With the way the demand has totally exploded in the last few years, it can now be a tricky proposition to find the right headphones. Whether it is pure audio quality, comfort, wired/wireless, and what features you appreciate most, it is largely a matter of prioritizing what is most important to you. Noise-canceling is critical if you’re mostly wearing cans on your noisy commute. Watch a lot of headset movies? You’ll also want a virtual surround sound capability of some kind.
The good news about the growing level of competition in the headphone space is that in order to get the perfect phones, you probably won’t need to pay a big premium. We sifted through a staggering number of choices for music lovers and plucked out the very best headphones.
- 1 Best Overall: Sony WH1000XM3 Headphones Cancelling Noise
- 2 Best For The Quality Of High-End Sound: Sennheiser HD 650
- 3 Best For Exercise: Jaybird X4
- 4 Best Noise-Cancelling: Bose Noise Headphones 700
- 5 Best Bass: Sony WH-XB900N
- 6 Best Headphones For The Studio Monitor: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xx
- 7 Best iPhone Bluetooth: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i
- 8 The Definitive Guide to Music Lovers’ Buying Headphones
- 9 Ultimate Decision
Best Overall: Sony WH1000XM3 Headphones Cancelling Noise
If you want a wireless link to be easy, but still want to make sure that you still get the best possible music experience, then it is important to pay attention to Bluetooth codecs. You should make sure that your music files are in a high-quality format for great performance, and that both your headphones and playback devices support the AptX HD or LDAC Bluetooth codecs.
This is where the headphones for the Sony WH1000XM3 come in. A wide range of Bluetooth codecs, including both AptX HD and LDAC for supreme sound quality, are enabled by the industry-leading headphones, and that is just the beginning of what makes these a dazzling pair of wireless headphones.
The Sony WH1000XM3 also features the best-in-class active noise cancelation to go on top of the snug fit with a dedicated processor, which helps keep the noise out. You also get the option of a wired link that extends the wireless frequency response range (4Hz-40kHz wired vs. 20Hz-40kHz LDAC). The WH1000XM3 headphones also have a range of quality of life features, such as a quick-charging battery (10 minutes will give you five hours of playtime, while a complete charge will get you 30), touch sensor controls, and an integrated microphone for use with voice assistants and hands-free calling. Jason praised the incredible sound quality and best in class noise cancelation that the WH1000XM3 boasts in his analysis.
Sony WH1000XM3 Headphones Cancelling Noise
|Fantastic standard of audio||Call output is slightly subpar|
|Cancelling Best-in-Class Noise|
Best For The Quality Of High-End Sound: Sennheiser HD 650
With their HD 650 headphones, Sennheiser provides a more affordable high-end audio alternative. Just keep in mind that these have an impedance of 300 Ohms, so you’re not going to be using them with any old headphone jack for your smartphone or laptop. In order to get a lot of sound out of them, you’ll need an amp, but once you’re hooked up, you’ll get amazing audio.
There is an over-ear, open-back option for the Sennheiser HD 650 headphones. You’ll feel absorbed in your music, and thanks to a 10Hz-39,500Hz frequency response range and reference-class architecture, all of it will come through crisp. However, you may want to make sure that you have a quiet listening environment, as the open-back will let in external noise and let out your audio.
The HD 650 headphones, at just over half a pound, are light on the head and have a comfortable headband and cushy, breathable ear pads. For the headphones, client feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. However, the experience will rely on what you pair these with because of their dependency on a quality amp for audio playback. Jason said in his review that the Sennheisers were “perfect for audiophiles and professional producers due to their excellent frequency response and high-quality construction.
Sennheiser HD 650
|Amazing sound||Tight fit for|
|Robust construction standard|
Best For Exercise: Jaybird X4
Subway commuter? Marathon runner? Multi-tasker fast-walking? The Jaybird X4 are the headphones that match your music to your lifestyle, from the sound to the fit, anywhere you listen to music. Use the Jaybird app to adjust the bass or treble and save your settings for future listening sessions.
Need to interrupt your listening to call home or check in with your boss? The headphones also allow you to answer and end calls with just the touch of a button in addition to regulating volume and skipping tracks. A great choice for intense workouts was found by our reviewer Jason.
|Considerable construction quality||Battery life of eight hours|
|Total, bassy sound|
Best Noise-Cancelling: Bose Noise Headphones 700
Bring the concert to your home, office, or on holiday with the Bose 700, sleek and sleek addition to the wireless noise-canceling headphone market. While expensive, they are well worth the investment. Expect a tight, clean, and energetic sound that delivers intense, powerful bass amply without flooding your eardrums with high-frequency piercing.
