Holiday 2018 gift guide: Here are the best headphones for the music lover on your shopping list
If you have recently acquired an iPhone XS or iPhone XR, but find the supplied EarPods not to your liking, or know someone who could do with an upgrade from their existing audio hardware, AppleInsider offers this list of headphones and earphones that may be worth a listen.
The obvious choice for any iPhone-owning audiophile, Apple's AirPods are a major upgrade from EarPods that eradicate the need to plug them in. Compact and without that pesky cable, the wireless earpieces use the Apple-designed W1 chip for a solid Bluetooth connection, offers extremely simple pairing with an iPhone, iCloud synchronization, and proximity-based activation and turning off.
While capable of about 5 hours of usage from a single charge, the AirPods are provided with a carry case that recharges each, providing more than 24 hours of additional listening time as well as protection when the AirPods aren't being used.
If you're looking to offer someone the best Apple-based audio experience, it's hard to look elsewhere than the AirPods.
Shinola Bluetooth In-Ear Monitors
A collaboration between Detroit watch producer Shinola and Campfire Audio, the Shinola Bluetooth In-Ear Monitors ($250) are beautifully produced earbuds housed in stainless steel. Inside the buds are wide-range 8.5mm Beryllium dynamic drivers for a rich, authentic sound, with a multi-part braided cable connecting the buds to each other consisting of a thicker section for around the neck and two more flexible areas towards the ends and an in-line control.
Capable of fast charging via USB-C, the Bluetooth 4.2 earphones offer up to 12 hours of music playback from a single charge, with the charging point itself located on the side of the inline control.
Master & Dynamic MW07
If you want wireless earbuds like the AirPods and are prepared to go to the premium end of the market, the Master & Dynamic MW07 Earphones ($299) are an excellent choice. Each earphone is produced from metal with a handcrafted acetate exterior, with the build quality also extending to the glossy stainless steel charging case, which provides three additional charges that gives a total listening time of up to 14 hours.
Inside each earphone is a custom 10mm beryllium driver, helping keep the audio accessories lightweight but without sacrificing the sound quality, with connections performed over Bluetooth 4.2. Each also include a two-part earbud section made of silicone, which consists of an actual tip that goes into the ear canal and a separate "fit wing," ensuring they are both comfortable to wear and securely in place.
A refinement of the company's sport earbuds line, the Jaybird X4 ($129.99) are ideal for those wanting to listen to music while keeping fit, with IPX7 waterproofing offering protection from sweat and rain. For the X4 release, the signature fins have been redesigned to make them rounder at the corners while simultaneously making them less flimsy, in turn offering more comfort and practicality.
The accompanying MySound iPhone app can be used to tweak the EQ settings of the headphones on the fly, including being able to turn on presets created by athletes and musicians. Connecting over Bluetooth, it offers up to eight hours of battery life, which will certainly cover a few sessions in the gym before needing to be recharged.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
Based on the critically-acclaimed ATH-M50, the updated Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT takes everything great about the studio-grade headphones and improves upon the concept with Bluetooth connectivity. The same large hinged earcups, padded headband, and chunky design of the original all make an appearance in the new version, but crucially it eliminates the wire, making for a more enjoyable listening experience.
Sporting the same 45mm drivers as the ATH-M50, the Bluetooth equivalent doesn't sacrifice audio quality in its usage of Bluetooth, with the headphones boasting up to 40 hours of usage from a single charge. The ATH-M50xBT also includes a built-in mic for calls, onboard music and volume controls, and a touch control on the side to trigger voice assistants like Siri.
Master & Dynamic MW50+ 2-in-1 wireless headphones
Housed in stainless steel, aluminum, and leather, the Master & Dynamic MW50+ ($398) offer a timeless and stylish design that many people will appreciate. Lambskin-covered memory foam ear pads for the ear cups providing comfort for long usage, with the magnetically-attached sections able to be swapped out to allow for on-ear and over-ear versions to be used depending on the situation.
Controlled by a collection of subtle metal buttons on either side, the headphones can be used with a mobile device using Bluetooth 4.1 and its 16-hour battery, or via a detachable 3.5mm headphone cable. The heart of the headset is its use of a 40mm beryllium driver, which offers minimal distortion and is balanced with a warm tone, leading to songs sounding full with definition on both the high and low ends.
In a market where you can pay a premium price for headphones constructed from plastic, this offers a breath of fresh air by offering great construction alongside the quality, making it a really good choice for audiophiles.
Noise cancellation is a much-loved feature of premium headphones, and is one the Beats Studio3 (on sale for $279.95) fits in alongside a number of other must-have features. Combined with the over-ear arrangement, the headphones provide a high level of sound isolation, while still remaining comfortable for hours at a time.
Running for up to 40 hours without the "Pure Adaptive Noise Cancelling" and up to 22 hours with it active, the long-lasting battery also offers fast recharging using Apple's Fast Fuel technology, with 3 hours of playback provided from a 10-minute charge. Its wireless credentials are also superior through the use of Apple's W1 wireless chip, providing rock-solid Bluetooth connectivity and simple pairing with iPhones and iPads.
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