A great place to shop for headphones

AC Gears has a store in Greenwich Village, NYC, where you can listen to dozens of headphones before you buy.

AC Gears' wall of headphones Steve Guttenberg

AC Gears sells a wide variety of headphones and gadgets in Greenwich Village in NYC. It's not a huge space, but half of the store is devoted to in-ear and full-size headphones, and I recently spoke with founder Kohn Liu to learn more about his business. The brands and model lineup change from time to time, but right now he has around 50 headphones on display. Many are in the affordable range, but there's also a decent selection of high-end brands as well. AC Gears has most Grado models on display, including the top-of-the-line PS 1000. They also have Etymotic, Sol Republic, Ultrasone, and many more, and AC Gears will be adding more brands later this year. The store opened its doors in 2008.

I asked Liu to pick some affordable favorites, and he said if you don't need a mic and remote, go for the $99 Grado iGi in-ears. For less money he likes the NOCS NS200, which has a mic and remote, and it's a customer favorite. Feel free to plug in your phone or music player, and audition a variety of headphones at AC Gears.

I noticed AC Gears doesn't stock the brands you're likely to find at the big chain stores like Sony or Beats by Dre; this store caters to a more discerning clientele. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, so if you live in or near NYC and you're looking for new headphones, check out AC Gears. It's small, but Liu is looking to expand, possibly later this year.

He started his first business, Audio Cubes, when he was still in college, and AC Gears is an outgrowth of the first Web site. Another site, Audio Cubes II carries ultra-high-end Japanese audio brands. To get a complete rundown of what's at the Greenwich Village store, check the Web site.

If your town has a store that lets its customers audition a wide variety of headphones, please tell us about it in the Comments section.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.

 

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