Audio / Buying Guide

10 Recommended Headphones Your Ears Will Love

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There is no accessory more fundamental than a good pair of headphones. They link our ears, privately, to music, media, and entertainment. These days, there is so much content to enjoy that the number of options can be overwhelming. The same is true with the sheer number of headphones on the market. There are so many different kinds available, you might want some help sorting through the possibilities.

In this article, we’ll take a look at several different kinds of headphones that suit the needs of different kinds of people. Some will be eye-catching; others will be more low profile. One thing they all have in common is great sound quality. Choose any of the headphones on this list and your ears will be happy.

Sennheiser PX 100-II On-Ear Stereo Headphones

Sennheiser PX 100-II On-Ear Stereo Headphones are slim, lightweight, and simple. They sound great, and they fold up compactly into an included carrying pouch. You probably won’t get any compliments on the street for how fashionable they look, so if you prefer to go unnoticed, these are an appealing option. If you want to take calls on an iPhone with your headphones on, you can upgrade to the PX 200-IIi. If active noise cancellation is on your wish list, check out the PXC 250-II. Both of the upgraded versions feature neodymium drivers that deliver even richer sound.

Pros Cons
Folding design for easy transport, Foam cushions rest against ears
Cable only dangles from one side Not exciting to look at
Koss PortaPro Stereo Headphones

Vintage-style audio has made a huge comeback. Many young people collect vinyl records, and some stores continue to stock music in cassette format. Whether you opt for a portable tape player, rather than the omnipresent smartphone, you can’t go wrong with these classic Koss PortaPro Stereo Headphones. Their design dates back to 1984. They have a fun, old-school look, and they deliver fantastic sound quality at a great price. A handy switch on the side lets you adjust the pressure of the earpieces.

Pros Cons
Funky, vintage look Funky, vintage look
Great sound Cables dangle from both earpieces
Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones

If you don’t want to be tethered to your music player by audio cables, you need to embrace Bluetooth headphones, and one way to do so is with the Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones (available in BlackShock Yellow, or White). They feature all the things that have made Beats a household name, a W1 chip for quick pairing with Apple Products, plus a 12-hour battery, and 5-minute power charging functionality for one hour of playtime in a pinch. Also, they repel moisture, making them great for exercising. An integrated module lets you control playback and talk on the phone.

Pros Cons
Freedom from wires Reliant on batteries for operation
Built-in phone mic + controller  
Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise-Canceling In-Ear Headphones

Many people spend a little extra to get a good smartphone, but what about ear buds? When you’re ready to treat yourself to a premium set of in-ear headphones, check out the Bose QuietComfort 20 (available in Black). They provide a comfortable fit, excellent sound quality, a mic and remote for Apple devices, and top-notch active noise cancellation. When you need to hear your environment, press the handy “Aware Mode” button, which lets in ambient sounds—so you’ll know when your flight is boarding.

Pros Cons
Great sound quality Battery-pack module adds heft/td>
Excellent noise cancellation  
Skullcandy INK’D 2.0 Earbud Headphones​

You don’t have to spend big bucks to get a decent pair of headphones, and the Skullcandy INK’D 2.0 Earbuds are proof positive of this. Available in Black and Red, Blue and Black, and Pink and Black, they deliver surprisingly good sound quality, are very comfortable in the ear, and feature an iPhone-compatible mic and remote button. If you seek premium materials and exotic drivers, look elsewhere. If you want an affordable set of good-sounding earbuds to replace the ones that came with your device, this is the ticket.

Pros Cons
Good sound at comparatively low price Not made with premium materials
Built-in iPhone mic Not top-of-the-line sound quality
KEF M500 On-Ear Headphones

It’s not difficult to find stylish headphones, but what about a set that looks great and sounds incredible? If sonic performance and style are of equal importance to you, consider the KEF M500 Hi-Fi On-Ear Headphones (available in SilverBlack, or White). They are extremely comfortable, thanks to their memory foam ear pads and multi-directional SmartFit hinge. The 40mm neodymium drivers deliver a 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response, enabling you to enjoy full, rich sound. Two flat-style cables are included, one with an Apple mic and remote, and one without.

Pros Cons
Good looks, great sound Cushions rest against ears
Very comfortable to wear  
Parrot Zik 3.0 Stereo Bluetooth Headphones

Quite a few members of the writing staff at B&H love their Parrot Zik Series Stereo Headphones—and not just for the 40mm neodymium drivers, touch-sensitive controls, wireless charging, Bluetooth connectivity, NFC pairing, and HD voice technology. We also find the active noise cancellation remarkable for the price. These headphones are available in snazzy colors too, such as Emerald Green, Ivory, Leather Grain Black, and Croc-Texture Red.

