U2 Joshua Tree headphones share memories of a great album. I heard Joshua Tree for the first time on a beautiful spring day in 1987. I opted for the back way home after a hard day at the candy factory. Leaving M&M/Mars in Hackettstown, New Jersey windows were down, and U2 was LOUD. The Delaware river flowed peacefully on my left as U2 shared contrasting stories about wants, needs, and aspirations.
As I write today, I feel the wind on an outstretched hand and remember Joshua Tree’s intoxicating sound magic. Sharing my story, I asked Moon-Audio.com’s founder and chief engineer Drew Baird a question. What headphones would he recommend to listen to U2’s masterpiece? Here are Drew’s headphones, DAC and in-ear monitor (IEM) recommendations for U2 Joshua Tree headphones.
- Dragons and DACs
- Focal’s Focus
- Shure’s Song
Dragons and DACs
Matching audio gear to music, tastes, and budgets is tricky. When I need to know what headphones will position the Edge’s floating guitar in the middle of my head, I call Drew. “Joshua Tree’s sound isn’t just one thing,” Drew explained. Floating lyricism in With or Without You gives way to Bullet the Blue Sky’s hard driving beat.
Drew’s suggestions depend on what a listener wants. “If you love Clayton’s bass and Mullen’s drums use Black Dragon cables between your digital to analog converter (DAC) and headphones. If you want Bono’s lyrics and the Edge’s guitar to sound more immediate use Silver Dragon cables,” Drew suggested.
I asked about the Hugo 2 DAC despite my inability to buy one now. “The Hugo 2 is a magical music processor able to create new sound dimensions with your music,” Drew said. Drew suggested shopping Moon’s new Focal Preowned headphones store. Buy a Chord Mojo DAC matched to Focal Elear preowned headphones paired with Silver Dragon cables he suggested.
For around two grand my Joshua Tree listening Experience would improve by miles.
“If money is no object to bettering Joshua Tree’s sound then level up to Focal’s Utopia headphones with Black Dragon cables and the Hugo 2 DAC,” Drew suggested. Leveling up tripled the budget. I asked the obvious question. Will I hear the difference?
“Yes is the short answer,” Drew said. Drew placed a pair of Focal Utopia’s with Black Dragon cables and a Hugo 2 piped into his Dragon Inspire headphones amp, and Joshua Tree came alive. When Drew is RIGHT, he is very right.
Tripling the budget more than tripled the sound quality. Soundstage exploded. Focal’s “speaker-like” feel was astonishing. The Streets Have No Name’s seemed warm, present, and glowing. The Edge’s guitar set the stage for Bono’s voice. Bono vocals didn’t run and hide. Joshua Tree’s vocals reached into my head as the musical dust heard with lesser gear cleared. The Edge’s guitar set the stage for Bono’s voice. Joshua Tree reached into my head clearing musical dust.
“We have all kinds of customers,” Drew told me, “one of our customers lives in a van down by the river literally so he can afford his audio gear.” Listening to Focal’s speakers on my head piping Bono and the Edge into my brain I understood how such selective luxury happens.
“When we do our jobs you LOVE your audio gear,” Drew said. Climbing the audio ladder when I can afford to level up means Moon-Audio.com collaborates over time. I asked about deep discounts online. “Matching audio gear is complicated,” Drew said. Audio equipment has “sound signatures.” Matching low-end deficient headphones with the right equipment create better music. Difficult to find sound signature matching advice at deep discounters.
Drew knows I frequently work away from home. It’s hard and potentially damaging to haul headphones around. He suggested a pair of Shure’s electrostatic KSE1500 in-ear monitors (IEMs) with a Chord Mojo DAC.
Shure KSE1500 electrostatic in-ear monitors and Chord Mojo DAC
“Shure figured out how to miniaturize electrostatic speakers into one of the best in-ear monitors,” Drew told me. KSE1500s come with a small headphones amplifier, and their cabling is excellent. I’d score easily portable gear capable of noise isolation for a price between Drew’s other suggestions.
Shure electrostatic sound, something previously reserved for large speakers, was a great match for every song, sound, and feel on U2’s Joshua Tree. “Remember in-ear monitors come in two varieties,” Drew explained, “universal IEMs have one configuration while custom in-ear monitor uses a mold of your ear canal.”
I opted for Drew’s “Shure Song” recommendation. I bought a pair of KSE1500s with a Chord Mojo DAC. Now no matter where I’m listening to Joshua Tree my windows are down, a river flows on my left side, and I know what I want.
Thanks, Drew & Moon-Audio.com team!!
Marty Smith is a Moon-Audio.com ambassador, contributor and startup entrepreneur located in Durham, North Carolina. Read Marty’s Focal Utopia headphones review and his (mobriff) review of Shure’s KSE1500s.
Focal Preowned Headphones Store
Visit the new and exclusive Focal headphones pre-owned store on Moon-Audio.com.