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Non-isolating headphones tested by Consumer Reports to find best

Consumer Reports tested non-isolating headphones that let you hear outside sounds as well as your music.
December 24, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Just about everyone seems to be wearing headphones these days. Ones called non-isolating headphones are especially good for joggers. They don't have a seal between the earpieces and your ears, so you can hear outside sounds as well as your music.

Consumer Reports tested 10 headphones that cost between $30 and $150.

One set, called EarHero, claims to be the "world's most elite earpiece," and has a price tag to match: $150. But when testers assessed this "elite" set, they had the worst sound of any headphones Consumer Reports has tested.

"The bass is lacking. It's a little bit harsh sounding," said Matt Ferretti with Consumer Reports.

In fact, despite being the highest-priced non-isolating headphones tested, the EarHero headphones were the lowest-rated, with an overall score of just six out of 100.

"There are many non-isolating headphones that provide full-range audio, that let you hear bass, midrange and treble, pretty much the way they're supposed to be heard," said Maurice Wynn with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports found other headphones that performed much better in the tests. In fact, Apple's basic ear pods rated much higher, and, at $30, cost far less.

But if sound quality is most important to you, Consumer Reports recommends the Bose IE2 headphones. You'll get very good sound, and, at $100, they are still less expensive than the EarHero.

If you're looking for headphones to use inside and want noise-canceling ones that block out other sounds, you'll have to spend more. Consumer Reports recommends Beats Executive from Beats by Dr. Dre. They have an over-the-ear design and deliver excellent sound quality and very good noise reduction for $300.

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