Bass is one of the most divisive aspects of sound. Some people prefer to have headphones and speakers that gives their music a little extra power in the low end while others prefer more of a neutral sound that blends with the music. Loving one or the other doesn’t make you any more of a music lover than someone else, but it is crucial to your own personal enjoyment. Sound is a very personal experience and whether you consider yourself an audiophile or a bass head, we hope this list of the best bass headphones will help you out.
Editor’s note: This list was updated on June 15, 2020 to address an FAQ about open-back versus closed-back headphones.
Whatever your preference, you can’t go wrong with the V-MODA Crossfade M-100
V-MODA is one of those companies that is gathering a large following in consumer audio. Not everyone is a fan, but those who are swear by more than a few of their headphones. If you want a pair of headphones that are good at everything, check out the V-MODA Crossfade M-100. These have an industrial design complete with exposed screws and metal. On the outside of the ear cups are interchangeable metallic plates called “shields” that V-MODA sells separately with a few different designs. But their main purpose is to help passively block outside noise. They let you focus on what’s important: the sound.
V-MODA Crossfade M-100Full Review
Each ear cup has a 50mm driver baked into it which gives the M100s an impressive sound throughout the range. They aren’t the most accurate headphones you’ll find on this list and they don’t have the strongest bass, but if you want a little bit of both then these are a good choice. You can use the Crossfade M100s throughout the entire day, since they can be easily used whether you’re sitting at a desk or on-the-go. When not in use you can fold them at the hinges and toss them in the included hard shell carrying case. The V-MODA Crossfade M100s come in four different color options, with the white model coming with a matching case as well. If you want the best bass headphones around, these will likely satisfy your hunger.
What you should know
If you’re looking for a pair of bass headphones that are worth spending your money on, then it’s worth knowing a few things so you can really understand what that even means.
What is a bass-heavy frequency response?
When you’re researching headphones you’ll typically come across something called a frequency response. The frequency response of an audio product is nothing more than a visual representation to help us understand how a pair of headphones output sound. The way you test this is fairly simple, and just requires a known output sound (we usually just use a regular sweep, or output that varies between two known frequencies, in our testing). Once you play that known sound through the headphones, you can record it and compare what you got to what you put in.
In bass-heavy headphones, sounds in the lower frequencies (depicted in pink in the graph) will come out of the headphones louder than they went in. That means that the headphones are tuned in such a way that lower notes will sound louder to you than some of the other sounds. All headphones are imperfect, and there isn’t a pair of headphones that currently exists that can perfectly output the source file that went in. So knowing what to look for in a frequency response graph can be helpful when you’re about to make a purchase.
Still not getting enough bass? It could be poor isolation
If you already have a pair of headphones and you’re jut not getting enough bass out of them, the problem might not be the headphones at all. It could be the earpads. When you have loose fitting earpads that don’t fit your ears right, outside noise can get in and basically distract your brain from registering those lower notes. This is called auditory masking, and it’s just how humans have evolved. If you hear two sounds of similar frequencies, whichever one is louder will be the one that your brain decides to listen to as it could be a potential threat. To compensate for this, it’s crucial to make sure that you have a good seal around your ears when listening to music.
Be wary of hearing loss
One thing that’s always worth mentioning is that you should be mindful of how loud you’re listening to your music. While it pains us to admit it, all our moms were right. It’s been shown that listening to music at high volumes can damage the tiny hairs in your ear that are responsible for transferring vibrations. The less vibrations they can detect, the less you can hear over time. This is called “Noise Induced Hearing loss” and while it’s true that this does happen naturally as you age and people tend to have less sensitivity to higher sounds in old age, why help the process along? You can read all about the different types of hearing loss here, but one thing you can immediately implement into your listening habits is to try to keep your music to below 85dB. That is the maximum exposure recommended by the NIOSH if you like your ears and would like to continue using them into your old age.
For a nice clean sound, get the HD 650s
For this category we’re leaving the world of punchy extravagant bass for more of a neutral sound. And if you want premium neutral sound, it’s hard to beat a Sennheiser product. Specifically the HD 650s in this case. 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.
Sennheiser HD 650
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 HD 650s are made of lightweight aluminum and only weigh about 272 grams. While they’re not what you’d expect for bass headphones, they do the job nicely and give you a clean representation of what your work will sound like.
