From the design and comfort to the audio quality and overall value, we evaluate several factors when reviewing headphones. And the best headphones on this page impressed us the most during our testing. The tricky part is finding the best headphones for your needs.
The good news is our roundup includes our top headphones picks in multiple categories, so you’re sure to find something here that appeals to you. We’ve reviewed hundreds of models and also put many of them head to head to narrow down our list of the best headphones.
And there are more headphones to come. At CES 2020, companies are showing off their latest audio gear, and we've already seen a number of potential additions to this list, such as the TicPods 2 Pro, a lower-cost alternative to Apple's AirPods. We're expecting to see even more headphones and earbuds at this show that will arrive on retail shelves later this year.
Here are the best headphones you can buy right now in every major category.
Best headphones at a glance
- Bose Noise Cancelling 700
- Apple Airpods Pro
- Jabra Elite Active 65t
- Apple AirPods
- Bose Solo Pro
- Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HKE120-K
- Beats PowerBeats Pro
- Sony WH-1000XM3
- Bose QuietComfort 35 II
- Behringer HPS3000 Studio
- Sony WF-1000XM3
- Anker Souncore Spirit Pro
- JLab JBuds Air Wireless Earphones
Best active noise-cancelling headphones
Size and Weight: 8 x 6.5 x 2 inches, 8.8 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 20 hours (NC on) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
The new king of noise-cancelling headphones is here with a sexy new design and a host of useful features. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 offers adjustable ANC that works equally well whether you're listening to music or talking on the phone. The cans are digital-assistant friendly and delivers clean, balanced audio. They're perfect for commuters and music lovers alike.
See our full Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review.
The new king of AirPods
Size and Weight: 2.4 x 1.7 x 0.9 inches, 8.8 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 4.5 hours (NC on) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
This is most definitely a big deal. Somehow, Apple made the AirPods even better. With the new AirPods Pro, the company managed to squeeze three microphones and six sensors into the tiny, redesigned casing and still had room for its lauded H1 chip. They even added eartips.
The result is some of the best active noise cancelling I've heard in a pair of truly wireless earbuds. Hands-free Siri just keeps getting better and better, the audio is pretty great and they're comfortable.
See our full Apple AirPods Pro review.
Best wireless earbuds
Size and Weight: 1.2. x 1.1 x 0.9 x inches, 0.2 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): (Rated) | Bluetooth Range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Jabra's packing a hell of a lot of value and functionality into the Elite Active 65t, which is our best wireless earbuds overall. For $169.99, you get a pair of wireless buds with a sleek, durable and comfortable design and up to 5 hours of battery life on a charge. Delivering consistently clean detail and warm, lively instrumentals and vocals, the Elite Active 65t might be one of the best-sounding truly wireless buds on the market, especially when you throw in the free companion app with its customizable equalizer. Jabra also launched a more toned-down version of our faves dubbed the Elite 65t, which offers the same sonic performance without the sporty features.
See our full Jabra Elite Active 65t review.
Powerful earbuds for Apple fans.
Size: 1.6 x 0.7 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 0.14 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 5 hours;13 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Faster, smarter, longer-lasting, the AirPods 2 are still at the top of the heap for iPhone owners looking for the best wireless headphones. Apple has given people what they want with wireless charging and a hands-free approach to Siri. And the fact that the buds offer longer talk time and faster pairing are icing on the cake, especially since the old AirPods' pairing was near-instantaneous. For iOS fans, these are the best wireless earbuds you can buy.
See our full Apple Airpods 2 review.
Great noise cancelling, stylish good looks
Size and Weight: 7 inches (height), 9.4 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 22 hours (NC on), 40 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Beats and Apple have teamed up to give us the spectacular Beats Solo Pros. The first on-ear noise-cancelling headphones in the Beats lineup, the Solo Pros deliver fairly balanced audio, 22 hours of battery life and impressive noise cancelling that should put Bose on notice. Thanks to Apple's H1 chip, these headphones also give you seamless pairing and integration with iOS devices, all in a sophisticated take on Beats brightly colored aesthetic.
See our full Beats Solo Pro review.
Best earbuds under $20
Size and Weight: 0.4 x 0.4 x 0.4 inches, 0.14 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): None | Bluetooth Range: None | Digital Assistant Support: No
The Panasonic ErgoFit RP-HJE120 buds produce sound quality typically found in much more expensive earphones. The buds reproduced thunderous bass, tight midranges and natural highs that made us feel bad for people who paid way more for their high-end buds.
See our Best Cheap Earbuds Under $25 page.
Best running earbuds
Size and Weight: 4.7 x 1.6 x 5.5 inches, 0.8 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 9 hours | Bluetooth Range: 50 feet (15.2 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Apple's not making a fitness version of its popular AirPods –– yet. But the PowerBeats with its sweat-resistant, wireless buds more than make up for the oversight. Thanks to Apple's new H1 chip, the seamless integration with your iProducts is even faster. Apple's toned down the Beats' bass-heavy sound signature in favor of a more balanced presentation that you can enjoy over the estimated 15 hours of battery life.
See our full PowerBeats Pro review.
