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 615 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 best wired earbuds that we've tested are the 1More Triple Driver. These in-ears are partly made of metal and feel quite well-built and sturdy. They're lightweight and come with several pairs of silicone and foam ear tips in various sizes so you can find the best fit for you.
Their bass-rich sound profile adds a bit of extra punch and boom to mixes, while their very accurate mid-range response ensures vocals and lead instruments sound present and clear. They don't leak a lot of sound, even when you're listening to your audio at high volumes, and their in-line mic has a good recording quality. Conveniently, they also come with a hard plastic case to protect them from drops and bumps.
Unfortunately, they lack an active noise cancelling (ANC) feature and don't do a good job of passively isolating you from ambient noise. Also, their passive soundstage is perceived as small, and their sound seems to come from inside your head, which is typical of in-ear headphones. Otherwise, if you're looking for wired earbuds, these are quite versatile and offer a well-balanced sound.
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 Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2019 are the best wired headphones for gaming that we've tested. These over-ear gaming headphones offer a latency-free connection with consoles and PCs when you use them via analog connection. They're well-built, comfortable, and come with a MixAmp that puts controls for volume, channel mixing, and more within easy reach while you game.
Their detachable boom mic has a great overall performance, so your voice sounds clear and full-bodied even when you're speaking in a noisy setting. Their warm default sound profile brings a bit of extra punch and boom to game audio, but if you prefer a different sound, it can also be customized with an EQ in the headphones' companion software. Thanks to their open-back design, they have a spacious-seeming, speaker-like passive soundstage.
Unfortunately, they're quite bulky and don't come with a carrying case or pouch to make them more portable. Also, like most open-back headphones, they leak a lot of audio and don't really isolate you from any ambient sound, so they aren't ideal for use in crowded or loud places. However, if that's a problem for you, Astro sells a kit that allows you to convert them to closed-back headphones.
If you want gaming headphones that are more suitable for day-to-day use, you may prefer the Logitech G Pro X Gaming Headset. These headphones have a much smaller, less natural-seeming passive soundstage than the Astro A40 TR Headset + MixAmp Pro 2019, but because of their closed-back design, they also leak much less audio and do a better job of blocking out ambient sound. They come with a second audio cable with an in-line mic, so you can detach the boom mic for a more casual look and still take phone calls. They're also very customizable, thanks to the G HUB companion software, which gives you access to lots of features including a graphic EQ and presets, virtual surround sound support, and mic adjustment options. However, they aren't as easy to adjust while you game as the Astro, since they don't come with a base station.
If you're looking for a gaming headset to use in a quiet environment, go for the Astro, but try the Logitech instead if you want to use your headphones at the office or during your commute as well as for gaming.
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.
Aug 20, 2021: Verified that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock. There were no changes to picks.
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.
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.