If you're in the market for a new pair of headphones, it can be hard to know where to start. Even if you've narrowed down to your needs to something fairly specific, like earbuds for sports, how do you know what's the best earbuds brand? While the biggest brands tend to make something for everyone, some brands focus more on specific groups, like athletes or professional musicians. While you can get a decent pair of headphones from most brands these days, there's no hard and fast answer to what's the best headphones brand for you. Each headphone company has their own unique way of doing things, even when they cater to similar needs. That said, some brands stand out among the rest.
We’ve reviewed headphones from over 100 different brands so far, and below are our recommendations for the 15 best headphone brands to buy from. The recommendations aren’t ordered by rank or position; the first brand listed isn’t necessarily our top pick overall and the last brand isn’t the worst. Instead, we’ve listed the brands by use or specialty, keeping brands with similar audiences together to make it easier to find what best suits your needs.
Bose is best known for comfortable, noise cancelling headphones. While the company has faced criticism in the past for not delivering the same level of build or audio quality one might expect for the price, they've improved in recent years. Their latest models typically sound very well-balanced, have good battery performance with Bluetooth support, and are still very comfortable. While their headphones still don't feel as well-built as competing brands, Bose still delivers some of the top-performing headphones we've seen to date.
The best Bose headphones we've tested so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They're remarkably comfortable to wear for hours on end, have a versatile, well-balanced sound signature and industry-leading ANC that isolates an outstanding amount of noise. They're great commuter headphones and are a very good choice for use at the office. If you need something with a better mic for business and travel, the Bose 700 Headphones Wireless are worth considering as well. For those who prefer earbuds, the Bose QuietControl 30/QC30 Wireless have a comfortable neckband design that keeps your music at arm's reach when you're-on-the-go, all while cancelling an impressive amount of noise. If noise cancelling isn't a priority to you, but sports performance is, the Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless are great truly wireless earbuds for running thanks to their compact, durable design and open sound.
Sony has a very wide range of headphones, from the cheapest wired earbuds to top-of-the-line premium noise cancelling headphones. Whether you need something for mixing tracks in the studio or riding the subway to work, Sony likely makes something for you. That said, a number of their headphones are rather unremarkable and, with such a large selection, some models in their line-up feel redundant. Their high-end Bluetooth headphones are among some of the best we've seen, though, especially since their great companion app provides more customization options than most brands.
The best Sony headphones we've tested so far are the Sony WH-1000XM3. These Bluetooth over-ears have one of the best noise cancelling features on the market and provide a feature-packed listening experience thanks to all the unique sound customization options in the Sony | Headphones Connect app. The in-ear Sony WI-1000X Wireless also have excellent noise cancelling and can play wired audio thanks to their neckband design. If you're looking for something truly wireless the Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless are also worth considering, though they don't isolate noise quite as well. In the budget range, the Sony WI-C310 Wireless provide very good value for the price thanks to their well-balanced sound profile and impressive battery life.
Sennheiser is a reputed brand among audiophiles for their wide range of open-back headphones at various price points. They also make Bluetooth models for more casual listening and even make dedicated TV headphones so you can enjoy your favorite shows wirelessly without lip-syncing issues. They make both over-ears and in-ears, but don't have very many truly wireless models. Also, like Sony, since they make so many different kinds of headphones, it can be hard to know which ones provide the best value since there are so many overlapping models with only minor differences. That said, they're still a reliable brand with a good reputation that makes lots of different products worth recommending.
The best Sennheiser headphones we've tested so far are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. These reference-class headphones have a spacious, open soundstage and an expertly-tuned sound signature that makes listening to your favorite high-fidelity tracks in a quiet listening room a memorable experience. They're quite the investment, though, so audiophiles on a budget will want to consider the more affordable Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee, which don't sound quite as immersive but still provide great value for the price. If you prefer the versatility of a wireless noise cancelling design, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless have a bass-rich sound a stylish yet comfortable design for everyday use. Bluetooth can cause lag issues when watching videos, though, so you'll want to consider the Sennheiser RS 185 RF Wireless if you'd like something to watch movies or TV shows with at home.
Audio-Technica is a Japanese brand that produces a wide range of different headphone models. They're best known for their M-Series line-up, which includes closed-back studio headphones geared towards professional use. There are quite a few models in this line-up, so it's not always apparent while models provide the best value for the price. That said, their top performers excel when it comes to build and sound quality, and are easy-to-recommend for all different types of audio professionals. They also make noise cancelling headphones, as well as Bluetooth models for use on-the-go, although we haven't tested as many of these.
