While it can feel like there's a general trend to move towards wireless headphones, a wired design offers many benefits for various users. A wired connection eliminates lag for gamers and movie-streamers alike, while their cable can instantly connect with devices with a 1/8" audio input. You don't have to worry about charging most wired headphones as they work passively, and although some use batteries for active noise cancellation, they tend to last longer than similarly designed wireless headphones.
We’ve tested over 630 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best wired headphones to buy. The picks in this article are intended to showcase a broad range of headphones for various uses that would benefit from a wired connection, from gaming to critical listening to casual use. If you’re looking for our top picks for more specific types of wired headphones, check out our recommendations for the best audiophile headphones, the best gaming headsets, and the best headphones for studio use.
The best wired over-ear headphones that we've tested are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. These closed-back headphones are made with audiophiles in mind. They have a comfortable fit with spacious ear cups and durable build quality, making them well-suited for long listening sessions.
These headphones have a neutral sound profile that can reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly and accurately. Although their passive soundstage isn't very spacious, it's perceived as natural-sounding and as if coming from out in front of you rather than as if coming from within your head. They also come with three different audio cables, including a coiled cable that can stretch up to ten feet, which is nice if you like to move around your studio.
Unfortunately, they're not versatile since they don't have a microphone and lack any control scheme. They also have a poor noise isolation performance, and they struggle to block out the rumble of bus engines and office chatter. That said, thanks to their neutral sound profile and comfortable fit, they're a suitable choice for users looking for wired over-ear headphones. They're also one of the best studio headphones we've tested.
The best wired earbuds that we've tested are the 1More Triple Driver. These in-ears are partly made of metal and feel well-built and sturdy. They're lightweight and come with several pairs of silicone and foam ear tips in various sizes so you can find the best fit for you.
Their bass-rich sound profile adds a bit of extra punch and boom to mixes, while their very accurate mid-range response ensures vocals and lead instruments sound present and clear. They don't leak a lot of sound, even when you're listening to your audio at high volumes, and their in-line mic has a good recording quality. Conveniently, they also come with a hard plastic case to protect them from drops and bumps.
Unfortunately, they lack an active noise cancelling (ANC) feature and don't do a good job of passively isolating you from ambient noise. Also, their passive soundstage is perceived as small, and their sound seems to come from inside your head, which is typical of in-ear headphones. Otherwise, if you're looking for wired earbuds, these are versatile and offer a well-balanced sound.
The Sennheiser HD 800 S are the best wired headphones for audiophiles that we've tested. These premium over-ear headphones have a well-balanced sound profile suitable for many types of content and genres. Thanks to their open-back design, they have an incredible passive soundstage performance and create a spacious, immersive listening experience.
They have an excellent build quality and a very comfortable fit, with large, roomy earcups and suede-like earcup padding. They're also quite breathable, so they shouldn't make your ears feel overly hot during long listening sessions. They come with a carrying pouch to protect them from minor scratches and splashes, and there's also a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter included so you can easily connect them to an amp.
Unfortunately, their open-back design means they leak a lot of sound and don't isolate you from very much ambient sound, so they're best-suited for quieter environments. They also lack onboard controls and a mic, like a lot of audiophile headphones. That said, they're an excellent choice for neutral sound and have a comfortable fit for long listening sessions.
If you prefer headphones with a planar magnetic transducer, take a look at the HiFiMan Arya. They trap more heat against your ears than the Sennheiser HD 800 S and aren't as well-built, but they have a planar magnetic transducer and a sound profile that delivers a little more low bass. It's very well-balanced and neutral, with a touch of brightness that can help bring out details in your mixes. These headphones also create a wide, speaker-like soundstage and have a comfortable fit, so you shouldn't experience much fatigue if you wear them for long periods. They feel premium and durable, although they aren't as well-built as the Sennheiser.
If you want audiophile headphones that come with a carrying pouch or an extra audio cable, go for the Sennheiser, but try the HiFiMan if you want the option with a planar magnetic transducer or a somewhat more bass-rich sound profile.
The Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2019 are the best wired headphones for gaming that we've tested. These over-ear gaming headphones offer a latency-free connection with consoles and PCs when you use them via analog connection. They're well-built, comfortable, and come with a MixAmp that puts controls for volume, channel mixing, and more within easy reach while you game.
Their detachable boom mic has a great overall performance, so your voice sounds clear and full-bodied even when you're speaking in a noisy setting. Their warm default sound profile brings a bit of extra punch and boom to game audio, but if you prefer a different sound, you can also customize it with an EQ in the headphones' companion software. Thanks to their open-back design, they have a spacious-seeming, speaker-like passive soundstage.
Unfortunately, they're bulky and don't have a carrying case or pouch to make them more portable. Also, like most open-back headphones, they leak a lot of audio and don't isolate you from any ambient sound, so they aren't ideal for use in crowded or loud places. However, if that's a problem for you, Astro sells a kit that allows you to convert them to closed-back headphones.
If you want headphones that are also suitable for day-to-day use, you may prefer the Logitech G Pro X Gaming Headset. Βecause of their closed-back design, their passive soundstage seems much smaller and less natural than that of the Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2019, but they also leak much less audio and isolate you from much more ambient sound. Their boom mic also has a good overall performance. If you want a more casual look, you can easily detach it and use the second audio cable with in-line mic to take phone calls. Their sound profile delivers some extra boom, which can help to bring out sound effects in games, but if you prefer a different sound, it can also be customized with a graphic EQ and presets in the G HUB companion software.
If you're looking for gaming headphones to use in a mostly quiet environment, go for the Astro. However, consider the Logitech instead if you want to use them at the office or during your commute.
The Samsung AKG Type-C are the best budget wired headphones that we tested. They use a USB-C connector, which means that they're only compatible with devices that also have a USB-C port, like newer smartphones. These simple and lightweight in-ears also have very low latency, so your audio stays in sync when you're streaming video.
They're made of sturdy-feeling silicone and plastic, which makes them feel well-built. They have a comfortable fit, so you can wear them for long listening sessions without feeling too much fatigue, and they can easily fit into most pockets or bags when you're on the move. They also have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that adds a touch of extra boom to your audio. That said, they're still neutral enough for a variety of audio content. Thanks to their in-line mic, you can also easily take calls. Your voice sounds clear but a little thin to whoever is on the other end of the line.
Unfortunately, their USB-C connector can limit which devices you can use them with since you can't use them with a regular AUX port. They're also not designed for sports as they can fall out of your ears with moderate head movements or if the audio cable snags on something. They struggle to block out noise like the low rumble of bus or plane engines too. However, they do a much better job of blocking out sounds like ambient chatter, which can be handy if you're working in an office setting.
Oct 19, 2021: Verified that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.
Aug 20, 2021: Verified that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock. There were no changes to picks.
Jun 22, 2021: Checked the text for accuracy and product availability. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.
Apr 23, 2021: Replaced the Philips SHP9500 with the HiFiMan Arya as they represent a better value to most users. Also added the Samsung AKG Type-C as the 'Best Budget' pick.
Feb 23, 2021: Added Hyper X Cloud Revolver + 7.1, Sennheiser HD 560S, and HyperX Cloud Stinger S to Notable Mentions. Verified that primary picks are still available and represent the best choice for their category.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best wired headphones to buy for most people depending on their needs. 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 for wired headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.