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 own 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 83 brands so far, and below are our recommendations for the 15 best headphone 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 case or specialty, keeping brands with similar audiences together to make it easier to find what best suits your needs.
The Bose Corporation 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 best Bose headphones for mixed usage are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They are among our most-recommended over-ear headphones and perform very well across the board. They’re comfortable, sound great, and have impressive noise isolation. The Bose QuietControl 30 are more portable travel earbuds with a comfortable neckband design and equally great noise cancelling. 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 especially for sports headphones.
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 definitely a brand worth considering overall.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless are well-built, premium wireless over-ear headphones with outstanding active noise cancelling (ANC). They have a more bass-heavy audio reproduction that sounds decent out-of-the-box but can be fine-tuned in the Sony | Headphones Connect app if you’re looking for a different sound profile. The Sony WI-1000X 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 note-worthy 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.
Though we’ve only tested 5 Beyerdynamic headphones so far, the company has a wide range of products, from wireless sports in-ears to broadcasting headsets. We’ve only tested their studio and audiophile over-ear models, so we can’t vouch for the quality of their in-ears or gaming headsets. That said, their headphones are still made in Germany to this day and all the models we’ve seen all feel built to last. Beyerdynamic’s DT PRO line-up has products that feel high-end without costing a fortune. Many of their headphones tend to sound a bit sibilant but are well-balanced overall and generally easy to recommend.
The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO are open-back studio headphones that sound great. They have a sturdy, durable metal frame and come with soft velour earpads. The 990 PRO provide excellent value for their price, but those craving even more premium headphones can check out the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO – they sound slightly better overall and have a detachable cable. If you need closed-back headphones for studio recording, the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO and the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 PRO also sound great and are more versatile overall since they have better isolation performance.
While JBL has been traditionally better known for their innovative loudspeakers and amplifiers, today they manufacture a wide range of headphones. Since the company was sold to Harman in 1969, their products are tuned to the Harman target curve and tend to have good audio fidelity. As a household brand, their products are geared more towards casual users, with products ranging from sports-oriented in-ears to stylish over-ear headphones.
The JBL Everest 710 are well-built wireless over-ear headphones that are very comfortable and reasonably priced. They have great audio reproduction, as most of the JBL headphones we’ve tested do, and sound good overall. They have an outstanding 31-hour battery life, support multi-device pairing and have a unique Bluetooth audio sharing feature, which are all great features considering their price. If you prefer more compact headphones, the JBL Free X are well-designed truly wireless in-ears with a nice hard case that keeps them charged all day. For athletes, the JBL Endurance Peak are a truly wireless design with a more durable rubberized finish. The similarly designed wireless JBL Endurance Sprint are frequently recommended for the great value they provide and are among our best-sounding earbuds.
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 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 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 Beats Studio 3 Wireless are very comfortable, wireless over-ear headphones with adaptive noise cancelling. They sound decent, like the similarly designed on-ear Beats Solo3, but not as good as the wired Beats EP On-Ear, which have surprisingly accurate audio reproduction. The Beats BeatsX Wireless are easy-to-use wireless in-ears with great passive isolation and the Powerbeats3 Wireless are great sports headphones with an impressive wireless design. Since Beats are now a subsidiary of Apple, their wireless headphones feature Apple’s W1 or H1 chip for seamless integration with Apple devices, better battery life, and extended wireless range.
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 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 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 sports headphones we’ve tested so far. They’re well-built, durable truly wireless in-ears with a premium matte finish that feels as good as it looks. They’re rated IP 56 for superior dust and water resistance and are easier-to-use than most truly wireless headphones thanks to their physical control scheme. If you like the truly wireless design of the Elite 65t but require better microphone performance, the Jabra Evolve 65t come with a proprietary dongle that helps enhance the integrated mic. The Jabra Elite 65e, while not truly wireless, have the best mic performance of them all and also feature a competent noise cancellation feature that helps make them a great choice for business people on-the-go.
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 use cases.
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 SoundBuds 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. 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.
SteelSeries are a Danish company known for their gaming peripherals and accessories. Although we’ve only tested 4 models from their current lineup of gaming headphones, the Arctis headphones are in generally well-built products with great sound. They all have a ski-goggle inspired headband with an adjustable Velcro fit that’s quite comfortable but may not stretch enough to accommodate all head sizes equally well. Their more premium models are on the pricey side, but they deliver exceptional performance, making SteelSeries a brand worth recommending.
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless are among the best gaming headphones we’ve ever tested. They have outstanding audio reproduction with a clear and neutral sound and a remarkable boom microphone that sounds detailed and full. They come with a wireless USB transmitter and support Bluetooth as well, which makes them more versatile than most gaming headsets. The Arctis Pro Wireless can mix audio from both sources, which is perfect for console gamers, and have a dual-battery system that ensures you’re never without power. For those who prefer a wired gaming experience, the Arctis Pro GameDAC are the first Hi-Res certified gaming headphones on the market and come with a digital-to-audio converter (DAC) that allows you to EQ your headphones on-the-fly.
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.