RAVE’s pick for the best overall headphones are Samsung Galaxy Buds.
Maybe you’re a podcast junkie. Or maybe just can’t get through your day without some fresh tunes in your ears. Either way, headphones are an indispensable part of modern life — whether they’re wired, over-ear, wireless, or earbuds, you don’t want to be caught on a subway ride without some.
And no matter what you’re headphone style happens to be, RAVE Reviews wants to help you find your next pair. In our effort to present only the very best pairs of headphones, we examined brands like Sennheiser, Bose, and Sony. We considered hours of battery life, sound quality, and noise cancellation — ‘cause let’s face it, you don’t want to spend your after-work commute home listening to that guy snore.
But most of all, the best-sounding, high-quality earphones need to keep you looking fly day and all night, so buy your next pair from our ranking of the 10 best headphones.
Finding the Best Headphones
Before telling you about the best ear headphones, let’s get to know all the different kinds of earphones, and learn a little bit about the pros and cons of each style. Most headphones are compatible with most devices, from iPhone to Android and other kinds of smartphones.
So whichever style you end up choosing is really a personal decision, based on lifestyle, how you use your headphones, and any preferences about how you’d like your headphones to look and feel.
What is a Wired Headphone?
A little like it sounds, wired headphones fit on your ear and are connected to your device via a wire, cable, or cord.
Dragging a wire around with you can be a little inconvenient, but there are a few pros to this style of headphones, including price (wired headsets are often a little cheaper than wireless earphones), draining hours of battery life (wireless headphones use more battery power), and better audio quality.
Some feel wired headphones sound better than even the best wireless headphones, but these days, technology has advanced to the point there really isn’t much difference in the sound quality.
Plus, many prefer the look and feel of wired headphones as opposed to wireless headphones or earbuds.
Are you a desk jockey, audiophile, or do you have issues with your hearing? Then wired headphones could be the right choice for you.
What is a Wireless Headphone?
Wireless headphones are not connected to your phone or device by a wire. Some people prefer this style of earphone, since it’s a little more convenient for traveling and your overall movement is not constrained by the wire.
However, wireless headphones are more expensive, and drain your battery.
What about the best true wireless headphones? Wireless headphones still have a wire connecting each side of the ear pieces, but no wire connecting the headphones to your device.
True wireless headphones have no wire at all, between each ear, or connecting to the device — taking convenience to the max, but making the headphones a little tough to keep track of.
If you frequently travel, if you’re a gamer, or if you’re looking for a set of headphones for jogging or for working out, wireless headphones might suit you the best.
A definite advantage to wireless headphones is that many they are Bluetooth compatible.
The Difference Between Bluetooth and Wireless Headphones
Bluetooth and wireless headphones are similar in some ways, with a few key differences.
Neither Bluetooth or wireless headphones have any wires. Wireless headphones connect to your device using radio frequency, while Bluetooth uses radio waves.
This means the biggest difference between wireless and Bluetooth headphones is distance: wireless earphones work up to a range of about 100 feet or 30 meters, while Bluetooth headphones have a range of only about 30 feet or 10 meters. Though some advances in Bluetooth technology have greatly increased this range.
So what’s the advantage of Bluetooth? In addition to audio, Bluetooth signals can also handle voice and data, and Bluetooth signals are secure.
Which is Better: On-Ear or Over-Ear?
Another difference between headphones is whether they’re on-ear or over-ear. Most audiophiles like one or the other based on looks and comfort, but there are also some audio quality issues to take into consideration.
On-ear and over-ear refers to whether the ear cups fit on or in your ears. On-ear headphones sit on your ears, and they tend to be a little smaller. They don’t create a seal between your ear and the outside world, degrading the quality of the audio.
Over-ear headphones, on the other hand, completely cover your ear, sealing out all other sound, meaning the sound quality is a little better than on-ear headphones.
