The 9 Best Headphones for Music Lovers in 2019

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

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Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Sony WH1000XM3 at Amazon

"Featuring best-in-class active noise canceling with a dedicated processor to help keep out noise."

Best for High-End Sound Quality: Sennheiser HD 650 at Amazon

"Making you feel immersed in your music."

Best for Fitness: Jaybird X4 at Amazon

"These earbuds adjust to fit your ear shape, ensuring both comfort and security."

Best Design: Microsoft Surface Headphones at Amazon

"You can actually turn the outer part of the ear cup like a dial to adjust the level of noise canceling."

Best Budget Wired: Audio-Technica ATH-M20x at Amazon

"Delivering terrific sound for a reasonable price."

Best Bluetooth for iPhone: B&O PLAY Beoplay H4 at Amazon

"Producing a deeply rich and balanced sound with high clarity and crisp mids."

Best Noise-Canceling: Bose 700 at Amazon

"Expect tight, crisp, and energetic sound that amply delivers deep, powerful bass without overwhelming your eardrums."

Best Bass: Sony WH-XB900N at Amazon

"Designed into the ear cups is a “bass duct” which ... is much like a bass port in a larger speaker."

Best Studio Monitor Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x at Amazon

"Where incredible studio monitor sound collides with a price tag that comes in way, way below the brand's competitors'."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Sony WH1000XM3

4.7

If you want the convenience of a wireless connection but still want to make sure you’re still getting the best music experience possible, then it’s important to pay attention to Bluetooth codecs. For great sound, you should make sure your music files are in a high-quality format, and that both your headphones and playback device support the AptX HD or LDAC Bluetooth codecs.

This is where the Sony WH1000XM3 headphones come in. The industry-leading headphones support a wide range of Bluetooth Codecs, including both AptX HD and LDAC for supreme sound quality — and that’s just the beginning of what makes these a dazzling pair of wireless headphones.

The Sony WH1000XM3's also feature best-in-class active noise canceling with a dedicated processor to go on top of the snug fit, which helps keep out noise. You also get the option of a wired connection which expands the frequency response range (4Hz-40kHz wired vs. 20Hz-40kHz LDAC wireless). The WH1000XM3 headphones also have a number of quality-of-life features, like a quick-charging battery (10 minutes gets you five hours of playtime, while a full charge gets you 30), touch sensor controls, and a built-in mic for use with voice assistants and hands-free calling.

Best for High-End Sound Quality: Sennheiser HD 650

4.5

Sennheiser offers a more affordable high-end audio option with their HD 650 headphones. Just bear in mind that these have an impedance of 300 Ohms, so you won’t be using them with any old smartphone or laptop headphone jack. You’ll need an amp to get much sound out of these, but once you're hooked up, you’ll get incredible audio.

The Sennheiser HD 650 headphones have an over-ear, open-back design. You’ll feel immersed in your music, and all of it will come through crisp thanks to a 10Hz-39,500Hz frequency response range and reference-class design. You’ll want to make sure you have a quiet listening area though, as the open-back will let external noise in and let your audio out.

At just over half a pound, the HD 650 headphones are light on the head and have a soft headband and cushy, breathable ear pads. Customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive for the headphones. However, because of their dependence on a quality amp for audio playback, your experience will depend on what you pair these with.

Best for Fitness: Jaybird X4

4

Subway commuter? Marathon runner? Fast-walking multi-tasker? Wherever you listen to music, the Jaybird X4 are the headphones that customize your music to your lifestyle, from the sound to the fit. Use the Jaybird app to adjust the bass or treble and save your settings for future listening sessions. With interchangeable ear fins, adjustable Speed Cinch, and silicone Comply Ultra Foam tips, the earbuds adjust to fit your ear shape, ensuring both comfort and security throughout your day — the entire day, if necessary. The earbuds offer an eight-hour battery life and can receive an hour of charge in just ten minutes.

Need to pause your listening to call home or check in with your boss? Along with controlling volume and skipping tracks, the headphones also let you answer and end calls with just the touch of a button.

Best Design: Microsoft Surface Headphones

3.7

Microsoft's Surface line has always been geared towards designers. And the sleek, gray look of the new Surface headphones is about as modern and minimal as you can get. These are noise-canceling headphones, made from soft-touch lightweight plastic and a memory-foam-style pad. They weigh in at just over half a pound so they're suitable for long listening sessions.

