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The 7 Best Wired Headphones - Winter 2023 Reviews

Updated
Best Wired Headphones

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 705 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 headphones for studio use, and the best DJ headphones.


  1. Best Wired Headphones

    The best wired over-ear headphones we've tested are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. These audiophile headphones are the best but aren't for everyone. Their high-price point can already put them out of reach of most people, but you'll also need a powerful amp to drive them, which can be an extra expense if you don't already have one. However, if you're prepared to shell out the money, these well-known headphones create an incredibly spacious and immersive passive soundstage, thanks to their open-back enclosure. They bleed audio by design, so it's best to use them in a quiet room.

    These over-ears have a well-balanced sound profile with a very neutral mid-range, ensuring the accurate reproduction of vocals and lead instruments. Although they lack a thumpy low-bass, this is normal for open-back headphones, and overall, these still have some warmth to their sound, thanks to a small bump in their high-bass. They come with two different kinds of audio cables, including one with an XLR plug and another with a 1/4" TRS plug, so you can easily connect them to your audio interface. They're also very comfortable, ensuring you don't feel fatigue while wearing them for long studio sessions.

    See our review

  2. Upper Mid-Range Wired Headphones

    If you're looking for headphones for less than $1,000, you'll want to check out the HiFiMan Arya, the best upper mid-range wired headphones we've tested. At this price point, you can expect a slight dip in build quality, though the headphones in this price point usually still have great build qualities. What helps them stand out from the crowd is their planar magnetic design. While this makes them heavier than the Sennheiser HD 800 S, this design helps them reproduce bass more accurately. They also have a ski-band headband design to help distribute their weight, which ensures a comfortable listening experience. They have a touch of extra treble, which makes vocals and instruments sound bright and detailed. It can make sibilants like hi-hats a bit piercing, though. Thanks to their planar magnetic design, they have an excellent soundstage performance that makes audio seem immersive and spacious. They also deliver bass and treble consistently upon multiple reseats.

    HiFiMan has re-released these headphones, and this model is colloquially known as the Arya V3. They have 'Stealth Magnets', which the manufacturer advertises to improve sound quality by lowering distortion and increasing transparency. We tested the V2 variant, which doesn't have this stealth magnet design, and since we haven't tested the V3 yet, there may be a minor variance in sound quality between both models. The V2 are still available via the manufacturer's website, though.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Wired Headphones

    The best mid-range wired headphones we've tested are the HiFiMan Edition XS. These headphones use planar magnetic drivers, just like the HiFiMan Arya. However, their cheaper price means a compromise in build quality, as unlike their high-end sibling, the Edition XS have plastic hinges. They also lack the ski-band design to help distribute their weight over your head, which makes the headband feel heavy, especially on smaller heads. That said, they're well-built overall and have a comfortable fit for most people. If you don't mind the differences in their design and build, they offer a comparable performance to the Arya for less.

    They have a versatile sound profile that reproduces vocals and instruments clearly. Sibilants like hi-hats are bright without being piercing. They deliver audio consistently, so you don't need to worry much about getting a different sound from use to use. Their open-backed design helps create an open, spacious, and natural passive soundstage, which helps make your audio more immersive.

    See our review

  4. Best Lower Mid-Range Wired Headphones

    The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO are the best mid-range wired headphones we've tested. Unlike the previous picks, these have a closed-back design, making them worth checking out if you want a pair of headphones that can block out some background noise and don't leak as much audio. However, they also produce a less spacious-seeming, immersive passive soundstage than open-backs like the HiFiMan Edition XS. They do a better job of reproducing the thump and rumble of low bass compared to the previous open-back picks. They also have a well-balanced, accurate mid-range response, with instruments and lead vocals that sound present and detailed.

    However, they have a slightly bright sound profile that makes elements like cymbals or S and T sounds seem piercing. Their audio delivery is a bit inconsistent, so people who wear glasses or have thick hair might notice a drop in bass. If you're looking for a less analytical sound, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x have a more recessed treble range, so sibilants are dull rather than harsh. It's a warmer sound, and they create a less natural soundstage.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Wired Headphones

    The Philips SHP9500 are the best wired over-ear headphones we've tested at the budget level. At this price point, it's common to find more plasticky headphones, and these affordable over-ears are no exception. Although their swiveling ear cups feel prone to breakage over time, they still have a very comfortable fit, meaning you won't feel fatigued during long listening sessions. They also have an open-back design, so they can create a wide, spacious-seeming passive soundstage that helps make your audio more immersive.

