If you’re like me and you wear headphones for more than just a couple hours at a time, comfort is very important. Whether I’m doing stuff on the computer or gaming (sometimes for 8+ hours), I don’t want my headphones to bother me. In fact, I’d like to forget they’re even on my head (as much as possible). I’d trade more comfortable headphones for (reasonably) lower audio quality any day. As someone who wears glasses with thick plastic frames, it’s more of a challenge to find headphones that won’t irritate me or put too much pressure on the sides or top of my head. Before you start pointing out that I can wear contacts instead, I can’t. Contacts dry my eyes out too much and they struggle to focus on screens after about an hour or two. I need to be able to wear my glasses, and I don’t want my head to feel like it’s going to explode after a while of use.
I’ve had Kingston’s HyperX Cloud gaming headset for about a year now, and they’re fantastic for comfort. They fit just right on my head with enough clamp on the sides to stay on without irritation – even after long gaming sessions. They’re not very heavy, either, so the top of my head doesn’t feel pushed down on. I’m an audio novice so I can’t compare much in the way of sound quality, but they’re definitely great for the price. Out of the box, they come with a whole ton of accessories as well, which is amazing considering the whole package is under $100 CAD. Most noteworthy is the detachable mic that plugs directly into the headset with a 3.5mm jack.
But I’m getting off topic. We’re talking about comfort. And the HyperX Clouds are ridiculously comfortable. For me, at least.
Not long ago I got it in my head to try out headphones with better audio quality. I wasn’t dissatisfied with my Clouds, but I was curious to experience what audiophiles consider quality sound. I did a lot of research, hunting for headphones that offer both comfort and audio quality, within a price range that wouldn’t empty out my bank account. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x professional headphones were consistently ranked at the tops of audiophile lists. For more than twice the price of my Clouds, my expectations were high.
The build quality and sound quality of the M50x was great, but comfort left much to be desired. Almost immediately, I realized these headphones wouldn’t outdo my Clouds. True, the earpads did get more comfortable after some use, but they still didn’t compare to the Cloud earpads. If you’re interested in what else I thought of the headphones, here’s my review on them.
Back to the internet I went, searching for replacement earpads that would make my M50x more bearable for longer use. I ended up ordering the Brainwavz replacement memory foam earpads in velour and leatherette. Twice as thick and much more cushy than the stock M50x earpads, I was pretty excited to try them on.
They’re comfier, that’s for sure. I fell asleep with the velour cups on the first night – more likely because I was exhausted and less to do with the earpads being soft. But they’re still not as comfy as I’d like them to be. The velour cups makes the sides of my head and my ears itch after a while (though they do make nice earmuffs). The leatherette cups are more comfortable, but even extending my headphones a bit wider still puts more pressure on my head than I’d prefer. Not to mention the ATH-M50x is already a little too big for my head so I have to keep it on the smallest width most of the time (unless I want the pressure to move to the sides of my jaw).
So here I am, still looking for a headset/headphones that will be most comfortable while producing great sound quality. Suggestions? Other than the HyperX Cloud II gaming headset, because I want to try something new. Preferably over-ear headphones, but if you have in-ears or on-ears you’d like to recommend, feel free.