Portable Headphone Recommendations
The list is sorted based on price, starting from the lowest to the most expensive. The categorizing is meant to be a rough guideline, for more detailed sound impressions please refer to the reviews.
- HiFi: Warm sound signature with full midrange and bass.
- Rockin’: Aggressive forward and lively sound with fast pace, good for Rock and similar music.
- Monitoring: Precise sound lets you hear the recordings in an uncolored manner.
- Basshead: Tuned for maximum bass quantity, punch and impact.
- Open Sound: Very spacious and open presentation, almost speaker like. Tend to be weak in bass.
We start the list with the ultra-portables. Super compact portable headphones designed for ultimate mobility. These are the casual headphones. They are usually foldable and don’t require an amplifier. Because they don’t fully cover your ears, you will get sound leak both in and out with these headphones.
Koss PortaPro – Rockin’
The PortaPro is the biggest name in ultra portables. It’s been around forever and the crowd has always loved it. Personally, I think it’s a lot of fun, but the driver is relatively old and has been surpassed by the drivers found in newer models like Jays’ V-Jays. Still, the PortaPro has a very big following and deserves to be listed here.
$40.08 from Amazon.com | Ultra Portable Cans Shootout
Sennheiser PX100-II – HiFi
It is not as popular as the original PX100, but I have no doubt that the mark II is a better headphone than the original, both in overall refinement and musicality. It gives you a taste of the classic Sennheiser sound in an ultra-portable package. Laid back, smooth, with plenty of midrange and bass, they make for a great all rounder headphones.
$42.80 from Amazon.com | Ultra Portable Cans Shootout
Jays V-Jays – HiFi
Fun sounding ultra portable with modern driver refinement. Blows the old PX-100 and Portapro out of the water. Sparkly and fun treble, lively sounding, good bass though a bit loose.
$69.99 from Amazon.com | Ultra Portable Shootout
Sennheiser HD238 – HiFi
The HD238 is somehow like a supercharged ultra portable. Slightly bigger than the usual ultra portables, but not quite as big as the semi portables. What you get is the convenience of the ultra portables, but with a bigger sound quality.
$99.95 from Amazon.com | Ultra Portable Shootout
Marshall Major – Rockin’
The headphone from guitar amplifier Marshall comes with a sound signature fitting for Rock (no surprise there). It’s aggressive, forward, with tight and punchy bass. The build is quite tough and noise isolation is pretty good.
$99.00 from Amazon.com | Marshall Major and Minor
From this point down we are talking about the semi portables. They are bigger than the ultra portables and are not always foldable. They still do pretty well for mobile listening duties, and some of them has the added bonus of offering noise isolation, meaning outside noise is blocked so you can enjoy your music better at lower volume levels. They also don’t leak sound as much as the ultra portables, and their sound quality is generally better.
Sennheiser HD25-1 – Rockin’
Forward, engaging, tight and puncy bass, awesome PRaT, tough build, best-in-class noise isolation. Great for Rock, Electronica, Pop, RnB. The HD25-1 is one of the most popular portables around, and always a big hit with the crowd. Also try the HD25SP for a lot less money.
$199.95 (HD25-1) | $127.35 (HD25SP) | Closed Cans Shootout
Audio Technica ESW-9 – HiFi
This headphone is a long time crowd favorite for a few years now. Warm sound and a sweet midrange makes the ESW-9 a very easy headphone to enjoy and like. Perhaps the only thing that’s lacking about it is the Rockin’ factor, where it can be too soft when the music calls for some energetic presentation. Since the release of the Bowers & Wilkins P5, however, I personally think that the Bowers & Wilkins is the better headphone, while offering similar sound character.
$295.18 from Amazon.com | Closed Cans Shootout
Bowers & Wilkins P5 – HiFi
Midrange centric, thick and sweet mids and full lows, medium to slow pace. The P5 is maybe THE most comfortable portable headphone around. Very easy to drive straight from your Iphone. Good for Vocals, Jazz, Pop, and RnB. Decent noise isolation.
$299.99 from Amazon.com | (no review available)
Beyerdynamic DT1350 – Rockin’
A new release from Beyerdynamic, which I think is what the Beyerdynamic T50p should’ve been from the beginning. Stylish design and build, it’s one of the best looking portable headphones out there. The cup size is small and it’s not quite as isolating as the HD25-1. Fast paced, forward with punchy bass, the DT1350 is very good for Rock, Electronica, Pop and RnB. It’s more expensive than the Sennheiser HD25-1, though I feel the Senn to still have the better sound between the two. Also check out the T50p for a slightly less price, but not as good in the bass department.
$299.00 (DT1350) | $249.00 (T50p) | Beyerdynamic DT1350
Only list the most popular products are listed here. If you feel it to be too limited, feel free to browse the reviews on the Headphones Category: