Sustainably built Fairphone Fairbuds XL headphones are repair friendly + easily swapped with new components

Fairphone smartphones are known for their ability to last, easily repaired and being sustainable. Now the Dutch social enterprise is extending this very design philosophy for a pair of headphones that are easily repairable and save you from buying a new pair when you feel like the audio drivers have gone obsolete.

Strangely called the Fairbuds XL (remember these are headphones, not earbuds) these over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones boast modular aesthetics for replacing components like battery, earcups or audio drivers with utmost ease. If Fairphone must be believed, the headphones can be fixed using just a Philips head screwdriver which is a damn good prospect!

Designer: Fairphone

The modular design consists of 13 separate parts that include a pair of speakers, headphone battery, joystick control, flat cable, headband base, and all the cushions and covers that make up this audio accessory. So, the next time the manufacturer releases a new pair of improved speaker drivers, simply swap the old ones to extend your audiophile journey without breaking the bank. The same goes for the 500-charge cycle battery which can be replaced once it reaches the end of life.

On top of this, the foldable Fairbuds XL is made from 100 percent recycled aluminum, pure recycled tin solder, 80 percent recycled plastics and fair trade gold. Thus, making it the preferred option for music lovers who are considerate of their planet-conscious choices. The IP54-rated headphones weigh just 330 grams and are easy to store given their compact form factor.

The cans are loaded with 40mm dynamic drivers that deliver 20–20,000 Hz frequency response and have 32-ohm impedance. Active noise cancellation is also present courtesy of 2 microphones on the left and 4 on the right earcups. Fairbuds XL support Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity and when the juice runs out they can be connected via the USB-C or USB-C to 3.5 mm audio adapter.

Supported codecs include aptX HD (plus AAC and SBC) and multipoint connectivity is another feature that should keep buyers interested. 800mAh battery on the headphones should last around 26 hours with the ANC mode turned on and 30 hours if turned off. Fairphones has given fast charging a miss here, so they’ll be fully charged after a painstaking wait of 3 hours.

Given all the specifications, the Fairphone Fairbuds XL should deliver respectable sound and ANC performance. Can they compete with the likes of Sony WH-1000XM5, Bose QuietComfort 45 or Apple AirPods Max is still a consideration. Currently, they are up for purchase at a price tag of €249 in Europe and shortly in other parts of the globe too. Fairphone also plans to introduce replacement parts soon, so these headphones should be the next favorite for content creators and music lovers of course.

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Neck-shaped headphone holder doubles as a container and a desk sculpture

Despite the rising ubiquity of wireless earbuds, many people still prefer over-the-ear cups, whether they come with wires or without. We’ll leave the debates to the sound experts, but audiophiles, gamers, and everyone in between still swear by the quality produced by these headphones. That said, these audio accessories sacrifice portability and convenience for performance, and they can quickly become clutter on your desk when left unchecked. There are quite a number of headphone holders that hang those headbands up for everyone to see, but that’s really all that most of them do, which means also taking up precious desk space. We’ve come across a few ideas on how to maximize the space that these objects occupy, and this particular concept combines three functions in one to give a home for your headphones and a few other things.

Designer: Carl Liu

Headphone holders put your headphones up high for two primary reasons. First, it tries to reduce the potential wear and tear that comes when parts of the headphones are always in contact with a surface like a desk. These holders also put your headphones on display, which might be an eye-catching or expensive pair or both. There is no rule that says that these are all that holders should do, and if they are occupying space on your desk, they might as well perform other functions to make up for it.

Reck_Cone is one such concept design that tries to combine different products into a single artful piece. It is, of course, a headphone holder, but you might not immediately identify it as one because of its shape. Unlike typical holders, it does hang the headphones down but instead lets them wrap around the almost conical structure. In this manner, it looks like how headphones would hang around a person’s neck, giving it a more natural appearance even in that unused state.

The headphone holder, however, can also serve as a container. The large empty space in the middle is an obvious place to put items, and it’s easy to imagine it holding pens, rulers, and other long objects. The base, however, also separates from the body to reveal a shallow basin where smaller items like paper clips and pins can be hidden. Of course, these spaces can also be used to store cables and other accessories for the headphones.