The best Audio-Technica headphones we've tested so far are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They're well-built studio headphones with a durable, versatile design. They have a neutral sound profile that's appropriate for mixing and mastering, but still pack enough of a punch to make for solid DJ headphones. If you prefer a more compact on-ear design, you'll want to consider the Audio-Technica ATH-M60x, which sound similarly well-balanced but aren't as bulky. The cheaper Audio-Technica ATH-M20x don't perform quite as well as either pair, but they can be ordered in bulk, which makes them ideal if you're outfitting a new studio space with enough equipment for everyone.
Beyerdynamic is one of the world's oldest headphone manufacturers, and many of their products are still made in Germany to this day. Like Audio-Technica, they have a wide range of products, but their most popular models are designed for studio use. They're well-known for making solid, durable headphones that feel built-to-last, with a keen eye for sound quality. Their open-back models tend to have less bass roll-off than other open-back headphones we've tested, but they still tend to sound quite bright. Those sensitive to the higher frequencies sometimes find Beyerdynamic headphones to sound too sharp or piercing on sibilants like 'S' or 'T' sounds, but this can vary from person-to-person. All things considered, the brand still makes very good headphones for critical listening overall.
The best Beyerdynamic headphones we've tested so far are the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. They don't sound quite as spacious as some of the best open-back headphones we've reviewed but provide great value for the price, especially compared to some of the more cheaply-made models from other brands that are often even more expensive. The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO are their closed-back counterpart that are also well worth their asking price if you need something with less leakage for studio recording. For use with your mobile devices via Bluetooth, the high-end Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless provide a premium listening experience, but their sound profile can vary significantly between users due to variances in the way they fit.
JBL is well-known as a household brand thanks to their successful loudspeaker innovations. They also have a large selection of consumer headphones largely designed for casual listening and sports use. As a subsidiary of Harman, most of JBL's headphones tend to have a very versatile, balanced sound profile that lends itself well to a wide variety of music genres. Many of their newer Bluetooth models are also compatible with a companion app that gives you a full parametric EQ to tweak the way they sound to your liking. They don't always have the best build quality, and many of their designs aren't the most comfortable. That said, their headphones tend to be quite fully-featured, with good battery and power-saving options, multi-device pairing, and voice assistant compatibility.
The best JBL headphones we've tested so far are the JBL Live 650 BTNC. They have an exciting, bass-rich sound and good overall battery performance. Their noise cancelling doesn't live up to what some of the more premium brands deliver, but for the price, they still provide decent value overall. Athletes on a budget looking for the best-sounding wireless earbuds will want to consider the JBL Endurance Sprint Wireless - if you can get past their finicky controls and fit, they deliver a remarkably well-balanced sound signature with impressive noise isolation. If you're more of a fan of on-ears, the JBL Live 400BT Wireless are the way to go, with their outstanding 30-hour battery life, great Bluetooth features, and customizable sound.
Plantronics have been at the forefront of mobile communications for decades - while their roots are in the aviation industry, they're arguable best-known for their Bluetooth wireless business headsets. They also make a number of wireless consumer products. We've yet to test their full line-up, the models we've seen so far are very well-rounded, providing good value for the price overall. Like JBL, they tend to have great Bluetooth features and impressive battery performance. Their headphones also generally sound very well-balanced too, but their companion app doesn't provide as many customization options. They also tend to make pretty bulky designs that aren't always the best-built, but still feel reasonably durable for the price.
The best Plantronics headphones we've tested so far are the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They have a very well-balanced sound signature that delivers the deep thump and rumble fans of EDM or hip-hop crave, without overpowering the presence and detail of vocals or instruments. Their battery performance is among the best we've seen and they even feature aptX-LL for lower Bluetooth latency with compatible devices. They're quite bulky, so if you prefer a sleeker design and an even more neutral sound, the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless are worth checking out. They're not as comfortable, but they have a more modern design that some will prefer.
You don't have to be outside for long before seeing a pair of Beats headphones. For years, they've had a reputation for making over-priced, plasticky, headphones that were too bass-heavy. However, since their acquisition by Apple Inc. in 2014, Beats by Dre have released a number of well-rounded, versatile headphones that provide better value than before. They generally sound surprisingly well-balanced, are often quite comfortable, and the wireless models can now pair seamlessly with Apple devices. None of their headphones are customizable, and build quality is still not quite on par with brands in the same price range. All things considered, the brand has still come a long way and their wireless earbuds, in particular, are now quite easy to recommend.
