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Skip the Celebrity: 11 Great-Sounding Headphones at Various Price Points

I get Dr. Dre having a headphone line. He is after all a producer of music, so headphones make sense. I get Ludacris, to a lesser extent, but he is a musical artist. Usain Bolt? That one is a stretch, but these days, it seems everyone and their mother has a headphone line, so I guess that works too. With all this product out here, and it can’t all be good, it would be helpful to know which ‘phones are actually decent. Here is a list compiled by CNET of 11 great headphones that will deliver great sound without the celebrity and, most of them, won’t be too hard on the budget. – Editor


The Monoprice 8323 Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphones are, hands-down, the best full-size, over-the-ear headphones you can buy on the cheap. I doubt anyone will think the mostly black-plastic pair of headphones has a luxury design, but the 8323s aren’t the least bit flimsy or poorly made.

I haven’t covered too many inexpensive earphones in this blog, mostly because I prioritize sound quality, and precious few under-$50 models cut it. The RHA MA450 really stands out in this crowded market, not just because it actually sounds pretty decent; the look and feel are outstanding, and RHA sells the MA450 with a three-year warranty. Reid and Heath Acoustics products are designed at its research and development center in Glasgow, Scotland.

Velodyne makes subwoofers — great ones, in fact — and the brand is now following a string of speaker manufacturers venturing into the headphone market: Klipsch, Polk, PSB speakers. The vPulse is the best-sounding under $100 pair of in-ear headphones I know.

It’s impossible to keep up with all of the new headphones crowding the market, but great-sounding headphones are still pretty rare. The Noontec Zoro is the rarest of the rare, an audiophile-oriented design that’s affordably priced. It’s one of the best-sounding full-size $100 headphones you can buy.

Headphone manufacturers are hip to the fact that most people prefer headphones with pumped-up bass, so they rarely make truly accurate-sounding headphones. But what if you could buy a pair that gives you accuracy and extra bass when you want it? The Phonak Audeo PFE 132 ($239) is such a pair of headphones.

Though the $399 price tag exceeds the reach of audiophiles on a budget, the HiFiMan HE-400s are the best-sounding full-size, home headphones I’ve ever tested.

Read more: Steve Guttenberg, CNet


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