Headphones round up

You can never own too many headphones/headsets, right? There’s a reason for purchasing each new pair. For me, it’s always because the ones I already have do not work well in a given situation. While most reviews are based on short term usage, I’ll review three pair of headphones and three headsets that I own and use. I’ll try to explain each new purchase and the intended usage scenario. Nowadays, it’s almost always listening to music outdoors (and taking a few calls now and then).

All headsets are designed for iPhone/Mac and have a 3.5 mm headphone jack with four connector rings. I will not review the quality of the headset microphones, but I can say that the complaints from the other end has never diminished, no matter which headset I used. My advice is, get a headset you like and forget about pleasing the ones you’re talking to.

  • Koss Porta Pro
  • Sennheiser HD 25 II
  • Sennheiser HD 650
  • V-Moda Vibe Duo
  • Klipsch Image S4i
  • Bose MIE2i Mobile headset

Koss Porta Pro


I have owned these headphones for close to 15 years and I continue to recommend them to people. Particularly to people who do not own a lot of headphones already. They are cheap, light and sound excellent on almost any equipment. I view them as somewhat fragile since they have broken a few times, but then again, that’s over a 15 year period.

Also, the open design does limit their usefulness outdoors. I would not recommend taking these out on a busy street since their great sound will be drenched in noise anyway.

Pros

  • cheap
  • excellent sound
  • performs well on any equipment
  • light
  • foldable

Cons

  • somewhat fragile
  • no noise insulation

Sennheiser HD 25-II


Outdoors on a busy street I prefer Sennheiser HD 25-II. Their closed design provides good noise insulation. They sound great too. Designed (and originally purchased) for studio/DJ use, they also play very well on extremely high volume. However, the long cord feels exessive when my pocket is only inches away. I have always wished for someone to make a separate headset cord for these, as the cord is easily replaceable, but so far, no luck.

Pros

  • great sound
  • great noise insulation

Cons

  • long cord

Sennheiser HD 650


These are the most expensive headphones I own. Their open design does not lend themselves for outdoor use (having no noise insulation capabilities). Some people seem to think that it is the size of the headphones that determine their noise insulation capabilities, but trust me, you can easily carry a conversation with these on, even while playing music. In addition, they need a powerful headphone amp to really come to justice. Typically more power than found in mobile, laptop or even cheaper consumer headphone amps. For this reason, they are mostly lying around. However, when combined with a good headphone amp, their sound quality is unmatched and a true joy to use.

Pros

  • excellent sound
  • letter l in braille on left side

Cons

  • no noise insulation
  • requires a high power headphone amp
  • expensive
  • long cord
  • bulky

V-Moda Vibe Duo


I really liked this headset. It had a great sound, good noise insulation capabilities, looked good and felt solid. It even had a highly tangle resistant woven cord that I loved. However, as many have observed, they break easily. When mine broke, I was prepared to buy another pair, given that they added volume buttons to it. When this didn’t happen, I decided to look around for another headset, since the did break very easily anyway.

Pros

  • great sound
  • noise insulation
  • tangle free
  • good looking

Cons

  • very fragile

Klipsch Image S4i


After reading a number of positive reviews I purchased a Klipsch Image S4i headset. This turned out to be a poor choice. I have nothing good to say about them, and I don’t understand why they ranked so high. The special shape of the earbuds are designed to go far into the ear canal and seal off outside noise. A side effect of this is that they also create an unpresedented vacuum which, when pulled out, causes substantial pain. Since no clothing clip is provided (supposedly because the remote is so light), this tend to happen at various occasions throughout the day. This becomes especially problematic in cold weather, where the cord becomes stiff as a stick.

The sound quality is decent, but only on moderate volume. On high volume the frequency response goes completely mad and the sound becomes severely distorted, sharp and generally unbalanced.

Oh, and prepare to untangle the cord for five minutes every time you pick them out of a pocket. How I missed my V-Moda Vibe Duo!

Pros

  • good noise insulation

Cons

  • tangle prone
  • poor sound quality at higher volumes
  • stiff cord in low temperatures
  • hurts eardrums

Bose MIE2i Mobile headset


To end the terror of Klipsch Image S4i (I was really sick of having my eardrums pulled out), I turned to an open design in-ear headset: Bose MIE2i Mobile headset. I actually went to a store to try these and I still remember when I plugged in my iPhone and started Deadmau5’s FML. The sound was just fantastic! I purchased them on the spot and has never been disappointed by the sound quality. Another evidence of the excellent sound quality is the fact that I often hear “ghosts” while I am outside with these, turning my head towards sounds in the music.

As with Koss Porta Pro, their weakness is busy streets and I can’t really recommend them in noisy environments. Taking a call in a noisy environment can be really hard.

Despite the odd look they are very comfortable. So comfortable in fact that I often find myself wearing them long after I have stopped playing music. I dare you to do that with Klipsch Image S4i!

Pros

  • excellent sound
  • performs well on any equipment

Cons

  • no noise insulation