Shopping guide for headphones: How to choose my ideal HiFi model

When you want to listen to your favorite music in a more intimate space, without disturbing the family or neighbors despite placing it at a high volume, the HiFi headphones are the most recommended option, as they provide you with an own scenario in which to enjoy your music.

The problem arises when choosing our ideal model. In the stores we will find a multitude of headphones that are defined as “high fidelity” although they do not become one, with specifications that on paper look great but then do not measure up. What do I have to fix to choose my next HiFi headset?

Forms, materials and design

HiFi Headphone
Image Source: Google Image

There are headphones for all kinds of tastes, with very varied designs and structures. For example, depending on the shape of their pavilions can be earphones or button type, which are placed inside our ears, are very small, cheap and come standard with many portable players and mobile phones. They are interesting if you are looking for something light and comfortable, but not if you intend to obtain a HiFi experience.

We also have the in-Ear type, similar to earphones but with a design that allows you to insert the earphone into the ear canal. They isolate from outside noise, but you have to know how to position them correctly, find a pad of your size or you will lose part of the bass easily.

The third large group is that of the supra-aural type headphones, usually in a diadem format and that are held over our ears. They tend to be comfortable, relatively light and with good sound quality, although they do not offer as good insulation capacity as the last group, circumaural headphones.

Larger, they are able to pick up the entire auditory pavilion inside and have larger transducers (drivers), which allows them to reach a much richer frequency reproduction range with high power levels and without distorting. If you are looking for an authentic HiFi experience this should be your preferred design.

Very well, I have already decided on a circumaural model, but now I see that there are two large subgroups: with an open pavilion (those that have microperforations in the pavilions) and with a closed pavilion. What differences are there? Which is better?

In a closed type model the transducer is inside a sealed enclosure, while in an open one it communicates with the outside thanks to a series of small holes that let sound waves escape.

This allows the diaphragm to move more freely while minimizing resonances inside the speaker and obtaining a cleaner, clearer and clearer sound in the mid-high frequencies and more controlled bass but less deep than in closed models.

Which one do I stay with? The main problem with open headphones is that a little sound will escape through the holes and noise from outside will also enter. That is, the ability to isolate yourself from the environment is reduced and if there is someone else with you in the room you can clearly hear what you are hearing. Therefore, if you are going to use it regularly, you are alone, without background noise, choose an open model. If on the contrary you are going to be with more people, with the TV in the background, annoying neighbors, etc., then you will need a closed one.

To finish this block, comment something about the construction materials and the qualities of the finishes. In the market there are headphones made with diadems and pavilions of fine, thick cloth, natural leather, artificial with and without padding, with metal, plastic, etc. In general, choosing one or the other material will not influence the quality of the hearing, although in the quality of the experience of use, since if we are going to use them for a long time it is convenient to choose a well-padded, comfortable, lightweight model pleasant to the touch.

Technical characteristics

HiFi Headphone
Image Source: Google Image

Once we know more or less the type of handset we want, it is time to check the huge list of technical specifications given by the manufacturers. What do we look at? To start with the impedance, measured in ohms (ohm), which is responsible for indicating the resistance to the passage of electrical current.

If it is too high we could have problems of lack of power, needing a more powerful amplifier to reach the desired sound pressure. The normal thing is that to a model between 16 and 60 ohm we can attack it with any amplifier that we have at home without problems.

The next important point is the sensitivity (given in dB). It tells us how easy it will be to excite the transducer and gives us an idea of ​​what maximum powers we can hear. Every time we raise 3 dB in sensitivity it means that we need half the power of the amplifier to get the same sound pressure. Thus, an earphone with a sensitivity of 100 dB would need half the power of one of 97 dB to offer the same volume (assuming they have the same impedance).

You should look at aspects such as impedance (measured in ohm), sensitivity (given in dB) and the frequency range (expressed in Hz)

You also have to look at the range of frequencies covered by the headset. Ideally, cover the entire range audible by an average human (20 Hz to 20 KHz), something that in practice very few models achieve high power and without distortion.

You should also check the size and number of transducers, which will transform the electrical signal into sound. The larger the reproduction of low frequencies the better. In addition, if they have a driver for bass and another for the treble the result will be a cleaner and more accurate sound.

Model with cable or wireless? In the case of audiophile sessions it is best to opt for a wired headset that does not introduce any type of interference or a reduction in the quality of the signal. However, the current wireless models have improved a lot and if you do not live in an environment with a lot of interference (for example with routers, audio systems, other headphones, mobile phones and laptops, etc.), you should not usually notice too many differences.

You may also like to read: We have seven Bluetooth headset if you do not want to wait for the Apple Airpods

Very good, but after this roll I’m still undecided, could not you recommend me a specific model with which to enjoy my music at the highest level? Sure, here are several headphones that will not disappoint you …

Pioneer SE-MS5T

HiFi Headphone
Image Source: Google Image

Pioneer surprised us at the beginning of the season with an interesting earphone dubbed SE-MS5T that came to cover the mid-range but offering a look, finish and performance of medium-high range. With a circumaural design presided by enormous pads and pavilion available in various colors (silver, brown, black and red), they have 40 mm drivers compatible with high resolution audio.

