The 11 Best Headphones for Music Lovers to Buy in 2018

Shop for the best headphones (noise-canceling, Wi-Fi, sound quality and more)

Skullcandy Grind On-Ear Headphones
Photo from Amazon

These days, headphones are one of the few cherished items​ that we ​keep with us at all times. Being able to listen to music, radio, podcasts, lectures and watch movies and videos on-the-go is not a luxury, but a necessity in 2018.

With so much entertainment at our fingertips 24/7, it’s important to have the best headphones possible (and, of course, within our budget). But with so many options (wireless, earbuds,​ noise-canceling, fitness-centric, etc.), it can be hard to pull the trigger on which to buy. So we’ve done your homework for you and selected the best headphones available in 2018, from the budget Skullcandy Uproar Wireless to the Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II). All you have to do is plug in and press play.

Best Overall: Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II)

When you combine best-in-class active-noise canceling and an extremely comfortable, fold-up headphone design, the result is the Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II). While the latest over-the-ear headphone in the QuietComfort line offers plenty to rave about, perhaps the most notable is that it’s the first in the series to be wireless. Weighing 8.32 ounces, the QuietComfort 35 (Series II) looks much like the QuietComfort 25. However, the QC35 does offer an additional piece of technology to the overall appearance with the Bluetooth toggle on the power switch. The headband offers 12 separate steps to provide maximum comfort, as well as allowing the earcups to rotate up to 90 degrees one way and five degrees in the other.

The oval-shaped design of the earcups attempt to fit over the whole ear to provide a heightened level of comfort over fully round earcups. Beyond the design, the Bluetooth wireless capability allows the QC35 to add multipoint pairing or connecting to two devices simultaneously via NFC. An LED battery indicator lets you know how much juice you have left (its said to last up to 20 hours on a single charge). If the battery runs out, the headphones work just fine when wired with the included cable.

Check out our other reviews of the best Bose headphones available on the market today.

Best Earbuds: Bose QuietControl 30 Wireless Headphones

The Bose QC30 are truly remarkable earphones when it comes to noise-cancellation. But sometimes, the silence can be maddening (or unsafe) and you want to let a little noise in. That’s where the QC30 shine: they let you control how much of your surroundings you want to hear over your calls and music.

The neckband-style earphones provide a secure and comfortable fit thanks to the StayHear+ QC tips and small wings slip over your ear for even more snug of a fit. A dual “noise-rejecting” microphone sits towards the front of the neckband to minimize wind and other unwanted noise during your calls. And while its rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides up to 10 hours of use, which should be sufficient, but we do wish there was a corded option for long flights and such.

Take a look at other product reviews and shop for the best earbuds available online. 

Best Under $50: Skullcandy Grind

Skullcandy is all about quality at an affordable cost. For many, on-ear headphones offer far more comfort than over-ear, as they do not rest on the head. Grind from Skullcandy is their latest on-ear offering with soft cushions, a high-quality adjustable metal headband and plastic earcups. Grind headphones have a classic low-profile design that looks cool and comes in seven vibrant color schemes including purple and navy blue.

The TapTech remote control – a button on the side of the earcup - doubles as a mic for phone calls and makes it easy to control your music when you’re on the move. At less than $50, you get comfort that rivals what many $200 headphones offer. For the price, the sound quality is excellent, with accurate bass and clear mid-tones. If they have a downside, it’s that they don’t offer complete isolation from external noise.

Check out our other reviews of the best headphones under $50 available on the market today. 

Take a look at other product reviews and shop for the best headphones under $50 available online. 

Runner-Up, Best Under $50: Skullcandy Uproar Wireless

Stylish wireless Bluetooth headphones for less than $40? Yes, please! Skullcandy Uproar Wireless headphones are skillfully crafted to be light and offer up to 10 hours of continuous usage without a charge. The audio controls are thoughtfully put together, and they have a built-in microphone, built-in Bluetooth, synthetic leather, a year’s warranty and a carrying case. Sound quality is much better than you’d expect considering the price point; Uproars use neodymium magnets to offer unparalleled sound for the money.

On the downside, Uproar headphones are Bluetooth only so there’s no aux cable input support, and the build quality is relatively cheap. However, if you’re looking for low cost wireless headphones to keep your kids plugged in on a long car journey, you can’t do better than Skullcandy Uproar Wireless.

Take a peek at some of the other best Skullcandy headphones you can buy.

Best for Fitness: Jaybird X3 Sport Bluetooth Headset

There’s no denying the benefits of breaking a sweat to music: Studies show that listening to music while you work out increases your endurance by up to 15 percent. But no matter if you run to Rage Against the Machine or lift to Ludacris, you’ll want a pair that fit comfortably, can withstand sweat and hold a charge – not to mention, sound good. The Jaybird X3s deliver on all fronts. They ship with three different size eartips, in both silicone and Comply foam, that have a hydrophobic nano-coating to resist moisture, whether it’s from sweat or rain. The neckband-style earphones also include optional ear fins that sit securely on your ear, even under a helmet.

But comfortable earphones do you little good if the sound quality slacks. The X3’s 6mm driver yields a balanced bass and well-defined highs that can also be adjusted using the MySound app. Those settings will even follow you when you connect to other devices. Though they are small, they pack up to eight hours of playtime (though that’ll depend on your volume levels) and charge an hour’s worth of power in just 15 minutes.

