A world without headphones is hard to imagine – a world where music can only be enjoyed in concert halls or on speaker systems. Of course headphones have their limitations, but there is a reason why they have survived as long as they have.
Yes, they have changed over the years – they’ve added fancy new features in the form of noise reduction from playing Hi-Res Audio via Bluetooth – but the few cans you bought 20 years ago are largely resistant to the cans you make today. As long as you have bought a quality pair, that is.
The reasoning behind buying one of the best headphones on the market today is to get the characteristics of today, and a build quality that will last tomorrow. Of course you can buy headphones at the checkout at a discount, but they are unlikely to make it all year round, let alone for the next ten years or two.
What are the best headphones to buy now?
If there is something surprising about the new Sony WH-1000XM3, it is that they are so consistent with what Sony has released in the last two years in the form of the Sony WH-1000XM2 and Sony MDR-1000XX. To be precise, it is a dominant noise-cancelling headphone that can beat everything Bose can with both arms behind its back.
That’s because, while Bose has done a huge amount of work over the years working out its noise reduction algorithm, Sony has spent time perfecting audio playback while creating an adjustment algorithm that not only creates a single sterile sound barrier, but multiple types that can adapt to any situation you find yourself in.
Sony’s headphones are not only exceptional in keeping external sounds out of range, but also Hi-Res Audio-ready, sporty aptX, aptX HD and LDAC codecs, plus a range that offers Google Assistant onboard support. If you need headphones that can handle any challenge and excel in any environment, these are the ones.
If you tend to lose or break headphones, but still value sound quality, it is difficult to think of a better value than the RHA S500u. These headphones have no business sound, so good for the price: The sound quality is balanced with a slight hump in the middle of the bass. The low tones are slightly emphasized, but not flagrant and have a good impact while maintaining good control. And the treble, while sibilant at times, makes music more exciting.
The AKG Y50 are some of our favourite budget pairs of recent years. They have style, good build quality and sound. You can get them in different colors, if boring old black is too boring for you. You get an extra injection of bass for a nice sound, plus it’s detailed, smooth and very easy on the ear. The Y50 is easily recommended. If you are more of a wireless person, there is also the AKG Y50BT version available.
Headphones like the Grado SR80e are really unusual, because although they have portable dimensions, their open-back style and sound quality are more important than anything else. They leak music to the outside world and block minimal noise. However, we still love it. They offer a sound that’s hard to beat at the price.
Dynamic, fast and exciting, they treat you to a taste of hi-fi without the scary price or the pleasure of music for the sake of accuracy. The SR80es are not the most chilled, relaxing listeners, but if you want to get involved with your music, they’re definitely worth watching.
These Sony headphones are equipped with Bluetooth on board, so you can enjoy music wirelessly without having to worry about cable clutter or the like when commuting. The downside is that you have to recharge it over and over again to use it while travelling, but that’s a little inconvenience for a pair of wireless headphones. The company mentions that the headphones allow 20 hours of use with a single charge, which is amazing for short or long trips. Because commuting makes a lot of noise, the headphones have built-in noise cancellation, which lets you eliminate outside noise and immerse yourself in music.
Bose QuietComfort 35
The Bose QuietComfort series needs no introduction to the headphone segment as it is considered one of the best wireless headphones for noise reduction available on the market today. Although somewhat expensive, Bose offers the best in terms of features and quality. The QuietComfort 35 has 20 hours of battery life in wireless mode and 40 hours of playback with the cable connected. The ability to combine wired and wireless experiences makes these headphones an amazing pair.
The QC35 is also equipped with dual microphones on board to suppress background noise during calls. All in all, the QuietComfort 35 gives you exactly what you need, and some of it. The headphones also come with a volume optimized equalizer for a smooth sound experience at any volume. Available in silver and black, the Bose QuietComfort 35 lowers your costs by $329, which makes it only slightly more expensive than the Sony MDR1000X we briefly explained above.
JBL Everest Elite 700
The Everest Elite is one of the most exciting headphones on this list, simply because of the type of design it offers. The company announces the launch of NXTGen Active Noise Canceling on the Everest Elite, which can eliminate much of the ambient noise around you so you can experience a totally immersive experience. The best part of these headphones is the fact that they come with a special app known as My JBL Headphones. With this Android app you can control the function of the headphones.
To shorten battery life during wireless playback, the headphones automatically turn off when no music is playing. This feature may be useful to some of us. It is recommended that you use these Bluetooth 4.0 compatible smartphones for optimal performance.
Some headphone brands deliver a “premium” product by taking an existing product, polishing it until it shines, and adding a leather bag, for example. But that’s not how AKG works.
Despite working in the smallest of spaces, AKG has managed to equip every N5005 receiver housing with five chassis – a 9.2mm voice coil and four symmetrical fittings. On the outside they are made of shiny ceramic and the sound can be trimmed with the included sound filters (Reference, Bass Boost, High Boost, Semi-High Boost, Semi-High Boost). They even come with a Bluetooth dongle if you can’t maintain a wired connection.
And they’ve got the power to support looks and price. Give them the tools they can work with (they’re JAS certified for Hi-Res audio) and the balance of precision, dynamics and exceptional detail will also get you excited about music you’ve heard a hundred times.
Music can alleviate the pain of daily public transport and make flights more enjoyable. The best travel headphones block or suppress ambient noise in moderately noisy environments such as a subway, train or bus. Travel-friendly headphones don’t leak very well, so other commuters can’t hear what you’re hearing. Since you can wear headphones for hours on end, they should be comfortable and portable enough not to be tedious when travelling.