While it can feel like there's a general trend to move towards wireless headphones, a wired design offers many benefits for various users. A wired connection eliminates lag for gamers and movie-streamers alike, while their cable can instantly connect with devices with a 1/8" audio input. You don't have to worry about charging most wired headphones as they work passively, and although some use batteries for active noise cancellation, they tend to last longer than similarly designed wireless headphones.
We’ve tested over 590 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best wired headphones to buy. 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 gaming headsets, and the best headphones for studio use.
The best wired over-ear headphones that we've tested are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. These closed-back headphones are made with audiophiles in mind. They have a comfortable fit with spacious ear cups and durable build quality, making them well-suited for long listening sessions.
These headphones have a neutral sound profile that can reproduce vocals and lead instruments clearly and accurately. Although their passive soundstage isn't very spacious, it's still perceived as natural-sounding and as if coming from out in front of you rather than as if coming from within your head. They also come with three different audio cables, including a coiled cable that can stretch up to ten feet, which is nice if you like to move around your studio.
Unfortunately, they're not versatile since they don't have a microphone and lack any control scheme. They also have a poor noise isolation performance, and they struggle to block out the rumble of bus engines and office chatter. That said, thanks to their neutral sound profile and comfortable fit, they're a suitable choice for users looking for wired over-ear headphones. They're also one of the best studio headphones we've tested.
The 1More Triple Driver are the best wired earbuds that we've tested. These in-ears have a decently comfortable fit and come with several different sizes of silicone ear tips, as well as a couple of pairs of foam ear tips. They also have a very lightweight fit, come with a carrying case so that you can protect them when you're on the go, and they have a solid, durable build quality.
They have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that delivers a bit of extra punch and boom to your mixes. That said, their mid-range is very neutral, so vocals and lead instruments reproduce accurately. They also don't leak much audio at high volumes, which is nice if you like to listen to audio at high volumes without disturbing those around you.
Unfortunately, they have a bad passive soundstage and struggle to create a more immersive and spacious audio experience. They also struggle to block out ambient noise like the low rumbles of bus or plane engines. However, they do a better job of cutting down ambient chatter or the hum of an AC unit, which is good if you're looking to reduce distractions at the office.
The best wired headphones for audiophiles that we've tested are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. These high-end open-back headphones have a very well-balanced sound profile, making them a good match for a wide variety of genres. Their passive soundstage is also fantastic and provides a spacious, natural listening experience that leads to sounds originating from speakers placed around you.
They're very well-built, with a high-grade plastic and metal construction that looks and feels quite premium. Their spacious ear cups should accommodate many different ear shapes and sizes and are lined with a suede-like material that feels quite nice on the skin. Despite their bulky size, their open-back enclosure allows for a good amount of airflow, and you shouldn't sweat too much while wearing these headphones.
Unfortunately, their open-back enclosure also results in high levels of audio leakage and terrible noise isolation performance. Combined with their lack of onboard controls or a mic, they're only suited for use in a quiet room. Still, if you're looking for an immersive listening experience above all else, these are a great option.
If you're looking for audiophile headphones with a planar magnetic transducer, consider HiFiMan Arya. While they're not as breathable or well-built as the Sennheiser HD 800 S, they can reproduce a bit more low-bass and deliver audio more consistently, thanks to their transducer design. They have a very neutral sound profile with a touch of extra brightness. Their soundstage is also wide and spacious, which can help further immerse you in your audio. They have a comfortable fit, so you can wear them for long listening sessions without too much of an issue, and they feel well-built and sturdy, even if they have a less premium feel than the Sennheiser.
If you're looking for audiophile headphones that come with more accessories like an extra audio cable or a carrying pouch, try the Sennheiser. However, if you want something that can reproduce more low-bass due to their planar magnetic transducer, check out the HiFiMan.
The best wired headphones for gaming that we've tested are the Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2019. These gaming headphones offer lag-free performance, sturdy construction, all-day comfort, and a high level of customizability, thanks to the included MixAmp Pro controller. The latter has physical controls for volume, channel mixing, EQ presets (which you can modify via a companion app), and Dolby Surround Sound.
Communicating with teammates won’t be an issue even in the rowdiest of gaming tournaments, as the boom microphone delivers great recording quality and excellent noise handling. They also have very good bass and mid accuracy, giving even the most explosive in-game moments a bit of extra punch. That’s further enhanced by their open-back design, which allows for an expansive, natural soundstage.
Unfortunately, that same open-back design also means that they experience a high degree of leakage and poor noise isolation. Combined with the bulky size and lack of a carrying case, they're a poor choice for travel, as not only will you hear everything said by your fellow commuters, but they’ll hear everything you’re listening to. If this is an issue for you, you can purchase a kit from Astro to convert them to a set of closed-back headphones.
If you’re still a dedicated gamer but need something a little better suited for daily life, you may want to consider the Logitech G Pro X Gaming Headset. These over-ears offer a less spacious listening experience than the Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2019 due to their closed-back enclosure, but as a consequence, they leak much less audio and block out a lot more ambient noise. They look somewhat professional, especially since they come with a secondary audio cable with an in-line microphone, so you won't have to use their detachable boom microphone to make calls. They're compatible with Logitech's feature-packed G HUB companion software, which has everything from a graphic EQ to configuration options for surround sound and room effects, not to mention microphone adjustment. Unfortunately, they don't offer the same on-the-fly adjustability as the Astro since they don't have a base station.
Get the Astro if you only plan on using them for gaming in a quiet environment, but consider the Logitech if you want a pair of gaming headphones that you can wear throughout your commute or at the office.
The Samsung AKG Type-C are the best budget wired headphones that we tested. They use a USB-C connector, which means that they're only compatible with devices that also have a USB-C port, like newer smartphones. These simple and lightweight in-ears also have very low latency, so your audio stays in sync when you're streaming video.
They're made of sturdy-feeling silicone and plastic, which makes them feel well-built. They have a comfortable fit, so you can wear them for long listening sessions without feeling too much fatigue, and they can easily fit into most pockets or bags when you're on the move. They also have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that adds a touch of extra boom to your audio. That said, they're still neutral enough for a variety of audio content. Thanks to their in-line mic, you can also easily take calls. Your voice sounds clear but a little thin to whoever is on the other end of the line.
Unfortunately, their USB-C connector can limit which devices you can use them with since you can't use them with a regular AUX port. They're also not designed for sports as they can fall out of your ears with moderate head movements or if the audio cable snags on something. They struggle to block out noise like the low rumble of bus or plane engines too. However, they do a much better job of blocking out sounds like ambient chatter, which can be handy if you're working in an office setting.
Jun 22, 2021: Checked the text for accuracy and product availability. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.
Apr 23, 2021: Replaced the Philips SHP9500 with the HiFiMan Arya as they represent a better value to most users. Also added the Samsung AKG Type-C as the 'Best Budget' pick.
Feb 23, 2021: Added Hyper X Cloud Revolver + 7.1, Sennheiser HD 560S, and HyperX Cloud Stinger S to Notable Mentions. Verified that primary picks are still available and represent the best choice for their category.
Jan 25, 2021: Confirmed the accuracy and availability of our product picks; minor updates to the text.
Oct 27, 2020: Replaced Logitech G433 Gaming Headset with Logitech G Pro X Gaming Headset. Added Philips SHP9600 and Logitech G433 Gaming Headset to 'Notable Mentions'. Minor changes to text for accuracy and consistency.
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.