Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Best Overall: Sennheiser HD 280 PRO at Amazon
"Perfect for music studios and built with professionals in mind."
Runner-Up, Best Overall: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x at Amazon
"Disprove the notion that you have to pay a premium for quality audio."
Best Budget: LyxPro HAS-10 at Amazon
"Proof that superior audio and build quality don’t have to come from a traditional headphone manufacturer."
Best Audio: Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC at Amazon
"They utilize Audio-Technica's Hi-Res Audio technology, which delivers transducer frequency performance to 40kHz."
Best Value: Shure SRH440 at Amazon
"Deliver exceptional sound at an affordable price."
Best Splurge: Oppo PM-3 at Amazon
"Performance and workmanship make these headphones well worth the cost."
Best Noise Cancelling: Sennheiser HD 598 Cs at Amazon
"Compatible with the vast majority of audio devices."
Best Wireless: Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 at Amazon
"The wireless version of an audiophile’s dream."
Best Style: Sony WH-1000XM3 at Amazon
"On top of being pretty, these headphones will blow you away with their sound quality."
Courtesy of Amazon
Backed by one of the most famous names in the audio world, the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO headphones check all the right boxes. This model is perfect for music studios and built with professionals in mind. But, with such outstanding low-end sound, clarity at high volumes and deep bass, the HD 280 PRO is an across-the-board winner for all types of users. The wired design has a 9.8-foot cable connected to a solidly-built headphone that can be folded down for convenient transport. The padded, rotating ear cups surround the entire ear for hours of comfortable listening and block out up to 32 decibels of outside sound for maximum audio immersion. The value even extends beyond the already-modest pricepoint — the cord, padding, earpad, and headband are all replaceable, which provides buyers with a longevity unmatched by similarly-priced rivals.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones disprove the notion that you have to pay a premium for quality audio. Composed of rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils, the 45mm large-aperture drivers inside each ear cup deliver exemplary sound. Audio remains clear through a wide range of frequencies, meaning the bass response won’t distort even at maximum volume. The 90-degree swiveling earcups provide great sound isolation (even on airplanes) and combined with the padded headband, they're comfortable to wear for hours on end. The headphones also come with three interchangeable cables — long, short and coiled — so you can choose what's best for your audio sessions.
Made with music lovers in mind, the LyxPro HAS-10 is proof that superior audio and build quality don’t have to come from a traditional headphone manufacturer. These headphones stand out from the budget crowd with a powerful 45mm NdFeB magnet system that delivers superior sound and dynamic response. The result: crystal-clear lows, mids, and highs with a balanced bass level. A frequency response between 10Hz and 26kHz raises the detail to a point perfect for studio monitoring (which is what the HAS-10 is ultimately designed for). 180-degree rotatable ear cups and a soft leather headband make the LyxPro comfortable for use at home or in the office, too. Constructed with stainless steel arms and weighing only 10.4-ounces, these headphones are an inexpensive investment that will last for years.
For a pristine, natural-sounding audio experience, headphone buyers should look to the Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7NC. They utilize Audio-Technica's Hi-Res Audio technology, which delivers transducer frequency performance to 40kHz. That way, your music — even those in lossless audio file formats — are reproduced at full fidelity. The ear cups are built with 45mm True Motion drivers, a highly responsive diaphragm and a lightweight voice coil that create a well-balanced listen without excess bass. Whether it’s rock, pop, or classical, the MSR7NC is a terrific choice for a varied range of audio output. There are even tiny microphones at the top of each earcup that pick up on ambient noise and create a sound-canceling signal to keep your listening experience completely isolated. With ultra-soft leather earpads and headband, the ATH-MSR7NC’s stay firmly in place, and with 360-degrees of swivel, they can be adjusted for the perfect fit.