The Reck_Cone’s form is eye-catching, and even without the headphones, it displays an unusual shape that looks like a vase with a “wing” on its back. It’s a pleasing shape that doesn’t scream for attention, and it’s a tempting addition to your desk setup, especially since it can take the place of a few other containers in your workspace.

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Wooden headphone holder is also a magnificent piece of sculptural art

As the number of gear we use grows, so, too, the number of things littering our desks. Some, like phones or pieces of paper, are more transient, staying there only while you’re using the desk. Others take up more permanent residence, and therefore require a proper place to call home. That’s true not only for pens or stationery but even more so for device accessories like chargers, earbuds, and headphones. The latter often just get left lying around where you last laid them, which isn’t the best way to take care of them. There are quite a few headphone holders these days, but while some are just pieces of plastic or metal that hang headphones by their bands, this particular design is something you’d also be proud to show off on your desk, even without the headphones.

Designer: Carl Liu

Headphones are designed to be vertical, but that only works if they’re hanging on your head. When unused, they often lay on their sides, which isn’t visually appealing and could even ruin the coating of the headphones. Of course, it’s trivial to just hang them on some hook or stand, but if you’ll be displaying your favorite expensive pair, why not go all out and put them on something worthy of their stature?

That’s pretty much the rationale behind the origin of Figure EIGHT, a wooden headphone holder CNC milled from a single piece of North American walnut before being finished by hand. It gets its name from the two perpendicular holes that make up its core, basically two cylinders that hold different parts of the headphone. The top that faces forward creates a gentle ark for the headband. The bottom cylinder faces sideways, and their gently dipping curves are the perfect nooks for the ear pieces.

The design is an example of how form can follow function in a very elegant manner. There are even some extra hidden features, like how the space in between the ear cups could be used to hide the headphone cable, if it has one. The smooth surfaces and gentle curves of the holder’s form also means that there are no rough edges that could damaged the headphone material while it rests on its wooden bed.

Figure EIGHT’s biggest pull, however, is really its appearance, as it serves as a beautiful piece of decoration whether it’s in use or not. And while it is stylish in its own right, it also doesn’t pull your attention away from the headphones, making sure that your $600 pair is proudly on display in the best way.

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Mandalorian themed Logitech G A30 Wireless Gaming Headset for Star Wars fans

The Mandalorian Season 3 has kicked off on Disney Plus, as Grogu and Mando come across friendly and hostile characters en route to their intergalactic voyage. Just the right time for gamers to zone off with a pair of headphones themed on Din Djarin (lovingly known as Mando), the pop culture hero of current times.

Created by Logitech G in collaboration with Lucasfilm, the “A30 Wireless Gaming Headset The Mandalorian Edition” is more of a collector’s item for Star Wars fans who’ll in all likelihood use the accessory to stream the latest installment of this hit series and beyond.

Designer: Logitech G

To keep fans engaged, there are numerous easter eggs concealed in the headset itself. It’ll be a fun exercise to discover them once you own these pair of cans. For now, we’ll focus on the Mando-inspired aesthetics and features of the headset. Based on the A30 headset’s iconic design, these headphones have the Beskar steel-inspired theme which is an absolute nod to the galactic roamer in search for resurrection. The clamping force on these special edition headphones strikes the right balance for a comfortable and secure fit, which is a very important feature for geeks who value ergonomics.

A die-hard Star Wars fan will never want to part with this headset given it features custom speaker tags having the Din Djarin profile on the left tag and the Clan Mudhorn signet on the right. The earcups have authentic Mandalorian script and those signets pump up your chest to be a warrior (or I should say gamer) to be dealt with. The aesthetics are undoubtedly impressive on this headset, and the specifications truly complement the looks.

A30 Wireless Gaming Headset The Mandalorian Edition connects seamlessly to Android, iOS, Mac,  PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S with a dongle accessory. Battery life is rated at 27 hours on a single charge, and audiophiles will appreciate the inclusion of the in-house LIGHTSPEED Wireless technology. When the battery runs out and there’s no way to charge it, the 3.5 mm connectivity comes in handy.

