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 580 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 headphones with a wireless connection that we've tested are the Sony WH-1000XM4. These well-built, comfortable headphones are the upgraded version of the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, and they offer a very versatile overall performance. Their continuous battery life is longer than their predecessor, and they also come with new touch-sensitive control features that help control the amount of ambient noise you hear.
Out-of-the-box, they have a bass-heavy sound profile that adds extra thump and punch to your audio, making them well-suited to listening to bass-heavy music like EDM. There's even a graphic EQ and presets available in the Sony|Headphones Connect app, so you can customize their sound based on your preferences. They also have an outstanding noise isolation performance, so you aren't distracted by background noise during your commute or while working in a crowded office.
Unfortunately, while they're stable enough for casual listening sessions, they may fall off your ears if you wear them during your workouts. Also, like most over-ears, they're a bit bulky and may take up some space in your bag if you bring them on-the-go. Fortunately, you can fold them into a slightly more compact format, which is handy.
If you're looking for a more comfortable pair of wireless headphones, consider the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II 2018 instead. They aren't as customizable or as well-built as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, but their lightweight, well-padded design makes them amazingly comfortable. Out-of-the-box, they have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that adds a little more thump and punch to the mix. They also have an ANC feature that offers incredible noise isolation, so you aren't distracted by bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines or the sounds of people talking around you. They also last for 20 hours off of a single charge, which is excellent.
If you want a more customizable, better-built pair of headphones with longer continuous battery life, check out the Sony, but if you prefer a more comfortable fit, consider the Bose instead.
The Razer Opus are the best wireless headphones under $200 that we've tested. These comfortable, well-built headphones offer an excellent price-to-performance ratio, and their versatile performance can please lots of different listeners. They last for over 32 hours off of a single charge, so you don't have to worry about recharging them frequently.
Out-of-the-box, they have a very neutral, balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. You can also use the graphic EQ and presets in the Razer Opus app to customize their sound to your liking, which is nice. Thanks to their ANC feature, they have outstanding noise isolation, so you can focus on your music without distractions.
Unfortunately, they don't support multi-device pairing, which can be disappointing if you like to switch your audio source between your phone and your laptop frequently. Also, their integrated microphone has a just okay recording quality, so they're a mediocre choice for making phone calls. However, if you want a versatile, customizable pair of headphones at a more affordable price, they're a solid choice.
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. If you're looking for wireless earbuds with better noise isolation, consider the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless or the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless. That 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 best headphones for audiophiles that we've tested are the HiFiMan Arya. These well-built headphones are impressively comfortable, and their planar magnetic transducer may be preferred by some audiophiles. They're an amazing choice for neutral sound, and thanks to their open-back design, they have a wide, spacious soundstage.
Out-of-the-box, they have a very neutral sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different music genres. Thanks to their open-back design, they have an incredible passive soundstage performance, so you really feel immersed in your audio. They also deliver audio very consistently, so you should get consistent bass and treble delivery each time you use them.
Unfortunately, due to their open-back design, they struggle to block out background noises, and they leak a lot of sound, so they aren't really ideal to use on-the-go. They also struggle to reproduce a thumpy low-bass, though they have a more extended low-bass than the better-built Sennheiser HD 800 S. However, if you want a comfortable pair of audiophile headphones, they're still a solid choice.
The best headphones in the budget category that we've tested are the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless. These wireless over-ears are decently comfortable, and they even come with a carrying pouch. They last for an impressive 24.5 hours off of a single charge, which is great for multiple long days on-the-go.
Out-of-the-box, they have a neutral, balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content, from music to podcasts and audiobooks. There are even a few EQ presets available in the Backbeat App to help you customize their sound more to your liking. You can also use the app to adjust the ANC level between 'High', 'Low', and 'Off', which can help block out some higher-frequency background noises like the sounds of people talking.
Unfortunately, even with their ANC on, these headphones can struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines, so they aren't really ideal to wear during your commute. They also lack more premium sound enhancement features like a full graphic EQ and some users have reported that their unit's headband has cracked or broken over time. However, if you're on a tight budget, they still offer a decently versatile performance that can please lots of different listeners.
The Sony WI-C310 Wireless are the best cheap earbuds we've tested. These in-ears have a lightweight, portable build with a neckband design, and their in-line controls make it easy to adjust the volume when you're on-the-go. They're decently comfortable, and they even come with three different sizes of earbud tips to help you find the best possible fit.
They have a pretty neutral sound profile with a little extra emphasis in the bass range, so you feel the thump and punch in your audio. They also don't leak a lot of noise, and escaping audio sounds quite thin, so you can crank up the volume on your favorite tunes without really bothering nearby coworkers. They also have a continuous battery life of 17 hours, so you can enjoy multiple long listening sessions without a recharge.
Unfortunately, they don't offer an ANC feature, and they really struggle to passively isolate against bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines. They also don't have the most robust build quality, though this is typical for headphones in this price range. Still, if you're looking for a portable pair of in-ears on a budget, they're a solid pick.
Apr 08, 2021: Minor changes to the text for accuracy; no changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Mar 10, 2021: Replaced the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019 with the Sony WI-C310 Wireless as the Anker aren't widely available. Replaced the Sennheiser HD 800 S with the HiFiMan Arya as they have a more consistent audio delivery and reproduce more low-bass. Added the Sennheiser to Notable Mentions.
Feb 12, 2021: Minor changes to text and verification for accuracy. No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Jan 08, 2021: Verified picks for each category and confirmed they're in stock. Replaced the Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless with the Jabra Elite 85t Truly Wireless in Notable Mentions as the 85t have a better-balanced sound profile and better noise isolation. Added the Jabra Evolve2 85 Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Dec 04, 2020: Replaced the Mpow H10 Wireless with the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless as 'Best Budget' pick to reflect changing availability.
Nov 06, 2020: Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes to product picks.
Oct 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.
Sep 11, 2020: Added the FIIL T1X True Wireless as a Notable Mention.
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.