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 384 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. 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, 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 Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO if you’re looking for great-sounding open-back headphones that aren’t as costly. However, if they fall within your budget and you truly care about sound, the Sennheiser are the way to go.
If you’re looking for great-sounding open-back headphones that are more affordable, then get the Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee. They’re only available from Drop.com and don’t have the same outstanding soundstage of the Sennheiser HD 800 S, but they still have excellent audio reproduction and even pack a bit more bass. They sound remarkably well-balanced and are suitable for a wide range of music genres thanks to their improved bass performance.
Although their build quality feels good, especially for the price, they don’t feel as durable as the Beyerdynamic DT 990, which are also slightly more comfortable. Although the Beyerdynamic don’t have a detachable cable, their entire build feels more solid and their integrated cable is coiled and reinforced for added durability. They sound slightly sharper, but both headphones otherwise perform quite similarly overall, so your decision will come down largely to personal preference.
If you prefer the versatility of closed-back headphones but still want something that sounds great, go for the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They’re lacking the spacious soundstage of the Sennheiser HD 800 S, but they have a very well-balanced sound that packs a lot more bass without sounding too boomy or cluttered. They’re great for DJs looking for well-built headphones to carry between sets and are the best studio headphones we’ve reviewed so far.
They are well-built headphones for the price, but their frame doesn’t feel as durable as that of the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. The Beyerdynamic also have impressive sound, but some find them a bit sharp or sibilant. They also don’t have a detachable cable like the M50x. Overall, these are great headphones for listening to music and provide excellent value for their price.
The best wired earbuds we've tested are the 1More Triple Driver. They’re among the best cheap earbuds we’ve reviewed so far. 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. They have great audio reproduction and are well-suited for a variety of genres.
Although they feel like premium earbuds 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 take a lot of calls on your phone and are looking for cheap wired earbuds that can keep up, consider the Beats urBeats3. They’re not as versatile as the 1More Triple Driver since their in-line remote doesn’t work fully on Android, but they provide very good value for their price with iOS devices and have a surprisingly decent microphone. They have a well-balanced sound that’s suitable for all music genres and even have magnetic earbuds for easier cable management.
On the downside, these headphones have a fairly typical in-ear fit that enters the ear canal quite deeply, which might not be very comfortable for some people. Their earbuds are very narrow, though, which makes them the best wired earbuds for small ears that we’ve tested to date. If you don’t mind their fit and use an iPhone, the Beats urBeats3 are a solid option with a satisfying microphone.
The best wired headphones for gaming are the Astro A40 TR + MixAmp Pro 2019. They’re among the best Xbox One headsets we’ve tested so far, especially if you don’t like having to worry about battery life and other wireless woes. 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 are 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 sound better and have a more versatile design that works whether you’re gaming at home or listening to your favorite playlist on-the-go. They have an outstanding boom microphone that you can detach for a more casual look and come with lots of different cable options and adapters, including a cable with an in-line mic and remote.
Although they have a sleek look that’s less of an eyesore in public than most gaming headphones, they’re still a bit bulky. They don’t isolate noise very well, so if you use them in the subway or on the bus, you’ll hear the deep engine rumbles seep into your music. They also leak quite a bit of sound, so if you listen to your music loudly at the office you might disturb your colleagues. That said, they’re still one of the most versatile PC gaming headsets we’ve seen and are a good option if you’re looking for wired headphones that have a practical design for both gaming and outdoor use.
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.