In an ever-expanding public world, it’s soothing to sometimes create our own personal cocoon of music amongst the noise of everyday life. It’s a singular element with which we have complete control over, altering our perception of the world, easing each and every one of us through our day to day lives. And while this may sound a bit pie-in-the-sky, several scientific studies have indicated that habitual music indulgence actually relaxes our muscles, improves our overall mood, and even goes as far as reducing blood pressure and anxiety – a big plus in our cubicle-driven society. It stands to reason then, that the market for headphones is full of options for the curious listener.
Much like the music itself, different types of headphones are better suited for specific environments and activities than others. For instance, the perks of a pair of running earbuds may not be the best option for the office and vise versa. Much like a pair of travel headphones, which often boast noise canceling technology, wouldn’t be the best pair for say the gym where a close quarters, potentially dangerous environment necessitates your ability to hear what others are attempting to communicate. It is for these reasons that purchasing the right pair of headphones could, in fact, become stressful in its own ironic right. So, we decided to take matters into our own hands, offering both an editor’s pick (our favorite) as well as an option for those with budgetary concerns in mind for five different scenarios that occupy most of our waking hours. They’re the best headphones for every occasion, making it easier for you to turn on, tune in, and drop out in style.
Much like any other heart-pumping activity, music is a must to get you amped and ready to hit the trails, the track, or just for a freestyle run through the local ‘hood. And just like a quality pair of running shoes, headphones are best suited for this activity need to function and stay put while either drenched in sweat or even exposed to a little weather. It doesn’t hurt to cut the cord in this scenario either, making Bluetooth-compatible headphones a hot commodity in this market. Thus, jumbled wire should be an inconvenience of the past for anyone interested in purchasing a pair of running-specific headphones whilst remaining firmly positioned in place whether you’re running a marathon or a 5k.
Plantronics BackBeat Fit
Budget Pick: Designed with flexibility in mind, these Bluetooth headphones aren’t going anywhere no matter how intensive your exercise may get. They’re built with an invisible nano-coating technology, host a lp57rating for both water and sweat resistance, boast up to eight hours of listening time per charge, feature in-ear controls that allow you to take phone calls and modify volume/song selection, and enable you to remain cognizant of your surrounding thanks to their safety-oriented eartip design.
Bose SoundSport Pulse
Editor’s Pick: No matter what the critics may suggest otherwise, there’s nothing like a Bose. These headphones exceed our expectations as to what a quality pair should offer. There’s a built-in heart rate sensor that tracks your performance, they’re Bluetooth compatible, feature StayHear+ Pulse tips for a stable fit no matter what, are both sweat and weather resistant, and work with the majority of popular fitness applications that’ll keep your progress documented for later recollections.
Similar to running, a great pair of headphones for the gym require comfort and sweat resistance. However, you’re not punishing these headphones nearly as much as a pair of running earbuds. There’s no chance of rain or sleet or snow in the gym and you’re only exerting short spurts of energy rather than extending exertion over the better part of an hour. Here, comfort of king, as is, of course, wireless capability and in ear controls so your jam is always at the ready before hitting the squat rack. They’re casual yet functional, boasting quality sound throughout while still allowing you to pay attention to your surroundings because whether we like it or not there’s always going to be a reckless Ralph running around the free weights section.
Jaybird X2 Sport
Budget Pick: Boasting premium audio quality and Bluetooth functionality this pair of Jaybird X2s provides up to eight hours of nonstop music and while allowing you to take calls when needed. They come with a lifetime sweat proof warranty, secure over/under ear-fit options, feature Comply Premium Sport Memory Foam Ear Tips for enhanced comfort, and come with a Friction-Fit Silicone Sport carrying case and cord management clips.
Editor’s Pick: This pair of Bluetooth headphones hosts a range of up to 30 feet, come with a rechargeable battery that carries a six-hour life and are both sweat and water resistant so they will continue to function with style and grace no matter how hard you push yourself. Listeners can take hands-free calls and adjust their music settings with their RemoteTalk control as well. They also come standard with four pairs of multi-sized and shaped ear-tips that’ll suit even the strangest shapes of ears.
