Generally we hate big cans – those enormous headphones that sit on your head like a steel vice and make your ears sweat. The problem is to get serious audiophile sound it generally takes a substantial-sized unit that can house expert drivers and completely cover your ears for full isolation. The Shure SRH1540 Premium Closed Back Headphones feel different right out of the box. They are crazy light at 10.1oz, but also extremely sturdily crafted thanks to materials like aircraft-grade aluminum alloy and carbon fiber. The ear pads themselves are made of very soft synthetic called Alcantara and a slow-recovery memory foam that sits oh-so-gently on the ear.
These are the most comfortable big cans we've ever slipped on. Oh, and by the way they sound fantastic. The immediate sonic returns were felt with the bass. Music with an already warm sound (we tried Charles Mingus' "Better Git It In Your Soul") was more natural than almost anything we've heard through headphones. And even tunes that leaned towards those on-the-edge trebly highs (we used Television's "Marquee Moon" as our tester) felt gently dialed back in just the right way. Really anything we pumped through the 1540s sounded great. Now, velvety comfort aside, there's no disguising that these are still a really big pair of headphones. They're just so plush you won't really care. [$499; shure.com]