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The 11 Best Headphones For Music - Summer 2019
Reviews

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

Finding the best headphones for music can be quite a challenge. Depending on your music preference, some headphones will perform better than others. If you're into a lot of bass-heavy genres, getting headphones with a deep, yet well-balanced low end will sound more exciting and really emphasize the rumbling and thumping sensations of these genres. If you're more of a classical, jazz, folk, and ambient type of listener, open and neutral sounding headphones may be a better option since they typically reproduce instruments, vocals, and soundstage more accurately.

We've tested 358 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best headphones for music based on sound profile, features, and price range. See also our recommendations for the best wireless headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones, and the best gaming headphones.

  1. Best Headphones For Bass-Heavy Genres: Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.2
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best headphones for bass that we’ve tested so far are the Sony WH-1000XM3. They are very well-built wireless noise cancelling headphones with a premium look and feel. They’re a very good choice for travel as well as office use, thanks to their impressive ANC feature, and they’re also decent for critical listening. They’re comfortable, versatile headphones with a whole bunch of active features to help you achieve the sound you want.

    They have deep, powerful, and punchy bass. They’re among our best headphones for hip-hop and are also great for R&B, dubstep, funk, or house music. Since they have excellent noise cancelling, they’re great for listening to your favorite tracks on the bus or in the office. They have a great 27-hour battery life with ANC enabled, which makes them ideal for international flights and long car rides.

    Some people may find them too bass-heavy, but the Sony | Headphones Connect companion app lets you EQ the sound to your liking. This means you can tone down the bass if you’re listening to something more vocal-centric, or increase it if you want even more bass. They're a bit pricey, but they’re sure to please bass enthusiasts looking for high quality, feature-packed headphones.

    See our review

  2. Cheaper Alternative: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you like the more bass-centric sound of the Sony WH-1000XM3 but are looking for something less expensive, then consider the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 instead. They’re not as customizable as the Sony, but if you’re a fan of their exciting, bass-rich sound profile then you won’t be disappointed. They're feature-packed, well-built, comfortable over-ear headphones with a remarkable 30-hour battery life and surprisingly balanced sound. Their design isn’t as sleek or stylish as that of the Sony, but they provide a remarkably feature-packed experience for their price and are among our best wireless headphones for music.

    See our review

  3. Wired Alternative: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you prefer a wired design with more neutral bass, then go for the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They’re not noise cancelling like the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 and aren’t customizable like the Sony WH-1000XM3, but they’re great studio headphones and have excellent audio reproduction. Although they fold up in a more portable format, they’re still a bit bulky and might not be ideal if you’re always on-the-go. The Sony MDR-7506 have a similar yet more compact design that also packs a bit more low-bass; however, they aren’t as comfortable nor as well-built. Overall, if you’re looking for simple, wired over-ears just for listening to music, then you can’t do much better than these.

    See our review

  4. Best Headphones For Vocals And Instrumentals: Sennheiser HD 600

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.8
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Open-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you love to listen to jazz, classical, rock, or folk music, then the Sennheiser HD 600 are a great choice. They have an open-back design, which means they’re not suitable for use outdoor use, but fans of less bass-heavy music genres will prefer their more detailed sound, especially on vocals and instruments.

    These headphones have a good, well-balanced sound that caters well to instruments and vocals without sounding too sharp, unlike some of the other open-back models we’ve tested. The ear cups are well-padded and large enough to fit well around most ears, and they're fairly lightweight for their size, which makes them decently comfortable despite being a little tight on the head.

    On the downside, they're a bit bulky and don’t have the best build quality for their price. They also don’t pack as much thump and rumble as the more bass-heavy recommendations on this list. Their soundstage is also not as spacious as the Sennheiser HD 800 S. However, they're one of the best headphones for classical music, so if you typically listen to music to enjoy the finer details, then these are a solid option that won’t disappoint.

    See our review

  5. Cheaper Alternative: Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Open-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you like the more instrument and vocal-focused sound of the Sennheiser HD 600 but wish they were cheaper and had just a little more bass, then get the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. They don’t sound quite as neutral as the Sennheiser but they have a much more durable build and pack quite a bit more bass, even with their open design. They have a slight peak in the treble range that makes them sound a bit sharp on some sibilants, like S and T sounds. However, for their sound quality, they deliver great value that is almost unmatched at this price range.

    See our review

  6. Compact Wireless Alternative: Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless

    Type : Earbuds
    Enclosure : Semi-Open
    Wireless : Truly Wireless
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you prefer a truly wireless design that you can easily fit in your pockets but refuse to sacrifice on sound quality, then get the Bose SoundSport Free. They are not the most feature-packed truly wireless headphones we've reviewed, but they’re the best sounding wireless earbuds we’ve tested so far. They have extended bass that packs a lot of thump and rumble for an earbud design and their well-balanced mid and treble ranges cater to instruments and vocals better than most truly wireless earbuds we’ve tested. Although they don’t come with a mobile EQ like the Jabra Elite Active 65t, they’re a lot more comfortable and are better earbuds for critical listening.

    See our review

  7. Best Headphones For Soundstage: Sennheiser HD 800 S

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    8.5
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Open-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you consider yourself an audiophile and like to feel immersed in your music, as if you're listening to a good speaker set up instead of just headphones, then get the Sennheiser HD 800 S. They also have a bulky design that's specifically made for listening at home or in a dedicated quiet listening room, so like most open-back headphones, they are not very versatile. They’re best enjoyed with a powerful amplifier and are also rather expensive, which means they’re quite the investment. However, they are the best-sounding headphones that we’ve tested so far.

