by Adam MolinaAugust 5, 2016

Headphones come in all shapes and sizes, but you probably picture a pair of over-ears when you hear the word. That’s not only because they’ve been around the longest, but also because they usually sound the best. In-ears and on-ears are great don’t get me wrong, and it’s hard to beat their portability. Some of them even sound amazing, but if you want the highest quality possible you have to go with a pair over-ear cans. It’s physics. The larger size just allows for a fuller sound. But there are so many headphones out there. Which ones are worth the money? We wondered the same thing and came up with this list to answer that question.

When it comes to the price of over-ears, the sky is the limit. Headphones can range from $20 to tens of thousands of dollars, so we picked the ones that are most consumer friendly. Though one of our five categories looks at the best headphones money can buy, so if you fancy yourself an audiophile you can go straight there. We also cover the best overall, wired, wireless, and travel headphones with a bang for your buck pick for each. Your search ends here. These are the best headphones you can get so far in 2016.

Best All-Around

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2.0

No surprise here. Sennheiser is one of the biggest brands in audio for a reason. The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0s are top of the list because they have everything you might need in one pair of over-ear cans. They have active noise cancelling, great sound, are comfortable, and they’re wireless. Of course you can always hardwire them as well if you need to. If you’re familiar with the Momentum line of headphones, these should look familiar. They keep that same iconic design of two ear cups attached to an all-metal band. The ear cups slide up and down the band for adjusting, and the top is padded wrapped in leather for comfort. Speaking of comfort, these have plush ear cups wrapped in leather for those long listening sessions. And I mean long. these have a solid 22 hour battery life with ANC and Bluetooth turned on. they also fold at the hinges and come with a soft leather carrying case, perfect for travel. If ANC is what you care about then you’ll be happy to know that these have four microphones whose sole purpose is to detect and cancel outside noise. While making a phone call two of those mics switch to pick up your voice for clearer voice calls. These had a problem with the connection when they were first released, but it’s since been fixed with the 2.0 version. These have a score of 4.1 out of 5 stars on Amazon and you can also check out our full review if you want to know more.
Pros
Good soundGood ANCBattery Life
Cons
Price1st model had connection issues

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

This probably isn’t going to change anytime soon, but the ATH-M50Xs are still some of the best pairs of headphones you can get for the money. They have a mostly balanced sound and don’t require a ton of power to work. That means you can use them easily with the average smart phone or iPod. Whether you’re looking for a good pair of headphones for the studio or just want a pair of over-ears for your commutes, these are a great choice. Usually studio headphones are meant for the studio, but these work surprisingly well outside the studio as well. For one, they’re really comfortable. The cushioned padding on the ear cups is reflected on the top of the headband. You shouldn’t expect them to float on your head, but a long commute shouldn’t be an issue. It turns out headphones made for long studio sessions are just comfortable during a long train ride. You can also swivel the ear cups up to 90 degrees, so they can rest easy around your neck when not in use. 45 mm drivers push a good amount of sound perfect for the budding audiophile. Don’t get me wrong these aren’t the most accurate headphones in the world and once you get a listen on some of the more premium headphones, you’ll notice that they definitely have a slight emphasis on the low end. Still, that’s what makes them so great for the average person. If you’re looking to make your first investment into a good pair of headphones but don’t want to break the bank give these a try. Just don’t be surprised when you get a silent nod of approval from people on subways. With over 3,000 reviews on Amazon these have a score of 4.6 out of 5 stars. You can also check out our full review for an in-depth analysis.
Pros
Sound qualityBuild quality
Cons
Soundstage


Best Wired Headphones

Sennheiser HD 650

If you really want something spectacular the HD800s are the way to go here, but seeing as not everyone has $1000 to blow on headphones we think the Sennheiser HD650 is a more fitting pick. Though they’re not exactly brand new good sound doesn’t age, and these sound great. They have a wide frequency range and an open back design to help you get a more natural sound out of your music. If you thought the ATH-M50Xs had a flat sound, wait until you hear these. Though open-backs headphones aren’t always practical for use with mobile devices, that’s even more-so the case with the HD650s. Not only because of the sound leakage that occurs, but because of how they connect to source devices. They end in a 1/4” connector and though they do come with a 3.5mm adapter to plug into your phone, don’t be fooled. They aren’t meant to be used with your average smartphone. Will it work? Sure. But if you really want to get the full experience out of them you’re probably going to need a decent portable amp as well. There’s a reason Sennheiser is on this list twice, and these are them. These are comfortable enough for all day listening, and have a nice and neutral sound if you’re into that. Not to mention that the HD650s are made of lightweight aluminum and only weigh about .6 pounds. With over 400 reviews on Amazon these have an amazing 4.7 out of 5 star rating. If you want to see why so many enjoy Sennheiser, give these a shot.
Pros
Sound qualitySoundstage
Cons
Ends in 1/4' jack

