The 10 best new headphones of 2016
There has been significant activity in the headphones department within past few months. Audio component manufacturers have come up with new models that provide better audio quality and additional advanced features. One noticeable trend among the new releases is the increased support for wireless streaming to the headphones. Catch the latest headphones in our compilation of the 10 best new headphones of 2016.
The h.ear wireless NC is an ideal choice for everyday headphones because of its simplicity. The single-color, single-shape design is attractive for those on the move. Though the headphones appear minimalistic on the design front, they have a rich feature set. The Digital Noise Cancellation feature reduces external noise so that you can listen to music without any background hum, such as from a moving train. Pairing to a smartphone is a breeze with the NFC (Near Field Communication) option. The h.ear also supports the LDAC technology, which offers 3 times faster speeds as compared to Bluetooth.
The ATH-MSR7NC is a noise cancellation version of the popular ATH-MSR7 headphones. At a time when most competing products support wireless, the ATH-MSR7NC sticks with a physical cable for connectivity. The distinguishing feature of the ATH-MSR7NC is the advanced active noise calibration technology which allows you to listen to music without any external disturbances. The noise calibration cancels external noise from all directions (360 degrees) and works well even in extremely noisy environments. Air vents on the earcups help improve the air flow which results in better sounding headphones.
“Let’s imagine that you are in a shop to buy electronics. A new high-end tablet catches your eye. You move near the bench to take a closer look when you hear the tablet details on your headphones.”. This is not a plot from the next Star-Trek movie, but a typical use case of the Jabra intelligent headset. The Jabra has integrated sensors like GPS to pin-point your exact position. Once you stand next to the tablet, the software senses your interest in the product and sends addition information over the headphones. The Jabra also supports the binaural technology, which produces 3D sounds using only 2 speakers. For instance, the voice can appear to come from front when you face the tablet and from behind when you face away.
The Kuai multisport biometric is your complete fitness companion. It has an in-built accelerometer and heart rate monitor to measure various biometric parameters. The Kuai can calculate the heart rate, VO2 Max, calories burnt, cadence, speed, distance and pace. It can also receive data from bike sensors and other fitness products that support the ANT+ technology.
The Kuai allows you to create, share and download a training plan. A simple training instruction consists of intensity and duration – like walk at 1 mile per hour for 20 minutes. Several instructions can be combined together to create a training plan. While exercising, the Kuai can provide voice alerts that assist you in meeting your training plan. The Kuai has 8GB memory to store your biometric information while exercising, which you can review later on. The Kuai is water-resistant up to 3 meters and is suitable for extreme sports.
The Backbeat Sense is designed to be convenient and easy to use. It has smart sensors that play music automatically when you wear the headphones. The voice alerts on the Sense will whisper in your ear when the battery is empty or when you connect to another device. If you want to hear external sounds, you can do so with the OpenMic feature. The Sense allows you to connect simultaneously to two devices, that are up to 330 feet away. If you are in the habit of misplacing your headphones often, then the Sense is for you! You can use the software on the phone to emit a beep from the headphones. You can also track the last known location on a map.
The Everest 700 Elite merges the hi-fi JBL audio with wireless headphones. The Elite has sculpted ear-cushions which offer a comfortable fit, even when they are used for extended periods of time. A nice feature in the Everest 700 Elite is the ability to hear outside sounds which provides you with ‘surrounding awareness’. The NXTGen technology is a twist on the active noise cancellation to allow ‘a little’ of the external noise to pass through the headphones. This is very useful if you expect to answer your doorbell while listening to music. It is easy to configure the Elite with the TrueNote Auto Sound calibration utility. This tool, which runs on a smartphone, can calibrate the headphones depending on your environment with a single button click.
The BeoPlay H7 headphones are the right choice for the fashion conscious user. The H7 is built with premium materials like anodized aluminum, lambskin and cowhide leather that give it a luxurious feel. An aluminum touch interface is located on the right earcup, which blends in well with the headphones. The touch interface supports gestures and allows you to take a call or skip a track. The BeoPlay H7 is designed so that it can be used an entire day. It weighs 280 grams and does not feel heavy on the head. The battery lasts 20 hours which should allow music playback from morning to night. If you run out of charge on the battery, you can plug in the cable and continue listening to the music.
The HE1000 is a ‘reference’ product from HiFiMan and is the most expensive model at $2,999. The HE1000 is a top of the line headphones with several innovative features. It uses the world’s first nanometer size diaphragm that results in low distortion and superior audio quality. The asymmetric magnetic circuits within the headphones were developed over 7 years and results in a livelier and a more natural audio reproduction. The earcups have a novel window shade design that helps protect the driver. The window shade makes the headphones sound more open, which means that sound can get into and out of the headphones.
The BeyerDynamic T5P second generation hi-fi headphones are optimized for portable players. The headphones have an impedance of 32 Ohms, which means that they can be driven directly by CD players, smartphones and tablets. The T5P uses state-of-the art OCC 7N copper cable for the connection between the headphones and the player. The cables are coated with a special textile to protect against external interference. As a result, the audio quality is good on the T5P. One big drawback of the T5P is the lack of Bluetooth or wireless support, especially for headphones that are designed to be used with portable devices. The T5p is made in Germany and comes with a 5 year warranty on the workmanship.
There are electronic products and there is art – the Sennheiser Orpheus belongs to the latter. The Orpheus was built to be the best sounding headphones. It uses state-of-the-art materials in its construction – platinum vaporized diaphragms, gold vaporized ceramic transducers and silver cables. The Orpheus uses a mix of vacuum tubes and solid state technology to enhance the audio performance. The Orpheus has a wide audio frequency range from 8Hz to 100kHz. It has the lowest distortion measured in an audio system – 0.01% at 1kHz. At $55,000, this magnificent piece of art is best suited for a museum, or an enthusiast with deep pockets!
The new headphones discussed in our list have set high design and performance benchmarks. As the year progresses, we expect to see many new products that go beyond the current ones. We would also know how users perceive the selected ‘best new headphones’ and which headphones turn out to be the most popular. In the meantime, let us know what you think of the headphones we have listed above by commenting below!