Beneath the simple all-black design and stainless steel earcups lies a nuanced pair of headphones capable of projecting neutral sound backed by a refined mid-range.
Perfect for those who can do without the bass-heavy tones offered by many headphone vendors these days, the ATH-ES700 is a great fit for those with a balanced taste in musical choices, from instrument-driven jazz pieces to vocal-driven tracks.
Compared with today's designer headphones, the Grado PS500 looks positively old-fashioned, with a simple headband design and 1970s-styled earcups, complete with grating-like holes on the external shell.
The luxurious sound more than makes up for the antiquated looks. It delivers sharp, balanced sound and extremely clear vocals, which establish an expansive sound stage, thanks in part to an open-back design.
Known for its stage speakers, Marshall has entered the headphone market, with the Marshall Monitor featuring a retro look. Its modern delivery of sound caters to those who appreciate classic show tunes, instrumental pieces and the bass-heavy tunes of modern pop.
The wide sound stage offers distinct clarity of low, mid and high tones. The earcups come with removable fabric covers that alter the sound projected. Leave them on for a warmer delivery or take them off for a sharper audio edge.
NAD Viso HP50
NAD is another high-end audio equipment manufacturer-turned- personal audio maker. Its Viso HP50 is an example of how the right pedigree can create a good first attempt.
As you would expect, it shares the trait of impeccable audio production with its sister brand PSB M4U 2, both owned by the Lenbrook Group.
Its design stands out, with its leatherette coverings and manganese headband.
Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear
This is a smaller version of the original Momentum headphones. Sennheiser might have cut off some of the bigger bits but it has left much of the audio might intact.
The detailed audio reproduction comes with a slight emphasis on bass but the makers knew better than to dial it up. The end result is a punchier delivery that is not overwhelming.