In the studio, on the move and in the world of gaming, headphones have never been so important. Join us as we list 10 of the very best headphones of 2020.
Chucking on a pair of cans: if only it were that simple. The revolution of streaming has meant the world increasingly listens on the move, so choosing the best headphones for you has never been so important. It’s not just the hi-fi world that has moved into headphones—gamers also need that up-close and intimate audio detail and if you’re in the studio, it’s always been important.
Ask an audio buff and they’ll tell you having ‘too many’ headphones to choose from is a pretty good problem to have. So join us as we attempt to narrow it down to 10 of the very best to examples to emerge in 2020.
HEDD Audio HEDDphone
Being 2020 and all, we are awash in new-fangled tech. And while we can’t yet scoot around on hoverboards, at least we have Air Motion Transformer Technology (AMT) built the HEDD Audio HEDDphone.
Billed as an improvement over the traditional voice-coil and even Planar Magnetic technology, the HEDDphone pushes air four times faster than the aforementioned methods, resulting in unparalleled musical detail.
Austria’s AKG is no stranger to the best headphones and the best pro audio in general. But a proud history full of innovative models at either end of the signal chain hasn’t stopped them from innovating.
Take their new K371 cans. In this case, the biggest breakthrough was simply a change of shape from the common circular form to an oval, designed for superior isolation, extended low-frequency response and maximum comfort.
A few years back, Audeze rewrote the rules with there LCD-X Planar Magnetic headphones—a sublime model which offered a mixing environment only matched by monitors. The only problem with premium headphones? A premium price.
This is a situation Audeze has sought to rectify with the LCD-1. Don’t expect all the luxurious bells and whistles that come with the LCD-X, but you can expect a much lower price for these premium mixing cans.
Like AKG, Sennheiser enjoys a long-established reputation (75 years to be exact) and an enviable back catalogue of classics. They’re also smart enough not to rest on their laurels and as such, they’ve relaunched one of their iconic models, the HD 25.
Starting its life in the Concorde (true story), it quickly spread throughout the burgeoning DJ scene of the ’80s. This new limited edition version comes with bright yellow earcups, is super lightweight and virtually indestructible.
If you’re hitting the mean streets, it can be a battle to hear your favourite tunes over the noise. JBL has paid close attention to this perennial issue in their Club One headphones.
Aside from being the comfiest cans you can lay hands on, they ship with True Adaptive Noise Cancelling tech, meaning that no matter the environment, the Club Ones will automatically adapt to tune out those pesky extraneous sounds.
For musicians all over the world, Shure is a name best-recognised for their nigh-on indestructible microphones for both the studio and the stage. This venerable American company, however, is also moving into headphones in a big way.
Case in point: the Aonic 50. Offering up studio-grade wireless listening, noise-cancelling and a USB-C input for Hi-Resolution audio, it bridges the gap between the recording studio and the outside world.
Beyerdynamic has specialised in making hard-wearing, all-purpose studio gear for decades, creating monitoring and mixing staples like the DT 770 and 990 along the way. With the Amiron, they’ve applied that same commitment to quality in a hi-fi setting.
Fitted with the Tesla system (modifications to the transducer to prevent problematic resonances) these open-backed cans are designed for a luxurious and larger-than-life listening experience.
Based in Brooklyn, Grado has been manufacturing headphones and turntable cartridges since the ’50s. Even with such a long history, they’ve continued to push the envelope of headphone design—a philosophy proven in the SR80e.
On-ear open-backed designs are highly unusual, but Grado pulls off the feat with ease, representing the full breadth of the frequency spectrum in a way that’s more hi-fi than heavy-handed. Top this with a strikingly handsome aesthetic—plus, a competitive price—and you’re onto a winner.
Sometimes listening stretches beyond simply pleasure or analysis: it can also make the difference between winning and losing. Audio-Technica, the Japanese company that’s well-versed in the hi-fi and studio realms is also a big player in the gaming world and their ATH-ADG 1X proves that they take it seriously.
With massive 53 mm drivers, gamers will be able to track enemies and listen in to their most subtle of movements. Being a microphone company, Audio-Technica has also brought their pedigree to bear on the ATH-ADG 1X’s headset mic, making clear communication across a crowded multiplayer field easy.
If you’re into esports, you’ll know the name Turtle Beach. They specialise in gaming peripherals, so headphones are very much front and centre for this company.
Their Elite 800 wireless headphones allow players to hear in 7.1 surround sound immersion, gain a competitive edge by switching on their proprietary ‘Superhuman Hearing’ and communicate with clarity. With models specifically designed for PS4 and Xbox One, it represented the industry-standard in gaming audio.