Just picture it: a pair of headphones pouring amazing hi-fidelity songs into your ears. This truly is the best way to get a break into a happier place.
If you do not own a decent pair of headphones, don’t worry. We have done the heavy lifting to select different types of headphones that are the best in their category.
All that will be left for you to do at the end of this buying guide is to choose the one that suits your needs and budget. From over-ear and studio headphones and bass headphones and bone conduction, we’ve sorted out the best of the best!
Best Over-Ear Headphones
Also known as around-ear headphones, the over-ear variety is the most in-demand option on the market.
In fact, they are like the brand ambassadors for all other types of headphones. They owe their popularity to the fact that they are the most comfortable to wear over long periods of time.
Over-the-ear headphones have multiple features and long-lasting battery life. The fact that they can be heavy on the head and may cause the ears to sweat has not deterred anybody from considering them to be a fantastic way to listen to tunes.
SONY WH-1000XM3 WIRELESS
The latest design features a more comfortable fit thanks to a thicker cushion and less weight. There are cool new functions such as voice control and touchpad sensitivity. In addition, the Sony WH-1000 microphones are ideal for having clear phone conversations.
Next, we move onto the most important feature of all: the sound quality of this headset. The initial sound profile has excellent equilibrium. If you have varied tastes, you can adjust the sound to your preference using the Sony Headphones Connect app.
We’re happy to report that the active noise-canceling action on these headphones is the best we have come across yet. All background noise stays in the background – filtering all this extra sound and leaving a pleasant silence.
Another impressive feature of the Sony WH-1000 is the battery. On a full charge, it lasts for 27 hours. A ten-minute charge of this battery is equal to 5 hours of use. It takes three hours to charge to full juice.
The Sony Headphones are the perfect companions for a long flight or daily shuttling from work to home. The talk-through feature on the headphones allows you to be aware of your surroundings by mingling the surrounding noise with your music.
The updated Bluetooth technology has upgraded the sound quality to stunning clarity. The bass on this headset is just right – rich but not overwhelming.
Of course, this headset is not perfect, but it is pretty close! The only drawback we noticed was that the touch controls will not work under colder weather conditions. Sony WH-1000 wireless is certainly worth the money.
A Cheaper Alternative: Samsung AKG N700NC Wireless
These headphones actually retail for a lot more but have recently been on multiple offers for a great price. The value for the money is impressive.
In addition, the design and feel of the AKG are luxurious and cozy. When you purchase this headphone set, you get several accessories as well, including an inline remote, airplane adapter, TRRS cable, and carrying case.
The default sound profile of the headphones is expertly tuned and will hardly need any adjustment. However, if you do decide to adjust the settings to suit your genre, you can do so via the AKG headphones app. The app is available for both Android and Apple OS.
The battery life is 18 hours at most, which gives you more than enough time to recharge even before it runs out.
The downside of the AKG N700NC is that they leak out some sound to the surrounding. The people next to you will be able to listen in, so if you have to use these headphones in a quiet workplace, the volume should be very low.
The active noise-cancellation feature on the AKG is only moderate. It will not drown out the traffic or airplane sounds.
Best Studio Headphones
When musicians record music in the studio, their primary focus is the music mix streaming into their headphones.
There should be no distractions whatsoever bleeding into the sound they hear. For this reason, closed-back headphones are frequently used to create maximum isolation in the sound booth.
Closed headphones also mean no sound leakage seeping into the microphone recording.
Sennheiser HD280 Pro
The nondescript design of the Sennheiser may be a bit drab, but the sound is a different story altogether.
Sennheiser HD 280 has none of the embellishments that current headphones boast of. Instead, all the energy there is diverted towards quality sound output, comfortable fit, and durable construction.
The bass output is in harmony with other components of the mix. It lacks the skull-splitting exaggeration that you would expect.
Sennheiser 280 HD produces clean and precise mids. This is especially important because the mids make up the bulk of the music.
The high pitches are controlled enough for monitoring. They eliminate the sharpness that manifests over some studio headphones.
The Sennheiser 280 HD offers the best passive noise cancellation effect in a passive headphone. That is, it doesn’t cancel out the noise as well as ANC headphones, but it is still the best in its category.
This headphone is suitable for studio novices and elites alike.
Open-back headphones are often disregarded in studio settings in favor of the closed-back headphones, and with good reason: open-back headphones do not isolate sound properly, which limits their usefulness in monitoring and tracking.
