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The 8 Best Headphones - Winter 2024 Reviews

Best Headphones

Regardless of whether you're looking for versatile Bluetooth headphones with extra features, like active noise cancelling (ANC), or if you're a discerning audiophile who only wants the best sound possible, there's something out there for everyone. However, it can be overwhelming to sort through the hundreds of products on the market. Some headphones even seem to offer similar performances to one another but at radically different price points. How do you know which pair is right for you?

We've tested over 770 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best you can buy.

  1. Best Headphones

    The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless are the best headphones we've tested. These premium over-ears have a fantastic noise isolation performance, thanks to their noise cancelling (ANC) system. Like other headphones from this manufacturer, they block out a wide range of ambient sound, from rumbly bus and plane engines to ambient chit-chat and noisy computer fans. With the ANC on, they last 29 hours continuously, and they have a very comfortable fit, so you can wear them for long periods without fatigue.

    Out of the box, their bassy sound adds extra thump, rumble, and boom to your mixes. If you don't like that sound, you can adjust it to suit your tastes using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. The app also offers Immersive Audio, a feature that tracks your head movements to create a more spacious and immersive audio experience. They have a few more extra features that add to their versatility. You can connect them with up to two devices simultaneously, and they support aptX Adaptive. This Bluetooth codec automatically adjusts its performance to your content, ensuring low latency when watching videos and high sound quality when listening to audio.

    For more wireless headphones, check out our picks for the best wireless Bluetooth headphones.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Headphones

    If you're looking for premium over-ears at a more digestible price, check out the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless instead. While Sony has released a newer edition of these headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless, they're less comfortable for most people, and their ANC doesn't block out as much noise in the bass range. Plus, if you're looking for a premium performance at a lower price, they're usually cheaper than their successor.

    The XM4 headphones have an outstanding ANC system that does an outstanding job of blocking ambient sound, including rumbling engines and background conversations, so they're a great choice for commuting or traveling. Their battery lasts for roughly 37 hours with the ANC on, so you don't need to worry about running out of power during long days on the go.

    Like the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless, they support multi-device pairing and have a bass-heavy default sound profile that emphasizes thump and rumble in genres like EDM and hip-hop. That said, it's more muddy and cluttered-sounding than the Bose's, and even with a graphic EQ and presets in their companion app, it can be tricky to tamp down the extra bass. That said, the app also offers a virtual soundstage feature called 360 Reality Audio, which analyzes your ear's unique shape to create a personalized, immersive sound. You have to subscribe to services like TIDAL that support it, though.

     Check out our article on the best noise cancelling headphones for more picks.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Headphones

    From this price point onwards, Anker dominates the market. Their Q lineup covers a range of prices, from mid-range down to budget, and most options are pretty hard to ignore since they come well-equipped with features like ANC, multi-device pairing, and companion app support. Their top-of-the-line model is the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless, which are significantly cheaper than the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. These headphones are a step down in build quality and comfort from the previous pick and offer a shorter continuous battery life. Still, they offer some of the same features and have a comparable noise cancelling performance. Their adjustable ANC does a fantastic job of cutting down a wide range of sound.

    Their V-shaped sound is well-suited for genres like pop and rock, as they have extra bass and treble to give mixes extra thump and rumble while still ensuring that vocals and instruments pop. You can tweak their sound using an in-app graphic EQ and presets. These over-ears also last for around 27 hours continuously and support multi-device pairing, so you can stay connected to your PC and smartphone simultaneously.

    Looking for more mid-range headphones? Our article on the best headphones under $200 has more picks!

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Headphones

    If you're looking for a cheaper pair of headphones, check out the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. While they aren't as sturdy or feature-packed as the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless, they still have ANC and are just as comfortable for long listening sessions. These budget over-ears last longer than their more expensive counterpart at over 44 hours on a single charge. As such, you can use them during long trips or repeat days at the office without needing a recharge.

    They have an excited sound profile out of the box that complements genres like rock and pop. However, the extra bass muddies mixes, and the added treble makes content sound harsh and piercing. Still, you can fine-tune their sound using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. While they don't have adaptive noise cancelling like the Q45, so they can't automatically adjust to your environment, their ANC has three modes to best suit your needs. They support multi-device pairing, so you can stay connected to up to two devices at a time.

    If you aren't looking to spend much, our best budget and cheap headphones article will give you more recommendations for low-priced options.

    See our review

  5. Best Sounding Wireless Headphones

    If you want the best sound experience over a Bluetooth connection, check out the Focal Bathys Wireless. They're much more pricy than the previous wireless picks, but these over-ears are equipped with handy features to improve your audio experience. They support aptX Adaptive codec, which allows you to stream high-quality audio over Bluetooth. They also last over 29 hours continuously and have a comfortable, plush fit, which is great for long listening sessions. Using them wired lets you take advantage of their USB-DAC mode, converting digital signals to analog in high resolution.

