I had to take my laptop this weekend for some repairs; as much as I love coffee and computers, the two really shouldn’t meet unsupervised.

While my computer was in the back getting a makeover after taking a coffee bath a few days ago, I took it upon myself to sample the different headphones on the floor. Three headphones were available to me: Bose AE2i, Beats by Dr. Dre, and Incase Sonic.

The test was pretty simple, listen to three songs long enough to get a feel for the headphones. The three songs were Norah Jones’s “Don’t Know Why”, Opeth’s “Ghost of Perdition”, and Skrillex’s “Rock N’ Roll (Will Take You To The Mountain)”.

There’s a few things that I listen for in each of these tracks; in the Norah Jones track, it’s all about the brushes. Can you actually hear the individual swishes of each brush? Norah’s voice is secondary since it always sounds silky. In the Opeth track, it’s about the separation — guitar from the bass from the drums, all over Mikael’s growls. And finally the Skrillex track which is about balance. With such extremes in frequency range and volume, I think the track really exercises a pair of headphones.

Since I spent less than 5 minutes with each pair, this isn’t some in depth review, only bullet points of what I heard. That being said, let’s get into it.

First up was the Bose AE2i.

  • Pros
    • Lightweight
    • Good sound stage
    • Price: $179.95
  • Cons
    • Underwhelming bass

Next was the Beats by Dr. Dre.

  • Pros
    • Great padding on the ear cups
  • Cons
    • Heavy, muddy bass
    • Price: $299.95

The last set of headphones was the Incase Sonic

  • Pros
    • Great separation
    • Good sound stage
    • Price: $199.95
  • Cons
    • Not much bass, but better than the Bose

In terms of comfort, the Beats were definitely the winners, but I couldn’t enjoy the wide range of music that I love with them, so they come in last for me. Overall, if you asked me to recommend one pair of headphones from the three, I’d have to go with the Incase Sonic. They’re very similar to the Bose, but with slightly better bass response. Still, I thought that the Bose were quality headphones, so if you like the brand, you can’t go wrong with the AE2is.

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