A great pair of headphones shouldn't only sound rich and balanced but should also be comfortable, versatile, well-built, and feature-packed. While you can get some surprisingly decent budget models, the best headphones tend to come packed with more features, like active noise cancelling (ANC), dedicated companion apps for customization, multi-device pairing, and NFC compatibility. While less expensive pairs of headphones tend to miss out on some of these premium features, you can still find some well-rounded and versatile options that provide great value.
We've tested over 510 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones you can buy. See our recommendations for the best Bluetooth earbuds, the best wireless headphones, and the best noise cancelling headphones.
The best wireless headphones that we've tested are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. These well-built over-ears have a premium look and an outstanding noise isolation performance. They're the upgraded version of the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, and they come with a longer continuous battery life, additional touch-sensitive control features, and allow for multi-device pairing.
Their default sound profile is bass-heavy, so you really feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. If you prefer a different sound, you can customize them using the graphic EQ and presets available in the Sony | Headphones Connect app. The app also allows you to turn on the ANC feature, which is incredible at blocking out background noises typically found during your commute or while working in a noisy office.
Unfortunately, their integrated microphone doesn't have the best recording quality, so your voice may sound a bit thin or muffled to whoever's on the other end of the line. They also don't have the most stable fit, so you may not want to wear them during your workout. That said, they have a decently versatile overall performance that can please many different listeners.
If you're looking for a great pair of wireless headphones with a very comfortable fit, consider the Bose QuietComfort 35 II instead. While they don't come with as many customization features as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, the Bose are lightweight and well-padded, so they're a great choice for long listening sessions. Their default sound profile is more neutral than the Sony, but still suitable for lots of different types of audio content. Their ANC feature does an outstanding job isolating against background noises, so you can wear them during your commute without being distracted by the sounds around you. They have a 20-hour continuous battery life, and you can pair them with up to two devices at the same time, too.
If you prefer a more customizable pair with more features, check out the Sony, but if you prefer a more comfortable pair of headphones, consider the Bose instead.
The Razer Opus are the best wireless headphones under $200 that we've tested. These comfortable, well-built headphones offer a good price-to-performance ratio thanks to their versatility. With an over 32-hour continuous battery life, they're great for long days on the go, too.
Overall, they have a neutral, balanced sound profile that's suited for a wide variety of audio content. You can even customize their sound with the graphic EQ and presets available in their companion app. Their ANC feature is outstanding at isolating against background noise, too, so you can enjoy your favorite songs without interruption.
Unfortunately, their microphone doesn't have the best recording quality, and it really struggles to separate your voice from background noises. They also don't support multi-device pairing, which some users may find inconvenient. However, these are still a solid pair of headphones for anyone shopping on a budget.
The best wireless earbuds that we've tested are the Samsung Galaxy Buds+. These lightweight, well-built earbuds have a comfortable and stable fit, so you can use them for long listening sessions without feeling a lot of fatigue. Overall, they have a decently versatile performance that should appeal to many different listeners.
They have a very neutral, well-balanced sound profile that makes them suitable for a wide variety of music genres. Thanks to their companion app, you can even customize the sound to your liking using the five different EQ presets. Also, they have an impressive battery life of over 13 hours off of a single charge, making them ideal to use while you're on the go.
Unfortunately, they don't have the best noise isolation performance, and they'll likely struggle to block out the deep rumble and roar of airplane engines or subway cars. That being said, overall, these are the best truly wireless headphones that we've tested and are a great choice if you want a wireless pair of earbuds.
If you're looking for a pair of earbuds to use while at the gym, consider the Jaybird Tarah Pro instead. While the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless have a slightly better-balanced sound out-of-the-box, these earbuds still have a decently neutral sound profile that's compatible with most genres of music. You can even use the parametric EQ and presets in the companion app to adjust their sound based on your preferences. Overall, they have a very stable in-ear fit, so you won't have to worry about them falling out of your ears during your workout. They last over 13 hours off of a single charge, which is great for athletes on the go. That said, their around-the-neck cable design isn't truly wireless and may not be ideal for some listeners.
If you're looking for truly wireless earbuds with a more neutral sound out-of-the-box, go with the Samsung, but if you want earbuds with a more stable fit for exercising, go with the Jaybird instead.
The Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best headphones for audiophiles that we've tested. They're premium and designed for critical listening, and it shows. They have a comfortable design that's padded with a suede-like material to keep you from feeling fatigued over the course of long listening sessions, and they have reference-quality audio reproduction.
They have a remarkably accurate and well-balanced sound profile, although those who prefer a bit more thump and rumble in their mixes may find their sound to be a bit lacking in the bass-range. Thanks to their open-back design, they're able to create a wide and spacious soundstage that can help further immerse you in your audio. Their build quality feels durable as they're made from high-grade plastic as well as sturdy metal, and they also come with a detachable TRS cable, which is easily replaceable should it get damaged.
Unfortunately, they have a hefty price tag, and even then, you still need to have a powerful amplifier to run them. As they're open-back, they work best when used in dedicated listening rooms because they leak audio and don't block out any background noise. That said, if you're looking for the best listening experience out there regardless of the price, these are among the best audiophile headphones we've tested, and they're worth their high price.
The best headphones in the budget category that we've tested are the Mpow H10. These noise cancelling headphones are very well-padded and should be comfortable enough to wear for long periods. With a decently neutral sound and an impressive battery life, they offer great value for their performance.
Overall, their adequately neutral sound profile should be versatile enough for many music genres. They pack a bit of extra punch in the bass range, which should please fans of bass-heavy music like EDM and hip-hop. Thanks to their ANC feature, you can also use them to block out background noise from your office or your commute.
Unfortunately, these slightly plasticky headphones don't have the most premium feel, and they can leak a bit of noise when you play your music at louder volumes. That being said, they offer a decent overall performance that should please many everyday, casual listeners.
The Anker Soundbuds Curve Upgraded 2019 are the best cheap earbuds that we've tested. At this price point, they deliver a versatile performance for most casual uses. They also pack over 18 hours of continuous battery life, which should easily last you through a typical work day or a commute without pausing to recharge them.
While they're balanced enough for most genres, fans of EDM or hip-hop may especially appreciate the extra bass added to their mixes. Thanks to their small size, you can easily store them in your pockets when not in use, and their comfortable fit means you can wear them for multiple hours without feeling fatigued. They're great for sports since they're stable enough to stay in your ears while you move, and they even have an IPX7 rating for water resistance, although we don't currently test this feature.
However, they don't have a companion app, so you won't be able to customize their sound. The thin cable connecting the left and right earbuds is also a weak spot of the design, and it feels prone to wear and tear. Luckily, should anything break, their affordable price makes them easy to replace, which is nice.
10/09/2020: Replaced the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 with the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. Named the Bose QC35 II as a More Comfortable Alternative. Replaced the Jaybird Vista Truly Wireless with the Sony WH-1000XM3 as a Notable Mention.
09/11/2020: Added the FIIL T1X True Wireless as a Notable Mention.
08/12/2020: Replaced the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless with the Mpow H10 Wireless to reflect pricing changes.
07/13/2020: Added Razer Opus as "Best Wireless Headphones Under $200".
05/15/2020: Changed wireless earbuds alternative from 'sports' to 'working out' for consistency.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones in the world for most people to buy. 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 headphone reviews. 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.