While it can feel like there's a general trend to move towards wireless headphones, a wired design offers many benefits. A wired connection eliminates audio lag, which is beneficial for studio use, while their analog cable can instantly connect to devices with an AUX input like an amplifier or DAC. Wired headphones work passively, so you don't need to worry about running out of battery. While the gap between wired and wireless headphones is growing smaller and smaller when it comes to audio quality, you may still prefer to use a wired design to ensure you hear all the detail your audio has to offer.
We’ve tested over 670 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best wired options. If you’re looking for our top picks for more specific types of wired headphones, check out our choices for the best audiophile headphones, the best gaming headsets, and the best headphones for studio use.
The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO are the best closed-back wired headphones we've tested. Despite their closed-back design, these headphones create an out-of-head and large-seeming passive soundstage, which helps make your audio more immersive. They also offer a comfortable fit with soft microfiber earcup padding.
Their sound profile is very neutral, with a flat, well-balanced bass response that ensures your music has rumble, body, and punch. The mid-range is also very neutral, so instruments and lead vocals are present and detailed. The metal frame gives them a sturdy feel, and they have a coiled audio cable that can help prevent tangles. There's a 1/8" to 1/4" adapter included in the box, so you can easily connect to a mixer or amp.
However, they have a slightly bright sound that makes some elements of mixes, like cymbals and S and T sounds, seem a bit piercing. They're also prone to inconsistent audio delivery, and you may notice a drop in bass if you wear glasses or have thick hair. If you're looking for closed-back wired headphones, they offer a versatile sound profile and a comfortable, well-built design.
If you're looking for closed-back wired headphones with more accessories, try the Audio-Technica ATΗ-M50x. Their passive soundstage seems smaller and less natural than the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, but they come with three audio cables, including a 10-foot coiled cable, which gives you plenty of space to move around and helps prevent tangles as well. Their sound profile is very neutral, though there's a bit of overemphasis in the bass range that adds some extra boom to your audio. They're also similarly comfortable and well-built. Unfortunately, even though they also have a closed-back design, they block out significantly less ambient noise. They both lack active noise cancelling (ANC), and neither pair is ideal if noise isolation is a priority.
If you prefer a more neutral, accurate bass response, go for the Beyerdynamic, but try the Audio-Technica if you like a slightly bass-rich sound or want a few different audio cables to choose from.
The best wired over-ear headphones with an open-back design we've tested are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. These premium headphones can create an incredibly spacious and immersive passive soundstage. They also have a well-balanced sound profile with a very neutral mid-range, ensuring the accurate reproduction of vocals and lead instruments.
These headphones are very well-built, and their spacious ear cups ensure a very comfortable fit. They also have very good breathability, so your ears won't feel too warm if you're listening to audio for long periods. When you aren't using them, you can place them in their carrying pouch to help protect them from dust and minor scratches. They also come with a 1/4" to 1/8" adapter so you can connect them to your amp or mixer.
Unfortunately, you need a powerful amp to drive these headphones, and this can be an extra expense if you don't already have one. Their open-back design also means they bleed audio and won't block any background noise. They struggle to reproduce low-bass, so if you're looking for open-back headphones that can deliver more thump and rumble, check out the HiFiMan Arya. These headphones are well-suited for audiophiles who want a balanced and immersive audio experience.
The best wired earbuds that we've tested are the MOONDROP Aria. If you're looking for earbuds for music and prefer a wired design, these in-ear monitors (IEMs) offer a well-balanced sound suitable for a variety of genres. There's a bit of overemphasis in the bass range that adds warmth to your audio, while instruments and lead vocals sound clear and detailed.
They're quite well-built, with metal earbuds that seem sturdy, and they feel lighter than the MOONDROP KATO. They also come with a better hard case to help protect them from accidental drops and bumps. The cable is detachable, and you can replace it if it breaks. They passively block out a good amount of mid-range noise, so they can help isolate you from sounds like background chatter at the office.
Unfortunately, some users have reported issues with their build, including paint chipping off the buds and loose connectors, so they may not be very durable. They also lack controls and a mic by default; although, if you want to use them for phone calls, you can buy a separate audio cable with a mic.
The Philips SHP9500 are the best wired over-ear headphones for under $100 that we've tested. These affordable headphones have a very comfortable fit, meaning you won't feel fatigued during long listening sessions. Thanks to their open-back design, they create a wide, spacious-seeming passive soundstage that helps make your audio more immersive.
They have a very neutral sound profile, with a very accurate mid-range response that ensures vocals and lead instruments reproduce accurately. Their treble response is flat but a bit overemphasized, bringing out details and adds brightness to mixes. They deliver sound quite consistently and come with a 1/8" to 1/4" adapter, meaning you can connect them to a mixer or amp out-of-the-box.
Unfortunately, their build feels somewhat plasticky, and some parts, like the swiveling ear cups, feel prone to breaking over time. Like most open-back headphones, they're best used in a quiet environment since they leak a lot of audio and don't isolate you from very much ambient sound. They're worth considering if you're looking for budget-friendly headphones to use at home or in the studio.
The best budget wired headphones we've tested are the Superlux HD 681. These over-ear headphones are lightweight and have a very comfortable fit. Their semi-open design helps them create a soundstage that seems open and spacious, making your listening experience more immersive.
They also have a very neutral sound profile that's suitable for a variety of genres and types of content. Their bass response is slightly overemphasized across the range, adding some extra rumble, punch, and boom to mixes, but instruments and lead vocals are present and detailed. They have consistent bass and treble delivery, so you should get the same sound each time you wear them.
You may notice a drop in bass if you have thick hair or wear glasses. Their inexpensive price is reflected in their build quality since they're mostly made of low-grade plastic, and the audio cable isn't detachable. Otherwise, if you're looking for an affordable pair of wired headphones for music, these are a good option.
May 02, 2022: Replaced the MOONDROP Kato with the MOONDROP Aria because the Kato have a more comfortable fit and a more neutral sound.
Mar 03, 2022: Verified that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are available.
Jan 31, 2022: Major article overhaul to better match our picks to user expectations. Added the following headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, MOONDROP KATO, Philips SHP9500, and the Superlux HD 681. Removed the following headphones: 1More Triple Driver, HiFiMan Arya, Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2019, SteelSeries Arctis Pro GameDAC, and the Samsung AKG Type-C.
Jan 06, 2022: Checked our picks for availability and accuracy. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.
Dec 10, 2021: Replaced the Logitech G Pro X Gaming Headset with the SteelSeries Arctis Pro GameDAC offer more wired connectivity options.
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.