Where Stephen Hackett set himself a maximum price of $100, Michael Lopp has reviewed three different headphone sets at vastly different price points:
For my selection of headphones, I wanted to test the Apple-supplied earbuds against both a high-end in-ear selection as as well as a set of full-sized headphones. For the full-sized headphones, I asked Marco for his recommendation, since he’s obsessed a lot more about headphones. He suggested the Sennheiser HD 380 Pro (~$170.00). For in-ear, I went to Twitter for recommendations, and the good people at Klipsch provided me with a pair of their X10i model, which retail for around $349.00.
I’ve never spent $170 on a pair of headphones, and $349 seems otherworldly to me.
This test seems thorough, but I have an issue with the song Lopp chose: “Titanium” by David Guetta. Like most pop music made since the mid-1990s, it is a victim of the loudness war. It’s not the most extreme example, but it’s not clean:
A more accurate test would be to use a song like Rage Against the Machine’s “Take the Power Back” — the kick drum and funk bass at the beginning are fantastic tests for clarity and range. However, “more accurate” does not necessarily mean “better”. As I noted, most contemporary pop and rock is mixed far too loud. But, since this is now the norm (unfortunately), Lopp’s test is probably more representative of actual use.