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Three of the year's best full-size headphones

The Grado PS-1000, Sennheiser HD 800, and the Ultrasone Edition 8 full-size headphones all sound amazing. Which one is right for you?

The Grado PS-1000 headphone

The Grado PS-1000, Sennheiser HD 800, and Ultrasone Edition 8 full-size headphones all sound amazing. They're all expensive to buy, but if you listen to headphones with your hi-fi or computer, they might be worth the investment. Which one is right for you?

That depends. First, they sound very different from each other. To get the full scoop, read my CNET reviews of the Grado PS-1000, Sennheiser HD 800, and Ultrasone Edition 8 headphones.

My personal favorite was the Grado, as it was the most exciting to listen to. It seemed to bring out details more, and its dynamic impact was simply more visceral than the other two headphones. It worked well enough with my iPod, sounded acceptable with my Onkyo TX-SR805 receiver, and best with my Woo Audio WA6 Special Edition headphone amplifier.

The Ultrasone Edition 8

Which reminds me, if you're going to spend big bucks on a headphone, check out dedicated headphone amplifiers. I've blogged about Woo's amps many times, and they offer models starting at $470. I will try to get around to covering other brands soon.

The Ultrasone was the bass champ of the three headphones. If you love bass and you want to feel it, check out the Edition 8. As I said in the review, it gets closer to the full sound of a large floor-standing speaker than the other headphones. It's also the most iPod/MP3 player-compatible deluxe headphone I've heard. I couldn't believe how good it made my iPod sound.

The Sennheiser HD 800 is the most high-tech of the three headphones. It epitomizes German engineering and build quality. The HD 800 is also the most comfortable over-the-ear model I've tested to date. Oh, and it's the most accurate (neutral) sounding headphone of the three. Its unhyped sound is easy on the ears, and I listened to the Sennheiser for hours at a time and never felt fatigued.

The Sennheiser HD 800

Sure, these are all very expensive headphones, but chances are you'll get many years of use out of any one of them. I still use my Sennheiser HD 580 headphones I bought more than 10 years ago.