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Hip-Hop is one of those interesting genres of must where the sound quality of the system you listen to is paramount to the experience. While the good sound quality is a plus for all shapes and sizes of music, there are few genres that rely so heavily on the sound coming out to create the experience. Many fail, coming out with over-saturated lows and little in the top-end, shaking your head as you’re listening, and making the music sound dull.
Many companies have jumped on the train of super bass-heavy headphones after the Beats by Dr. Dre movement. However, an extended low-end does not always equate to a good Hip-Hop listening experience. The headphones not only need to pack a punch in the low-end but also need to be tight and focused. We’re going to go over the best three headphones for Hip-Hop.
I’m looking for pairs of headphones that have a tight and punchy low-end, smoothness in the top, and an extended feature set that makes the headphones portable and convenient, like Bluetooth or a detachable cable. While not all of the headphones I looked for met the last requirement, it does earn extra points for a pair. Let’s see what headphones make the cut:
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#1: Beyerdynamic DT770 PRO – $199
Beyerdynamic has quite an impressive line of headphones ranging from fairly inexpensive to why in the world would you spend this much on a pair of headphones. The DT770 Pros strike a perfect balance in this range, clocking in at only $199 for a pair.
The beyerdynamic DT770 PRP wins out in the frequency response. While they don’t feature an extended low-end, they still pack a punch in the bass. The lack of some sub-harmonic excitement actually ends up working in the DT770s favor. Instead of being boomy and out of control, the headphones punch in all of the right ways, being tight and focused
This is largely due to Beyerdynamic’s “Bass Reflex” technology. This enhances the low-end without actually putting a heavy EQ curve, leading to tight and focused bass.
On the top end, the DT770s sing. Unlike many headphones in the sub-$300 range, the DT770s have an incredibly smooth top end, bringing enough presence to not sound dull, but still pleasant enough to not fatigue the ears for extended listening sessions.
The DT770s do lack in the portability department. The non-removable cable and lack of collapse-able construction make the cans hard to carry around and use while on the go. However, where they lack in portability, they make up in comfort.
The velour, circumaural and replaceable ear pads are some of the most comfortable I have ever used. Often, I can wear the headphones for hours and barely notice there are a pair on my head.
#2: Sony XB950BT EXTRA BASS Bluetooth – $199
As mentioned in my best Sony headphones article, the XB950BTs are some of the best of Sony’s range. These headphones hit in all of the right places, offering an extended and tight low-end, smooth and pleasing highs, and portability and style unmatched by many other pairs of headphones.
The headphones advertised a frequency response reaching down all the way to 3Hz. While human hearing clocks out well above the frequency, it does hold promise for a massive amount of low-end. Combine that with the “Electro Bass Booster” button on the bottom of the ear cup, and you have yourself some punchy and tight low-end. This convenient feature appears is powered and uses DSP for sub-harmonic excitement.
The top-end is slightly less pleasing on the XB950BTs than on the DT770 Pros. Despite this, it is less pronounced due to all of the low-end, making it manageable. While my ears would get slightly fatigued after hours and hours of listening, the XB950BTs are still smooth enough for most extended listening sessions.
One of the main reasons I love these headphones so much is the unmatched convenience of them. Not only do they look nice and won’t make people look twice at you in public, but they also feature One Touch technology with Bluetooth and NFC.
This means you can tap your device to the headphones, as long as Bluetooth is enabled on both, and they will pair immediately. This is something that is huge for me when I’m on the go. Throw on the headphones and listen to music, no fussing with cables about it.
#3: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x – $149
Audio-Technica makes a wide range of audio hardware that is inexpensive and performs incredibly well. The ATH-M50xs are not exceptions to this either. While they are the cheapest pair of headphones on this list, they are no slouch. These headphones perform just as well and offer some nice additional features, making them a great choice for Hip-Hop listening.
The ATH-M50xs can reach all the way down to 15Hz, probably a more reasonable number than the Sonys, pumping the bass with each hit. While these headphones don’t feature any sort of low-end extension or sub-harmonic excitement, they still pack plenty of punch. I found the low-end to be balanced, falling just shy of the maximum bass of the XB950BTs, but still maintaining much of the character of the DT770 Pros.
The top-end is much more pleasing than the XB950BTs. The highs are not as drowned out, and that’s a good thing. Thankfully, these $149 headphones have a very pleasing top, going up to 28kHz. I was able to take the ATH-M50xs with me on the go and listen for long periods with very little ear fatigue.
The only downside to the ATH-M50xs is the lack of Bluetooth or NFC. Maybe the Sonys have spoiled me, but I was surely missing the simple connectivity in the Audio-Technica cans.
However, the feature of a detached-able (and thus replaced cable), makes the headphones fairly convenient to pull out and use. Combine that with a completely collapsible design, and the ATH-M50xs come just shy in the portability department, but still hold their own very well.
There is absolutely no shortage of great headphones on the market for listening to Hip-Hop. If anything, the market has been tailored toward this style of music with the rise of the Beats by Dr. Dre (which is a great choice as well albeit slightly overpriced).
With that being said, there are many other pairs out there that can perform just as well as these headphones, or better, if you’re willing to pay the price. However, these headphones all include the critical feature set for a pair of Hip-Hop headphones while still coming in at a decent price, offering incredible value for the money.
Each of these three pairs sounds amazing on its own, so most of the decision comes down to the ascetic, design, and convenience that each individual user is looking for. If your own the go constantly, then something like the Sony XB950BT may be the best fit. However, if you do a lot of listening at home and don’t take a pair of cans out you much then the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro may offer a little more comfort.
For me, I can’t part with my DT770 Pros. The comfort of them is unmatched by almost any other pair of headphones I’ve tried. I don’t carry headphones with me often (I prefer earbuds on the go), so these cans don’t conflict with my portability needs. Combine that with the insane versatility of the pair, and they win out in my book.
With all that being said, do your research, and come out with a pair of headphones you love.