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 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.

1. For a HI-FI In-Ear Headphone Experience

It's difficult to find an in-ear headphone that delivers a satisfying sonic experience for the hi-fi crowd. AKG, a company well-regarded for its microphones, may have done so with the N40.

These earphones make use of a hybrid system, one that deploys balanced-armature and dynamic drivers, giving you the accuracy of the former and the impact of the other. These earphones not only give you a good sound—they give you a good sound from your average consumer music player, an accomplishment not every good pair of headphones can claim.

Also three physical filters are included with the earbuds, allowing you to tune their performance to your specific ear canals. Other in-ear headphones might rely on an app to equalize the frequency response, but with the N40, you get to tweak the actual hardware, which can result in a much more natural sound.

AKG N40 In-Ear Headphones
AKG N40 In-Ear Headphones

2. For Your Inner DJ

Many years ago, one of my colleagues sought the now-discontinued V-MODA Crossfade M-100s for the purpose of DJ'ing, but remarked that they were also a solid choice for casual listening purposes. With the V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Headphones, V-MODA brought Bluetooth Wireless streaming to the table, and my colleague upgraded directly. Others at B&H joined him in purchasing this headphone, which we mention only to tell you that our staff likes the way these phones sound—and a personal recommendation is always good.

V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Headphones
V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Headphones

3. For Active Noise Cancellation in an Over-Ear Form Factor

Last year, Sony took the prize for over ear-headphones with active noise cancellation. This year, Bose® ekes out the win with its 700 series. Available in triple black, luxe silver, and soapstone finishes, 700-series headphones boast eleven different levels of noise cancellation, so you can choose the amount that works best for you at any given time.

Bose 700 Noise-Canceling Bluetooth Headphones
Bose® 700 Noise-Canceling Bluetooth Headphones™

Also, the headphones provide four built-in microphones, so you can beef up the sound of your voice over phone calls while simultaneously extirpating meddlesome noise from your locale.

"To extirpate" means "to tear out from the root"—and when it comes to annoying beds of background noise, that's exactly what these headphones do!

4. For Gym Rats

For the first year in our regular roundup, true wireless headphones leave their own dedicated category and infect the others—and when it comes to sporty headphones, 'tis no wonder: you want something uncomplicated and tangle-free when you're working out (or so I'm told by people who work out); what's more tangle-free than a pair of earphones with no cables whatsoever?

That's only one of the reasons we're proffering the Jaybird Vista in-ear headphones, available in black and nimbus gray. Rated IPX7—a necessary rating for sweatier endeavors—these in-ear headphones give you 6mm drivers that nonetheless sound full throughout the frequency range. They also give you six hours of audio at a clip, plus an extra 10 hours via the charging case.

Jaybird Vista True Wireless In-Ear Earphones
Jaybird Vista True Wireless In-Ear Earphones

5. For Comfortable, Wireless, and Budget-Friendly On-Ear Headphones

It's tough to find a pair of on-ear Bluetooth headphones at a budget price. And when you do, not all the options are up to snuff. I'd like to recommend the pair I'm using right now, as I type these words: the JBL Tune 500BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones.

JBL Tune 500BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones
JBL Tune 500BT Wireless On-Ear Headphones

These headphones may not have the most hi-fi sound, but they have a relatively balanced response compared to similarly priced options. Really though, you're using these headphones for the comfort and convenience: They're super easy to pair with your devices, and they boast a playback time that'll get you through two days of a nine-to-five job.

People hear your voice when you make phone calls—though sometimes they give off a more echoey sound than one would like. Most importantly, these headphones are comfortable enough to wear while sleeping—which I do on a regular basis. Get these headphones in a plenitude of colors, including pink, white, black, and blue.

6. For an Old Classic

Yes, these are bulky. Yes, they can sound bright. Yes, their cable is longer than you'd want in a walking headphone. But these headphones are also a staple of home recording. Plus, last year they were clamored for by commenters left and right. So, we put them on the list. It's no wonder they deserve a spot: the Sony MDR-7506 Headphones are closed-back headphones designed to reveal the detail of your audio in full force. If you want a (sometimes painfully) accurate sonic experience, this is a great bet for a comparatively low price.

Sony MDR-7506 Headphones
Sony MDR-7506 Headphones

7. For Lower-Priced, High-Quality Open-Backs

Brooklyn-based Grado has a reputation in hi-fi circles for delivering a solid sonic experience. The company is also known for its ability to shrink your bank account instantly upon purchase. Not so with the Grado Prestige Series SR80e Headphones, which provide an open sound commensurate with their open-backed construction. These are excellent headphones for casual home listening, especially if your home is a college dormitory.

Grado Prestige Series SR80e Headphones
Grado Prestige Series SR80e Headphones

8. For a Bluetooth Update on a Wired Classic

Anyone who's experienced both closed-back and open-backed headphones can attest to their fundamentally different sounds. But what if I told you there was a pair of closed-back headphones that delivered something like an open-backed sound?

You'd probably not believe me, yet that's what the Neumann NDH 20 can do. They represent space similarly to open-backed models, delineating each musical element in its proper place, but never stretching things to a point of artificiality—which open-eared headphones often do.

Neumann NDH 20 Closed-Back Studio Headphones
Neumann NDH 20 Closed-Back Studio Headphones

Use these headphones for mixing, for quality checking during mastering (they make unwanted distortion plainly audible), or just for listening. I feel they do suffer somewhat when paired with a consumer media player, but not unduly; still, use these with a dedicated headphone amplifier for the best results.

9. For Recording Binaural Audio Over Bluetooth

Last year, we offered a different pair of headphones in this position—one that required a physical plug into your phone. They recorded binaural audio, and they did so exceedingly well, but still, there was the pesky matter of the wired connection.

This year, we're touting the Hooke Audio Verse, available in black or white. These headphones record a binaural audio and stream said audio over Bluetooth to iOS and Android devices. The recording quality is much better than you would expect over Bluetooth—indeed, when it comes to back-to-front dimensionality, the Hooke Audio Verse might just edge out similarly priced competition (at least, to my ears).

Hooke Audio Verse Wireless In-Ear Binaural 3D Audio Recording Headphones
Hooke Audio Verse Wireless In-Ear Binaural 3D Audio Recording Headphones

Certainly, the audio recorded with these earbuds is good enough to capture things like stereo room tone; I've done just that for the post-production of an upcoming film.

10. For True Wireless

For our second pair of truly wireless, true wireless earbuds, we're recommending the Sony WF-1000XM3, available in black or silver. These earbuds give eight hours of playback, a charging case that gives you an additional 24 hours, and active noise cancellation so you can enjoy your programmatic material in peace.

Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Noise-Canceling In-Ear Earphones
Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Noise-Canceling In-Ear Earphones

With Bluetooth 5.0 and DSEE HX technology on hand, these headphones give you good sonic quality, since they attempt to upscale your compressed digital files, giving you a sound not far off from high-resolution.

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.

15 Comments

what a funny list theres no beats audio studio 3 headphone , just unproffesonal

Solid list. I'll probably pick up the V-MODA Crossfade 2. Loved the first model for a couple years until the left channel started to fail in bluetooth mode. Still use them in wired mode. Great sound, cosmetics and build.

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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