Best foldable headphones 2022: Great wireless sound and compact storage

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es, headphones can be fashionable, and for such small things they are capable of delivering commendable sound. But for those who want to immerse themselves in their favorite songs, there is surely only one answer: a good set of cans.

Before the pandemic, it seemed like one in three Tube passengers used a set of Beats wireless on-ear headphones or Apple’s instantly recognizable AirPods. Now, with more time at home and perhaps a greater desire to block out the rest of the world, over-ear headphones are becoming as essential as a sidestream box. The only danger is that you’re so engrossed in the music (noise cancellation is almost mandatory in high-end devices) that you can’t hear the Amazon delivery guy knocking.

Bluetooth allowed manufacturers to ditch the cables, giving listeners the freedom to roam across the house from their device and made them more user-friendly than ever. With the latest generation of over-ear headphones, foldable constructions are considered a prerequisite. This ensures they’re compact enough to slip into your bag, while doing justice to your neatly curated playlist.

Here we test several of the best foldable headphones. After all, no one would want to forget their favorite phone when it finally comes time to pack their bags for that well-deserved summer break (or even the commute to the office, die for the idea).

Sennheiser Momentum

Sennheiser

I’ve always loved Sennheiser. I still remember my first pair – giant yellow foam discs and an indestructible black plastic headband. Plugged into the CD player, they produced a sound quality unimaginable before.

More recently I bought a set of £70 HD 350BT cans – comfortable and pretty decent for the price. But let’s just say I haven’t used them since these Sennheiser Momentum beauties arrived just before Christmas.

Compared to even the best headphones, they feel like watching a movie on a widescreen rather than a smartphone.

The depth of sound and low-end kick – with each note identifiable rather than just a repetitive hit – is like a bass player sitting on top of your head.

The headband and “earmuffs” are wrapped in leather and move up and down on an aluminum band. The set is of high quality.

There are logically placed buttons – one to increase the volume, one to decrease and a third to pause the music, skip a track (two keys) or rewind (three keys).

There’s noise cancellation, ‘transparent hearing’ (to avoid the danger of road traffic if you’re walking), a voice assistant and the ability to take phone calls while still wearing the headphones.

Testing their performance, The Weeknd’s new track Gasoline is like a sonic explosion. The guitar notes on Sam Fender’s brilliant new album are as sharp as broken glass. Natalie Merchant’s Carnival, which I must have heard 1,000 times, is transformed. The music stops as soon as you remove them from your head.

My only real caveat is that these headphones are big. To describe them as heavy would be an overstatement, but their presence is unmistakable, mainly due to their incredible sound.

JBL Tour One

JBL

“Designed to inspire” says the message on the box. Well, the JBL Tour Ones are certainly an attractive, well-proportioned and fine-sounding pair of headphones.

Like the Sennheiser Momentum, the JBL phones are elegantly presented and feature a sturdy carrying case rather than the Sennheiser silver-grey soft pouch.

They’re really nice to the touch and are smaller than rival Sennheisers. It took them barely a second to connect via Bluetooth – the simple click of a toggle switch – and whatever you’ve been streaming to your device starts playing automatically.

They are on-ear and very comfortable to wear. The sound quality is excellent but perhaps not as revealing as the Sennheiser. They earn top marks for ease of use – not too many buttons, easy volume adjustment and the option of noise cancellation if that’s your preference.

The sound is “brighter” than Sennheiser, which means the female vocals – I tested them playing the Cowboy Junkies – come with a certain degree of sibilance. But Bob Dylan’s latter-day masterpiece, Murder Most Foul, retained its deep growl.

Marshal Major IV

marshal

Well, they certainly look the part. The iconic Marshall logo, known to concertgoers the world over from the speaker batteries used by every rock band worth their salt, sits proudly on each “box”. They’re also tiny – on the ear rather than over the ear – and light as a feather. Unlike the Sennheiser, there is virtually no pressure on the ears of the headband.

But could I get them to connect to my iPhone via Bluetooth? No, I couldn’t. After many failed attempts, I resorted to the supplied cable to connect to my iPod. Retro indeed.

Arcade Fire’s Sprawl II came out light and fluffy. There is only one button, which is used to turn the headphones on and off, control volume, skip tracks and establish the Bluetooth link. In wired mode, however, it did nothing.

Love Will Tear Us Apart was also quite high-pitched, with little bass – one of the defining characteristics of this great song. On Love & Money’s Strange Kind Of Love, there’s a rounder sound, but you don’t feel as close to the music as you would with headphones. Incredibly comfortable, super sleek but sadly lacking the musical punch of some of the other models on this list.

Verdict

the Sennheiser Momentum the headphones are the best in terms of pure hearing pleasure, but the JBL Tour Ones are a cheaper and more comfortable alternative.

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