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The 7 Best Headphones Under $400 - Spring 2019
Reviews

Best Headphones Under $400
370 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

Headphones in this price range tend to have more premium features, like multi-device pairing, NFC compatibility, active noise cancelling, unique control schemes, or compatibility with customizable companion apps. The best headphones under $400 should not only have a variety of features, but should be comfortable, well-built, and provide a rich and balanced listening experience.

So far, we've tested 331 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best earphones under $400 you can buy in 2019. See also our recommendations for the best wireless headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones, and the best Bluetooth earbuds

  1. Best Over-Ear Headphones Under $400: Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.4
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.9
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.7
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    7.1
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    7.8
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    6.0
    TV
    Score components:
    5.6
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best over-ear headphones under $400 that we've tested so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. The QC 35 II are versatile wireless headphones that are remarkably comfortable and have a simple, tactile control scheme that’s responsive and easy-to-use.

    The Bose QuietComfort 35 II sound great and have impressive noise isolation. They can connect to two devices simultaneously, which is great for office use since switch between two paired devices without having to reconnect each time. They have a great 20-hour battery life and feature an auto-off timer to help save even more power. They can also be used passively, without noise cancelling, when the battery dies as long as you have the provided 1/16" TRRS cable on you.

    The QuietComfort 35 II don’t feel as premium or well-built as the Bowers & Wilkins PX, nor do they have the customization options of the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless, but they still deliver a great overall experience. They’re comfortable to wear for long amounts of time and sound balanced enough that you likely won’t even need an EQ. If you're looking for hassle-free headphones that just work, then the Bose QC 35 II are an excellent choice.

    See our review

  2. More Customizable Alternative: Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you want wireless noise cancelling headphones like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II but find their lack of customization options a bit limiting, then get the Sony WH-1000XM3. They’re not quite as comfortable as the Bose QC 35 II, but they come with a much better app that gives you a lot more control over their active features. You can tweak their sound profile to better match your taste and listening preferences with a good 5-band EQ and room effects. Their noise cancelling performance is also slightly better than that of the QuietComfort 35 II, and you can calibrate it for the level of ambient noise in your environment, which gives you a bit more flexibility.

    Unfortunately, the Sony WH-1000XM3 have a touch-sensitive control scheme that doesn’t work very well in freezing temperatures, which can be frustrating for those who live in colder climates. They also don’t sound as neutral or as balanced as the QuietComfort 35 II out-of-the-box, since they have a bit more bass which makes them sound slightly boomier overall. However, some may prefer their more pronounced bass, especially those who listen to bass-heavy music genres. If you're the type to dive into your headphone settings to make them sound just the way you like and you don’t mind the temperature sensitivity of their controls, the Sony WH-1000XM3 are a better choice than the Bose QC 35 II.

    See our review

  3. Alternative For Gaming And Home Theatre: SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re a gamer looking for a high-end wireless gaming headset to complete your home theatre setup, then get the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. They’re bulkier headphones than the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and they aren’t noise cancelling, but they can be used wirelessly with Bluetooth or with their low-latency USB transmitter for added versatility. You can even mix audio from both wireless sources at the same time, which is great if you like to chat with your friends on your smartphone while playing console games. The Arctis Pro Wireless sound great, have an excellent retractable boom microphone, and come with two swappable, rechargeable batteries so you never run out of power.

    Unfortunately, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless don’t have full wireless audio and microphone support on the Xbox One. If you’re an Xbox gamer, consider the Astro A50 with the Xbox One + PC Platform. They’re fully compatible with the Xbox One and are slightly more comfortable. However, if you’re a PC or PS4 gamer looking for one pair of headphones to do it all, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless are hard to beat.

    See our review

  4. Best On-Ear Headphones Under $400: Marshall MID ANC Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.0
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.6
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.0
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    7.2
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    7.0
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    6.0
    TV
    Score components:
    5.7
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : On-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you prefer on-ear headphones for their portability, then get the Marshall MID ANC. They’re not as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and their noise cancelling isn’t as good, but they have a simple, stylish design that’s more compact. They’re well-built and have a unique control scheme that’s efficient and easy to use.

    The Marshall MID ANC are the best sounding wireless on-ears we've tested so far. They have very good audio reproduction and are well-suited to a wide range of music genres. They can sound a bit sharp on brighter tracks, but they have an otherwise versatile and well-balanced sound.

    The Marshall MID ANC have a good 17-hour battery life, but it doesn’t rival the outstanding 42-hour battery life of the Beats Solo3 Wireless. If you want your headphones to last as long as possible before needing to be charged, the Solo3 are a good pick; however, the Marshall MID ANC are slightly better headphones overall thanks to their versatile sound and competent control scheme.