Microsoft has also including some unique design features here. You may remember the Surface Dial from 2016, a puck-shaped accessory that operated as an unconventional rotating tool beside the Surface Studio. This unique accessory seems to have informed the design of the headphones — you can actually turn the outer part of the ear cup like a dial to adjust the level of noise canceling. This feature is probably the most unique part of the Surface headphones and makes them especially versatile. If you're working in a noisy office, you can block out surrounding conversations and just listen to your music. If you're walking down the street and need a little more situational awareness, let in some ambient sound. The 40mm Free Edge driver puts out decent sound quality (though most reviews point to it being "passable" rather than exceptional), delivering sound pressure levels up to 115 dB and covering a frequency spectrum of 20–20,000 Hz. They might not impress hardcore audiophiles, but they're perfectly suitable as a pair of stylish everyday headphones for more casual listening.

The Microsoft Surface headphones connect via Bluetooth or aux cable. They come with a sturdy carrying case and work seamlessly with Siri, Google Assistant, and of course Microsoft’s Cortana.

 

Best Budget Wired: Audio-Technica ATH-M20x

4.4

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 Bluetooth for iPhone: B&O PLAY Beoplay H4

4.6

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. 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.

Best Noise-Canceling: Bose 700

Bring the concert to your home, office, or on vacation with the Bose 700, a stylish and modern addition to the wireless noise-canceling headphone market. Though expensive, they're well worth the investment. Expect tight, crisp, and energetic sound that amply delivers deep, powerful bass without overwhelming your eardrums with piercing high-frequencies. While there is currently no equalizer control, Bose has announced it will soon be available through the app.

It would be remiss not to mention the 700’s main feature: It contains six microphones for noise cancellation, which is fully adjustable and can block out sounds completely or let in sounds around you so clearly that you might forget you’re wearing headphones at all. It boasts strong call quality and is compatible with your voice assistant of choice. You control the headphones through physical buttons as well as a touch-sensitive panel on the front half of the right earcup, governing track, volume, voice assistants, and phone calls. One of its only stumbles is its battery life. While 20 hours of power is impressive, it does fall short of that of competitors.

Best Bass: Sony WH-XB900N

Headphones that advertise bass response as their top feature, tend to do so at the expense of clarity and evenness over the rest of the frequency spectrum. With the WH-XB900Ns, Sony is trying a new approach by building some bass functionality into the construction of the headphones themselves. Designed into the ear cups is a “bass duct” which, according to Sony’s marketing materials, is much like a bass port in a larger speaker. This means you’ll get some bass boost without the need to blow out the bottom end of the spectrum on the digital side.

Add this together with a pretty tight seal around your ears, 1.57-inch drivers, and solid noise-canceling, and you’ll have a full, rich, immersive experience. With coverage across the full spectrum of 20Hz to 20kHz, you won’t be left wanting on that front with these headphones. The battery life is impressive, too, allowing for 30 hours of listening on a single charge, and you even have the option to quick-charge for a speedy top-off. There’s Bluetooth 5.0 for the most modern connectivity, NFC for tap-and-go pairing with compatible devices, touch controls, and smart assistant functionality. It all sits in a sleekly designed package that, for our money, looks pretty close to Sony’s flagship WH-1000X line.

Best Studio Monitor Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

With thousands of users singing the praises of Audio-Technica's ATH-M50x Pro headphones, it's really hard to mount an argument against them. While there are definitely more sonically impressive headphones out there, these hit a sweet spot — one where incredible studio monitor sound collides with a price tag that comes in way, way below the brand's competitors'.

The ATH-M50x headset’s design is simple, with wide ear cups for an over-ear fit, and faux leather on the headband and ear pads. The cable is interchangeable, with three different cables included in the package and a simple twist lock to hold them in place. The headphones are also foldable, making them easy to pack up for on-the-go use.

The ATH-M50x headphones have a low impedance at 38 Ohms, so you can use them with mobile devices. As far as specs go, they also have a frequency response range from 15Hz to 28kHz, which means their 45mm drivers deliver rich. Reviews for the ATH-M50x headset are so overwhelmingly positive, they can't be ignored as an excellent blend of budget and quality. Pick up a pair in black, blue, red, white, or gunmetal.

