Get insider access
Preferred store
Your browser is not supported or outdated so some features of the site might not be available.
We've recently released our Test Bench 1.7 update for Headphones! Read the Noise isolation R&D Article to learn more.

The 6 Best Wired Headphones - Spring 2024 Reviews

Updated May 31, 2024 at 01:36 pm
Best Wired Headphones

While it can feel like there's a general trend to move towards wireless headphones, a wired design still offers many benefits. A wired connection eliminates audio lag, which is beneficial for studio use, while an analog cable can instantly connect to devices with an AUX input like an amplifier or a digital-to-analog converter (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 and with devices that lack wireless connectivity.

We've tested over 790 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. If you want wired headphones but your device lacks an analog headphone jack, check out the best USB-C headphones.

  1. Best Wired Headphones

    The best wired headphones we've tested are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. These top-of-the-line audiophile headphones are for people looking for the best. Their high price point already puts them out of reach of most people, and you'll also want to consider adding a powerful amp to drive them, which is 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 design.

    They're also very comfortable, so they won't cause fatigue during long studio sessions. They have a well-balanced sound profile with a very neutral mid-range, ensuring accurate vocals and lead instruments. Because of their open-back design, they lack low bass but still have some warmth to their sound, thanks to a small bump in the high bass. As open-back headphones, they bleed audio by design, so it's best to use them in a quiet room.

    If you're looking for high-end headphones that can reproduce more bass, try the HiFiMan Arya. These over-ears have planar magnetic drivers, which help improve their bass reproduction. As a result, they have better low-frequency extension and deliver more thump and punch. However, the HiFiMan aren't as well-built, and their soundstage is less natural-sounding, although it's still quite excellent.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Wired Headphones

    If you're looking for a premium pair of headphones but want to keep expenses under $1,000, the HiFiMan Edition XS are a good choice. Unlike the Sennheiser HD 800 S, these headphones have planar magnetic drivers instead of dynamic drivers, which helps them reproduce more bass despite their open-back design. However, their lower price means a compromise in build quality since they have plastic hinges that don't feel durable.

    Their padded headband also feels heavy on your head compared to the ski-band headband styles found on other over-ears from this manufacturer, and the headphones feel big if you have a small head. Overall, they're still well-built and have a comfortable fit for most people. They have a versatile sound profile that clearly reproduces vocals and instruments.

    Although a dip in their high-mid weakens vocals and instruments, these elements are still present and detailed. Sibilants like hi-hats are also 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-back design creates an open, spacious, and natural passive soundstage, which helps make your audio more immersive.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Wired Headphones

    The HiFiMan Sundara 2020 are a more affordable alternative to the pricier HiFiMan Edition XS. You can still expect planar magnetic drivers and a solid sound from these cans, although there are some slight differences. They have a ski-band headband design, which helps distribute the weight of the headphones on your head and ensures a more comfortable fit for long listening sessions. Their ear cups also have a smaller, more circular shape, which looks and feels less bulky than their more expensive counterpart. Although they clamp more tightly onto your head, it's not fatiguing or painful.

    They have a neutral sound profile with a flat mid-range, so vocals and instruments sound clear, natural, and accurate. However, they lack as much thump, rumble, and punch as the Edition XS. While their passive soundstage seems wide, spacious, and open (due to their open-back design), the headphones struggle to create an out-of-head audio experience, though it's still great overall.

    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, they have a closed-back design and are among the best closed-back headphones we've tested. These headphones usually have a cheaper price point than their open-back counterparts and are worth considering if you want a pair of headphones that can block out some background noise and leak less audio.

    The Beyerdynamic produce a less spacious-seeming, immersive passive soundstage than open-backs like the HiFiMan Sundara 2020. On the upside, 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.

    Their slightly bright sound profile makes elements like cymbals or S and T sounds seem piercing. Their audio delivery is also inconsistent, so people wearing glasses or having thick hair might notice a drop in bass, as the fit isn't as predictable. 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 bright. They have a warmer overall sound, but their soundstage doesn't feel as natural.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Wired Headphones

    For audiophiles on a shoestring budget, the best wired over-ear headphones we've tested are the Superlux HD 681. However, you'll have to make larger sacrifices to save money at this price point. Their build is mostly low-grade plastic, the audio cable isn't detachable, and they aren't as premium and durable as the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. However, they're still worth checking out, especially as they have a semi-open design, unlike our previous picks. This design helps to create an open and spacious soundstage, making your listening experience more immersive. It also has the added benefit of blocking 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 various 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, as the fit isn't as secure.

