The 8 Best Headphones I Reviewed in 2017

Listicles for New Years!

There’s almost zero methodology to the order I review things in. Since I don’t accept review units, I just buy and write about whatever I happen to be interested in at the time. I’m not trying to review the newest, latest, and greatest.

However, making lists is fun!

So here, in ranked order, are the best headphones I reviewed in 2017…but not necessarily the best ones released this year. You can click the names of the headphones to see my original review.

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8. Sony MDR-1000X

These have already been replaced with a newer model that has a more complicated and ridiculous name (Sony WH-1000XM2). I don’t know why the new one wasn’t just called the 1100X, or something.

You can still get the remaining stock of the 1000X at a discount from various retailers. And yes, it has a possible build quality issue with certain pairs. But I still think it’s a solid product. And a fascinating one.

In the last year, I’ve sort of drifted away from bluetooth models and back to wired pairs. The 1000X is quite notable because it’s the first ANC headphone that I’ve felt bested Bose at their own noise-cancelling game. It’s a little more clampy on the head, but it has a more robust/powerful sound, and noise cancelling that I thought did a better job in my typical coffee shop listening environment.

I get asked frequently if I’ll ever review the 1000XM2. It seems like the build of that model is holding up better, and if I was ever in the mood to buy another $300+ wireless headphone again, it’d probably be on the top of my potentials list…but right now I have no plans.

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7. Sony XB950N1

This is the Sony wireless headphone that I think is probably their best seller. It goes on sale all the time for well below its MSRP. It has a bunch of fun features you can get to through a phone app. Its comfort and its ANC are both totally fine.

And it has a stupid amount of bass.

People love bass. It’s an inescapable fact of the market. If you asked me for something from the Beats lineup…I might steer you towards this as an alternate option. The adjustable bass feature is fun, and works pretty well in spite of being entirely digital in nature. With Beats you’re always stuck with their enhanced bass. With the N1’s, you aren’t.

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6. Audio-Technica SR6BT

These are the wireless headphones I wish everyone was buying. Especially now that they are discounted frequently.

Yes, the fit is a little small and the build is a little plasticky…but the small size and light weight help with their portability.

The sound quality of the SR6BT’s is exceptional compared to the typical wireless consumer pair, thanks to Audio-Technica’s 45mm “Sound Reality” drivers. They use these same drivers across a wide range of high quality headphones. They’re tuned to be very bright and detailed, while still maintaining accurate bass. The signature is probably hard to adjust to if you’re used to bass-heavy headphones…but the benefits are worth it, in my opinion.

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5. Pioneer DJ HRM-5

I still can’t believe I almost returned these without using them more than an afternoon.

The HRM-5’s are an awesome M40X competitor that almost no one knows about. Everyone I know who has tried them has loved them. They offer a good studio-style sound, robust build, and comfort that bests all of Audio-Technica’s stuff without any need for pad changes.

If you need a great $100 studio headphone and you want something that isn’t just the usual M40X or the Sony 7506, this is where you should start. I wish that these got the coverage of those other, more popular pairs, because they’re awesome.

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4. Philips SHP9500S

2017 was the year I finally tried the 9500's! And I’m glad I did.

While I didn’t find them to be the “giant killers” that so many other folks on the internet seem to think they are…they’re still an amazing value. They provide decent, if slightly clinical sound. They fit very nicely on my giant head. And they have all the things that are good about open headphones.

If you’re looking for your first open headphone, congratulations, you just found it. You’ll either love these and go looking for more open headphones, or you’ll have saved yourself from buying more expensive open pairs.

I’ve always been more into closed headphones just due to my personal needs. But these are a great open headphone that costs about half of what the next good pairs up the chain cost.

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3. Brainwavz HM5

Speaking of famous headphones, this was the year I finally tried the HM5's!

I also tried the NVX XPT100's…but my pair was a little janky, and I didn’t like them as much. I think the hard case that comes with the HM5’s is great.

I do a lot of writing in coffee shops, so a decently- isolating closed back pair of headphones is right up my alley. These deliver that for not much money, and have some of the best ear pads ever made.

Speaking of isolation and ear pads and closed back headphones…

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2. Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 250 Ohm Version

Oh look, Alex found one more excuse to talk about the DT770's!

I’m that guy who prefers the 250 ohm version of these headphones. I like the slightly zing-ier treble. I like the coiled cable. I like that the higher impedance means I can use more of the volume range of my desktop amps without killing my ears with sound.

The DT770 Pro is a great pair of headphones. It has a solid build. It has great comfort. It has a sound that…I really like, but some folks might find a little too v-shaped. It has great isolation.

It’s not that portable-friendly thanks to its permanently-attached cable. It has an old design with some textured black plastic that I love to touch but others might hate.

Fortunately, Beyerdynamic makes a different headphone that “fixes” most of these “problems,” and it’s my personal favorite headphone I’ve used this year, and the one I’m wearing right now.

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1. Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus

I personally love everything about these.

If I could change one thing, I’d make it so that the velcro on my unit’s headband pad closed a little more evenly…but that’s just a problem due to the nature of physics and not a real problem.

The Custom One Pro takes the foundation of the DT770’s, smooths out the peaky treble, adds more comfy headband and ear pad padding somehow, adds a detachable cable system, and adds a bass slider adjustment system that’s fully analog and really fun to use.

It also has customizable side plates, and Beyerdynamic includes a bunch in the box for free with this Plus model. The price is often less than $150. Which is great!

They might be a little big and bulky for some tastes, and I think they’d get too warm if I exercised in them. But these are awesome!

They tick all my personal preference boxes in a way that only the DT770 has done previously.

I sometimes miss the treble zing and slightly enhanced soundstage that the 770’s provide…but I think the bass sliders and other features make up for that. It’s a lot of fun, for me, to mess with the sliders and see what effect that has on my favorite music and the isolation of the headphones.

That’s it! You made it to the end of the list! Happy New Year!

Find Me: Medium, Twitter, www.worldbolding.com

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Written by

I do radio voice work by day, and write by day and night. I studied film and production. I love audio, design, and music. Also video games.

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