Brand is no assurance of quality, nor is price within brand.
The Dr. Dre-endorsed ‘Beats’ headphones series are a great example of branding without substance. They cost the earth and whilst the sound is generally high quality, the materials used are cheap and the devices are generally very poorly manufactured/assembled. If you doubt this, go and look up the Amazon reviews, or just type in ‘Dr. Dre Beats Headphones are Rubbish’ into Google. You’ll be surprised (or not) at what shows up.
Industry leaders do not always offer the best products, so it is with a heavy heart that I have to admit that any list of leading brands I could give you would be inherently misleading.
In fact, you’ll be far better off if you create a list of your individual needs, highlight the most important one and search from there. For example, if you want a headset that you can use in the gym or whilst jogging, I’d have to recommend a completely different pair than I might if you simply wanted to look cool.
Personally, I find that the Apple headphones that came with my iPod are more than good enough for my basic needs, but the best headphones I’ve ever used were a pair of Urbanista Copenhagen headphones that I reviewed for a site sometime last year. However, those headphones would be completely inappropriate for some uses such as jogging or running to catch a train.
For some advice about choosing the right pair, I went to Jamie Lendino’s PC Mag article, which was posted online earlier this year, the article is insightful and offers a comprehensive run-down of what different types of headphones can do for you. Lendino says,
“Some people happily spend more than half a grand on a new tablet or portable media device with an estimated lifespan of around three years, yet the question we’re asked often is still, “What’s the cheapest pair of headphones I can buy that don’t completely suck?” Headphones, earbuds, and earphones (we’ll describe the difference between them in a bit) are generally viewed as the least essential link in the musical chain—the part you can easily skimp on. In reality, your headphones are the most important link in that chain: A quality pair has a larger impact than the player itself on how your tunes will sound. Also, if well cared for, they will long outlive your planned-to-be-obsolete tablet, phone, or MP3 player. And you don’t have to break the bank, either”.
Whitson Gordon, at ‘Life Hacker.com’, also has a very useful article along the same lines, which you can read by clicking HERE.
So, to reiterate, brands like Sennheiser or Shure may have sterling reputations (and those reputations are certainly deserved for some of their products), but I strongly recommend being concerned more with the performance, function and price of your headphones, than with what the logo looks like.