LISTEN UP

Tune out your co-workers (and airplane noise and life) with one of these six pairs of headphones

By Sam Grobart

PHOTOGRAPH BY AARON DYER FOR BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK

GREAT FOR AIRPLANE TRAVEL

AKG K391 NC

$199.95; us.akg.com

AKG’s earbuds feature the same noise-canceling tech as the ubiquitous Bose pair but in a more stowable package. The rechargeable battery can be topped off via USB port, and the earbuds come with an attached microphone and three-button remote compatible with iPhones, iPads, iPods, and MacBooks.

ALL-AROUND EXCELLENCE

Grado GS1000i

$995; crutchfield.com

If you plug these into your iPhone, you’re a moron. But connected to a serious home system, the experience rivals a roomful of speakers. The GSs are (partly) crafted out of mahogany and surround the ear with space for air and sound to circulate. Think of them less as speakers and more as two tiny concert halls with a headband to connect them.

BIG SOUND IN A SMALLER PACKAGE

Velodyne vPulse

$99; velodyne.com

Velodyne knows from bass — the company made its name in subwoofers — but it’s designed a line of earbuds that sound great whether you’re listening to Kanye or Enya. The vPulses include a microphone so you can use them with your smartphone, and the flat cable keeps things relatively tangle-free. They’re also available in three colors, freeing you from the white-earbudded masses.

USE THEM AND LOSE THEM

Monoprice Enhanced Bass Hi-Fi Noise Isolating Earphones

$7.57; monoprice.com

If you’re looking for a basic pair of earbuds, buy half a dozen of these and use them as if they were disposable. They are less than eight bucks and sound totally fine. While they can’t match some high-end models that go for $100 or more, they’re as good, if not better, than mediocre name-brand models that cost $35.

EVERYDAY ON-EAR

Bowers & Wilkins P3

$199.95; store.apple.com

If earbuds aren’t your thing, these may be your move. Bowers & Wilkins has been making high-end audio equipment for nearly 35 years, and the P3s are the company’s midprice model for everyday use. These headphones don’t so much encapsulate your ears as sit on top of them, which means more ventilation. They’re not the most isolating headphones, but if you’re wearing them while crossing the street, maybe that’s not a bad thing.

BEST FOR WIRELESS HOME THEATERS

Sennheiser RS 180

$329.95; en-us.sennheiser.com

These wireless headphones are made to work with your TV and other home-theater equipment. The transmitter base (also a charging dock for the headphones) sends out a signal that can be picked up from as far as 320 feet away. Additional headphones can be linked to the same transmitter — great for new parents rocking a newborn to sleep while watching Road House on TBS.

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