If you’re a gamer, check out the Custom One Pros from Beyerdynamic
I’m not much of a car guy but German engineering is a thing right? That must bleed over into headphones as well because Beyerdynamic has consistently had great quality headphones for both and the average person. But the Custom One Pros combine the two, so if you want accuracy at home and bass while on the go these are perfect for you. What makes these headphones so unique is a small slider on the bottom of the ear cup that lets you choose between four different sound style: light bass, linear, vibrant bass, or heavy bass. Say you’re listening to something classical and would prefer not having too much embellishment on your music, you can simply slide it over to “linear” which has the flattest sound.
Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro
If you then want to switch it up and listen to some EDM, you can slide it over to “heavy bass” and everywhere in between. These headphones can be as versatile as your music taste. Besides having a fairly customizable sound, you can also customize the way your headphones look with different colors. There are 16 included designs in the box and you can get more at their website. On top of that you can also replace the ear and headband pads if you get bored with the ones they come with. Not to mention that these have a detachable microphone that you can use for gaming.
If you want Beats, check out the Beats Solo Pro on-ears
You’d be hard-pressed to find a list of bass-y headphones that don’t have a Beats product on them. While we haven’t always been… let’s say fans of the Beats sound signature, the Beats Solo Pro on-ears are a pair of headphones we can get behind. Not only do they handle the bass much better than some of the other products from the company, they always offer plenty of great features that make them a solid pair of headphones.
Beats Solo ProFull Review
For one, you’ll get some surprisingly good active noise cancelling which will help to block those outside sounds so you can focus on the music. Surprising because we weren’t impressed the noise cancelling of the Beats Studio3 wireless headphones when they were released, and also because these are a pair of on-ears which usually have poor isolation to begin with. The microphone quality is also pretty decent here, but the best par
Whyt is that you’ll get around 22 hours of battery life. On top of that these have the H1 chip built-in so if you use an iOS device pairing is a breeze. Of course, they are still overpriced, but they’re actually a really good pair of cans.
For a value-packed pair of cans, check out the Sony MDRXB800 headphones
If you’re not a fan of Beats or don’t want to shell out too much money, then the Sony MDRXB800s are the way to go. Sony doesn’t really make bad audio products, and these are proof. The MDRX700s were a favorite among Sony customers but since those were discontinued, these are the next best thing. The MDRXB800s are an inexpensive pair of headphones for the average bass headphones lover, but they give also do justice to the mids and highs.
Sony MDRXB800 Extra Bass
Large 50mm drivers push the big sound and thanks to the comfortable padding you can listen for as long as you want. Though these are technically over-ears, the fit more closely resembles on-ears in that there’s no depression to fit around your ears. Instead they sit flat on top of them which is a little weird if you’re not used to on-ears, but you’ll get used to it. These also fold down for travel which is good news for commuters.
Interested in Beats?
One company is known for their emphasis in the low end, and that’s Beats. While many people scoff at the idea of recommending a pair of Beats headphones, we don’t see a problem with it if a strong bass is what you’re after. While the Beats Solo Pro headphones are a great pair of cans there are other options as well. Make sure to check out this list of the best Beats headphones before making your decision. If you can’t stand the thought of buying a pair of Beats then don’t worry because we also have a list for the best alternatives. Whatever you’re after hopefully we have you covered with those two lists!
Why you should trust us
The team at SoundGuys aren’t just writers, we’re also all deeply invested in finding the best audio products on the markets and trying to share our passion with the internet. Whether that means interviewing experts on hearing loss or reviewing a bunch of waterproof speakers, we do whatever it takes to get to the truth and inform our readers. Everyone on our team consists of people with years of experience in radio, product reviews, product testing in the lab, studio experience, and of course journalism. And if you’re ever worried that we’re being paid for something, don’t worry. It’s against our ethics policy to receive a dime from any company for a favorable review. Our writers get paid based on output (aka how much hard work they put in). Our pay isn’t based on which products get a food review and which don’t.
Frequently Asked Questions
Open back and closed back refers to the physical build of a set of headphones. Open backs do not block out room noise nearly as much as closed backs, but open backs deliver a purer sound because there are less echos produced by the sound rebounding off of the headphone walls. When it comes to choosing between the two types for a bass boost, you'll want to go with closed back because the enclosed space amplifies bass tones. However, it can also can create tiny echoes or have slower response times because of the high pressure in the chamber behind the drivers. Open back headphones have a harder time emphasizing bass, but what bass tones they do emphasize are almost always more accurate because there's no force against the driver from the back side. Regardless of which you choose, there's always the option to EQ your headphones to boost the bass from the sound source.