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 335 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 use cases 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 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.
The Bose QC 25 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. The QC 25 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, the QuietComfort 25 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 having the option 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 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. The Sennheiser HD 800 S 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.
The Sennheiser HD 800 S may offer an outstanding listening experience, but they’re very expensive. You also need a powerful amplifier to be able to drive these headphones, so they’re quite the investment. You may want to consider the very well-built, open-back Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO or the more versatile closed-back Audio-Technica ATH-M50x if you’re looking for great-sounding 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're interested in seeing more of our best-sounding wired picks, check out our best audiophile headphones article.
If you play a lot of online multiplayer games and are looking for great wired gaming headphones that won’t give you any latency issues, get the SteelSeries Arctis Pro GameDAC. They’re bulkier and heavier than the Bose QuietComfort 25, but they’re much better for gaming. The Arctis Pro GameDAC are comfortable, well-built headphones that come with a DAC (digital-to-analog-converter) which provides customization options at your fingertips, even for console gamers. They sound great, have a very good boom microphone, and are compatible with the SteelSeries Engine for access to a ton of customization features.
Like most gaming headsets, the Arctis Pro GameDAC aren’t very portable and have a bulky design. Not everyone will find their ski goggle-like fit comfortable either, especially since their metal headframe is fixed and does not adjust to accommodate different head sizes. They also have poor frequency response consistency, which means that these headphones may sound different depending on how they’re placed on the head or who’s wearing them. If you like how they fit but would prefer having the option to use them wireless from time to time, it’s also worth considering the SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless, but they’re more expensive.
If you want well-built over-ear headphones that won’t burn a hole in your wallet, get the Corsair HS50. They’re not quite as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 25, but they have a versatile design that makes them a good choice if you’re looking for gaming headphones that you can use casually as well. They have a simple, durable design that feels surprisingly high-end and they provide all-around good value.
The Corsair HS50 reproduce audio very well and have a neutral sound that’s well-suited to not only video game music and effects, but all genres of music as well as audiobooks and podcasts. They have a good boom microphone that can also detach from the headphones to give them a more casual look for everyday use.
Unfortunately, if you remove the Corsair HS50’s boom mic, you won’t be able to use them to take calls since they don’t have an in-line mic. Their cable also isn’t detachable, so you can’t replace it with a cable that has an in-line mic, like you can with the Logitech G433. They also don’t isolate noise very well, like most gaming headphones, so they might not be ideal to wear while commuting. If you don’t mind the boom mic and use your headphones mostly in quiet environments, the Corsair HS50 are still a great choice for those looking for decent, wired over-ear headphones.
If you’re looking for headphones that have a more spacious, open sound but aren’t ready to invest in the more premium options out there, get the Superlux HD 681. They’re not as well-built as the Corsair HS50 and they don’t have a microphone, but they sound impressive for their price.
Although the Superlux HD 681 sound great, they feel cheaply made. Although this is somewhat to be expected at their price, they feel very plasticky, especially compared to the even cheaper Polk Audio Buckle. However, the Buckle perform less well overall, and the Superlux HD 681 provide better value all-around.
If you’re looking for something less bulky, get the Koss Porta Pro. They don’t sound as good as the Corsair HS50 or the Superlux HD 681, but they’re more portable and have an extremely lightweight design that’s quite comfortable.
Unfortunately, the Koss Porta Pro feel very flimsy and their overall build quality doesn’t inspire much confidence. They’re backed by a limited lifetime warranty, though, which helps provide some peace of mind. Overall, they’re a good choice for those who want lightweight, portable over-ears at a reasonable price.
The best wired earbuds are the 1More Triple Driver In-Ear. They’re lightweight ultra-portable in-ear headphones that come a with great carrying case to help protect them on the go.
The 1More Triple Driver 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 the 1More Triple Driver 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 ever it breaks you would need to repurchase the earbuds in their entirety. On the upside, the cable comes with an in-line microphone that actually performs quite well in quiet environments, which is a bonus.
If you prefer earbuds with a detachable cable, get the KZ AS-10. They don’t sound quite as good as the 1More Triple Driver In-Ear, but they feel more durable and you can replace their cable if ever it gets damaged. They also have a contoured design that should be more comfortable for most people; however, those with smaller ears may find them a bit bulky.
The KZ-AS are well-suited to bass-heavy music like EDM or hip-hop, but some may find their sound a bit muddy. They also a futuristic see-through design that looks cool but won’t be for everyone. If you prefer more traditional metal earbuds, consider the TIN Audio T3. They also have detachable cables but are a bit less comfortable.
If you’re looking for the absolute best bang for your buck when it comes to in-ear headphones, get the Panasonic RP-HJE120. They sound significantly less balanced than the 1More Triple Driver In-Ear, but they’re a fraction of the price and are a better choice for those who don’t want to spend a lot on wired headphones. They sound not bad for their price, they’re fairly comfortable, and they have decent isolation performance.
The Panasonic RP-HJE120 are alright for more bass-heavy music genres but do sound noticeably muddy and can make vocals feel thick and cluttered. They also don’t have an in-line microphone, so you won’t be able to use them to make calls. That said, if you’re looking for ultra-budget wired earbuds that have passable performance overall, the Panasonic RP-HJE120 are a solid choice.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best wired headphones to buy for most people in each price range. 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.