The 9 Best Headphones for Music Lovers to Buy in 2017

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

These days, headphones are one of the few cherished items many 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 2017.

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-cancelling, 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 2017, from the budget Skullcandy Uproar Wireless to the Bose QuietComfort 35. All you have to do is plug in and press play.

When you combine best-in-class active-noise canceling and an extremely comfortable, fold-up headphone design, the result is the Bose QuietComfort 35. 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 8.3 ounces, the QuietComfort 35 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 themselves 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 47-inch cable.

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.

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.

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 look cool and come in seven vibrant color schemes including orange, navy, grey and more.

The TapTech remote control – a button 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.

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.

Oppo’s PM-3 headphones immediately separate themselves from the rest of the pack, thanks to planar magnetic drivers that create a very coherent sound. As opposed to the dynamic driver used on most headphones today, Oppo’s planar magnetic option includes a plastic strip that vibrates rapidly causing sound to be precisely controlled. This change in design leads to improved highs, mids and lows all with low distortion. The pairing of noise isolation and planar sound allows the fantastic sound to come through without the noise of the outside world interrupting.

Available in black, white and blue, the closed-back, over-ear headphones are a superb combination of both comfort and sound. As over-ear headphones, they are slightly larger overall (and they weigh 11.28 ounces). Fortunately, they are comfortable and have soft ear cups that offer just the right amount of snug fit without feeling too tight on the head.

The included three-meter cable offers a 3.5mm plug along with a 1.2-meter cable that’s Apple-centric with mic and music controls. Amazon also offers an option to contact them before shipping to send a similar cable that’s Android-friendly. The PM-3s fold flat into their included denim case that’s great for traveling and protection. All it takes is one listen to recognize that Oppo produced a headphone that is serious about design while offering a sound that feels like it should cost a whole lot more.

Earbuds are a convenient and portable alternative to cumbersome full sized headphones, but they usually come at the expense of sound quality. They let too much outside noise in, forcing the listener to play their music at a dangerously high volume if they want to hear the mids and treble. But Etymotic Research ERP-T Micro Pro gives you all the functionality of earbuds without a loss in sound quality. They have powerful bass and incredibly accurate mids and highs.

These are the perfect earbuds for sound engineers and audiophiles who refuse to sacrifice sound quality for portability. The ACCU- Driver balanced armature transducer produces very precise sound with a low distortion factor. Couple that with 10 dB greater output at high frequencies and 13 dB output at lower frequency, as well as snug fitting earbuds that do not let any sound escape, and you have unrivaled acoustics for earbuds. They give 100 percent accurate sound reproduction, meaning your Radiohead Live album will sound just like the concert (provided you don’t have some low quality file). 

What really sets the ER4P-T MicroPro earbuds is apart is Etymotic’s best in class noise isolating technology, which is enhanced by design features such as a braided chord to reduce microphone effects. The result is a 98 percent reduction in ambient noise, which will completely drown out that crying baby seated next to you on the plane. 

They do cost a lot more than most other earbuds on the market, but for the price you get not only amazing sound quality, but a 1/4” street adapter, an airline adapter, six different sizes of ACCU-fit tips, a travel pouch and storage case, as well as a 5 ft cable length.

While the headphone world remains stuck on models that include dynamic drivers, it’s Audeze’s Sine on-ear planar magnetic headphones that deliver exceptional sound. Audeze is one of a handful of manufacturers incorporating planar technology, but the higher fidelity sound with less distortion than dynamic drivers promise to make the Sine well worth a purchase. Styled by a BMW subsidiary, Designworks, the Sine offers a minimalist design with soft curves and almost no sharp edges. The matte black metal barely peaks through the leather to offer a modern look. 

As the on-ear design offers less total coverage for sound than a over-the-ear design, Audeze packed 80mm to 70mm drivers into the Sine, which offer full-bodied sound that is unrivaled. In fact, Audeze claims the drivers offer more than 3x the surface area of any other on-ear driver in its class, which leads to better bass response. Overall, audiophiles will find musical detail that surpasses dynamic-driver designs with an accurate, balanced sound that the “older” style of headphones can’t match. 

The audio might make the Sine stand out, but the cables offer yet another reason that the Sine should be at the very top of your headphone wish list. In the box are two options offering a traditional 3.5mm cable and an iPhone 7 lightning-friendly cable. Swapping the cables is a snap. Just unplug from the headphones and plug in the other cable. Truth be told, it’s the lightning cable that has the magic, with its three-button remote, built-in mic and connection to the Audeze iOS app. It’s a barebones app, but with two customizable EQ presets and 10 frequency sliders, creating your own custom sound is simple. 

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.


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