    See our review

  5. Better-Built Alternative: Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless

    Type : On-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you want more premium-looking headphones that have an even better build quality than the Marshall MID ANC, then go for the Bowers & Wilkins P5. They don’t sound quite as good as the Marshall MID ANC but they have a more durable and high-end feel than any of the on-ears we've tested so far. Their battery life is nearly the same as that of the Marshall MID ANC, but they have an auto-off timer that helps conserve power.

    The Bowers & Wilkins P5 aren’t noise cancelling headphones, so they don’t perform as well as the Marshall MID ANC in louder environments. However, if you really care about the look and feel of your headphones, and also want a portable design that's a bit more travel-friendly than the bulky over-ears on this list, then the P5 wireless are a decent pick.

    See our review

  6. Best In-Ear Headphones Under $400: Bose QuietControl 30/QC30 Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.1
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.0
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.5
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    7.6
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    7.4
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    5.6
    TV
    Score components:
    5.3
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Earbuds
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you want effective noise cancelling headphones but need something a bit more portable for traveling, then get the Bose QuietControl 30. They don’t sound quite as good as the Marshall MID ANC or the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but they’re portable enough to have on you at all times, especially if you tuck the neckband under your shirt.

    The Bose QuietControl 30 have a comfortable earbud design with very good active noise cancelling. They effectively isolate disruptive noises in loud environments without leaking much sound, which makes them a decent choice for office use and good travel headphones. They have a balanced sound and are suitable for most genres of music.

    Although the Bose QuietControl 30 have a decent battery, they don’t last as long as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II on a single charge, but this is to be expected for earbuds. If you're looking for versatile, comfortable earbuds, the QuietControl 30 are the way to go.

    See our review

  7. Truly Wireless Alternative: B&O PLAY Beoplay E8 Truly Wireless 2018

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Truly Wireless
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you prefer truly wireless in-ears, check out the B&O PLAY E8 2.0. They don't sound quite as good as the QC 30 but they have a premium, high-end design that feels durable and looks great. They provide 4.5 hours of continuous playback on a single charge, which isn’t bad for truly wireless headphones, and their charging case provides 2 additional for a total of 12 hours of battery life, which should be enough for most.

    They’re not noise cancelling like the Bose QuietControl 30, so they don’t block as much noise loud conditions, but they have one of the best truly wireless designs we've seen. They sound decent and are versatile enough for most use cases, including travel and sports.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones: A versatile over-ear with great noise cancelling and easy to use controls. Does not quite surpass the WH-1000XM3 or Bose QC 35. See our review
  • Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless:  Versatile over-ear headphones packed with features. A good alternative to the Bose QC 35 II but they have mediocre noise cancellation. See our review
  • Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless: Excellent noise cancelling and great design. A good alternative to the Bose QC 35 II and Sony WH-1000XM3 but less comfortable. See our review
  • JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless: Versatile headphones with a customizable sound and a great companion app. Bulky design that's slightly too tight on the head. See our review
  • Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless: Great isolation and good design; a solid alternative to the WH-1000XM3 if you're on a tighter budget. See our review
  • Samsung Level Over Wireless:  Versatile headphones with a customizable sound. Bulky design and plasticky build. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 650: A good, open sound but can only be used for critical listening. See our review
  • B&O PLAY Beoplay H9 Wireless: Great build and good audio quality. A bit too expensive compared to other headphones with more features in this price range. See our review
  • Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC: Well built noise cancelling over-ears with a closed design and good sound. Average noise isolation and wired design. See our review
  • Sony WH-H900N/h.ear on 2 Wireless:  A well-designed noise cancelling headphone with well-balanced sound quality. Mediocre at best isolation and worse in most aspects than the WH-1000XM2. See our review
  • AKG N700NC Wireless: A great sounding wireless noise cancelling headphone. Noise cancelling not quite as good as the competition and their somewhat odd design won't be for everyone. See our review
  • Audeze Mobius: A unique headset with DSP aided soundstage for a VR like experience. Good for gaming but only decent for casual use. See our review
  • V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless:  A solid and well designed wireless headset with a cool look. No noise cancellation and a slightly short battery life make them a bit pricey for what they have to offer. See our review
  • Astro A50 Wireless: Great gaming headphones with impressive sound and convenient charging dock. Worthwhile alternative to the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless for Xbox gamers. See our review
  • Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless: Very well-built wireless on-ears with a great battery but aren't quite as versatile as the Marshall MID ANC. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best earphones under $400 to buy for most people. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones wins over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for headphones under $400. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no ideal headphones. Personal tastes, preferences, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.

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