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Best Headphones 2014

Best Headphones 2014

Your music, movies and games deserve better than those hard, standard-issue plastic earbuds. And we're not just talking about audio quality. Some headphones are great at blocking out noise, while others have Bluetooth built in for rocking out sans wires. You'll even find some models with an integrated heart-rate monitor to make the most of your workout. Whatever style you're looking for, Tom's Guide has the perfect set of buds or cans for your budget.

Headphones also make a great gift, and with those Christmas shipping deadlines rapidly approaching, now is the best time to buy.

How We Evaluate Headphones

In order to help you make the right choice when shopping for headphones, Tom's Guide evaluates the following criteria: design, comfort, features, performance and value. We compare headphones with other products that have similar features and are in the same price range, so you can make the most informed shopping decision.

Using several sample tracks across a number of genres (hip-hop, rock, jazz and R&B), we listen for volume, clarity and fullness. We test the effectiveness of three features: active noise-cancelling, Bluetooth range and battery life. Once we've completed our testing, we then rate headphones based on our 5-star system (1 = worst, 5 = best). If a product is truly exemplary, it will earn an Editor's Choice.

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To help you get the most out of your entertainment, here are the best options available, from $30 earbuds to $1,000 audiophile-grade headphones.

Related Buying Guides:
Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Best Bluetooth Speakers
Best Soundbar Speakers
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  • 0 Hide
    brisssou , December 24, 2013 12:15 AM
    hey, the picture used for id America New Metropolitan is one of sennheiser CX serie

  • 0 Hide
    natcparis , December 24, 2013 1:25 AM
    @brisssou well spotted
  • 1 Hide
    xyzzy1 , January 15, 2014 10:36 AM
    Wow, what a vacuous list that does not include good sounding headphones!Where is Grado? Where is B&W? Where is NuForce?This is like list of best beers that are limited Budweiser, Miler, and coors. Jeezzz.....
  • 0 Hide
    K2N hater , February 12, 2014 3:40 PM
    Gosh a pair of se535 are pretty good yet much more affordable. Westones are also excellent (I own them personally) and they're made in the US.
  • 0 Hide
    Allan Hundeboll , March 23, 2014 6:04 AM
    What about Creative aureal Live! and Grado ??Tom doesn't seem to know how real hi fi is supposed to sound like. Please go to if you want serious info about headphones...
  • 0 Hide
    markbanang , August 14, 2014 7:07 AM
    How can we trust an article about headphones which puts Bose headphones right at the top and doesn't mention a single option from Etymotic Research!

    The awesome ER-4 series may be 20 years old, but they are still are amongst the most transparent reference-quality earphones you can buy at any price. Meanwhile the amazing hf2's bring close to the same reference-quality transparency to your smartphone headset! When passive noise isolation is as good as it is with the Ety's you rarely need active noise cancellation.

    Even if their neutral, transparent sound is not to your liking, they should at least be mentioned as an option.
  • 0 Hide
    bobbybluz , November 13, 2014 4:25 AM
    I'm both old and old-fashioned. I've been using the Sony MDR- V6 and 7506 headphones since they came on the market and my originals are still in daily use after a few ear pad foam replacements. I've listened to several consumer and professional headphone offerings over the years and none of them have been compelling enough to switch from my Sony's. I was talking with a friend the other day who was the head audio engineer for Miramax before he retired about our old professional gear compared to what's on the market today. We both own small recording studios and have a collection of vintage pro equipment. We agreed that not only is 99% of what's marketed today sold on hype not actual performance none of it is going to last 30+ years or longer like our personal favorite equipment that we still have in use has. Add to that the highly compressed audio and formats such as mp3 that only give a fraction of the original audio signal and the end result is few people today really have experienced true high-end audio sound reproduction. As a radio station broadcast engineer and recording engineer I do have a bit of experience in this field.
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