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Four full-size headphones for affordable audiophile luxury

R. Matthew Ward | Aug. 14, 2013
Your ears deserve better than the cheap cans you've been using all these years. Luckily, $300 or so can buy world-class quality.

Bottom line
The four headphone models I tested offer great sound and have the potential to make your ears very happy. If you want something that can take abuse while sounding and looking great, and that was designed with obsessive, Apple-like attention to detail, you'll find a lot to love about V-Moda's $310 M-100. For a little more coin, AKG's $330 K551 offers spectacular sound and avoids most of the sonic disadvantages of closed designs, but it's a little light on bass and it needs proper fit and equipment to sound its best.

A little more money gets you Sennheiser's $350 Momentum, which offers a great combination of design, portability, and balanced sound that most people will find very rewarding, though it doesn't match the K551's peak performance in handling audio detail. Finally, basshead audiophiles—yes, they exist—will love Velodyne's $399 vTrue. It's expensive, and it can't match the sonic detail of the K551, nor does it offer the balance and portability of the Momentum. But the vTrue succeeds at the difficult task of presenting truly huge bass without severely compromising midrange and high frequency performance, and it looks very good doing so.


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