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 340 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best headphones you can buy in 2019. 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 so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They’re remarkably comfortable and have a simple, tactile control scheme that’s responsive and easy-to-use. They sound great and can connect to two devices simultaneously, which is great for office use since you can switch between two paired devices without having to reconnect each time. They have a great 20-hour battery life and feature an auto-off timer to help save even more power. They can also be used passively, without noise cancelling, when the battery dies as long as you have the provided 1/16" TRRS cable on you.
Unfortunately, their noise cancelling got weaker after a recent firmware update. If your unit hasn’t yet updated to version 4.5.2, you’ll likely find the noise isolation to be great, but after this update it worsens considerably. That said, they still have good noise cancelling even after the update and continue to deliver a great overall experience thanks to their comfortable fit and well-balanced sound. If you're looking for hassle-free headphones that just work, then these are a great choice.
If you prefer more customizable wireless headphones, then get the Sony WH-1000XM3. They’re not quite as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but they have better noise cancelling and their companion app gives you a lot more control over their active features. Unfortunately, their touch-sensitive controls don’t work very well in freezing temperatures, which can be frustrating for those who live in colder climates. They also sound a bit boomy right out-of-the-box, but some may prefer their more pronounced bass, especially those who listen to bass-heavy music genres. All-in-all, these are among the best noise cancelling headphones we’ve tested and are a great choice if you enjoy diving into your headphone settings to make them sound just the way you like.
The best wireless earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Jaybird Tarah Pro. They’re sports-oriented earbuds that are rated IPX7 for superior water resistance and have rotating earbuds so you can find the most stable yet comfortable fit for you. They’re very well-built with a smooth braided cable and curved in-line remote that’s easy-to-use. They have magnetic earbuds that snap together for easier cable management and, in doing so, trigger an auto-off timer that helps extend their 13-hour battery life. They sound decent and are compatible with the Jaybird MySound app, which provides access to a great parametric EQ, community presets, button mapping options, and dedicated Spotify playlists for athletes.
On the downside, like most Jaybird headphones, they use a proprietary charging cradle that can’t be used with any other device except these headphones. This means that if you leave the charger at home, you won’t be able to just borrow a micro-USB cable off your friends or colleagues, which can be annoying. That said, it’s a small price to pay for these otherwise very-well performing wireless earbuds.
The best true wireless earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Samsung Galaxy Buds. They’re quite comfortable for truly wireless in-ear headphones and have a compact, portable design that makes them great for use on-the-go. They have great audio reproduction out-of-the-box and are compatible with the Samsung Wearable app, which provides a couple of EQ presets so you can slightly customize the way they sound. They have a decent 7.5-hour battery life, which is surprisingly good for truly wireless earbuds, and their charging case even provides an extra charge so they can last all day.
Unfortunately, the Samsung Wearable app is only available on Android, so iOS users won’t be able to access their customizable features. This can be disappointing to fans of bass who use an iPhone, since these headphones are a little bass-shy and can only be EQ’d on Android. In addition, volume controls are also only available via the button-mapping feature in the app, so iOS users are stuck with the default control scheme. That said, they’re the best wireless earbuds for Android that we’ve tested so far thanks to their comfortable fit and solid performance.
If you’re looking for well-built, durable earbuds for working out, then get the Jabra Elite Active 65t; they’re the best truly wireless earbuds for running that we’ve tested so far. They’re not as comfortable as the Samsung Galaxy Buds but feel better-built, especially for use while working out. They look and feel like premium earbuds with a smooth matte finish and are rated IP56 for dust and water resistance. Like the Samsung, they have great audio reproduction but are a little bass-light; thankfully, their companion app is available on both Android and iOS, so more people can benefit from their EQ. They provide 5 hours of continuous playback though, which is decent, and you can charge them 2 more times throughout the day in their charging case. However, they are rather bulky; their earbuds are quite large and don’t fit as well in everyone’s ears. That said, if you find them comfortable, they’re great in-ears for sports.
The best audiophile headphones that we’ve tested so far are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. They’re top-of-the-line reference class headphones that sound outstanding and are the best headphones for soundstage that we’ve tried to date. They have excellent audio reproduction and a neutral, balanced sound profile that caters well to music of all genres. They’re a little shy on bass and sound a bit bright overall, but they don’t sound as sharp or piercing as other open-back headphones we’ve tested.
While they sound superb, 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 also benefit greatly from a quiet listening room since their open-back design encourages sound leakage and provides very little noise isolation. If you’re looking for headphones that sound nearly just as good but that aren’t as expensive, then consider the HiFiMan Ananda. They don’t sound quite as spacious as the Sennheiser, but they pack a touch more thump and rumble That said, HiFiMan don’t have the quality control of a brand like Sennheiser, and some of their units are prone to manufacturing defects. All things considered, if you have the right setup and they fit within your budget, the Sennheiser provide an exceptional listening experience that you’ll want to relive time and time again.
