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

  • Jens DK says:

    Extract/rip the sound from The Wall (the movieDVD) if you want something special. You really don’t need the pictures close your eyes, lean back and the pictures will appear on the backside of your eyelids… Grace Jones “Slave to the rhythm” or “Hurricane”. Pearl Jam “Binaural” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binaural_recording) good experience. My equipment: Grado SR 60 Prestige series powered by Cayin & Spark

  • Jasper says:

    Heather Nova -> The Jasmine Flower. Recorded with just a microphone and laptop and later just slightly produced instead of the overproduced albums nowadays. Makes you feel like the singer is really under your skin. Not a perfect clinical recording but a perfect headphone album!

  • Guy says:

    Sylvie Lewis Translations
    Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon
    Susie Arioli That’s For Me

  • Thomas Nielsen says:

    Two albums immediately spring to [my] mind: Kyoji Yamamoto’s Electric Cinema and Michael Schenker Group’s Live at The Budokan. Neither album is of particularly good sound quality but I have always loved lying on the floor listening to these two at sound levels that has probably been the direct cause of the past 20 years of tinnitus.

    On the other end of the spectrum is Oscar Peterson’s Night Train. It has exceptionally good sound quality (except on Hymn to Freedom) and an incredibly tight atmosphere. Perfect for that in-head-experience of headphones.

    Oh… and thumbs up to the rest mentioned here. Perhaps I miss Brett Anderson’s Wilderness in the comments above, so lets put that in for an honorable mention, shall we?

  • Carsten says:

    Mike Oldfield – Amarok!!!!!!! Be careful…………
    Dire Straits – Brothers in arms
    both with Sennheiser HD 600, hopefully later this year with the new P5.

  • Hubsi747 says:

    Miles Davis-We Want Miles
    Dr. John-Duke Elegant
    Van Morrison-The Healing Game
    Ahmad Jamal-Digital Works
    Bryan Ferry-Dylanesque

  • davide miele says:

    anuna “deep dead blue”
    angelo branduardi “il ladro”
    steve roach “the magnificent void”
    portishead “dummy”
    michael brecker “michael brecker”
    jeff buckey “grace” (remastered version)
    gregorio paniagua – atrium musicae de madrid “tarentule tarentelle”
    peter gabriel “scratch my back” and “up”

  • Bob Schaffert says:

    For me it has to be John Martyn’s One World. There’re a number of stand-out tracks to which it’s impossible to sit still but, for pure atmosphere, it has to be the title track. It was recorded outdoors at night next to a lake, and John’s echoplex, leaving the chords hanging endlessly, is truly the work of a man at his creative peak. You can pick out the sound of geese in the background with the water lapping, and Steve Winwood’s moog weaving it’s magic throughout is a delight. In the words of Ralph McTell “If that dosn’t move you, there’s something wrong with you”.

  • Max Keller says:

    even for a simple student

    Fleetwood Mac – Big Love (from The Dance)
    Shawn Mullins – And On a Rainy Night

  • Konstantine says:

    Uriah heep Demons&Wizards
    Genesis The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
    Julianna Raye Dominoes (But better sound on good speakers)

  • hajo says:

    This are my favourite headphone recordings

    Andreas Vollenweider Behind the Gardens
    Andreas Vollenweider Caverna Magica
    Georg Danzer Tour’ 79
    Frank Zappa The Best Band you ever heard i your live
    Miles Davis Kind of Blue

  • gregory taylor says:

    Yes, the superannuated hippie in me still loves “Welcome to the Machine” and “Dark Side of the Moon,” but I would also suggest David Tudor’s “Neural Synthesis” – the head-transfer disc is norhing short of jaw-dropping. Young Mr. Gabriel’s “Security” holds its own, as doe “Kid A.”

    But might I also humbly recommend:

    The newly remastered “Red” from King Crimson (DGM)
    The divine reissue of Keith Jarret’s “Sun Bear Concerts” (ECM)

    or (for those of you who love hurtling metal
    Jonty Harrison’s “Évidence matérielle” on Empreintes DIGITALes

    and finally, if you’re under a hundred billion years old,

    Thomas Feiner/Anywhen’s “The Opiates” (Samadhisound)

    We now return you to your usual listings…. :-)

  • Bruno Ribeiro says:

    The Wedding Present – Bizarro
    Cocteau Twins – Blue Bell Knoll
    Jacques Brel – Quand on n’a que l’amour
    Serge Gainsbourg – L’homme a téte de chou
    Pink Floyd – The final cut

  • Mike Beever says:

    Crash Music For Film Vol. 2 16bit
    Crash Music For Film Vol. 4 24 bit

    Sonic Candy!!

  • Michal says:

    My recommendation:

    Roger Waters: Amused to Death – A wonderful music production, a forgotten Q-Sound system

    McCoy Tyner: New York Reunion – a Chesky Jazz classic

  • Robert Cooper says:

    The best album for me on headphones is Traffic – John Barleycorn Must Die.
    Steve Winwood sounds even more spiritual than usual on this album and the quality of the musicianship in the group was at its best for this one (although it was never in doubt).
    My particular favourite track is Empty Pages because its Jazzy feel sets my endorphins running and I become at peace with the world.
    A good set of headphones is essential to make this possible and I look forward to the chance to listen to this Album through some P5s.
    Unfortunately, for me the budget may be against me but I can dream.

