Feel the Beat: 2023’s Newest and Greatest Over-Ear Headphones
2023 has already seen some fantastic strides made in headphone quality and technology. In this list, let’s look into some of the newest and coolest headphone releases.
As wearable tech evolves with increasing rapidity, it’s important to keep an eye on the next big trends. If you’re a fan of one brand featured heavily in this list, then perhaps you’d enjoy a deeper dive into the best Sony over-ear headphones
Musical Face Mask
In an unexpected stride towards wearable technology, Dyson has released the design of their latest Dyson Zones. This is a set of headphones with an unexpected difference: they’re noise-canceling, high fidelity, and come with an in-built air purifier.
They look as bizarre as the description sounds: a metal-backed pair of headphones – slightly conical – appease a normal headphone shape. Then, from the onlooker’s view, an intimidating Bane-like mandible appears bolted onto both ear cups. This reaches across the entire lower half of the face.
However, there’s some impressive tech underneath the bizarre exterior. The metal-backed ear cups include a thick, responsive diaphragm; this gives the music a warm, rich, and dynamic tone.
It’s the core component of high-fidelity audio, and perfectly suits Dyson’s first ambitious move into wearable tech.
Active noise canceling is heavily loaded onto these urban headphones; perfect for blocking out noisy city traffic and crowds of other pedestrians.
The filtration aspect is the most novel part of this unconventional wearable. Both ear cups have tiny, in-built compressors; these draw air through the earcups which include dual-layer filters. Then, the purified air is channeled through the futuristic visor to the nose and mouth.
The visor needs to be as covered as it is; it also has channels in its interior, as it needs to prevent the filtered air from being diluted by polluted external air.
The air filtration mode includes two modes of function – high and low – which have understandable impacts on the 9-hour battery life.
Sheer Audio Power
The power and quality that headphones put out can generally be measured in Ohms. The higher the Ohms, the greater the range and dexterity of the speakers built into the headphones. This is why studio headphones generally need powerful amplifiers to function.
For context, Apple earphones generally function at 8 Ohms. The latest Focal Listen to Professionals clock in at 32 Ohms.
Studio headphones aren’t for everyone: they require chunky hardware and are usually wired. Bluetooth is a major bottleneck for the intensely high-fidelity kit, meaning that these headphones are for home studios only.
However, if the world of intense hi-fi is of interest, then the Focal Listen Professionals introduce the next generation of studio headphones.
Certain materials are included in the ear cushioning, which are balanced for acoustic treatment. These enhance the level of clarity and detail, leaving you with no unwanted frequencies bouncing around.
Whereas your daily wireless cans are just for fun, studio headphones place emphasis on balanced audio. Audio engineers and music producers want transparent audio production across the entire spectrum, and the Focals and Sennheisers go to every length to provide this.
The noise-canceling headphone market is incredibly saturated right now. The only forms of improvement come from increasing the aptitude and responsiveness of the noise-canceling feature. This is where Sony WH-1000XM4 absolutely mops the floor with their competition.
If you’re not certain how active noise cancellation (ANC) works, here’s a quick rundown. First, it’s important to understand that all noises around us are merely compressions of molecules. These waves of compressions travel through the air until they reach our ears.
ANC focuses on preventing these waves from reaching our ears. They’re stopped not by the plastic casing of the ear cups, but by a neat quirk of audio physics.
Have you ever seen a sound wave represented on an oscilloscope? Where the noise is represented by a line arcing above, then below, the baseline?
Well, when a wave is traveling through space, sometimes it hits other waves coming in the opposite direction. This modifies the wave traveling in your direction; sometimes it completely obscures it.
ANC monitors the waves reaching the outside of your headphone’s ear cups. Then, it produces equal but opposite waves in response. This has the net effect of completely canceling out incoming noise.
Sony has made this process so tight and responsive, that it cancels out 99% of all external noise.
In fact, the WH1000XM4s have automated almost every action. Whenever it detects you’re speaking, the music will automatically pause. When you remove the headphones, small sensors in the ear cups detect that your ears are no longer in, and it automatically pauses.
Ambient mode – also gesture-controlled – lowers the music volume and uses the inbuilt mic to play what’s going on in your environment. Perfect for commuting.
True Sweat Resistance
Splashing out on a fantastic pair of headphones is a feeling unlike any other; the last thing you want is to break or damage those cans accidentally.
Studies have shown that listening to music can dramatically increase your sports performance. Unfortunately for most gym rats, salty water is the bane of most electronics.
This is because pure distilled water does not conduct electricity, but saline water deposits salt crystals on the motherboard and other internal components of any electronics. This kills the motherboard.
Enter the Sony WFSP800Ns. Whilst not technically over-ears, they prioritize sweat resistance and staying power. The tight in-ear fit prevents them from flying loose, no matter whether your exercise of choice is sprinting or pole-vaulting.
Of course, these are wireless, meaning that there’s no risk of getting tangled!
Most importantly, Sony WF-SP800N headphones are IP55 rated. IP55 means water splashes, sweat, and dust will not destroy them. The speaker and mic components are sealed away; plastic flaps cover the charging ports.
You can even wash these earphones after a sweaty gym session!
The headphone industry is rapidly expanding into every niche available: from tight-fitting pieces for exercise to hi-fi air-filtration technology, the next twelve months in the headphone space will be incredibly exciting.