Best headphones 2018: Welcome to TechRadar's comprehensive overview of the best headphones in every style and at any price in 2018.
We all bought headphones that were just OK. Headphones that we could wear for a few weeks, maybe, and then just throw them away if we do not like them. They came from discountbins or checkout lines and they served a very specific (and short-lived) need.
We are not here to tell you not to buy that kind of headphones anymore. What we want to tell you is that the disposable headphone lifestyle does not lead to the best experience – for you or for your music.
Not only are cheap headphonies built to fall apart, but they are physically unable to deliver the audio experience artists and directors they want to achieve in your favorite movies, albums and TV shows.
TL; DR: They are cheap and simple, certainly, but they are not good.
It is our mission to connect you with some great sounding headphones. The best headset money can be purchased even if you have a limited budget.
That's why we've listened to hundreds of headphones over the years of each brand, model and variety to make list-after-list of the the best headphones with noise cancellation, the best wireless headphones, the best earplugs, etc …
We encourage you to view all the headphone lists here on TechRadar – but if you're in a hurry and just want to see the best headphones, period, this is the place for you. Below is our selection of the best headphones for each form factor, and we have even chosen a less expensive option for each, so that a lack of finance does not stop you from finding headphones you will really love.
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What are the best headphones you can buy now?
Here is a quick look at the best headphones this year:
Best in-ear headphones: 1 more triple-driver earphone
Your search for a great sounding, affordable headset ends here
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N / A | Cable length: N / A | Frequency response: 20-40,000Hz | drivers: N / A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99 dB / mW | Impedance: 32 ohms Battery life: N / A | Wireless range: N / A | NFC: N / A
Sumptuous sound quality
Excellent construction and design
Plastic remote control feels cheap
After a few weeks with both the 1MORE Triple Drivers in-ear headphones and the 1 MORE Quad driver in-ear headphones were overwhelmed by the value each gave in their future price ranges.
For $ 100 (£ 100, about AU $ 168) it's hard to think of a better-sounding and built-in headset than the 1MORE Triple Driver. (That said, if you only want that little extra sophistication and luxury materials, the 1MORE Quad Drivers are still a bargain for twice the price.)
There is very little that we can accuse the Triple Drivers for. The rubber cable is annoying and the remote control feels cheap, but these are just sheer nonsense. But for its price it is impossible to do better than 1MORE triple in ear headphones.
Read the full review: 1 more Triple-driver earphone
Best budget earphones: RHA S500u
Great sounding, incredibly cheap earphones
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 14 grams Cable length: 1.35 m, double material Frequency response: 16-22,000Hz | drivers: Micro Dynamic | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 100dB | Impedance: 16 ohms Battery life: N / A | Wireless range: N / A | NFC: N / A
Excellent build quality
Balanced, rich audio
Narrow sound image
If you have a tendency to lose or break headphones, but still appreciate the sound quality, it is difficult to think of a better value than the RHA S500u. These headphones do not sound so good for the price: the sound quality is balanced with a light bark in the middle of the bass. Bass is somewhat emphasized, but not enormous and has a good impact while maintaining good control. And high tones, while it sometimes sounds hissing, makes music more exciting.
Read the full review: RHA S500u
Best in-ear headphones: Grado SR60e
Really excellent sound performance for a great price
Acoustic design: Open | Weight: N / A | Cable length: N / A | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | drivers: N / A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99db | Impedance: 32 ohms Battery life: N / A | Wireless range: N / A | NFC: N / A
Impressive definition for the price
No in-line control
For your money you can not do better than the SR60e of Grado. The third generation of the Prestige Series from Brooklyn, New York, is the best and most sophisticated to date. The SR60e in particular is a smart choice if you're looking for an entry-level headset that sounds like it would cost you much more than it does. The ear-shell design with open back ensures a more breathable experience than most on-ear headphones can offer. In a few words, it is our golden standard when it comes to on-ears.
