We recently highlighted some of the best over-the-ear headphones for all that new tech you’re going to be wanting to tune into after the holidays. Well it turns out that after having seen, oh, 6,000 (roughly) over-ear headphones at the 2013 CES show and not nearly as much investment in earbuds, this is a trend that’s here to stay. Plus we’re seeing comfier styles, funkier designs, the convenience of Bluetooth, and even durability that parents in particular will appreciate.
Here, some of the standouts that we’re looking forward to. -Liz
These may win the award for comfiest headphones I’ve ever tried, and that’s saying something. Seriously, no pinching–not even with earrings on. Designed by an artist (see her in our roundup of the Women of CES) and perfected by top sound engineers, you can control the Bluetooth headset just by tapping those buttons on the ear that are cleverly disguised as part of the design. Plus I can’t believe how compactly they fold up. You’re going to get slightly better sound if you’re wired in, but if freedom of movement matters, the Bluetooth is a huge plus and gives you about 30 feet from your audio source, plus 10 hours of talk time/music on a charge. ($299)
Velodyne is also coming out with a new line of headphone skins–and you get a first look right here at one of the many styles. They’re not decals–more like a protective overlay that snaps on and still allows you access to the controls with a tap of the finger. Plus stand by for a DIY design option so you can upload your own photos or illustrations. You know we’ll be all over that one.
Why Parents Will Like Them: Major comfort aside, wireless is a huge lifesaver, whether you’re on a plane trying to juggle a baby while you watch a movie, or listen to music while vacuuming like my sigOth does. The on-phone buttons really make them completely hands free.
We loved the House of Marley portable audio speakers but their eco-chic Rise-Up headphones series were a standout for comfort and a funky, laid-back Reggae style. Not surprisingly. The cushions are a comfy bamboo fiber, while the outside is a recycled aluminum coated with a blend of recycled cotton, hemp, and recycled PET. The sound is no afterthought, as you can imagine. There are some smaller versions out but these were by far the most comfortable. ($159.99)
Why Parents Will Like Them: If you care about the environment and realize how taxing technology can be on it, it’s reassuring that this company goes the extra mile to reuse, recycle, and give back.
We’re sweet on Crosley in every way, and their upcoming, crazy affordable line of over-ear headphones are no exception. In the same cool retro-modern styling we love, they’re going to be delivering an affordable, stylish option for those of us not ready to spend a small fortune on cans to pop in our bag when we travel.
Sure, the padded headband isn’t real leather and there’s no Bluetooth or fancy technology. But for the price, these are going to be hugely popular. Did I mention the colors? ($29)
Why Parents Will Like Them: Price + style! If your kids are at the age where they’re starting to borrow your headphones, these are affordable enough that you don’t have to panic when you hand them over.
Wood, as you can tell, is another trend we’re seeing–nice break from all the flashy, blingy headphones of the last few years. Griffin’s sophisticated headphones in real walnut, sapelle or beech (my fave) are surprisingly lightweight, durable, and from what I could tell after a short trial, would be comfy for much longer than cheaper versions. The cable (with a built-in mic) detaches for travel, and even has buttons to control Siri if you’re connecting with your iPhone. And isn’t that wood pretty? Very nice option for a nice price. ($99.99)
Why Parents Will Like Them: Even if you care about audio, you may not want to spend over $100 for headphones. I also like that you look like an adult wearing them; not a wannabe deejay who missed your calling twenty years ago.
I commenced my crush on this brand when we discovered the comfy, stylish Jabra Stone Bluetooth headset–which I still use, even after a few years. And I swear I’m not just saying this because Reverend Run was at their booth at CES this year. Now, they’re plugging (or unplugging?) a new line of audio products including these Bluetooth-enabled wireless headphones created through a partnership with Dolby. So while they’re compact and travel-ready, you know you’re getting amazing stereo sound.
Parents of toddlers will be happy to know the aluminum frame is flexible and the headband is shatterproof; I watched the rep bend them like a Gumby and they popped right back into place. These are a great choice if durability matters. And doesn’t it always? Expect them out sometime in the spring. (Est £199, or 159 for the wired version)
Why Parents Will Like Them: The durability and flexibility is beyond anything I’ve seen, and the sound is phenomenal. It’s an investment that can’t go wrong, especially if you have little kids prone to breaking your stuff when your’e not looking.
Interestingly, Monster seems to be going a little more fashion-conscious–and dare we say feminine?–with their new collaboration with Diesel. I’m especially liking the look of the white Vektr Headphones (there’s a black too) which they call a “scientifically backed assault on your senses.” Not that I want my senses to be assaulted, of course, but you know…they’re writing copy for kids way cooler than we are. They’re super light and the tri-fold makes them ideal for tuning out the cabin noise on your next flight, or the guy singing really loudly to himself on your next subway commute. Or just use them to catch up on Homeland on your iPad after the kids go to sleep. Ahhh…. ($249.99)
Why Parents Will Like Them: Sometimes a mama just wants a cool, serious tech accessory that’s as good-looking as her shoes and handbag and doesn’t go the cutesie route. Plus the tight tri-fold, leaves plenty of room in your bag for crayons, sippy cups and the other not-so-cool stuff lurking in there.