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Finding budget headphones that don’t look or sound horrendous can be a challenge. It’s true you that usually have to pay a fortune for top-tier looks and sound quality, but it’s also true that you can pay a lot less for above-average quality that will keep most people happy.
The Mpow Bluetooth Headphones are budget headphones that look and feel great. It has a classic-looking mix of red and black to give it a little flair and it’s designed to be comfortable, too, with memory-protein ear cushions and a padded headband. These headphones also feature both a wired and wireless mode, which means you never have to stop using them—even if the battery dies.
That said, the 420mAh battery is quite good, with up to 13 hours of music/podcast playback and up to 15 hours of phone talk time. Speaking of phone calls, the device also has a built-in microphone, but keep in mind that the mic only works in wireless mode.
A perennial favorite of Instagram models and chic college students, Beats are the staple stylish headphones. The Solo3 is the popular brand’s newest installment, optimized in both looks and functionality to pair with the iPhone 7.
Gone are the loud colors and bold Beats logo of the Beats Solo2 era. The new design is more elegant and understated, borrowing the gold, rose, and silver of iPhone fame. These metallic hues contrast nicely with white ear and band cushions and are complemented by small reflective accents. This is a more mature and sophisticated look than the monochromatic approach of Beats’ past. Glossy black and white are also available.
The other major upgrade is in wireless connectivity. Apple axed the headphone jack, so wireless connectivity is essential for headphones in 2017, and the Solo3's have the best Bluetooth experience of any headphones on the market. They sync seamlessly with anything in the Apple ecosystem, take calls, and can operate up to 30ft away from the paired device. And the battery lasts an amazing 40 hours, much better than anything else on the market.
As always is the case with Beats, you are paying a premium for the name. So while other headphones with similar sound quality are cheaper, none can match the upgraded design and wireless functionality.
Within Sony's larger headphone lineup, the WH-XB900Ns bear a striking resemblance to the more expensive, flagship WH-1000X line. For the most part, you can chalk this up to their soft rounded edges and the sleek matte black finish. But these headphones come at a cost that's a little more palatable, even if noise-canceling is a high priority. It’s no secret that the 1000X line offers class-leading noise cancellation. However, Sony is now incorporating some of its "secret sauce" into the XB900Ns, which deliver top-of-the-line isolation.
You will also enjoy pretty substantial bass response thanks, in part, to Sony’s “bass duct” — a physical feature built into the ear cups that acts as a bass port does on a larger speaker. The drivers are 1.57 inches, and the frequency coverage spans from 20Hz to 20kHz for plenty of data across the entire range of human hearing. The battery life here is pretty impressive too, with 30 hours of use on a single charge. Round this all out with modern features like Bluetooth 5.0, NFC tap-and-go pairing, intuitive touch controls, and voice assistant tie-ins, and you have a stellar (and stellar looking) pair of noise-canceling headphones.
These design-forward headphones sport distinctive angular over-ear pads that are made with premium soft leather and brushed aluminum metal accents. Your ear is completely encompassed with the high-quality leather that does not constrict or constrain, allowing you to wear the headphones in comfort for hours.
Ghostek offers three stylish color options: black, gold and rose gold. All are two-tone, with the brushed aluminum accents and stitching complementing the band and cushion color. They are wireless and have Bluetooth connectivity and automatically pair to your devices. The set also comes with a microphone for phone calls and delivers rich sound for an extraordinary listening experience.
When it comes to earbud headphones, many models simply look alike, with barely any color or distinguishing features. The Zipbuds Slide Sport V2 Earbuds, however, stand out with good sound and they come in sea green, neon yellow, orange and purple, so you won’t have to worry about boring white or black buds cramping your style.
The Zipbuds Slide Sport Earbuds offer "performance-enhancing sound" with powerful bass and dynamic clarity. On top of great sound, they are designed for hard workouts and everyday usage. The Slide Sport Earbuds have military-grade durability, sweat resistance, tangle-free tech, as well as secure-fitting earbud tips that stay in place during running. There’s also a noise-filtering microphone if you feel the need to take a phone call while exercising.
These on-ear wireless headphones from industry-leader Plantronics offer an array of innovative features in an understated and fashionable frame. You can choose between white or black, though both options have rich brown memory-foam ear cushions and headband. The headband auto-adjusts to fit your head and is feather-light for all-day listening comfort.
The ear cushions also contain smart sensor technology that automatically pauses or plays music when you take your headphones off to help conserve battery power. As a result, the headphones deliver up to 18 hours of continuous wireless play, and they can stream and receive calls from a device up to 330 feet away.
Check out our ultimate headphones buying guide.