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The 7 Best Headphones For Music - Winter 2022 Reviews

Updated
Best Headphones For Music
655 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
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Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

If you're looking for headphones that are great for music, the choices can be overwhelming. Depending on what kind of music you like, some headphones are better suited than others. Those who listen to more instrumental or vocal-centric content like jazz or folk may like a more neutral or balanced sound with a wide, immersive soundstage. Fans of EDM, hip-hop, and R&B, on the other hand, may like their bass to give their favorite tracks extra thump and kick.

We've tested over 650 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones for music based on sound profile, features, and price range. Check out our picks for the best wireless headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones, and the best audiophile headphones.


  1. Best Headphones For Bass: Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless

    7.1
    Neutral Sound
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best headphones for music with extra bass that we've tested are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. These comfortable Bluetooth over-ears have an overemphasized bass response that may be perceived as a little boomy by some listeners but will please fans of EDM and hip-hop who crave some extra thump and rumble.

    They're compatible with the Sony | Headphones Connect companion app, which grants you access to a graphic EQ as well as audio presets to fine-tune your listening experience. They have a remarkably effective ANC system that filters out a wide range of ambient noise, from passing trucks to the high-pitched hum of an AC unit, meaning you can enjoy your music even in loud or crowded environments. While they should last for over 37 hours on a single charge, they come with a 1/8" TRS audio cable, allowing for passive audio playback if you've run out of battery.

    Unfortunately, their integrated microphone delivers sub-par recording quality and makes your voice sound thin and muffled, so they may not be the best option if you also happen to make many phone calls through your headphones. Their touch-sensitive control scheme may also take some time to get used to, though it's intuitive once you've figured it out. If you're looking for extra thump and rumble, these are also among the best bass headphones we've tested.

    See our review

  2. Truly Wireless Alternative: Jabra Elite Active 75t Truly Wireless

    Type In-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Truly Wireless
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    If you prefer the look and fit of truly wireless headphones, you may prefer the Jabra Elite Active 75 instead. They don't have an ANC feature, so they block out much less noise than the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, but their smaller, lighter design makes them much more portable. Their charging case is also small enough to slip into most pockets and bags. They have an excited default sound profile that delivers extra thump and punch in the bass range, while vocals and lead instruments are bright and sparkly. This sound may be a little intense for some, but it can be customized with a graphic EQ and presets in their companion app. While their 6.5-hour continuous battery life is much shorter than the Sony's, the case holds about three extra charges, so you can always top them up if you need to.

    If you prefer over-ear headphones or want the option with a better noise isolation performance, go for the Sony, but try the Jabra instead if you want smaller, more portable headphones.

    See our review

  3. Best Headphones For Soundstage: Sennheiser HD 800 S

    8.5
    Neutral Sound
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    The Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best music headphones for soundstage that we've tested. These premium open-backs generate an incredibly natural, spacious, and wholly immersive listening experience that makes your music sound like it's coming from all around you. Their well-balanced sound profile should also please audiophiles, as their very neutral mid and treble response makes vocals and lead instruments sound clear, present, detailed, and airy, though some may find them to be a little too bright.

    They're very well-built, with a sturdy-feeling design made of high-grade plastic reinforced by a metal frame and a braided detachable audio cable. Their spacious, well-padded ear cups should ensure you don't experience any discomfort, even during long listening sessions. They're also fairly breathable, so your ears shouldn't sweat too much while wearing them.

    Unfortunately, they're very expensive. That's without mentioning an amplifier is needed to get the most out of them. As to be expected for a pair of open-backs, they do an awful job of blocking out ambient noise, so they're particularly ill-suited for listening in a loud environment. Still, considering their ability to provide an impressively well-balanced and immersive listening experience, these are among the best open-back headphones we've tested.

    See our review

  4. Planar Magnetic Transducer Alternative: HiFiMan Arya

    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Planar Magnetic

    If you're looking for planar magnetic headphones for music, consider the HiFiMan Arya. They aren't as well-built as the Sennheiser HD 800 S. However, they have a planar magnetic transducer that helps them create a spacious and natural-seeming passive soundstage, which can make your listening experience more immersive. They also have a very neutral sound profile with more accurate bass response, so mixes have more thump, rumble, and punch. They're very well-built and comfortable, with large, spacious ear cups and a detachable audio cable, making it easier to replace if it gets damaged. Ηowever, they aren't very well-suited for use outside quiet spaces, since their open-back design means they leak a lot of sound and don't isolate you from ambient noise.

    If you want better-built headphones with more breathable ear cups, try the Sennheiser, but if you're looking for planar magnetic headphones that can reproduce a bit more low-bass, you may prefer the HiFiMan.

    See our review

  5. Best Headphones For Vocals And Instruments: Philips SHP9500

    8.3
    Neutral Sound
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Open-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    The Philips SHP9500 are the best headphones for vocals and instruments that we've tested. These budget-friendly headphones have an open-back design, which helps them create a spacious-seeming, immersive passive soundstage. Their very neutral mid-range response ensures that vocals and lead instruments are reproduced clearly and accurately.

    They're decently well-built and very comfortable, with big, well-padded earcups that should easily fit around most ears, so they shouldn't cause fatigue during long listening sessions. They also deliver sound very consistently, so once you achieve the right fit, seal, and positioning, you should hear the same sound each time you wear them. Their cable is detachable, so you don't need to replace the headphones if it breaks.

