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Pumping Up the Beat: The Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop

This definitive guide examines the best headphones for hip hop available in 2024. Comparing comfortable over-ear models from Treblab, Audeze, Sennheiser, Sony and more, we break down ideal frequency response, noise isolation benefits, and real-world durability to withstand listener punishment across budget picks to high-end audiophile gear costing over $1000.

By: Aleksey Makohon Date: 12 / 27, 2023
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Hip hop music relies on the interplay between deep bass lines, rhythmic drum beats, and vocal hooks to create its signature hard-hitting sound. While early hip hop developed from modest beginnings playing on street corners and block parties in the Bronx, the genre has exploded into the mainstream and taken over popular culture. Front and center in any hip hop track is the bass—the low, thumping frequencies that underscore the drums and vocals. Finding headphones that can handle the demanding bass and transient impacts of hip hop is key to enjoying your favorite artists properly.

This buying guide will explore exactly what you need in a pair of headphones intended for hip hop listening. While consumer headphones often focus on neutral sound, hip hop calls for a specific type of tuning that emphasizes bass depth, strong mids for the vocals to cut through, and smooth highs that avoid harshness and listening fatigue over long sessions. Achieving that ideal balance requires careful engineering. We'll break down the sound signature for hip hop and how that guides headphone design choices.

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TREBLAB Z2

Best Headphones for Hip-Hop Listening

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Beyond sound reproduction, the guide also covers factors like noise isolation, comfort, and build quality. Hip hop listeners tend to play their music at louder volumes to achieve the true impact of the beats, so isolation and construction are especially important. We'll outline what to watch for to make sure your headphones can withstand heavy use over years of service.

With the foundation set, we then count down our picks for the top 10 headphones purpose-built for hip hop. Ranging from budget-friendly models to audiophile selections, our list offers outstanding options across price points. We dig into the pros and cons of each set to help you zero in on the right choice to fuel your hip hop listening passion.

So turn up your headphones, nod along to the bassline, and read on to discover your perfect hip hop headphones. The beat drops now.

Understanding the Hip Hop Sound Signature

Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop image 1

Harnessing the Power of Bass

Reaching Down into Sub Bass Depth

Hip hop digs deep for its bass. The very lowest notes—down in the 30-60Hz region—add incredible power felt more than heard. Most consumer headphones struggle to reach the lowest octave with authority. Hip hop oriented headphones incorporate larger driver sizes and tuned ports to tap into the sub bass depths. You'll feel notes above 50Hz, but true sub bass extension below that mark separates decent bass from outstanding low end.

Mid Bass Punch Sits the Groove

While sub bass rumbles provide the foundation, mid bass is truly the heartbeat of hip hop. Those punchy kicks centered around 100-200Hz need to hit hard and fast—the perfect complement to a deep low end. The mid bass brings the dynamic impact on each beat that gets your head nodding along with the flow.

Headphones built for hip hop utilize diaphragms and housing designs to emphasize the mid bass for maximum thump without muddying up the lower mids. The bass can't bleed over too much into the vocals or instruments sitting higher in the mix.

Avoiding Bass Bloat and Muddiness

With all this emphasis on bass in hip hop headphones, maintaining balance across the frequency spectrum presents a stiff challenge. It would be easy to simply crank up the bass and end up with a messy, uncontrolled sound. The headphones recommended later artfully walk that tightrope, reinforced by years of refinement.

Ensuring Clarity and Treble Detail

Letting Vocals Cut Through

While the bass and drums set the groove, hip hop still shines the spotlight on the mic. Whether rapid fire rapping or R&B-inflected vocals, the midrange needs clear presence. The bass can't simply overpower and swallow detail that gives tracks their personality. Skilled vocal mixing already carves out space for the artists, and headphones have to maintain that clarity.

Crisp Highs Accentuate Percussive Elements

Just as important as upholding midrange integrity, a quality hip hop headphone gets the treble right. The hats, rhythmic echoes, and atmospheric electronics enrich tracks through added high frequency detail. But they require a deft, even hand so as not to become harsh or fatiguing. Careful acoustic engineering ensures headphones have just enough treble energy to pick out percussion without going overboard.