So how to choose? On-ear headphones are a bit smaller and more compact, and some people find that more comfortable and that it better suits their lifestyle. Over-ear headphones are bigger, however, and some people prefer the extra stability and improved sound quality.
Earbuds vs. In-Ear Headphones
Let’s now cover-earbuds and in-ear headphones. Earbuds are small and highly portable, resting just at the edge of the ear canal. In-ear headphones are very similar, with one primary difference: they’re actually inserted into your ear canal. Wireless earbuds are also an option.
Both styles of earphones are good for anyone looking for something highly portable and compact. There is some concern, however, about these styles of headphones causing hearing damage.
Other features of headphones include noise-cancellation, battery life, Apple Airpods, and closed-back headphones.
We’ll cover this and a whole lot more in our ranking of the 10 best headphones. So let’s get started.
In our effort to bring you a full review of each headphone in our ranking, RAVE Reviews considered the opinion of audio professionals, serious audiophiles, gamers, and casual listeners of music, movies, and podcasts. We also looked at headphones for an office professional looking for a good set of headphones while at work.
We did read the product descriptions, but we’re not here just to earn an affiliate commission. We’re here to get you into the best set of headphones for your lifestyle, and we stand by each and every product on our list.
When evaluating each headphone, we considered the following:
- Are the headphones Bluetooth enabled?
- Are they wireless or true wireless?
- Are the open or close-backed?
- Are they compatible with Google assistant and Alexa?
- Battery life
- Noise cancellation
- All other special features and functions?
We also considered:
- Manufacturing details
With all this in mind, we’re excited to present to you the very best headphones available. So let’s get started.
The Best Headphones
Samsung Galaxy Buds
First place in our ranking goes to the true wireless Galaxy Buds from Samsung. With sound by AKG, these earbuds are Bluetooth enabled and Android and iOS compatible as well.
They provide true wireless connection on 6 hours of playtime on one charge, and 13 hours total play time with the charging case. In a hurry? A 15 minute charge gets you just under 2 hours of playing time. And you can easily control your content, pausing when you remove your headphones and resuming with a touch.
In addition, quick ambient mode lets you easily switch between noise isolation and the outside world. Comfort is also a priority for Samsung, and Galaxy Buds come complete with three adjustable ear tip and wingtip sizes, while the IPX22 splash-resistant technology keeps them safe from water.
Some find them uncomfortable, but earbud style headphones just aren’t comfortable for everyone.
- Ambient Mode, AKG sound
- Adjustable ear tip and wingtips
- IPX2^2 splash-resistant
- Uncomfortable for some
Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2
Next in our ranking is the BackBeat PRO 2 from Plantronics. Reasonably priced, these headphones offer exceptional audio quality, with switch on active noise cancelling, and Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 are perhaps the best noise-cancelling headphones in our ranking. In addition, you can use these headphones up to 24 hours before connecting or taking the time to charge.
Another nice aspect of these headphones is the enhanced Bluetooth connectivity, working up to 100 meters or 330 feet away from your class 1 Bluetooth smartphone or tablet. And if you travel a lot, note how the ear cups swivel flat to slip into the protective nylon travel sleeve.
Another plus for travelers is the open-listening mode, letting you tune in your surroundings without taking the headphones off. The headphones can also connect two devices at the same time while switching seamlessly between them, and smart sensors automatically pause your music whenever your headphones are removed, conveniently resuming playback when you put them back on.
- Extended Bluetooth connectivity
- Open-listening mode
- Smart sensors
- Durability issues
JBL E45BT Wireless Headphones
If you’re shopping for a new pair of headphones and you’re on a budget, consider the JBL E45BT.
With powerful 40mm drivers, these lightweight headphones offer up to 16-hours of battery life, with a two-hour recharge time, and are the best on-ear headphones in our ranking. You can also switch seamlessly between listening to music or a podcast, and even pick up a phone call.
Wireless mode allows you music control, while wired mode offers 1-button remote with microphone. The headphones are collapsible, if you’re on the go, with comfortable ear cushions, and JBL supports their product with a 1-year limited warranty.