    Like most open-back headphones, 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 adding brightness to mixes. Still, they're a lot lighter on thump and rumble than the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, which could be a little disappointing if you're looking for more bass in your audio. On the upside, they deliver sound 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.

    See our review

  6. Best Cheap Wired Headphones

    For those on a shoestring budget, the best cheap wired headphones we've tested are the Superlux HD 681. You have to make quite a bit of sacrifice at this price point as their affordability reflects in their build quality. They're mostly made of low-grade plastic, and the audio cable isn't detachable. That said, they're still worth checking out, especially as they have a semi-open design, unlike the previous picks, including the Philips SHP9500. It helps them create a soundstage that seems open and spacious, making your listening experience more immersive; however, it also has the added benefit of blocking some background noise and reducing audio bleed.

    These over-ear headphones are lightweight and have a very comfortable fit. They also have a very neutral sound profile 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 fairly consistent bass and treble delivery, but you may notice a drop in bass if you have thick hair or wear glasses.

    See our review

  7. Best Wired Earbuds

    The best wired earbuds we've tested are the MOONDROP Aria. These in-ear monitors (IEMs) are more versatile than the over-ears listed here. Although they don't have controls or a mic out of the box, you can buy an audio cable with an in-line mic separately, meaning you can use them for calls. They have a small, light design, so you can slip them into your pocket or use them on the go. There's also a carrying case included to help protect them from damage when you're on the move.

    They have a fairly neutral sound profile that adds a touch of extra warmth to your audio. Voices and instruments are present and clear, so their sound is suitable for most genres and types of content. They're sturdy, and their cables loop over your ears, which helps keep them stable. They don't block out much background noise, but unlike the open-back over-ears recommended here, they don't leak very much audio, so you can crank up the volume without bothering people nearby.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO: The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO are open-back audiophile headphones with a well-built design and a slightly excited sound profile. However, they're not as comfortable as the Sennheiser HD 800 S, and their passive soundstage doesn't feel as immersive. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 600: The Sennheiser HD 600 are open-back headphones with a fairly neutral sound profile and an open, spacious passive soundstage. However, they don't feel as well-built as the Sennheiser HD 800 S, and they struggle more to reproduce low-bass. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 560S: The Sennheiser HD 560S are open-back headphones, substantially cheaper than the Sennheiser HD 800 S, with a similarly well-balanced sound profile. However, their soundstage isn't quite as expansive or natural. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee: The Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee are open-backed headphones ideal for critical listening, but they aren't as comfortable as the Philips SHP9500. You can also only buy them on Drop.com. See our review
  • Sony MDR-7506: The Sony MDR-7506 are closed-back over-ears with a retro look and feel. They have a fairly neutral and balanced sound profile, although their passive soundstage seems smaller than that created by the open-back Philips SHP9500. However, they'll block out a bit more ambient noise and leak less audio. See our review
  • MOONDROP KATO: The MOONDROP KATO are very well-built IEMs with swappable nozzles. They produce more thump and rumble than the MOONDROP Aria but aren't as comfortable, and their carrying case isn't as well-built. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Jan 25, 2023: Made minor updates to the text and checked that the products are in stock.

  2. Oct 28, 2022: We've added the HiFiMan Arya as the 'Best Upper Mid-Range' pick and shifted the list accordingly, making the HiFiMan Edition XS the 'Best Mid-Range' pick.

  3. Aug 02, 2022: We've revamped this article to help provide better picks for users. We've added the HiFiMan Edition XS and removed the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. We've also cleaned up some out-of-date Notable Mentions.

  4. May 02, 2022: Replaced the MOONDROP Kato with the MOONDROP Aria because the Kato have a more comfortable fit and a more neutral sound.

  5. Mar 03, 2022: Verified that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are available.

All Reviews

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.

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