Updated

The 7 Best Headphones under $400
Reviews

Best Headphones under $400

241 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 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

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
Show Help

Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.1
Mixed Usage
Show Help
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:
7.1
Critical Listening
Show Help
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
Show Help
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:
7.5
Sports/Fitness
Show Help
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
Show Help
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
Home Theater
Show Help
Score components:
5.2
Gaming
Show Help
Score components:
Type : Earbuds
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

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.

See our review

Truly wireless alternative: B&O PLAY E8

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

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. 

See our review

Best On-Ear Headphones under $400: Beats Solo3 Wireless

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
Show Help

Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.9
Mixed Usage
Show Help
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:
7.4
Critical Listening
Show Help
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:
6.9
Commute/Travel
Show Help
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
Show Help
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
Show Help
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
Home Theater
Show Help
Score components:
5.7
Gaming
Show Help
Score components:
Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

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.

See our review

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 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.

See our review

Best Over-Ear Headphones under $400: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
Show Help

Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.5
Mixed Usage
Show Help
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
Show Help
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:
7.8
Commute/Travel
Show Help
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
Show Help
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
Show Help
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
Home Theater
Show Help
Score components:
5.6
Gaming
Show Help
Score components:
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

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.

See our review

Alternative for Critical Listening: HiFiMan HE-400i

Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Open-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : No
Transducer : Planar Magnetic

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.

See our review

Gaming Alternative: Astro A50

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

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.

See our review

Notable Mentions

  • 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

All Reviews

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. 

Questions Found an error?

Let us know what is wrong in this question or in the answer.

Email:

Questions & Answers

1 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
0
This was stated about the Astro A50's "However, they still deliver a sound quality on par with pricier open headphones like the Sennheiser HD 700 or 650" --This struck me as a bot odd, A50's really sound as good as HD 700's?
We tested the A50 with their "Studio" EQ setting, and with that setting they do have a better frequency response than the HD 700. However, HD 700 has a better soundstage. Overall the A50 would be more neutral/accurate sounding. It also has a pretty good EQ, so you can further adjust its response to your liking.
Questions Have a question?

Before asking a question, make sure you use the search function of our website. The majority of the answers are already here.

Current estimated response time, based on # of pending questions: 3.9 business days.

:
:
A valid email is required. We answer most questions directly by email to prevent cluttering the site.