Stiff competition in the premium consumer headphone market means consumers are now spoiled for choice when it comes to quality portable sound. While serious audiophile headphones (many dependent on dedicated external amps to make the most of them) still run into the thousands of dollars, high-quality sound, wireless innovation, and class-leading design is increasingly being found at considerably lower price levels.
An Australian brand with an innovative technology offering bespoke sound reproduction. Developed in tandem with medical professionals, the companion app takes users through some short initial tests to provide a tailored listening experience, while also offering Bluetooth wireless and active noise cancellation capabilities.
Part of Sony’s high-resolution audio line, the sleek h.ear on 2 makes use of aptX HD and Sony’s upscaling Digital Sound Enhancement Engine HX to claim higher than CD-quality audio in a wireless headphone. Its digital noise cancellation can block out as well as amplify ambient sound. An update through Sony’s companion app enables Google Assistant functionality.
High-quality materials and clean design provide a portable headphone that doubles as a fashion accessory, but like a lot of Bang and Olufsen’s products, the technical specifications of the H4 aren’t as high a priority as the external aesthetics. The BeoPlay app has customisable sound profiles so users can tweak the sound quality to their liking.
An almost audiophile headphone you can still leave the house in. Sitting at the top of Sennheiser’s HD 5 model line, the HD 599 doesn’t offer the wireless connectivity or active noise cancellation that’s increasingly standard in similarly priced headphones, instead it aims purely to provide class leading sound for the price point.
A sophisticated series of microphones and an analytical smartphone app help give the Jabra Elite noise-cancellation capabilities worthy of the name. A strong build and a long battery life further push the claim that this is one of the best headphones on the market right now. Read the full review.
Denon’s entrant to the wireless, noise-cancelling headphone features aptX for high-quality wireless streaming audio and a wide 5-40,000 Hz frequency range to make use of it. Battery life is claimed at a respectable 20 hours, with a three hour recharge time.
As is becoming increasingly common, the full potential of the PX Wireless isn’t truly realised until paired with its accompanying smartphone app. Users can tweak the active noise cancellation based on their environment with three settings for flight, city, and office environments. Finer control is given over the level of ambient noise passed through or amplified by the headphones. B&W claims 22 hours battery life when used wirelessly with active noise cancellation. Included aptX HD provides high-quality audio.
Bang and Olufsen claim its new flagship headphone is its most luxurious yet, but perhaps one of its most distinctive features is the replaceable battery not often found on other wireless headphones. B&O claim a battery life of up to 18 hours when connecting with Bluetooth and using the active noise cancellation. Calls and music controls are available through a touch interface on the right ear, though pause and resume is handled by a proximity sensor when the headphones are taken off.
The Momentum’s charmingly retro design belies its thoroughly modern capabilities, with high-quality aptX HD streaming over Bluetooth and integrated NFC for quicker connection. Sennheiser claims a battery life of 22 hours with active noise cancellation on.
Aesthetics are also high on the agenda for Master Dynamics flagship MW-60 wireless headphone, though quality gets more of a look-in with support for aptX encoding. The company claim their aluminium antenna provides a best-in-class wireless range three times the industry average. It certainly has the edge on the competition in the look-at-me stakes, with six colourways to choose from. Claimed battery life is comparatively low, particularly for a device with no noise cancellation, at only 16 hours.