The best headphones you can buy right now

There are many options for listening to your music or podcasts, gaming, or taking video calls for work: Earbuds, bone conduction, wireless and wired, and, of course, the classic over-the-ear headphones. Over-the-ear headphones have gotten an upgrade in recent years — now they feature Bluetooth connectivity and active noise cancellation technology.

Sure, you can snag a pair of earbuds, but headphones are better for your hearing in the long term, especially if you want to block out the noise around you.

That’s why we’ve rounded up the best headphones — from high-tech headsets to budget-friendly options — so you can choose the best product for your listening preferences.

Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones

Sony’s WH-1000XM headphones have been the go-to active noise cancelation (ANC) headphones since the technology was first popular in the 1980s. Over different models, Sony has continued to improve its sound quality, ANC functionality, and battery life. And the WH-1000XM5 headphones offer the best ANC technology yet, with some of the best overall sound-blocking technology currently available on the market.

These upgrades don’t come cheaply, but they still offer an excellent value in a long-wearing, comfortable pair of headphones that block out most exterior noise through a combination of passive sound isolation and advanced ANC technology. Couple that with 30 hours of battery life in one single charge, and these headphones are worth their price tag.

JBL Tune 510BT

Best budget headphones

Tech Specs: Form factor: On-ear | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 | Battery life: 40 hours (2 hours on a 5-minute charge) | Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz

Looking to spend less on quality headphones? These headphones from JBL provide great sound at about half the cost of the other headphones on this list. JBL is known for its deep bass sound, and these budget-friendly headphones have JBL’s built-in Pure Bass sound, which sounds great at both low and high volumes. While the headphones have a built-in microphone, they work best for hands-free calls from your smartphone rather than making Zoom calls.

Buttons on the headphone’s ear cups let you control the volume, pair to a device via Bluetooth, as well as activate voice assistants (Siri and Google Assistant) by pressing the multi-function button. The headphones’ foldable design also comes in four color options: black, blue, white, and rose.

HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless Headphones

Best headphones for gaming

Tech specs: Form factor: Over-ear | Connectivity: USB adapter | Battery life: 300 hours | Frequency response: 15 Hz – 21 kHz

If you didn’t think 300 hours of battery life was possible, these headphones from HyperX Cloud prove you wrong. Their impressive battery life allows you to game and stream for eight hours a day for over a month before they need to be charged. And all this is even with their DTS Headphone: X audio drivers enabled. In addition, the microphone is detachable, so you can remove it depending on the type of gaming you are doing; it’s also adjustable, so you don’t peak your audio or sound muffled while talking to other gamers.

This headset has an excellent audio quality that provides a rich, clean sound even at low volumes. A Ngenuity desktop app enables or disables the spatial audio and DTS Headphone: X settings to monitor the battery, adjust volume, and create custom equalizer settings so no matter what you’re playing will sound its absolute best.

Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO X Headphones

Best wired headphones

Tech specs: Form factor: Over-ear, open-backed | Connectivity: Wired | Battery life: N/A | Frequency response: 5-40,000 Hz and nominal impedance of 48 ohms

Wireless headphones have become the most popular model type in recent years thanks to advances in Bluetooth. However, wired headphones still exist and are still worth it, as is evident with the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO X. This model is a mid-range headphone option for mixing and streaming or for anyone who wants to hear every detailed sound in their music. The detachable mini-XLR cable can be changed at will or exchanged with other connection options.

These headphones are open-backed, allowing air and sound to transmit freely through the earcups’ grills, resulting in a more natural, speaker-like sound; you can definitely hear this difference in their natural frequency response and reliable sound. Plus, their included memory foam provides an ergonomic and comfortable fit.

Apple AirPods Max

Best headphones for Apple users

While a newer player in the headphone sector compared to other brands, Apple’s AirPods Max has found a niche fanbase in that it’s the only device that combines exceptional sound with all of the same benefits Apple device owners have enjoyed for years with the smaller AirPods earbuds. These features include instant connectivity, multi-device switching, and the ability to tweak settings and see charge levels on any Apple device.

The sound quality is by far the best of any Apple headphones today, especially with their ANC technology that meets or exceeds what competitors like Sony and Bose currently offer. So if you’re an avid Apple user and don’t mind spending a little more, the Apple AirPods Max are excellent headphones. 

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