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 470 pairs of headphones to date, 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 so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. These premium over-ears have excellent active noise cancelling (ANC) and are extremely comfortable thanks to their lightweight design. Their earcups feature physical buttons that are easy to use, and they look and feel quite durable and well-built.
Their sound profile is very well-balanced and accurate, with just a bit of extra bass that isn't overpowering or boomy. While they're well-balanced enough for audiobooks or classic rock, they likely have enough bass to please fans of EDM or hip-hop as well. They're an excellent choice to take with you on a plane or long bus ride, thanks to their 20-hour battery and outstanding ANC feature, which effectively blocks out the low rumble of bus or plane engines, as well as the chatter of noisy strangers.
Unfortunately, while these headphones have a dedicated companion app, it's very limited and only allows you to adjust the level of ANC. This means that there are no EQ options, and you can't change their sound signature, which is a shame. They also leak a fair amount of audio, so at higher volumes, the person in the seat next to you may hear some of your music. That being said, the Bose are still good headphones for most uses and are the best wireless headphones we've tested.
If you like being able to customize the way your headphones sound, get the Sony WH-1000XM3. These very popular over-ears aren't quite as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 and don't support multi-device pairing. However, their excellent companion app gives you access to a graphic EQ, and their ANC works even better. Their out-of-the-box sound profile is slightly more bass-heavy than the Bose, but can easily be adjusted with presets or a graphic EQ within their companion app. They last 27 hours off a single charge, and their ANC is the best we've measured to date. It does an outstanding job of blocking out all frequencies, making these a great option to give you some peace wherever you are. Unfortunately, their slightly bulky design is heavier and fits a bit tighter on the head, making them a bit more uncomfortable for extended listening periods.
If you want a pair of headphones that's more comfortable for extended listening and like having an accurate and well-balanced sound profile without needing to tinker with it, get the Bose. However, if you like to be able to customize your sound to better suit your preferences and want the best ANC you can get, go for the Sony.
The best wireless headphones under $200 that we've tested so far are the Razer Opus. Although Razer focuses on gamer-centric products, these sleek headphones deliver a well-rounded performance made for casual use. They also have an outstanding active noise cancelling feature that rivals some of the best noise cancelling headphones such as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 or the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless.
They're very comfortable, well-built headphones with a great hard carrying case that can help protect them when you're on-the-go. Their sound profile is very balanced and neutral, and while fans of genres like EDM may find it to be a bit lacking in the bass range, its companion app has a graphic EQ and presets to help you get the best sound for your needs. Thanks to their nearly 33-hour battery life, you can listen to audio throughout long flights without pausing to recharge them. If you want to use these headphones while gaming, they also come with a TRRS audio cable so you can use them wired with full audio and microphone compatibility on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
However, their integrated boom microphone is just mediocre. They also don't have multi-device or NFC pairing, which is a little disappointing, especially if you like to switch between your phone and laptop. That being said, these are some of the best headphones under $200 that we've tested to date, and they deliver a well-rounded audio experience at this price point.
The best wireless earbuds that we've tested to date 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.
These earbuds 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 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, these well-built earbuds 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 being 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 to date. These premium headphones are 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.
On the downside, 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 being said, if you're looking for the best listening experience out there regardless of the price, these headphones are among the best audiophile headphones we've tested so far, and they're worth their high price.
The best headphones in the budget category that we've tested so far 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 these headphones 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 to date. 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 on these headphones, their affordable price makes them easy to replace, which is nice.
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.
04/17/2020: Replaced the Mixcder E9 with the Anker Soundcore Life Q20. Made Samsung Galaxy Buds+ 'Best Wireless Earbuds' and moved Jaybird Tarah Pro to 'Alternative For Sports'.
03/18/2020: Replaced Samsung Galaxy Buds with Samsung Galaxy Buds+.
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.