Pros Cons
Wireless and wired connections available Not the best on battery life
Fantastic active noise cancellation Cannot use noise-cancelling technology without corresponding app
Jabra Move Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

You don’t need to pay a premium price to get a good set of Bluetooth headphones. The Jabra Move Wireless Bluetooth Headphones provide good sound quality, they’re easy to set up, their styling is sleek, and the built-in rechargeable battery provides eight hours of talk time and twelve hours of standby time. A built-in microphone with onboard controls enables you to take phone calls, control volume, and change tracks. As a bonus, the headphones can stream from two devices at the same time. You can also listen the old-fashioned way by means of an included 3.5mm cable. These headphones come in Black, Red, and Blue.

Pros: Cons:
Stream audio from two devices over Bluetooth Phone calls could be clearer
Automatic pairing mode  
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Monitor Headphones

Wouldn’t it be great to listen to your tunes on professional studio headphones, similar to the ones that the musicians and producers used to make the music you love? This is exactly what you get with the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Monitor Headphones, which are available in Black or White. They come with three detachable cables, two longer ones for use in the studio, and a short cable for your portable device. The sound that their 45mm neodymium drivers reproduce will make you feel like you’re with the artist in the recording studio.

Pros Cons
Pro headphones that work well with mobile devices Bulky
Excellent sound quality Some people find they fit tightly
Audeze EL-8 Magnetic Planar Headphones​

If you want a truly exotic listening experience, look no further than the Audeze EL-8 Magnetic Planar Headphones. They deliver smooth, warm sound, and an exceptionally wide frequency response of 10 Hz – 50 kHz. This is achieved, in part, by their neodymium magnetic planar transducers, which feature a lightweight diaphragm that’s suspended within a magnetic plane. These headphones are a pleasure to look at, too. Credit for their industrial design goes to BMW Designworks. You can learn more about these headphones in this B&H hands-on review.

Pros Cons
Lush and immersive sound Premium quality, premium price
Comfortable to wear, aesthetically pleasing These are large headphones

If you have any questions about these headphones, or if you want additional recommendations, you can speak to a B&H Sales Professional by visiting the SuperStore in New York City, calling 1-800-894-9703, starting a live chat, or sending an email.

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My ATH M50 headphones are SOOOO good. Price doesn't matter when you hear EVERY nuance of the music, from deepest bass to the highest pitches.....Unbelievably good. I think they are way better than the Sennheisers.

I love my ATH-M50x.

Great article, love it!

Headphones are the new and improved way to listen to music, video games, television, and to use while buyers are on the computer.

No list of great sounding headphones should exclude Grado.

Their low-end models are the best bang-for-the-buck, and their higher-end models sound like heaven!

I think the open-back construction of Grado headphones is what excludes them from this list aimed at the average consumer, for whom isolation tends to be important.

i can't believe the  list doesn't include Sony MDR-7506 studio headphones!  They're as good sounding as the Audio Techs and several others on the list, for about $50 less.  The fact that they're used by audio pros more than any other headphone for over 20 years demands inclusion on any list of quality cans!!! 

Definitely have to agree. I had a pair of the MDR-7506 headphones for at least 7 years. The quality of the audio was fantastic throughout their entire lifespan. I finally tossed them when the cord broke and the ear pads fell apart. I bought a pair of $99 Sennheisers as replacements just to try the brand out and haven't been disappointed yet. Can't remember the exact model. Only complaint with them so far is that the headband is held on by a cheap ziplock type fastener and it broke within 6 months of buying the headphones.

Anonymous wrote:

i can't believe the  list doesn't include Sony MDR-7506 studio headphones!  They're as good sounding as the Audio Techs and several others on the list, for about $50 less.  The fact that they're used by audio pros more than any other headphone for over 20 years demands inclusion on any list of quality cans!!!

+1. The 7506 is, at the price, the best over-the-ear phones you can buy IMO.

Hi! It's Sam. The author of this post. I am a long-time owner and fan of Sony MDR-7506 headphones. When I chose models to include in this article, I intentionally made the decision not to include them. My intention for this article was to choose an interesting range of different kinds of headphones that the average person could purchase, use, and be happy with. 7506's are great to use in video and audio production, but they're not the best choice for the average person who wants to listen to music and podcasts as they're walking down the street. Why? The cable is far too long. The lengthy coiled section easily gets tangled and bunched up. Plugging a pair of 7506's into a smartphone, then putting that phone in your pocket and walking is not the best experience. For this reason alone, I decided not to include them.

With that out of the way, I would like to say that your criticisms are welcome and encouraged! I like to learn about the models people feel compelled to passionately defend. :)

Thanks,
Sam

Just how long with / without tension stretching from male end of jack to on ones ' ears?

Hi Beth - 

The SONY MDR -7506 headphones include a coiled 10' (extended), single-sided (3 m) cable.   The cable is about 2.5' long when coiled.                                                                                                    

Ditto on the Sony MDR-7506 headphones.  When I did my research, that's when I learned they are the gold standard for videographers and recording studios, so I ordered a pair of those from B&H and am anxiously awaiting to get them and put them into use for my videography jobs.

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