Being a gaming headset at its heart, there is ultra-low latency wireless connectivity at the core. Audio coming out of these Mando-themed headphones should be crisp courtesy of the 40 mm drivers tuned for crystal clear spatial audio. These pair of cans can be pre-ordered right away for a price tag of $249 with shipping promised in April 2023.

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Open-back Sennheiser HD 660S2 headphones boast wider soundstage and crisper low frequency response

Open-back reference-level headphones are something audiophiles can’t part with, more so, when they are from the acclaimed Sennheiser HD 600 series. Right from the HD 600 introduced in 1997 to the current era HD 660S, the German audiophile brand has come good on the expectations of the most demanding music listeners out there.

Sennheiser’s newest member in the series are the HD 660S open-back headphones that address the most common irk with the HD 660S. Yes, I’m talking about the low-end frequencies in your favorite hip-hop, EDM or Rock songs. So, one can expect deeper and clearer bass levels without compromising on the expansive soundstage details.

Designer: Sennheiser

The sensitivity across all audible frequencies has been tweaked slightly so that the listener can hear sounds never heard before. Impedance on them gets a bump up thanks to the improved 300 ohms (150 ohms on HD 660S) transducers. This lowers the resonant frequency from 110 Hz to 70 Hz so that the hefty kick drums are audible in clear detail.

On the design front, nothing much drastic has been changed in the choice of material and the overall look. The pair of cans weighing 260 grams are crafted in Germany and hand-built in Ireland bearing the same velour-wrapped foam headband and earcups, acoustic metal mesh grilles and folding hinges. One thing that’ll make them distinguishable from the earlier model is the presence of the bronze accents on a jet-black finish.

Just like any other open-back model on the market, the Sennheiser HD 660S2 headphones are best suited for at-home listening. They are intended for audio purist, and don’t come with any ANC or wireless connectivity option. That said Sennheiser has paired them up with two 5.8 ft user-detachable cables that have a 1/4-inch single-ended stereo plug and a 4.4mm balanced stereo jack plug. The package also includes a 1/4-inch to 3.5mm adapter.

The Sennheiser HD 660S2 will be up for grabs on February 21 for a price tag of $699.95. Clearly more expensive than the feature-rich Sony WH-1000XM5 or Apple AirPods Max, but as I said, these pair of cans are for hardcore audiophiles who value audio quality more than anything else.

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Bower and Wilkins’ McLaren Edition Px8 headphones for audiophiles who drool over supercars

Bowers and Wilkins have been tailoring high-performance audio systems for McLaren supercars ever since 2015, and now a Bowers and Wilkins accessory gets their special treatment.

The British luxury automaker’s signature colors are now adorned by the premium audio manufacturing expert who’s produced reliable audio systems for McLaren cars all these years.

Designer: Bower and Wilkins

Riding on the success of the Px8 headphones which have already struck a successful partnership with the James Bond franchise, these special edition pair of cans adorn the papaya orange hues of the rising Formula-1 team. Dubbed the Px8 McLaren Edition, the headphones have a dual-toned finish with the Galvanic Grey dominating the look.

According to Dan Shepherd, B&W’s Vice President of Licensing & Partnerships the Px8 McLaren Edition extends the “appeal of our industry-leading sound performance and McLaren’s DNA to outside the car.” Those subtle instances of McLaren’s iconic color are present inside the ear cups (with matching fabric covers), metal bands on the edges and also on the audio cable running out of the smooth chassis. Of course, the McLaren branding on one edge of the leather headband and the grey case cover top things off in style.

Other than this, these over-the-ear headphones get the same soft napa leather finish and the exact same dimensions as the regular Px8 headphones. Technical specifications are virtually the same with the 40mm Carbon Cone drivers angled at an angle rocking the sound. The regular model has already impressed tech pundits, and the legacy continues on to this special edition model with one of the best (if not the best) active noise cancellation and an impressive 30 hours of battery life on a single charge.

