The Best Surround-Sound Headphones Reviewed

The audio market is forever changing, and top of the range doesn't remain top of the range for long. So when you're looking for the best surround-sound headphones reviewed, it's always a good idea to check the date on those reviews. It also pays to consider what you're going to use the headphones for, as the best headphones for listening to music may not provide the best gaming experience or may not be portable enough to use with mobile gaming or sports devices.

For music and film

Whether you're DJing, mixing, or you just want the best from your music and DVD collection, the best surround-sound headphones for music need to combine comfort and noise cancellation with excellent audio fidelity and incredible bass. For professional sound quality at the low end of mid range, consider Sennheiser HD 518. If you don't mind chunkier headphones in the same price range, the Cresyn C720H may look ungainly, but it does the job. And because it's a closed-back design, it leaks much less noise than the Sennheisers. If you want to spend a bit more money without splashing out into the thousands of dollars, you might look at the open-backed AKG Q701s, while the MEElectronics HT-2 is an excellent choice from the budget range.

In-Ear Monitors

For listening on the bus, on the run, or for those who just don't like wearing a headband, ear buds, or in-ear monitors (IEMs) are the sensible option. Audiophiles needn't be content with the poor-quality sound reproduction and fit of cheap buds that come with MP3 players, smartphones, and mobile gaming devices as standard. For quality at a low price, it's still hard to beat Sony IEMs, but if you're prepared to spend into the hundreds of dollars, the Shure SE425 or Grado GR10 will take your IEM experience to another level. If you really want to go all out -- and don't mind a visit to an audiologist for a fitting -- custom-fit IEMs from Unique Melody are molded to the shape of your ears. They start at a shade under $500 and could set you back as much as about $1000.

For gaming

If you want the best gaming experience from your surround-sound headphones, the latest wireless headsets are hard to beat. For the Xbox, one of the best options is the Turtle Beach X41, which upgrades the analog audio signal from the base station to headphones to digital RF, making moving around easier without the sound dropping out. If you can, get your hands on a pair of Tritton Warhead 7.1 Dolby wireless surround-sound headsets that should be released in time for Christmas 2011. This is the first "truly wireless" headset that doesn't require a wire connecting the headset to the controller and that is designed specifically for the Xbox. For the PS3, Sony's own PlayStation (PS3) Wireless Stereo Headset may only be stereo, but it's designed to emulate 7.1 surround-sound.

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