well-reviewed set landing both on the best portable and best budget lists; it earns an Editors' Choice award. Reviews on CNET have good uniformity of testing, with comparisons often made with other models.
by Editors of Which?
Our AssessmentThis British consumer advocacy magazine and website rates 56 sets of headphones, choosing 19 as Best Buys. Its listening panel rates sound quality, sound leakage, comfort, fit, ease of use and noise-canceling abilities (if applicable).
How to Buy the Right Headphones
by Tim Gideon
Our AssessmentThis buying guide describes different types of headphones and earphones and offers general advice; links to individual reviews are included. Reviews from the last few years compare models with others, though some models have been discontinued. The Denon AH-D1100 headphones win the Editors' Choice award for sub-$200 headphones; the Bowers & Wilkins P5 takes the site's Editors' Choice for more expensive headsets. For noise-canceling headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 15 is the Editors' Choice recipient. The 5-star Grado GS1000s are not only still an Editors' Choice more than three years later, they're also possibly "the greatest-sounding headphones ever made," the review notes.
by Editors of PC World (Australia)
Our AssessmentWhile this site's list of the top five headphones is dated, links to lots of current reviews can be found on this landing page. Collecting 4.5-star (out of 5) scores in Hi-Fi headphones are: the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700, BeyerDynamic DT 880, Bose QuietComfort 2, Creative Labs Aurvana X-Fi Noise-Canceling and Sennheiser HD 800. In portable headphones, the Koss KSC75 takes the definitive lead with a perfect 5-star rating.
by Dan Frakes
Our AssessmentMacworld keeps a running list of headphones, with ratings and links to full reviews. Comparisons are frequently made, but sometimes you have to search to find the Editors' Choice picks as they're not marked on the ratings page. Most of the site's reviews are of earbuds, which are covered in a separate ConsumerSearch report. The Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Hi-Fi headphones earn 4.5 out of 5 mice, and Dan Frakes calls them "as well-rounded a portable product as I've seen" for outside-the-ear-canal models. They are the only headphones to score so well.
Reviews: Headphones & Earphones
by Editors of iLounge.com
Our AssessmentILounge.com reviews iPod and iPhone accessories, including headphones and earphones. Write-ups done by Editor-in-Chief Jeremy Horwitz are detailed, though some older reviews are less so and some first-look reviews are specification rather than testing based. Reviewers take looks and sound quality into consideration. Several models get an A rating, including the AKG K701 for sound quality and comfort. In more recent reviews, the V-Moda Crossfade M-80 (and its identical sibling, the V-80) and the Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Canceling Headphones each score a B+ grade, though for different reasons -- the QuietComfort 15 is more effective, but the M-80/V-80 is a better value. The Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Hi-Fi rates a B.
Best Buys Headphones
by Editors of What Hi-Fi?
Our AssessmentBritish audio enthusiast magazine What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision has up-to-date reviews of many types of audio equipment, including headphones. Reviews are of varying length. A Best Buys section lists top models in various categories of headphones. The site awards Best Buy ratings to the Audio-Technica ATH-ES55, Grado SR80i, Grado SR325is, Audio-Technica ATH-W1000X, BeyerDynamic T1 and Bose QuietComfort 15 in different price and category divisions for their 2010 ratings (the 2011 selections were yet to be made when we last looked).
by Editors of Laptop Magazine
Our AssessmentReview quality on this site, which specializes in mobile devices, is uneven. Reviews prior to 2007 aren't given the same full treatment as newer reviews. The headphone reviews category lists only 16 models, but you'll find older reviews if you search by model name. The Bose QuietComfort 15 gets an Editors' Choice award for comfort, clear sound and ability to actively block out ambient noise. A short review of the Denon AH-NC800 headphones also gives them high praise and 4 out of 5 stars (like the Bose).