Considerations for Hip Hop Listening

Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop image 2

Dialing in the Right Frequency Range

Reaching Down Low

As discussed in the previous section, hip hop demands substantial low frequency output to capture the genre's hard-hitting sound. You'll want headphones that can reach down below 60Hz smoothly, rendering sub bass textures that set hip hop apart from other genres focused higher in the register. Capable drivers and porting allow headphones to realize the full bass potential.

In the vital mid bass region, the headphones need full-bodied response from 80-200Hz to bring out kick drums and basslines with suitable slam. You'll feel this range as much as hear it thanks to the dynamic driver excursions. Dipping output in the mid bass robs hip hop of its essential groove.

Letting The Highs Shine

Up top, the treble above 10kHz injects hip hop mixes with energy and atmosphere. Percussive elements gain crisp edge so they don't get dulled into the background. At the same time, boosted highs introduce listening fatigue over long sessions. The most adept hip hop headphones walk that line beautifully, extending treble for detail without harsh spikes.

Dialing in the Right Sound Characteristics

Hard-Hitting Bass Reproduction

Headphones made for hip hop buck the trend of chasing ultra-neutral sound. The preference instead tilts toward dynamic and assertive bass bringing energy to your favorite tracks. That bass emphasis takes skill though—too much bloat or muddiness destroys clarity.

The headphones highlighted later utilize top-class acoustic engineering to strike the ideal richness down low without losing balance across the signature. You'll hear the passion behind the beats fully realized.

Strong Mids for Vocals to Shine

Despite the bassiness dialed into hip hop headphones, the mids can't take a backseat. The vocals and lead instruments riding from ~200Hz to 2kHz require strength and focus to come through with purpose. With detail getting lost under bloated low-end, hip hop would turn to monotonous thumping backing tracks.

Treble may provide sizzle, but the midband gives tracks their heart and feel. Our highlighted picks understand that, granting texture and grit where needed across the range.

Non-Fatiguing Listening Over Long Sessions

Since hip hop listeners often play their favorite albums on repeat for hours, the headphones have to deliver ample bass while avoiding listener fatigue. As discussed above, most models sharpen treble judiciously for sparkle that doesn't grow harsh or tiresome.

Comfort also plays a role for prolonged, enjoyable listening. Over-ear sealed models help here by blocking external noise and providing cushy fit. Taking short breaks allows your ears to rest as well when cranking tunes for hours.

Meeting Other Key Hip Hop Listening Demands

Isolating Design Boosts Bass Experience

Given the volumes preferred by hip hop heads, having good noise isolation makes a substantial impact. Closed-back over-ear headphones simply perform better at bass reproduction by containing sound waves inside cups instead of dissipating energy outward.

Sealed models also prevent external noise from intruding on your private listening experience—no distractions from surrounding chatter or airplanes roaring overhead. The peace to intently catch every lyrical bar and beat drop can't get taken for granted.

Rugged Build Quality Adds Longevity

Headphones built specially for hip-hop understand users will stress them more than average listener. Taking bass output to the limits while potentially throwing headphones in a backpack places extra wear and tear on joints and materials compared to gently handled sets.

Seeking out rugged construction focused on metal hinges, tightly-woven cables, steel headbands, and replaceable parts pays off long term. Picks later in this guide balance serious sound with battle readiness for hip hop fans' needs.

The 10 Best Headphones for Hip-Hop

1. TREBLAB Z2 - Best Overall

Best Headphones for Hip Hop - Treblab Z2

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5/5 stars

As a relatively new player in the heated audio gear marketplace, the TREBLAB Z2 wireless over-ear headphones stand out as our top overall pick for satisfying hip hop listeners' demanding bass needs. This feisty upstart packs audiophile-rivaling sound quality into an affordable yet rugged package purpose-built for bass lovers not afraid to punish their gear.

The Z2 makes no qualms about its bass-forward sound signature. An enhanced low end forms the cornerstone of its appeal to hip hop fans, reaching deeper down into sub bass territory than nearly any competitor in its reasonable price bracket. Careful acoustic engineering ensures that bass emphasis energizes hip hop tracks rather than muddying up the mix. This meticulous balance proves TREBLAB's prowess.

