The Best Headphone Albums Ever

P5 Review: “How do they sound? In a word – brilliant”

There’s something very special about listening to music on headphones. A sense of closeness to the artist, and, of course, with the right headphones, just enough isolation from the hustle and bustle of the outside world to make listening a real pleasure.

And while a great album is always a great album, sometimes a particular recording will lend itself to the intimate atmosphere of a great pair of headphones. Whether those headphones are connected to your home hi-fi or to an iPod for listening on the move, the experience can transport you.

We’d love to know what your favourite headphone listening pleasures are. Whether it happens to be on a pair of Bowers & Wilkins P5 mobile hi-fi headphones or something else.

Here’s a selection of ours just to get you started.

Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
Read about it here.

Richard Buckner – Devotion and Doubt
Wonderfully recorded, simple guitar and wonderful voice.

David Crosby – If Only I Could Remember My Name.
Gloriously produced, and wonderful on headphones.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – I see a Darkness
A great hi-fi album full stop. Wonderfully intimate recording.

Massive Attack – Mezzanine
If your headphones can do great bass, this is a must-have recording.

What’s your favourite headphone album?

156 Comments

  • itay berger says:

    Beck – Sea Change
    Dr.Dre – 2001

  • Bill says:

    As I was reading this, as the Peter Gabriel album downloaded, I had my faithful Grados injecting Jeff Beck into my brain… P5′s could do it better though ;-)

    I’d strongly recommend his Live at Ronnie Scotts album and the standout tracks for me are “Cause we’ve ended as lovers” and “a day in the life”
    The Doors “Riders of the storm” rates just as high
    Something to place the instruments would be the Pat Metheny group with Letters from home
    Try “Spring aint here” and see if the bongos are above your right eye.
    A final suggestion would be Steevie Wonder Innervisions “Living for the city” is 3 dimentional

  • Sanit says:

    Quadrophenia – The Who
    Forever Changes – Love
    The Boatman Calls – Nick Cave

  • coddyboy says:

    i agree with your choice sanit, of quadrophenia with the waves featuring during the disc adding incredible atmosphere and having the whole thing explode in to ‘ love reigns o’er me ‘ very well chosen

    my three tracks.

    band of gypsy’s-jimi hendrix..with the greatest guitar solo ever put to disc on ‘ machine gun ‘ i’ve left the couch moist a few times over that one which is the most emotional scream of anguish and frustration.

    here comes the flood-peter gabriel and frobert fripp, typically on the robert fripp album ‘ exposure ‘ from 1970 which is patchy but between the pooey bits is sensational, but also other versions.

    and let me not forget ‘starless’ from king crimson’s red album and ‘great deceiver’ 4cd box set..mr fripp has got a great way with a guitar but my god his social skills when i met him in stockholm after the crimson gig were sullen and churlish and even then i’m being polite, crimson has meant a deal to me my entire listening life and i wanted to say something brief along those lines but he wasn’t having it..i read a lot of quite spiritual things that come from mr fripp on dgm and his recorded works but it is easier to throw down a few lines than to live by their example, why can’t he be like adrian belew, a lovely man.

  • bsmall says:

    Anything by Leonard Cohen.
    It’s not the technical quality of his albums but the experience of having him inside my head. Cohen is one of the few performers I admire who I do not want to see in concert.

  • tzed says:

    I doubt there’s an album that doesn’t sound good on good headphones :-)
    Here’s two of my faves:
    Loveless – My Bloody Valentine
    Lazer Guided Melodies – Spiritualized

    I recently upgraded to a pair of AKG K-271 cans, I didn’t know what i was missing.

  • Kevin Allen says:

    Well, I bought a pair of P5 headphones at the Apple store in Kingston on Friday and walked home along the river listening to Kraftwerk’s “Tour de France Soundtracks”. That was pretty good.

    Earlier today I was listening to Bowie’s “Young American’s” & “Low” which I have heard countless times over the last thirty + years and really enjoyed through the P5s but Scott Walker’s “The Drift” is simply stunning through them.

    Have to agree with tzed’s opening line though.

  • Andrew Price says:

    My P5′s arrived on Thursday last week and I’ve been thrown into a world of turmoil and change, as I now will re-import all my music in lossless format rather than the 192 bit ACC I was using for space reasons. I’ve solved those with a new ipod and a bigger hard drive.

    The best albums I’ve listened to since then are On an Island by David Gilmour, Gwyneth Herbert and Charlie Winston – both of those are available on the download pages. Gwyneth sounds great on Nataliya and My Mini and Me, and “kick the bucket” just sticks in your head – music for the music rather than the sound.