They are closed type and have an integrated microphone with a total weight of 250 grams, without counting the 1.2 meter long cable. They offer a great sound sound for the majority of users who do not look for the “purity” HiFi of the most expensive models but neither serious or exaggerated highs. However, for less than 60 dollars that cost hardly find something with better quality-price.

Design: Closed circumaural
Transducers: 40 mm
Sensitivity: 96 dB / mW
Impedance: 32 Ohm
Frequency range: 9 Hz – 40000 Hz
Net weight (without cable): 250 grams
Price: 50-60 dollars

Sennheiser PXC 480

HiFi Headphone
Image Source: Google Image

Sennheiser presented this year the PXC 480, a new model of headset with cord type, circumaural and closed that offers as a main difference the NoiseGard technology, a system that allows the active cancellation of noise consuming little battery charge, which allows to the headset an autonomy of up to 50 hours.

With a weight of 225 grams, it has a padded headband with padded pavilions that can be folded to transport them more easily. It has a removable cable of 1.4 meters, integrated microphone and a recharge time of 3 hours.

Design: Closed circumaural
Transducers: 40 mm
Sensitivity: 109 dB (1kHz / 1Vrms)
Battery: 50 hours with Active Cancellation of noise
Impedance: Active 150 ohm / Passive 45 ohm
Frequency range: 17 – 23000 Hz
Net weight (without cable): 225 grams
Price: 243 dollars

Sony MDR-1000X

HiFi Headphone
Image Source: Google Image

One of the most interesting models presented in the 2016-2017 season was the Sony MDR-1000X, which left us feeling good when we had the opportunity to try it for a few days. Its closed circumaural design with comfortable pads allows to use it for long periods without bothering, despite its weight of 272 grams.

It stands out for the incorporation of several technologies aimed at improving the quality of audio such as Sense Engine 2 and DSEE HX, but above all for the active cancellation of noise, which offers an intelligent filtering by frequencies quite achieved with which we can isolate ourselves from the outside world to listen to our music or talk on the phone.

Design: Closed circumaural
Transducers: Neodymium 1.57 inches.
Wireless: Yes, Bluetooth 4.2 with aptX
Battery: 20 hours with Active Noise Cancellation and 22 without it
Sensitivity: 103 dB / mW (1 kHz)
Impedance: 46 ohm (1 kHz)
Frequency range: 4 Hz-40000 Hz
Net weight (without cable): 272 grams
Price: 318 dollars

Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless

HiFi Headphone
Image Source: Google Image

Evolution of the classic Bowers & Wilkins P7, the new wireless version launched this year maintains the same good feelings as its predecessors but updated with Bluetooth 4.1 capabilities compatible with aptX. They maintain the same appearance, circumaural design and good quality in the construction with the same materials (aluminum and natural leather).

With a weight of 323 grams, uses two transducers of 40 mm and have a lithium battery of 370 mAh with a range of up to 17 hours, maintaining the possibility of connecting them by 3.5 mm TRS three-pole cable. They also incorporate two microphones, and offer an impedance of 22 ohms and a high sensitivity of 111 dB.

Design: Closed circumaural
Transducers: 40 mm
Wireless: Yes, Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX
Battery: 370 mAh (up to 17 hours of autonomy)
Sensitivity: 111 dB / V
Impedance: 22 Ohm
Frequency range: 10 Hz – 20000 Hz
Net weight (without cable): 323 grams
Price: 399 dollars

Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7SE

HiFi Headphone
Image Source: Google Image

Audio-Technica announced this summer the launch of a new mid-high-end headset dubbed ATH-MSR7SE, a circumaural headband model that inherits some internal components of the brand’s flagship, the ATH-SR9 model, such as the 45 mm ‘True Motion’ drivers with DLC (Diamond-like Carbon) diaphragm.

The pavilions have been redesigned using a new material that attenuates the pressure in our ears and improves comfort when we wear them for several hours. On the outside it has been given a Premium finish in blue with aluminum and gold edges, which is accompanied by a new copper cable of 1.2 meters 6N-OFC that offers a purity of 99.99997% of the precious conductor metal.

Design: Closed circumaural
Transducers: 45 mm.
Sensitivity: 100dB / mW
Impedance: 35 ohms
Frequency range: 5 – 40,000Hz
Net weight (without cable): 290 grams
Price: 340 dollars

Shure SRH1840

HiFi Headphone
Image Source: Google Image

Superbly constructed, elegant, comfortable, easy to use and light. The Shure SRH1840 with its open canopy design offer a very high quality sound, with high definition throughout the range of frequencies, sharp and crystal clear frequencies and means, without strange saturations and with controlled bass and without reverberations.

They allow a magnificent dynamic range thanks to their 40 mm transducers. and a fantastic quality of hearing at all volume levels with a natural and balanced sound. The frequency response is very close to the ideal flat that is sought in high fidelity equipment.

Design: open
Transducers: 40 mm
Sensitivity: 96 dB SPL / mW
Impedance: 65 Ohm
Frequency range: 10 Hz – 30 kHz
Net weight (without cable): 268 grams
Price: 479 dollars

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