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Best headphones in 2021: Which headphones are right for you?

July 22nd, 2021 at 11:16 AM
Best Headphones

A great pair of headphones can completely change your music listening experience, but there are so many models out there, that it can be very difficult to find the best headphones for your needs.

For starters, you’ll have to figure out what headphone form-factor you want — from in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear headphones. Then, you’ll have to think about the features that you want. For example, you might want noise-canceling headphones, or wireless headphones, or headphones that have a transparency mode.

Lastly, of course, you’ll want to consider your budget. There are great headphones across all price ranges, but there’s little point in thinking about headphones that you can’t afford.

No matter what you’re looking for, however, there should be something on this list for your needs. Here are the best headphones out there.

Best headphones overall: Apple AirPods Max

AirPods Max Main

Pros: Excellent audio quality, class-leading noise-cancellation and transparency mode, great integration with Apple devices

Cons: Very expensive, don’t work great with non-Apple products

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now — these are better than the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, but only if you exclusively use Apple devices. If you want a pair of headphones to connect to your Windows computer or Android phone, then keep looking — these aren’t for you.

But if you do use Apple devices, you’ll absolutely love what the AirPods Max have to offer. For starters, they have a unique, kind of retro design, and while they’re a bit heavy, the headband design ensures that they don’t feel too heavy.

The AirPods Max also sound awesome, with excellent detail in the high-end and plenty of bass. They also offer the best noise-cancellation tech that we’ve ever heard, and they have an awesome transparency mode thanks to all their microphones. Of course, the AirPods Max also work very well with all of your Apple products, and support things like automatic switching, Spatial Audio, and more.

The trade-off to all of those advantages? You’ll pay for them. Like a lot. At $550, these are the most expensive headphones on this list. If that’s a bit too much cash for you, we recommend the next option.

Read our full review

Apple AirPods Max Noise-Canceling Headphones Price:$529.00 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony WH-1000XM4 ReviewImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Pros: Excellent noise-cancellation, very comfortable, excellent sound quality

Cons: Still a little expensive, touch controls don’t always work

The AirPods Max may be awesome, but they’re not for everyone. The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, however, may well be for everyone that can afford them. They’ll connect to all your devices through Bluetooth, and they can actually connect to two devices at once — making it easy to move from a computer to a smartphone without having to disconnect and reconnect all the time.

Even better than that is how great these headphones sound. They offer an excellent frequency response, and the associated app allows you to tweak the EQ to your needs. And, the noise-cancellation on these headphones is absolutely awesome, beating out almost all the competition.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are also very comfortable. They’re extremely lightweight, meaning that it’s easy to wear them for hours on end without any issues. And, they offer some cool extra features — like the ability to cover one ear to temporarily enter transparency mode.

Read our full review

Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise-Canceling Headphones List Price:$349.99 Price:$278.00 You Save:$71.99 (21%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best on-ear headphones: Jabra Elite 45h

Jabra Elite 45hImage source: Jabra

Pros: Great design, excellent audio quality, good microphone

Cons: Controls are a bit tricky

On-ear headphones are the perfect blend of portability and quality, and there are some great options out there. Chief among those is the Jabra Elite 45h, which offers a stylish design, great sound quality, and more.

These headphones offer some great features too. They work with Alexa and Google Assistant, and they have an accompanying app that has a built-in EQ.

Despite the fact that these headphones offer an on-ear form factor, they also have plenty of padding and a relatively lightweight design, which helps them remain comfortable during listening. And, more importantly, they sound great, boasting plenty of bass, excellent mid-range, and a good amount of detail.

Jabra Elite 45h Wireless Headphones Price:$99.99 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best in-ear headphones: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones

1More Triple Driver HeadphonesImage source: 1More

Pros: Great sound quality, good fit, solid build

Cons: A bit harsh at times, cable isn’t the strongest

Not everyone wants wireless headphones, despite the fact that they’re getting better and cheaper. Some will still prefer a pair of solid wired earbuds — and if that’s you, we recommend considering the 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones.

There are a number of things that make these great headphones. For starters, as you might note by their name, they’re triple driver headphones, which basically means that instead of offering one driver that handles the full frequency range, these headphones have three specialized drivers for different areas of the frequency range. All that to say, they sound great, although they can have slightly harsh high frequencies at times.

There are other great features on offer too. The cable is relatively strong, and they fit well, so they should remain in your ears easily.

1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones Price:$70.39 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best true wireless headphones for Apple users: AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro Buds 2Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Pros: Excellent Apple integration, good noise-cancellation, great audio quality

Cons: A little expensive, don’t work great with non-Apple products

True wireless headphones are all the range these days, and if you’re an Apple user, then the AirPods Pro can’t be beat. The AirPods Pro offer an excellent fit, a solid audio quality, good noise-cancellation, and perfect integration with all your Apple devices.

