Home cinema and hi-fi doesn't have to be about ear-splitting sound levels guaranteed to give the neighbours a hard time. It can also be about high-quality audio in your own personal space: yes, I'm talking about headphones.

They may not be a substitute for a full 5.1 rig, although many AV amps offer a virtual-surround mode optimised for two-channel headphones, but they can be ideal for late-night listening - especially when partnered with one of those 'subwoofer chairs'. Audio Technica's Japanese-made ATH-W1000 sit at the upper end of the luxury market.

However, if personal listening is a priority for you, it can be argued that such expenditure can be justified.

Highs

Magnesium frames (enclosed in genuine Hokkaido Asada cherrywood) means that, at 350g, the ATH-W1000s are not as heavy as they look.

Very comfortable; the 'wing' supports and replaceable Clarino man-made earpads ensure that they're sweet to wear.

The recovery of detail from this sealed design, is little short of incredible. You will, however, need to 'burn them in' for a while before the bass response starts to reveal itself.

Lows

No 3.5mm adaptor is supplied for use with iPods and so on. A suitable 'wired' adaptor is essential here, to reduce 'socket strain'.

What you get up to at home is your own business, but one thing's for sure. You would look stupid wearing these monsters on the Tube!

The presentation may be a little too 'bright' for the liking of some - and it can't be 'tamed' unless a treble control or equaliser is to hand.