Built to thrive with hip hop's pounding bass demands, the Z2 also upholds vocal presence in the crucial midrange for rappers and crooners alike. Smooth highs provide just enough added treble detail to pick out percussive elements without fatiguing harshness. Extensive comfort refinements like plush oval memory foam earpads make the Z2 disappear during extended listening sessions.

The Z2 also backs its formidable sonic chops with a rugged yet flexible build able to weather daily listener punishment. Sweat and splash resistance, steel-reinforced headband, metal hinge pieces, and replaceable parts all boost real-world longevity. Outstanding bang for buck lands the Z2 in a class of its own.

+ Pros:

  • Thunderous bass response perfect for hip hop beat drops
  • Crisp highs shine on rap vocals
  • Plush memory foam earpads provide excellent noise isolation
  • Durable design with user-replaceable earpads and headband
  • Superior comfort for long hip hop listening sessions

- Cons:

  • Battery life shorter than some competing models
  • Carrying case a bit large for portable use

Key features for hip hop

  • Emphasized bass reproduction avoiding muddiness
  • Strong midrange presence upholding vocal detail
  • Smooth treble adds clarity without fatigue
  • Sweat and splash resistant build
  • Convenient controls and microphone for calls

2. HIFIMAN Edition XS

Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop image 3

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.5/5 stars

HIFIMAN has earned recognition for delivering outstanding planar magnetic headphone designs that rival more costly high-end fare. The Edition XS continues that trend, bringing exceptional detail and spaciousness to an accessible price point. While comfort and build could improve, the brilliant fidelity shines through as a bargain for detail-orientated listening.

Utilizing HIFIMAN's high-precision nano-scale diaphragms to achieve lightning transient response, the Edition XS thrills with intricacy many budgets cans miss. The stealth magnet arrangement also reduces signal interference for clearer imaging. From the textural bass strings on jazz combos to the soaring highs of vocal harmonies, the Edition XS uncovers newfound nuance and delight.

+ Pros:

  • Spacious stage with pinpoint imaging
  • Crisp and energetic signature top-to-bottom
  • Outstanding mid and treble clarity
  • Easy to drive from portable devices

- Cons:

  • Stock earpads quite shallow
  • Headband comfort middling
  • Brittle build and materials

Key Features for Hip Hop

  • Controlled, textured bass reproduction
  • Excellent vocal presence and intimacy
  • Airy soundstage with precise instrument placement
  • Engaging liveliness ideal for hip hop's energy

3. Focal Elex

Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop image 4

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 stars

French audio titan Focal requires little introduction among headphone enthusiasts, who have long praised the company's pursuit of precision craftsmanship. The Elex brings hallmarks of Focal's high-end offerings to an accessible price point for detail-loving listeners. Meticulously-tuned 40mm drivers deliver outstanding resolution and stirring dynamics. Though comfort could improve for longer sessions, the lifelike Elex sound never fails to immerse.

+ Pros:

  • Thrilling dynamics and texture
  • Intimate midrange presence
  • Excellent detail and speed
  • Premium accessories included

- Cons:

  • Shallow earpads may irritate some
  • Non-replaceable earpads
  • Materials less luxe than appearance suggests

Key Features for Hip Hop

  • Hard-hitting bass boost lending beats weight
  • Strong center image good for focal rappers
  • Quick transients keep rhythms energetic
  • Robust dynamics embrace hip hop's boldness

The Elex proudly carries the Focal badge, pairing French audio heritage with custom-developed driver innovation. Their lively, honest sound makes headphones disappear, leaving only the music. While the snug fit proves polarizing and build could be more durable, the brilliant fidelity outshines any quibbles. Considering street prices dip below MSRP, the Elex absolutely warrant an audition.

4. Audeze LCD-3

Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop image 5

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4.5/5 stars

Audeze stands tall among elite high-end headphone crafters, and the LCD-3 represents the pinnacle of the company's technology. Utilizing ultra-thin nano-scale diaphragms and powerful neodymium magnet arrays, the LCD-3 conveys texture and microdynamics beyond typical headphones. While the weight proves substantial and the open design leaks sound, the engrossing LCD-3 soundscape transports listeners to recording sessions and concerts. Audiophiles seeking refinement with scale should shortlist these cans.

