Looking for the best pair of headphones for your needs can be quite a challenge. There are so many different brands that it’s not always obvious where to start. Each company tends to have their manner of doing things; from the way their headphones sound to how they fit, brand differences are not to be overlooked. While many brands offer a wide enough variety of products to work for most people, some cater to specific audiences, like athletes, audiophiles, or gamers. Knowing what purpose your headphones will serve can help you narrow down your selection.
We’ve reviewed headphones from nearly 90 brands so far, and below are our recommendations for the 15 best headphone brands and the best earbud brands to buy from in 2019. The recommendations aren’t ordered by rank or position; so 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 are known for selling high-end audio equipment at a premium price. Their headphones tend to be best for commuting, travel, and office use thanks to their nearly unbeatable levels of comfort and industry-leading noise cancelling technology. They’ve garnered controversy in the past for charging a pretty penny for products that didn’t necessarily live up to industry standards in terms of both build and sound quality, but they’ve upped their game in recent years, especially in respect to comfort and audio fidelity. Although their reputation is still on the rocks in audiophile circles, there’s not a single current model of theirs that we’ve tested and wouldn’t recommend.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are the best wireless headphones we’ve tested so far. They’re comfortable, sound great, and have impressive noise isolation, which makes them very good travel headphones. If you want a more portable option for your commute, the QuietControl 30 have a comfortable neckband design and good noise cancelling too. The Bose 700 are a very good choice for office use thanks to their premium design and impressive microphone quality. Bose also makes decent sports earbuds, with the Bose SoundSport Wireless and the Bose SoundSport Free both being comfortable, compact, and well-built models that sound very good too.
Sony has a very diverse line-up of models at various price points. The majority of their headphones are for casual listening, but they have some sports models and studio headphones as well. Many of their wireless headphones are compatible with the Sony | Headphones Connect app, which provides a good amount of customization options, depending on the model. Like most brands with a massive array of products, some of their headphones are downright mediocre. However, they have a fair number of more premium headphones that perform very well and are a brand worth considering overall.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are premium wireless over-ears with outstanding noise cancelling. They’re the best headphones for bass that we’ve tested so far and you can also EQ them with the Sony | Headphones Connect app if you prefer a more neutral sound. The Sony WI-1000X Wireless are a solid in-ear noise cancelling option if you’re looking for more portable travel headphones. They have a more balanced sound and their in-ear fit reduces leakage, which is great at the office. There’s also the inexpensive Sony MDR-XB50AP, which are wired in-ears with a warm, punchy sound that may be too boomy for some, but should please bass fans on a budget.
Sennheiser are known for their dedication to quality audio reproduction and produce headphones for casual and professional use. However, like Sony, as a by-product of having so many models, some of them are rather unremarkable. That said, they’re one of the few companies to offer such a wide range of good-sounding open-back headphones and they have a good selection of more versatile models that perform well, too. Some of their Bluetooth models can be customized via a fully parametric EQ in the Sennheiser Captune app, and most have very good battery performance.
The Sennheiser HD 800 S are Sennheiser’s flagship audiophile headphones. They sound remarkable, with an expertly-balanced sound and have an outstandingly open and spacious soundstage. However, they come at a premium price and require an amplifier to be used. For those looking for well-balanced, open sound at a more manageable price, the Sennheiser HD 600 provide great value. Sennheiser also offers a lineup of headphones specifically made for watching TV, the best being the super easy-to-use Sennheiser RS 185 that come with a transmitter stand to provide a seamless experience with no pairing required.
Japanese company Audio-Technica launched the AT-700 series of headphones in 1978. Like Beyerdynamic, they have a wide range of products, from professional studio headphones to wireless sports in-ears. We’ve tested more of their monitor and noise cancelling models and found they’re a versatile brand with many affordable products. Most of their products aren’t particularly noteworthy but provide good value overall.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are internationally renowned for their value as well-priced studio headphones. They sound great with excellent audio reproduction and have a closed-back utilitarian design that’s fairly versatile. They come with 3 detachable cables of varying types and lengths and are overall sturdy headphones. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT are a Bluetooth variant which sound slightly less balanced overall but are compatible wirelessly with your mobile devices for added versatility.
Beyerdynamic released the first dynamic headphones in 1937. Today, they’re one of the very few companies left that still make their headphones locally. We haven’t yet reviewed their gaming headsets or wireless earbuds, so we can’t vouch for the quality of all their products, but all their studio headphones we’ve tested feel impressively well-made and sound quite good. Some people find their sound signature a bit sharp and sibilant, but this isn’t as noticeable to everyone and they’re generally quite well-balanced overall.
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO are one of the best open-back headphones we’ve tested so far and have better sound and build quality than many headphones that cost significantly more. Their sturdy metal frame and velour ear pads are quite nice and they have a great neutral sound that even packs a little more bass than most open-back headphones. The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO have a similar sound profile and are a great option for those who need the added isolation of a closed-back design. Neither have a detachable cable, though, so if you’re looking for something a little more modular, consider the more premium Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO or the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO.
