In the past two months. I have bought and returned about six pairs of headphones/earbuds an one music player. I have been looking for wireless noise cancelling headphones that have a good combination of great noise cancelling and stellar bass (good/fun booming car stereo bass, not the flat shit that audiophiles call good bass). I have unfortunately been disappointed more times than I could count, even with pairs of headphones that people constantly rave about. I had been looking for a pair of headphones to replace my Sony XB950N1s (Sony Extra Bass headphones with noise cancelling). The bass is stellar, but the noise cancelling is pretty sub par and leaves much to be desired for a $250 pair of cans. I decided to embark on a journey to find my idea of the perfect pair of headphones.
This journey started when I decided to look for a pair of wireless earbuds (truly wireless, not the ones with the cord that goes around your neck) for gym use. I bought two pairs and settled on one.
1. The Bragi Dash Pro: $349
2. The Jabra Sport Elite: $149
I returned the Bragi Dash headphones because while the noise cancelling was stellar, and the touch controls somewhat intuitive when they worked; the sound left much to be desired. The clarity was there, but the bass was lacking. I returned them and got the Jabra Elites which much to my surprise had the sound signature I was looking for. I was surprised with the booming bass I got from earbuds. The earbuds had 3.5 hours of battery life with a charging case that could provide up to 13.5 hours of extra charge. I was pretty happy with my purchase. The problem however is that though these were great fro a 1.5-3 hour gym workout, they’re not very comfortable for long trips. I decided to look for a new pair of over ear headphones. I decided to start cheap and work my way up.
1. TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
I already had a pair of TaoTronics ANC earbuds that sounded great for gaming on my switch so, I decided to buy these guys for $52.49. I was immediately disappointed by the lack of bass I so desired. I didn’t even field test them (taking them on the streets and, public transit). I packed them up and returned them within half an hour of opening them.
2. ASDOM ANC8 Active Noise Cancelling Heaphones
The description sounded promising, and the reviews sounded great. I would be disappointed once more. The bass was almost non existent coming from the Sony Extra Bass line. I packed them up in anger and made another trip to the Amazon store to ship the thing back.
3. Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2
-After a bit of digging, I saw some reviews that seemed really promising. I hit the order button once more and, waited for the mail man. I tried them out and there was a decent amount of bass, but they once again left much to be desired. I decided they deserved the field test. The field test is my usual MBTA commute to various places. I hate people, so noise cancelling is a must on the train. You don’t want to hear the convos of people around you, the screaming hoodrats, the homeless people that come up to you and the roar and screeching noises of the train. I also don’t want to hear traffic which sounds pretty dangerous, but I want to be deeply immersed in my music not matter where I am. I have great situational awareness so, I can navigate traffic just fine, I just don’t want to hear it. These sadly failed the field test; I was willing to forgive the somewhat lack of bass, but these things sucked at noise cancelling. I threw them in the box in anger and made yet another trip to the Amazon Store to ship them back.
4. Sony WH-1000x M2
I really wanted to like these, I really did. At this point in my search I realized I needed to start spending more money if I wanted to find a good combination of both good noise cancelling and, Bass. I bought these on a whim and, the first impressions seemed extremely promising; I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The headphones had a default flat profile with the option of a bass booster that raised the lows to satisfactory levels while retaining clarity. The noise cancelling was pretty solid. Things were all good and fun accept for one serious problem. These cans may have a bass boost, but that doesn’t mean they’re built to handle it for very long. After several hours of playing music, the drivers ruptured a bit. Another problem is that in order for the bass effect to sound good, there has to be a good seal on your ears. This seal gets broken easily if you’re like me and like to walk at a brisk pace. How are you gonna have a bass boost feature if your drivers can’t handle the bass for extended periods of time? I put these things in a box, went to Best Buy and decided to try the one pair of headphones everyone and their mother swears by.
5. Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II
Everyone and their mother tells me that Bose headphones are a sound investment (pun intended). The noise cancelling is top notch, so why not? He’re the problem, Bose absolutely hates bass; as a matter of fact, Bose hates YOUR EQs. Bose is so hell bent on you using their sound profile with audio that is flatter than old soda that they have this really annoying feature call “Auto EQ” this constantly mixes all types of music and sources so that they always adhere to Bose’s sound signature. If you jack up the bass in your phone’s EQ settings, the headphones will lower that frequency. There’s no way to turn this feature off and it drives me insane. I thought a firmware update would give me this feature, but it just wasn’t happening. I walked right back into that Best Buy and asked for my money back. Everyone loves Bose headphones, but I absolutely hate them. Bose are overrated.
I had been long overdue to find a suitable replacement for my 160GB iPod Classic. I started with the 80 GB only to max that out. I bought the 160 GB, but my musical tastes only continued to grow.
Sony NW-A45 Walkman
-Back in January, I bought the Sony NW-A45 Walkman on the promise that it could take a 400GB Micro SD card. Things seemed peachy at first but, the device has this really annoying song limit that prevents it from reading all my songs. I have about 42,000 songs, and the device could only read 36,000 of them. I tried to get around it the best I could, but I got so frustrated I returned the device. There was no point in paying for something that couldn’t do what I paid for.
ZTE Axon 7 Mini Smartphone
This is a mid range $189 phone that has so far done everything I wanted. It can read my entire library with no problem. The only small issue now is looking for a good music app, but the google play store is a pretty big place so I’m not worried.
This seems obsessive for something as simple as headphones, but music means a great deal to me and maybe I’m just being too damn picky. It’s really frustrating to spend money only to no get what you paid for. Maybe the perfect headphones just don’t exist. I have a feeling that I may have to go back to wired headphones if I want to find what I’m looking for. Maybe I just need to force myself to like flat audio profiles, I don’t know. Maybe one day Sony will update it’s Extra Bass line of headphones with a pair that have better noise cancelling. The noise cancelling is subpar on these things, but they’re the only over ear headphones I like the sound on. There’s another pair of headphones I want to try but, I feel like I’m going to get let down once more. I feel like there’s no point. For now I think I might just cut my losses.
Flemmings Beaubrun is an avid gamer and lover of music. When not working, Flemmings likes to spend his time whipping up dank beats for the masses. He also spends his weekends thrift shopping for rare video games and obscure electronics. Other times he’s in front of a TV with a giant bowl of cereal enjoying shows from the 90s.