Although the quality of earphones that come out of the box has improved, spending a little to upgrade your earphones is one of the best ways to get the most from a smartphone or any other portable player. The instant difference in audio quality needs to be heard to be believed – better, more impactful bass, crisper, more detailed treble and better isolation from the outside world are all worth the investment. At the same time, you shouldn't have to break the bank to afford it. To help you sort through these choices, we've rounded up our top headphones under Rs. 3000.
Build Quality: Most of the headphones in this category would be made of durable plastic. They would also be comfortable enough for long hours of use.
Sound Quality: Audio quality in this category is good, substantially better than what you'd get out of your smartphone box. Headphones claiming to have a balanced sound actually start delivering on those claims at this price point. However, for true neutrality, you should look at a budget that's at least twice as much.
Form Factor: Headphones for specific purposes like studio monitoring or noise cancellation will perform the function perfunctorily. Good quality wireless headphones cannot be expected here.
Remote and Mic functionality is available, but not very common.
This list has been compiled with the help of users as well as our in-house experts.
In no particular order, here we go!
Professional-grade monitor headphones are engineered to produce sound that is exceedingly accurate and true-to-life. Audio-Technica is famed for making audiophile-grade headphones and the ATH-M20X is the entry-level model to its highly acclaimed M-Series headphones. The ATH-M20X is an upgrade to the ATH-M20 and was launched along with upgrades to the entire M-series.
The ATH-M20x has a design that is quintessentially Audio Technica. A rather large company logo runs along the headband. And the rest of the structure is made of plastic and has oval shaped earcups, unlike its predecessor, which had a distinctly round shape. Both the earcups and headband have plush faux-leather making them very soft and comfortable. Unless you have uncommonly large ears/head, you should be able to use the headphones for long hours without experiencing fatigue. If you have a large head, you might feel some pressure on the top.
A negative design aspect would be that these circumaural headphones have a cord that is 10 feet long and non-detachable, so you'll definitely have to roll it up a little if you want to go portable.
Moving on to the sound, the first thing that you should keep in mind is that the ATH-M20x has a very high impedance of 47 Ohms. So, most smartphones and iPods will be unable to drive it well. You can expect the sound to be rather soft and muffled. Move on to your laptop or desktop PC and the difference is immediate.
Tuned to a low frequency, it’s particularly the bass that the ATH-M20x excels in. The bass is full and lush without being over-bearing. Mids and highs ring through with no problem at both, low and high volumes. The sound is flat with absolutely no distortion. The cans also have a nice full soundstage and good left/right separation, but it definitely could be better.
However, while being very detailed, it does seem to focus on the vocals a bit much.
These headphones are closed, but they’re not intended for noise isolation in crowded, loud places, so they’re not ideal for a commute. But for the purpose of studio and home use, the noise isolation is perfectly adequate. These are also perfect for long hours of movie-watching on your laptops and computers.
The ATH-M20x is definitely the best option for budget studio monitors, preferable to the ever-popular AKG K44 & K77.
AKG is a well-known brand in the audio circle previously owned by Harman Kardon and now by Samsung. Although it is predominantly known for its premium offerings, the company does not shy away from the more affordable end of the market.
The AKG K52 headphones have been designed with comfort in mind, with an around-ear fit that completely surrounds your ears. Additionally, the headphones also feature a self-adjusting fitting mechanism which ensures an ideal fit and holds the headset firmly but comfortably in place. The headphones are sturdy with a prominent black finish metal frame around it with a net weight of only 200g.
Unlike most headphones which come with a hard strap, the AKG K52 has a much better-designed head strap made of a unique malleable leatherette strap that easily conforms to the shape of the head while securing the headphones well.
In spite of being lightweight, these headphones aren’t really designed from the portability standpoint as the cable is 2.5 m in length, tangle-prone and the headphones don’t collapse into a smaller footprint.
