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 363 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 we’ve tested so far for casual use are the Bose QuietComfort 25. They’re versatile, comfortable over-ear headphones that have excellent active noise cancelling (ANC). They’re decent headphones for most use cases and are particularly well-suited to commuters who like watching videos on the train or bus.
These headphones have a neutral sound signature that’s well-suited to wide variety of music genres, from EDM to rock, jazz, or even classical. They have outstanding noise isolation and do a great job at blocking out disruptive noises in the bass, mid, and treble ranges. They do require two AAA batteries to power their ANC feature, but they last for nearly 33 hours and can be used completely passively, without ANC, when the batteries run out.
Unfortunately, they leak quite a bit of sound and the noise level of their leakage is relatively loud. This means that if you like to listen to your music loudly, it may be distracting to those around you. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem if you’re already in a noisy environment, though, like on the subway. If you prefer being able to use your headphones wirelessly, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are worth considering; otherwise, the QuietComfort 25 do the job just fine and are the best wired noise cancelling headphones we've reviewed.
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 noise cancelling like the Bose QuietComfort 25, but they have a 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.
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 HD 800 S are the way to go.
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.
If you want wired headphones that still perform well but that you can more easily slip into your pockets, get 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.
If you’re looking for great wired gaming headphones, get 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.
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.