What’s trendy in headphones? Over the past couple of years, the pendulum has swung from the lightweight iPod in-ear style all the way back to the full-on old school surround style. The list of makes, models and styles is an endless source of decision fatigue, and because everyone’s hearing is different, you can’t just check a box on an order form without first committing some ear-time. So, where do you begin? If you are shopping for headphones for serious listening, don’t look at what’s trendy, go with the two things really matter most: long term comfort and sound quality.

On a recent flight from Hong Kong back to upstate New York, I had an exhaustively long opportunity to test out the HPX6000 model from Behringer. Within the various classification, these fall into the over the ear category. Unlike many of the “can-style” phones, that totally surround your ear, these distribute a slight amount of pressure around and on your ear.

The advantage to this is that they allow some air-circulation so your ears can breathe a bit. During this particular trip, I had them on for many hours straight. It took a few readjustments, but once I found the sweet spot, they stayed put and remained very comfortable. The headband allows for vertical adjustment and keeps them just tight enough against the head so they don’t slip about—yet not so much as to bend eyeglass bows. So, in the comfort category, I’d give them a solid 8 out of 10 (I’ve yet to find a 9 or 10).

The  disadvantage to the slightly open ear piece design is that they don’t block the outside noise as much as ‘phones that totally cup the ear. And, as they are not of the noise canceling variety, they don’t mask the outside noise, so if you are using them in a “dirty” sound environment (such as on a 747 bound to ‘Frisco), they won’t shut out the drone of the cabin. But, neither did my expensive in ear pair.

As far as sound quality, I hesitate to use superlatives as it’s so subjective. Personally, I like the way they sound. During this extended test, I listened everything from my favorite spoken-word podcasts to a shuffle of music from artists spanning from Fernando Ortega and Chuck Mangione to Pink Floyd, Joan Osborne and Peter Gabriel. For playback, I used the iTunes player as well as the Audio Xciter app from Aphex (which cut through the ambient noise better than plain old iTunes), but even with the standard iOS player, the sound quality suit my taste. With the Aphex app, everything sounds better, with deeper, clearer, more pronounced bass and greater intelligibility on the highs.

During a stopover at SFO, I pulled the 6Ks out of my carry on to compare how they sounded seven miles high with their sound on the ground. Obviously, they are far more enjoyable when NOT blasting about the atmosphere in a pressurized tube with screaming kids and flight attendants squawking safety instruction in three languages through a PA that’s one grade lower than a BK drive through. With the EQ set on “Flat,” the bass is solid and well-defined without the least bit of muddiness. The mids and highs are crisp and balanced across the frequency range—there’s nothing missing. Even when just listening to my favorite jazz station on Internet radio, the sound was full and even.

As to their usefulness in the DJ both or behind the sound board, you will have to make that decision. Personally, I favor headphones that allow me to hear a mix of what’s coming from the board with what the audience hears. For DJs trying to cue in really loud environments, that is typically not what you want. On the other hand, I was able to drive these—with just an iPad—loud enough to override the sound of 4 jet engines, so it’s a pretty safe bet your board can give you all the cue volume you need. again, it’s purely personal, but in the category of sound quality, I’ll give them a solid 8—which ranks them right up with some of the best phones I’ve used, including some that are substantially more expensive.

A final plus is the quality of construction. I had no concerns at all about anything on these breaking, even while cramming them back into a tightly stuffed carry on. The adjustable, padded headband is sturdy as are the rotation points. Included is a coiled cord with a min jack that connects to left ear cup, and a combo mini—1/4 inch plug for connecting to your device of choice. Checking several online retailers, I found the HPX 6000 headphones priced at round $85, making for a good mix of comfort, sound, quality and a reasonable price.

Originally posted 2014-03-10 20:27:22.