When it comes to sound, the presentation and sonic signature of the AKG-K52 is extremely open and clean, offering an excellent sense of space and a wide soundstage. Imaging is fantastic as well, with the headphones managing to separate and position various elements accurately within the virtual soundstage. The headphones are also incredibly loud and manage to maintain the same level of detail at varying volumes without sounding too muddied or confusing.
Founded in 1924, Beyerdynamic is one of the oldest audio companies in the world. With the DTX 710, the company attempts to bring semi-open back headphones to the masses. Whether they do succeed remains to be seen.
The DTX 710 are pretty big. Although the earpads might not cover large ears, they are soft enough that comfort wouldn't be a problem. They're also comfortable to be worn with your glasses. The pads are made of velour and the pressure level is adequate so that you can use them for a long time.
The build quality however, isn't exactly high-end by Beyerdynamic's standards and is a bit plasticky. The swivels also feel a little vulnerable. But, at this price, you can't really complain too much.
Coming to the cable, it is inordinately long, thick and heavy duty. It's excellent if you're using these headphones at home, but on the move, the sheer bulk and weight of cable pulling down from the left cup might get cumbersome quickly.
Moving on to noise isolation, it's not optimal. Because of the semi-open nature of these headphones, noise leakage is also an issue. So, you should definitely avoid using these while at work.
Sound is where the DTX 710 excels in. These deliver some quality punchy and extended bass, it can get sloppy sometimes, but on the whole, it's quite a fun bass response that isn't really very accurate. The mid-range is pure and well defined. The highs are also nothing to scoff at, being rather clear and exciting.
The soundstage is generally very clear with good placement of instruments from furthest left to furthest right and with a reasonable depth back to front as well. The soundstage is much better than many competing models.
The Panasonic HXS400 is an over-the-ear headphone. The headband has a slider to extend or reduce its length to fit your head. The over the ear panels have big cushions and feel comfortable. These ear panels come with swivel mechanism for the perfect fit. They also rotate around 90 degrees to flex and fit as per your requirements.
Something that helps this headphone stand out from others in this range is the inclusion of a vast range of colours. They come in blue, white, yellow, black, purple and green along with cool graphics and are surely a visual to treat our eyes.
Not only visually, the Panasonic HXS400 is equally impressive when it comes to output. The headphone offers good bass levels as well as manages to produce surround sound as it should be. It doesn't miss out on the faintest instrument sounds either and manages to reproduce various frequencies thanks to its big 40 mm driver unit and Neodymium magnet.
For a headphone with dynamic sound and style, look no further than the RP-HXS400 by Panasonic. Powerful 40 mm drivers deliver crisp, balanced audio. The RP-HXS400 feature a distinctive design with a wide range of color variations to suit your personal style. Ideal for use on the go, the RP-HSX400 fold flat and store easily in a bag or briefcase.
The Panasonic RP-HXD5+ are a pair of attractive and elegant looking headphones. The entire design of the RP-HXD5+ focuses on giving it a minimalist look. This very aspect catches our eye from the first moment. The brand logo is at the bottom of each side of the headband in a small, predominantly white and colour throughout the product without any element of distraction. A simple yet attractive looking headphone, the white variant of the Panasonic RP-HXD5+ also has a glow-in-the-dark feature.
The feature that sets this model apart from the Panasonic RP-HXD5 is the in-line mic with volume control. The inline mic shuts out all ambient noise and also has a control button to adjust volume. It is compatible with any phone, music player or other audio devices with a 3.5mm jack
When it comes to comfort, the earpads areleatherette, making them extremely comfortable for hours at a stretch. A backlog in terms of comfort maybe the headband, which is not very extendable making them hard to use if you wear a pagdi or have a big head.
The sound of the RP-HXD5+ is loud and clear due to its 40 mm drivers. The sound is well-balanced with an equal amount of treble and bass. Although, as compared to a lot of products included in this list, it misses out a bit on the noise isolation.
The RP-HXD5+ is a headset with a minimalist look and exquisite design. In addition to highlighting the aesthetics, the sound is not far behind and this is of excellent quality that will not disappoint anyone.
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