FOGEY 5 On-Ear Headphones

Jul 01, 2011 No Comments by

The Fogey 5 are the best five products in their class by virtue of expert and consumer review from at least 10 respected and authoritative websites.

For more information on which type of headphones/earphones best suits your needs and your ears see the Buying Guide.

‘Supra-aural’ headphones that sit on your ear, as opposed to inside or over them, are something of an anomaly – well, they are to the average Fogey.  Because: they have a whiff of DJ about them, they can be a fashion statement, they are obtrusive, they are not suited to any physical activity beyond strolling, they let sound leak out and extraneous noise leak in and they can make your ears clammy (but not as clammy as ‘circumaural’, over-ear headphones).

Bowers and Wilkins P5

Any number of noodly hi-fi brands have gone to the wall because they refused to acknowledge that the times they are a-changin’.  Not so Bowers and Wilkins who have embraced iPoddery with near-biblical fervour.  Their Zeppelin docks, MM-1 active speakers and now P5 headphones all pay an audiophile’s homage to Apple and its devices.
These lug-buffers are unashamedly retro but none the worse for that.  The soft stuff that cossets your ears is leather, perforated to allow sounds to escape.  The ear pads stick to the frame magnetically.  These are ‘closed back’ headphones which means the sounds goes into your head and nowhere else. “They offer sturdy build quality, a beautiful design, some really neat features for iPhone users, and sound quality that shines in every respect,” says Cnet.  The principal neat feature is an in-cable remote designed specifically to operate iPods and iPhones.

Around £250.  More info here.  Buy B&W P5

Grado SR60i and SR80i

“If your budget stops at £100, these are the best headphones around,” said What Hi-Fi? of the SR60i, while acknowledging that, for a few more groats, the SR80i are “even better.”  Both models are ‘open back’ which is regarded as a better bet for listening fidelity but with the caveat that people around you will be able to hear some of what you’re listening to. Home alone, this is no problem but if most of your listening is done in noisy environments (train, plane) or even very quiet places (libraries) closed back models will be a better bet.  Grado are a family business of 60+ years standing and have become synonymous with headphones of the highest quality.  They make headphones and cartridges for turntable tone arms – that’s it.

Around £100 and £110.  More info here.  Buy Grado SR60i and Grado SR80i

Sennheiser MM60

Open-backed, foldable headset with an integrated in-line microphone with one-touch call answer/hang-up button designed to function with all iPods and iPhones.  “Open, balanced, controlled and detailed, with plenty of bass weight and depth,” said What Hi-Fi?  Even a cursory Internet trawl will show that the MM60 are not so highly regarded elsewhere but it seems they tick enough boxes – convenient, good features, well-priced – to be a decent bet for the travelling iPhone acolyte.  Having said that, the semi-open back does mean fellow travellers will also be listening to some of the higher frequencies inherent in your chosen tracks.  And in pretty short order may want to kill you.

Around £40.  More info here.  Buy Sennheiser MM 60

Monster Beats Pro by Dr Dre

Monster made their name in cables.  Expensive cables.  And even though they were chunky and sturdy and performed admirably, sundry opinion-forming bloggers and tech journalists eventually managed to persuade consumers that coughing up great gobbets of cash on cable was a waste of money.  Perhaps it’s just a coincidence they’ve diversified into headphones; in this case by association with former Niggaz With Attitude alumnus Dr Dre (real name Andre Romelle Young).  Since Dr Dre’s principal employment is producing music you’d be right in thinking he has high standards both in terms of sound quality and design and it’s more in the latter category that these cans score.  “A well thought out product with top notch design from start to finish,” says Pocket Lint, who cite the swivel-up ear cups (a DJ-friendly touch) as one such feature. Far from cheap but a statement in many ways.

Around £300.  More info here.  Buy Monster Beats by Dr. Dre Beats Pro, Black

Fogey Find

Fanny Wang, On-Ear Wang

Included here for the chucklesome name if nothing else, this brand has irked the Beats Pro fraternity to such an extent that they’ve sued Fanny and her Wang for allegedly copying their designs.  That much you can judge for yourself but they’re not a joke brand and the On-Ear Wang only go to prove as much.  “The Wangs offer a full and rich bass response but one that doesn’t mask the rest of the frequency range,” say Trusted Reviews, who conclude, “Stylishly designed, and well made, but also with good sound quality; the only issue is the price.”  And indeed, the Grado SR60i are every bit the equal of the On-Ear Wangs but over £50 cheaper.

Around £150.  More info here.  Buy Fanny Wang On-Ear Wang, Red