Sunday, 30 September 2012


I would rank headphones number one among the list of tools a developer needs - Some people don't even have anything to put on their ears but many have some sets which don't even deserve to be manufactured:

Bad sound quality - uncomfortable 

Here are some more fancy but equally bad headphones:

Great looking but expensive for the sound quality

I don't understand why those Dr Dre gadgets are so popular, I agree they look good, but sound quality wise I keep being disappointed when trying them on.

So what to use ?

My criteria:

- Great sound reproduction
- Sound isolating
- Confort 
- Built quality

Here is my first choice:

Sony MDR V6
These are simply the best sound product I ever touched. I own it and I can't think of any alternative making me switch to another model. What's surprising is its price, those can easily be found for about £50-£60 brand new. 

They reproduce sounds as they come out of the amplifier which is what makes those the perfect choice. All that matters is to have the right source (not some lowly encoded mp3). 

Professional DJs use headphones belonging to this series and it's not shocking, they don't distort sounds, they don't amplify or covers bass, they just do what they are meant to do: reproduce sounds.

The MDR-7506 model which was made to replace the V6 are meant to be more 'professional' they ship with some gold connector, and the magnet is meant to be made with different material but the frequency response is a bit narrower on the 7506 (not going higher than 20k), I doubt normal ears could notice the frequencies above 20k but I don't see any proof that gold connectors improve anything and the magnet change is not proven (nor claimed) to bring anything better. So the V6 to me is a better choice as it sells at a slightly lower price.

These headphones have flaws though:

- They could be more confortable, the ear-cup is not very large, bigger ears would not fit in, I don't have this problem but still would have preferred having more room. Also, the material they used for the ear pad is terrible, some sort of fake leather that does not feel good after an hour of use. This was easily solved as I purchased some compatible replacement pair made of Velour from beyerdynamic

- The cord is ridiculous, way too long and curl like the cord of the home phone my grand ma still uses.

- The built quality is very good, but I do regularly get my fingers stuck and squeezed in the intersections on the ear-cups hooks  

I won't talk about the positives because everything else is perfect, I can't think any equipment delivering better sound - there might be dozens of models having deeper bass but these then struggle to throw clear mediums and high. I never had a chance to experiment some very high ends sets ( > $1000) but I'm sure with such budget one expects something else than a a pair of headphones to casually listen to music.

Those Sony MDR-V6 are the best choice, they are relatively cheap, solid, covers most of the surrounding sound.

Step up alternative:

The Denon D2000 also are a great choice, now owning and making use of both the Sony above and these, they offer a "deeper" sound, with a stronger accent on the bass.

They are much more expensive but at this price you get great level of comfort with real leather used to make the earpads. The cable this time was designed intelligently, as thick and straight. Also, this will fit bigger heads.
They are becoming harder to find, as I believe they were discontinued - pricing around £200 I think it's worth putting the money in when listening to hours of music every day.

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