It’s amazing how we become so used to the sound of Apple Earbuds that when we put on a set of really good headphones, it’s almost like a mini-home theater sound system right on our ears. Since upgrading your headphones can seem like a daunting and expensive task, we did the hard work for you. Below, we’ll walk you through what we believe to be the eight best-sounding and best-priced headphones on the market right now.
Features: Over-Ear Headphones | Higher Bass Response | Excellent Stereo-Imaging
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are probably the best “bang for your buck” headphones you can buy. At $120, these Beats Studio rivals ultimately outdo their competitors in every category. About half the price of Beats Studio over-ears, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x’s have better control over the lower bass and vocal high-mid frequency ranges than the over-equalized Beats model, as well as stellar stereo-imaging. They’re comfortable to wear, and even fold up for easy portability. An added bonus, the headphones also come with three interchangeable cable lengths to suit your specific needs. So while the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x might not be as fashion-forward as their Beats Studio counterparts, function-wise, they’re possibly the best-sounding headphones in their price range on the market.
Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless
Features: On-Ear Headphones | Bluetooth Wireless | Long-Lasting Battery Life | Vintage Design
They’re more than twice the price of the Audio Technica ATH-M50x’s, but Bowers & Wilkins’ P5 Wireless feature all the things absent in the Audio Technica phones. A better frequency range than most headphones in this price category, the Bowers & Wilkins model adds a vintage design and Bluetooth-wireless listening, getting rid of that cord, and boasting a 17-hour-long battery life. They also include a wire that — when plugged in for passive listening — actually shuts off the battery. The style and additional features of the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless justify the $300 price point.
Features: In-Ear Headphones | Comfortable Earbud Tips | Inline Microphone/Remote
These are definitely the best-sounding and most comfortable earbuds around. Previously marketed as the Bose IE2’s, the newly adapted “SoundSport” model includes some features the IE2’s hadn’t, while still maintaining the same design and earbud shape. Now, the Bose SoundSport come sweat- and weather-resistant, as well as offering an inline microphone/remote for telephone calls and switching between audio. With a protective carrying case and three sizes of Bose’s Stay Hear earbud tips, the SoundSport is the best in-ear headphone you can buy for under $100.
Bose Quiet Comfort 35
Features: Over-Ear Headphones | Noise Cancelling | Bluetooth Wireless | Comfortable
Bose prides itself on sound and comfort. True to their name, the “Quiet Comfort” headphones are among the top noise-cancelling phones on the market. Boasting a 20-hour battery life, or 40-hours when listening with the wire, they’re also one of the longest lasting. “Bose invented active noise cancelling as we know it,” says PCMag, who gave these their Editor’s Choice award. “In the realm of noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones, you simply can’t do better than this.”
Features: On-Ear Headphones | Colorful Design | Leather Padding | Inline Remote
Compared to their closest competitor, the Beats Solo’s at $169, the AKG Y50s boast an even more colorful design at a fraction of the price. Techradar’s verdict describes them as “the perfect on-ear headset for the entry-level audiophile,” with a grade of 4/5 stars. While their only con may be the inability to fold them up, the wire is detachable and the whole thing can be stashed in an included travel bag. “If you can’t pony up $400 at the drop of a hat [for higher-end headphones],” Techradar says, “the AKG Y50s are about as good as you’re going to get.”
Sennheiser HD 598
Features: Over-Ear Headphones | Retro Color Scheme | Home-Audio Acoustic Design
Designed for home-audio music and movie-sound immersion, the Sennhesier HD 598s boast some of the best “sense of space” and “excellent balance of the entire frequency range” for headphones in this price range, says PCMag. The retro ivory color design might not be for everyone, but recently an all-black model has been developed as well. Marketed at $250, the Sennheiser HD 598s are currently on sale at Amazon for about half that price.
Features: Over-Ear Headphones | Sleek Design | Amazing Sound Quality | Magnetic Drivers
Given 5/5 stars and described as “headphones from the gods” by Techradar, the Oppo PM-3s offer an “attractive design, stunning sound quality, and great isolation.” Not the lightest pair of headphones, the magnetic audio drivers provide the crystal-clear sound you’d find in studio monitors, with little to no distortion. As well as being portable, the Oppo PM-3 headphones are also very durable. “Just go out and buy these headphones,” pleads Techradar, “they’re the best available at this price point, offering a stunning balance of closed-back design and planar magnetic sound quality.”
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro & 1770 Pro
Features: Suberb Sonic Performance | Studio-Built Headphones | Comfortable Padding
The Beyerdynamic DT Pros might just be the best studio-built headphones in the world. Industry standard for pro-audio, these headphones boast the most accurate representation of the entire frequency range from any headphone on the market. The $165 DT 770 model are a great pair of mixing headphones with 80 ohm resistance built-in, as well as zero audio leakage outside the headset. They also block a fair amount of ambient noise and weigh surprisingly little considering the bulky design. If you’re willing to spend three times as much for the 1770 Pro upgrade however, the leatherette padding is swapped out for velour comfort and the standard audio drivers are replaced by Tesla technology. A pricetag of $600 might seem like a bit much, but for the individual pro-audio mixing engineer, these things are gold.
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