  • Patrick R. Singler says:

    Buika with Niña de Fuego. Fantastic fragile, but powerful emotion.

  • Steve Kelly says:

    My faves are:

    Olivia Tremor Control – Black Foliage Music (actually designed w/ headphones in mind)

    Can – Tago Mago

    Belle & Sebastian – The Life Pursuit

  • Bob Pratt says:

    Ambrosia

  • Dave Ferguson says:

    Another insane question. I’ll give you my top three and then tomorrow say, “Yeah, but…”

    1) Peter Gabriel – Peter Gabriel (3)
    2) Sarah McLachlan – Fumbling Towards Ecstasy (Legacy Edition)
    3) Zero 7 – Simple Things

  • Kenny McHardy says:

    Beatles – Abbey Road
    Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
    King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King
    Jellyfish – Bellybutton
    Porcupine Tree – Deadwing
    Peter Gabriel – So

  • George Lynn says:

    Chris Rea : The Road To Hell

  • cse says:

    TALK TALK “spirit of eden”

  • Brandon Carson says:

    Pink Floyd: The Wall — with the lights out.

  • Fred Morrison says:

    Pink Floyd……… Meddle
    Radiohead……. Amnesiac

  • Lewis Cluett says:

    Cheryl Dilcher – Butterfly

  • Peter C Ross says:

    Portico Quartet – Knee deep in the north sea
    Dave Mathews Band – Live at Piedmont Park

  • Paul Perton says:

    Tom Waits: Nighthawks at the diner
    Pat Metheny: Travels (double CD) – almost thirty years old and still a standard
    Oscar Peterson: Waltzing is hip/Satin doll (from Exclusively for my friends Vol 3) – sixteen minutes of svelte, sublime jazz

    ;-)

  • Dave Stewart says:

    I’d love to hear my fav’ album on P5′s but before I tell you what the album is, tell me (as I asked sales two weeks ago) why is the P5′s RRP $US299, 351 UK pounds – but here in Oz, AU$499? Looking at most on line currency converters, $299US is $AU 314, not $499.
    Who’s making the killing here? By the way, I’m getting the prices of the relevant Apple iShop’s in the respective countries.

    It doesn’t look like you’re going to sell many P5′s in Oz, unless they’re grey imports.

  • Martin Wilson says:

    Ebehard Weber – The Following Morning (sublime bass playing)
    Bill Frisell – Bill Frisell with Dave Holland and Elvin Jones
    Bill Evans – The Paris Concert – Edition One and Two
    John Mayal – The Tirning Point
    Madeleine Peyroux – Bare Bones
    Me’Shell Ndegeocello – The Sprit Music: Dance of the Infidel
    Nick Drake – A Treasury
    Paul Bley, Gary Peacock, Paul Motion – Live at Lugano

    Finally – anything by Keith Jarrett or Radiohead

    When I get my P5′s I will make a definitive choice from the above!!

  • Gnome113 says:

    Miles Davis – Round About Midnight
    Scott Walker – Scott 2
    America – America
    Marvin Gaye – Trouble Man
    Stevie Wonder – Innervisions
    Lonnie Liston Smith – Expansions
    George Duke – The Aura Will Prevail
    Klaus Schulze – Moondawn
    Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

  • Simon Pearson says:

    I am currently using a set of Shure SE210′s. I love the way they slip into my ear canal and instantly dampen all the noise around me. Once music is playing (and it doesn’t need to be that loud), all that external noise pollution ceases to exist.
    My favourite album to listen to is David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane.
    I used to play it to death on its original release and thought I knew every note on the album. When I heard it for the first time with my SE210′s, I was totally blown away.
    What I heard was a new rich texture of interwoven sounds balanced with perfection, each layer complimenting the others with orchestral dexterity. I still go back to it and marvel in awe at (what I consider to be) a work of pure genius. I’m interested to see how it sounds on a pair of Bowers & Wilkins.

  • Greg Williams says:

    Melissa Etheridge: Fearless Love
    K.D. Lang: Recollection
    Coco Montoya: I Want It All Back
    Keb’ Mo’: Slow Down

  • francesc orriols says:

    Selling England by the Pound-Genesis
    The Snowgoose-Camel
    The Sound Of Sight-Ray Martin & His Orchestra
    Close to the Edge-Yes

  • zarduc says:

    I suggest Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells 2 :great variety of instruments,good quality recording
    I always enjoy this album on my actual earphones
    Waiting to get a chance to test it on this B&W P5

  • Magic32 says:

    Just for the “Sound”:
    Dire Straits – On every street
    Toto – Kingdom of desire
    Pink Floyd – The Division Bell
    —————————————
    Just for the Sound and everything else:
    Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon, of course….

  • Boris says:

    For the slightly ‘harder’ division:

    Avantasia – The Scarecrow
    -The Wicked Symphony

    Both albums are brilliant on nice headphones – the first one might be something for enthusiasts of great recordings (won some awards for that if I am not mistaken).

    Or try:

    DOMMIN – Love is gone

    Enjoy.

  • perfect in piha says:

    Anything by kiwi boys PITCH BLACK or Paddy Free

    or Fat freddys drop superb!!

  • tompoll says:

    I vote for Radiohead’s Amnesiac.

  • Nick says:

    “Beyond a Missoury sky” by Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden

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