Whether you’re ordering online or walking into a store, Target has a healthy selection of headphones you can choose from. They don’t have some of the more obscure, higher-end brands that audiophiles love to argue about, but that doesn’t mean they don’t take notice of what’s going on in the industry. Obviously, they need to sell things in order to make money. Which means that some of the best headphones at Target also end up being the more popular ones. Even though there’s only an aisle or two of audio products at your local store, there’s still plenty to choose from and it can be hard to know which one is for you. So what are the best headphones at Target? We got you covered. Now you have another reason to go to Target for milk and leave with a shopping cart of stuff.

Obviously, we need to talk about the Sony WH-1000X M2

If you want the best headphones at Target, you have to go with the Sony WH-1000X M2. Although the WH-1000X M3 were just released, the WH-1000X M2 are still nothing to scoff at. These over-ears will do what most people want, and then some. You’ll get one of best pairs of active noise cancelling on the market, and the available colors are subtle and won’t look out of place at the office or on the commute to it. Sony claims about 38 hours of playback on a single charge, and though you probably won’t get that much in real-world use they’ll still last you enough to get through a day or two without needing to charge them.

Sony WH-1000X M2

Full Review

The ear pad is also touch-sensitive so all of the playback controls are just a tap or a swipe away. You can adjust volume, skip between songs, pause or play music, and even use the microphones built into the headphones to hear what’s going on around you if you hold your hand over the ear cup. Though these headphones aren’t cheap, they’re one of the best headphones you can get. Not just at Target, but anywhere.

For a pair of truly comfortable headphones, the Bose QC35 II is a classic

If you’ve been on an airplane recently, you’ve probably seen the Bose QC35 II. Not just because it’s one of the best active noise cancelling headphones out there, but also because they’re insanely comfortable and easy to stuff in a carry-on. Though they’re made of plastic, they don’t feel cheap and they’re super flexible. But it’s the plush ear cups and padding that make these so comfortable to wear for long periods of flight.

Bose QC5 II

Full Review

The newer Series II option even comes with the Google Assistant baked in, so if you use the assistant a lot you can do so instantly just by clicking a dedicated button on the side. You’ll get around 20 hours of constant playback when playing wirelessly, but they do have the option to hardwire in an audio cable if you want to save some juice.

Get the Beats lover in your life the Studio3 Wireless

If you or someone you know just want to get one of the best wireless Beats headphones available, go with the Studio3 Wireless. They live up to everything that a Beats fan can want with an over-emphasized low end for strong bass and bright colors for style. These even offer some active noise cancelling and while it can’t hold a candle up to the Sony or Bose headphones we mentioned earlier, it’s still a nice feature to have.

Beats Studio3 Wireless

Full Review

Then there’s also the W1 chip to think about. When Apple removed the headphone jack, they introduced the W1 chip which makes the pairing process between Beats and iOS devices way easier. It also means you get improved battery life and a stronger connection between the headphones and your source device.

Want something a little less expensive? Check out the JBL E55BT headphones

JBL is no stranger to making products that compete with the big dogs at a fraction of the cost, and the JBL E55BT headphones are a perfect example of that. Although they don’t have some of the more premium features you’ll find in the other options like ANC or a great build, they do offer good sound at a low price. These can also fold down for easy storage and the padding is pretty comfortable.

JBL E55BT

Full Review

On the downside, these aren’t the best option to get if you’re going to be watching videos on your source device as there’s a pretty significant audio/visual lag. And the design isn’t eye-catching or minimal. The JBL E55BT are just an affordable pair of Bluetooth cans for anyone looking for decent sound.

The Sony Noise Cancelling wired headphones are also worth checking out wired headphones.

If you don’t want to spend too much and still want good sound, then you’ll have to go with a wired pair of cans. At Target, that’s in the shape of the Sony Noise Cancelling headphones. These are on-ear headphones so the isolation won’t be great, but they do have ANC tech built-in to offset that slightly. Don’t expect to completely drown out the world in the way that you would with the WH-1000X M2 headphones we mentioned earlier, but it’s better than nothing.