    Using the Dynamic EQ preset, they have a fairly neutral sound profile and deliver satisfying bass without drowning out vocals and instruments. Their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets to help you adjust their sound to suit your tastes. While they're closed-back headphones, and their passive soundstage doesn't feel the most spacious or natural, they're equipped with an ANC system to help cut down ambient sound around you. They also support multi-device pairing, so you can stay connected to your PC and smartphone simultaneously, making them versatile without sacrificing sound quality.

    Want more sound-oriented headphones? Try our picks for the top headphones for music.

    See our review

  6. Best Audiophile Headphones

    Current Deal: The Sennheiser HD 800 S has dropped in price by $400 at Get Deal

    The Sennheiser HD 800 S are audiophile headphones that blow their competitors out of the water. Unlike the Focal Bathys Wireless, which are closed-back Bluetooth headphones, these wired cans have an open-back design, allowing audio to escape the ear cups and bounce off the walls around you, creating a spacious, out-of-head passive soundstage. On the flip side, they're designed for use in an enclosed room as they won't block out any background noise. You'll need to purchase a high-grade amp if you want to properly drive them, which can be an additional investment if you don't already have one. If that's an issue, it's worth trying out entry-level headphones like the Philips SHP9600, which are much cheaper but have a less immersive soundstage.

    The Sennheiser headphones have a well-balanced, neutral sound suitable for most audio content. Although they have trouble reproducing a thumpy low bass, they have a touch of extra high bass to add warmth to the audio. Their mid-range is flat, so vocals and lead instruments are clearly and accurately reproduced. They also have excellent build quality, and their fit is comfortable enough for long listening sessions.

    If you're looking for more options for hi-fi sound, check out our article on the best audiophile headphones.

    See our review

  7. Best Earbuds

    If you're looking for lightweight, more portable headphones than our previous over-ear picks, try the Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless. Thanks to their small design, it's easy to stash them in your pockets when you're on the go. Thanks to their ANC feature, they have a fantastic noise isolation performance. However, their memory foam ear tips largely do the heavy lifting, passively blocking out a wide range of sounds from engine rumbles to passenger chit-chat. As a result, some people may not find a significant difference between ANC on and off. With their ANC on, they last nearly nine hours, but there are a couple of extra charges in the case if you need them.

    Out of the box, they have a warm sound profile that you can fine-tune to your liking using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. That said, not everyone will enjoy the memory foam ear tips, which can put pressure on your ear canal. If you're looking for more comfortable noise cancelling buds, consider the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Truly Wireless instead. Their ear tips have a shallower fit and put less pressure on the ear. However, unlike the Sony headphones, they don't support multi-device pairing, so you can't stay connected with multiple devices simultaneously.

    Searching for more earbuds? Check out our best earbuds and in-ear headphones article!

    See our review

  8. Best Earbuds For iPhone

    Want something that rivals the Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless but offers extra features for iOS users? Then the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are a solid choice. While they don't block out as much background noise as the Sony, these popular buds have an H2 chip for seamless pairing with your MacBook or iPhone. They also support Spatial Audio, which creates an immersive audio experience with supported content.

    These comfortable, well-built headphones are certified IPX4 for resistance against water splashes. Their warm sound adds a touch of extra bass, while vocals and instruments are cozy within the tracks. Unfortunately, they don't have any sound customization features to help you adjust their sound to your liking. Some people find that the buds wiggle out of their ears over time, which can be annoying. Still, they last under six hours continuously, and their carrying case holds an extra four charges if needed.

    For more iOS-friendly options, check out our picks for the best wireless earbuds for iPhone.

    See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Feb 16, 2024: We've made minor updates to the text to improve clarity and accuracy. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations, though.

  2. Jan 19, 2024: We've checked that the picks represent the best recommendations in each category and that the products are in stock.

  3. Dec 20, 2023: We've updated the text to ensure it's up-to-date and accurate. We replaced the mention of the Philips SHP9500 with the SHP9600, as the SHP9500 model has been discontinued.

  4. Nov 21, 2023: We've made the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless our top pick as they offer versatile performance with a slight edge over the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. We've also replaced the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless with the Sony, as the Sony headphones have more features than the Bose. We've replaced the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Ultra Truly Wireless since the Earbuds Ultra are the next generation of the QuietComfort Earbuds II.

  5. Oct 25, 2023: Minor text edits for clarity. No pick changes.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best earbuds and headphones for most people to buy. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win 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.