Take a look at other product reviews and shop for the best fitness headphones available online. 

Best Wired: Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Professional Monitor Headphones

For a reasonable price, this pair of Audio-Technica wired headphones deliver terrific sound with booming bass and excellent midranges, thanks to 40mm drivers. Its advanced build quality has an understated design but prioritizes comfort with cushioned ear cups, which as a result has attracted a loyal fanbase of listeners. Reviewers lament that they don’t offer a noise cancellation feature – and given their low price point it’d be a shocker if they did – but the fit is so snug that they block out surrounding sounds well enough. Another thing to note is that this pair has a straight cable, whereas the previous model (ATH-M20) has a coiled cable.

See more reviews of our favorite Audio Technica headphones available for purchase.

Best for High-End Sound Quality: B&O PLAY Beoplay H4

When it comes down to it, music lovers’ main concern is really sound quality and these Bang & Olufsen headphones don’t disappoint. They house 40mm electro-dynamic drivers that produce a deeply rich and balanced sound with high clarity and crisp mids, and we’re happy to report that the sound quality holds up even when used wirelessly over Bluetooth. The battery life impresses too, promising an impressive 19 hours of playtime per charge.

Aside from sound quality, anyone who knows Bang & Olufsen knows the company is renowned for its design details. Sleek yet sturdy, the Beoplay H4 is made of metal with lambskin leather on the headband and features memory foam earpads that one Amazon reviewer says “feel like clouds.” While they don’t have active noise cancellation, you’ll find the design minimizes sound rather well regardless.

Take a peek at some of the other best Bang & Olufsen headphones you can buy.

Runner-Up, Best for High-End Quality Sound: V-MODA Crossfade 2

When we look at the newest generation of headphones, versatility is king due to some smartphones not having a headphone jack and many devices requiring Bluetooth connections. The V-MODA Crossfade 2 headphones fall into this category because they can play both wired or wireless via Bluetooth. They can also play for 14 hours over wireless with a single charge.

The V-MODA Crossfade 2 headphones, when wired, sound incredible. They feature new dual-diaphragm 50mm drivers and have high-resolution audio certification from the Japan Audio Society. This ensures clear sounds with great bass, mids and highs.

On top of it sounding great, the V-MODA Crossfade 2 headphones also have military-level durability with a steel frame and cables that claim to be able to be bent one million times before breaking. Even with this, these headphones are comfortable with memory foam cushions and a flexible headband. They might sound too good to be true, but they're not. They're just a little pricey.

Best True Wireless: Bose SoundSport Free Wireless Headphones

“Wireless” headphones have been around for a while now, but finally, we are starting to see pairs emerge that live up to their name in being truly wireless. The Bose SoundSport Free wireless headphones are Bose’s first crack at a totally cord-free pair, and needless to say, we are impressed.

Perhaps most importantly, they have an exceptional Bluetooth connection that rarely drops, offering depth and clarity that’s rare to find in a wireless set. On the downside, the noise-cancelation is lacking due to the fact that they don’t create a seal in your ear canal to block out surrounding sounds, though that can be a good thing in situations when you need to be more aware, like while running outside. Instead, the SoundSport Free comfortably rest on the outer part of your ear canal (just like Apple’s AirPods).

Bose claims about five hours of play time on a single charge, which should be plenty to power you through a workout, and its carrying case provides two additional charges. They’re pricey, even when compared to AirPods, but if it’s freedom, flexibility and subtly you crave, the Bose SoundSport Free won’t disappoint.

Check out our guide to the best true wireless earbuds you can buy today. 

Music lovers have been hesitant to take the Beats plunge, worrying that the expensive price tag goes more to cover marketing budget than a quality product. But the latest generation of wireless headphones from the stylish line is their best-ever product, thanks to top of the line wireless connectivity.

As usual, the consumer can choose from a host of luxe colors. This line-up draws heavily from Apple’s palette, with classy but understated rose gold, silver and gold accented with white. But beyond the looks, these headphones have over 40 hours of battery life, good enough to last all week at the gym. They also have the option to take calls, control music, activate Siri and more. Class 1 Bluetooth pairing from a W1 chip has never been easier, with the device easily switching between wireless compatible devices without an issue and functioning from up to 75 feet away. Sound quality and comfort also make these headphones the pair to keep for years to come.

Take a look at other product reviews and shop for the best wireless headphones available online. 

Best for DJs: Beats Pro Over-Ear Headphones

DJs demand the best when it comes to sound reproduction, so it’s no surprise so many love these Beats Pro Over-Ear Headphones. With midrange and treble response and a show-stopping design that signals you’re serious about music, this pair is worth every precious penny it costs.

Beats doesn’t disclose the size of the drivers in the earcups, but they deliver a sound that is brutally true to the recording quality. That can be both good and bad, depending on what you’re listening to, of course. Overall they handle both mid-range and high-range frequencies swimmingly but produce a bass that some might consider over-the-top. The headphones are comfortable to wear, perhaps lacking only a little more padding on the headband. Regardless, there’s probably no other pair that will make you look cooler among the music crowd.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best Beats headphones.

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