They aren’t wireless, but the cable is tangle free, with a comfort-fit headband. Some things to be aware of, however, are design issues, particularly in the left speaker.
- 40mm drivers
- Tangle-free cable
- Left speaker issues
- Battery charging issues
- Better audio-quality available
Jabra Elite 65T
Next in our ranking of the best headphones are the Jabra Elite 65T. These are true wireless earbuds with dependable, in-ear stability for an active lifestyle. Audio drop out can be an issue with true wireless headphones, and Jabra helps solve this with their 3rd generation true wireless stability.
But what we really loved about these earbuds is how you can customize your sound on the Jabra Sound+ app, compatible with both Apple and Android. Also, you’ll get a charging case that fits directly in your pocket, helping to extend battery life up to 15 hours. Otherwise, these earbuds will run up to 5 hours on a single charge. Not bad.
In addition, we liked the 2-year warranty Jabra offers on this product. But what concerned us most were reports that they aren’t great for taking audio calls, as Jabra claims, and that some consumers don’t find them very comfortable.
Nevertheless, earbuds aren’t right for everyone’s lifestyle, but if they’re right for you, then head straight for the Jabra Elite 65T.
- Jabra Sound+ app
- 3rd gen. true wireless stability
- Pocket-size carrying case
- Not great for calls
- Comfort issues reported
- Issues switching between devices
Sony wh-1000xm3 Headphones
Fifth in our ranking are the wh-1000xm3 headphones from Sony. These are wireless, Bluetooth, over-ear headphones with mic and Alexa voice control, as well as industry- leading active noise cancellation.
A really nice feature of these headphones we want to point out is the quick attention mode. Turn your music down by simply covering the right ear cup, while smart listening adjusts ambient noise for great noise cancellation, making these headphones a great choice for an office environment.
In addition, touch control allows you to control your music, adjust volume, activate your voice assistant, and even take phone calls. In terms of battery, these headphones get up to 30 hrs of battery life on a single charge, with 5 hour of playback on a 10 min charge.
- Alexa voice control
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Touch controls
- Headband cracking issues
- Not Bluetooth 5.0 compatible
- Not great for calls
Bose QuietComfort 35 ii Headphones
Now we turn to the Bose QuietComfort 35 ii headphones. What really set these headphones apart is that they are Bose AR enabled, an audio-only version of augmented reality, available through a firmware update via the Bose Connect app.
We also liked how these headphones are Alexa-enabled. Simply use your voice to access music, information, and more. There’s also a noise-rejecting dual-microphone system, and balanced audio performance, no matter what volume you prefer.
In addition the headphones pair with Bluetooth, allowing personalization and access to future updates through the Bose Connect App. As far as battery life, these headphones offer up to 20 hours. But some downsides to these headphones include issues with firmware updates, reports of Bluetooth connectivity issues, and discomfort.
- Bose AR enabled
- Bluetooth pairing
- Noise-rejecting dual-microphones
- Bose AR iPhone iPad only
- Bluetooth connectivity issues
- Pretty spendy
Sennheiser HD 650 Headphones
7th in our ranking, we turn to the Sennheiser HD 650 headphones. These are professional grade, open-back headphones, appropriate for an audio professional or any serious audiophile, but perhaps overkill for a casual listener.
With a high-quality titanium finish, the headphones feature systems with narrow tolerances, as well as neodymium ferrous magnet systems for peak sensitivity and unparalleled dynamic response, as well as natural and accurate sound.
They also offer the versatility professionals need, since the headphones are able to connect to stationary components like SACD, DVD-A and CD players. You’ll pay up for these phones, but you can buy with confidence, since Sennheiser backs up their product with a 2-year international warranty.
Besides price, some consumers comment that the headband is uncomfortable which prevented us from ranking these headphones any higher. In addition, given that they’re open back, this limits where they can be used without disturbing other people.