Audiophiles and Motorsports lovers will find the perfect match in the form of these headies that feature aptX Adaptive Bluetooth codec. McLaren Edition Px8 headphones can be directly plugged into a DAC or a digital USB-C connection to experience lossless 24-bit audio. When the battery runs dry and there’s no way to charge the cans, you can continue listening to audio with the accompanying 3.5mm cable.

McLaren Edition Px8 will carry a price tag of $800 – which is $100 more than the regular version. For McLaren fans that won’t be a huge price barrier to cross over, since these headphones do actually look good. Matching them up with the automotive brand’s livery is going to be the course for audiophiles.

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These headphones promise an ‘eargasm’ by using a Hybrid Driver that lets you FEEL the music

A concert in a headset, is essentially what this India-based audio startup wants to deliver…

Have you ever listened to good music on TWS Earbuds? It sucks, frankly. That small driver is incapable of delivering the kind of audio you’d expect from great speakers. Headphones are a marginal improvement, but they really don’t get your heart thumping the way being at an actual concert does. The reason is simple, tech startup Sonic Lamb explains… our ears are well tuned to higher frequencies, but not so much with low-end frequencies like bass. Instead of hearing the bass, we ‘feel’ the bass through our body- this is why you can feel the drumbeat or bass drops in your chest when you’re at a concert. Earphones can hardly deliver that experience, and headphones can only do so much with their marginally larger audio drivers. The solution, Sonic Lamb says, is to enable users to not just hear music through the ears but also FEEL it through one’s body. Good bookshelf speakers and home theater systems reproduce this experience through dedicated audio drivers for mids and highs and a subwoofer system that moves air to create that powerful and immersive bass… As audiophiles and engineers with prior experience working on hearing aids and audio systems for helmets, the folks at Sonic Lamb decided to make headphones that deliver a theater-like experience in headphones using their Hybrid Driver technology.

Designers: Navajith Karkera, Jagath Biddappa, Sudesh Acharya & Mohammed Fadil

Click Here to Buy Now: $189 $299 (37% off exclusively for YD readers only). Hurry, only 25 left!

Powered by the world’s first and patented Hybrid Driver Acoustics.

Sub-wooder now in a headphone.

The headphones come with a patented hybrid-driver architecture, featuring a pair of full-range drivers for the mids and highs to mimic loudspeakers and a proprietary impulse driver that emulates a sub-woofer system by converting audio signals into corresponding mechanical motions that are then directed to your body. Using a method not too different from bone conduction, this headphone relies on audio waves and actual vibrations to help you both hear as well as feel the music you listen to. The resulting experience is nothing short of feeling like attending a concert, with a part of the music flowing right through your body. The Sonic Lamb Headphones are perhaps the only pair of cans mad enough to integrate sub-woofers into their architecture, and surprisingly enough, have low listening fatigue because the bass is directed to your body rather than to your ears.

Loud and clear.

Forget fidgeting with EQ controls.

The over-ear headphones are built with a bunch of high-end features, including the ability to charge and simultaneously play studio-grade 24-bit audio at 96kHz thanks to direct USB-C input, and Bluetooth 5.1 for handling wireless audio. A twin-mic array also gives the headphones ambient noise suppression and vocal enhancement abilities. Instead of fidgeting with EQ controls, you can personalize your listening experience by performing a quick 2-minute hearing test on Sonic Lamb’s app, or better still, use the Multimode dial to cycle through the multiple listening modes on the headphones by turning the knob built into the cans.

Multimode for personalization.

Sonic Lamb offers four immersive modes to choose from, ranging from the relatively milder ‘Feel’ mode for melodious music genres (in which case the subwoofer just purrs), to the ‘Beast’ mode (for a fully activated subwoofer that delivers the most powerful and immersive bass response) that’s well-suited for action movies, gaming and for absolute bass-heads who want nothing short of peak eargasm. These modes obviously affect the Sonic Lamb’s overall battery life too, with the Hear mode providing 24 hours of use, and the Beast mode giving you a solid 6 hours of eargasm on max volume.