Sony MDR-ZX110NC Extra Bass Headphones

The cable is roughly a meter long and the ear cups swivel so you can wear them comfortable around your neck when they’re not in use. You’ll need a single AAA battery to power them so as long as you keep a spare battery in your bag in case they die, you could get some long listening sessions out of these.

What if you want earbuds?

Can’t forget about the Airpods

The Airpod charging case provides three hours of battery after just 15 minutes of charging. Pictured: A minimalist image with an all black background and an overhead shot of the Apple Airpods placed in the open charging case.

The Airpod charging case provides three hours of battery after just 15 minutes of charging.

Of course, Target also sells the Airpods along with a number of other brands. So if over-ear headphones weren’t doing it for you then you might want to check out some of these smaller options that they also sell (most of which we have reviews for too).

Notable mentions:

  • Bose Soundsport Free: The Bose Soundsport Free true wireless earbuds are one of the competitors to the Airpods and for good reason. Though they’re not as sleek, they’re definitely worth checking out. Full review
  • Beats by Dre PowerBeats3: If you’re looking for bass-driven ‘buds to destroy at the gym, the Powerbeats3 are an obvious choice. Full review
  • BeatsX: As a pair of neckbuds, these earbuds are way more suited for daily commuters who want a sleek pair of ‘buds that they can wear comfortably. Full review
  • JBL E45BT: If the JBL E55BT headphones are too big for you, you can always go with their smaller siblings which are a pair of on-ears.

What you should know about buying headphones from Target

What is their price matching situation?

Does Target price match? You betcha. They’ll price match select competitors within 14 days of purchase. So if you see something elsewhere that’s cheaper just make sure to cross check it with their list of competitors. If you see something for cheaper once you leave the store, you still have 14 days from the time of purchase to go back with your receipt and get an adjustment.

A photo of a pile of US dollar bills.

Flickr user: reynermedia Don’t blow your cash when you don’t have to.

Of course, this excludes a few obvious things like clearance items and anything from third-party marketplace sellers, as well as a few not so obvious things like sales tax promotions or typographical errors in advertising. So make sure to keep that in mind so you don’t end up taking a trip back to Target for nothing.

What to do if the item is out of stock?

Unfortunately, great sales don’t last long. If an item is out of stock at your local Target we’d recommend trying to purchase it via their website. If you’re closer to a Best Buy than you are to a Target, you can also head over to the blue shirts and pick up the product for the same price. If you caught our best headphones to get at Best Buy list, you know that they also price match. The only thing to keep in mind is that the product usually has to be in stock at your local Target before you can price match at Best Buy. So if your local Target is sold out of the product, Best Buy probably won’t price match it.

What’s the return policy?

The obvious benefit of buying something from Target is how easy it is to return something that you don’t like. Instead of having to schedule a pick-up and print out return labels, you can just walk into your local store. So how’s the return policy at Target? Well with a receipt they’ll accept any unopened product for up to 90 days. But that window gets smaller when it comes to electronics, at only 30 days.

Contrary to the all-plastic construction, the Airpods are durable. Pictured: The Apple Airpods in the hand.

If you get anything made by Apple at Target, your return window shrinks to only 15 days.

That window gets even smaller with all Apple products, which need to be returned within 15 days. Of course, you may have spotted a problem here. Because usually, you won’t know if you like a pair of headphones unless you open the box and try them. This depends on how used the headphones look, but usually, if a product is opened you can still return them with a receipt for store credit. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t the case with earbuds because of health reasons. They do go in your ear after all.

What else should I know about headphones from Target?

Isolation & Active noise cancelling

A photo of the Monoprice Monolith M1060C over-ear headphones.

Closed backs offer more isolation than open backs.

This is true about any headphones not just headphones from Target, but when it comes to how your music sounds isolation is one of the most important things you should know of. We have an entire explainer piece detailing everything about why it’s important, but if you’re in a hurry the main reason you should care about isolation is because of biology. Didn’t see that coming did you? Without getting too science-y (check out the explainer for that), the gist of it is that our brains don’t always pay attention to every little sound that reaches our ears. If there are two sounds that are similar in frequency, our brains just ignore whichever one is lower in volume.

