It wasn’t that long ago that tiny earbuds were the height of cool. They signaled that not only were you wired into a portable music player, but you were also jacked into a hip scene in which music and technology met.How times have changed. After swimmer Michael Phelps walked into the pool at the U.S. Olympic trials earlier this summer wearing a pair of over-the-ear headphones from Oregon’s Sol Republic, discreet earbuds seemed passé. Phelps’s preference helped cement an emerging trend of larger headphones, led by a small army of celebrity rappers sporting big cans like those from Beats by Dr. Dre.
Bigger headphones mean better sound. But unlike the models of yesteryear made to use with a home stereo system, today’s versions are designed for portable devices like smartphones, digital music players and tablets. (And though music remains the primary draw, larger headphones make the movies and TV fare downloaded onto an iPad, for example, much more enjoyable.) Choose from over-the-ear models (like the sonically immersive Destiny TTR from the House of Marley) or lighter, less-enveloping on-ear options. (They tend to lack the bass response of over-the-ear versions, but there are exceptions, such as the Bowers & Wilkins P3.) Today’s choices are also more fashion conscious, featuring high design and a wide variety of colours. Monster’s new Inspiration model, for example, lets you switch headband colours on a whim.
When it comes to travelling, headphones with some type of noise-suppression circuitry is a must for diminishing engine noise. Wireless Bluetooth technology eliminates the threat of tangled cords, its 30-foot range also allowing for untethered wandering. But take note: Not every headphone kit comes with an adaptor for the two-prong jack still used by some in-flight entertainment systems. You can often still jack in to one of the holes without a problem, but aeroplane adapters are available at most gadget shops if you want to be on the safe side.
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This story was originally published by Departures.
Some audiophiles despair over the bass-heavy sound of these wireless Beats by Dr. Dre headphones ($280), but lovers of rap and pop music adore them for conveying their favourite music and for being a stylish fashion accessory.
The recently introduced wireless model cuts the cord to your digital player using Bluetooth technology. Controls on the ear cup let you skip tracks and adjust volume levels without pulling your player out of a pocket. In fact, thanks to a 30-foot range, you can wander away from your laptop, for example, without a musical interruption.
You wouldn't know to look at it, but the Form 2 on-ear headphones ($105) from Denmark's Bang & Olufsen were designed 25 years ago, and their good looks have earned them a permanent spot at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The iconic headphones just got a makeover and are now available in red, orange, yellow and white for the first time, making them a still-formidable trendsetter.
The B&W P3 headphones ($200) are so elegant, you could wear them with a tuxedo or an evening dress. People might think you're listening to Vivaldi in those posh duds, but you can crank up the volume on a Deadmau5 heavy bass mix, because the P3 model reaches deeper than you might expect from an on-ear headphone.
The headband is slim, and the ear cups are covered in soft acoustic fabric. The P3 is lightweight and folds up neatly into an equally elegant hard case. The pause and volume controls on the cord are so discreet, you might miss them at first, and the very British B&W bucks the multicolor trend by offering a choice of just black or white.
Created by the family of Bob Marley himself, the House of Marley offers a lineup of headphones with constructions that emphasise the use of renewable materials. The Destiny TTR headphones ($300) are the brand's first over-the-ear offerings.
The aluminium and leather look reminiscent of the headsets of old-time wireless operators and make the model lightweight and comfortable. Noise-reduction circuitry is always on but doesn't seem to affect the excellent sound quality, with plenty of bass and spacious, natural-sounding midrange and treble. A pause button is on the cord, volume control is not and the Destiny TTRs don't fold up, so be prepared to make some room in your carry-on bag.
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