Preferred headphones store
Updated

The 11 Best Headphones For Music - Summer 2019
Reviews

Best Headphones For Music
390 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 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
    7.2
    Critical Listening
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best headphones for music if you like bass-heavy genres 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’re a fan of exciting, bass-rich sound, but are looking for something less expensive, then consider the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 instead. They’re not quite customizable as the Sony WH-1000XM3, but their tactile controls make them much easier to use. 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.

    You'll want to go for the Sony if they're within your budget and you like being able to customize the way your headphones sound on the fly; but if you prefer the ease-of-use of physical controls and are looking for something a little cheaper, then get the BackBeat Pro.

    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 wired headphones with a classic studio design, 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 have excellent audio reproduction, with deep thumpy bass that isn't overpowering. 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.

    Get the XM3 if Bluetooth is a must and you prefer the isolation benefits of noise cancelling headphones, but if you're looking for something with great bass for music production or just listening to your favorite tracks at home, then get the M50x.

    See our review

  4. Best Headphones For Vocals And Instrumentals: Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
    8.0
    Critical Listening
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Open-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best headphones for vocals and instruments that we’ve tested so far are the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee. They’re designed very similarly to the Sennheiser HD 600, but have better bass performance and are available at a more advantageous price point on Drop.com. Their open-back design helps provide a spacious listening experience and they sound very good overall.

    They sound very well-balanced, with a remarkably neutral frequency response. They have less bass roll-off than other open-back headphones we’ve tested and don’t sound too sharp or piercing either. Their sound profile works for music of virtually all genres, with their flat, balanced mid and treble ranges making them particularly well-suited to jazz, classical, or folk music.

    Although they're well-built headphones overall, their frame feels a bit fragile and the plastic used in their build doesn’t feel the most durable. They're also quite stiff and clamp down on the head a fair bit, which can be fatiguing. The HD 650 fit a bit less tightly so they're more comfortable to wear during longer listening sessions, but they're significantly more expensive. All things considered, the Jubilee provide outstanding value for their price thanks to their great sound quality and are very easy to recommend.

    See our review

  5. More Durable Alternative: Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO

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

    If you’re looking for open-back headphones that feel built to last, then consider the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. Their cable isn’t detachable like that of the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee, but they feel more durable overall, with sturdier hinges and a good solid headband. They also have a very well-balanced sound profile and are generally around the same price as the Sennheiser, so they also provide very good value. Those who are sensitive to higher frequencies may find they sound a bit sharp or sibilant, but this is most apparent on brighter tracks and won’t be audible for everyone. They can also feel a bit tight on the head, like the Sennheiser, but tend to loosen up a bit with time.

    Get the 58x if you prefer something that sounds a bit more open and slightly less bright, but if you care most about durability and don't might a brighter sound, then go for the 990 PRO.

    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 don't provide the same open listening experience of the over-ear Sennheiser HD 65x, 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 Sony WF-1000XM3 or Jabra Elite Active 65t, they’re a lot more comfortable and are better earbuds for critical listening.

    Get the Sennheiser if you prefer to listen to music at home in a quiet room, but if you want good-sounding earbuds to bring with you when you're on-the-go, the Bose are a very good choice.

    See our review

  7. Best Headphones For Soundstage: Sennheiser HD 800 S

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
    8.5
    Critical Listening
    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 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. They don't reproduce audio as well as the Sennheiser HD 800 S, but they feature DSP-enabled technologies to create a unique simulated soundstage. Although our current measurements couldn't capture the full extent of their sound localization, head-tracking, and room emulation effects, they effectively deliver an immersive and engaging listening experience. Unfortunately, their default sound profile lacks a bit of detail and the Audeze software only provides EQ presets, but their simulated soundstage experience makes up for it.

    Get the HD 800 S if you have access to a dedicated listening room with the equipment to need to benefit from their outstanding sound quality, but if you're looking for a speaker-like sound in a more versatile closed-back design, it's hard to beat the Mobius.

    See our review

  9. Best Budget Headphones For Music: Superlux HD 681

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
    7.7
    Critical Listening
    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 headphones for music in the budget category 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 800 S, or the Audeze Mobius with their active 3D audio effect.

    Unfortunately, they feel pretty cheaply made, even for their price. They’ll likely survive a couple of drops and falls, but they look very plasticky. If you can stretch your budget a bit, consider the Philips SHP9500. They feel much more durable and they’re a lot more comfortable, but they’re a bit more expensive. If you’re trying to keep costs as low as possible, the Superlux are hard to beat.

    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. That said, they still deliver great value for their price thanks to their sound and build quality.

    Get the Superlux if you like to listen to music for hours and find in-ears uncomfortable, but if you prefer a more portable design, then the TIN Audio earphones are a good budget choice.

    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 sound decent, then get the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They have an exciting bass-rich sound that delivers great thump and rumble without drowning out vocals and lead instruments. Although they feel better-built than you might expect for their price, they still have pretty thin cables that feel prone to breakage. The JBL Endurance Sprint have a more neutral sound and feel more durable, but are less comfortable.

    Get the Superlux if you like the reliability of wired headphones and a brighter, more spacious sound, but if you prefer the freedom of wireless earbuds and a more bass-heavy sound, then you'll want to go for the Anker.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

For Bass

  • Jabra Elite 85h: Very comfortable over-ears with excellent bass that you can customize with your phone. See our review
  • Beats EP: A good sounding on-ear with decent bass. See our review
  • Jaybird Tarah Pro: Well-built wireless in-ears with a good, customizable audio reproduction. See our review
  • Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO: 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
  • JBL Live 650 BTNC: Over-ears with great thumping bass that provide access to a good parametric EQ. See our review

For Vocals and Instruments

  • Sennheiser HD 600: Very good-sounding open-back over-ears but a bit expensive compared to the 58X, which also pack a bit more bass. See our review
  • 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

  • Sennheiser HD 700: Good-sounding critical listening headphones with a great soundstage but the HD 800 S perform better overall. See our review
  • 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

  • Corsair HS60: Good-sounding headphones that are versatile for gaming and casual use. See our review
  • Philips SHP9500:  Great open-back critical listening headphones with a surprisingly good sound and build quality for their price but some may find a bit more expensive for a budget pick. 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
  • Anker SoundCore Life 2: Comfortable wireless over-ears that sound decent. A bit pricey for budget range but worth considering for the active features. 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.

Recommended Articles

LOG IN

JOIN RTINGS.com

Be part of the most informed community and take advantage of our advanced tools to find the best product for your needs.
Join our mailing list:
Become an insider

Unlimited access to full product reviews, test measurements and scores

test table UI

Product prices across the site on reviews, tables and tools

product prices UI

Additional votes for our
next reviews

Additional votes UI

Early Access
to our reviews and test measurements

Early Access UI

Create Discussion