Deciding on a pair of headphones can be a challenging proposition in today's context. Firstly, one has to decide between smaller in-ears and circumarual headphones. Then there are confounding terms like dynamic drivers and balanced armature drivers to contend with. What do they all mean, and which works best for you? Essentially, IEMs (in-ear monitors) are tiny little buds which fit directly into your ear canal. They are light, highly portable, and they provide passive noise isolation as well. We'd recommend using IEMs if you listen to a whole lot of music whilst you're on the go. Circumaural or full-sized headphones, on the other hand, are noticeably heavier but they do provide a fuller and more immersive listening experience. Since they cover the entire ear, their noise isolation capabilities are more superior than IEMs too. Although they are getting increasingly popular, as worn by younger commuters and teens, wearers might suffer from 'head fatigue' after extended use due to the pressure from the cups and headband.
There is a fair amount of contention as to whether dynamic or balanced armature drivers offer better audio quality. In our experience, both driver types have their own unique benefits and drawbacks. Dynamic transducers, sometimes known as moving-coil drivers, generates sound based on air vibrations produced by the moving diaphragm when it is actuated by a voice coil and magnet. A single driver in this case is capable of covering a wide sound spectrum. They are also generally warmer and 'bassier' since bass levels are dictated by air reverberations. Some also argue that dynamic drivers sound more natural too. Balanced armature (BA) types, on the other hand, depend less on air vibrations which also makes them more susceptible to less punchy bass response. In most cases, audio fidelity from BA drivers are typically more clinical although other armature types are often needed to cover the entire audible spectrum effectively. That said, never trust the specifications alone when it comes to IEMs or headphones. Always do a sound-check before you plonk your hard-earned cash for a pair. Let your ears decide!
Headphone fans who relish dynamic drivers might want to give Audio Technica's ATH-ESW9 a listen. The large 42mm neodymium drivers ensure a punchier audio delivery, while its soft ear pads provide better comfort for extended wear. Unlike typical metallic housings, the ESW9 also features a wood chassis made of African Paddock which gives this pair of cans a unique character of its own. The ESW9 comes with a synthetic leather pouch for your travels or storage as well.
If you prefer something a little lighter with a more attractive price-tag, then look no further than the ATH-ES55 series. Weighing in at only 120 grams, this stylish pair of earphones features an aluminum housing that's stylish and yet durable at the same time. It has a slightly smaller dynamic driver (40mm) aperture than the ESW9, but you shouldn't suffer too much of a trade-off in terms of sound quality. And it's yours for only $118 at the PC Show.
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What differentiates the T50p from entry-level headsets is its prevailing metal alloy construction, which makes it durable and yet surprisingly light. The padded flexi headband offers a nice firm grip, but not to the point where it constricts your head. Notably, the ear pads are made of a comfortable velour material instead of foam which makes them comfortable to wear at a stretch, plus they also provide excellent noise attenuation too. The T50p might cost a little more than your average cans, and its inhibitions on the higher range might not provide the most definitive high-hat taps or cymbal crashes. But if you can look past these limitations, then it won’t be hard to say no to this genuinely portable, comfortable, and acoustically decent pair of German headphones.
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