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 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/QC35 II Wireless 2018. 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 the best we've seen, 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 Wireless. These wireless over-ear headphones are very well-built and comfortable, offer a peerless ANC system, and a listening experience tailored to the pickiest of wearers thanks to the excellent, feature-packed Sony | Headphones Connect app. If you’re looking for something a lot more portable at the expense of less-impressive noise isolation, take a look are the similarly-named Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless, very well-built truly wireless in-ears that can be tossed in your pocket or a small bag. Also consider the in-ear Sony WI-1000X Wireless, which feature an in-ear neckband design that can be used with an audio cable as well as a great ANC system. Meanwhile, the Sony WI-C310 Wireless are a good choice if you want a well-balanced sound profile and great battery life without breaking the bank.
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 a memorable experience in a quiet listening room. 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 and a stylish yet comfortable design for everyday use. Bluetooth can cause lag issues when watching videos, so you'll want to consider the Sennheiser RS 185 RF Wireless if you'd like something to watch movies or TV shows 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. These closed-back over-ears are quite comfortable and feel very durable, with a high-grade-plastic construction. Thanks to their well-honed, extremely accurate sound profile, emphasized with just a touch of extra bass, they’re an excellent choice for both critical listening and studio work. If you find them to be a tad too bulky, consider the Audio-Technica ATH-M60x, which have a marginally less balanced sound profile in exchange for a lighter on-ear design. If you want something a little cheaper but still to stay within the Audio-Technica product ecosystem, consider the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x; they don’t perform as well as the M50x or M60x, but their lower price makes them a good option if you need to buy several to outfit a new studio space.
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. Thanks to their large, generously padded ear-cups and very neutral sound profile, these open-back over-ear headphones are great for long critical listening sessions in a quiet room. They’re better-built and cheaper than some open-back offerings from other brands, although their soundstage isn’t quite as natural or expansive. If you’re looking for a more isolating listening experience for studio work, check out the closed-back Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. If wired connections aren’t your jam, the Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless provide a high-end listening experience at a high-end price, although their fit is frustratingly inconsistent.
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 Harman subsidiary, most of JBL's headphones tend to have a 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 CLUB 950NC Wireless. These Bluetooth over-ears look and feel well-built, with a high-grade plastic and metal construction. They provide a pretty well-balanced listening experience overall and a very good 25-hour battery life that should get you through a couple of long days at the office. The JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless are a good alternative, with a less neutral sound profile but a lower purchase price. 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 and impressive noise isolation. Also, take a look at the JBL LIVE 300TWS Truly Wireless if you prefer the freedom of a truly wireless design: they pack a well-balanced sound profile and solid build quality in a very portable package, not to mention a plethora of customization options in the great JBL Headphones app. 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 listening experience.
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 are also generally sound very well-balanced, 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 Wireless 2016. These Bluetooth over-ears are comfortable, well-built, and have a very easy-to-use physical control scheme. They provide a versatile listening experience, with a deep, punchy bass that’ll please fans of EDM and hip-hop without overwhelming vocals or lead instruments in other musical genres. They have an outstanding 33-hour battery life and don’t skimp out on premium features, including multi-device and NFC pairing, as well as aptX-LL support for low-latency wireless connection with compatible devices. If you don’t mind sacrificing a bit of comfort for a more streamlined design and a more neutral sound profile, take a look at the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless.
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 Truly Wireless. They’re among the best wireless earbuds for running we've tested so far thanks to their lightweight ear-hook design, which offers a stable fit even when you’re trying to set a new personal best. They also sound quite well-balanced with very well-reproduced bass and mids, so they’re a good fit for most musical genres. If you’re looking for some of that signature Beats aesthetic flair and want to drown out the commotion of your daily commute, take a look at the Beats Solo Pro Wireless, which feature an on-ear fit and active noise cancelling. The Beats Studio 3 Wireless are a good premium over-ear alternative that feature a sound profile and ANC system that adapts to the listener and their environment, albeit inconsistently. However, if battery life is your primary concern, the Beats Solo3 Wireless are hard to beat. They can sound a little boomy, but their continuous playback time of 42 hours is among the best of any pair of headphones we’ve tested so far.
Jaybird is dedicated exclusively to providing audio for athletes. They started making Bluetooth earbuds for sports in 2006 and haven't looked back since. 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 Wireless. 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, 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 Truly Wireless. These truly wireless earbuds are a great option for athletes, as they feature a very stable design, an intuitive physical control scheme, and feel very well built. They’re also IP57 rated for water protection, although we don’t test for this. They even have a rich, bass-heavy sound profile that’ll keep you motivated even during your most draining workouts, but this can be adjusted with a graphic EQ in the Jabra Sound+ app if you aren’t a fan. At 6.5 hours, their battery life isn’t quite as good as the best true wireless earbuds we’ve tested so far, but that’s somewhat mitigated by a case that holds an additional three charges. If you're willing to put up with a slightly lower IP rating, the Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless are almost identical in performance and can be had for a slightly lower price. Neither 75t variant does a great job of reducing background noise, so you might want to consider the older, less comfortable Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless if that’s a priority, as they're very good at passively reducing the hubbub of the daily grind. If you prefer the solidity of a pair of over-ear headphones, the Jabra Elite 85h Wireless deliver a very well-balanced sound profile and feel pretty sturdy, although their ANC system isn’t the best.
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 feel slightly lacking in features than 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 Upgraded 2019. They're among the best earbuds under $50 we've tested so far thanks to their remarkable 18-hour battery life, bass-heavy but distortion-free sound profile, and extremely stable ear-hook design. If you want the freedom of a truly wireless design, the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless offer great value thanks to their solid build quality and a listening experience that can be customized via a graphic EQ in the dedicated Anker Soundcore app. If you’re looking for pair of reasonably-priced over-ear headphones that’ll give your music a bit of extra zing, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless are a good choice: they have an excited sound profile, a great battery life, and feel quite comfortable.
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 Wireless. These Bluetooth over-ear headphones are pretty feature-rich, with handy add-ons like multi-device pairing, active noise cancellation, and a talk-through function, all capped off with a very good 24-hour battery life. They have a punchy, bass-heavy sound delivery that isn’t too overwhelming, which should please EDM and hip-hop listeners without alienating fans of other musical genres. If you’re hesitant about spending a fair chunk of change on a pair of Skullcandy headphones and can live without ANC, then the Skullcandy Hesh 3 Wireless might be a better option. Prefer an on-ear fit? The Skullcandy Grind Wireless offer great performance for the price, with a well-balanced sound profile and solid build quality. Meanwhile, if you want a pair of truly wireless earbuds without breaking the bank, the Skullcandy Sesh Truly Wireless are a good choice.