Solidly built for years of use, the Shure SRH440 headphones deliver exceptional sound at an affordable price. The SRH440 is calibrated for use with professional audio devices (think DJ mixers and mixing consoles) but it's also more than suitable for your home or office — its balanced midrange, distinct bass response and extended highs all combine to create sound quality well above its price point. The 40mm neodymium drivers land well across the entire frequency spectrum for a warm tone that sounds great with all kinds of music. Shure pays attention to the practical details too, including a soft leather padded headband, replaceable earpad cushions, a 9.5-foot coiled cable and a carrying bag for easy transit.
A high-end favorite for audiophiles, the Oppo PM-3 is more expensive for a reason — its performance and workmanship make these headphones well worth the cost. Utilizing revolutionary planar magnetic drivers, the PM-3 delivers optimal audio quality for any genre of music. The sound is balanced and precise with a distinct midrange, defined lows and highs and just the right touch of bass. And the combination of the drivers and closed-back design reduce ambient noise for full audio immersion. In terms of comfort, the leather-padded headband and earpads add maximum support and keep things lightweight at 11.4 ounces for all-day wear. A standard 3.5mm cable connects to audio devices, and Oppo has thrown in an additional 3.5-foot cable that’s smartphone-ready with microphone and volume controls.
For unrivaled noise cancellation, look to the Sennheiser HD 598 Cs. These headphones deliver high-quality sound that won’t be disturbed by the outside world. Sennheiser's Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement (E.A.R.) technology pushes audio directly into your ear, making you feel like you’re inside the music, and the over-ear, closed-back design further reduces ambient noise. On the inside, aluminum voice coils reduce distortion almost completely so you get the clearest sound possible. Equipped with both a nine-foot cable attached to a 6.3mm headphone jack and a 3.5-foot cable that uses a 3.5mm jack (plus a microphone and volume control), the HD 598 Cs are compatible with the vast majority of audio devices.
Representing the best aspects of Sennheiser’s extensive headphone lineup, the Momentum 2.0 headphones are the wireless version of an audiophile’s dream. The slim-profile Momentum 2.0 has Bluetooth 4.0 technology that is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. It holds 22 hours of battery life with connection options for up to two devices simultaneously, and the adoption of Near Field Communication technology makes pairing effortless. You can adjust the volume with the buttons on the edge of the left earcup, and during phone calls, the Momentum 2.0 incorporates two built-in microphones to increase voice quality and remove ambient background noise. The Momentum 2.0's leather-covered ear cushions are both comfortable and stylish, and the foldable stainless steel headband makes for convenient storage.
In the world of closed-back headphones, no pair offers the premium simplicity and style of the Sony WH1000XM3. On top of being pretty, these headphones will blow you away with their sound quality, which comes from embedded 40mm liquid crystal polymer drivers. To take full advantage of that sound quality, you can also turn on the noise cancellation feature. Battery life on these headphones is incredible at 30 hours on a single charge.
While these headphones are stylish and powerful, some might be taken aback at the price, which is more than $300. That said, this is normal pricing for the top end of closed-back headphones with nearly every feature you could ask for. Many users have praised the sound quality of the headphones, as well as Sony’s mobile app that pairs with the headphones and lets you customize how your music sounds. Some said these weren’t the best headphones for making calls, so if that is important, you may want to shop around a little more before purchasing the WH1000XM3.
Earcups - When it comes to closed-back headphones, you can find on-the-ear versions (smaller cushions that sit directly on the ear) and over-the-ear models (sit around your ears). Over-the-ear headphones are bulkier, but they tend to be more comfortable and provide better sound.
Bluetooth - If you don't want to deal with tangled up wires, take a look at some of the available Bluetooth wireless headphones on the market. While in the past Bluetooth has been known to degrade sound quality, the use of new standards such as AptX means that you can enjoy great sound without the wires.
Noise Canceling - Will you be using your headphones to study or perhaps for travel purposes? Consider headphones with built-in noise-canceling features so that you can block out any surrounding distractions.