The best audio headphones are those headphones that fully meet the requirements of users, whether they are on-ear or in-ear. In general, the best audio headphones have a frequency response between 20 – 20,000 Hz and at least 87 dB. The features of the best audio headphones are: high sound insulation capacity to the outside, ergonomics and comfort they offer when worn.
The headphone market is extremely crowded, with hundreds of models to choose from, but Nea Plăcut gives you a tip: Sony WH-1000xM3 are the best audio headphones. In fact, their combination of superior audio quality, superb noise cancellation and reliable wireless performance is such a powerful formula that even for the low price they are a very good hill.
The above statement is a strong one and we do not say it easily. We analyzed hundreds of headphones, using them in all sorts of locations with audio sources that ranged from surround sound movies to the most aggressive hard rock and rap albums. If you don't like the WH-1000xM3 , our editors have chosen some of the best headphones for different circumstances and budgets.
The Best Audio Headphones in 2021
Sony WH-1000XM3 – Hi-Fi
Jabra Elite Active 65t – Sport
Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC – Noise Canceling
HyperX Cloud Flight – Gaming
Sony MDR-XB50APL – Reduced In-Ear Budget
Audio-Technica ATH-M20x – Reduced Over-Ear Budget
WH-1000xM3 – our publishers' choice for the best Bluetooth Hi-Fi headset – also tops the list for the best headphones. WH-1000xM3 is actually an improved version of WH-1000x. Beneath the ultra-soft eco-leather ear cups, the 1000xM3 contains two dynamic 40mm drivers that bring both movies and music to life, with stunning and warm details.
The headphones offer excellent instrumental separation, with a strong bass response, adapted to the precise performance of the low and high registers. The Sony Headphones Connect app allows a lot of customization and fine tuning, allowing you to adjust ambient sound reduction and sound optimization based on atmospheric pressure (a great feature for frequent flyers).
Sony's DSEE HX audio processing engine also automatically improves audio compression from sources such as YouTube to ensure the best possible listening experience. All this comes of course and with a higher price – however for those looking for the best sound with noise canceling option WH-1000XM3S is the top choice.
When it comes to sports, the perfect headphones are definitely the in-ear ones. On this segment, given the five-hour lifespan, an IP56 waterproof rating and a multitude of useful application-based features, dominates the Jabra Elite Active 65t – the perfect choice for anyone who wants performance, both athletic and audio.
The headphones are very comfortable and offer excellent passive noise insulation. The sound is clear and detailed, with a strong bass and a surprisingly high register. Five hours of battery life per charge puts them among the best you'll find on the market, with a charging box that adds two extra charges.
Jabra's Sound Plus app lets you adjust equalization and choose whether or not to use the built-in smart assistant (Siri on iOS, Google Assistant on Android) or Amazon Alexa – a great option for those who use Alexa at home. Like Apple AirPods , the headphones automatically play and pause the music when you remove them from your ears, but they also go a step further by adjusting the ambient sound – which is great for hearing what's going on around you. during training or to be able to pay attention to traffic while pedaling to work.
The IP56 rating means you don't have to worry about damage to your headphones with liquids or moderate amounts of dust. Simply rinse them after a particularly hard workout and they are like us.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC headphones quickly became one of the publishers' favorite headphone pairs. The design is minimalist and elegant, with a matte-black plastic cover that covers the headphones. The material used on the ear cups is a quality one and the headband is also properly lined, which makes them comfortable to wear for a few hours.
The audio is clean and accurate on both highs and lows, despite the fact that it is a model of wireless headphones. NoiseGard noise cancellation was effective and did not change the sound profile too much. With a wireless design, rechargeable and up to 19 hours of battery life, Sennheiser headphones are perfect for those looking to isolate as much as possible from outside sound.
Cloud Flight have a very versatile design because they have a removable microphone with a very good ability to reduce background noise. The sound is very good, not only for video game soundtracks, but also for music, which increases their versatility. Although they recharge a bit hard, their battery provides almost 30 hours of continuous playback, which means you could spend almost an entire weekend playing before you need to recharge them again.
Unfortunately, HyperX Cloud Flight is not compatible with Xbox One. They also don't have a companion app, and their build quality is also a little disappointing compared to other wired models in the HyperX Cloud range, such as HyperX Cloud II or HyperX Cloud Alpha , which feel more durable. That being said, they are a very good wireless headset for PC or PS4 games.
If you are looking for high-quality, low-cost, yet cheap bass headphones, the Sony MDR-XB50APL is perfect for you. 12mm drivers make these headphones the perfect tool for anyone looking for a strong bass sound. Although the low frequency spectrum available is not the widest, the deep tones that MDR-XB50APL manages to produce are very impressive, especially compared to the low price of headphones.
Sony tends to create headphones that are made of metal or have metallic accents, and these buds definitely have that design. They also come in four relatively attractive colors that will look good both at the gym and on the way to work. In addition, they have a flat-design tangle-free cable and a small remote control that allows you to answer calls or pause / play music.
The MDR-XB50APPL sits close to your ear, insulating the sound very well, which is perfect for when you're trying to listen to music or talk on the phone in a noisy gym. The headset also includes a microphone that has a good level of quality, so you don't have to use your smartphone's microphone during a call.
If you are looking for great headphones for little money, the ATH-M20x is a top choice. The headphones are very well built considering the price. They can survive most unforeseen blows / falls. Another great thing about this model is the simple but attractive design, a design that has remained topical over the years ( ATH-M20x being similar to the top models of Audio-Technica).
The headphones are quite comfortable. The ear pads are very well padded, providing increased comfort, so you can enjoy your favorite music for hours on end. The sad thing is that there is no remote control or microphone, so no calls can be made. It's not really bad given that they are made to listen at home. ATH-M20x have a balanced sound signature.