The best Beats headphones we've tested so far are the Beats Powerbeats Pro. Their in-ear fit is both stable and comfortable, and they have surprisingly easy-to-use physical controls. Their 11-hour battery life and cable-free design make them great wireless earbuds for running, although they don't feel quite as durable as other sports earbuds. If you prefer on-ear headphones with the signature Beats look, the Beats Solo Pro Wireless are a solid choice. Their tight fit helps keep them securely on your head and, combined with their active noise cancelling feature, helps block out an impressive amount of noise. The Beats Solo3 Wireless are more comfortable and have a much longer battery life, but, like the Beats Studio 3 Wireless, they can sound a bit boomy.
Jaybird is dedicated exclusively to providing audio for athletes - they started making Bluetooth earbuds for sports in 2006 and haven't looked back since. They're good at what they do - we've reviewed most of their products, and they're all great for sports. Their companion app is also excellent and provides some of the best sound customization options around. However, the company designs their own proprietary charging cradles and changes them between model versions, which is annoying since you can't use the charger from an older model on a new one. That said, their earbuds are still some of the best for running and working out we've seen and remain worth considering for serious athletes.
The best Jaybird earbuds we've tested so far are the Jaybird Tarah Pro. These wireless in-ears feel built to withstand all different types of conditions, whether you're hiking in the mountains or doing push-ups in the park. Their 13-hour battery life is great for long days spent training outdoors, but if you find their cable tends to catch on the back of your shirt, then you'll want to consider Jaybird Vista Truly Wireless. Their battery lasts quite a bit less long on a charge, but their truly wireless design keeps annoying cable noises at bay. Their compact in-ear design is surprisingly comfortable, and they also come with one of the most durable-looking charging cases we've seen.
Jabra have been making office and call-center headsets for decades, but they're also well-known for their popular truly wireless in-ears. They don't have a huge selection of consumer headphones, but the ones we've tested have nearly all been worth considering, whether you're looking for sports earbuds or noise cancelling over-ears. While their older in-ear models aren't the most comfortable, their newer earbuds have a better fit for most people. Their over-ear headphones are especially comfortable, but their active noise cancelling isn't quite on par with the competition. That said, most of their products are compatible with their companion app that gives you a good number of customization features.
The best Jabra earbuds we've tested so far are the Jabra Elite Active 75t. They're versatile truly wireless earbuds with an IP57 rating, easy-to-use physical controls, and excited, bass-rich sound. Their battery life isn't quite as good as some of the best true wireless earbuds we've reviewed, but they'll still last a decent while thanks to their auto-off timer and the additional charges provided by their charging case. The older Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless isolate a lot more noise, which some prefer while commuting, but their larger earbud design can be uncomfortable for those with smaller ears. The most comfortable over-ear Jabra Elite 85h Wireless provide a premium listening experience overall, even though their noise cancelling isn't the strongest.
Anker is a young company known for portable power banks and affordable charging cables, but they also have a solid selection of wireless headphones they sell online. They make both over-ear and in-ear headphones at a variety of price points, and most of the products we've reviewed from them provide very good value for the price - especially their earbuds. Their more premium models do feel slightly lacking in features compared to what the big name brands provide, but with the release of their new Soundcore app, they're starting to catch up.
The best Anker earbuds we've tested so far are the Anker SoundBuds Curve. The original model was already a top-performer, but the 2019 upgrade blows the competition out of the water with over 18 hours of battery life, an IPX7 rating, a nice hard carrying case, and a versatile bass-rich sound profile, all for less than $50. If you've got more cash to spare and prefer a truly wireless design, the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless provide excellent value for the price, especially now that their companion app even features a graphic EQ so you can adjust their sound profile to your liking. When it comes to over-ear headphones, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless might not have the best noise cancelling we've seen, but their long battery life and comfortable design make them a solid option nonetheless.
Skullcandy might not make the most premium headphones on the market, but there's a reason the brand is still so popular - they make colorful, stylish designs with lots of bass that fans of EDM and hip-hop can enjoy without spending a fortune. While their most premium over-ears have active noise cancelling, most of their Bluetooth-compatible models are quite simple and don't have many additional features. Also, their headphones tend to feel pretty cheaply-made and aren't always the most comfortable or versatile-sounding. That said, they still provide decent value for those who like the way they look and sound.
The best Skullcandy headphones we've reviewed so far are the Skullcandy Venue. These wireless noise cancelling over-ears pack a powerful punch in the bass range, but still have enough brightness for voices and instruments to not get drowned out. Their 24-hour battery life is great, and they even have a few additional features, like multi-device pairing and a talk-through mode. They're quite expensive for the brand, though, so the Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless provide better value for those who don't need noise cancelling. The Skullcandy Grind Wireless are even better for the price if you prefer an on-ear format thanks to their surprisingly well-built design and neutral sound profile, while the Skullcandy Sesh Truly Wireless are your best bet if you're looking for affordable truly wireless earbuds.