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The Curse Of The Golden Ear: In Search Of Headphones

There’s a reason the term starving artist applies to musicians more than any other creative group - mimes included. It’s a gift to be able to make music, and it takes an incredible amount of skill to get good at it. But those abilities come with a curse: As we advance in our careers the lust for better equipment grows stronger and stronger.

If you’ve ever skipped your car payment to get new gear, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

So it’s somewhat begrudgingly that I share my latest experience and list because I know many of you will whip that plastic out of your collective wallets faster than Johnny Rabb with two sticks. So here we go…

Review: Headphones that will break the bank but soothe your ears

Let’s get one thing clear: I don’t take my headphones lightly. When I want to listen to music, I want to feel like I’m in the studio. I want to hear as much as I possibly can without any interruptions. It’s a lot to ask in an era when modern headphones are tuned to deliver the loudest possible sound with no richness or depth. And as dissappointing as most headphones products can be, the price on some of these things is totally outrageous.

I’ve seen really, really bad sounding headphones from a brand that everybody knows going for $300, and selling out on release day. Just another reminder that I went into the wrong side of the music business.

So what makes a good headphones? Music to my ears. It’s got to sound right, feel right, and last right too. Finally, the value has to be there for the price.

The Best Over Ear Headphones for Musicians

If you know music you know the name Sennheiser. It’s a multi-generation brand that has always stood for two things: High quality sound and higher quality prices. Their latest line of over ear headphones is named the HD 800 S. While the name isn’t particularly inspiring, the sound certainly is. The Sennheiser HD 800 S headphones sound like a dream, and truly give you that in studio experience.

Here’s the rub: They cost over US$1,000. Over a grand. For a pair of headphones. That very difficult to accept reality is instantly washed away when you put them on. Maybe you should just put them on and never take them off? Either way, musicians will have zero complaints about this incredible product.

The Best Bluetooth Earbuds for Musicians

It’s universally agreeud upon that Bluetooth earbuds are inferior to wired versions. This is for many reasons, not the least of which is sound interruption if Bluetooth signals go bad. Bluetooth 5.0 is supposed to fix these issues and more, but I’ll wait until I get it in hand (or in ear) to make any judgements. You also have to keep these little things charged, which means stopping the music every 2-3 hours dpending on the model.

So it’s a bit of a surrpise that the best Bluetooth earbuds for musicians goes to the Jabra Elite Sport. At between $150-200 they’re no walk in the park, but far from Sennheiser’s pricing. These durable little earbuds are water resistant so you won’t hurt them when you sweat, and sound much much better than such a small thing should. 

That concludes it for this quick list. I hope you have about $1500 available to buy both. Happy listening!


About the Author

Nick Edward is a Chicago-based bass guitarist and freelance song and jingle writer. Guess which pays the bills?

The Curse Of The Golden Ear: In Search Of Headphones

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