Published on November 14th, 2019
Are you a fan of sweet-sounding tunes, but not of sticking things in your ears? Headphones are a superb way to boost your listening pleasure for comparatively little outlay.
Best headphones can revivalist the music you listen to, whether it’s stored on your smartphones or played through your traditional musical system.
Headphones are available in a zillion styles, sizes, and price ranges. To help you, we’ve assembled a list of best headphones by type, feature, price and top website reviews.
1. Sony WH-1000XM3
Sony industry-leading noise cancellation evolves to further immerse you in your music. The addition of Sony proprietary HD noise canceling processor Qn1 masterfully eliminates the noise around you.
Listen all day with up to 30 hours of battery life. Quick charging gives five hours of playback with just a 10-minute charge.
For the last few years, Sony has been hot on the heels of rival Bose, working hard to create the ultimate noise-canceling headphone. And with the WH-1000XM3 — priced at $350, £330 or $AU499 — it’s finally done it.
In developing this third-generation model, it seems as if Sony’s engineers went through CNET’s review of last year’s WH-1000MX2 and corrected each small issue I had with it.
The biggest design change is to the shape of the headband and padding on the ear cups. The headband is now more contoured to your head, and the headphone has shaved off 20 grams of weight. The padding on the ear cups is also a little softer.
2. 1More Triple Driver Earphone with Mic
The combination of 1MORE’s unrivaled design standards and Luca Bignardi’s heartfelt tuning delivers a profound audio experience. Listening to our Triple Drivers is like hearing your favorite music live and for the first time.
If you’re in the market for a pair of in-ear headphones that are under $100 (£70 or AU$150), you’ve got a lot to choose from.
There are tons of earbuds that sound great, but many at that low price usually have a fatal flaw, whether it’s less-than-stellar build quality, incompatibility between devices or they simply don’t fit your ears well enough to be comfortable.
We’ve found it’s hard to find a pair of headphones that tick all of the boxes without breaking the bank.
3. HiFiMan Ananda
Ananda is the culmination of years of development, lightweight, ultra-fine planar drivers at their heart sing with unmatched agility and power sensitivity.
The all new NsD is 80% thinner than previous designs resulting in a faster more detailed response while retaining lush musicality never before possible. At between 1 to 2 microns thick, the NsD diaphragm sets all be standards.
Pros : Phenomenal audio performance with superb sense of space, accurate bass, and lovely detail throughout frequency range. Comfortable over long listening sessions. Ships with two detachable cables.
Cons : Open design leaks audio. Cables lack inline remote control or mic.
Bottom Line : The HiFiMan Ananda headphones deliver stunning audio performance, providing a superb sense of space and detail.
4. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Bose Noise cancelling headphones 700 have redefined what wireless headphones can do. Keep your head up to the world with easy access to voice assistants — perfect for music, navigation, weather, and more. Confidently take calls or speak to Alexa anywhere.
An unrivaled four-microphone system picks up and isolates your voice while cancelling the noise around you. with these smart headphones, Bose has even improved on what it’s most known for.
Eleven levels of noise cancellation let you truly personalize your environment.
Set it low to let more of the world In, somewhere in the middle, or turn it all the way up to block out the noisy world around you.
Bose AR, a first-of-its-kind audio Augmented reality platform, combines the power of next-gen Bose audio products with innovative mobile apps.
Together, they can create astonishing real-world experiences and fundamentally new ways to travel, exercise, learn, play, and more.
For iPhone and iPad users, open the Bose music app to access a showcase of Bose are-enhanced apps with Links to Download them. (Apps for Android users are in development.
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor to its QuietComfort 35 II models, have a lot to live up to.
The QuietComfort series is almost 20 years old and is essentially the gold standard for active noise-canceling headphones, beloved by airline travelers and open-office residents the world over for their ability to block out a good chunk of external distractions.
Simply put, the QC35s are a hard act to follow, and some people aren’t going to like all the changes that Bose has made in creating this new successor headphone.
5. Grado SR60e
Everyone loves a thumping bass and kick-drum, but not at the expense of everything else. The Grado SR60e is your entry to the world of full spectrum audio.
You’ll actually hear notes you never knew were there. Perhaps your audiophile friends have fueled a desire for the legendary Grado sound but you thought it was out of reach.
Try a pair of our affordable open-back headphones and experience fuller, more realistic sound. Club-footed imports can’t match the sonic enlightenment from Brooklyn, USA.
Grado has taken one of the world’s most legendary headphones and made it even better.
The SR60e has a new driver design, a new polymer to better damp resonant distortion in the plastic housing, and a new cable from plug to driver connection.
The way the SR60e’s new driver and plastic housing move air and react to sound vibrations virtually eliminate transient distortions.
This allows the signal flow over the new cable to reproduce sound that has tight control of the upper and lower range of the frequency spectrum, while supporting Grado’s world renowned midrange.