+ Pros:

  • Cavernous holographic imaging
  • Textured and authoritative bass
  • Lucid midrange presence
  • Premium materials exude luxury

- Cons:

  • Heavy weight may tire some
  • Open-back design limits use cases
  • Struggles with noisy sources

Key Features for Hip Hop

  • Hard-hitting sub-bass reach eluding most headphones
  • Quick transient response ideal for beat syncopation
  • Pinpoint imaging to dissect production elements
  • Spacious stage embodies hip hop's boldness

While the LCD-3's neutral-leaning tuning may not tick all boxes for bassheads, hip hop benefits from the low frequency extension, dynamics, and soundstage. Carefully-recorded productions blossom with newfound scale. Many headphones profess "audiophile sound" yet fall short of expectations. Not here - Audeze engineers immaculate reproduction. Cost aside, few headphones convey studio mastery like the LCD-3.

5. AKG K371

Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop image 6

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 stars

AKG makes headphones spanning back half a century, and that pedigree shows in the meticulously-tuned K371 closed-back set tailored for studio use. With unmatched frequency response in its price range and superior isolation, the K371 serves discerning listeners wanting transparency without compromise at an affordable cost. Though comfort could extend further, accurate audio reproduction remains the K371's forte.

+ Pros:

  • Ruler-flat frequency response true to source
  • Crisp transient response ideal for beat syncopation
  • Closed-back isolation to hear detail clearly
  • Rugged metal-reinforced build for daily use

- Cons:

  • Snug fit and shallow pads irritate some
  • Treble energy lacks richness
  • Non-replaceable earpads and cables

Key Features for Hip Hop

  • Tight, impactful bass avoiding muddiness
  • Strong vocal clarity to pick out layers
  • Realistic imaging and ambience cues
  • Durable folding design great for travel

While a touch dry at times, the honest K371 sound makes an excellent hip hop headphone. Its precision across bass, mids, and treble serves producers wanting an accurate mix translation. Enthusiasts also enjoy immersive realism from binaural recordings and live sets. Considering street price dips below MSRP, the K371 should top shopping lists.

6. Superlux HD 681 EVO

Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop image 7

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 3.5/5 stars

Delivering impressive sound that outperforms its ultra-low cost, Superlux has won a cult following for its HD 681 series. The EVO iteration retains the lively V-shaped signature while cleaning up peaks some found fatiguing. Though plasticky build and non-replaceable parts prove limiting, the HD 681 EVO brings smiles to bargain hunters wanting maximum bang for buck. Just manage expectations on long-term ownership.

+ Pros:

  • Engaging lively sound from large drivers
  • Outstanding price-to-performance ratio
  • Lightweight wearing comfort
  • Can drive easily from phones/laptops

- Cons:

  • Cheap lightweight build with plastic everywhere
  • Earpads and headband not replaceable
  • Bass-heavy tilt colors midrange

Key Features for Hip Hop

  • Hard-hitting mid-bass punch suits beat drops
  • Spacious sound from open-back design
  • Zippy pace keeps rhythms driving
  • Very affordable way to sample open-back sound

Make no mistake - headphones at this low price come with compromises on materials and accessories. Yet the HD 681 EVO delivers a taste of expansive open-back sound that converts many new listeners. Just don't expect rugged longevity from the budget build. As long as that caveat gets acceptance, the HD 681 EVO brings smiles.

7. Sony WH-CH710N

Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop image 8

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 stars

As a heavyweight in personal audio, Sony offers noise-cancelling headphones spanning good, better, best selections. The affordable WH-CH710N brings decent hybrid noise reduction and marathon battery life in a lightweight package. Though materials seem chintzy to the touch, the focus stays on long-haul wearability. More discerning listeners may come away underwhelmed, but casual enjoyment prevails during commutes or travels.