JBL has been known for their loudspeakers for decades and now they have a diverse lineup of headphones and earbuds suitable for various uses. Their products tend to be designed with more casual users in mind, but they have some decent noise cancelling over-ears and durable sports-oriented in-ears for travel and fitness too. Because they’re a subsidiary of Harman, their products typically follow the Harman target curve which generally results in a well-balanced, neutral sound.
The JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless are well-rounded, versatile noise cancelling headphones. They’re comfortable, feel well-built and sound very good, with lots of exciting thump and rumble. Their noise cancelling isn’t as good as what you’ll find on Bose or Sony headphones, but it’s still decent and will help cut down on disruptive ambient noise. If you prefer truly wireless earbuds, the JBL FreeX Truly Wireless are a well-designed, comfortable option for casual use while the JBL Endurance Peak Truly Wireless have a more sports-oriented design. For athletes on a budget, the JBL Endurance Sprint Wireless provide great value and are among our best-sounding wireless earbuds too.
Founded by two pilots in 1961, American company Plantronics have done it all, from aviation headsets to gaming rigs. They have a diverse line-up of headphones that tend to be quite reasonably priced. Although we’ve only reviewed 6 Plantronics headphones so far, the ones we’ve tested tend to have a great combination of active features and provide very good value for their price. The BackBeat line-up features great physical controls, long-lasting batteries, and decent sound too.
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless are our most recommended mid-range over-ear headphones. They’re wireless noise cancelling headphones with an outstanding 30-hour battery life. They have an exciting sound profile with a lot of rumbling bass, but still sound balanced overall. They support low latency Bluetooth codecs like aptX(LL) and have an exceptional wireless range which makes them a good choice for office use. There’s also the wireless Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless which have less effective noise cancelling but a more neutral sound profile. One of the sports models we’ve tested, the Plantronics BackBeat Fit Wireless, have a unique design that lets in enough ambient noise for outdoor runners to safely listen to music while remaining aware of their surroundings.
Also known as Beats by Dr. Dre, the American audio company founded by rapper Dr. Dre and producer Jimmy Iovine in 2006 produce stylish and fashion-forward designs. The first Beats headphones were known for being notoriously bass-heavy; however, since being acquired by Apple Inc. in 2014, recent models deliver better-balanced sound. Beats headphones are still expensive and may not provide the best value for everyone, but the brand has proven itself well over the past few years and makes products likely to please those who appreciate the aesthetic.
The best Beats headphones we’ve tested are the truly wireless Beats Powerbeats Pro. They’re the best truly wireless earbuds for sports we’ve seen to date thanks to their very stable fit, efficient physical control scheme, and surprisingly well-balanced sound. Since Beats are now a subsidiary of Apple, their wireless headphones also feature Apple’s W1 or H1 chip for seamless integration with Apple devices, better battery life, and extended wireless range. If you prefer over-ear headphones, the Beats Studio 3 Wireless are very comfortable headphones that have decent adaptive noise cancelling and a satisfying bass-rich sound. They don’t sound quite as good as the wired Beats EP On-ear, though, which have surprisingly accurate audio reproduction and are among our top DJ headphones.
Jaybird was founded in 2006 by athlete Judd Armstrong who felt there was a lack of adequate sports headphones at the time. We’ve reviewed nearly every Jaybird model available to date and have found them to be indeed great sports headphones. Their headphones are compatible with the Jaybird MySound app, which is a great program that provides a fully parametric EQ along with community presets. Unfortunately, Jaybird uses a proprietary charging system that differs between models, which can be rather inconvenient, and some of their models struggle with battery life compared to the competition. Their best headphones tend to be rather expensive, but they deliver good products overall.
The best Jaybird headphones for mixed usage are the Jaybird Tarah Pro. They are our most frequently recommended headphones for sports thanks to their great build quality, comfortable earbud-like fit, and customizable sound. If you’re fine with 6 hours of battery life, the regular Jaybird Tarah Wireless are a safe bet. If you’ve got a couple of extra dollars to spare, though, the Jaybird X4 Wireless are worth getting since they come with extra fit options and a carrying pouch. For athletes who prefer a truly wireless design, there’s the Jaybird Run XT Truly Wireless which are great sports headphones overall, but they’re a bit difficult to use.
Jabra have a strong focus on business-oriented products, including headsets for offices and call centers, but also provide consumer products as well. Their Elite line-up is designed with wireless calls in mind and feature improved microphone quality over regular Bluetooth headphones. They also have an Active series of headphones that provide great performance for sports. Like Plantronics, their pricing is in-between budget and premium ranges and feels reasonable given the quality of their products.
The Jabra Elite Active 65t are among the best wireless earbuds for running and working out we’ve tested so far. They’re well-built truly wireless in-ears with a premium matte finish and decently easy-to-use physical control scheme. If you like their truly wireless design, but need a better microphone, the Jabra Evolve 65t come with a proprietary dongle that helps enhance their mic performance. The Jabra Elite 65e, while not truly wireless, have the best mic of them all and even have decent ANC. If you like the mic and ANC quality of the 65e but prefer on-ears, the Elite 85h are a very good option, especially for office use thanks to their great sound quality and outstanding battery life.