If you’re looking for great-sounding headphones that won’t break the bank, then get the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. They don’t have the same spacious soundstage of the Sennheiser HD 800 S, but they still have an impressively well-balanced sound with excellent audio reproduction. They feel very well-built, especially for their price, with a durable metal frame and soft velour earpads that helps give them a rather premium look. Unfortunately, their cable isn’t detachable, so you won’t be able to swap it out for a shorter one or replace it if it breaks. If you prefer a closed-back design and are looking for better studio headphones, the Audio-Technica ATH M50x are a great choice. They come with three detachable cable options and can be folded into a more compact format. However, they don’t have the openness of the Beterdynamic, so if you prefer a more spacious sound, they are hard to beat at this price.
The best gaming headset that we’ve tested so far is the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless. They come with a great base transmitter that has lots of input and connectivity options, as well as a bunch of customizable features at your fingertips. The transmitter provides a low-latency wireless connection for gaming, and the headphones themselves support Bluetooth, so you can even chat on your smartphone while playing your favorite game. They have impressive sound quality with a very neutral frequency response that’s great not only for video games but also for TV and movies. They have a great boom microphone and come with two swappable, rechargeable batteries so you never run out of power.
Unfortunately, they don’t have full wireless audio and microphone support on the Xbox One. If you’re an Xbox gamer, consider the Astro A50 with the Xbox One + PC Platform. They’re fully compatible with the Xbox One and are slightly more comfortable. However, if you prefer being able to use your headset with Bluetooth too, you might want to check out the SteelSeries 9X, which are very similar to the Pro Wireless but don’t come with a base transmitter since they support Xbox Wireless. That said, if you’re a PC or PS4 gamer looking for one pair of headphones to do it all, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless are a solid choice.
If you prefer wired gaming headphones and are looking for a quality pair that doesn’t cost a small fortune, then get the Corsair HS60. They’re not as feature-packed as the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless, but they provide excellent value for their price thanks to their very good build and sound quality. They feel like sturdy, durable headphones and have a very well-balanced, versatile sound. Their boom microphone is well-suited to online multiplayer gaming and it’s even detachable, which is great if you prefer a more casual look. Unfortunately, they don’t have a detachable cable, so if it breaks, you’ll need to replace the headset entirely. The cable also doesn’t have an in-line mic, so if you remove the boom microphone to use the headset more casually, you’ll have to take calls directly on your smartphone. The Logitech G433 feature detachable cables, one of which has an in-line mic and remote, but are a bit more expensive than the Corsair and don’t feel as well-built.
The best budget wireless headphones that we’ve tested so far are the Mpow H10. They’re pretty versatile headphones thanks to their comfortable fit, satisfactory sound quality, and decent noise cancelling feature. They sound balanced enough to be suitable for most popular genres of music and can effectively cancel out a wide range of noises. Their battery is great, providing over 23 hours of playback and they can be used wired or wirelessly.
Although they are relatively feature-packed headphones, if you can stretch your budget a little bit further, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 provide even better value. The SE version is quite a bit more expensive and doesn’t give much added benefit besides NFC compatibility and a hard carrying case, so the cheaper version tends to be best for most people. They’re among the best headphones for bass that we’ve reviewed to date and their battery performs outstandingly well. That said, the Mpow H10 are a better choice for those on a tighter budget thanks to their great cost-to-performance ratio.
The best cheap wireless earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Anker Soundbuds Curve. 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. Their battery provides nearly 13 hours of continuous playback and they support aptX for better-than-average Bluetooth latency performance.
Like most budget headphones, they aren’t compatible with a 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. The AUKEY Latitude support multi-device pairing and are better travel headphones since they isolate a lot of noise, but they’re less comfortable. Overall, the Curve perform exceptionally well for their price and are easy to recommend for most uses.
The best noise cancelling earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Bose QuietControl 30. They have a comfortable earbud design with very good active noise cancelling. They have a balanced sound and are suitable for most genres of music. Their neckband design ensures your music is always at arm’s reach and they effectively isolate disruptive noises in loud environments without leaking much sound, which makes them the best noise cancelling office earbuds we’ve reviewed to date. They’re easy-to-use and they support multi-device pairing and NFC too.
Although they have a decent battery, they don’t last as long as noise cancelling over-ear headphones. They also have some issues with their build quality since the rubber neckband sleeve tends to peel away after only a couple months of use. That said, they’re still very well-rounded, versatile earbuds that are worth considering, especially if you value comfort and noise isolation.
The best wired earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the 1More Triple Driver. They’re well-built headphones that are fairly comfortable and come with 9 different earbud tips to help you find a perfect fit. They’re pretty easy to use and come with a nice hard carrying case. They have great audio reproduction and a balanced sound that’s suitable for nearly all genres of music. Their in-line microphone has good recording quality too, which makes them a decent choice for casual use and even gaming.
Even though their earbuds feel very solid and durable, they don’t have a detachable cable. This means that if their cable breaks, you’ll need to replace them entirely. The TIN Audio T3 and the KZ AS10 are also wired earbuds that perform well overall, but they don’t sound quite as balanced as the 1More Triple Driver and they aren’t as comfortable.
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.