Unlike the more active parts of your day, the commute to work should serve as a time of introspection, preparation, and meditation before hitting that eight to ten-hour grind five days a week. If you’re like us, working in a city can have both the benefits of public transportation along with the drawbacks of public transportation. So if you’re uninterested in what those eclectic free-spirited individuals have to say on the bus or train or simply trying to add some entertainment to your daily bike commute, a great pair of phones or buds are a must.
Budget Pick: You know you can trust the same guys who put together some of the more trusted turntables and record player equipment around. This pair, in particular, host 40mm drivers with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils for superior sound quality. They’re also tuned for detail, boasting one of the best mid-range definitions around, while remaining collapsible in order to save space as well.
Bowers & Wilkins C5 S2
Editor’s Pick: This pair of Bowers & Wilkins headphones boasts one of the best listening experiences around. They boast redesigned drive units for enhanced sound and overall performance, work for all smartphones, tablets, and MP3 players, feature a Secure Loop design so they’ll fit snug and secure within your ear, a Micro Porous Filer that serves as a sonic diffuser for incredible sound quality, and come with a 2-year limited warranty. Quite the quality pair that’s for sure.
It’s every traveler’s nightmare, you’re tired, jet-lagged, and still have a 5-hour flight ahead of you before finally touching down in your home city and there’s a screaming child sitting in the adjacent aisle, or a nervous and talkative single-serving friend whose assigned seat is next to yours. Here, what you’ll need is a solid pair of noise canceling headphones that’ll allow you to drop out in style. Chuck the in airline movie to the wayside, instead keep a pair in your carry-on bag and prepare for liftoff by throwing on some chilled-out music and getting some much needed uninterrupted shuteye while crossing time zones. The small talk can wait.
Budget Pick: Featuring an award-winning retro design, these over-the-ear headphones will have you jamming out in no time while paying homage to a decade when smoking and commercial air travel went hand-in-hand. They feature large 40mm neodymium driver units, they’re lightweight – weighing in at a modest 5.4 ounces – provide precise mids and highs, and are available in several color options that will suit just about any style.
Bose QuietComfort 25
Editor’s Pick: When the time comes to tune out just about everything around you, Bose has you covered with their QuietComfort headphones. They feature significant noise reduction technology, provide a deep and powerful sound for listeners, a 56-inch QC25 inline Mic/remote for music and calls, and are designed specifically for Apple products while remaining compatible with Android, Windows, and Blackberry smartphones. They also come equipped with an airline adapter and come complete with a carrying case as well.
Personalizing a workspace with your own music at the office is one of the key ways to stay productive and motivated throughout the workday, especially when the time comes to get the job done while removing yourself from the office gossip. And no matter what the job is at hand, a little music goes a long way in aiding in the focus, concentration, and productivity of someone who otherwise would be listening to the subtle tapping of fingers on the keyboard. However, you can’t completely tune out in this environment, one that requires your attention at a moment’s notice when an employer demands your assistance or a coworker requests your help with an ongoing issue on their end. Regardless, this doesn’t mean you should compromise quality in the long run.
Grado Labs SR80e
Budget Pick: Nothing ruins a day at the office like uncomfortable headphones. And when you’re planning on wearing a single pair for more than 6 hours a day a pair of cans that don’t hurt your ears after an hour of wear are worth every penny. This pair, complete with an upgraded driver design, large ear cushions for enhanced comfort, an adjustable soft vinyl headband, and a mini stereo plug with a 1/4-inch adapter is a solid investment. They also utilize a four-conductor connecting cable, vented diaphragm, a no resonant air chamber, and standard copper voice coil wire for some of the best sound quality around for the price point.
Sennheiser HD 650
Editor’s Pick: If you want to go all in with a pair of work headphones this pair of specially designed professional headphones is the ticket. They feature acoustic silk to ensure precision damping over the entire frequency range, thus reducing THD to 0.05%. Quite the accomplishment if you ask us. They also host hand selected and matched driver elements, high power neodymium magnets, lightweight aluminum voice coils, and an improved frequency response of 10-39,500 Hz for an incredible sound quality.