Plug in, and tune out everything else


Looking for headphones? Don’t make do with the free pair you get with your gadgets. Get a pair that suits your needs

Earphones are being used with every gadget today: a tablet, a smartphone, an MP3 player or even a wireless set with the TV if it is in a bedroom. “Most of us don’t hesitate to invest in a good gadget, but forget about the earphones,” says Bangalore-based Sridhar Reddy, 38, an audiophile and independent consultant on custom-made audio systems.

“The earphones that come as a package deal with most gadgets are basic. They don’t fit our ears well and if they do, they don’t do a good job of blocking out external noise,” says Reddy.

These generic earphones also fail to adapt to your lifestyle needs—answering calls on the go or running while listening to music. “A good pair of headphones is necessary to enjoy your gadget to its full capacity. Serious audiophiles, for example, will never go for in-the-ear earphones. They like them big and round so that music can breathe,” explains Reddy. In the same way, if you answer a lot of calls while on the move, the last thing you want is static in your Bluetooth headset. We list headphones to match your every need.

• Music on the move

Want headphones that stay with you and give you good quality music while you run, sweat and work out in the gym? The Sennheiser Sports series has three different designs, PMX 680i, OMX 680i and MX 680i, for medium-to-heavy workouts. They are highly flexible, so you can run faster or work out harder without worrying about dislodging the headphones. All of them come with a powerful stereo sound, an integrated remote, built-in volume control and a microphone to track and take calls in the middle of a workout. The kit includes many accessories and sleeves, to make sure you find the perfect fit for your ears and the earplugs stay firmly in place. The earphones are sweat- and water-resistant.

Money Matters: Rs. 3,990 for PMX 680i and OMX 680i and Rs. 3,290 for MX 680i, available at select stores. Check for discounted prices on

TV watching

Don’t want to disturb your partner with your idiot-box viewing? Help is at hand with Sennheiser RS120 Wireless Headphones, which come with a charge station. Though they are older than the more recently launched Sennheiser RS180, they are still our favourites for the amount of listen-time they give in one charge (20 hours, rather than 6 hours in the newer model), so you can use them for longer without having to get up and charge them. These wireless headphones have a range of up to 100m, come with volume control, and give a detailed sound reproduction with strong stereo bass. The reception works through walls and ceilings. They are lightweight and very comfortable to wear.

Money Matters: Rs. 6,190, available on

• Cut off sound

Your work requires you to make transcripts from audio recordings or your office is just too noisy and you need music to help you concentrate. Or perhaps you want to listen to music while on your way to work, but the noise from the road makes it impossible to enjoy yourself. Noise-cancelling headsets help here and the Bose QuietComfort 15 is the best option. Each headphone earcup comes with an inbuilt microphone both inside and outside. The microphone senses and cancels the sounds that are filtering in from outside, keeping your ears noise-free. You can use its microphone for a hands-free phone conversation too, though that works only with an iPhone. An average AAA battery makes the headphones last about 35 hours. The QuietComfort 15 is comfortable, with ear cushions, lightweight and collapsible, and can be packed compactly in case you want to use them while you travel.

Money Matters: Rs. 17,550, available on

Also try:Sony MDR-NC200D Digital Noise-Cancelling Headphones, $179.99 (around Rs. 9,750), plus shipping, available on Its noise-cancelling technology drains battery faster but the headset is quite good at blocking external noise. It is also lightweight, cushioned, and can be folded compactly.

• Pure audio

If all you want to do is listen to music as if it was being performed right in front of you, opt for Audeze LCD-2, manufactured by the Las Vegas-based niche company Audeze. The headset prioritizes quality over portability or affordability. The technology used is rather different from most headphones—each pair comes with tiny dynamic drivers that are mini versions of the drivers used in box speakers. The Audeze uses thin-film planar magnetic drivers and larger diaphragms that project sounds around your ear rather than straight into it, creating more depth in the notes. The thick lambskin earpads sit softly on your ears and are comfortable to wear for long hours.

Money Matters: On special order for $995, with $115.58 in shipping, available on

Also try: The Audio Technica ATH-M50 for Rs. 13,913, available, offers performance on a budget. Meant for professional studio monitoring and mixing, its over-the-ear cups create a seal for maximum isolation


• Multitasking

The Jabra Halo2 can make calls with voice clarity on both ends, play music with surround sound effects and do it without wires. They come with Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity and dual inbuilt microphones to eliminate outside noise when you are speaking. There’s a touch sensor on one side to adjust volume with the swipe of a finger and a touch button to answer and end calls, skip tracks and play and pause songs. All this is possible without taking your phone out of the bag. If you want to save battery and like it wired, the set comes with a 3.5mm universal audio jack cable. The earpieces are cushioned and there’s an extension on both sides so that it fits a head of any size. The headphones automatically switch off as soon as you fold them. The battery lasts 8 hours and you get a battery display so that you can recharge it.

Money Matters: Rs. 6,499, available on

Also Try: Rs. 2,889, available on, comes with a single mic and digital signal processing so that you hear clearly in noisy or windy environments.

• Hands-free work

The Plantronics Voyager Pro HD Bluetooth headset is a great option with excellent audio. It is comfortable to wear and you can easily switch between handset and headset by placing the device on your ear. The large design places the mic much closer to your mouth, adding to voice clarity. It also comes with two extra ear tips so that you find a fit you prefer. It tells you available talktime and connection status so that you are never left with a dead Bluetooth in your hands.

Money Matters: Around Rs. 4,999, available at select retail outlets

Also try: If you are a rough user, opt for the relatively cheaper Research in Motion (RIM) hands-free, the BlackBerry HS300 (Rs. 1,999, available on The hands-free works best with BlackBerry handsets, is subtly hidden on the ear and has automatic volume control. A good choice for those corporate calls.

Crossposted from