- 2-year warranty
- Narrow tolerances
- Ferrous magnet systems
- Open back
- Uncomfortable head band
RHA MA390 Universal Earbuds
8th place in our ranking goes to the RHA MA390 Universal Earbuds, aluminium in-ear headphones with mic and remote for apple and android.
What we loved about these well-priced earbuds was the high-quality audio created by the RHA signature aero phonic design. There’s also a 1-button universal remote and microphone, so you can effortlessly pause your music, pick up a call, or access your digital assistant without removing your headphones.
We also really liked the accessories that come along with these earbuds, including silicone ear tips, a carry pouch, and a clothing clip. Best of all, they’re protected by a 3-year warranty. On the downside, some consumers say they’re not the most durable product, a definite concern, but others really love the noise isolation.
- 1-button universal remote
- Accessories included
- 3-year warranty
- Durability issues
- Lacks mid and high end audio
- Not water resistant
Grado SR60e Headphones
Now we turn to the Grado SR60. These wired, open-back headphones are ergonomically designed for comfort, and reasonably priced. They’re a good entry-level open-back option for an audio professional or audiophile interested into getting a pair of Grados.
Other things we want to mention about the headphones are the 3.5mm mini plug with 1/4 inch adapter, and the open air operating principle, with frequency response between 20 – 20,000 Hz. In addition, the new driver design helps dampen resonant distortion in the plastic housing, and there’s a new cable from plug to driver connection.
Also, the way the new driver and plastic react to sound vibrations almost completely eliminates transient distortions, recreating sound with a tightly-controlled upper and lower range of the frequency spectrum, but also the midrange and high-end for which the Grado brand has come to be known.
Some things that concern us about these headphones is the short cable, not great for mobility and limiting them to use pretty much only in a studio setting, and durability issues with the headband. But many report they’re very comfortable, and a good professional pair of headphones for the price.
- New driver design
- Open air operating principle
- Short cable
- Fragile headband
Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT Headphones
Now, let’s look at the Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT, Bluetooth headphones with an attachable USB microphone.
What sets these headphones apart is the the ModMic Wireless microphone, delivering full DVD quality sound with aptX enhanced speeds, 5 times faster than standard Bluetooth.
In addition, there’s dual mic mode. The ModMic Wireless can toggle between uni-directional — filtering out noise — and omni-directional, for responsive recording. There’s also a button on-hand to quickly mute the sound when the outside world intrudes.
Some concerns include price, as well as a 4-hour charging time, and the the ModMic Wireless isn’t compatible with tablets or smartphones.
- Attachable USB microphone
- aptX enhanced speeds
- ModMic Wireless microphone
- Long charging time
- ModMic not widely compatible
What’s better, open-back or closed-back headphones?
Still haven’t decided if you prefer open-back or closed-back headphones? Let’s take a closer look.
The first thing to think about before making this decision is where you most often use your headphones — at home, at work, or while travelling. And how you like to experience your music in general — in private, an audiophile experiencing every aspect of the sound, or are you just looking for headphones to help you pass the time on your daily commute.
Here’s what else you need to know when deciding between open-back and closed back headphones.
Open-back headphones, by definition, have sound drivers that are open to the world. Your music will sound “bigger.” These are headphones for a serious audiophile, not for someone looking for headphones for the office, because since they’re open-back, other people will be able to hear your music.
The advantage of closed-back headphones is that they block out ambient sound better than open-back headphones. In addition, the very fact they’re closed-back means less audio will leak from the headphones, disturbing those around you.
This sound isolation property makes closed-back headphones common among audio professionals. Looking for a lot of sound isolation? — get a larger pair of closed-back headphones, and both types comes in on-ear and over-ear models.
What do noise canceling headphones do?
Noise cancelling headphones do just that: cancel ambient noise around you. They’re good for sleeping on an airplane, for example, or when you really need to focus on what you’re listening to in an otherwise noisy space.