    I also went out and bought Bonnie Prince Billy – I see darkness -and really wished I hadn’t – not my type of music.

    I am looking forwards to next year when my new home is built and I can set up a nice listening area – some B&W 803′s look like they would make a great start.
    See what buying a pair of really nice headphones can do to you!

  • Kevin Blanc says:

    I recently enjoyed those:

    Very nice:
    Kings Of Convenience – Declaration Of Dependence
    La Roux – La Roux

    Awesome:
    Marc Collin Featuring Valente Bertelli & Katrine Ottosen – Two For The Road
    Yello – Touch Yello

    I listened on my HD650 powered by a Benchmark DAC1, a highly recommended combination, the DAC1 is very impressive. Still waiting for the P5 in the US…

  • Phil says:

    Can someone please let me know when the P5′s will be available in the US?

  • Simon OW says:

    Too tough for a definitive list, but these spring to mind…

    Beirut – The Flying Club Cup
    Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
    Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

  • John says:

    Some of the best albums I’ve listened to on both hifi and headphones are:

    Massive Attack – Mezzanine – already listed but worth a second mention
    Parov Stelar – Coco
    Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
    Cinematic Orchestra – Man With A Movie Camera
    The Eagles – Hell Freezes Over (especially Hotel California live)
    Tori Amos – Tales of a Librarian (greatest hits) – The piano sounds beautiful on a good system especially as you can hear the strike of every note.

    Headphones: Sennheiser PXC450s
    Hifi: Roksan Kandy K2, Linn Majik DS, Bowers and Wilkins CM5′s

  • andy says:

    i have to agree with itay beck sea change is just wonder full on headphones :)
    and i personaly realy enjoy dj shadows endtroducing on headphones .

  • andy says:

    oh i would like to add my personal favorite track onto this :D

    dear prudence by the beatles

  • Fabien says:

    the best listening experience with the P5 goes with:

    * Jan Garbarek – Twelve Moons
    ” Manu Katché – Playground
    * Tomasz Stanko -Dark Eyes
    * Kanye West – 808s Heartbreak
    * Dire Straits – Private Investigations & Alchemy

  • Kevin Allen says:

    Kevin Blanc?

    Are you the Kevin Blanc who worked with Yello? I watched the Touch Yello DVD this afternoon. Amazing.

    I’d love to see it on a big screen here in London.

    Anyway, I also had a listen to Touch Yello via the P5′s and you’re right, it is awesome – and that’s not a word I use a lot.

  • blessingx says:

    Let me recommend the Head-Fi / HDTracks Headphone System Test Album…

    http://ow.ly/1lrzH

    Really though it depends on the phones (and associated equipment). Whats sound great on a Grado may not on a Sennheiser, Etymotics, JH Audio or Stax.

    Looking forward to hearing the P5s at some point in the future.

  • Simon H says:

    Any thing by Tunng, but especially Good Arrows and the latest, And Then We Saw Land. As an audio professional, the quest for great sounding music is never ending for system tuning, but Tunng’s music has remained as first choice for 4 years now.
    Also, Talk Talk’s 1986 album, The Colour of Spring is an amazing recording, and headphones eally bring out the space and energy that was captured in the studio.

  • deus says:

    where to get B&W headphones, apple store is not available anymore!!!! quick!!!

  • Gorillamonk says:

    One of my favorite bands is Nine Inch Nails and I ALWAYS test a pair of headphones with them. There are so many sounds layered on a track and some so subtle that if your NOT using at least a mid level set of headphones or, you’d never be able to appreciate them. Their experimental album GHOSTS is has a great supernatural feel.

  • Peter S says:

    Just got my P5s.

    First album I listened to was U2′s Achtung Baby. Not sure why, it just seemed like the right thing to try them out with. And i must say, both the headphones and the album sound fantastic to me.

  • Craig Ryder says:

    Thomas Dolby’s ‘The Flat Earth’ has some great headphone moments in particular Screen Kiss, I Scare Myself and the title track. Roddy Frame’s Surf also works well for different reasons: in contrast to The Flat Earth’s expansive sound Frame’s close mic’ed vocals sound extremely personal.

  • Alex says:

    Pink Floyd – WIsh You Were Here
    Telefon Tel Aviv – Fahrenheit Fair Enough
    Nick Drake – Pink Moon
    Tom Waits – Rain Dogs
    Radiohead – Kid A
    Tool – any LP
    DJ Shadow – …Endtroducing
    Portishead – s/t

    these are a few of my favorite things…

  • Den says:

    The Beatles ‘Love’ Album.

