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!
If you are a frequent flier, the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b active noise-canceling headphones is one that you should definitely check out. Long revered for outstanding noise-canceling and audio performance as well as its compact, foldable design, the ANC7b can be had at Comex 2012 for a sizable discount.
The Audio-Technica ATH-BT04NC is a Bluetooth earpiece with active noise-canceling capability, making it great for frequent fliers. The headphones also features 3D Bass effect and has a built-in lithium-ion battery with an operating time of 8 hours (with Bluetooth and noise-canceling both enabled).
It's surprising to spot such a lowly-priced portable headset coming from Beyerdynamic, but you better believe it, for it's yours for only $48 at Comex. This pair of closed-back headphones features a stainless steel headband, which is robust yet flexible enough to suit most head sizes. The foldable DTX 300p has a regular impedance of 32 ohms, and a frequency response of 25 to 18,000 Hz, which makes it highly suitable for most media players and smartphones.
This pair of in-ears requires little introduction. Light, durable, and stylish, Beyerdynamic's DTX 101 iE delivers warm bass and full-bodied vocals for a balanced yet vibrant audio delivery. It's also a deserved winner of HWM's gold award. Comes with three pairs of ear-tips and a soft case.
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