When you're on a search for the absolute best pair of headphones, it can be hard to know what brands are worth looking into.
Each headphone company tends to have a target market, and most of their products tend to reflect the needs of those people. There isn't a single best company. Instead, there's a handful of great headphone brands that are great at what they do.
At Headphone Critics, we've had the chance to test hundreds of headphones, some much better than others. With that being said, we've been able to pinpoint some brands that consistently come out on top. These headphones are a mix of brands that have the best quality, value for the price, availability, reliability and ease of use.
Here are some of our picks for the best headphones brands out there, in no particular order.
Best Headphone Brands We Recommend:
Sony is a household name in electronics, manufacturing a variety of products from Television sets to cameras. Their headphone models are similarly broad and diverse, making It rightfully claim a place in the top headphone brands. Obviously, they make a lot more than just over ears. Many Sony headphones are compatible with their Connect App, which has customization features, such as an EQ and button mapping.
They're designed mostly for casual listening, and not all of their products are great. However, they do have a couple of incredible premium in-ear, over-ear, and audiophile headphones that are well worth the money. For instance, their truly wireless headphones, such as the Sony WF-SP800N, are an ideal option for workout sessions, gaming, and casual listening. They also design wireless speaker systems, Bluetooth speakers, luxury consumer electronics, and other sound systems. Like Beats headphones, Sony manufactures multifunctional headphones that you can use to play video games, watch movies, and even make and receive phone calls.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 is a great example. These over-ear noise canceling headphones have some of the best noise cancelling technology out there. Actually, what most audiophiles like about Sony products is that they are engineered specially to remove background noise. They've got a mostly bass-driven profile, but with Sony's Headphones Connect App, you can customize your sound to be exactly what you want. Plus, they offer a long battery life and excellent sound quality for the price.
You may also want to check out the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, especially if you like premium over-ears. They boast a long playback time of up to 37 hours and support multi-device pairing, so you'll have an easy time switching between your laptop and smartphone. As one of the best noise cancelling headphones on the market, the WH-1000XM4 does a remarkable task of blocking out ambient noise. Whether you're looking for sports-oriented earbuds with stable fits or noise cancelling over-ears, you're sure to find a pair of headphones that meet your needs.
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Sennheiser is a big name in audio equipment, and is known for producing studio-grade equipment, wireless headsets, and over ear headphones for audiophiles. These are perfect for everything from listening to music to watching to gaming. Their wireless models have Bluetooth and some even feature customizable audio or special devices. You can even use them as dedicated TV headphones that help you watch your favorite programs without lip-syncing issues. Like Sony, Sennheiser also has a wide range of innovative and progressive audio products, such as wireless audio systems, that are just average, but for the most part, the headphones that Sennheiser produces are top-notch. In fact, they've stayed on top of their competitors due to the impressive audio quality and consistent durability of their headphones.
They've got a wide range of products ranging from noise cancelling headphones, in-ear headphones, electrostatic headphones, to open back high fidelity headphones, and some of the newer, higher-end headphones have a fully customizable EQ within their app. Compared to other brands on the market, Sennheiser's headphones often come at a higher price point and relatively balanced sound quality.
What's more, this German brand boasts the best-in-class momentum range engineered to match the top audiophile headphones on the market. They deliver excellent audio quality, while remaining extremely comfortable during long listening sessions. Because of the many overlapping models out there with only minor differences, it can be quite challenging to settle for a specific pair of Sennheiser headphones. But still, Sennheiser is a reputable brand that manufactures lots of products worth recommending.
One of our favorite pairs of Sennheiser over-ears headphones are the Sennheiser HD800. These are Sennheisers flagship headphones for audiophiles.
They have an expertly-tuned sound signature and a spacious, open soundstage, thus making listening to your favorite tracks a memorable experience. However, they come at a premium price. They also require you to use an amp, which makes them bad for everyday use, but for an audiophile, these Sennheiser headphones are a dream. If you're on a budget, you may want to go for the Sennheiser HD 560S, an affordable model that offers better value for the price, but doesn't sound as immersive. Audiophiles who like the versatility of wireless ANC designs should check out the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless. It has a stylish, yet comfortable design for everyday use and a bass-rich sound for an amazing listening experience.
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SkullCandy is an American audio equipment company known for making awesome looking (bright and colorful) headphones with great bass. They're most popular with people who like hip hop and EDM, who want a heavier bass profile. Plus, they've built a strong reputation for manufacturing affordable headphones that best suit your ears. If you're on a budget and looking for Bluetooth headphones with active noise cancellation, the SkullCandy headphones are well worth considering. Unfortunately, their low price point is reflected in their plasticky and less-than-premium design. While none of their headphones are the absolute best of the best, almost all of the headphones they make are great, especially for the price.
The SkullCandy Venue wireless headphones and wireless earbuds are some of the best you're going to find from this brand. They're ANC (active noise cancelling), wireless headphones that have an exciting, bass-heavy sound profile with a comfortable fit and great battery life. For their price, you can't really beat them if you're into headphones with big bass.
Our favorite pair of SkullCandy headphones is the SkullCandy Dime True Wireless. Don't let their basic, no-frills design fool you. These pocket-friendly wireless headphones offer a decent sound performance. They're rated IPX4 for water resistance and are well-built for a long-lasting music experience. You'll feel a touch of extra boom in your mixes, thanks to SkullCandy's slightly bass-heavy sound profile. If you want more thump, rumble, and bass in your music, the SkullCandy Crusher Evo Wireless headphones come with a haptic bass slider on their earcups (one of the sides) that you can use to add or minimize bass to your liking.