Replaceable earpads and silicone headband liner.

The headphone’s design and build are well in line with premium headsets too, with two-tone color finishes that sit well on the headphone’s sleek body. There are 6 color variants to choose from, all with their own replaceable ear pads and silicone headband liners to ensure that the headphones last longer. The headphones also come with detachable boom microphones, turning them into great video-chatting headsets or perhaps the most immersive gaming headsets on the planet, as well as USB charging and audio cables. The Sonic Lamb headphones start at a pretty modest $189 for the first 25 early bird backers (the price bumps up to $199 after that) and come along with a travel case, a soft pouch, and a tamper-proof box.

Click Here to Buy Now: $189 $299 (37% off exclusively for YD readers only). Hurry, only 25 left!

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The best earbuds, headphones and speakers to give as holiday gifts in 2022

The holidays are a good time to upgrade an audio setup, whether it's for yourself or for someone on your shopping list. We’ve compiled a group of the best audio gear that ranges from noise-canceling headphones to true wireless earbuds and speakers. There are also a range of prices for each product type, so you don’t necessarily have to break the bank unless you’re really looking to splurge this year.

Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony WH-1000XM5
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

If you’re shopping for the complete package in a new set of headphones, there’s one clear best choice. No other company packs in as many features as Sony does on the WH-1000XM5, and they’re combined with a stellar sound and effective ANC. With this model, Sony redesigned its flagship headphones, making them way more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The company also made noticeable improvements to the active noise cancellation, adding a separate V1 chip in addition to the QN1 that was inside the M4. The 1000XM5 still has all of the features that typically make Sony’s premium headphones so good. 30-hour battery life, a combo of touch controls and physical buttons, Speak-to-Chat automatic pausing when you talk, and the ability to change noise modes based on your activity or location. — Billy Steele, Senior News Editor

Buy WH-1000XM5 at Amazon - $398

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

If sound quality is the primary factor in your next set of headphones, Bowers & Wilkins pair impressive audio quality with solid ANC performance. The Px7 S2 are my favorite headphones I’ve reviewed this year in terms of sound. There’s also a more refined design that doesn’t look overly plasticky and the headphones fit comfortably even after hours of use. Call quality, ambient sound and automatic pausing need some refining, but they get the job done. At the end of the day, the design, sound quality and noise cancellation make the Px7 S2 a strong pick in the current field. Plus, they’ll last way beyond the stated 30 hours of battery life. — B.S.

Buy Px7 S2 at Amazon - $399

Sennheiser Momentum 4

Sennheiser Momentum 4

When picking the best-sounding headphones from 2022, it’s difficult to choose between the Px7 S2 and the Momentum 4. However, Bowers & Wilkins gets the edge in terms of design, but they’re evenly matched on sound quality and the rest of the competition isn’t close. Sennheiser does have an impressive 60-hour battery life in its favor and improved ANC performance. Those two items alone might be enough for you to overlook the very generic design for the music lover on your list this year. — B.S.

Buy Momentum 4 at Amazon - $350

Audio-Technica M20xBT

Audio-Technica M20xBT

Audio-Technica’s affordable wireless headphones have consistently offered solid performance that would make a great gift, even with the lack of noise cancellation. The company’s latest are the M20xBT, a Bluetooth version of the A-T’s popular M20x wired cans. A comfy fit and up to 60 hours of battery life will cost you just $79. Connect to multiple devices at once with Bluetooth multipoint connectivity and reliably control tunes with physical buttons. The design isn’t as refined as the company’s pricer models like the M50xBT2, but you get the bulk of what makes Audio-Technica’s cheaper options so good. — B.S.

Buy M20xBT at Amazon - $79

Sony LinkBuds S

Sony LinkBuds S

Sony’s first set of LinkBuds were a unique open-wear concept, but they weren't for everyone. To expand the lineup with more universal appeal, the company debuted the LinkBuds S back in the spring. These earbuds may be tiny but they still offer active noise cancellation and the smaller size means they’re more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. That’s the entire point of the LinkBuds S as Sony built them to be worn all the time, although you can expect up to six hours of use with ANC enabled. Transparency mode makes this possible and features like Speak-to-Chat and Adaptive Sound Control highlight the list of additional features. — B.S.