Test: Noise Canceling Headphones
by Matthew Steen
Our AssessmentSimilar to ConsumerReports.org in the U.S., this Australian site rigorously tests 14 noise-canceling headphones. Editors give scores for comfort, ease of use, passive and active noise cancellation and sound quality. The Bose QuietComfort 15 and QuietComfort 3 are recommended, noted for being comfortable and performing well with active noise reduction. Testers frown on their prices, though. One of the site's top picks is discontinued.
by Contributors to Amazon.com
Our AssessmentHeadphones are a popular item, and some models get hundreds of user reviews on Amazon.com. With hundreds of reviews, consider ratings carefully; even half a star can be statistically significant. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Studio Monitor Headphones receives the highest overall user rating, based on feedback from over 200 owners. This is a great place to spot complaints, such as persistent issues with comfort or build quality. It's also a good place to look for reviews on products with a lot of press hype.
by Contributors to AudioReview.com
Our AssessmentThis website, which is popular among audiophiles, invites user ratings. Older headphone models receive more reviews, but top picks change frequently as more reviews are added. Some reviews are more helpful than others, especially those that include comparisons with other models. Users here often echo pros and cons discussed at Amazon.com.
by Editors of Tech2.com
Our AssessmentThis Indian technology news and reviews site does a fair number of headphones reviews. The Philips SHL 5002 wins gadget of the year for 2010 in headphones with a 9 out of 10 rating. Scoring well since then: the Audio-Technica ATH-M50 (7.5 out of 10) and Sennheiser HD518 (8.5).
Review of the Top 10 Best Headphones
by Editors of HiFi Headphones
Our AssessmentBritish headphones seller HiFi Headphones lists its top 10 in-ear, on-ear and hi-fi (audiophile) headphones, with three or four models recommended in each category. Reviews of each model are only a few paragraphs, but editors situate each model well with respect to the competition.
by Editors of ConsumerReports.org
Our AssessmentConsumerReports.org covers headphones in two categories, stereo headphones and noise-canceling headphones, though some earphones are mixed in too. Ratings evaluate sound quality, sensitivity and, in the case of noise-canceling models, isolation. There's scant explanation of the headphone models themselves. Sony's MDR-NC500D takes the top score in the noise-canceling category, while the Grado SR80i takes the standard stereo category, followed closely by the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Hi-Fi.
Shootout: 93 Portable Headphones Reviewed
Our AssessmentHead-Fi.org has forums where users can post their opinions of headphones. Here, user "ljokerl" compares 93 portable headphones, divided by price. In their respective categories, the reviewer picks the Koss KSC75, Sennheiser PX100 (now replaced by the Sennheiser PX 100-II), AKG K81DJ and M-Audio Studiophile Q40. Each model receives a write-up, including scores on a variety of factors and the reasoning behind each. For a one-writer nonprofessional review, this collection is reasonably complete.
by Editors of OnHeadphones.com
Our AssessmentThis online magazine gives ratings with pros, cons and a bottom line. Editor's Choice designations don't appear on summary pages; you have to pull up the full review to know if a model got picked. Recent Editor's Choice selections include the Sony MDR NC500D and Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Hi-Fi. The Grado SR80i, Sennheiser PX200 Mini and Sennheiser PXC 350 score a high 4.5 out of 5 stars, but are listed as Staff Recommend picks (something that seems to be awarded to nearly every review) rather than an Editor's Choice. The site's reviews are quite positive across the board and it sells headphones through affiliate programs.
by Bill Keyser
Our AssessmentBill Keyser sells headphones. However, he provides multiple comparisons, which can be helpful when choosing between models. The Grado SR80i is touted all over the site as his favorite value headphones, in part due to its strong bass response. For budget portables Koss PortaPro headphones are recommended, mainly because of comfort; the Ultrasone HFI-580 is his top pick for closed earphones, while the Grado PS1000 is his favorite professional-grade headphone.
HeadRoom's 10 Best Headphones
by Editors of HeadRoom
Our AssessmentAlthough HeadRoom only rates headphones it sells, editors give useful overviews based on technical testing (though they tend to push other products they sell like amplifiers and cables). They're impressed with the detail of the AKG K702 headphones and the Denon AH-D1001K and AH-D2000, though the Sennheiser HD 650 also gets a 5-star rating for sound quality. The Grado SR60i is also recommended because it offers great value for quality listening. In separate reviews, Sennheiser's PX 100-II and AKG's K702 receive accolades. Recommendations for 2011 are yet to be posted.