The overall sound quality is much better than you would think for this price. You also get a robust bass response while keeping the details. These headphones sound good for every musical genre. Audio-Technica ATH-M20x is one of the best cheap headphones. with an over-the-top combination of audio quality, comfort, build quality and overall reliability. These are the best choice for those on a budget.
Questions and answers
An average pair of headphones should last you somewhere between one and two years, depending on how much you take care of them, while a high quality pair should last 10 years. In the opinion of our publishers, it is preferable to choose the second option, because with an average investment, you could enjoy a quality sound for today, instead of losing your money on headphones that do not sound great for the short period of time in which they will operate.
Most quality headset manufacturers offer a one-year replacement warranty if they run into problems or stop working. Another advantage of purchasing high quality headphones is that they can be repaired with less money than it would cost to replace them with a new, lower quality set.
In our experience, it is very rare for headphones to actually degrade and lose audio quality, rather a pair of headphones stops working suddenly and completely.
Drivers are quite sturdy, so often the first to give up will be connectors, soldered joints, jacks or cables. If you buy a relatively cheap pair, do not expect it to last long enough to notice a loss of quality, because such damage to the speakers themselves takes years.
On the other hand, if you have a really expensive pair of headphones, such as a high-end model from BOSE or Sennheiser, the speakers may deteriorate and then the sound quality will actually decrease significantly.
However, if you feel that the pair of headphones does not sound as good as before, check the ear pads and head restraints. Deterioration of the headphones can lead to incorrect positioning of the headphones, which can reduce sound quality. If, however, they do not show signs of wear, you have most likely just got used to the way they sound and now expect more from them.
Even the best in-ear headphones can sound awful or quickly become uncomfortable if they are too loose, too tight or not fitted well in your ear. Make the most of the headphones you buy by following the tips below to get the right fit.
- Pay attention to the size and material: the secret to a proper fit of the headphones is to use a foam / silicone tip of the right size. So try the different sizes of foam and silicone tips that come with the headphones. Foam tips are more forgiving of size differences, so they are a good choice for those between "standard" sizes.
- Place the tip of the headphones firmly in your ear: To get the best sound, you need to seal your ear canal with the tip of your headphones. So simply pushing a headset into your ear is not enough to create adequate insulation. Try to gently pull on the outer edge of the ear to make it easier to insert the tip into a comfortable position. You should notice a decrease in ambient noise when the tip is positioned correctly. And when you listen to music, you will notice a wider range, especially a stronger bass.
- Attach the sports headphones carefully: Try wrapping the headphone cord behind your head and around each ear. For in-ear headphones that are tilted to fit in the ear canal, place the part marked "L" in the right ear and the part marked "R" in the left ear (as opposed to the usual placement). Some headphones, such as those made by Shure, are designed to be worn this way, so check before changing sides.
The simple answer is yes, you can sleep with your headphones on. However, if you intend to sleep with your headphones in your ears, you should avoid headphones on or over the ear, as this may disturb your sleep. In particular, wired headphones can become dangerous, as the cables may become tangled.
If you plan to sleep with headphones to block outside noise, try to limit yourself to genres of music or podcasts that will help you sleep. We also recommend that you set a timer on your phone so that your audio does not stay on all night.
If you already own a pair of headphones that are “good at everything,” you may be wondering why you might need a special gaming headset. The three main things that differentiate gaming headphones from regular ones are comfort, sound quality and microphone quality.
Most normal headphones are designed to be used for short periods of time, such as business meetings or phone calls, while gaming headphones are designed for long and intense gaming sessions. In a situation like this, you want the headset to be comfortable, for it to have excellent sound quality, and for the microphone to be very sensitive to your voice. Sure, a normal headset will work, but you'll have a much more enjoyable experience using headphones created for gaming.
The difference between in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones is the way the headphones sit in or on the ear, as the case may be. Virtually every imaginable helmet falls into one of three categories.
- In-Ear Headphones : small headphones that go into the ear, allowing them to be close to the eardrum. They are generally lightweight, portable and often relatively inexpensive compared to on / over ear headphones. In-ear headphones are the most versatile of all three types so their small size makes them ideal for both the gym and the office or public transport. An example would be Sony MDR-XB50APL , but for more models see also our article on the best in-ear headphones .
- On Ear Headphones : Headphones whose sponge cushions sit on your ears, rather than around them. This type of headset generally tends to be smaller and lighter than the circum-aural headphones (over ear), which leads to a low decrease in external noise. The supra-aural headphones can also cause discomfort due to pressure on the ear, compared to the circum-aural headphones that sit around the ear. Comfort may vary depending on the material and quality of the cups. Overall, on-ear headphones are a middle ground between the comfort and portability of in-ear headphones and the high audio performance of over-ear headphones. An example of such a headset is the Sony WH-CH500H .
- Headphones Over Ear (circum-aural): circular or ellipsoidal pads headset that includes ears. Because these headphones completely surround the ear, the circum-auricular headphones can be designed to seal completely, thus attenuating external noise. Most professional headphone models are over ear due to their very good ability to isolate outside sound. Precisely for this reason, most of the choices in our article about the best headphones of the moment are circum-aural. Due to their size, over-ear headphones can be heavy. To reduce weight discomfort, an ergonomic design for the belt and headphones is required. One such pair are Skullcandy Hesh3 .
In-ear headphones are a better option, as unlike in -ear headphones that propagate sound directly to the ear, over -ear headphones provide some buffer between the music and the ear canal. However, although in-ear headphones are a safer choice than in-ear headphones when it comes to hearing, they are not without drawbacks.
Like in-ear headphones, most over-ear or on-ear headphones have low or mediocre quality and do not transmit bass efficiently. It is worth investing in better quality headphones to improve your listening experience and protect your hearing.