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 670 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.
The best headphones for music with extra bass that we've tested are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. Out of the box, these premium headphones have a bass-heavy sound profile that delivers intense thump, rumble, and boom to mixes. While some users may find their sound to be a bit boomy and muddy, you can adjust their sound to suit your tastes using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets.
If you like to listen to music in noisy environments, they have an active noise cancelling (ANC) system to help block out the low rumble of bus engines and ambient chatter. They have over 37 hours of continuous playback time and are equipped with an auto-off timer to help conserve battery life if you forget to turn them off. Their very comfortable fit and well-built design help to lower the chances of experiencing fatigue if you're wearing them for long periods.
Unfortunately, if you want to use the headphones wired, they only support audio via analog, so you can't use their mic. Their over-ear design also traps heat around your ears. If you love extra thump, rumble, and boom, they're worth checking out. They're also among the best bass headphones we've tested.
If you prefer the look and fit of truly wireless headphones, you may prefer the Jabra Elite Active 75t Truly Wireless instead. While they're getting harder to find in stock and they block out significantly less ambient noise than the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, they have a smaller, more portable design that makes it easy to take them with you on the go. Out of the box, they have a v-shapes sound profile that delivers intense thump, rumble, and punch to mixes while vocals and lead instruments sound bright. You can also customize their sound to better suit your tastes via their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. While their 6.5-hour continuous battery life may not last through your workday without pausing to recharge them, their carrying case supplies three additional charges if you need them.
Go for the Sony if you like over-ears and prioritize a more comfortable fit with ANC. However, if you want something more lightweight and discrete, consider the Jabra instead.
The Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best 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, plus an amplifier is needed to get the most out of them. As 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.
If you prefer the design of planar magnetic headphones, check out the HiFiMan Edition XS. While they're not as comfortable or premium as the Sennheiser HS 800 S, their planar magnetic transducers help improve their bass response. As a result, they have less roll-off than dynamic headphones, and they deliver more thump, rumble, and punch to audio. They still have a neutral overall sound profile, so vocals and lead instruments sound detailed but not harsh. Although their passive soundstage doesn't create as much of an out-of-head feeling, it seems wide, open, and spacious, which can help immerse you in your music. Unfortunately, they're quite large, and their headband feels heavier than other headphones from this manufacturer that have the ski-band headband design.
Take a look at the Sennheiser if you're looking for more high-end audiophile headphones that are more comfortable. However, if you prefer a better bass response thanks to a planar magnetic design, consider the HiFiMan instead.
The Philips SHP9500 are the best headphones for vocals and instruments that we've tested. These headphones have a neutral mid-range response, so vocals and lead instruments are clear, natural, and accurate. Their open-back design also helps them create a more spacious, open-seeming passive soundstage.
They're decently well-built and have good breathability as well as a very comfortable fit, so you shouldn't experience much fatigue even if you wear them for hours at a time. They also have very consistent sound delivery, so you don't need to spend too much time adjusting their fit and positioning to hear the same sound each time you wear them.
Unfortunately, their sound lacks the thump and rumble of low bass, which is typical for open-back headphones but makes them less suitable for genres like EDM and hip-hop. They also leak a lot of audio and don't isolate you from ambient sound because of this design. That said, if you're looking for headphones that create an immersive soundstage and reproduce detailed and accurate vocal and lead instruments, these are a great option.
If you prefer closed-back headphones, try the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. While they're not as comfortable as the Philips SHP9500, and their passive soundstage seems less open and spacious, their design helps reduce audio bleed and dampen background noise like ambient chatter, which can be handy if you listen to music in a shared space. They have a very balanced and flat mid-range, so vocals and instruments have clarity and presence in your favorite tracks. Their bass range is also very neutral, ensuring that your mixes have adequate thump, rumble, and boom without overwhelming voices. They have great build quality, thanks to their metal frame. Unfortunately, their cable isn't detachable, meaning if something happens to it, you'll have to replace the entire unit. Their mid-treble is overemphasized, so sibilants like cymbals sound piercing.
Consider the Philips if you want a more immersive and open-sounding passive soundstage. If you want to limit audio leakage and cut down some background noise, go for the Beyerdynamic.
The Superlux HD 681 are the best budget headphones for music that we've tested. These affordable over-ear headphones have a very neutral sound profile that adds some extra brightness to your audio. While sibilants may sound a bit piercing to some, their sound is still well-suited for a variety of genres.
They have a lightweight and comfortable design, with big earcups that fit nicely around most listeners' ears. They have a semi-open design, which helps them create a passive soundstage that seems large, open, and natural. They don't have a lot of extra features, but they come with a cloth pouch to protect them from scratches, as well as a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter so you can plug them into a mixer and amp.
Unfortunately, they're entirely made of plastic that doesn't feel very durable. They also don't block out any ambient noise and leak quite a bit of audio at high volumes, so they're not ideal for use outside a quiet area. Otherwise, if you're looking for budget-friendly headphones for music, these offer a well-balanced sound and an immersive passive soundstage.
Apr 07, 2022: Replaced the HiFiMan Arya with the HiFiMan Edition XS as the Arya have been updated with stealth magnets and we haven't tested this variant. Removed the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless as they've been discontinued.
Feb 08, 2022: Replaced the JBL CLUB PRO+ True Wireless with the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO as the Beyerdynamic offer an even more neutral mid-range. Added the JBL to Notable Mentions.
Dec 22, 2021: Checked that picks still represent the best recommendations and that they're in stock.
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.
Aug 31, 2021: Replaced the Superlux HD 668B with the Superlux HD 681 as the 681 represent a better value to most users.
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.