The stem on the AirPods Pro may not be everyone’s favorite look, but it actually serves a great purpose on the AirPods Pro. To control the earbuds, all you have to do is squeeze the stem on either side. It works great, and far better than controls on most true wireless headphones.

Like other AirPods, the AirPods Pro offer some awesome Apple-focused features. They’ll automatically switch between all your Apple devices, and they support things like Spatial Audio and Siri. That’s not to mention the fact that they sound pretty great, and even support noise cancellation.

Read our full review

Apple AirPods Max True Wireless Headphones List Price:$249.00 Price:$197.00 You Save:$52.00 (21%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best true wireless headphones: Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WF-1000XM4 MainImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Pros: Excellent fit, great audio quality, industry-leading battery life

Cons: Expensive

AirPods are great, but if you don’t have Apple products, then they’re not necessarily for you. Instead, you should go for the Sony WF-1000XM4 headphones, which are essentially the true wireless sibling to the previously-listed WH-1000XM4.

There are plenty of things that make these great headphones. For starters, they sound great. The headphones boast deep, detailed bass performance, decent midrange, and excellent high-end response. And, you’ll be able to enjoy this great audio quality for long periods of time, thanks to the awesome 8-hour battery life.

The headphones are built for comfort. They have a shape that should nicely fit into your outer ear, and they come with foam tips to help make for a nice seal. That helps make sure that the noise cancellation tech works well too.

So what’s the catch? Well, the main thing is that the headphones are a little expensive. If you can afford it, however, they’re well worth the cost.

Read our full review

Sony WF-1000XM4 True Wireless Earbuds Price:$279.99 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best workout headphones: Beats PowerBeats Pro

Beats PowerBeats ProImage source: Christian de Looper for BGR

Pros: Excellent fit, solid audio quality, good battery life

Cons: Expensive, bulky case

Looking for a pair of earbuds that will stay firmly in your ears while you run? The Beats PowerBeats Pro are absolutely the way to go. These headphones offer an ear-hook design that ensures they’ll stay in your ears when you’re running, working out, or anything else.

The headphones offer solid Apple integration too. They come with Apple’s H1 chip, so they can switch between Apple devices seamlessly, and they support the Beats app for Android for things like firmware updating and pairing. So, while they’re definitely better used with Apple products, they still work with others.

The audio quality on offer by the PowerBeats Pro is pretty good. The headphones have a solid bass response, with decent mids and highs. But they’re not perfect — considering the fact that they’re a bit pricey, and the case is pretty huge.

Beats PowerBeats Pro True Wireless Sports Headphones List Price:$199.95 Price:$179.95 You Save:$20.00 (10%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best budget headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Go 600

Plantronics Backbeat Go 600Image source: Plantronics

Pros: Very inexpensive, comfortable, wired or wireless listening

Cons: Not the most durable, bass isn’t the deepest out there

Want to spend as little as possible but still get a good listening experience? The Plantronics BackBeat Go 600 headphones are worth considering. These headphones offer an over-ear form-factor that ensures they remain comfortable, plus they sound pretty great for the price. Sure, you’re not going to get the same punch that you would on much more expensive headphones, but they can still help make your music sound awesome.

So what are the trade-offs to spending less? Well, the headphones don’t offer all that many extra features, and you won’t get noise cancellation. While they sound good for the price, they’re not the most detailed headphones out there.

But those things don’t mean they’re not worth buying — and in fact, if you don’t want to spend more than $50 or so, you’ll absolutely love what’s on offer here.

Plantronics Backbeat Go 600 Over-Ear Headphones Price:$24.99 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Best budget true wireless headphones: Skullcandy Dime

Skullcandy DimeImage source: Skullcandy

Pros: Cheap, solid audio for the price

Cons: Low battery life, cheap build

True wireless headphones have been around long enough to where there are now some excellent true wireless options. Like, for example, the Skullcandy Dime earbuds, which offer a generally solid audio quality, with enough bass response and high-end clarity for most.

As you would expect, there are some downsides to buying budget true wireless headphones. For example, they have a bit of a cheap build, and the battery life comes in at only four hours, which is on the low end. But if you don’t plan on listening for more than a few hours at a time anyway, that may not really matter to you.

The best thing about these headphones is that they’re incredibly inexpensive, coming in at less than $30.

Skullcandy Dime True Wireless Headphones List Price:$24.99 Price:$19.99 You Save:$5.00 (20%) Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission



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