Hi-Fi Headphones Buying Guide

Not only do Hi-Fi headphones provide an excellent sound experience, they also keep your neighbours and family members happy.


Wireless headphones

In the past, wireless headphones have usually employed infrared (IR) transmitters and receivers, although Bluetooth is becoming the standard these days. Infrared headphones will work within a range of about 10m while Bluetooth can be anywhere from 10m to 100m. IR requires a line of sight, whereas Bluetooth can operate through walls, although this will reduce the range of operation. Typically the audio quality on wireless headphones isn't anything to write home about, so if you're an audio aficionado then perhaps look elsewhere.

If you happen to be going off the idea of wireless by now, you may be encouraged to know that many wireless headphones have a digital input in addition to a regular RCA or mini-jack. This means you can take a digital output from CD, Mini Disc or DVD and have it pumped directly into the headphones. Some models even have built-in Dolby decoders that provide virtual surround sound as well.

Another thing to remember about wireless headphones is that they need power. Transmitters will use a wall plug adapter while the headphones themselves will use batteries. Because of this, you might want to look for headphones that have a rechargeable battery which can be recharged when not in use, either via the transmitter or a separate stand that is mains powered. Be sure to also look for a set that allows you to switch the frequency channel, which will not only let you use multiple pairs in close proximity to each other, but they can also help minimise interference from other cordless equipment such as phones and door bells that are nearby.

Surround quality

We have left this until last because not everybody's idea of quality is the same. As a general rule of thumb, things to look out for are low-distortion, clear bass and smooth highs. Turn the volume up above your normal listening level and listen for clicks or crackling. Check that the bass is deep but not muddy -- turn off any bass boost features on the player or headphones and compare the difference. Listen to the high end; it should be crisp without sounding tinny or bright. If possible, compare with your existing headphones and use your own portable player and/or music. If you're buying from a shop that has speakers wired up to the same source, switch between headphones and speakers as you compare various models. This is a handy way to "reset" your ears in between trying out a few pairs of headphones.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags headphonesdigital musicmp3 playershi-fi headphones

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

GoodGearGuide Staff

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?