Beyond the earbuds, there are thousands of headphone types and models. We have not tried them all, but we can tell you what we like so far.
Best bang for the buck: Grado Labs SR-80
Best in-ear monitor: Monster Turbine Pro Copper
We have a new winner! These new headphones from Monster are absolutely awesome. Choosing the tips that work for you best is key to good performance, but once you do, hang on to your hat. They are $400 msrp, but considering that they also have taken the top spot in the Overall Presentation category away from a pair for $700 Grado RS-1’s, they actually save you money. “Expensive and worth it” is a good thing. Their lifetime warranty helps the situation a lot as well.
Best overall presentation: Monster Turbine Pro Copper
We have not had such an emotional response to any pair of headphones before. These headphones are a game changer for us. In fact the entire line of IEMs from Monster are worth looking at. One thing we love about their line is that they are all different on purpose, because taste is subjective. We recommend finding a place to audition them first; the Copper, the Gold, and the Miles Davis Tribute versions are all worth consideration. If you have to buy them without hearing them, and you want the best, go for the Copper. Buying the Gold will save you some cash, and some people prefer them over the Copper, so less money doesn't mean less performance, it’s more about personal preference at that point. We use the Copper.
Best isolating full-sized headphones:
Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80
Diffuse-field equalization and a comfy fit with an efficient impedance rating makes these a favorite for a closed pair. Nice, wide soundstage with solid bass response and a detailed high end. Noise isolation is good, better than most in it’s class, but nowhere near as good as In-Ear Monitors.
We have also enjoyed Sony MDR-7506’s and the affordable iGrado’s. Bose headphones tend to be bass-heavy, so if you own a pair, you may wish to set the equalizer on your iPod to Bass Reducer when listening to our recordings. That applies to any bass-heavy headphones.
There are many headphones out there that do a great job, depending on the application. All headphones will benefit from a dedicated headphone amplifier, although the Grado SR-80’s and the Monster TPC’s are efficient enough to sound really great directly off an iPod.