    If you don't mind spending more on a more comfortable and well-built design, try the Philips SHP9600. They're the successor of the popular but discontinued Philips SHP9500 (which are worth considering if you can get your hands on them). The SHP9600's headband is reinforced with a metal band, and they're well-padded, so you can better avoid fatigue over time. However, they lack low bass due to their open-back design, and to compensate, they have a lot more high bass, which muddies vocals and instruments a bit.

    See our review

  6. Best Wired Earbuds

    The MOONDROP Blessing 3 are the best wired earbuds we've tested. These premium in-ear monitors (IEMs) are designed for good sound quality and offer some versatility over the over-ears listed here since you can buy a cable with a mic if you want to make phone calls. They have a hybrid driver design, which utilizes dynamic drivers as well as four armature drivers for the mid and treble ranges. This arrangement helps them accurately reproduce higher frequencies and ensures a natural and detailed sound.

    Their bass response is also very neutral, so it accurately reproduces rumble, punch, and boom in mixes. They have a very sturdy design, and the audio cable is detachable, making it less likely to break if it snags on something. These headphones also have a comfortable fit. The cables loop around your ears, which helps prevent them from falling out, even if you move your head around a lot. They don't have ANC, which is normal for IEMs, but they still passively block out an impressive amount of mid-range noise, like background conversations.

    That said, they aren't cheap and aren't for everyone. Consider the TRUTHEAR x Crinacle ZERO: RED if you want solid wired earbuds at a much more affordable price tag. While these lack the slightly more complicated hybrid driver configuration of the MOONDROP IEMs, their dynamic drivers' performance relays a similarly balanced sound profile from the bass range through the low treble. It really only deviates notably in the mid-treble, where harmonic content of instruments like cymbals sound less open and detailed.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Sennheiser HD 600: The Sennheiser HD 600 are well-built open-back headphones with a fairly neutral sound profile. However, they can't reproduce as much low bass as the HiFiMan Sundara 2020, and their passive soundstage doesn't feel as wide. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 560S: The Sennheiser HD 560S are open-back headphones with a well-balanced sound profile. However, their soundstage isn't quite as expansive or natural as higher-end open-backs like the HiFiMan Sundara 2020, and they aren't as well-built as other audiophile headphones at this price range, like the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. See our review
  • Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO: The Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO are the open-back counterpart of the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. They have a well-built design and deliver a lot of bass for open-back headphones. However, they sound a bit boomy and piercing. Their passive soundstage isn't as immersive as other open-backs or semi-open-backs like the Superlux HD 681. See our review
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M20x: The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x are budget-friendly closed-back headphones. Due to their closed-back design, they block out more background noise than the semi-open Superlux HD 681, and they have a better, though just okay, build quality. However, their passive soundstage isn't as immersive, and their sound profile is less neutral. See our review
  • TRUTHEAR x Crinacle ZERO: The TRUTHEAR x Crinacle ZERO are wired audiophile IEMs that deliver an excited sound with a lot of bass and treble without breaking the bank. They're decently comfortable and well-built and supply a consistent sound once you find a good fit. While their sound profile isn't quite as neutral as the MOONDROP Blessing 3, EDM and hip-hop fans will appreciate their thumpy, bass-heavy sound. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 490 PRO: The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO are a set of open-back headphones, and their sound profile works well for critical listening. They're slightly more comfortable than the HiFiMan Edition XS, but their passive soundstage feels less immersive and spacious. See our review
  • Sennheiser IE 200: The Sennheiser IE 200 are less expensive and made of less exotic materials than the MOONDROP Blessing 3. However, the housings are slightly smaller, which is beneficial for folks with small ears. They sound similar, though the Sennheiser buds' sound profile is warmer and less detailed in the treble response than the MOONDROP. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. May 31, 2024: The TRUTHEAR x Crinacle ZERO: RED have replaced the MOONDROP Aria as a budget-friendly alternative to the MOONDROP Blessing 3, and the Sennheiser IE 200 have been added as a Notable Mention.

  2. May 02, 2024: This review has been checked, with no changes to the picks and only minor text edits for clarity.

  3. Apr 04, 2024: This article has been checked for accuracy with no changes to the picks. The Sennheiser HD 490 PRO have been added to the Notable Mentions.

  4. Mar 06, 2024: We've checked our picks for accuracy and product availability. However, our recommendations have remained the same.

  5. Feb 07, 2024: We've made minor updates to the text and checked that the products are in stock.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones with a wired connection available 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.