+ Pros:

  • Effective noise cancelling for the cost
  • Outstanding 35+ hour battery life
  • Lightweight and comfortable fit
  • Convenient control scheme

- Cons:

  • Plasticky build looks and feels cheap
  • Lackluster sound struggles with clarity
  • Mediocre call quality

Key Features for Hip Hop

  • Emphasized lows and highs suit beat-driven tracks
  • Lightweight wearing comfort on long listening sessions
  • Good noise isolation complements hip hop's boldness
  • Budget price leaves funds for a headphone amp

The WH-CH710N deserves merits for respectable noise cancelling at this affordable pricing. Critics lambasting sound quality or materials should remember Sony sells much higher-end models. For passive listeners wanting distraction-free commuting sans sticker shock, the WH-CH710N warrants consideration. Discerning listeners should compare options.

8. Monoprice Retro

Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop image 9

⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 stars

Budget-minded audiophiles sing praises for Monoprice's Retro dynamic headphones, which punch far above their ultra-affordable price bracket. Though materials seem chintzy, the sonic prowess impresses for cans costing 10 times less than some competitors. A fun, warm tilt caters more to musical enjoyment over clinical detail. Just tweak earpads for all-day comfort and crank that volume knob.

+ Pros:

  • Engaging warm sound from large 50mm drivers
  • Shockingly good fidelity for the cost
  • Lightweight build promotes wearability
  • Earpad swaps boost comfort and bass

- Cons:

  • Cheap feeling build with lots of plastic
  • Non-removable cable limits flexibility
  • Stock earpads uncomfortable for long sessions

Key Features for Hip Hop

  • Powerful extended bass response
  • Strong mid-bass slam on beats
  • Smooth, non-fatiguing treble
  • Spacious over-ear design creates immersion

The Retro cans compete sonically with revered mid-fi options, proving sound quality need not break budgets. While materials come off flimsy, the charming tone should make listeners grin. Seeking sublime fidelity looks elsewhere; pursuing musical joy finds a winner here.

9. Sennheiser HD 6XX

Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop image 10

⭐⭐⭐ 4/5 stars

A collaboration between Sennheiser and Drop (formerly Massdrop), the HD 6XX offers much of the beloved HD 650's magic at a lower price. Within the expansive soundstage, instrumental timbres convince; amid the insightful midrange, vocals emote. Though materials seem cheaper than top-tier counterparts, the lifelike HD 6XX sound compels hour-long listening sessions. Newcomers and veterans alike find joy here.

+ Pros:

  • Spacious stage with accurate imaging
  • Lucid midrange intimacy and texture
  • Lightweight comfort for prolonged use
  • Enthusiast-tuned signature fosters enjoyment

- Cons:

  • Less luxe build than higher HD series
  • Bass extension trails planar magnetic options
  • Requires amplification to fully shine

Key Features for Hip Hop

  • Strong center image good for focal vocals
  • Crisp percussion elements within busy mixes
  • Even frequency response suits critical listening
  • Excellent midrange clarity to dissect layers

The Sennheiser HD 6XX bloodline has won studio plaudits for decades - and enthralled music lovers too. This accessible rendition retains the lifelike qualities while costing less. Audiophiles seeking hi-fi nirvana needn't spend big; the HD 6XX delivers sublimity now.

10. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop image 11

⭐⭐⭐ 4.5/5 stars

The ATH-M50x cemented Audio-Technica as a force within sound engineering circles. Praised for neutral response suited for mixing and mastering, the closed-back set brings analytical listening to everyone. Though materials seem chintzier than the blue-blood pedigree suggests, the precise imaging and thunderous lows foster musical immersion over scrutinizing flaws. Newcomers and professionals alike approve.

+ Pros:

  • Ruler-flat frequency response true to source
  • Hard-hitting bass with superb control
  • Swiveling earcups aid comfort and mixing
  • Detachable cables and accessories extend versatility

- Cons:

  • Treble lacks airiness and extension
  • Non-replaceable earpads limit longevity
  • Tight clamping uncomfortable for some

Key Features for Hip Hop

  • Powerful sub-bass reach to underscore tracks
  • Strong mid-bass slam on beats without muddiness
  • Crisp mids let layers shine through clearly
  • Closed-back isolation complements bold sound

While the plastic build elicits cheaper Beats comparisons, make no mistake - the ATH-M50x delivers outstanding technical chops. Honest portrayal suits analytical listening rather than sculpting euphony. Seeking sublime fidelity looks elsewhere; pursuing studio mastery finds its tool here.