Shure SRH440

If you work in audio, then you know who Shure is. If not, then the Shure SRH440s might be the best way to introduce you to the company. For only about $100 these give you a good idea at why audio professionals have turned to Shure for the past 90 years. The Shure SRH440s have 40mm drivers in each ear cup and aim to deliver an accurate representation of your music. These only come with a 3m audio cable that ends in a 3.5mm jack. If you’re looking to use these on-the-go it might work out for you. That said, if these are going to stay at your desk than the extra length is perfect. The last thing you want is to absentmindedly step a little too far away from your computer and send it crashing to the floor. If you do need to get from point A to point B, it does come with a nice carrying bag. It’s also fairly durable and the audio cable and the ear pads are both replaceable. So if they start to wear out on you, you can always just get a new one. Build and sound quality aside, the best part about the SRH440s has to be their price. It’s not everyday that you find a legendary audio company make consumer products, and do it so well. These have a 4.4 out of 5 star rating on Amazon with over 400 reviews.
Pros
PriceSoundReplaceable parts
Cons
10 foot audio cable



Best Wireless Headphones

Sony H.ear On Wireless NC

Sony has a tendency of slipping under the radar with great products, but not with the H.ear On Wireless NCs. Though there are aspects of other headphones that are better, these are the best all-around wireless headphones (excluding the Momentum 2.0s which are already this list). Plenty of over-ears are big and bulky, and though these aren’t exactly light they’re fairly slim considering all they do. When you put them on they’re actually really comfortable thanks to all the padding in the ear cups. Sony has the battery life spec’d at about 20 hours but we consistently got between 23 and 26 in our full review. Besides that these have really strong ANC as well. Though it’s not quite up to par with the noise-cancelling found on Bose headphones, it’s pretty close. The low rumble of trains completely disappear when wearing them even though voices are sometimes more prominent. As is the case with most new Sony products, these are Hi-Res certified. So if you have a compatible source device and file you should be able to stream music with even higher quality than normal. For the rest of us mortals don’t worry, these still sound great. Plus they have a 4.3 out of 5 star rating on Amazon. They have to be doing something right.
Pros
SoundANCBuild quality
Cons
Button placement

CB3 Hush

If you’re looking for something that doesn’t cost over $300, take a look at the Hush headphones from CB3 Audio. These also feature active noise cancelling and though you won’t get the same premium build quality (obviously), these are far from uncomfortable. The plush padding allows these to sit comfortably on your head for long periods of time. They don’t clamp down on your head so tight that they become uncomfortable, but they do a good enough job that they can also passively block outside noise. With Bluetooth and ANC turned on, these should get you a solid 15 hours of playback time which is enough for the average flight or commute. The two best features about these headphones are arguably the most important when it comes to a pair of wireless headphones: the ANC and the sound. A lot of times headphones with weak ANC just get a little louder to trick you into thinking that it’s actually doing a good job. That isn’t the case here. Voices and dog barks will still slice through, but the low hum of trains and the babble of large crowds fade away as soon as you put these on. There’s only about 10 reviews so far, but they have a solid 4.4 out of 5 star rating on Amazon. If you want a solid pair of wireless headphones without spending all of your cash, the Hush are a great option.
Pros
PriceSoundANC
Cons
Build materials




See also: Best wireless bluetooth headphones



Best Money Can Buy

Audeze El-8

Now we’re getting into audiophile territory. If you’ve been really researching some of the best headphones period, you’re likely to have come across these. The Audeze El-8s are one of the top pairs of headphones you can get. Not only are they great to listen to but they’re gorgeous as well. They were designed by a subsidiary of BMW called Designworks, so basically these the BMW of headphones. The El-8s are also open-back headphones and use planar magnetic technology to push sound. What pushes that sound? Audeze packed 100mm drivers into these. That’s more than double the size of the drivers you’ll find in most consumer headphones. If you want great sound, these are the way to go. They have a 2m audio cable and end in a 3.5mm adapter, but like any self-respecting pair of high-end cans they come with a 1/4” adapter. That said, they’re made to be used with mobile devices. So you’ll find that these only have a 30 ohm impedance. They also come with a cable that has an in-line mic and playback controls. Like the HD650s that we previously mentioned, these will work without any special equipment. But if you really want to see what they can do a decent headphone amp goes a long way.
Pros
Sound QualityBuild quality
Cons
Price

