When I'm reviewing the best headphones and best true wireless earbuds, there are certain artists I always play, picked from lots of different genres and eras. Taylor Swift is one of them, because the production work on her records is the best that very large sums of money can buy. And Midnights is no exception. It's been mixed to sound good on anything, but on really good quality kit it sounds absolutely spectacular.
It's particularly good on Apple Music, where it's available with the Dolby Atmos, Apple Lossless and Apple Digital Master logos to tell you that it's going to be in good quality. And so far I've tested it on AirPods Max, on Astell & Kern UW100s and on Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2, as well as on OG HomePods and the HomePods mini. It's definitely the kind of record that makes you happier if you hear it on really good hardware. I've been grinning my face off.
Better headphones mean you hear more
I'll admit it, Taylor Swift probably doesn't care if you buy better headphones. But I reckon she'd want you to hear the music in its best possible presentation, and that means a basic pair of Apple's EarPods or a pair of ten-quid buds from the local supermarket isn't going to cut it. You're missing some of the most fun bits, especially the vocal effects and the low, low synth bass that underpins so many of the tracks.
I like bass, but on lesser headphones it's often disappointing because the frequency response and drivers aren't up to the job of delivering low frequencies without it all turning to mush or distorting. I want to feel my face vibrate but I want to hear everything too.
That's why I like the aforementioned earbuds and headphones so much: they don't lose their clarity at the low end, so when you present them with something as beautifully mixed and mastered as Midnights (or Folklore, or Evermore, or Lover, or...) they get to do what they were designed to do, and they do it beautifully.