How they work is pretty neat. To cancel lower-frequency sound, they use a microphone to measure the ambient sound around you. To neutralize the ambient sound, they create a waveform that’s the exact negative waveform of the ambient sound around, mixing it with the signal of whatever you’re listening to.
To handle the higher frequencies, noise cancelling headphones use sound proofing, and the amount of noise they “cancel” is measured in decibels.
Again, noise cancelling headphones are a good choice if you’re easily bothered by noise when you sleep, or if you really need to concentrate on what you’re listening to.
There are a few drawbacks however:
- They’re more expensive than average headphones.
- Noise control requires power, most often from a USB port or a battery. That means periodically recharging and replacing the battery. On the plus side, some noise cancelling models act like regular headphones without a battery.
- Noise cancelling headphones are larger than regular headphones, since they have extra circuitry.
And all that active noise cancelling circuitry can reduce audio quality, which seems like a contradiction. But the noise cancelling properties can also result in a higher perceived audio quality, so there’s a tradeoff.
What headphones work with Google Assistant?
It’s a wired world, with virtual assistants popping up everywhere from companies like Amazon and Apple. These days, your fridge knows you’re out of milk before you do. And now, Google is getting into the game with Google Assistant-enabled headphones.
Why would you need Google Assistant enabled headphones? Google Assistant allows you to get notifications from your phone, or otherwise take complete control of your device, initiating all sorts of commands by just using your voice.
Most wireless headphones and earbuds offer “virtual assistant support” but only headphones with full Google Assistant integration have the app running natively in the headset, meaning you don’t need your device at all.
Advantages to this include:
- Greater functionality
- Faster information retrieval
- Your headphones reading incoming message to you
- The ability to respond to messages with your voice
- Real-time translation in some models
- Setting timers and reminders with your voice
- Media playback
In addition, you can make calls and contact-related commands, like calling or texting a specific person. You can check voicemail, and even ask for someone’s address.
All by just saying, “Hey Google!”
One drawback to Google Assistant-integrated headphones, however, is they can’t at this time play podcasts from the app, but it does allow for playback control of music.
What are the best headphones?
After extensive research and careful consideration RAVE Reviews is ready to tell you what you came here to find out: what are the best headphones. We broke it down into three categories: best overall, best cheap, and best headphones for an audio professional or serious audiophile.
Samsung Galaxy Buds take our top spot for best overall headphones. There are lots of reasons why, but we’ll just mention a few. Bluetooth enabled, these puppies are comfortable, and versatile for your on-the-go lifestyle, and best of all, they look and sound great!
Not everyone can invest a bundle in a new set of ear cradles. If that’s you, then RAVE says buy a set of JBL E45BT Wireless Headphones. A great choice for an office setting, these headphones offer device switching, a user-friendly cable, and a comfortable fit.
And for audio professionals and real audiophiles, we have an answer for you as well. Our choice for the best headphones for audio professional are the Sennheiser HD 650 Headphones. This product offers precision sound damping, improved frequency response, and a whole lot more. If you need a cutting edge set of headphones, you won’t go wrong buying a pair of Sennheiser HD 650s.
Now that you’ve picked up a new set of headphones, check out these other items to take your listening experience to the next level:
- COSOOS Wireless Charger Case: Airpod charging case lost or broken? Replace with this wireless charger case from COSOOS, earbuds not included.
- Headphone Adapter for iPhone: Get a clear and stable signal with this headphone adapter for Iphone.
- RGB Headphone Stand with USB Charger: Looking for some headphones for gaming? This RGB headphone stand with USB charger will keep them right where you left them.
- Sunmns 2 Inch Foam EarPad/Ear Cover for Sony/Sennheiser/Philips Headphone: These 2 inch foam ear pads or ear covers will keep your headphones nice and comfy.
- EarBuddyz 2.0 Ear Hooks Compatible with Apple AirPods: Airpods keep falling out of your ears? Keep them snug with these ear hooks from EarBuddyz.