A photo of a young man wearing headphones in front of a moving train, for the article "best headphones for kids."

For commuting to school or elsewhere, noise canceling headphones are a great choice for young people’s auditory health.

This is called auditory masking, and if you’ve ever struggled to hear the bass in songs while riding a bus or an airplane you’ve experienced this yourself. The constant low hum from the world around us makes it hard to hear the lower notes in our favorite songs because they’re close to each other in frequency, which means that if you’re in a noisy area your brain is ignoring the lower notes of your music. So how do you solve this? By blocking out as much outside noise as possible.

Constructive and Destructive Interference Sound waves of equal amplitude, offset at 1/2 wavelengths result in compression waves with an amplitude of 0—canceling out the sound.

Whether that’s by using a pair of over-ear headphone that completely cover your ears or by actively cancelling outside noise with active noise canceling. Active noise cancelling headphones use tiny microphones to pick up what’s going on around you and then actively removes many of those sounds via destructive interference. Again, we have an entire explainer on exactly how this works if you’re interested. Luckily, audio companies are getting better at doing this as technology gets better, and some of the best headphones available (the Sony WH-1000X M2 and the Bose QC35 II) are both available at Target.

Bluetooth codecs

A photo of the Bluetooth toggle on the Android dropdown menu.

The main reason to un-toggle Bluetooth is battery savings, not safety.

You may have noticed that most of these headphones are wireless. That means that you should be at least somewhat familiar with how that works, what offers the best quality, and which formats you should worry about. Bluetooth devices send information to each other wirelessly, which means that the audio information from your source devices needs to be packaged, sent over the Bluetooth connection, and then unpackaged by your headphones so you can listen to it. This is a complicated process and, wouldn’t you know it, we go way more in-depth in this article. But the main thing you should know is that the packaging and unpacking part of this process is handled by something called a codec.

When shopping for headphones at Target, keep codecs in mind.

There are plenty of Bluetooth codecs to choose from, but they’re not all equal.

In order for your headphones to properly unpackage the information, they need to have the same codec. You can’t transfer something over LDAC and expect your headphones that only have AAC to unpackage it. That would be like two people speaking different languages. Luckily, Bluetooth headphones do have a common standard in which to communicate through called SBC, but you’ll be sacrificing some quality.

SBC aptX aptX HD AAC LDAC bluetooth codecs profile audio

Represented is the max transfer rate (kbps) of each respective Bluetooth codec (greater is better). Each waveform depicts a transfer rate of 100 kbps.

Transfer rates aside, how good is Bluetooth really? Well, it turns out, Bluetooth is just barely good enough. You won’t get the same kind of performance as a pair of wired headphones, but due to most people not being able to hear higher frequencies anyway it doesn’t’ really matter. At least, not to the companies making these products. You also have to worry about whether the codecs are performing as advertised. One of the better codecs currently available is Sony’s LDAC, which has some of the highest transfer rates possible. The problem is that it doesn’t always work perfectly across the board as we found when we put it through some testing. It’s still good, but we’re still keeping an eye out for Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive codec that’s coming out soon.

How we chose the best headphones from Target

When it comes to these best lists, we usually spend hours researching across the internet and comparing what we find to our own hands-on experience with many of these products until we can determine a list that is worth checking out. Luckily, we didn’t have to do that here since there’s already a relatively small amount of headphones available from Target, most of which we have full reviews on. Picking the best products out of a smaller sample size is always easier, and we already had plenty of information available on most of the products they sold.

Why you should trust us

Lily pictured wearing headphones.

Lily testing out a pair of earbuds that…don’t go in your ears?

Although plenty of research goes into each of our best lists, it’s not the only thing we do here at SoundGuys. We also spend crazy amounts of time testing gear ourselves as well as reviewing as many products as we can get our hands on. Chris spent plenty of time testing gear at USA Today before joining SoundGuys, and Lily spent years in and out of radio stations while simultaneously reviewing gear on her own before joining the team. Adam, a SoundGuy for almost four years, has also had more pairs of headphones on his head than he can count (although clicking on his name on the site gives a fairly accurate number).