Buy LinkBuds S at Amazon - $198

Beats Fit Pro

Beats Fit Pro
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

If you're shopping for a set of workout earbuds this year, the best option is the Beats Fit Pro. These offer a lot of handy features from AirPods thanks to Apple's H1 chip. The overall size is smaller than a lot of earbuds, which leads to a comfy fit. Plus, the added wing helps keep them in place during physical activity. Punchy bass brings energy to cardio sessions but the low-end tone remains balanced, rather than overpowering, and six-hour battery life should be enough to get you through the bulk of the day. — B.S.

Buy Beats Fit Pro at Amazon - $200

JLab Go Air Pop

JLab Go Air Pop
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

Thanks to JLab, you can give a decent set of true wireless earbuds as a stocking stuffer. For $20, the Go Air Pop covers most of the basics. Eight-hour battery life, on-board controls, EQ presets, IPX4 moisture protection and the ability to use just one earbud at a time are all on the features list. The Go Air Pop is smaller than its predecessor, the Go Air, and this model comes with a case that completely closes. What’s more, the company kept the integrated USB on the charging case, so you don’t have to worry about looking for a cable when you’re out of power. — B.S.

Buy JLab Go Air Pop at Amazon - $25

UE Wonderboom 3

UE Wonderboom 3
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

If you’re shopping for a Bluetooth speaker this year, the UE Wonderboom 3 is an affordable, tiny option that still packs a punch. It’s adventure-proof thanks to an IP67 rating, audio quality is bright and an outdoor mode boosts treble and bass so sound can be heard over a greater distance. You can also easily pair two Wonderboom 3 units for stereo sound, which won’t cost you a fortune thanks to the low price. And with up to 14 hours of battery life, you should be able to keep the tunes going for a while. — B.S.

Buy Wonderboom 3 at Amazon - $100

Marshall Tufton

Marshall Tufton
Will Lipman Photography for Engadget

If someone on your list asked for a Bluetooth speaker but has a more refined audio taste, perhaps the Marshall Tufton will fit the bill. It’s pricey, but the investment gets you up to 20 hours of battery life and the option of a wired connection via 3.5mm aux jack. As is the case with all of the Marshall wares, the Tufton carries the look of the iconic guitar amps and this model has an audio quality that’s equal parts dynamic, warm and almost analog in its performance. On-board treble and bass knobs are also there to assist with any adjustments. — B.S.

Buy Tufton at Marshall - $450

Marshall Acton III

Marshall Acton III

While portable Bluetooth speakers are great on-the-go, there are benefits to the set-it and forget-it options like Marshall’s Acton III wired model. It’s ideal for someone’s bedroom, living room or kitchen and offers 60-watts of power for just $280. Marshall’s classic amp-styled exterior looks great too, with its fabric grille and soft-touch exterior made up of 70-percent recycled materials. On top, you’ll find backlit physical controls so you can adjust settings in the dark and won’t always need a phone to control playback.

The Acton III delivers a rich and dynamic sound across a wider soundstage than previous models, with a bass response that’s also hefty for its size. On top of the sound quality, you get app support with EQ controls, OTA updates and a placement compensation feature to adjust for the acoustics in your space.

The overall build quality and sound makes it a gift anyone can appreciate, even as a stationary companion to a small portable speaker. There are two larger options as well, if you know someone who likes it loud. Either way, you’ll be a shoe-in for the party that will inevitably follow. – Jon Turi, Homepage Editor

Buy Acton III at Marshall - $280

High-res streaming subscriptions

Wireless white headphones on yellow pastel background.
DBenitostock via Getty Images

If you’re unsure of what to give the music lover in your life this holiday season, why not allow them to give high-resolution streaming a shot. Several services offer the option of higher quality audio, but unfortunately not many of them allow you to gift a subscription. Instead, you’ll simply need to purchase a gift card that your recipient can apply to a high-res plan. Gift cards are available for Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Tidal and others, although you may just need to buy a generic gift card for the company in cases like Amazon and Apple. I’d also suggest giving an App Store or Google Play gift card for someone to apply to a plan to unlock a vault of high-resolution live performances from Bruce Springsteen, Jack White, Pearl Jam, Dead & Company and more. — B.S.

