Essential Listening: 10 Stellar Headphone Albums | Guitar World

what exactly is a headphone album? well, the definition changes depending on who you are.

For audiophiles, a headphone album is a work that is so exquisitely recorded that it demands you listen to every beautifully recorded note under a sonic microscope. Miles Davis’s kind of blue fits that bill.

Reading: Best headphone albums

for others, a great headphone album is one that makes an intimate album more intimate (like the original mono recordings of bob dylan) or a noisy album louder (the debut album of rage against the machine).

We’re an unsubtle and hyperactive band in the guitar world, so our favorite headphone albums are the ones that have a lot of activity in the stereo field. As silly as it sounds, we love every time a guitar solo rips through our skulls as it passes from one ear to the other.

If you don’t know what we’re talking about or have never experienced any of these great albums under the influence of some high-end headphones, we suggest you go home and put on your best set of ‘phones, turn off the lights , turn up the volume and get ready to blow your mind through the roof.

the jimi hendrix experience, electric ladyland (1968)

if you haven’t taken lsd, the good news is you don’t have to. save your brain cells and listen to this masterpiece with some good headphones to get the full psychedelic picture. In Electric Ladyland, Jimi Hendrix and her brilliant engineer, Eddie Kramer, create a three-dimensional wonderland of sound and invite you in. this album isn’t necessarily stoned, but it’s certainly beautiful.

pink floyd, the dark side of the moon (1973)

See also: What Does Ohm & Impedance Mean In Earphones/headphones?

tick tock, tick tock. ding dong! brrrrrrrang!!!! wiirrrrrrrrllllllyyyyyy whirlwind… ha ha ha ha! i mean what else can you say about citizen kane from headphone albums?

the edgar winter group, they only come out at night (1972)

this is a bit dark, but it ranks right up there on the dark side as an essential 70s listening experience. the star of the show is the extended version of the hit instrumental “frankenstein,” but almost every song on the album is a sonic thrill ride.

santana, caravanserai (1972)

This album was originally mixed and released in stereo and quadrophonic. Designed to be an exotic, complex and all-encompassing listening experience, percussion engulfs you while soaring guitars take you to the skies. This is the best recorded album of Carlos Santana’s career, and probably his best album overall.

dukes of the stratosphere, psonic psunspot (1987)

the dukes of the stratosphear was a pseudonym used by the british rock band xtc in the mid to late eighties, and their album psonic psunspot was a brilliant homage to sixties psychedelic pop by the beatles, pink floyd and the zombie. While the project was a bit of a joke, the songs are brilliant and, due to advances in recording technology, the album’s sound dwarfs anything recorded in London in 1967.

the cure, disintegration (1989)

Guitarist Robert Smith is said to have been on hallucinogenic drugs throughout this beautifully textured album. Like Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland, the album’s sound reflects his mind-bending mood. listening to disintegration with headphones is like walking into someone else’s dream, and a pretty dark one at that.

See also: Does the razer phone 2 have a headphone jack

radiohead, a child (2000)

in the late 90s, radiohead wanted to revolutionize their music. their solution was to work as a collective, one that produced interesting “sounds”, rather than each person in the band playing a prescribed role. the result was an album that sounded like no other before or since. this philosophy extended to the album’s sumptuous mix, which can only be truly appreciated with a pair of speakers right next to your ears.

tool, lateralus (2001)

In 2005, four years after its original release, Tool’s Lateralus was released as a limited edition two-image vinyl LP in a holographic pop-up package. It took them a while to do this, but they were eventually able to create a package that adequately reflected the multidimensional music on offer within.

Theatre of dreams, a dramatic turn of events (2011)

while everything sounds “good” these days, it’s hard to find albums that sound “great”. everything is engineered so loud and compressed that most modern recorded music lacks the kind of space and depth that allows for a true headphone experience. dream theater probably doesn’t give a shit what’s going on in popular music, which is why this album sounds as good as it does.

the beatles, abbey road (1969)

every collection has to have some beatles, and this is by far their best and most modern album. enjoy.

brad tolinski is the editor in chief of guitar world.

See also: Building the Bottlehead Crack Headphone Amplifier: A Comprehensive Guide – Headphonesty

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