HiFiMan HE-400i

The bang for your buck money is no object category is kind of an oxymoron, but if there were ever a pair of headphones that live up to the name it’d be the HiFiMan HE-400i. These aren’t cheap by any means, but pound for pound these have excellent build quality and sound amazing. HiFiMan is one of those companies (like Sennheiser) with plenty of people who swear by their headphones. These are also planar magnetic headphones meant for really sitting back and listening to your music. On top of that they’re also super lightweight, weighing in at only 0.8 pounds. Since the HE-400Is are open-back, you’ll be able to hear your surroundings (not to mention people around you can hear what you’re listening to). The drivers are protected by a thin grill, but still exposed to the world. On the bottom of both ear cups are the signature HiFiMan inputs which have their pros and cons. On one hand it’s pretty annoying to have to screw in the connectors, but on the other at least there is no chance of them getting pulled out. That cable is also nicely constructed and ends in a 90-degree 3.5mm jack. It also comes with a 1/4” adapter so if you’re looking to plug these into something a little more powerful than your phone you can. It has a sensitivity of 93dB and impedance of 35 oHms so it can draw enough power from the average smartphone to work. Though they work with smartphones, these aren’t exactly portable. The HE-400Is don’t fold at the hinges, but they do rotate to lie flat so you can let them hang around your neck while not in use. These have a 4.7 out of 5 star review on Amazon and you can usually find them for around $450.
Pros
Sound qualityBuild quality
Cons
PriceProprietary earcup connectors


Best for Travel

Bose QC35

The new QC35s by Bose take everything that people loved about the QC25s, and made them wireless. If you’re looking for a pair of headphones to travel with, look no further. These are super lightweight, they have excellent noise cancelling, and can easily fold down to about half of their original size. Bose is known for their great ANC, and the QC35s still has that going for them. It’s probably because of the patents Bose has on their technology, but no one else can quite match their ANC just yet. I’m sure that will change sometime in the future but for now, these are still king. The ear cups are extremely comfortable and they also passively blocks a good amount of outside sound too. Now if you’re looking for a flat, neutral sound look elsewhere. These have the same signature Bose sound that many of their other products have. That’s not to say that it’s bad, it’s just different. If you’re mixing sound in a studio you might want something like the open-back headphones we previously mentioned. But if you’re on a long flight or commute, you’ll probably really enjoy what the QC35s have to offer. Besides the ANC these have playback controls built into the ear cup which lets you control volume, change tracks, pause/play music, and access Siri or Google Now. They also have a built-in dual-microphone system with “noise-rejecting technology so they can even work when it’s windy. There are a few new welcome changes to these headphones too. Unlike the previous QC25s, it no longer matters what kind of device you have thanks to Bose finally deciding to ditch the wires. Whether you’re rocking an Android or iOS device the playback controls should function exactly the same when you’re connected via Bluetooth. They also threw in a built-in rechargeable battery, ditching the AAA batteries required by the previous model. Now you can plug in and recharge them just like you would any other device and the internal battery will last you about 20 hours with both Bluetooth and ANC turned on. The new QC35s are available now for $349 in either black or silver color options and have a 4.4 out of 5 star rating on Amazon.
Pros
Great ANCComfortableEasily foldable
Cons
Price

JBL Everest 300

If you want to spend about half of what it costs to get a pair of QC35s, then take a look at the JBL Everest 300 headphones. They don’t have the same active noise cancelling that the Bose has, but they do giant padded ear cups that do a solid job at passive blocking outside noise. They have Bluetooth 4.1 for connecting wirelessly to your devices. This might not be ideal for an in-flight movie but if you’re like me and would rather knock out a few podcasts or listen to your own playlist, then it’s perfect. What’s more is that they have an insane 20 hour battery life to match that of the QC35s. Whether you’re on a long flight or commuting all week, these will easily last the trip. The Everest 300s have 40mm drivers in each ear cup and can provide a frequency range of 10-22kHZ. Thats wide enough for any human ears to hear with added cushion to make everything sound even better. The headphones look fairly bulky at first glance and that’s because they are. But they do have hinges on the headband that let them fold down to a smaller size.
Pros
PriceFoldable20 hour battery
Cons
Average sound




See also: Best Noise Cancelling headphones



As with every “best of” list, these things are always very subjective. Everyone’s ears are different, so your best bet is to try out a few different pair of headphones and see which of them sound best to you. Still, these are some great starting points. They’ve all been fairly well reviewed (both by us and by reviewers on sites like Amazon) and they represent a fairly wide range of prices.

Have we left anything out? Let us know. What do you think are the best Bluetooth headphones out there?

Didn’t find what you were looking for? Checkout these related best lists:

Best headphones under $50
Best headphones under $100
Best headphones under $200
Best on ear headphones of 2016
Best earbuds (in ear headphones) of 2016

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