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 540 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 Wireless. These comfortable, well-built over-ears have an outstanding noise isolation feature and a versatile overall performance. Their over 37-hour continuous battery life is longer than the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, making them ideal for long days on-the-go.
Overall, they have a bass-heavy sound profile that adds an extra thump and punch to your favorite music. There's even a graphic EQ and presets available in the Sony | Headphones Connect app to help you customize their sound. With their ANC feature turned on, they can easily block out background noise, making them suitable to use during your commute or while working in a noisy office.
Unfortunately, their integrated microphone doesn't have the best recording quality, especially if you're calling from a noisy environment. Also, they aren't designed to use while working out, so they may not be stable enough to bring to the gym. However, they're a solid choice for many different listeners.
If you're looking for a more comfortable pair of wireless headphones, consider the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 instead. While these over-ears aren't as well-built or as customizable as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, their lightweight, well-padded design makes them one of the most comfortable over-ears we've tested. Their sound profile is quite neutral and well-balanced, with a touch of extra boom in the bass range. Their ANC feature is incredible at blocking out background noises typically found during your commute or while working in an office. Thanks to their 20-hour continuous battery life, you can wear them during long international flights, too.
If you want customizable headphones with better build quality, check out the Sony. However, if you prefer a more comfortable pair, consider the Bose instead.
The Razer Opus Wireless are the best wireless headphones under $200 that we've tested. These comfortable over-ears have a durable look and feel, and they come with a hard carrying case to help keep them safe when you're on-the-go. Thanks to their over 32-hour continuous battery life, you won't have to recharge them daily, which is convenient.
Overall, they have a very neutral, balanced sound profile that's versatile enough for lots of different types of audio content. They even have a graphic EQ and presets in their companion app so you can customize their sound. They also have an ANC feature, which does an outstanding job blocking out background noises.
Unfortunately, you can't pair them with multiple devices at the same time, which can be inconvenient if you like to switch your audio source between your laptop and your phone frequently. Their integrated microphone doesn't have the best performance, either. However, if you're on a budget and want a versatile pair of headphones, 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 Sennheiser HD 800 S. These well-built over-ears have an open-back design, and they offer an amazing performance for neutral sound. They're really comfortable, too, so you can enjoy long listening sessions without feeling a lot of fatigue.
Overall, they offer a very neutral, balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different music genres. Also, thanks to their open-back design, they have an outstanding soundstage. Music seems to be coming from speakers placed all around you, so you really feel immersed in your favorite songs.
Unfortunately, like many open-backs, they struggle to reproduce low-bass, so you don't feel the deep thump and rumble in bass-heavy genres like hip-hop and EDM. Also, due to their open-back design, they don't really isolate against a lot of noise, and they leak a lot of sound. However, if you're just looking for a pair of open-back headphones so you can enjoy your music at home, they're a solid choice.
The best headphones in the budget category that we've tested are the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810. These over-ears offer a decently versatile overall performance, and they support multi-device pairing. With a continuous battery life of over 24 hours, you can enjoy multiple long listening sessions without a recharge.
Thanks to their neutral sound profile, they're suitable for lots of different types of audio content. There are even a few EQ presets available in the Backbeat App to help you customize their sound to your liking. They don't leak a lot of sound, and escaping audio isn't very loud, so you should be able to listen to music at loud volumes without really bothering those around you.
Unfortunately, they don't have the best build quality, and their shallow ear cups may not be ideal for all listeners. Also, while they have an ANC feature, they still struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines. While they may not be ideal for your commute, on the upside, they can block out higher-frequency ambient noise typically found in an office.
The Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019 are the best cheap earbuds that we've tested. These wireless Bluetooth in-ears have a comfortable, stable fit thanks to their ear-hook design, so they're suitable for listening to music while at the gym. They also have an IPx7 rating for water resistance, though we don't test for this.
They have a bass-heavy sound profile with a balanced mid-range, so you really feel the thump and punch in bass-heavy music genres like EDM. They don't leak a lot of noise, either, so you can crank up the volume on your favorite tunes without really bothering those around you. Also, thanks to their over 18-hour continuous battery life, you can enjoy multiple long listening sessions without a recharge.
Unfortunately, like most headphones in this price range, they lack more premium features like sound customization options. They also don't have the most impressive build quality, and the cable connecting the earbuds is quite thin. However, if you're looking for earbuds on a tight budget, they're a solid choice.
01/11/2021: 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.
12/04/2020: Replaced the Mpow H10 Wireless with the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless as 'Best Budget' pick to reflect changing availability.
11/06/2020: Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes to product picks.
10/09/2020: 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.
09/11/2020: 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.