Best Headphones 2023

Here are the Nominees

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Do you need a headset or just headphones? The choice can be a hard one when creating your ultimate setup. Some of us have both, and for good reason. When gaming with your pals online a headset is quick, and easy and lets you connect with as little equipment as possible. However, if you’re listening to music, or perhaps watching a film, you might want your sound to be on point, so the headphones route may not be meant for you.

CGMagazine has gone deep down both rabbit holes, and we have come up with what we think are the best headphones 2023 for you to kick off the year with. Whether you’re catching up on Netflix or taking a crack at some content creation, these are our favourite headphones for you this year.

Here are CGMagazine’s nominees for Best Headphones 2023:

SoundPEATS A6 Wireless Headphones

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Writer: Andrew Wilson
Score: 10
Price: $77.01

The SoundPEATS A6 use 40 mm drivers which provide true stereo sound to the user and deliver very rich sound. SoundPEATS has also incorporated hybrid ANC technology which helps to reduce over 90% of background noise, making listening to various content much easier in noisier environments. The SoundPEATS A6 are built with Bluetooth 5.0 inside, making connecting to a wide variety of devices and systems quick and seamless. Pairing is as simple as turning the headset on and pairing to your device of choice. 

In my weeks of extensive testing, the battery life of the SoundPEATS A6 was greater than any other headset I had tested. SoundPEATS rates the battery life at 27 hours with ANC mode on and up to 40 with it off. I was able to regularly get well over 30 hours of use in various modes of testing between ANC on and off. I could easily make it through a full week of listening to my different content before getting low battery warnings.  

For anyone looking for a quality set of headphones, without breaking the bank, look no further than the SoundPEATS A6.

Monolith M1000ANC Review

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Writer: Philip Watson
Score: 9
Price: 129.99

The overall sound quality on the Monolith M1000ANC is top-of-the-line. Even without the Dirac Virtuo turned on, individual sounds are made crystal clear, and hearing a cymbal smash during a drum solo just hits different, kudos to the 40 mm drivers. It is also worth noting the connectivity with Bluetooth 5 compatible devices, such as my PC or smartphone, felt seamless, and I didn’t experience any issues here while test-driving.

The headband folds up compactly, making the mighty headset much smaller, allowing the M1000ANC to fit securely inside a small, included travel bag to protect the headset from the elements. A 3.5 mm audio cable is also surprisingly included, and considering most modern cellphones have done away with the ‘headphone jack,’ Monolith brings back the question ‘who has the AUX cable?’ by including one, which is a nice touch, especially for audiophiles with a need for 3.5 mm connectivity.

The Monolith M1000ANC is a striking headset that delivers good sound and can last a long time. A good headset to upgrade audio quality, while not breaking the bank.

Mackie MC-450 Professional Open-Back Headphones

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Writer: Khari Taylor 
Score: 9
Price: $389.99

When listening to music, the MC-450 offers a clear, clean and airy overall sound that can be likened to listening to a performance in the recording studio or a small, enclosed venue where you’ve got the best and only front-row seat in the house. Alternatively, a fellow friend and headphone nut who I allowed to briefly sample the MC-450 best described the experience as if appreciating one’s music while sitting by oneself in an open room without wearing headphones, despite being in a different environment. 

The MC-450 is simply an excellent set of pro cans for audiophiles. The bass is punchy without any need for enhancement, voices are crisp, the highs are much easier to pick out and the lows are lush. Wanting to ensure that I wasn’t just making things up in my head, I loaned the MC-450 out to my DJ siblings to play around with for a day, and they came back with similar sentiments.  

The MC-450 is a premium pair of professional headphones targeting both serious audiophiles and content creators, and while it more than lives up to expectations in terms of fidelity and build quality, don’t expect those qualities to come cheap.

RODE NTH 100 Headphones 

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Writer: Alex Handziuk
Score: 9
Price: $199.99

The NTH 100 performs well on the sound side. Specs wise, they feature 40 mm dynamic drivers with a frequency response range of 5Hz – 35kHz at 32 ohms, and a sensitivity of 110dB/V. In practice, the NTH 100 is clear and accurate across most ranges and punches up to higher price point headphones. Testing it out with Rush by Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts, the jazzy highs and bassy lows came across rich and punchy, and the NTH 100 do a great job at being consistently solid regardless of range. 

Price-wise, the NTH 100 is definitely in the higher echelon of headphones, clocking in at $199 CAD. While it may seem pricey, $199 isn’t even close to the true upper range of headphones, especially when sound mixing and music creation options are factored in, and the NTH 100 do well to punch above their weight. I’ve used a Rode NTS-USB as my go-to mic for the past four years, and there’s a nice feeling of visual synchronicity between the two, even if there isn’t any actual hardware or software integration.  

The Rode NTH 100 is a great first foray into the headphone space for Rode.Its comfortable design and punchy sound performance, combined with its premium but fair price point make it a standout in its class

WINNER: Best Headphones 2023 ATH-M20xBT Wireless Earphones

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Writer: Chris De Hoog
Score: 9.5
Price: $99

Through Multi-Point Pairing the ATH-M20xBT can connect to two devices simultaneously—meaning you can answer phone calls while listening to music on your computer, for example. The microphone itself is also hidden incredibly discreetly as a pinprick hole on the left headcup, but unfortunately is the weakest point of this headset. It serves well for phone calls but sounds so thin and tinny that I can’t recommend it for anything else. Zoom calls or Discord game parties deserve a little better. Honestly, I overlooked the microphone entirely through my first days with it and was just as happy not having it at all.

I would also have liked to see some kind of equalizer control, through either the company’s Connect app (which doesn’t support the ATH-M20xBT as of this writing, but could theoretically be updated to include it) or a desktop utility. The sound output is amazing, but a little control over it would go a long way.

Audio-Technica has set my new standard for comfort and sound with the ATH-M20xBT. While they may not be optimized for joining up with friends in an online game, anyone who appreciates high-quality sound at a low price point will find a lot of value in these wireless earphones.

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