Anker is a relatively young Chinese company that began selling budget products on Amazon in 2011. They’re known for providing relatively high-quality products at a low price and have some stellar budget in-ear models. Many of their products provide excellent value for their price; however, like many budget brands, they can be hit-or-miss at times. Their in-ear headphones tend to perform better overall than their over-ears, but most of their headphones are decent enough to be alright for most uses.
The Anker SoundBuds Curve Wireless are among our most frequently recommended earbuds and there’s no secret as to why. They’re comfortable, lightweight wireless headphones at an exceptionally low price. They sound decent, have a 13-hour battery life, and even come with a small hard carrying case. The Anker SoundCore Spirit X Wireless are a great option for those who like the Curve but find them lacking in sweat-resistance. If you’re looking for truly wireless in-ears that perform well across the board, check out the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air Truly Wireless. If you love deep, punchy bass and appreciate the benefits of ANC headphones, the Anker SoundCore Space NC are comfortable, well-built over-ear headphones with great noise isolation; however, they can sound a bit dark.
Known for making streetwear-ready headphones since 2003, Skullcandy markets stylish and trendy headphones backed by big names in extreme sports and music to fashionable youth. Many of their headphones have a more bass-heavy, exciting sound profile that caters well to hip-hop and EDM and tend to be well-received by fans of popular music. In respect to overall performance, none of their headphones blow the competition out of the water, but many of their models look good and provide decent value overall.
The Skullcandy Venue Wireless are decent headphones all around. They’re wireless ANC headphones that sound good, are fairly comfortable, feel reasonably well-built, and have a great 24-hour battery life. For those looking for cheaper over-ear headphones than the Venue without all the bells and whistles, there’s the Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless that provide good value for their basic design. They’re not the best headphones we’ve reviewed by any means, but those who appreciate their aesthetic and sound profile are sure to enjoy them. The Skullcandy Grind Wireless, on the other hand, are more remarkable headphones thanks to their surprisingly comfortable on-ear fit and great, low price. The Grind don’t sound as balanced as the Venue, but their lightweight design and softly padded earcups set them apart.
Hailing from Denmark, SteelSeries make gaming peripherals and accessories, including headphones, at various price points. Their Arctis lineup of gaming headsets are comfortable and generally well-built, with the Pro line-up feeling more premium than the more budget models. Their headsets tend to sound very good and have impressive microphone performance, which makes them worth considering for multi-player gamers especially.
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is the best gaming headset that we’ve tested yet. Not only is it great for gaming, but it’s also a very good headset for watching TV or listening to your favorite albums at home. It comes with a multifunctional base that acts not only as a wireless transmitter but also as a battery charging station, connectivity hub, and customization outlet. It only has audio and microphone support on PC and PS4, though, so Xbox One gamers will want to consider the SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless, which are similarly-designed headphones but work with Xbox Wireless. They also have Bluetooth like the Arctis Pro Wireless, which makes them a versatile choice. These headsets are expensive, though, so if you’re looking for something more affordable, the mid-range SteelSeries Arctis 7 2019 Edition Wireless or the wired SteelSeries Arctis 5 2019 Edition also provide great value.
If you’ve ever used a PC, chances are you’ve used either a Logitech mouse or keyboard. The Swiss company is known for producing computer peripherals, but also makes headsets and gaming headphones. Under the name Logitech G, they produce futuristic-looking headsets oriented towards PC gamers. In 2017, Logitech acquired Astro Gaming to add console gaming headsets to their lineup as well. The G-Suite headsets tend to be reasonably priced with lots of features for gamers, including compatibility with the ever-evolving Logitech Gaming Software/G-Hub app. Their headsets are generally bulky and tend to feel plasticky, but many of them sound very good and perform well overall.
The Logitech G933 are very good gaming headphones, especially for PC gamers. They have 3 programmable buttons that you can map in the G-Suite software to trigger desired commands and can be EQ’d to better match your needs. They have a very good boom mic and can also be used wired for added compatibility with console gaming systems. The Logitech G533 are slightly less expensive and sound better overall, but can’t be used wired, so they’re best for PC gamers dead-set on wireless gaming.
Founded in 2002, HyperX make gaming peripherals, namely gaming headsets. They’re known for their well-built, durable wired headsets with outstanding microphone performance and their versatile wireless headsets. Their headsets also tend to be quite affordable, which makes them a good choice for gamers on a budget.
The HyperX Cloud Flight are comfortable wireless gaming headphones with a versatile design. They look less flashy than the gaming headsets by Logitech or Astro and even have a detachable boom microphone that can be removed for more casual use. Their microphone performance is superb and they have a neutral, balanced sound. Their 30-hour battery life is excellent, but if you prefer not having to worry about a battery at all, the wired HyperX Cloud II are also a very good option. They’re very comfortable, well-built headphones, but have unbalanced treble.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphone brands and the best headphones available to buy for most people in various price ranges, from 15 international headphone manufacturers.
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our headphone reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.