HWM+HardwareZone.com Tech Awards 2012: Editor's Choice - Part 1

Best High-end Headphones

Best High-end Headphones

Monitoring headsets have found a quiet niche with music fans today. We'll credit this trend to an increasing awareness among listeners who want to enjoy a more faithful sound production with minimal compromises in audio quality. With that in mind, this is also the very first time we are bringing you a sortie of premium headphones for our Tech Awards. There's a myriad of brands on board as well, ranging from the Japanese-flavored Audio Technica PRO7000MK2 to the German-inspired T70p by Beyerdynamic. We'll be looking at some of the best around-ear professional headphones with closed-back cans for this segment.


  • Audio Technica ATH-PRO700MK2
  • Beyerdynamic T70p
  • Denon AH-D1100
  • Dr Dre by Monster Beats Pro
  • Shure SRH940
  • Sony MDR-Z1000

And the Winner Is...

Sony MDR-Z1000 - Sony's recent resurgence in the professional monitoring arena wasn't for naught given the Z1000's exemplary performance and comfortable housing.  

In a nutshell, you can say that Sony's MDR-Z1000 offered the perfect blend of comfort, durability, and impeccable audio quality in one headphone package. From its soft urethane ear pads to its tough-yet-light magnesium alloy housing, the Z1000 exerted little pressure on our ears and head regardless of whether we deployed it at home or during our daily commute. The cups also offered a nice seal with a decent degree of passive noise isolation. Powered by Sony's latest Liquid Crystal Polymer Film diaphragms, the generous 50mm dynamic drivers were similarly capable of delivering natural details while sustaining a sweet tonal balance across the spectrum without favoring the highs or lows. Sony's Z1000 is also an effective rounder for most musical genres, seeing how it tackled pounding rock anthems to clean jazz tracks with relative ease and minimal distortion. If you are looking for an unmitigated pair of reference headphones designed to remain faithful to its source, then the Z1000 should not be overlooked. The only reservation here is its rather hefty asking price.  

Scoring Breakdown
  Audio Technica
Beyerdynamic T70p Denon AH-D1100 Dr Dre by Monster
Beats Pro
Shure SRH940 Sony MDR-Z1000
Physique 8.0 9.0 9.0 8.5 8.5 9.0
Features 8.5 8.5 8.5 9.0 8.0 8.5
Performance 8.5 9.0 9.0 8.0 8.5 9.5
User-Friendliness 8.5 8.5 9.0 8.5 8.5 9.0
Value 8.5 8.0 9.0 8.0 8.5 8.0
Total Score 8.5 8.5 9.0 8.0 8.5 9.0
Price S$298 S$799 S$299 S$820 S$409 S$795

For more details on how we selected our winners, check out the full reviews and articles listed at the References section at the end.

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