The following is a list of terms used on the site, and their meanings

Improvement With Amplification

On this site, by definition, 10 means the headphones improve by a huge amount with a headphone amplifier, or that they absolutely require an amp. 0 indicates that they don't improve at all with good amplification.

Bass Extension

Describes how low the headphones usable bass response extends

Bass Impact

Describes how strong the bass response is. 10 indicates a very strong bass response, 1 indicates a weak response. It's up to the individual to work out whether they like a very strong response or a more accurate, neutral response.

Bass Quality

A general measure of the quality of the bass. Are frequencies reproduced accurately, or do they result in a "boomy" sound?


How comfortable the headphones are, especially for extended listening sessions.


How long you think these headphones will last, based on your impression of the contruction materials and quality.


Can you hear the slightest nuance of the music? Can you hear the singers lips spack, their breathing, and the small detailed high sounds?

Highs Quality

The quality of the high frequency sounds.


How well external noises are kept out of the headphones. For open headphones please enter a score of 0.

Mids Quality

The quality of the middle frequencies, typically around the range of the human voice.


How easily portable are the headphones? Large bulky headphones will score poorly, smaller headphones or headphones that fold up will score well, canal phones/earbuds should score very well.


How well can you tell where each individual sound in the music comes from. For example, you might hear a guitar on the left, a piano on the right, and the drums in the centre. If you're unsure please choose 5 - average.

Overall Score

This is a weighted overall score for the headphones. The weightings may change from time to time, for example detail is considered more important than bass quality.

Headphone Types

Open Headphones

Open headphones are any types of headphones that let you listen to the music without blocking out external sound. For example, wearing open headphones you would hear if someone spoke to you while the music was playing, so long as you don't have your volume too loud.

Closed Headphones

Closed headphones are block out external sound while you have them on. For example, wearing closed headphones you would not hear if someone spoke to you while the music was playing.


Earbuds sit in your ear, but do not go into your ear canal. Most portable music players are supplied with cheap and nasty earbuds. Some aren't so nasty, but most are relatively inexpensive. Earbuds offer very little isolation from external noises.

Canal Phones

Canal phones, as the name implies, go a small way into your ear canal. The sound quality is typically much better than earbuds, but they're also more expensive. It can take a few days to get used to them: most people do get used to them, but some people can't tolerate things in their ears. Canal phones range in price from maybe $30 up to $1000. Canal phones offer between good and excellent isolation from external noises, which makes them great for some situations (eg commuting on the subway/bus) and bad for others (eg walking on a busy city street).


Clipons kind of, um, clip onto your ears somehow, usually by putting something behind your ear. We've never seen any so we can't be entirely sure - if you have send us a better description!

Street Style

Street style headphones are known for their looks, not their sound quality or comfort. The headband goes behind your head and rests on your ears, which has the advantage of not messing up your hair. This means that can be good for people who commute to work, but in our opinion you're better off with canal phones if you don't mind having things in your ears.


Circumaural means the headphone pads go around your ears, which is different from supra-aural headphones. Circumaural headphones are generally much more comfortable than supra-aural headphones. This term mainly applies to the open and closed headphones described above: clipons and street styles are usually supra-aural, but it's possible for them to be circumaural.


Supra-aural means the headphone pads rest on your ears, which is different from circumaural headphones. Supra-aural headphones are generally less comfortable than circumaural headphones. This term mainly applies to the open and closed headphones described above: clipons and street styles are usually supra-aural, but it's possible for them to be circumaural.

Noise Cancelling Headphones

Noise cancelling headphones are used to reduce the volume of low frequency sounds, such as aeroplane jet engines, or air conditiong in large buildings. Noise cancelling headphones tend to be expensive and not have the best overall sound quality. A good alternative is canal phones.