Best.headphones.ever. (for not a lot of money)
(Editor’s Note: What follows below is a quick review of a piece of audio equipment, specifically, headphones. I know a lot of people spend a lot of time and money trying out multiple brands and versions to find what they think is the perfect sound. I’m not one of those people, and I’m happy to stipulate this up front. I love my vinyl and my turntable, but I’m just not going to spend a fortune on equipment. For me, good enough is good enough, and that frees up more money to actually buy records. So feel free to call me an idiot for not buying some $500 European brand handcrafted on the slopes of the Alps by a small band of artisans to ensure optimal sound quality and fidelity, but just know that I care not one wit. Oh, and these opinions are my own and I have not been solicited or compensated in any way. Thanks in advance.)
Recently, I was looking for replacement headphones for my mid-ranged Bose OE2s that retail around $150. I’m not overly particular about my headphones; I don’t need to pay a premium for noise cancelling features or overwhelming bass. My needs are actually pretty simple: they need to be comfortable, have adapters for both my stereo and my ipod/iphone, have decent acoustics, and not cost a fortune. These are all things that my OE2s provided and I was quite content to buy another Bose set.
I decided to do a little research first and while picking through Google results I stumbled on an article in CNET, intriguing titled “How good can $21.59 headphones be?” This was a review of the Monoprice (What, you’ve never heard of them, neither had I) 8323 Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphones. The first line of the article stated that these headphones are “hands-down, the best full-size, over-the-ear headphones you can buy on the cheap.”
Whoa. For $21, I figured what did I have to lose. Even if I hated them, it’s a miniscule investment and I could fall back on my tried and true Bose. I took the plunge and within 3 days this showed up at my door (for standard shipping cost – speedy, hassle free delivery FTW).
My first test for anything that goes on my head (especially something that I’ll be wearing for as long as a pair of headphones) is comfort. Now, if you know me, you’ve seen the massive size of my melon and know that I provide a special challenge when it comes to fitting. These headphone fit easily and comfortably on my head and over my Dumbo-like ears, and have remained so for a couple of marathon listening sessions in the limited time I have owned them.
There are two adapter cables included so I can wear these while listening to all of my media, but most impressively, the cables are user detachable, so you don’t have to worry about replacing your headphones due to a shorted or damaged cable. This is a pretty impressive feature for bargain priced headphones.
As for sound, the 8323s have more then met my expectations. They provide excellent fidelity and a surprising amount of noise cancelling for the money. As proof I’ll offer up the fact that I am writing this while listening to Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks while two quarreling youngsters are playing Nintendo Wii right next to me. Van is sounding sweet as ever, and I can only hear them when the noise levels threaten to shatter the living room windows.
Can you buy headphones that sound better and have more features? Sure, but again, none of those that do cost $21. For the money, I don’t think you’ll find headphones that deliver equivalent value and performance. So if you are in need of some headphones and don’t have a lot of money to spend, check out the Monoprice 8323. Happy bargain hunting.