The SR60e will produce a sound that is pure Grado, with warm harmonic colors, rich full bodied vocals, excellent dynamics, and an ultra-smooth top end.
The SR60e is a particularly smart choice if you’re looking for an entry-level set of headphones that sound like they should cost you way more than they do.
Its open-back ear cup design gives you a more breathable experience than what most on-ear headphones can deliver.
6. Audeze Mobius
Mobius, you just don’t play a game, you’ll live it. With fully-integrated WAVES Nx surround sound functionality, Mobius produces the same awe-inspiring cinematic experience you would find in a theatre. Immerse yourself in your favorite movie.
Unplug and listen to music, binge watch Netflix, or re-watch Game of Thrones. Connect to your PCs, game consoles, and mobile devices by USB-C, Bluetooth, or analog (cables included).
Boom mic (removable) is also included, and will work with communications like Twitch as well as your phone calls.
Pros : Excellent audio quality. Impressive head-tracking 3D effect. Comfortable fit. Bluetooth option.
Cons : Very expensive. Requires wired USB connection for 5.1 and higher surround sound.
Bottom Line : The Audeze Mobius is a gaming headset with remarkable head-tracking 3D sound technology and performance that will satisfy audiophiles.
7. Jabra Elite Active 65t
Jabra elite Active 65T is engineered for true wireless music, calls and sport, and features a secure fitting design for enhanced in ear stability when you’re Active, a 2 year warranty against sweat and dust, customizable equalizer, integrated motion sensor, and up to 15 hours battery life 5 hours in the earbuds, and an extra 10 hours from the included, pocket friendly charging case.
Apple’s AirPods have dominated the truly wireless headphone category since their arrival in late 2016, but Jabra’s Elite 65t ($170, £150 or AU$300) and Elite Active 65t ($190, £170 or AU$350) are among a handful of truly wireless models that are compelling alternatives.
They definitely have performance advantages, including a more secure fit and better noise isolation than their Apple rivals.
8. Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature
Optimised Cabinet. P9 Signature’s elegant earcups contain sophisticated acoustic cabinets perfected using Finite Element Analysis.
Using composites and aluminium this optimised acoustic environment enables the drive unit to do its job of rendering your music with total precision.
De-coupled Headband. P9 Signature’s headband cleverly decouples each earcup. This stops unwanted vibration transmitting between each earcup and the headband.
This removal of distortion is one of the reasons P9 Signature is so clear and open sounding.
Headphones, in some ways, are like wine, and Bowers and Wilkins new P9 Signature are the equivalent of a luxury bottle you’d fork out for at the fanciest of celebrations.
At the budget end of the spectrum you have budget, supermarket own-brand wine. It’s cheap and it gets the job done, but it’ll do so in a clumsy, unrefined way, like cheap headphones that play music with all the subtlety of a bull in a china shop.
9. HyperX Cloud Mix
HyperX cloud mix is a wired gaming headset that pumps out rich hi-res Audio at frequencies from 10Hz to 40kHz. Switch to Bluetooth* mode for a lightweight, wireless headset for when you’re on the go.
HyperX custom-designed 40mm Dual chamber drivers separate the bass from the mids and highs for more distinction and clarity by reducing distortion.
Cloud mix is compatible with PC and console platforms with 3.5mm Ports and Bluetooth Ready media devices.
Don’t often see Bluetooth connectivity in gaming headsets. Wired headsets simply use 3.5mm or USB connections, and wireless headsets tend to use adapters.
The Kingston HyperX Cloud Mix follows in the footsteps of the Audeze Mobius, with both Bluetooth and wired connectivity, but instead of offering other high-end technical features, it simply provides an excellent listening experience for wired games and wireless music.
At $199.99 it’s one of the more expensive headsets in the HyperX lineup, but half the cost of the Audeze Mobius. That makes its versatility impressive, and combined with its audio quality, it earns our Editors’ Choice
10. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
What happens when you clear away the noisy distractions of the world? Concentration goes to the next level. You get deeper into your music, your work, or whatever you want to focus on. That’s the power of Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II.
Put them on and get closer to what you’re most passionate about. And that’s just the beginning. QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II are now enabled with Bose AR — an innovative, audio-only take on augmented reality.
Embedded inside your headphones is a multi-directional motion sensor. One that Bose AR can utilize to provide contextual audio based on where you are. Unlock Bose AR via a firmware update through the Bose Connect app.
The QuietComfort 35 II reviewed here was released in September 2017, and it remains one of our top picks for wireless noise-canceling headphones.
While the Sony WH-1000XM2 arguably sounds a tad better and is more feature rich, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II is lighter and more comfortable to wear.
The price for the Beats Studio3 Wireless has dropped (you can get it for less than $225 online), so it’s become a more attractive option in this category.
