There are many reasons why someone may prefer wired headphones over wireless ones. Wired headphones eliminate lag between what you see and what you hear in movies or video games. They also work instantly with devices that support 1/8” audio inputs and have no annoying pairing procedures. Most wired headphones work completely passively, so you don’t have to keep an eye on their battery levels. Some headphones with active features like noise cancellation do require batteries, but they generally last longer than wireless models with similar features.
We’ve tested nearly 400 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best wired headphones to buy in 2019. 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 DJ headphones, and the best headphones for studio use.
The best wired headphones for casual use that we’ve tested so far are the Bose QuietComfort 25/QC25. They’re versatile over-ear headphones with excellent noise cancelling. They’re outstandingly comfortable, sound very good, are easy-to-use, and are quite reasonably priced compared to Bose’s other noise cancelling headsets.
These headphones have a balanced sound that lends itself well to music of a wide variety of genres as well as podcasts or audiobooks. They isolate a remarkable amount of noise across the board and will help block out everything from the deep rumble of bus and plane engines to the chatter of a lively office quite effectively. They use AAA batteries to power their noise cancelling system and can last for over 30 hours of playback before the batteries need to be changed.
On the downside, they leak quite a bit of sound, so they’re not the ideal headphones to use if you work in a noise-sensitive office since you might bother your colleagues with your music. Also, you can only purchase them in Apple or Android-specific variants, which can be frustrating if you have an Android phone but also an iPad, for example. That said, they’re still the most well-rounded wired headphones we’ve tested so far and are easy to recommend for casual use.
If there’s nothing you enjoy more than sitting back in a quiet room and listening to your favorite albums with a premium pair of headphones, get the Sennheiser HD 800 S. They’re not as versatile as the Bose QuietComfort 25/QC25, since they’re open-back headphones and don’t isolate noise at all, but they sound amazing. They’re the best audiophile headphones we’ve tested so far and are excellent for enjoying music in a quiet listening room.
These headphones have an expertly-balanced sound that caters well to all music. They also have a spacious soundstage that can help you feel like you’re listening to music on speakers instead of with headphones. Some may find them a little shy on bass, but with a proper EQ you can tweak them just to your liking.
They may offer an outstanding listening experience, but they’re very expensive. You’ll also need a powerful amplifier to drive these headphones, so they’re quite the investment. You may want to consider the HiFiMan Ananda if you’re looking for great-sounding open-back headphones that aren’t as costly, but they've been known to have some quality control issues. If the HD 800 S fall within your budget, then they're a safer bet.
If you're looking for audiophile-worthy headphones but don't want to spend a small fortune, then get the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee. They lack the spacious, natural soundstage of the Sennheiser HD 800 S, and they're only available for purchase from Drop.com, but they have a similar sound profile at a much more affordable price point. They even pack a bit more bass, which is great for fans of electronic music. Although they feel well-built overall, they're a bit plasticky and their headband fits rather tightly. The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO feel like more comfortable, durable headphones overall, but their cable isn't detachable, and they can sound a little sharp to some.
Get the HD 800 S if money is no object and you're after a truly premium listening experience, but if you're looking for something more modest that still sounds great, then get the HD 58X Jubilee.
If you want headphones with a balanced, neutral sound but are concerned about sound leakage, then get the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They don't provide the same immersive, speaker-like listening experience of the Sennheiser HD 800 S, but their closed-back design leaks significantly less sound, which makes them much better for studio recording. They come with three detachable cable options of varying lengths and can even fold up into a more compact format, which is handy for producers or DJs on-the-go. The iconic Sony MDR-7506 are even more portable and also sound very good, but they're less comfortable and feel a bit cheaply built.
Get the Sennheiser if you prefer open-back headphones for mixing, but if you need something with less leakage for studio recording, then go for the Audio-Technica.
The best wired earphones we've tested so far are the 1More Triple Driver. They’re lightweight, ultra-portable in-ear headphones that come with a great carrying case to help protect them on-the-go. They come with 9 tip options, including both silicone and foam tips to help you find your ideal fit, and feel like premium earbuds.
These earbuds have great audio reproduction and are well-suited for a variety of genres. Also, since they're wired, you don't have to worry about any latency, which makes them a solid choice if you like to watch videos on your phone.
Although they feel fairly durable overall, the section of their cable leading up to the earbuds feels thinner than the rest and prone to breakage. The cable is also not detachable, so if it ever breaks you would need to repurchase the earbuds entirely. Consider the KZ AS10 if you’re looking for better-built wired earbuds with a detachable cable, but some find they sound a bit bright.
If you have an iPhone and take a lot of calls on-the-go, then get the Beats urBeats3. They’re a bit less versatile than 1More Triple Driver since they have limited compatibility with Android, but they're a solid choice if you have an iPhone especially since you can get them with either a regular audio jack or a Lightning connector. They have magnetic earbuds for easier cable management, a decent in-line microphone, and sound surprisingly well-balanced, too. Their in-ear fit won't be comfortable for everyone, but their narrow earbud design makes them the best wired earbuds for small ears we’ve tested so far.
Get the 1More if you prefer wired earphones with a more premium look and feel or use Android, but if you're an iPhone user who wants something with a decent mic and sound quality, then go for the Beats.
The best wired headphones for gaming are the Astro A40 TR + MixAmp Pro 2019. They’re among the best Xbox One headphones we’ve tested so far, especially if you don’t like having to worry about battery life or latency. They’re comfortable, well-built headphones that you can get for the Xbox One or the PS4, and they work with PC as well.
They come with a physical control box they call the MixAmp Pro that helps provide a highly customizable gaming experience. When you connect the headphones to the Astro Command Center on your PC, you can create custom EQ presets and assign them to the MixAmp so you can tweak your sound even if you’re gaming on a console.
They're open-back headphones, so they don’t isolate any sound by design. Some gamers will appreciate the openness, but this can be disruptive if you have roommates or live with a partner and don’t want to disturb them while gaming. You can purchase a kit from Astro that transforms them into closed-back headphones, but it’s expensive. The SteelSeries Arctis Pro GameDAC are closed-back wired gaming headphones that are great for PC and PS4 but have limited compatibility with the Xbox One.
If you need headphones with a good mic for gaming but prefer something with a more casual design, then get the Logitech G433. They’re not as comfortable as the Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2019, but they have a more versatile design. Their boom microphone performs remarkably well, and it's even detachable for more casual look. The headphones are a bit bulky, and they don’t isolate noise very well, but come with lots of different cable options and adapters, including a cable with an in-line mic and remote, so you can take calls on your phone.
Get the Astro if you're not planning on wearing your gaming headphones while you're out and about, but if you're after something with a more versatile design that works whether you’re gaming at home or listening to your favorite playlist on-the-go, then get the Logitech.
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.
10/28/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.