    Unfortunately, like most open-back headphones, their sound lacks low-bass, so they aren't ideal if you want a pair that can reproduce thump and rumble in bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. Their design also means they leak a lot of audio and don't block out ambient sound. That said, if you're looking for open-back headphones that reproduce vocals and lead instruments accurately, they're a great option.

    See our review

  6. Closed-Back Alternative: JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless

    Type In-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Truly Wireless
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    If you prefer closed-back headphones for music, try the JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless instead. Their passive soundstage doesn't seem as spacious as the Philips SHP9500, making for a less immersive listening experience. However, their closed-back, in-ear design means they leak less audio and have a significantly better noise isolation performance. Their sound profile is very neutral, with a very accurate mid-range response, so vocals and lead instruments are reproduced clearly and accurately. Also, their app includes a parametric EQ and presets, so you can adjust their sound to suit you. While their in-ear fit is less comfortable than the Philips' over-ear design for most, they don't put much pressure on your ears, and wearing them for long periods shouldn't be too fatiguing.

    Go for the Philips if you're looking for over-ear headphones or a more immersive soundstage, but consider the JBL instead if you're looking for more portable headphones for music or better noise isolation.

    See our review

  7. Best Budget Headphones For Music: Superlux HD 681

    8.3
    Neutral Sound
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Semi-Open
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic No
    Transducer Dynamic

    The Superlux HD 681 are the best budget headphones for music that we've tested. They have a very neutral default sound profile with a touch of extra brightness. Although some people may find sibilants sound overly piercing, they're still well-suited for many audio genres.

    These headphones have a comfortable and lightweight fit with large ear cups. Thanks to their semi-open fit, their passive soundstage seems large, natural, and open. While they don't come with much in the way of additional accessories, they have a cloth pouch to help protect them from dust and scratches when you're not using them.

    Unfortunately, they have a cheap and plasticky build quality that feels low-grade. They also don't isolate you from much ambient noise around you and leak audio at high volumes. That said, if you're looking for more affordable headphones for music, they offer a more immersive audio experience due to their design.

    See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Dec 22, 2021: Checked that picks still represent the best recommendations and that they're in stock.

  2. Oct 25, 2021: Replaced the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless with the JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless as the 'Closed-Back Alternative' to the Philips SHP9500 because the Samsung have been discontinued by the manufacturer.

  3. Aug 31, 2021: Replaced the Superlux HD 668B with the Superlux HD 681 as the 681 represent a better value to most users.

  4. Jul 02, 2021: Confirmed the accuracy of our text and product availability. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.

  5. May 11, 2021: Replaced the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless with the Superlux HD 668B as the Plantronics aren't currently available at this price point.

Notable Mentions

For Bass

  • Skullcandy Crusher Evo Wireless: These over-ears deliver extra thump and boom by default, but if you're looking for even more bass, they have a haptic bass slider that you can adjust to your liking. See our review
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M50x: Simple and straightforward without sacrificing punch or body, but they have a wired design that can be less versatile. See our review
  • Jabra Elite 85h: These comfortable over-ears have excellent bass that can be personalized with their companion app. See our review
  • Beats Solo Pro: As wireless on-ears, they have a well-balanced sound that delivers deep bass. See our review

For Vocals and Instruments

  • Sennheiser HD 600: Open-back over-ears that lack bass and are more expensive than the Philips SHP9500. See our review
  • Bose QuietComfort 35 II: These noise cancelling headphones have a well-balanced sound profile, and if you prefer a more neutral sound, they're a great substitute for the Sony WH-1000XM4. See our review
  • Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: These truly wireless earbuds have a neutral sound profile and an impressive ANC feature but aren't as comfortable as the JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless and lack sound customization features. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee: Open-back over-ears with a very neutral sound profile. However, since they're the result of a collaboration between Sennheiser and Massdrop, they can only be found directly from the Drop website, so availability is limited. See our review
  • Philips Fidelio X2HR: These open-back over-ears provide a very well-balanced sound profile overall and feel better built than the Philips SHP9500, but their treble response isn't quite as neutral. See our review
  • Philips SHP9600: These open-back over-ears are effectively a newer version of the Philips SHP9500, but they have a slightly more extended bass response and less neutral mids. See our review

For Soundstage

  • HiFiMan Ananda: Although cheaper than the Sennheiser HD 800 S, their soundstage doesn't sound as open. See our review
  • HiFiMan Sundara: These open-back headphones have a balanced, neutral sound profile with an amazing soundstage, but they aren't as well-built as the Sennheiser HD 800 S, and their soundstage isn't as outstanding. See our review

For Budget Range

  • Superlux HD 688B: These budget open-back over-ears deliver audio quite consistently and have a neutral mid-range, which helps their reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. However, they feel quite plasticky and aren't as comfortable as the Superlux HD 681. See our review
  • Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless: These closed-back over-ears can sometimes be found at this price point. They have a very neutral sound profile, but some users have reported that their units have cracked or broken over time. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones for music to buy for most people. 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 reviews, ranked by their suitability for neutral sound. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and where you use the headphones will matter more in your selection.

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