However, their functionality when it comes to professional studio mixing, mastering, and editing has earned it a 4.5 stars rating.
Despite costing under $100, the sonic performance is consistently stellar. The frequency range is 5Hz-35kHz. The bass and treble register a strong bearing. Thanks to the rich velour material on the ear pads, it is pleasant to put on these headsets.
This headphone is recommended for professional use.
Best Bass Headphones
A number of music genres rely heavily on the bass for that extra oomph, including hip hop, dubstep, and EDM.
To get the full experience from listening, you need a set of headphones that can carry and amplify the bass.
Almost all headphones on the market are heavy on the bass, so there should be a balance that brings out other features on the mix.
The electronic coils that control the voice are made of aluminum wire with copper cladding. The magnets are strong and permanent, constructed out rare earth minerals. Technica M50x is Bluetooth 5.0 enabled and has 45mm drivers on either side.
Together, these features are responsible for the booming and extraordinarily clear bass response.
The frequency range covered by the Technica M50x ranges from 15 Hz – 24 kHz. The headphones possess a sensitivity rank of 99 dB, and the touch control function activates your voice assistant. The mic and button that controls call functions is built into the ear cups. This makes phone conversations seamless.
Because of the tremendous bass and superb sound isolation, these headphones are best used for deejaying, microphone tracking, mixing, and home use.
The ear pads cover both ears entirely, completely eliminating all noise in the background. For this reason, you can comfortably listen to your music regardless of the kind of environment you are in.
The battery life of the Technica M50x is an impressive 40 hours if subjected to continuous use. Charging time is relatively long, though, at 7 hours to go from zero to full charge.
Lastly, the headphone design is foldable, allowing it to take up the least space and improve its portability.
Note: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x also won our pick for the best closed-back headphones.
These are one of the headphone sets with the most powerful bass. If you are absolutely crazy about bass and love to hear it loud, these headphones are for you.
This wicked bass is brought to you courtesy of twin bass drivers and additional 40mm sound drivers.
Skullcandy is a Bluetooth enabled device that comes with a dedicated bass slider on one of the ear cups. This should tell you just how serious the folks over at Skullcandy are about their bass.
If you put the slider on max, you will feel tremors in your skull, much like standing in front of a large speaker in a live deejaying concert. If you turn down the slider to a minimum, the bass still stays prominent. However, the trebles and mids also come out to play at this point.
The Skullcandy Crusher wireless boasts of a 40-hour battery life and rapid charge functionality. Ten minutes of charging time are enough for three hours of play.
The frequency range is between 20 Hz to 20KHz.
These headphones come as advertised, heavy on the bass. If you find the dedicated sound too heavy for your liking, there is nothing you can really do about it, unfortunately.
Another negative is that the Skullcandy Crusher doesn’t do much with regard to noise cancellation. You just have to try to ignore the world!
Best Bone Conduction Headphones
Bone conduction headphones have sunk in the shadows of wireless earbuds.
Bone conduction headphones are specialized earphones that drew inspiration from hearing aid manufacturers. As such, they have a very specific niche of users. This type of headphone is either exactly right for you, or not for you at all.
If you are interested in these wireless headphones, then we have our pick of the best one in the market right now.
Aftershokz Aeropex Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones
A flexible plastic is the best material to withstand constant exposure to water and sweat. The material used in the construction of the Aftershokz Aeropex wireless bone conduction headphones has an IP rating of IP67.
The battery life is eight hours after continuous playing. This is more than enough time to finish your workout and recharge.
The Aeropex headphones charge via an electromagnetic field. This has eliminated the need for a charging port. Aftershokz Aeropex also enjoys the benefits of the latest Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.
This device is a paltry 26 grams, so it is plenty comfortable for the wearer.
How Bone Conduction Headphones Work
The headphones generate vibrations and channel them to the malleus, incus, and stapes bones of the middle ear. In doing so, the headphones are designed to skip the stage where standard headphones transmit the sound to the eardrums first.
This is the reason why bone conduction headphones do not have the enormous padded cups worn over the ears.
Bone conduction headphones are worn slightly in front of the ears where they channel sound waves into the three bones. The middle ear receives the vibrations and transmits them onwards.
While all this is happening, your ears will still be actively aware of the surrounding environment. There is no noise isolation.
What We Like About Bone Conduction Headphones
- It is ideal for persons who have some degree of hearing loss from damaged eardrums.
- The headphones are safer for joggers and cyclists. They allow you to hear your music while still aware of the surrounding sounds.