One downside of the Dime True Wireless headphones is that they have a low battery life of about 4 hours. This means that you can't use them as reliable traveling headphones. Luckily, you can opt for SkullCandy's Jib True Wireless headphones, which are similarly affordable headsets, but with better battery performance.
In the world of Gaming headphones, SteelSeries has a hold on the market, and they deserve it! Like other popular headphone brands, SteelSeries features headphones superior in sound performance and durability. They have a wide range of products consisting of everything from budget-friendly gaming headsets to premium-level headphones with incredible surround sound and frequency range. What makes them stand out is the effort they put into having a good quality mic as well. This takes their gaming headphones from good to great.
Our favorite pair of SteelSeries high-end headphones come from the Arctis Pro series. Not only are these great for gaming, but the audio quality is good enough to be used for listening to music as well. They include the Arctis Pro Wireless and the Arctis Pro GameDAC. SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless is one of the most feature-packed headsets we've ever tested. In addition to a low-latency wireless connection for video gaming, they have Bluetooth support that enables you to chat on your phone as you play. You can use their wireless transmitter as a charging station or access a graphic EQ and other customization options.
The Arctis Pro GameDAC, on the other hand, is specially made for gamers who prefer a wired connection. It has some pretty advanced features, such as the Hi-Res certified 40mm, neodymium drivers, to enhance clarity and a built-in OLED display. However, none of the two headphones is entirely compatible with the Xbox One. So, if you're an Xbox gamer, you may want to purchase the SteelSeries Arctis 9X Wireless headphones.
Bose has been around for a while, and they've become synonymous with high-grade audio performance. It's arguably among the most popular headphone brands in the market that produces quality products, such as speakers, headphones, and home audio systems. Bose isn't a cheap headphone brand, and we'd go so far as to say that they're known just as much for their high prices as they are for the quality of their products. From extreme comfort to incredible durability and unbelievably top-quality sound and bass boost, every dollar you spend on a pair of Bose headphones is absolutely worth it.
They're the best at manufacturing active noise cancelling headphones. Their noise canceling technology is industry-leading, as proved by their well-known QuietComfort headphones (great at removing background noise). They've come across criticism for putting out products in recent years that have had the Bose price tag without the Bose superb sound quality, though.
Since getting pushback, they've since upped their game and maintain a respectable spot at the table among other audiophile headphone brands. Although there are countless better manufacturers out there to choose from, Bose headphones are still reliable and offer a great, impressive sound quality.
The best Bose headphones we've tested so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. These headphones are well-designed and amazingly comfortable, thus making them solid alternatives for long listening sessions. They enable you to listen to many different types of audio content, thanks to their neutral sound profile. Plus, their ANC feature delivers superior noise isolation, meaning you won't be distracted by background noises, such as plane and bus engines. That said, if you prefer headsets with an in-ear design, these Truly Wireless headphones may be the best option for you.
Audi Technica is a well-known Japanese company in the professional audio arena that designs various headphone models. As one of the best audio equipment companies in the industry, this reputable Japanese brand is the go-to headphone manufacturers for mixing and mastering music due to their generally very well balanced sound. You can find these headphones almost everywhere, from film sets, project studios, music studios, broadcasting events, and of course, on the hands and heads of music lovers.
Audio Technica is popular with audiophiles who need high-comfort and crisp natural sound. They have a wide range of high-quality headphones, including In-ear and over-the-ear headphones, as well as other high-end audio equipment such as turntables and microphones. Their M-Series models, which are studio headphones manufactured for professional use, are their most popular product.
Audio Technica headphones aren't about creating beautiful sound, they're about preserving the mix created by the audio engineer. Plus, their recent models are well-balanced, have good Bluetooth compatibility and battery life, and still fit comfortably on your head. If you're in the market for a brand of headphones that gives you exactly what the music producer wants you to have, consider a pair by Audio Technica.
The best Audio-Technica headphones that you can settle for are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. They feature a closed-back design and their high-grade plastic constitution makes them feel very durable. Besides having a comfortable fit, they boast a well-balanced sound profile with some extra bass that's fit for studio work as well as fans of neutral sound.
Their wide headband and big ear cups make the ATH-M50x a bit bulky. So, if you prefer smaller and lighter over-ears, you'll be better off with the Audio-Technica ATH-M60x. But remember, their sound profile isn't as well-balanced. The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x is also worth a try, especially if you like Audio-Technica headsets but want to spend less.
How to Choose the Best Brand for Your Needs
Whether you're planning to buy a new pair of headphones to take your entertainment a notch higher or you're searching for your first pair of headphones, there are many competing brands and products on the market that will possibly leave you confused. Now that you've seen some of the best headphone brands on the market, it's time to take a look at the most important things to consider before choosing a specific brand.
As with any electronic product, price plays a pivotal role in making a purchase decision. Remember, cheaper brands can also mean lower quality. So, always ensure you look into how much each pair of headphones from a particular brand costs before buying them.
Generally, choosing the right type of headsets is a highly personal decision. Some listeners like wearing earbuds (more portable), while others find them irritating. Many users are comfortable wearing on-ear and over-ear headphones, whereas others complain about their sizes or balk at how they interfere with earrings or eyeglasses. So, make a decision depending on your personal preference and what you plan to use your gadgets for.
As you may have noticed, many top headphone brands deliver impressive sound clarity. This is often due to features like Hi-Res certified drivers, which help them maintain top-quality sound across all frequencies for the ultimate audio experience.
Don't see a brand you expected?
We can't name all of the great headphones brands out there, but these are some of the top choices that have consistently come out on top during tests.
If you're considering a pair of headphones you don't see on this list, don't worry! There's a lot of fantastic other headphone brands out there that we've tested and loved.
If you're considering a certain headphone brand and want our feedback, leave a comment below!