11. Jabra Elite 85h
Jabra Elite 85h features SmartSound technology, which automatically adapts to your surroundings, either “Jabra Elite 85h Wireless Noise-Canceling headphones are engineered for the best wireless calls and music experience with SmartSound, and you can personalize your sound experience for different situations with the Jabra Sound+ app.
When you pair your device (headphones are compatible with iPhone and Android) with the Jabra Sound+ app, revolutionary SmartSound automatically adapts the audio experience based on your settings, giving you audio that’s perfectly suited to your environment.
When Jabra first announced its new Elite 85h ($300, £280 or about AU$435 converted) over-ear premium wireless headphones, it touted how it would be equipped with always-on (hands-free) voice assistant control using Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant.
Alas, that feature didn’t make it into the final product — apparently it affected battery life too much — but the Elite 85h is nevertheless an excellent noise-canceling headphone that sounds very good, is comfortable to wear and also works great as a headset for making calls.
12. AKG K92
The K92 from AKG is a closed-back and over-the-ear studio headphone that features professional-grade 40mm drivers and a self-adjusting headband that is light and comfortable.
It can be used with a broad range of playback devices in applications for rehearsals, recording studios, live stages, and more.
The K92 headphones are built with a single-sided non-detachable 1/8″ TRS 9.8′ cable and include a 1/4″ screw-on adapter.
The frequency response is 16 Hz to 20 kHz and provides an accurate monitoring solution, which delivers extended low-frequency that gives definition to kick drums and bass guitars.
Furthermore, since earpads are usually the first components to show wear, these are replaceable to protect your investment over time.
As is the case with most tech, when it comes to headphones most of us tend to (often correctly) assume that you get what you pay for.
If you use the cheap earbuds that came with your phone, chances are your music is going to sound flat, a bit tinny and lack general audio excitement.
But upgrade to some of the most high-end cans on the market, like the truly excellent Sennheiser HD800, and you music sounds almost unrecognisable.
It’s got dynamism, expression, and individual instruments that you can actually tell apart rather than having them all merge together in a big mess of noise.
13. JBL JR300BT
Safe, lightweight and sized for kids, the JBL JR300BT wireless headphones deliver up to 12 hours of legendary JBL sound and fun for the youngest music fans.
Headphones are designed to ensure the volume is always below 85dB to protect hearing and easy controls can be operated without any help.
Kids listen in comfort with custom designed soft padded headband and ear cushions for a feathery fit. Kids will also enjoy the ability to customize the headphones with the available stickers.
Pros : Rich bass and crisp highs for a nicely balanced mix. Effective volume limiting. Comfortable fit.
Cons : Distortion on some deep bass tracks. Most controls are clustered on one button.
Bottom Line : JBL’s JR300BT wireless headphones effectively limit volume levels while sounding better than most of the kid-friendly options out there.
14. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air
Soundcore|Hear It. Feel It. A Brand Under Anker Innovations. Advanced Audio: The graphene-coated drivers eliminate distortion to produce sound with enhanced accuracy and outstanding clarity.
Enjoy detailed highs, bright mids, and satisfyingly deep bass. Enhanced Voice Pick-Up: Two built-in microphones with uplink noise cancellation filter out external noise to boost clarity and quality.
For a year I’ve been searching for a recommendable budget true wireless alternative to Apple’s AirPods, and I finally found it in Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air earphones.
Available in white and black, they cost $80, or half the price of the AirPods. It’s also much better than its fully wireless predecessors from Anker’s other sister brands, the Zolo Liberty and Zolo Liberty Plus, despite costing less.
15. Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 Special Edition – Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones
The second-generation Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 headphones show a device maturing – fixing a few mistakes made in the past while continuing to offer sound quality that holds up well to the competition.
The original Plantronics BackBeat Pro earned plenty of praise: they weren’t perfect but they were feature rich, sounded great, and providing excellent active noise cancellation (ANC).
With the BackBeat Pro 2, Plantronics is keeping what’s good and fixing what was bad (like bulk and weight) – and you can’t ask for much more.
16. Plantronics BackBeat Go 810
Immerse yourself in the rich, detailed audio of the Backbeat GO 810, over-the-ear headphones – your escape from life on the go.
Hear your music clearly in any environment with dual-mode active noise-cancelling (ANC) and choose between balanced and bright EQ presets to create a personalized audio experience.
With up to 22 hours of power and ANC on a single charge, you can listen to more of what you love and hear less of what you don’t.
Pros: Powerful audio performance with intense bass depth. Comfortable over-ear fit. Easy-to-operate on-ear controls.
Cons: Bass-heavy sound signature not for everyone. EQ modes are limited. ANC adds some hiss.
Bottom Line: The relatively affordable Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 headphones deliver solid noise cancellation and powerful bass-forward audio.