How to Choose the Best Headphones for Hip Hop Listening

Best 10 Headphones for Hip Hop image 12

Selecting the right headphones to match your hip hop collection and listening style may seem confusing amidst the endless options. But focusing on a few key factors helps determine ideal candidates to consider:

The Power of Bass Takes Priority

As hip hop's thumping heartbeat, impactful bass proves non-negotiable. Seek headphones reaching down into sub bass territory below 60Hz while still delivering dynamic mid bass punch around 100-200Hz. Neutral response caters to other genres; hip hop demands bold lows.

Dig Deep on Sub Bass

Truly wireless earbuds struggle producing texture in sub bass regions that compact drivers strain to reproduce. Full-size over-ear headphones with 40mm or 50mm drivers shift more air to render depth and detail. Perfect bass balance walks a tightrope though - too much bloat kills clarity.

Mid Bass Brings the Boom

While sub bass rumbles underscore tracks, mid bass brings the iconic beats hip hop hangs its hat on. Strong transient response in the 80-200Hz range lets you feel bass drum kicks and throbbing synth lines. This crucial range must hit hard without bleeding into mids and sounding one-note boomy.

Over-Ear Designs Excel

Closed-back over-ear headphones naturally provide passive noise isolation, allowing you to focus on nuances without external distractions. Large diameter drivers contained in earcups move more air to convey suitable bass and sub-bass depth. Size matters for low frequency reproduction. The spacious earpads also lend themselves to multi-hour comfort crucial for hip hop listeners.

Sound Quality Trumps Specs

Spec sheet frequency response graphs only reveal part of a headphones' sonic story. The scale of bass emphasis and how cleanly notes come through proves subjective. When possible, spend meaningful time critically listening to headphones with familiar test tracks matching your taste. As with speakers, demoing delivers the truest experience.

Build Durability Matters

From jamming to workouts, hip hop headphones endure daily grinding. Carefully inspect build quality, examining headband construction, movement at swiveling ear cup joints, cable inputs, and part replaceability. Materials can be cheaped out on; solid engineering cannot. Prioritize enduring products benefiting from replaceable parts.

Considering these practical factors when assessing headphones makes discovering satisfying options easier.

FAQ

Which headphones are best for hip hop?

The Treblab Z2 headphones stand out with their thunderous bass response and vocal clarity optimized for hip hop. Their durable build and comfortable fit also make them ideal for hip hop listening on the go.

Does hip hop headphones need bass?

Yes, impactful bass that can handle sub-bass and mid-bass thump is crucial for hip hop headphones. The low end provides the pulsing heart that drives hip hop's rhythms.

What makes a good hip-hop headphones?

Good hip hop headphones offer deep bass depth, strong mids to bring out vocals, smooth treble, excellent isolation, and premium durability. Achieving impactful lows without muddiness proves the central challenge.

Is noise-cancelling important for hip-hop headphones?

Noise-cancelling can be helpful but is not essential. Focus first on sound quality and isolation. Some listeners may prefer an open sound with passive noise isolation to still hear surroundings.

Is hip-hop sounds better in headphones?

Yes, headphones allow you to catch subtle sonic details in hip hop production that speakers may miss. The intimacy of headphones pairs well with the bold dynamics of hip-hop.

Conclusion

With hip hop's global ubiquity, headphones optimized for the genre find millions of eager buyers. Yet discovering the perfect pair matching your budget and sonic tastes challenges even veterans. We distilled essential factors so readers can identify ideal hip hop headphones with confidence.

Prioritizing deep hard-hitting bass, strong kick drum punches, and clear vocals quickly narrows selection. Seeking closed-back over-ear comfort and noise isolation further focuses options. The shortlisted recommendations above achieve that elusive balance across the frequency range, never compromising intricacy for impact.

For those craving hip hop nirvana, the roundup supplies worthy upgrades or first audiophile steps. Thanks for reading and enjoy the listen - just don't blow out your eardrums! The beat drops never stop.

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