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 such as 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 500 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best headphones for music based on sound profile, features, and price range. Also, check out our recommendations for the best wireless headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones, and the best audiophile headphones.
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 should 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, so 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 inch 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 a lot of phone calls through your headphones. Their touch-sensitive control scheme may also take some time to get used to, though it's quite intuitive once you've figured it out. If you're looking for extra thump and rumble, these headphones are also among the best bass headphones that we've tested.
If you're looking for headphones that are easier to carry around, take a look at the Jabra Elite Active 75t Truly Wireless. These truly wireless in-ears don't block out as much noise as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, but they're a lot smaller and can be stored in a bag or your pocket without a hassle. They provide about six and a half hours of continuous playback time, which is decent for a pair of truly wireless in-ears, and have a case that should supply an additional three charges. Their default sound profile has an overemphasized low bass range that gradually tapers off into the mid-range, allowing for plenty of extra thump and body without overwhelming vocals or lead instruments. If that's not to your liking, their companion app features audio presets as well as a graphic EQ.
Get the Sony if you don't want to worry about battery life and prefer a more isolating over-ear fit, but consider the Jabra if you want to bring your headphones almost anywhere you want.
The Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best headphones for soundstage that we've tested. These premium open-back headphones 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, these headphones are 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-back headphones, 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.
The best headphones for music primarily driven by vocals and instruments that we’ve tested are the Philips SHP9500. These open-backs deliver a remarkably neutral mid-range and impressively well-balanced treble, ensuring that the vocals and lead instruments are clear, present, and detailed. Combined with their expansive, spacious soundstage, these are a great fit for an immersive listening experience while listening to jazz or pop.
Thanks to their lightweight design and generously padded ear cups and headband, they're also comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time. They feature a mostly plastic construction, reinforced with thin metal headband, and feel decently well-built. Their audio cable is detachable and can be replaced if it gets damaged, which is a nice touch.
Unfortunately, their ear cup hinges feel a tad flimsy and could break if they're overly stressed. They're also quite bulky and lack a carrying case or pouch, making it a little more difficult to enjoy your music if you're traveling from place to place. Still, considering their relatively budget-friendly price point, these are a great choice for more vocal-heavy music.
If you need a little more portability and versatility from your headphones but don't want to sacrifice too much on a balanced, spacious sound, get the Bose SoundSport Free. While they don't create as well-balanced a listening experience as the Philips SHP9500, they're still among the best sounding wireless earbuds that we’ve tested with a good leakage performance and comfortable earbud fit. Unfortunately, they don't have an EQ in their companion app and can distort a bit at higher volumes. As they have an open-back design, they also won't be able to block out almost any background noise, but they still deliver a spacious soundstage.
If you're mainly listening to audio in a quiet room like a studio, go for the Philips. However, if you want something more portable and versatile, get the Bose.
The best headphones for music in the budget category that we've tested are the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019. They offer an excellent price-to-performance ratio, and their 18.4-hour battery life is the longest we've tested on a pair of wireless in-ears. They don't enter the ear canal as deeply as most other in-ear options, making them quite comfortable, even during longer listening sessions.
Their sound profile is fairly excited with a good amount of extra bass that isn't overpowering or boomy, making them well-suited for most popular music genres from rock to EDM or pop. If you want to quickly skip to the next track or pause your music, it's easy to do with their intuitive and easy-to-use in-line remote, and they're even rated IPX7 for sweat and water resistance, though this isn't something we test for.
While the earbuds are made from good quality and dense plastic, unfortunately, the cable connecting the L/R buds is quite thin, though this is common with headphones at this price point. They also don't have a dedicated companion app, so you can't change their sound reproduction via EQ settings. That said, they provide outstanding value overall and are among the best headphones that we've tested.
11/06/2020: Replaced Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless with Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. Added Philips Fidelio X2HR and Philips SHP9600 to Notable Mentions. Removed Sennheiser HD 700 and Oppo PM-3 from Notable Mentions, as both are considered discontinued.
09/08/2020: Replaced Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee with Philips SHP9500. Moved Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee to Notable Mentions.
07/10/2020: Replaced SuperLux HD 681 with SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019. Moved Audeze Mobius to Notable Mentions.
05/12/2020: Added Audio-Technica ATH-M50x to notable mentions.
01/14/2020: Removed Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016, removed Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO.
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.