It would be remiss not to mention the key feature of the 700: it includes six noise cancelation microphones, which are fully adjustable and can completely block sounds or let in sounds around you so clearly that you might forget that you are wearing headphones at all. It has good call quality and is compatible with your choice of the voice assistant. You monitor the headphones through the physical butt
Bose Noise Headphones 700
|Six Mics for Cancelling Noise||Astonishing battery life|
|Outstanding call output|
Best Bass: Sony WH-XB900N
Headphones that advertise bass response as their top attribute appear to do so at the detriment of clarity and evenness over the rest of the frequency spectrum. With the WH-XB900Ns, Sony is attempting a different approach by building some bass functionality into the design of the headphones themselves.
Connect this along with a fairly tight seal around your ears, 1.57-inch drivers, and strong noise-canceling, and you’ll have a complete, rich, immersive experience. You won’t be left wanting on that front with these headphones with coverage around the full spectrum of 20Hz to 20kHz. The battery life is also amazing, allowing 30 hours of listening on a single charge, and you also have the option.
|Superb bass||Slightly awkward for long sessions|
|Canceling solid noise|
Best Headphones For The Studio Monitor: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xx
With thousands of users singing the praises of ATH-M50x Pro headphones from Audio-Technica, it’s very hard to mount a case against them. While there are certainly more sonically impressive headphones out there, they find a sweet spot — one where outstanding studio monitor sound collides with a price tag that’s coming in, well below the competitors’ brand.
The design of the ATH-M50x headset is straightforward, with large ear cups for an over-ear fit, and faux leather on the headband and ear pads. With three separate wires included in the box and a straightforward twist lock to keep them in place, the cable is interchangeable. The headphones are also foldable, making them easy to pack for on-the-go usage. At 38 Ohms, the ATH-M50x headphones have a low impedance, so you can use them with mobile devices. They also have a frequency response range from 15 Hz to 28 kHz as far as specs go, which ensures that their 45 mm drivers deliver rich. The ATH-M50x headset reviews are so overwhelmingly positive, they can not be overlooked as an excellent budget and quality mix.
|Quite affordable, quite affordable||In wireless mode, quality suffers slightly|
Best iPhone Bluetooth: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i
When it comes to it, the main concern of music fans is real sound quality, and these Bang & Olufsen headphones do not disappoint. They house 40 mm, electro-dynamic drivers, with high clarity and crisp mids that create a profoundly rich and balanced tone, and we are pleased to say that even when used wirelessly over Bluetooth, the sound quality holds up. Advanced, hybrid active noise cancellation technology is also built into the H8i, which uses two microphones to track and reduce irritating noise emissions (one inside the ear cup and one on the outside of the headset). The battery life also impresses, offering an impressive 42 hours of playtime per charge (or up to 30 continuously enabled with both Bluetooth and ANC).
Apart from sound quality, anyone who knows Bang & Olufsen knows that the company is known for the specifics of its design. The Beoplay H4 is sleek yet sturdy, made of metal with rich lambskin leather on the headband and features earpads with memory foam. For the high-quality sound and luxurious experience of wearing such a thoughtfully crafted headset, our reviewer, Andy, commended the H8i.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i
|Spectacular standard of audio||Failing setup|
|Materials of the premium||Annoying control on and indicator sounds for noise control|
The Definitive Guide to Music Lovers’ Buying Headphones
Honestly, if you’re a music fan, one of the most critical purchases for you is a pair of headphones. Although a decent pair of speakers are up there, headphones will mostly get the most mileage for our on-the-go lifestyles and the amount of time we spend streaming audio from our phones. And there is a verifiably huge selection of choices that selection from luxury Bluetooth headphones with impressive noise-canceling to high-end studio headphones, and all the way down to budget wired devices, with the modern need for headphones.
What your main use is going to be for the headphones is the most important factor in this decision. That may sound obvious, but it is a significant barometer for making your decision, given how many features you can cram into a pair of headphones. Are you going to wear headphones primarily on your commute? Will you bring them to the gym for your workouts? Or are you a home listener, either making music in your home studio or using a high-end amplifier to listen to records? Each of these decisions will send you to this decision on a vastly different course.
You can begin to put a list of goals together after you’ve answered these questions. The purpose of this guide is to break down in simple terms all of those goals. To be sure, we’ll get into some nerdy numbers and specs, but this guide will mainly concentrate, as a listener, on your end-use. As a consequence, expect us, wherever possible, to use layman’s language.
If you’re looking for the best all-around headphones, with lots of features and the best noise-canceling technology available anywhere, the Sony WH1000XM3s should be at the very top of your list (as they are on ours), while the Sennheiser HD 650 offers some of the best we’ve ever heard if completely flawless sound quality is king.
Last update on 2021-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API