Can I hear what you hear?
May 17, 2018 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Seeking recommendations for durable over-ear headphones.

I know I am really bad at looking after headphones, so I generally periodically purchase these relatively cheap ones and break them every so often. (I'm not up on tech enough to really articulate the issue but basically I mess up the wiring somehow and the sound starts only working in one ear.)

I'm starting to wonder if it's possible to buy headphones that are more durable. Do you have any specific recommendations? For instance, would a wireless set be worth it since that would eliminate the cord problem, or would I still probably mangle the headset somehow?

Note: only over-ear recs need apply, I can't do earbuds.

Thanks, Mefites!
posted by ferret branca to Shopping (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm super-hard on my headphones but Urbanears Plattans have survived even my depredations. The jack cord is woven fabric and replaceable if it starts to break down, and you can swap it onto either side for your convenience. As sound goes, they're passable rather than brilliant, and as portability goes, they're kinda bulky, but they're pretty indestructible. My current pair is about three years old and doing just fine; I've dropped them multiple times on hard surfaces and the worst that's ever happened is that the ear cushion popped off, and I popped it straight back on again, no problems.

Note: mine are the 1st-gen Plattans, which have been discontinued, but the Plattan 2s are basically the same design.
posted by halation at 5:34 PM on May 17, 2018

I have the Plattan 2 bluetooth edition and owned v.1 of the Plattan as well which survived 4 years of very sweaty gym usage. I ended up getting rid of them mostly due to mildew smell from leaving them in my gym bag too much - they structurally were still great.
posted by notorious medium at 5:50 PM on May 17, 2018

I have a pair of Sony's MDR-7506 headphones, which are a cult favorite among buy-it-for-life people. The cord is huge, and they're kind of heavy, so if you're moving around a lot with these on you'll probably feel pretty goofy. But they sound great and they have a very good reputation for durability. (The design is ~25 years old, as you can tell, so lots of stories of people who've had theirs forever.)

I've had a great experience with Koss, too—they have a lifetime warranty, although some of their headphones are cheap enough that you don't really save any money shipping it back to them. They've got some headphones with detachable cables, so you could replace the cable when you wear one out. Here's a pair. (I don't own these—my Koss headphones are on-ear Sporta-Pros.)
posted by Polycarp at 5:51 PM on May 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

Ancedata: I've destroyed a couple of pairs of those Sony MDR headphones, though I've heard other people have had good luck.

The most durable headphones I've ever owned have been these. The plastic headband bits are very durable and flexible, and the cable detaches from the headphones, so it's replaceable for ~10$ if it wears out at one end or the other, which happened to me only once over the 6 years I've had that pair. Still going.
posted by Rinku at 6:07 PM on May 17, 2018

I have the Sony MDRs, but I wouldn’t use them for walking around because of the super-long cord.

I also have had the wireless (but optionally wired) Jabra Revos for a few years, based on a recommendation from the Wirecutter, and they’re still going strong. They’ve been discontinued, but newer Jabra should serve you well. In my experience, the point of failure for headphones is almost always the cord, so going cordless has helped me keep these headphones survive much longer than usual.
posted by ejs at 6:50 PM on May 17, 2018

The most durable headphones I've ever owned come from Skullcandy.

I use the Hesh 2 Over-Ear Headphones, because as one with sensory processing issues, I adore how heavy they feel with the metal understructure headband and the way the thick ear cushions tightly hug my ears. Bliss. The Hesh 2 also produces excellent sound quality, and are very solidly built. I've never had issues with the cord in over five years of frequent use. Sometimes, the headphones make the earpieces of my glasses feel uncomfortably squished into my head if worn for long stretches, but that's a minor quibble.

Admittedly, the brand can be a bit spendy; but the high quality construction, comfort, sound, and easy inline remote were well worth the financial investment in my case. YMMV.
posted by Amor Bellator at 8:41 PM on May 17, 2018

I've had good luck with Koss PortaPro headphones, my first set lasted years until I lost it and my second set is still going strong. They're light enough to wear everywhere and fold up for safer storage when not in use.

I like my Sony MDRs but it has had some wire issues and I'm not sure I'd suggest it as a super sturdy option.

My Kingston HyperX Cloud headset is great and seems very sturdy! The tradeoff is that it's huge and bulky. I wouldn't want to wear it while exercising.
posted by Ahniya at 7:36 AM on May 18, 2018

I have a pair of Skullcandy Hesh 2 headphones that I purchased ~5-6 years(?) or so when I was DJing for my local radio station. I would use them to mix my shows, and in the studio, and would take them back and forth with me without a case. I still have them, use them, and they are in great shape. If Skullcandy made an active noise cancellation headphone I would have bought those next.

In case you are interested I bought these BOHMs recently for Bluetooth and noise cancellation and have been very pleased with their durability.
posted by terrapin at 9:38 AM on May 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I really appreciate everyone's recommendations but am afraid I ignored them to buy basically the wireless version of the type I used to have. Working all right so far!
posted by ferret branca at 11:34 AM on July 21, 2018

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