Headphones mean different things to different people. For commuters and travelers, noise canceling is the key feature. For audio buffs, it might be hearing the musicians’ breath. Or maybe you just want so much bass you can feel your brain vibrate inside your head. Whatever you're looking for, here are some candidates for consideration.
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- Best over-ear headphones
- Best in-ear headphones (Bluetooth)
- Best in-ear headphones (wired)
- Best headphones for sports (in-ear)
- Best headphones for sport (wraparound)
- Best noise-canceling headphones (over-ear)
- Best noise-canceling headphones (in-ear)
- Best budget in-ear headphones
- Best budget over-ear headphones
- Best headphones with microphone
Without a doubt, the Sony MDR-1A headphones are the best you can buy for under $300. In fact, these are probably still the best cans you can buy if your budget goes up well beyond the $300 range.
The Sony MDR-1A headphones come with Hi-Res stereo audio response is top-notch and you would be hard-pressed to find a better sound. Sony designed them for Android so you get the optimal experience. The app is available in the Google Play store and you can customize and control the settings from your Android device.
These large over-ear monitor headphones have plush leather cups and a comfortable, flexible head strap. You get several different cords in the box – which are now removable – and the sound simply cannot be beaten. You will never regret buying these headphones.
We're crowning the Sol Republic Shadow the king of in-ear Bluetooth headphones. These are sporty and sleek with an ergonomic design. They come with a band than goes around your neck so they feel like a more stable fit.
The Sol Republic Shadow headphones are smaller than most other Bluetooth enabled wireless headphones but are still perform well and have a ton of features. The sound is rich and detailed. They last for eight hours without a charge. And they are water-resistant.
Bluetooth headphones have their drawbacks in general also. They are heavier than their wired counterparts because there is more electronic equipment in them. The Sol Republic Shadow headphones don't do much to mitigate this, although they are a bit lighter than other Bluetooth headphones.
If money is no object and you want the very best in-ear headphone experience, then look to the Atomic Floyd SuperDarts. Despite being in-ear headphones, they actually have two speakers in each earbud. For $299, you also get noise-isolation, stainless steel construction and various accessories and ear tips.
If you're serious about exercise, you need a pair of headphones that is equally serious. The Jabra Sport Coach in-ears are literally that: they're equipped with motion sensors to count your reps and provide verbal coaching feedback on a variety of different exercises. They'll ensure you can get the most out of every training session.
If you're the type of fitness fanatic or runner who always seems to be adjusting your in-ear headphones to try to make them more comfortable, the Plantronics BackBeat FIT wraparound headphones are for you. With adjustable earpieces that slightly creep into your inner ear, these 'phones simply can't fall off and feel great for extended periods of time.
They come with a reversible strap-on smartphone pouch and everything has reflective sections for higher visibility.
Bose makes the best noise canceling headphones around, and while its QuietComfort 25s aren't exactly cheap – the MSRP is $299 – they're already-impressive noise canceling has been improved, and they now sound better than ever.
Bose is so confident about this that it offers a no-quibble return period of 30 days in the US and the UK, and 21 days elsewhere.
If you want to spend a little less, $249 gets you a set of Bose QuietComfort 20 in-ear headphones. They do everything the over-the-ear versions do but are much smaller. They also have an 'aware mode' to stop you wandering under a bus or a tram.
It’s important to stress, though, that we’re prioritizing noise canceling here. There are better-sounding headphones out there, but if cutting out background city or traffic noise is important to you, Bose is the leader in this field.
How OnePlus managed to make a super-cheap pair headphones that are better than many experienced headphone companies' budget offerings – on its first try – is beyond us. Mind you, one could probably say the same thing about the company's first phone.
The OnePlus Icons are some of the beefiest, bassiest, richest-sounding in-ear headphones we've heard in a while. The fact that they cost less than $50 is almost too hard to believe. They sound better than some headphones at double or even triple that price.
Half the office team here – those less willing to spend a fortune on high-priced headphones – are the proud owners of these budget wonders. For less than fifty bucks, the Superlux HD668B headphones are hard to beat, and they're always available on Amazon.
They're big, comfortable semi-open studio-style cans, and they offer surprisingly good sound.
The Sennheiser family has been making quality headphones for a long time, concerned with nothing but the pursuit of perfect music reproduction. The whole Momentum range is great, but it's the in-ear wired Momentum headphones that we've been going back to again and again – they're the perfect pair of microphone-equipped smartphone headphones.
Do you have a favorite set of cans, awesome in-ears or Bluetooth headphones? Let us know in the comments!