Shop Apple Music gift cardsShop Amazon gift cardsShop Tidal gift cards

These next-gen headphones have swappable audio drivers to never make you feel underwhelmed

For audiophiles, headphones are like owning a new pair of shoes – you buy one and then after a year or so, a new one arrives, and the insatiable urge to get them leads to burning more money on a new pair of cans. The process is infinite for audio lovers as they are always seeking those god-level headphones that are the perfect balance of sound, ergonomic comfort and style.

More often than not, this complete package (if you ever find one) comes at a steep price tag, and the probability of it going obsolete over the years due to developments in audio technologies is even greater. Case-in-point, audio driver technology graduates over time, and mostly, new drivers bring new possibilities in how audio would sound. So, why not have a pair of headphones, that can have swappable drivers?

Designer: German Shustovskij

These are the Nautilus headphones that give audiophiles the freedom to swap drivers for an upgrade without investing in a new pair of headphones which eventually leads to the old ones losing their relevance over time. This makes complete sense as the modular freedom lets the audio listeners keep their super comfy and stylish headphones without losing out on audio tech development over the years.

I personally am an audiophile and like to stick to a pair that is the most comfortable to wear while sounding good. Even though I have a couple of buddies who spend exorbitant money in getting those new elusive headphones, I find the money-burning practice a bit too much. That makes, these headphones with swappable drivers even more intriguing.

The designer proposes a housing that fits isodynamic and electrostatic drivers without much fizz. Their size is similar, even though the principle mechanism of generating sound is different. This gives the freedom to use different drivers with different audio input sources as well. For example, the isodynamic driver doesn’t require much amplification and works well with simple analog or digital sources while on the other hand, electrostatic drivers use different amplifiers to achieve premium-quality sound from high-powered output DACs.

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Top 10 headphones that are the perfect alternative to the Apple AirPods Max

Once my headphones are in, the rest of the world is out. I scroll through my playlist and deep dive into my favorite musical tunes. And then I’m in my own little audio world, where everything is peaceful, my favorite singers are my best friends, and they just knohew the right things to say. If you’re a music fanatic as well, you know how important and sacred your personal music time can be, and how holy your relationship with your headphones is. After all, these are the resourceful little things that transport us into our beloved audio world. And, one of the most popular headphones these days are the Apple AirPods Max. But hey! Let’s remember that great headphones go beyond Apple as well. And this nifty list includes all of them – from Yamaha’s wireless noise-canceling headphones to Adidas’ solar-powered ones. Headphone designs these days are at an all-time high, and I’m sure you can’t wait to introduce your ears to them!

1. The Yamaha L700A

Coming from a company that has a reputation for making ‘serious’ audio equipment for serious musicians and audio professionals, the Yamaha L700A looks to treat a balance between being pro-gear and consumer-worthy. It sports a gray design, finished with fabric trims on the headband as well as on the earpieces themselves, making them look like condenser microphones from afar. The wireless headphones fold flat like the AirPods Max, for easy traveling, and instead of touch-sensitive panels or rotary knobs, the earphones actually come with buttons on the right earpiece for that reliable tactile experience.

2. The Nothing Head (1)

The Nothing Head (1) is a conceptual pair of over-ear cans designed keeping Nothing’s design language and company DNA in mind. Carl Pei’s latest venture has focused on wanting to make products more open, transparent, and fun and the Head (1) is quite literally all those things. It comes with its own Glyph Interface, like on the phone (1), taking the audio experience of a headphone and turning it into an audiovisual one. It acts as branding, doing exactly what the Beats logo did, but better… more importantly, it can act as a notification light to let you know if your Head (1) is connected, or let others know that you’re busy listening to music and shouldn’t be disturbed.

