Once my headphones are in, the rest of the world is out. I scroll through my playlist and deep dive into my favorite musical tunes. And then I’m in my own little audio world, where everything is peaceful, my favorite singers are my best friends, and they just know the right things to say. If you’re a music fanatic as well, you know how important and sacred your personal music time can be, and how holy your relationship with your headphones is. After all, these are the resourceful little things that transport us into our beloved audio world. And, one of the most popular headphones these days are the Apple AirPods Max. But hey! Let’s remember that great headphones go beyond Apple as well. And this nifty list includes all of them – from sustainable cork headphones to sleek headphones that transform into a spiral-shaped speaker. Headphones designs these days are at an all-time high, and I’m sure you can’t wait to introduce your ears to them!
1. The Yamaha L700A
Coming from a company that has a reputation for making ‘serious’ audio equipment for serious musicians and audio professionals, the Yamaha L700A looks to treat a balance between being pro-gear and consumer-worthy. It sports a gray design, finished with fabric trims on the headband as well as on the earpieces themselves, making them look like condenser microphones from afar. The wireless headphones fold flat like the AirPods Max, for easy traveling, and instead of touch-sensitive panels or rotary knobs, the earphones actually come with buttons on the right earpiece for that reliable tactile experience.
2. Anis Jabloun’s Bang & Olufsen Concept
This concept design almost looks similar to B&O’s first wireless on-ear headphones, the BeoPlay H8 that launched way back in 2015. A key difference, visually speaking at least, is that the inner part of the cups is completely transparent. In theory, this has no effect on the quality of the audio the speakers put out, but it does send a clear (pun intended) message to anyone who sees it. Just like the cups, the sound you should expect from a B&O-branded headphone is crystal clear and unadulterated.
3. The Samsung Galaxy Level
While the Samsung Galaxy Buds are named because of their ‘bud’-shaped design (they look like kidney beans, personally), the Level headphones are named the way they are more because of how calibrated their sound is. The headphones have a slick outer design that comes with buttons located on the rim around the leather ear-cups, although touch-sensitive surfaces on the sides allow you to better interact with your multimedia, doing things like increasing or decreasing volume, answering/rejecting calls, cycling through music, or invoking Bixby or your phone’s own Voice Assistant.
These sleek and futuristic headphones have a hidden secret – they transform into a speaker! Usually, once you’re done listening to your favorite tunes, you simply place your headphones on your desk or any other preferred spot, however, Helix’s soft headband and ball joint arm, allow you to easily twist and mold the headphones, enabling them to transform into a spiral-shaped speaker. In their speaker form, the headphones also look like a cool little sculpture, something you can place in your room, and are sure to be asked questions about! The headphones come amped with an accessible dial that allows you to control the volume, and change the songs, by lightly adjusting the dial. The dial also works perfectly when Helix is in its speaker form.
5. The Noveto N1
What the Noveto N1 does is different. Rather than pressing speakers against each ear, the N1 sits on your desk and ‘beams’ audio towards your ear just like a regular Bluetooth speaker… but what it also does is make sure the audio doesn’t go anywhere beyond your ear. It doesn’t travel sideways to someone sitting beside you, doesn’t travel behind your ear either to your partner standing right behind you. It just travels exactly to both your ears, creating ‘invisible pockets of sound’, or invisible headphones.
6. The Beoplay HX
Feature-for-feature, the Beoplay HX seems like they were designed to compete with the AirPods Max… and probably even win. The wireless over-ear headphones have the highest battery-life in their category (with the AirPods Max falling short by 10 hours, and the Sony WH-1000XM4 by 5). They’re outfitted with ANC (active noise-canceling) on the inside, and when the feature’s switched off, the headphones last well beyond 40 hours on a single charge. The headphones come in black (with an all-white variant launching in a month), featuring a body made from recycled plastic, capped off with a radial-brushed aluminum disc.
7. Cork Headphones
These cork headphones are another great addition to that list and show us that gadgets can also go green – you would be surprised to know how much plastic goes into making a simple pair of headphones. Weighing only 64 grams (0.14 lbs) these headphones are super light! Cork is a versatile material that is being explored to design sustainable products. It is non-allergic, resilient, sound insulating, moisture-proof, and soft to touch. If you are an everyday headphone user, you know that there is a lot of wear and tear that happens and instead of repairing, we usually just upgrade which increases our plastic consumption.
8. The Apple AirPods Max Light
Titled the Apple AirPods Max Light (a bit of a word-salad there), these conceptual headphones take Apple’s high-end audio experience and make them more accessible. The headphones come with a plastic body, while constantly maintaining the original silhouette. The headband is retained from the AirPods Max, although the cans themselves are made from plastic as opposed to anodized aluminum… that would help eliminate that condensation problem some of the AirPods Max headphones have been having. The band extends all the way to the sides, intersecting with the individual ear-cups.
Dubbed Ordi, the stylish wearable gadget aims towards lifting the self-esteem of people with cochlear implants. The idea takes inspiration from the bone conduction headphones that transmit the sound by vibrating the head and jawbones. This tech bypasses the need to relay the sound to the eardrum and the inner ear. The designers combined the bone conduction technology and the features of the cochlear implant into a sound processor for a musical experience shared via smartphones or any other portable audio device. Unlike standard headphones, the Ordi is designed to automatically adjust the left and right ear balance by placing sound processing transmitters on both sides.
10. The Level X3
What’s better than one audio device? A two-in-one! No?! A three-in-one!! I’ve officially hit crazy with the Level x3 Headphones. Just like the Matryoshka dolls, these babies are one big bag of surprises. Designed to be your everything-audio solution, the Level X3 is a pair of in-ear earphones, that fit into headphones. Audio synchronization allows your headphones to continue what you were listening to on your earphones. The only way to top off that awesome idea is to step it up with the Cradle, a docking device for the headphones that not only charges them but acts as an all-in-one speaker.