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 450 pairs of 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 audiophile headphones.
If you like the thump and rumble of your favorite tunes, the Sony WH-1000XM3 are the best headphones for music with a lot of bass that we've tested so far. They have a warm sound with a deep, punchy bass great for EDM, hip-hop, and R&B that's sure to easily please most listeners and is versatile enough for all genres and content. They also have an excellent 27-hour battery life, and look and feel very premium and well-built.
If you want more control over their sound profile, you can tweak it via a graphic EQ or presets in their great dedicated companion app. There's also a ton of other features to help personalize your listening experience, such as a dedicated bass slider, virtual soundstage options, and room effects. They also have the best ANC (active noise cancelling) we've tested, making them a great choice to give you peace and quiet wherever you are.
Unfortunately, they use touch-sensitive controls on their ear cups, which can be a bit finicky, and don't work properly in colder climates. They also lack some features that are beginning to become more common, like an auto-off timer and multi-device pairing. That being said, their well-balanced sound profile, comfortable and premium design, and great customization options put them among the best wireless headphones we've tested.
If you want something that's much easier to toss in your pocket, go with the Jabra Elite Active 75t. Their in-ear fit isn't as comfortable as the well-padded over-ear design of the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, and they don't have ANC to help block out background noise, but they're much more portable, and they feel a lot more stable. They last around 6.5 hours off a single charge, but can easily be topped up by tossing them into their charging case, for a total of around 26 hours battery. They have a very well-balanced sound profile that's versatile enough for most genres and content, but have even more low-bass than the Sony, great to bring out the drops in your favorite dubstep or EDM tracks. While we don't test for it, they're rated IP57 for full water and sweat resistance. If you want to save a few bucks, you may also want to consider the Jabra Elite 75t Truly Wireless, which are basically identical but with a lower IP rating.
If you want a more comfortable pair of headphones that'll help give you some extra quiet, go with the Sony. However, if you prefer the extreme portability of truly wireless in-ears but still like a good amount of extra thump and rumble, get the Jabra.
The Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best headphones for soundstage that we've tested so far. They can easily please audiophiles thanks to their expertly-balanced sound and spacious soundstage. They look and feel extremely well-built and are very comfortable even during the longest of listening sessions.
Thanks to their open-back design, they produce an outstanding soundstage that's spacious and natural, helping you to get the most immersive audio experience possible. Unfortunately, they're very expensive, and in order to get the best sound from them, you also need a powerful amplifier. On the bright side, they have exceptional audio fidelity and although they're slightly bright, they have an even mid-range and treble which is well-suited for all genres of music.
As is to be expected from open-back headphones, they leak a ton of audio and block out almost no background noise. If you want closed-back headphones with a virtual soundstage feature to create the illusion of a wider soundstage, check out the Audeze Mobius, though we don't currently test virtual soundstages. That being said, the Sennheiser provide an exceptional, immersive listening experience that makes them the best open-back headphones we've tested.
The best headphones for music primarily driven by vocals and instruments that we’ve tested so far are the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee. Available as an exclusive collaboration between Sennheiser and Massdrop, they can only found directly from the Drop website. For their price point, these open-back headphones also have a decently spacious soundstage and their overall build quality feels good.
They have a well-balanced sound profile thanks to their exceptionally even mid-range and fairly neutral and bass ranges as well. Vocals and lead instruments are especially clear and present, which is great for genres like jazz or pop. Fans of bass-heavy genres may find them a bit lacking in low-bass, though this is expected from open-back headphones.
Unfortunately, some may find them fit a bit tight, which can be uncomfortable when using them for long listening sessions. The joints connecting to the frame also feel a little fragile and weak, though we haven't experienced any issues with our test unit to date. Overall, they perform well for their price point and are well-suited for vocal and instrument-driven genres.
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 Truly Wireless. While they don't create the same listening experience as the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee, they're still among the best sounding wireless earbuds we’ve tested so far and have a well-balanced sound that should please most listeners. On the downside, they don't have an EQ in their companion app and they 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, then go for the Sennheiser. 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 so far 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 to date. 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 genres of music 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 themselves 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 any EQ settings. That being said, overall they provide outstanding value and are among the best headphones that we've tested.
07/10/2020: Replaced SuperLux HD 681 with SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019. Moved Audeze Mobius to Notable Mentions. Updated text for clarity and accuracy.
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. 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.