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought and tested seven top-rated headphones for music lovers. Our reviewers spent 250 hours listening to music on their commutes, when hitting the gym, and more. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these headphones, from sound quality to comfort. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Pair of Headphones

Sound quality - As a music lover, sound quality is likely the most important feature of your headphones. However, it’s also fairly subjective; Some prefer a bass-heavy sound with a strong emphasis on the lower range, while others prefer a more flat and balanced sound. Certain headphones have an accompanying app that allows you to adjust the sound profile, so look for that if you’re picky.

Design - The best sound is usually delivered by a pair of over-ear headphones that cancel out background noise by creating a seal over your ears. If you want a sleeker set, though, there are plenty of in-ear options perfect for fitness and travel.

Comfort - When you’re listening to an album all the way through, comfort becomes key. Most over-ear headphones have cushioned ear pads, while earbuds come with several sizes of ear tips and wings to ensure you find the perfect fit.

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See Why These Are The Best Headphones for Music Lovers

Test Results: Sony WH1000XM3 (Best Overall)

4.7

What We Like

  • Amazing noise cancelation

  • Great sound

  • High-quality build

What We Don't Like

  • Touch controls aren’t intuitive

  • Pricey

Sony WH1000XM3
Sony
Sony WH1000XM3 headphones
Sony headphones
WH1000XM3

Our testers loved the sound quality and noise cancelation on these headphones. According to one of our reviewers, the sound has “a great smooth response, impeccable detail, and ample bass without being cumbersome.” One of our testers raved, “With customization that lets you tailor it to your surroundings, these are perfect for those who want heavy isolation.” In terms of negatives, one of our reviewers thought the touch controls were “difficult to get used to.” And while these headphones are expensive, one of our testers said, “You can't get a more perfect set of Bluetooth headphones, with amazing sound quality and great noise cancelation.”

Test Results: Jaybird X4 Wireless Sport Headphones (Best for Fitness)

4

What We Like

  • Athletic-first design

  • Intuitive accompanying app

  • Durable

What We Don't Like

  • Super tight fit

  • Can’t be charged with USB

Jaybird X4
Jaybird X4 headphones
Jaybird headphones
X4
Jaybird X4 headphones

“Runners will love the build quality, bass response, and snug fit,” declared one of our testers of the Jaybird X4. On the other hand, if you’re not looking for headphones for exercise, one of our reviewers thought the fit was too snug — “It’s uncomfortable and affects the sound quality,” he noted. One of our testers also thought the proprietary charging port affected versatility. Still, “the cool color options, the understated earbud design, and the substantial rubber casing are all great for athletes and runners,” according to one of our reviewers.

Test Results: Audio-Technica ATH-M20x Professional Monitor Headphones (Best Budget Wired)

4.4

What We Like

  • Comfortably cups ears

  • Long cord

  • Loud sound

What We Don’t Like

  • Lacks great low-end sound

  • Limited features

Our testers liked that these headphones were comfortable — the headband is soft and they were fairly adjustable — as well as lightweight. And, though they don’t have a noise-cancelation feature, one of our reviewers said that the design of the earcups still blocks out plenty of noise.

Test Results: B&O PLAY Beoplay H4 (Best Bluetooth for iPhone)

4.6

What We Like

  • Stylish, comfortable design

  • Connect with Bluetooth or a wire

  • Great noise-canceling ability

What We Don’t Like

  • No case

  • Sound lacks depth

We’re happy to report that the sound quality of these headphones holds up — even when used wirelessly over Bluetooth. Another big draw was comfort: “These are easily the most comfortable headphones I've ever owned,” one of our testers said, “and I wear them for long periods of time every day.” One of our reviewers raved about the battery, using it daily for over a week without needing a charge, but had trouble finding an indicator for battery life.

Test Results: Microsoft Surface Headphones (Best Design)

3.7

What We Like

  • Customizable controls

  • Sleek design

  • Good-quality build

What We Don't Like

  • Sound quality is lacking

  • Pricey

Microsoft Surface Headphones
Microsoft Headphones
Surface Headphones
Microsoft Surface
Microsoft

“The Surface Headphones offer the most unique take on physical controls, allowing you to customize the noise canceling and volume at the twist of an ear cup dial,” revealed one of our testers. Other highlights, according to our reviewers, include a “refreshingly simple and sleek” design and “very substantial” build quality. The negatives? One of our testers thought the sound quality “isn't really befitting of the price point.” However, one of our reviewers noted, “Much like Apple's AirPods, these headphones shine when paired with other Surface devices.”