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 598 Cs at Amazon
"Closed-back, over-ears set of headphones, making them very effective at isolating sound."
Best for Musicians: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x at Amazon
"Ideal for musicians because it allows you to have control of your mix."
Best for Pro Audio: Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro at Amazon
"A beautiful fit, with nice isolation and huge, luxurious ear cups."
Best Value: Status Audio CB-1 at Amazon
"Simple, sleek, and well-constructed."
Best Noise-Cancelling: Bose Quiet Comfort 25 at Amazon
"You'll get what Bose calls its 'deep, powerful sound."
Best In-Ear Monitors: Shure SE215-CL at Amazon
"Shure is one of the best brands in the live sound game."
Best Earbuds: 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones at Amazon
"Strikes a nice balance between affordability and premium features."
Best Sound Quality: Grado SR125e at Amazon
"Each component of the headphones has been hand-selected for performance."
A leading brand in headphones, Sennheiser features products in their HD line designed for pro audio engineers, with high impedance and plenty of pro specs. But with the HD 598 Cs, you get both a professional and a consumer-friendly option. The headphones are closed-back, over-ear headphones, making them very effective at isolating sound — even without any active noise canceling. This is in part to the premium materials used in its headband and leatherette earpads. Plus, with well-constructed aluminum voice coils, the dynamics on these headphones are powerful, efficient, and low on the distortion scale.
They cover a spectrum of 10-28,000 Hz (the full spectrum of human hearing), with 115dB of sensitivity, and 23 ohms of impedance. This, combined with Sennheiser's EAR (Ergonomic Acoustic Refinement) technology for detailed sound, gives this product a great feature set. Sennheiser has included both a 3.5mm cable with an in-line remote and a 6.3mm cable for premium sound setups.
Studio monitor headphones, like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, are ideal for musicians because it allows you to have full control of your mix. There's plenty of power in these headphones, thanks to the 45mm drivers (5mm larger than the m20–m40 models), 98 dB of sensitivity, and 38 ohms. These higher ohms mean you'll want to use these with a headphone amp or audio interface for the best response, as well as for richer sound. They cover 15-28,000Hz, beyond the human hearing spectrum, and they even swivel 90 degrees in both directions for ease of wearing. The fit and finish are also fantastic, with great durability and professional leather materials covering the ear cup. The package comes with a solid carrying case, plus two cable connections, one 4-foot line, and one coiled line that can be extended to almost 10 feet.
Beyerdynamic has created top audio equipment for professional musicians and producers for years. Part of a larger DT line, the 770 pro sits in a sweet spot for those who want a pro-level set of headphones, but don't want to spend upwards of $300. For around $150, you get a solid pair of reference headphones with excellent, premium specs. This pair is the 80-ohm model, perfect for studio and headphone amp scenarios — the higher ohms will give you a richer, more powerful spectrum. If you're looking for more everyday headphones, there's also the 32-ohm model. Either way, you'll get a beautiful fit, with nice isolation and huge, luxurious ear cups. These cups are covered in a velvety material that's great for reducing friction around your ears, but note that they start to warm up during long listening sessions. The 770s tend to lean more on bass than the 880s or the 990s headphones but are pretty transparent, so they're great for pro audio applications. Included is a drawstring bag, a 1/4-inch adapter, and a 3-meter straight cable.
Combining quality and budget pricing, the CB-1 from Status Audio is simple, sleek, and well-constructed. It fits the bill for most value headphones — there are 50mm drivers for a powerful sound stage, and there's coverage for all of the human hearing spectrum. The pads feel plush and have thick memory foam to form well around your ears and adequately blot out some noise. The headphones also feel solid with its free-folding swivel. The package includes a 1/4-inch adapter, a straight cable, a coiled cable, and will cover you for most applications at a price that's way under most competitors.
Bose is known for its noise-canceling technology, and the Quiet Comfort 25 headphones include many of the features you'd find in their flagship headphones — except for the Bluetooth connectivity. This model is their Apple-compatible version, though you can opt for one with an inline remote that works best with Android. You'll get what Bose calls its "deep, powerful sound," but the highlight is its tried-and-true noise-canceling technology. In the case of the QC 25s, you'll need to load in an AAA battery to power that technology and there's not much control beyond a simple on/off switch. Still, pair that with a premium build and two color options of black or white, and you've got a great choice for loud environments.
Whether you're an audiophile or a musician playing live, in-ear monitors, which aim to accurately reproduce the sound you're listening to, are a great choice for wired headphones. Shure is one of the best brands in the live sound game, and the SE215-CL is a great, affordable option. The single driver doesn't give you the oomph of a multi-driver set of earbuds but you'll get 107dB of sound, plus a frequency range that covers 22Hz-17.5kHz.
Note that these specs aren't quite on par with over-ear headphones, but that's to be expected with small drivers. The SE215-CL also provides excellent noise isolation, with a solid, secure fit. Another highlight is the ability to detach the 3.5mm jack, meaning there's less of a chance to break its wires. Each pair of headphones comes with a few different foam tips and a small carrying case.
1MORE offers earbuds focused on multi-driver systems, but their three-driver earbuds strike a nice balance between affordability and premium features. You'll get frequency coverage ranging from 20Hz to 40kHz, 32 ohms of impedance, 99 dB of sensitivity, and there's even Grammy-winning Luca Bignardi's spectrum tuning built-in. Even the in-line remote provides excellent performance with multiple button functions and MEMS (microelectro-mechanical systems) microphones for crisp, clear phone calls when paired with your smartphone. The earbuds are also constructed well, opting for an enamel copper wire wrapped around Kevlar and covered in a fingerprint-resistant, sand-blasted coating. These features all mean that your cable will last longer than most earbud cables. The package comes with eight sets of ear tips for the ideal fit, an airline adapter, and a snappy faux leather case.
Each component of Grado's SR125e headphones has been hand-selected for performance — the 8 conductor, UHPLC cables allow for a stable connection and beautiful balance across the spectrum, while the de-stressed drivers are broken in and warm. What’s more is that each driver is matched to within 0.1dB of pressure, meaning you won't have an imbalance between your ears.
On paper, this gives you 20-20,000 Hz of frequency coverage, 32 ohms of impedance, and almost 100 dB of SPL. And because the S-style cushions sit on your ear, the soundstage will feel airier and more open than over-ear headphones. The package comes with a solid warranty and a gold 1/4-inch adapter.