The best headphones should be comfortable, well-built, and provide a rich and balanced listening experience. More high-end headphones tend to come with a variety of premium features, like multi-device pairing, NFC compatibility, active noise cancelling, unique control schemes, or compatibility with customizable companion apps. Less expensive headphones tend to have less unique features, but there are still lots of well-rounded, versatile options that are satisfying to use.
So far, we've tested over 400 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best headphones you can buy in 2020. See our recommendations for the best Bluetooth earbuds, the best wireless headphones, and the best noise cancelling headphones.
The best headphones we've tested so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. These wireless noise cancelling headphones have the best blend of comfort, sound quality, noise isolation, and battery life we've seen to date.
These headphones have an impressively well-balanced sound profile that delivers the deep rumble and punch that fans of bass crave while still sounding clear and detailed. Their impressive sound quality can shine even more thanks to their outstanding active noise cancelling feature, which helps isolate ambient noise remarkably well whether you're in the office or on an international flight. Most people can wear these headphones for hours on end with very little fatigue or discomfort too, and their battery performance has no problems keeping up.
Unfortunately, their companion app pales in comparison to what some of the other premium headphones on the market have to offer. You can adjust the noise cancelling, auto-off timer, and access an in-app music player, but there are no sound customization options, which is a bit disappointing. That said, they have other useful features like NFC support and multi-device pairing that other models are lacking.
If being able to customize your headphones is a must, consider the Sony WH-1000XM3. They're not quite as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018, but their excellent great mobile app, Sony | Headphones Connect, provides a whole bunch of customizable features. There's everything from preset sound profiles to a graphic EQ, active noise cancelling control, room effects, button mapping, and even different audio codec options. All this will come in handy if you're not a fan of their default sound signature, which is on the bass-heavy side. One area of weakness is in regards to the touch controls; they work fine under normal conditions, but are difficult to use in colder climates.
If you want a pair of headphones that are great out of the box, the Bose are better, but for the ability to customize your headphones, go with the Sony.
The best wireless earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Jaybird Tarah Pro. Their braid cable and light design makes them easily portable, making them among the best wireless earbuds we're currently reviewed.
These solidly built, sports-oriented headphones are very stable, thanks to their in-ear design and stability fins. While they have a decently well-balanced sound profile, if you don't like it, the Jaybird MySound companion app comes with a parametric EQ plus presets so that you can find the best mix for your music. They also come with a power-saving feature: when you magnetically snap the earbuds together, they'll turn off after 15 minutes.
Unfortunately, they use a proprietary charging cradle, so you won't be able to borrow a friend's micro-USB cable to charge them in a pinch. However, their 13-hour battery life should be more than enough to get you through your work day or workout. If you like their wireless look, these versatile earbuds will be a good choice.
The best true wireless earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless. A decent improvement over the Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless, this newest generation has better battery life and an additional charge in the case, making them a great choice for those who don't like the corded look or feel.
With their sleek white design, they're quite comfortable and stable in-ear, especially because they don't sit deeply in the ear canal, making them great for sports. Extremely well-balanced, these earbuds are great for neutral listening. If you want to tweak it a little more, the companion app offers EQ presets too. Their 13.5-hour battery life should also help you get through your work day or workout without having to charge them. These earbuds also come in four color variants if you want to match your headphones to your aesthetic.
Just like most truly wireless earbuds, they have a mediocre microphone. It struggles to separate speech from background noise, particularly in loud environments, but you should still be heard somewhat clearly. The touch controls are also disappointing: they're fairly sensitive, so you might accidentally press a button when you don't mean to. However, these truly wireless earbuds are a great choice if you're looking to go fully cordless.
The best audiophile headphones that we’ve tested so far are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. With their excellent audio reproduction and their neutral, balanced sound profile, these are a great choice for those who want the best sound from their headphones.
These are top-of-the-line reference-class headphones: their open-back design encourages a wide and spacious soundstage that can really immerse you in your audio without the use of loudspeakers. Their premium build quality also provides a comfortable listening experience for most users thanks to the suede-like material on the ear cups. Right out of the box, they have a balanced sound profile although the bass is a little shy and the mids are slightly muddy. Still, these headphones are great for a variety of genres and can provide an excellent listening experience.
Unfortunately, they're a significant investment. You’ll need to drive them with a powerful amplifier, and you may want a dedicated EQ if you prefer a bit more bass. They'll also benefit greatly from a quiet listening room as their open-back design encourages sound leakage and provides very little noise isolation. However, if you're looking for an exceptional listening experience that you can relive time and time again, these are among the best audiophile headphones we've tested so far.
The best budget wireless headphones we've tested so far are the Mixcder E9. They sound decent for the price and are much better constructed than similarly priced over-ear headphones, making them a suitable choice if you're trying to keep your expenses low.
While their sound profile is suited for a wide variety of audio genres, fans of EDM and hip-hop will especially enjoy its excellent bass which brings an extra touch of thump and rumble to the mix. These headphones are also quite comfortable with a well-built yet lightweight design that makes them feel much more premium than most headphones we've tested in this price range. They offer a great control scheme with large, clicky buttons that allow you to play/pause, adjust volume, skip tracks, and take calls.
While they provide ANC, it doesn't work nearly as well as some of the competition. However, because they don't leak much sound, you should be able to raise your volume to mask ambient noise without bothering people around you. Overall, these are a decent pair of headphones that offer good sound quality and alright noise cancellation with satisfactory build quality.
The best cheap wireless earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Anker Soundbuds Curve Upgraded 2019. They provide outstanding value for their price thanks to their exciting bass-rich sound and versatile design.
They’re more comfortable than most in-ear headphones we’ve tested, and have stable ear-hooks that help keep them securely in place. While these earbuds have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile, they'll still be suitable for most genres. Their battery provides over 18 hours of continuous playback, which is quite impressive, even among more premium wireless earbuds. If you like to run or work out, these earbuds are also rated IPX7 for water resistance, although we don't currently test this.
Like most budget headphones, there's no companion app, so you won't have access to any customizable features and you'll need to use a third-party EQ if you want to change the way they sound. They also can’t be paired with multiple devices, which means you’ll need to reconnect them every time you switch between your laptop and smartphone. However, for their price point, these headphones perform exceptionally well and are versatile for most uses.
03/18/2020: Replaced Samsung Galaxy Buds with Samsung Galaxy Buds+. Removed some alternative picks for a more comfortable article length.
02/17/2020: Removed "Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds" category, changed Anker SoundBuds Curve for Upgraded 2019 model, updated text.
01/13/2020: Removed Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee, removed Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2, removed SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. Minor text and structure changes.
12/05/2019: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
11/07/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.
10/11/2019: Added Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 as a cheaper alternative to our main pick, replaced the Jabra Elite Active 65t with the Jaybird Vista, and changed the Mpow H10 to the Mixcder E9.
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.