    These headphones have an exceedingly well-balanced mid-range that reproduces instruments and vocals accurately and their soundstage is spacious and immersive. Thanks to their slightly brighter than average audio reproduction, they feel even more open while delivering a crisp and detailed representation of instruments and vocals.

    They are a tad bass-light compared to other open-back headphones we’ve tested like the HiFiMan Ananda or even the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO. They’re also not the best entry point if you want to get into critical listening due to their high price tag. However, for the experienced, they are definitely worth it.

    See our review

  8. Closed-Back Alternative: Audeze Mobius

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Planar Magnetic

    If you like the idea of having a spacious, speaker-like soundstage but feel limited by open-back headphones, then get the Audeze Mobius. Unlike the open-backed Sennheiser HD 800 S, they’re not dedicated for critical listening, but the feature-packed Mobius are better-suited to gamers and those who prefer a more versatile closed-back design. They feature DSP-enabled sound localization, head-tracking, and room emulation to create a unique simulated soundstage. Although we weren’t able to capture the full extent of these effects with our current measurements, we found them capable of creating an immersive and engaging listening experience.

    The default sound profile of these headphones lacks a bit of detail and the Audeze software only provides EQ presets, but their simulated soundstage experience makes up for it, especially for those looking for a speaker-like sound in a closed-back design.

    See our review

  9. Best Budget Headphones For Music: Superlux HD 681

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.7
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Semi-Open
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you don’t want to spend much on good-sounding headphones, the best budget headphones for music are the Superlux HD 681. They have a simple, no-fuss wired design for music enthusiasts and critical listeners. They sound great for their price and provide very good value overall.

    These headphones deliver a good, well-balanced sound that is easily on par with headphones twice or three times their price. They also have a semi-open design, so they have a slightly more spacious soundstage than that of the closed-back models on this list, but they don’t sound quite as open as the Sennheiser HD 600, the Sennheiser HD 800 S, or the Audeze Mobius with their active 3D audio effect.

    Like most budget headphones, they don’t have the best build quality. The Philips SHP9500 are a better-built and even better-sounding budget option, but they’re more expensive and tend to be harder to find. Overall, these are a solid choice if you want great-sounding headphones at a good price.

    See our review

  10. Wired In-Ear Alternative: TIN Audio T2

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

    If you prefer the portability of earbuds and are looking for well-built in-ears that won’t break the bank, get the TIN Audio T2. They're one of the best earphones for music in the budget category. Being in-ears, they don’t sound as spacious as the Superlux HD 681, but they still deliver a solid listening experience and great build quality at a low price point.

    Unfortunately, they can be quite uncomfortable, especially for smaller ears or during longer listening sessions. If you’re okay with stretching your budget a bit to make room for more features, consider the more comfortable and customizable Jaybird Tarah; however, they have pretty bad wireless latency, so if you’re concerned about audio lag, go for the TIN Audio T2.

    See our review

  11. Cheaper Wireless Earbud Alternative: Anker SoundBuds Curve Wireless

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

    If you want more comfortable, wireless budget earbuds that still sounds decent, then get the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They have a straightforward wireless design that delivers a decent listening experience, especially considering how little they cost. Their sound quality is above-average for in-ears at this price point, and although they sound more bass-heavy than the TIN Audio T2, their sound is still balanced enough to work well with most music genres.

    Although they feel better-built than you might expect for their price, they still have thin cables that feel prone to breakage. The Anker Soundcore Spirit X and the JBL Endurance Sprint both feel more durable but are also more expensive, so the Curve are the best for those looking to spend as little as possible.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

For Bass

  • Polk Audio UltraFocus 8000. Great sound with a pronounced bass, but poor soundstage. A good substitute for the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. See our review
  • Beyerdynamic DT 770. A closed-back alternative to the DT 990 for more versatility. However, they do not sound as good due to the reduced soundstage. See our review
  • Sony MDR-1A. A more comfortable design than the Audio Technica ATH-M50x with good audio reproduction. Slightly too pricey for what they offer. See our review
  • Beats Solo3 Wireless. A good sounding on-ear with decent bass. See our review

For Vocals and Instruments

  • Bose QuietComfort 35 II. A well-balanced noise cancelling headset and a great substitute to the Sony WH-1000XM3 if you prefer a more neutral sound. See our review
  • Oppo PM-3. The planar magnetic drivers deliver a good sound. They're comfortable and sturdy. However, they may sound a bit too sharp for some. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 650. Good audiophile headphones, open sound, and a spacious soundstage. They're a viable and cheaper alternative to the Sennheiser HD 800 S, but they're not as well-designed. See our review
  • AKG K702. Good and balanced sound. Incredibly comfortable design but slightly bulky and a bit flimsy for their price. See our review
  • Bose SoundSport Wireless. A more typical wireless earbud design and more practical alternative to the truly wireless SoundSport Free. See our review

For Soundstage

  • HiFiMan Ananda. An excellent sounding critical listening headphone with great soundstage; a cheaper alternative to the 800 S but does not sound as open. See our review
  • HifiMan Sundara. A cheaper alternative to the Ananda with a great sound and a compact design but poor quality control. See our review

For Budget Range

  • Philips SHP9500. A great budget and open-back critical listening headphone with a surprisingly good sound and build quality for their price. Unfortunately, they are discontinued on Amazon and most retailers. See our review
  • Anker SoundCore Spirit X. Good and balanced sound. Incredibly comfortable design but slightly bulky and a bit flimsy for their price. See our review
  • Logitech G433. A surprisingly good sounding gaming headset with a lot of accessories and a casual design you can use outdoors. No the most consistent sound across users. See our review
  • Jaybird Tarah. Sports-oriented wireless headphones with decent, customizable sound. A bit pricey for a budget pick but worth considering, especially for fitness enthusiasts. 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. 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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