(Our rating is for the SR60i, but the newer SR60e headphones are largely similar in terms of design and performance.)
Read the full review: Grado SR60e
Best budget earphones: Urbanears Plattan II
A perfect purchase value if you want headphones that are cheap and comfortable
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N / A | Cable length: N / A | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | drivers: N / A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99db | Impedance: 32 ohms Battery life: N / A | Wireless range: N / A | NFC: N / A
Narrow sound image
No volume control
Although the original Plattan headphones were perfectly suited for headphones on the ear, Urbanears was not satisfied that it was mediocre. The company took the feedback from customers to heart and addressed many complaints about comfort, sound quality and insulation. For the most part, Urbanears has succeeded, making the Plattan II a worthy sequel to the company's most popular headphones.
In short, these are simple headphones without a lot of functions. But because they have function light, you get a good sounding pair of wired headphones for considerably less than you would otherwise.
Read the full review: Urbanears Plattan II
Best over-ear headphones: Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature
Premium cans that are all about the sound quality
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 413 g Cable length: N / A | Frequency response: 2 – 30,000 Hz drivers: 1.6 inches (40 mm) Mylar / Titanium | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 111dB SPL @ 1kHz – / 1Vrms | Impedance: 22 Ohms Battery life: N / A | Wireless range: N / A | NFC: N / A
Exceptional level of detail
Clarity across the board
Comfortable for long periods
No additional functions
On the expensive side
The Bowers & Wilkins P9 signatures are just some of the best sounding headphones we have ever used. They have a sleek, refined sound that offers an almost unrivaled level of detail.
That said, the fact remains that they are a relatively light look. If you want to spend less, you can get a much more mobile pair that is better suited for the morning ride or a plane ride thanks to additional features such as noise reduction and Bluetooth connectivity.
But if you are looking for seriously high-end headphones to listen to a high quality music collection, there are few that the P9's can match at this price.
Read the full review: B & W P9 signature
Best budget earphone: Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT
These over-ear headphones offer both performance and value
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .64 pounds Cable length: 3.9 feet Frequency response: 5-40.000Hz | drivers: Two 1.7 "drivers | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 100 dB Impedance: 35 ohms Battery life: 40 hours Wireless range: N / A | NFC: No
Stellar battery life
The wired mode sounds even better
Heights can be too energetic
Audiophiles usually avoid wireless headphones because of poor sound quality. Bluetooth audio has improved enormously over the years. There are now many wireless headphones that can please the music lover, with Hi-Res Audio support increasingly common.
That said, the Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT offers some of the best wired and wireless sound quality for headphones under $ 200 (£ 150). They play well with all music genres and offer an almost flat response curve. They are extremely comfortable during long listening sessions and are well built-in. The life of the battery is equally impressive with almost 40 hours of battery playing time. And although they lack some features of more expensive wireless headphones such as active noise cancellation and multi-device coupling, these are compromises that are worth making for phenomenal sound.
Read the full review: Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT
Best headphone with noise cancellation: Sony WH-1000XM2
Crystal clear noise canceling headphone with noise reduction
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 23g | Cable length: N / A | Frequency response: N / A | drivers: N / A | Driver type: N / A | Sensitivity: N / A | Impedance: N / A | Battery life: 10 hours Wireless range: 33 ft NFC: Yes
Fantastic noise reduction
Hinges on arms are vulnerable
If you buy a pair of noise-canceling headphones, you often change the sound quality to block outside noise. It's a profession that we've wanted to make for years, because we honestly did not find headphones that could perform both noise reduction and Hi-Res audio.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 is the successor to the surprisingly good MDR-1000X. They may have a slightly shorter battery life than Bose's over-ear headphones, the QuietComfort 35, but Sony's WH-1000XM2 outperforms the QC35 in terms of both price performance and the overall feature set.
Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM2
Best wireless headphones: Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless
The best sounding wireless headphones you can buy
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 380g Cable length: 1.2 m, detachable Frequency response: 5 – 40,000 Hz drivers: 50 mm Driver type: Dynamic, Tesla Sensitivity: 100dB at 1KHz | Impedance: 32 ohms Battery life: 30 hours Wireless range: 10 meters (30+ feet) NFC: No
Excellent build quality and comfort
Detailed, dynamic, spatial sound
Sounds just as well wired
Not ideal for travel
The Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless is the best sounding wireless headset you can buy, period. Sound is spacious, detailed and ensures that you want to rediscover your music library. Their extensive design and average sound insulation make them terrible to travel, but if you're looking for the best sound from a wireless headset, this is it.
Read the full review: Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless
Best wireless budget headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
The best friend of a traveler
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.64 lbs (289 g) Cable length: N / A | Frequency response: N / A | drivers: 40 mm Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N / A | Impedance: N / A | Battery life: 24 hours Wireless range: 100 meters (330 feet) NFC: No
Unbelievable battery life of 24 hours
Styling not for everyone
If you are a frequent traveler, you are probably only too familiar with headphones that can not hold a charge and can not block noise, let alone sound very good. Let us introduce you to the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, one of the few headphones on the market that can do all of the above and less than half costs one of the bigger names like Beats, Bose and Sony.
They also have a handy little feature that automatically turns them off when you're not wearing them, which means you can easily maximize the battery life without too much effort.
If we have to reduce it to the core, the BackBeat Pro 2 offers excellent travel headphones with incredible battery life, ultimate comfort, the ability to pair two devices as one time and, most importantly, good sound quality for costs.
Read the full review: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
Best Bluetooth earphones: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4
Practically perfect wireless earbuds
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 15,5 grams Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz | drivers: 6 mm Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 92dB +/- 3dB | Impedance: 32 Ohms Battery life: 10 hours Wireless range: 98 feet NFC: No
Not suitable for listening with one ear
The NuForce BE Sport4 wireless earplugs are those rare find: earplugs that are good for basically all situations. Although specially designed for use in the gym and on the track, the BE Sport4 makes it great to isolate audio in a busy city environment and even good enough to listen to home.
The BE Sport4 earplugs have claimed a battery life of 10 hours, which we found to be fairly close to the brand in our time, and from empty you get two hours of use of just 15 minutes of charging – ideal for people who need a fast complement while they put on their sneakers and pack a gym set.
Consider this as a warning sound with other audio manufacturers: the building and audio quality do not have to be sacrificed to keep earplugs affordable.
Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport4
Best true wireless earbuds: Jabra Elite 65t
One of the best true wireless earbuds you can buy
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N / A | Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz | drivers: N / A | Driver type: N / A | Sensitivity: N / A | Impedance: N / A | Battery life: 4.5 hours (13.5 hours in charge case) Wireless range: N / A | NFC: No
Ripe, understated design
Fun to use
Balanced sound quality
Limited eartip selection
All in all, the Jabra Elite 65t is one of the best truly wireless headphones you can buy today. They cost a little more than the Apple AirPods, but they also offer better sound quality, sound isolation and adjustable ambient noise if you wish. And if you do not like the design of the strange, extra-terrestrial looking AirPods, the adult, understated look of the 65t might be something for you.
Although the Jabra Elite 65t is easily one of the best-scoring real wireless headphones we have discussed, there are a few others on the market that are worth considering: if you want a pair of earplugs for exercises, there are Jabra Elite Sport with higher water resistance and convenient sport-oriented functions. For audiophiles who do not mind expanding the budget, the active noise reduction Sony WF-1000X are an excellent choice. Bassheads wants to try it SOL Republic Amps Air.
If you only have the budget for one of these, go for the Elite 65t.
Read the full review: Jabra Elite 65t
Press to page two to see how to choose good headphones based on more of our recommendations.
Watch our video 's below for an overview of the best available headphones.