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Three Leather Headphones

Our picks in the over-ear category of recently released headphones

by Graham Hiemstra in Tech on 24 October 2013

While earbuds are often best for discretely listening to music on the way to and from work, at the office over-ear headphones reign supreme. Whether you've got a deadline to hit or the office playlist is having an off day, few materials make wearing headphones for prolonged periods as comfortable as leather. After hours of ListenUp vetting, interview transcribing and general jamming out, we decided the following three recently released leather headphones are up to the task of daily wear.

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Polk

With the brand new over-ear Buckle, Polk is understandably proud of their new aesthetic. Designed down to a few basic shapes and minimal materials, the refined headphones are at once modern and vintage. The slightly asymmetrical ergonomic ear-cups make for a great fit—even if you wear glasses. And the small built-in three mode switch makes it easy to control your experience with the flick of a finger.

As for the audio: The sound is impressive. Passive sound isolation tech eliminates most outside noise and optimized electro-acoustic tuning (which the brand is famous for in home audio) delivers a realistic, immersive listening experience. Both bass-heavy rap and synth-driven EDM sound solid with the Buckle. Regarding the volume test—which we'll likely regret down the line—of the three headphones selected here, the Buckle handled a significantly higher volume level without becoming distorted. Find the Buckle for $250 from Polk.

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Phiaton

With a slightly less conventional look, the Bridge MS 500 features large leather ear-cups that fit on the ear like pillows, making for a great all-day-wear headphone option. Plus the handy folding design makes packing them up after a long day even easier. As for the sound, 40mm drivers create an extremely clear listening experience. Vocals sound crisper in the Bridge than in the others tested, creating an attention-demanding situation that seemed to draw us into the lyrics—a blessing and a curse when multi-tasking. Bass levels do the trick as well, making Riff Raff's "Dolche and Gabbana" sounds better than ever. And the ability to plug the cable into either ear of the headphone is a plus for keeping the cord from tangling around typing hands. Find The Bridge MS 500 at Amazon for $269.

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JBL

Mixing die cast aluminum, steel and supple leather, the futuristic Synchros S700 over-ear headphone from JBL may not be aesthetically attractive to everyone. But what it lacks in modest design, it makes up for in sound quality. The sturdy frames deliver powerful bass and extra crisp vocals thanks to proprietary LiveStage signal processing. The only demerit came in the volume test; at extremely high volumes the sound seemed to fragment, breaking up the singular experience into distinguishable layers. That said, it's most probably not healthy—physically or emotionally—to listen to Pusha T (or anything) that loud for an extended period of time. Find the Synchros S700 from JBL for $350.

Images by Graham Hiemstra

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