- The headphones will fit securely in place, so there is no concern of them falling while you exercise.
What We Do Not Like
- The quality of sound is a far cry from that of regular headphones
- The listening experience is rather tedious, there is a maximum interference from environmental sounds.
- The sensation of the headphones clamping down on the side of the head is rather uncomfortable for most people.
Best Budget Wireless Headphones
It is okay to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to purchase a new headphone. It is a justifiable expense.
However, if you do not have any extra money, you can also get great headphones on a tighter budget. Budget headphones are excellent options for back-up in case your regular headphones are out of service.
Budget headphones imply that the manufacturer has compromised on a feature or two to keep the costs down. However, they still end up with brilliant products that can often rival top-dollar ones.
The TaoTronics 2020 version was a surprise entrant to our list. It is the most affordable pair of headphones we could find right now for an astonishing range of capabilities.
These wireless headphones emit a deep clear bass and Hi-fi audio thanks to the 40mm sound adaptors. The clarity of the sound highlights each element that has composed the sound.
When operating with full charge, the battery lasts for 40 hours. We tested this for continuous use.
Even better, the charging time is only 45 minutes! We believe this is another version of the Quick Charge on steroids. The Quick Charge feature comes in handy if you are in a hurry. Even 10 minutes’ worth of charge will last for 3 hours.
Other than superb sound, TaoTronics tried to ensure that their headphones are wearable. The ear cups can be rotated to suit your comfort. The headband is flexible and has a provision to increase the size in case it is too tight. The memory foam padding over the ears provides some degree of breathability so that your ears don’t boil red with extended usage.
Our favorite part of this budget headphone is its noise cancellation. We keep checking the price every time a cool feature reserved for high range headphones pops up!
There is an option of plugging in a cable to use the headphones wired or going wireless with the Bluetooth connection.
The headphone design is collapsible at the axes. You can then fold the cups and carry it in your travel suitcase. However, these headphones come packaged with a dedicated carrying case upon purchase.
TaoTronics Bluetooth headphones the 2020 version is not waterproof. Take special care to get rid of sweat on your device.
In the end, TaoTronics wireless headphones have given music lovers a unique value proposition. We recommend that you get these headphones while they’re still in stock, as they go fast!
Note: Leaving the headphones on active noise cancelling mode while it is not in use drains the battery. Ensure that the ANC is off when the device is not in use.
Best Mixing Headphones
At this point, we are all in agreement that open-back headphones, despite industry reservations, are the best for mixing.
The open design works in their favor in this instance. There is a lot of space between the cups and the ears to allow sounds to seep through.
When sound leaks through open headphones, it serves to avoid the accumulation of lower-end frequencies.
Sounds do not find an escape hatch, they will mess with the precision of the mix.
Grado Labs has been quietly producing superior audio output equipment for at least 60 years. When the company designed the PS2000e, it took their team two years of painstaking work to come up with the final product. And what a product it was!
The PS2000e professional headphones are open-back constructed out of maple wood and metal. The headband is wide and covered with luxurious leather stuffed with thick padding, while the inner compartment of this headphone is hand-crafted out of maple wood and given a smoky chrome finish.
The combination of wood and metal delivers an impeccable sonic range. The science behind using wood and metal together in this unique product is to completely eliminate any jarring sound frequencies. It ended up ridding the product of ringing and harmony interference.
The Grado PS2000e is calibrated to display the precise signal details of the audio. To put it simply, there is no sound profile at all in these headphones. What you hear is raw authentic sound.
To witness just how brilliant the engineering is that went into making this product is, you’ll need to listen to the transmission of the lower registers and then the higher frequencies. The reproduction of the bass and higher voice pitch goes on seamlessly without the slightest warping.
As the volume changes, the sound quality remains constant. This is where many people realize just how limited all other headphones are compared to this.
Grado PS2000e headphones seem to have had a very specific target market. The price tag on these headphones runs into the thousands of dollars.
The PS2000e was made for audiophiles with means. After all, their motto seems to be to get the best sound money can buy!
We would recommend this headphone to professional producers and other advanced sound engineers. Novices who have the financial muscle should buy it as well. It is worth the investment.
When shopping for headphones, it is easy to get sucked into the rabbit hole of technical details. It is exhausting and not really the best way to go about shopping for headphones.
Just keep in mind that there will be no perfect headphone. Once you’re comfortable with that, you have won half the battle.
Shop according to your personal preferences, sense of style, and where you intend to use the headphones. These three factors are better guides than anything else you had in mind.