3. Bowers & Wilkins Px8

According to the Worthing, West Sussex-based audio equipment maker, these new headphones have the “best sound quality” ever offered on a pair of cans. That claim is based on the fact that Px8 has 40mm carbon cone drivers angled inside the earcups to produce distortion-free sound in ultra-high resolution at all audible frequencies. For audio lovers, this means a wider and more accurate soundstage closer to what the music composer intended. According to them, it is even better than the five-star rated Px7 S2 which apparently sounds great.

4. The Adidas RPT-02 SOL

Dubbed the Adidas RPT-02 SOL, these pair of over-the-ear cans juice up with natural light or even artificial light. So, they’ll not need to recharge any time soon. These headphones are a follow-up to the RPT-01(not solar-powered) and promise almost double the playback time at around 80 hours. Not to forget that the RPT-02 SOL are solar powered, and the battery keeps topping up as long as you are exposed to good lighting conditions.

5. The Google Pixel Headphones

Without really any speculation (given that this is a concept), let’s really break down the Pixel Headphones’ design. It’s classic, understated, and feels a lot like the designer borrowed cues from the AirPods Max and the Chromecast. The headrest is slim but padded, and the earcups have a weave fabric overlay with the letters L and R embroidered inside the cups to tell you how to wear the phones. Metal sliders give you precise height adjustment, although the earcups don’t fold frontwards like the AirPods Max, and there’s no awkward charging case/handbag with this too.

6. Bambass

Bambass is a concept for an open-back headphone that uses traditional bamboo weaving as a major component of its sustainable material. It is made up mostly of thin coiled bamboo stripes which are not just sustainable but also bring you a more insulated sound. You get a stainless steel strip to help support the headband that is made mostly from stacked stripes of bamboo. The joint for the earcups have a screw mechanism that allows you to adjust the cups to your comfort. Lastly, you get a single-layer coating of melamine to preserve the life cycle of the bamboo material.

7. Olfoo

Life without headies is unthinkable in modern times for audiophiles at least, isn’t it? This useful accessory has evolved in technology from being wired to truly wireless in the last few years. Features like touch/gesture buttons to toggle the volume, start/stop music, seek tracks, or switch between ANC modes. While most prefer gesture-controlled input, I personally like to have a more tactile experience with my gadgets. Headphones are no exception, and these ones dubbed Olfoo fall right into my alley. The reason is, that they have a physical button that can do all the above tasks with a profound physical input.

8. Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

This new pair from Sony uses two processors: an Integrated Processor V1 and a 30mm driver unit. The first one uses the HD Noise Canceling Processor QN1 to enhance bass production and sound clarity. The 30mm driver unit is for the noise canceling. With these improvements, the headphones offer incomparable noise cancelation. You can switch off the world around you with this thing. The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones’ two processors control eight microphones. The latter reduces the frequency and optimizes noise cancelation.

9. The Thermaphones

Meet the Thermaphones – a pair of cans that alter the temperature to nullify the effect of extremely hot temperature or the chill of winter. These headphones have a hybrid design, wherein, they have temperature-changing earbuds for unique thermal comfort. The earcups on these headphones are compact with protruding earbuds on the inside. This promises superior sound isolation honed by the vacuum seal of the earbuds and topped by the encapsulating properties of the ear cups. Temperature control is achieved via the 2 integrated Peltier chips which are capable of toggling the temperature between 25°C and 38°C.

10. The Samsung Galaxy Level

While the Samsung Galaxy Buds are named because of their ‘bud’-shaped design (they look like kidney beans, personally), the Level headphones are named the way they are more because of how calibrated their sound is. The headphones have a slick outer design that comes with buttons located on the rim around the leather ear-cups, although touch-sensitive surfaces on the sides allow you to better interact with your multimedia, doing things like increasing or decreasing volume, answering/rejecting calls, cycling through music, or invoking Bixby or your phone’s own Voice Assistant.

The post Top 10 headphones that are the perfect alternative to the Apple AirPods Max first appeared on Yanko Design.