Right now, the idea of heading back to school means different things for different people. For some, it means returning to a full-time schedule on a conventional campus or classroom. For others, it’s attending a virtual classroom or participating in some variation of remote learning. But regardless of what “back to school” means to you, there are plenty of great headphone options to address all your wants and needs. Here are some of our top choices for best back to school headphones.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones are easily a top choice for students who are simply looking for the best over-the-ear headphones the market has to offer. Although they don’t exactly carry a “student-friendly” price tag, the Sony WH-1000XM4 are worth every penny, thanks to unbeatable sound quality, arguably the most effective active noise cancellation in the world, a 20-hour battery that also yields 5 hours of playback from only 10 minutes of charging, and much more. Again, these aren’t the most fiscally conservative headphones available, but in terms of the absolute best, the Sony WH-1000XM4 are it.
We also like: As long as we’re in the “premium performance for a premium price” category, we should talk about the Apple AirPods Max, which are about as luxurious a pair of headphones as it gets. Like the Sony WH-1000XM4, the AirPods Max excel at audio performance and noise cancellation. They also offer one of the most comfortable wearing experiences we’ve ever tested and arguably the best software interface if you’re using them with an iOS device. Those features, plus many more, make the AirPods Max one of the best over-the-ear headphones you can buy, but at a fairly steep cost. Still, if they’re within your budget, the AirPods Max from Apple are definitely a top choice for students who demand top of the line.
Shure AONIC 50
With best-in-class active noise cancellation, super sound quality, and 20 hours of battery life, the AONIC 50 headphones from Shure rival Sony’s flagship headset as the overall best pair of over-the-ear headphones. However, in addition to being one of the best performing headsets on the market, they are also our top choice for students looking for a comfortable design suitable for long listening sessions. Featuring big, synthetic leather-wrapped earcups, an ultra-comfy headband, and aluminum yokes that help keep everything securely in place, the AONIC 50 headphones are perfect for marathon study sessions and other periods of long-term wear.
We also like: The Bose® 700 Headphones are similar to the AONIC 50 headphones in that they offer great audio performance and are incredibly comfy. I’ve been using the 700 series as my primary everyday headphones for more than a year and one thing I can promise you is they never cause discomfort, even when I wear them all day. Combined with the superior sound quality Bose® is known for, a very solid-hour battery life, the Bose® 700 headphones are another great all-day listening option, especially for students looking for that extra degree of comfort.
For students looking for true-wireless, in-ear headphones that feature active noise cancellation capable of rivaling their over-the-ear peers, our top choice are the Gemini Earbuds from Devialet. The Gemini are a premium pair of true-wireless earbuds that do several things really well and one thing arguably better than any other brand: active noise cancellation. Among the true-wireless earbuds I have sampled or reviewed, the Devialet Gemini deliver better ANC performance than most, if not all, of their peers. They can’t deliver the same ANC performance as your premium over-the-ear headphones, but they get closer than any other in-ear headphones, including top-of-the-line earbuds like the Apple AirPods Pro. Along with best-in-class noise cancellation, the Devialet Gemini also deliver quality sound performance, excellent battery life, and are generally considered to be quite comfortable, even after hours of wearing them. The biggest drawback to the Devialet Gemini is their price, which tops the other true-wireless earbuds on our list. However, if you’re looking for true-wireless in-ear headphones with best-in-class ANC performance, the Devialt Gemini headphones are your top choice.
Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats Pro
The Powerbeats Pro from Beats by Dr. Dre have long been my go-to for workout headphones, and they remain a top choice for students looking to hit the gym between classes. What makes them such a consistent favorite? For starters, the punchy sound quality, 9-hour battery life, and rugged, sweatproof design are all winning features active users very much applaud. However, my endorsement largely hinges on the always-reliable adjustable ear hooks, which comfortably keep the Powerbeats Pro in place during all my workouts, regardless of exercise.
We also like: The AirPods Pro from Apple are an excellent alternative to the Powerbeats Pro, assuming you are OK without the extra security of adjustable ear hooks. The AirPods Pro certainly don’t need them to stay in place, since they feature one of the best in-ear designs of any true wireless earbuds, one that ensures they remain comfortably in your ears at all times. The sound quality is arguably more well-rounded than the PowerBeats Pro, and they include several features the Powerbeats Pro do not, such as active noise cancellation. If you feel fine exercising without ear hooks, the AirPods Pro are one of the best options available.
Regardless of what “back to school” means for you and your family, odds are a solid pair of headphones will be of some benefit in one way or another. The headphones listed in this article represent some of our top choices for particular students, but in no way are they the only choices.
If none our favorites fill your particular bill, we invite you to drop a comment or ask a question below, so we can help find the best pair of headphones for you.