The 7 Best Headphones under $400
- Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
- Retest after major updates
- Easily comparable results
- No ads; unbiased reviews
Headphones in this price range deliver a good and balanced listening experience. These premium sets of headphones are either very versatile or highly specialized for critical listening. They’re well-built, well-designed, comfortable and deliver a rich and even audio reproduction. They also provide additional features like Wireless Bluetooth, active noise cancelling, unique control schemes and much more.
So far, we've tested 42 headphones under $400 and below are our recommendations for the best ones you can buy in the spring of 2018.
Best In-Ear Headphones under $400: Bose QuietControl 30
The best in-ears/earbuds we've tested under $400 are the Bose QuietControl 30. They’re comfortable, portable, stable and have a good set of active features that make them versatile enough for most use cases.
They barely leak and also isolate remarkably well, which make them a good pick for the office or if you are often commuting/traveling in noisy environments. However, the around-the-neck design won't be for everyone, and sound-wise, they struggle a bit with higher frequencies but not enough to be an issue even for more critical listeners.
Truly wireless alternative: B&O PLAY E8
If you want a truly wireless design that feels a bit more premium, then we recommend the BeoPlay E8. They have a decently well-balanced sound and a great design that looks high-end and feels durable. They do not sound quite as good as the Bose QuietControl 30 but they have a decent EQ and they're a lot more compact and easier to carry around on your person. They also isolate well in loud environments despite not being noise cancelling headphones.
They are one of the best truly wireless designs we've tested and they're versatile enough for most uses cases, including commuting and sports.
Best On-Ear Headphones under $400: Beats Solo3 Wireless
For a pair of on-ear headphones under $400, we recommend the Beats Solo3. They're better-sounding headphones than the B&W P5 Wireless, and they have a stylish and easy-to-use design identical to the of the Beats Solo 2 and similar but more compact than the Studio3 Wireless.
They’re decently comfortable and have a phenomenal battery life, quick charging capabilities, and an excellent wireless range. Overall, they should please casual and critical listeners alike, and the integration within the iOS platform thanks to the W1 chip makes them a better choice for iOS users. Unfortunately, this means you may lack some features on Android.
Better-Built Alternative: Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless
If you want a classier-looking headphone, with a better build quality than the Beats Solo 3, then get the Bowers & Wilkins P5 instead. They do not sound as good but still deliver an above-average audio reproduction that has plenty of bass.
They're incredibly sturdy and have the sleek Bowers & Wilkins design that feels premium and durable. They rarely run out of battery thanks to their great power saving feature, long battery life and relatively quick charge time.
Best Over-Ear Headphones under $400: Bose QuietComfort 35 II
We've tested 42 headphones under $400, and the best over-ear headphones are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They're a slight upgrade to the QuietComfort 35 with a bit more control over their noise cancellation feature and with Google Assistant built-in.
They're still one of the most versatile over-ears we've tested, and they do well for most use cases with strong noise cancellation for commuting and traveling. However, they do not have the customization options of the Sony WH-1000XM2 or the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. You can't EQ them, and their app feels a bit lacking. On the upside, they sound good enough that you do not really need an EQ and their comfort level and excellent isolation make them a great option for almost every listener.
Alternative for Critical Listening: HiFiMan HE-400i
If sound quality and comfort are the only things that are essential for you, then consider the HiFiMan HE-400i. They have planar magnetic drivers and open earcups that help them deliver a slightly better sound than the Sennheiser HD 650.
This makes them the best critical listening headphone under $400, especially since they are often on sale. They're not as good as the much more expensive HiFiMan Sundara and they can't compete with the versatility of the Bose QC 35 II, but if you only care about sound quality, they are the superior choice.
Gaming Alternative: Astro A50
If you mostly use your headphones at home to listen to music, game or watch movies, then the Astro 50 should be your first choice. They're not as versatile as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II since you can't use them outdoors with your mobile devices and they don't sound quite as good as the open HifiMan HE-400i. However, they still deliver a sound quality on par with pricier open headphones like the Sennheiser HD 700 or 650, and their low latency wireless connection makes them an ideal option to use with your console or TV.
They have a premium build quality, they're comfortable, breathable and come with a convenient dock to store and showcase your headphones. They also have a customizable sound through their app, which is lacking for the other top two recommendations.
- Sennheiser PXC 550. Versatile over-ear headphones packed with features. A good alternative to the Bose QC35 II but they have mediocre noise cancellation. See our review
- JBL Everest Elite 700. 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. Great isolation but slightly inconsistent wireless sound and weak headband. See our review
- Samsung Level Over Wireless. Versatile headphones with a customizable sound. Bulky design and plasticky build. See our review
- Sennheiser HD 700. A good alternative to the HE-400i. Great, open sound but can only be used for critical listening. See our review
- B&O Play H9. 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 canceling over-ears with a closed design and good sound. Average noise isolation and wired design. See our review
- Oppo PM-3. Great, sturdy build, well-balanced sound, and comfortable design. Slightly too expensive for what they offer. See our review
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones under $400 to buy for most people. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one 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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