With CES 2024 just around the corner, we're expecting to hear about all the latest news and developments from the big names attending the giant consumer tech event that officially starts on January 9 in Las Vegas.
As Tom's Guide's audio editor, I am of course anticipating a wave of news on the latest audio products across the four-day event, and I plan to report on all the top developments coming in the year ahead. If you're a headphone lover like me though, there are some models that have already piqued my interest ahead of the event.
So what could make our best headphones list this year? Here's the top 3 headphones I'm most excited about for 2024.
1. Sonos Wi-Fi headphones
While the rumor mill around Sonos' Wi-Fi headphones pretty much stalled in 2023, the smart speaker maker looks set to introduce its first pair of headphones in 2024. According to our sister site TechRadar, the comments made be Sonos CEO Patrick Spence suggesting that the company will enter "a new multi-billion dollar category" in the second half of 2024, could indicate the arrival of its long awaited Wi-Fi-capable headphones.
With the potential for full lossless audio support up to 24-bit/96kHz from networked devices and streaming services over Wi-Fi, this would be a headphone boon for audiophiles who shun Bluetooth connectivity for wired connections due to the quality compromises the short range tech makes when transmitting and receiving audio signals.
Although we have already seen the world's first Wi-Fi headphones offering true lossless audio over a home wireless network with the arrival of the Unity headphones (announced in April, 2023), they're expensive at $2,199 (£1,765 / AU$3,265). I've been fortunate enough to try these out over the holidays and they're clearly aimed at audiophiles with deep pockets. Look out for my full review coming soon.
The good news is that it's likely that Sonos' headphones will come in at a far more accessible price point than the Unity, as the company already has a reliable ecosystem of networked audio products built around a series of multi-room speakers. Fingers crossed that we will receive some official news on Sonos' first pair of headphones soon.
2. Apple AirPods Max 2
Apple's original AirPods Max flagship headphones launched in December 2020. Although they continue to rank as some of the best headphones on the market, we've been anticipating the arrival of the so-called AirPods Max 2 next-gen version for a while now. There's no official word from Apple just yet though, but there are plenty of rumors to suggest that an AirPods Max 2 version are already in the works.
While many would be grateful for a price drop and a more substantial protection case, there are several advances I'd really like to see added to any new AirPods Max version. These include Apple's Adaptive Audio suite of features, and the Lossless Audio protocol that was mentioned when the AirPods Pro 2 USB-C received an update in September 2023.
I am not holding my breath though, as these inclusions will require a major overhaul and an upgrade to Apple's more powerful H2 processing chip. Nevertheless, any update would cause a stir and be an exciting development on these increasingly long running headphones.
Whatever the next-gen AirPods Max brings, 2024 looks set to see some kind of revamp even if it is limited to just an update to USB-C charging and additional colors.
3. Master & Dynamic MW75-Neuro headphones
With AI technology becoming seemingly ubiquitous over the later part of 2023, it's no surprise to see it arrive in the headphones market in 2024. That's certainly the plan for Master & Dynamic following a December announcement on its partnership with the Neurable AI platform, which will see the New York-based headphone company integrate neurotechnology into a new version of its popular MW75 noise-canceling headphones.
Although I haven't reviewed the original MW75 headphones for Tom's Guide, I've been impressed by what I've heard following some hands-on time with a pair that the company sent me to try out over the holidays.
From the images I've seen so far, the MW75-Neuro look similar, but have neural sensors integrated into the fabric parts of the frame. The sensors are designed to track the wearer's brainwaves to help them identify focus periods, recognize signs of stress, and discover optimal mental well-being conditions analyzed via a Neurable AI app for iOS or Android. Neurable says that the data is stored in secured locations in an encrypted and de-identified form.
We plan to get a first hands-on at CES 2024. But if you don't want to wait for our initial impressions, the Master & Dynamic MW75-Neuro headphones cost $649 and are available to pre-order now via the neurable website.
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As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.