  • Tim says:

    Are the P’5 headphones going to be available anywhere else besides apple stores and apple.com….i.e bestbuy

  • Robert Phillis says:

    Just this second finished listening to Off He Goes by Pearl Jam (off the No Code album). I have always “quite liked” the song, but my P5′s have just given it a depth, detail and meaning I have never heard before – definitely a track for the private world of headphones!

  • lomaxs says:

    life’s the same living in stereo, life’s the same except for my shoes
    american beauty
    if i could only remember my name has the best production of any lp i ever heard
    stage fright and big pink
    blonde on blonde, nashville skyline
    buffalo springfield
    since the evolution of digital and the ability to make anything perfect it’s interesting how that fragile analog has held up. the lines weren’t quite as fixed in some ways………….

  • M. William Griffiths says:

    Vincent Gallo- When
    Joao Gilberto- Amoroso
    Colin Blunstone- One Year
    Velvet Underground- White Light/ White Heat
    Syd Barrett- The Madcap Laughs
    YES- Tales of Topographic Oceans
    Bohack- It took Several Wives
    Frank Zappa- Hot Rats
    Charles Mingus- Mingus Plays Piano
    The Beatles- Abbey Road (Mono)
    Jackson C Frank- Jackson C Frank

  • Kevin Allen says:

    The latest issue of Wired (UK) says, on page 82, that the P5s are available from Bowers & Wilkins for £225.00.

    Bowers & Wilkins own site shows that they are available for $299.95 from Apple US – which the Financial Times currency converter tells me is £200.12 in real money.

    Either of those are better than the £249.95 I paid at the Apple store in Kingston.

    The MM-1 speakers are $499.95 on the Apple (US) site which works out at £333.96 as opposed to the £399.95 that Apple UK charge.

    Why are goods from a British company more expensive for British buyers?

  • Pat Stephensen says:

    Some really fine picks from the posts above.
    A couple of my favourite CD’s are:
    Murray Head -Say it ain’t so
    The Strawbs – Hero and Heroine

  • Dennis Daye says:

    Just got my P5′s today; great sound..but different listening experience to my Sennheiser IE8′s (mobile) and Sony MDR SA5000′s (home). Initial impressions- very good- build quality excellent!
    Fav album- Electribe 101- Electribal Memoirs (1989)- haunting, atmospheric electronica with soaring vocals of Billie Ray Martin- I’ve never tired of listening to it :o)

  • Tony Hampton says:

    Tool – (any)
    Radiohead – Ok Computer
    Fleetwood Mac – Rumors
    Massive Attack -

  • Neale Watson says:

    Pink Floyd Ummagumma
    With my Grados

  • Edward Davies says:

    @Kevin Allen

    Sales Tax is a big factor. US prices don’t include them, UK prices do. Add the UK’s 17.5% to the US prices and you are a long way to the same price. £333.96 (US Price) + 17.5% = £392. US sales tax varies from state to state.

    Personally, my favourite tracks on my P5s are:

    AC/DC: Back in Black
    KanYe West: Welcome to Heartbreak
    Laura Marling: Devil’s Spoke
    Massive Attack: Teardrop

  • Geoff says:

    Without a doubt, my favourite headphone album is

    Rock Action by Mogwai
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Action-Mogwai/dp/B00005AQCB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1271676115&sr=1-1

    Absolutely stunning

  • Ivan says:

    Where I can get these? I currently in mexico, dose de itunes store UK ships internationally?

  • Hans-Jürgen says:

    …just listened to the outstanding Grindhouse modo caine album on my Koss portapro

  • Thomas says:

    Roger Water – Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking, and of cource his first Soloalbum called The final Cut – performed by Pink Floyd, both with the Holophonics sound effects from Zuccarelli Labs.

  • dalethorn says:

    Based on the artists and tracks listed here, it’s clear that only an app like the original Napster will ever be satisfactory for searching for new music. When I searched for a track I liked, Nap would list all the people who had it. From that list, I could see what else all of those people were listening to, and expand my collection thus. Nobody can do that today, and nobody can “recommend” new music – the only way is to find actual users who enjoy the same music I do (mostly indie girlrock – none of that folk music or canned stuff please).

  • Lawrence de Martin says:

    “Axis/Bold as Love” – Eddie Kramer was listening to Joe Meek and had to do him one better. The old-school hand style flanging works way better on cans than boxes.

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