Size and Weight: 10.4 x 7.3 x 2.9 inches, 9 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 30 hours (NC on), 38 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Powered by Sony's all-new HD Noise Cancelling Processor, the QN1, and offering an advanced soundstage, tons of sound-customization options and a thinner design, the feature-rich WH-1000XM3 headphones are engineered to compete with and, in certain categories, outperform the best. The improvements in audio fidelity alone place these headphones on a par with, if not above, the QC35 II. They deliver a powerful low-end punch suited for their target demographic of bass lovers, and grant listeners a suite of sound-optimizing options accessible through the Connect app.
See our full Sony WH-1000xM3 review.
Great noise cancelling and audio
Size and Weight: 7.1 x 6.7 x 3.2 inches, 8.2 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 20 hours (NC on), 40 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
A good set of active noise-cancelling headphones is the difference between a peaceful commute or flight and a chaotic one. Enter the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones. These headphones keep the sleek design, best-in-class noise-cancelling and crystal-clear audio quality while adding a dedicated button to activate Google Assistant. In short, some of the best headphones on the market just got a whole lot smarter.
See our full Bose QuietComfort 35 II review.
Best headphones under $30
Size and Weight: 8.1 x 6.9 x 3.7 inches, 10.2 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): None | Bluetooth Range: None | Digital Assistant Support: No
The Behringer HPS3000 Studio Headphones deftly produce light, airy vocals with sparkling strings, crisp percussion and booming lows, depending on the song. Despite the bulky design, the headphones are surprisingly light and come with a 1/4-mm jack in case you want to plug them into a stereo system, mixing console or guitar amp.
See our Best Cheap Headphones Under $30 page.
Best active noise cancelling earbuds
Size and Weight: 5.6 x 4.7 x 2.5 inches, 0.3 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 6 hours (NC on), 8 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
The Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds successfully combine stellar sonics with impressive noise cancellation. A plethora of features and solid battery life also elevate its status among the elite. Deep, rich bass and tonal balance give the buds an edge over the competition. Better yet, listeners have the option to play with the built-in EQ and create their own sound profile or choose from nine different presets as well as adjust the ambient sound levels. And with an estimated 6 hours of battery life (ANC on), you'll have a lot of time to enjoy your music, movies or podcasts.
See our full Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds review.
Best wireless headphones under $100
Size and Weight: 23.6 x 1.3 x 0.5 inches, 0.6 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 10 hours | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Occasionally, we'll stumble upon a pair of budget-friendly headphones that defy our expectations. The Anker Soundcore Spirit are those buds, offering solid sound, noise isolation, and an estimated 10 hours of battery life at a seriously affordable price. Thanks to its IP68 rating, the Spirit Pro are water- and dust-proof. And while you'll get solid sound performance from the buds, the lack of EQ options won't win over audiophiles. However, the Spirit Pro hits every other mark to achieve top-notch performance.
See our Best Cheap Wireless Headphones Under $100 page.
Best Truly Wireless Earphones Under $60
Size and Weight: 1.8 x 3 x 1.6 inches, .13 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 4 hours, 14 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
If the second-gen AirPods are out of your price range, look into something more affordable that is just as reliable regarding connectivity and sound. The JBuds Air have an Auto Connect feature that instantly re-pairs the buds to an audio source just as fast as Apple's buds do with iOS devices. While there are three different EQ settings engineered to elevate sonics – Balanced, Bass Boost and Signature – the default sound profile can pump out powerful lows just as well as any premium truly wireless earbuds.
See our Best Cheap Wireless Earbuds Under $60 page.
How We Test Headphones
To help separate the wheat from the chaff when shopping for headphones, Tom's Guide evaluates the following criteria: design, comfort, features, performance and value. We employ a rigorous review process, comparing products with similar fit, features and pricing.
Each pair is worn over the course of a week for 2 hours at a time. During this testing period, the staff is evaluating comfort, ease of use and, of course, audio quality. We listen to several predetermined sample tracks that span a number of genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical and R&B, and we evaluate the volume, clarity and fullness.
Regarding features, we test the effectiveness of active noise cancelling, Bluetooth range and battery life. For the fitness-focused models, we test to see how they stand up to vigorous workouts, evaluating both how securely they fit while we exercise and how well they handle ambient noise from things like falling weights and gym machines.
Once we complete our testing, we rate headphones based on our five-star system (1 = worst, 5 = best). If a product is truly exemplary, it's awarded an Editors' Choice.
And now that more streaming music services are offering high-resolution resolution audio, be sure to read our audio codec FAQ for everything you need to know about FLAC files, MP3s and everything in between.
What to Look For
- When it comes to headphones, you have several different types of fit, including on-ear, over-ear and in-ear. Make sure to choose something that you'll feel comfortable wearing for long periods of time.
- Check the headphones features. If you're looking for sports headphones, make sure they're sweat-resistant. Or if you have a loud commute, try to get something with good active or passive noise-cancelling technology.
- Shopping for Bluetooth headphones? Make sure you get something with at least 12 hours of battery life so you're not charging your cans every few days. If you're looking at truly wireless earbuds, 5 hours should be the minimum.
- Expensive doesn't always mean good. There are plenty of inexpensive headphones and earbuds that can give you solid audio quality with a fair number of features.
Credit: Tom’s Guide