The 7 Best Headphones For Music - Spring 2021 Reviews

Updated
Best Headphones For Music
589 Headphones Tested
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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 570 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.


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

    6.9
    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 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" 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 are also among the best bass headphones that 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'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.

    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 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 prefer planar magnetic headphones to help create a spacious and open soundstage, consider the HiFiMan Arya. While they're not as well-built as the Sennheiser HD 800 S, the HiFiMan have an outstanding passive soundstage that is perceived as open and natural, thanks to their planar magnetic design. They can reproduce a bit more low-bass than the Sennheiser and have an impressively flat and neutral overall sound profile. They also have a comfortable, well-padded fit and their audio cable is detachable, which makes it easy to swap it out if the cable gets damaged. Unfortunately, they're just as high-end as the Sennheiser, and their price-point may put them out of reach for some users. They also leak audio and won't block out any background noise, so you need to use them in a quiet room.

    If you want better-built headphones with a wide passive soundstage, check out the Sennheiser. However, if you're looking for headphones with a planar magnetic transducer that can reproduce a bit more low-bass, try the HiFiMan.

    See our review

  5. Best Headphones For Vocals And Instruments: Philips SHP9500

    8.1
    Neutral Sound
    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 are the Philips SHP9500. They're impressive for neutral sound, and their comfortable design is ideal for long listening sessions. Due to their wired design, you don't have to worry about running out of battery while listening, which is nice.

    They have balanced, neutral mid and treble ranges that help reproduce clear and accurate vocals and lead instruments. Thanks to their open-back design, they can create an open, spacious soundstage. As a result, you really feel immersed in your favorite songs when listening with these headphones.

    Unfortunately, like most open-back headphones, they struggle to reproduce low-bass, which can be disappointing for fans of bass-heavy genres. Also, they have terrible noise isolation, and they leak a lot of noise. However, if you like listening to vocal and instrument-centric music at home, they're a solid choice.

    See our review

  6. Closed-Back Alternative: Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless

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

    If you're looking for headphones with a closed-back design, check out the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless. While they aren't as comfortable as the Philips SHP9500 and their passive soundstage doesn't seem as spacious, the Samsung's closed-back design can help cut down some ambient noise around you, which is handy when you're on-the-go. They have a very neutral sound profile right out-of-the-box and can reproduce low-bass quite accurately. While they don't have a more robust EQ, there are presets you can select if you want to tweak their sound a bit. They also have good overall build quality, leak less audio at high volumes, and last for over 13 hours on a single charge. Their carrying case even includes an additional charge, which is nice.

    Try the Philips if you're looking for a more open and spacious soundstage to help immerse you in your music. However, consider the Samsung if you want to block out some background noise when enjoying music in more busy or loud environments.

    See our review

  7. Best Budget Headphones For Music: Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless

    7.8
    Neutral Sound
    Type Over-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless are the best budget headphones for music that we've tested. These affordable over-ears have a neutral sound profile with just a touch of extra bass, which fans of EDM and hip-hop may enjoy. They're also decently comfortable, lightweight, and have soft padding.

    They have a very flat and neutral mid-range, which helps reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly and accurately. Even if you're listening to your music at a high volume, they don't leak too much audio. Thanks to their over 24 hours of continuous playback time, you can listen to music for hours at a time. They also have an ANC, and while it does just an alright job overall, it can help cut down some background noise around you.

    Unfortunately, they lack a more robust EQ and offer only two EQ presets. You may also find their fit a bit tight or unnatural if you have a large head. They have a poor passive soundstage too, and while it sounds large, it feels a bit unnatural and as if coming from inside your head. Also, some users have experienced their unit's headband cracking or breaking over time. That said, if you're looking for a wallet-friendly pair of headphones for music, they're a suitable choice.

    See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Mar 12, 2021: Removed the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019 as they aren't currently available and replaced them with the Plantronics BackBeats Go 810 Wireless. Also replaced the Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless with the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless and added the HiFiMan Arya, as these headphones represent a better value to most users.

  2. Jan 13, 2021: Removed the Audeze Mobius and the Corsair HS60 from Notable Mentions as they aren't widely available. Added the HiFiMan Sundara, the Superlux HD 668B, and the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless to Notable Mentions. Minor updates to the text, but no changes in product picks after re-evaluating their position and their availability.

  3. Nov 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.

  4. Sep 08, 2020: Replaced Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee with Philips SHP9500. Moved Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee to Notable Mentions.

  5. Jul 10, 2020: Replaced SuperLux HD 681 with SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019. Moved Audeze Mobius to Notable Mentions.

Notable Mentions

For Bass

  • 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
  • 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 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 681: These budget open-back over-ears have a well-balanced sound that's consistent among various users, but aren't nearly as well-built or versatile as our main pick. See our review
  • Superlux HS 668B: These semi-open headphones have a neutral sound profile with an extra kick in the bass and a good soundstage, but they aren't as comfortable or well-built as more premium headphones. 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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