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The Mac|Life editors’ favorite new pastime (besides fiddling with our Apple gear, of course) is playing DJ. Most days, we can be found at turntable.fm/maclife spinning tunes and nerding out on music while we work. But office decorum dictates that we wear headphones while rocking out. Yes, technology has made it extremely easy for Robbie to go on a Smiths bender and take the rest of us along for the ride -- but Paul’s ban on Morrissey in the office is still very much in effect, and violators are punished swiftly.
KRK’s KNS-8400 headphones are a great solution to our musical civil war. These studio-quality cans aren’t cheap, but they’re solidly built, sound great, and comfortable enough to wear for all-day jam sessions. The earcups fit over your ears, providing a good amount of noise isolation, and the soft leather-like material conforms to your head without making you feel like you’re being crushed by Godzilla. I have a fairly large head, and the padded, adjustable headband easily accommodated my oversized noggin. But the 8400s work just as well for folks with less headspace -- I tested the ’phones on some less cranially endowed friends, and everyone was able to adjust them for a comfortable fit.
Our favorite touch, however, is the optional in-line volume slider. It’s sturdy and useful, although adding it to the headphone end of the cable leaves you with a really long wire to deal with -- kind of a pain if you use your headphones mostly while on the go. Both the cables and the padding are replaceable, ensuring you’ll be able to continue to enjoy your investment, and the earcups rotate flat for easier storage in the included bag.
But “comfortable and well-made” isn’t enough -- headphones also need to sound good. KRK has designed these ’phones for critical listening. Unlike other headphones aimed at boosting the bass from portable devices, KNS-8400s are built with neutral response in mind. They’re equally adept at pumping bass as they are at reproducing more delicate treble frequencies. And thanks to the closed-back design, you can safely blast “Who Let the Dogs Out” without arousing the scornful looks of your coworkers or seatmates on the bus. The $250 list price may turn off music fans on a budget, but the street price is about $100 less, which brings them into the realm of more casual music fans.
The bottom line. KRK’s KNS-8400 headphones are a great pair of midpriced cans, and the detachable in-line volume control makes them great for use with an iPod or other portable gear.
iPod or other device with 1/4- or 1/8-inch audio jack
Great sound at any volume. Replaceable cable and earcups. Includes 1/4-inch adapter and carry case. Street price is about 100 bucks less.
In-line volume control leaves you with a really long headphone cable. May not offer enough thump for bass-heads.