If you’re looking for a pair of running headphones, your new earphones should have an IPX4 water-resistance rating or above; this means that they’ll be able to withstand a little sweat as well as a spot of rain. For some, this means true freedom; for others, untethered true wireless means constant danger of losing their expensive audio kit down the drain – or terrible connections. Everything we like about their predecessors – their nimble-footedness, expressive, rolling dynamics, and insight across well-defined frequencies – has been inherited, and the punch and panache that have made the Prestige models such born entertainers are very much also part of the SR80x’s sonic signature. With everything in place, Beyerdynamic’s Amiron headphones provide an impressive sound that takes the whole frequency range in its stride. The main change between this third-generation model and its predecessor has been to make the new pair easier to drive for laptops and mobile devices.
The new, fourth-generation 44mm driver is more efficient and lowers distortion, and boy does it show: they sound clearer, cleaner and more detailed than their predecessor, and are easier to drive from portable devices. This is easily detachable, so if it ever does break or get damaged, swapping to a replacement will take a matter of seconds. Not only does this mean a premium product, it makes them comfy too – the headphones are nicely shaped and inward pressure is firm but well-judged. It acts as a window and makes a welcome change to the dull black plastic used to cover the majority of headphones that pass through our test rooms. The overall presentation retains an easy-going charm that makes longer listening sessions a breeze. It makes them a bit more forgiving of aggressive electronics and recordings, but they’re still admirably even-handed and balanced. They do so admirably. While they work with a phone (providing it has a 3.5mm headphone jack), to hear them at their best you really should feed them quality audio files from a quality source. Sound quality is also really very good – albeit a touch less bassy as compared to Sony – with superb clarity.
They’re well made, comfortable and sound great, so whether they are intended for the studio or not, we really like them. Ultimately, these Beyerdynamics fulfill their ‘studio’ brief by delivering all the resolution, stability and control required to dissect a recording, but at the same time manage to convey the emotional impact of the music as well as anything we’ve heard at this level. These are far from rich or even warm in tone, but an extra generous sprinkling of refinement this time round has made their forward, clinical presentation all the more palpable. But there’s a difference between good and spectacular, and the latter option costs more to develop, to make and to buy. If sound quality is your priority, you should buy them without hesitation. But it’s their great sound that makes them some of the best earbuds you can buy today. It can be tricky for a manufacturer to push the sound performance of a product consistently from generation to generation, but that is what Sony has managed to do with the WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones, our new Bluetooth ANC favourites.
That lower price also makes them a great alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM5, especially as they’ve retained the winning design features of the original Surface Headphones, with built-in dials on each earcup to control your music and the active noise cancellation. You can actually get a closer look at the inner working of the buds through the clear section of each earpiece. Sure, there’s always a superior headphone out there and there always will be, but if you’re not willing to spend huge amounts of cash for an open back headphone for your desktop, it would be difficult for you to find a better option than the Edition XS. In-ear headphones, also called earbuds or earphones, are usually the cheapest and easiest way to pump audio into your ears. They comprise massive ear cups that are asymmetrical and follow the natural shape of human ears. Closed-back headphones can suffer with distortion issues, but that’s not the case with the brilliant Sennheiser HD 820. Sennheiser has cunningly fixed that problem by using a combination of Gorilla Glass and sound-absorbing chambers to prevent sound waves bouncing back into the drivers. These are a modern take on the original SR80 headphones from 1991, the pair which wrote the Grado family business into the audiophile history books.