Clamp a pair of the latest over-ear, noise-canceling cans around your head and the nightmare of commercial air travel can become, well, pretty darn pleasant. Gone is the "suction cup" feel that plagued older sets, and they have better sound quality, thanks to sophisticated digital amps.
We asked San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner to spend a month on the road with four new pairs, listening during bus rides, plane trips, and in the locker room. Bonner is one of the NBA's biggest music fans – when he's not pre-gaming to some Springsteen, he's organizing pickup games with indie celebs like Win Butler of Arcade Fire, or getting the Walkmen to reunite for a benefit show.
To test the headphones' limits, he listened to Deer Tick's "Mange" to see how they reproduced the rock song's high end, A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation" for bass, and Björk's "All Is Full of Love" for soundstage and separation. The tracks represent Bonner's diverse taste: "No one else in the NBA listens to the stuff that I do."
All headphones are rated 1 to 10.
Street by 50 ANC Wired Headphones: 8/10
According to Bonner: "The ear cup makes it all the way over and around your ear – they're easy to wear all day," and they have great battery life (up to 70 hours, using an onboard lithium battery rechargeable by micro-USB). "They're bass-forward, but not overly. Since 50 Cent attached his name to them, I thought they'd be gimmicky, but the sound is legit," he says. [$280; smsaudio.com]