The 13 Best-Sounding Headphones For Everyone On Your Nice List

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The 13 Best-Sounding Headphones For Everyone On Your Nice List

Buying someone else headphones is often easier said than done. Audiophiles are a fickle bunch and even kids know exactly what type of brand/sound they want these days. These headphones I’m recommending run the gamut in affordability ($25 to $1,945) but they all offer something distinctly unique and refreshing.

As a general rule, buying headphones online is probably not the best move unless you or the recipient has had a chance to try them out. That being said the pairs in this list are all great buys that I can vouch for.

 

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For the Teenager

For your son or daughter asking for an overpriced pair of shitty headphones from Urban Outfitters, grab them a pair of Koss Porta Pros for less than $40. These are the first headphones I ever fell in love with, they’re wild-looking, a little cheap-feeling but great-sounding. A hell of a deal.

$39

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For the College Student

Everyone should own a pair of Sony’s MDR-7506 at some point. These are a really versatile pair of headphones that are simply quite good. Nothing too jazzy design-wise, solidly built.

$78

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For the Girlfriend/Boyfriend

If you’re still stressing out to find a great holiday gift for your significant other, a cool pair of headphones can make a great option. Try grabbing their favorite album on vinyl and a pair of Grado SR60e or SR80e headphones. Grados ooze Brooklyn cool and these models won’t break the bank but both offer great sound at the price.

SR80e: $70
SR80e: $99

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For the Apple Lover

I’ll admit that it kind of hurts to recommend a pair of Beats in a headphones guide, but Beats Solos have actually seen some notable improvements in audio quality over the last few cycles. More than that, the latest bluetooth Beats look and feel really nice. As Apple has grown more conscientious in maintaining their space gray, silver, gold and rose gold color schemes across product lines, the latest Solo2 bluetooth headphones can be a great fit for Apple lovers with a matching Apple Watch, iPhone and MacBook.

Varies by color: $225ish

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For Mom

The newest Sennheiser Momentum 2.0s are some great headphones; they aren’t my cup of tea design-wise but they have satisfying bass and well-refined sound reproduction and feel a good deal more comfortable than the last iteration. To be perfectly honest I don’t entirely see what genders these headphones, I just know that my mom would probably really like them, while they might be a bit too trendy for my dad.

$249

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For Dad

Dads (who aren’t crazy audiophiles) like Bose headphones a lot. Get him these QuietComfort 25s, he’ll love ‘em.

$269

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For the Athlete

Bluetooth earbuds got way, way better in 2015. Leading the pack are the latest offering from Jaybird, the X2s boast 8 hours of battery and a design that won’t leave the buds tumbling out of your ears. At $160, the headphones aren’t super cheap, but their build is fantastic and they sound much better than other offerings.

$160

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For the Casual Runner

If you’re understandably not looking to drop a couple hundred bucks on headphones, there are plenty of somewhat decent no-name headphones for sale in the $20-$30 range on Amazon. The SoundPeats are considerably bulkier and less powerful than the Jaybirds, but hey they’re cheap.

$25

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For the Professional

These headphones aren’t the sharpest-sounding bluetooth ‘phones you could buy, but they look great and are crazy comfortable. You can listen to the Harman Kardon SOHOs for hours without even noticing that you’re wearing them and they look fiercely minimalistic. Great for those accustomed to burning the midnight oil in the office.

$188

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For the Student DJ

So your kid just told you he wants to take next semester off and move to LA to become an experimental trip-hop producer. After you talk some sense into them, show them you still think they’re dope af by getting them a pair of these matte black TMA-2 headphones. I’ve loved the design of Aiaiai’s headphones since I listened to their first pair of cans five years ago. Since then they’ve been steadily improving sound quality and are really becoming respected studio headphones for the price.

$225

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For The Cube Dweller

For those stuck in cubical farms, consider the wireless Symphony 1 Headphones from Definitive. They feature noise canceling technology which is perfect to drown out co-worker, but most importantly, they’re comfortable enough to wear all day.

$399

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For the Producer

I got a chance to spend a couple weeks with the Audeze LCD-3 and I fell in love. First off: they come in a box that looks like it’d carry a tactical mini-nuke, and once you put them on you can tell that that’s the power they can deliver. At nearly $2000 these aren’t for your casual listener; you already need a pretty extensive/expensive audio setup to get the most out of these planar-magnetic driver-powered cans, but they do really dazzle. Best for those producing Kanye’s next album or those with lots of cash that live for hauntingly beautiful lows and thunderous clarity.

$1945

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For Me

Also known as the headphones I will be refinancing my home for (jk I live in a dumpy college apartment), the Sennheiser HD 800 headphones are at the top of my list. You can snag a pair for $1100 on Amazon, which believe it or not is actually a bargain in my opinion. I spent some time with these thanks to Lumoid’s Listen headphone rental program, and I had a really tough time sending them back. They’re surprisingly comfortable and reproduce sound so precisely they give most of my full speaker rigs a run for their money.

$1100

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For the Future

2015 was a great year for bluetooth headphones. Battery life improved, some major players got into the ring and overall sound quality for the class soared. While bluetooth earbuds still have a ways to grow, I hope that 2016 will be the year that more companies work on building truly wireless earbuds. It’s a little unclear who they’d be for, but ever since I saw Her, I’ve been craving a set of wireless buds that balance maximum portability with decent sound and voice controls. Here’s to next year’s wish list.

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