And Read Our Article On Hip Hop Headphones
Hip Hop Headphones
By Aaron Bendich
What To Look For In Hip-Hop Headphones
When considering which headphones to purchase, there are a plethora of specifications to consider. Every headphone user is looking for something different, and a major facet in the search for the right pair should be their intended use. While some users may intend to use their new headphones for a broad array of musical genres or other audio needs, many have their personal genre of choice that they will use them on. Different genres sound better on different headphones, and different headphones fit the style of different genres. If you are a hip-hop lover or are buying headphones for one, here are some things to consider.
Audio Specifications For Hip-Hop Headphones
If you ask just about any hip-hop headphone enthusiast what is most important in a pair of headphones, they are most likely to say bass. Hip hop is generally driven by a loud and heavy beat. For this to come through as intended, the bass must come through loud and clear. To achieve this a pair of headphones must have a number of technical features and qualities. The equalization must be skewed toward the bass end of the range, emphasizing the drum beats in the lowest frequencies. Furthermore, the headphones should ideally extend their frequency range to 20 Hz or lower, allowing for the fullest possible response. One important thing to keep in mind is that in general bigger headphones have better bass response. Certainly there are some small earphones that are designed specifically for bass, but that is the exception to the rule. That is why most popular hip-hop headphones are over or on ear models. Many hip-hop headphones boast built in ‘bass-boost’ technology; this term simply refers to a particularly bass-skewed eq boost. Bass-boost runs the risk of distorting the overall sound of a recording, though to many hip-hop lovers, it is well worth it.
Design Specifications Of Hip-Hop Headphones
Hip-Hop headphones also demand a number of design and construction related qualities to appeal to the user. One underlying and universal need that headphones in general require is comfort. Headphone comfort is determined by several factors. For over and on ear headphones, cushion material, shape and size make a big difference for overall ear comfort. The adjustable headband size range and build quality also determine head and ear comfort. A padded headband can also make a big difference for scalp comfort.
To many hip-hop headphone users, comfort and even sound quality are trumped by style and appearance. For this reason, more expensive celebrity endorsed or affiliated headphones that may lack finer audio specifications are rampantly popular. Some products have vibrant color schemes and ornate designs, while others go for a toned down, minimalist but elegant look. Many of these options prominently emphasize the brand name or logo, most often on the cup but occasionally on the band. Lastly, in addition to aesthetic appeal, headphone style also takes into account apparent build quality. An ornate and attractive pair of headphones that appears to be cheaply made is less stylish than one that is impressively built. These factors all play into the visual appeal of hip-hop headphones.
Best Hip-Hop Headphones
Best Hip-Hop Headphones – Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus
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Beyerdynamic is a premier brand in the audiophile headphone market. Having been on the market for over 90 years, it is a well established company with impressive build and audio quality. This particular pair is highly customizable, from the external appearance-related components, to the audio components to the bass levels. A pair of these headphones comes with 16 alternative faceplates for optimal stylistic personalization. The Custom One Pro Plus’s big draw is its bass-level switches which provide four different options, from hardly any audible bass, to impressively loud. These headphones also feature an in-line microphone and remote, which is useful for listening on the go. They are also very comfortable with good quality cushioning and a well built adjustable band. As far as looks are concerned, the changeable faceplate makes for an appealing look, while the overall build looks professional and evokes a sort of technical bend. The sound level switches make this pair great for hip hop fans, since they allow for a dynamic and adaptable bass experience with the option to lower the level if it is too much.
Best Hip-Hop Headphones – Beats Solo 2.0
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For the last decade, Beats have been the industry leaders in branded hip-hop headphones. Their association with rapper, producer and entrepreneur, Dr. Dre gives them a name and celebrity appeal. They are known for their intense bass response, their distinctive look and their omnipresence, particularly among youth in urban settings. On the other hand, Beats have long been criticized for their overdone bass response, which many think bleeds into other parts of the frequency spectrum. This is where the recent Beats Solo 2 have tried to diverge from the previous products in the Beats line. These headphones keep up the boosted, high quality bass response, but they manage to not overdo it too much. They are considered the best sounding Beats to date. As far as style is concerned, the Solo 2’s are well-liked for their sleek build, something of an improvement from the chunkier older models. Keep in mind, these are on-ear and therefore not particularly suitable for comfort during long listening sessions. All in all, the Beats Solo 2.0 are a stylish improvement on an already established product. If you’ve always liked the look of Beats but were skeptical of the sound quality, these may be the Beats model for you.
Best Hip-Hop Headphones – Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
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Audio Technica has been in the audio business for more than 50 years, and they are one of the most popular and affordable manufacturers of high fidelity headphones. The M50x’s are one of their most popular offerings, considered the best sounding headphones under $200. Unlike popular hip-hop offerings like Beats, m50s provides monitor-quality accurate reproduction across the spectrum. This means no bass-boost, but also no bass leakage into other frequencies. This is ideal for hip-hop fans who are looking for a balanced sound with clear highs, mids and lows. On these headphones the bass blasts, vocals and musical samples all sound great. The ear pads are very comfortable, and the band has a nice, leather covered cushion. The cable is removable, and the headphones come with a long and short option as well as a curly one. These headphones are quite attractive and come in a small selection of colors. When you see someone in a pair of Audio-Technicas, you know they take music listening seriously.
Best Hip-Hop Headphones – Pioneer HDJ-1500
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Pioneer is a popular, long running manufacturer of audio and visual equipment. They are well known for their high quality DJ gear, and the HDJ-1500s are notable entry in this field. These headphones sport an unusual oval shaped band a shiny professional looking overall build. They come in three colors. Like the ATH-M50x, they reproduce sound as it was recorded, without flashy or overdone bass. However, they feature an extended range down to 5Hz, and therefore produce an abnormally robust bass response. Their biggest success is the lack of distortion, even with the loudest and bassiest audio imaginable. These headphones are great for DJing hip-hop in both audio quality and style. For day-to-day use, they are ideal for the listener who wants accurate bassy sound and likes the DJ headphone style.
Best Hip-Hop Headphones – Ultrasone HFI 580
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Ultrasone is a German company that only produces headphones. Their headphones emphasize their “S Logic Natural Surround Sound”, which is basically an advanced stereo setup. The 580s have big comfortable cushions, and a shiny, metallic exterior. With its clear and wide frequency range, these headphones are a good choice for critical listening. Their real strength, however, is the low range. These headphones have excellent bass response making them very suitable for the audiophile hip-hop lover.
It is important to remember what you are looking for in a headphone, before you go shopping for a pair. Although, bass boasting headphones are great for consumers, they are not so good for recording engineers. Boosting a signal on any level creates an imbalance in your mix, so we would not recommend these headphones for mixing or mastering of tracks. While some of these models work well in a recording environment, they will not be the best option available. But, when you are listening to that song from the club, we know you wanna crank that Bass.