Bass is one of the most divisive aspects of sound. Some people prefer to have headphones and speakers that give their music a little extra power in the low end while others prefer more of a neutral sound. 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 January 14, 2022, to include the Sony WH-1000XM4, Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 Wireless, Skullcandy Crusher Wireless, Campfire Audio Honeydew, and JBL Quantum 350, and to add to the Notable mentions section.
Whatever your preference, you can’t go wrong with the Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony makes plenty of bass-heavy headsets and even slaps its “XB” moniker onto a whole suite of headsets and speakers, so it may come as a surprise to see the Sony WH-1000XM4 listed as the best headphones for bass for most listeners. We recommend this headset for its gently amplified bass notes that stand out from the mids without masking too much detail. It’s also a great headset for commuters thanks to its stellar active noise cancelling (ANC) and travel-friendly build and carrying case.
Sony WH-1000XM4Full Review
Whether you use an Android phone or an iPhone, you can use the Sony Headphones Connect app to personalize your listening experience. From the app, you can play with a five-band custom EQ to amplify the bass even more, or choose from a handful of presets depending on the content you’re enjoying. Aside from sound quality, the app also lets you enable Sony 360 Reality Audio for 3D sound from compatible streaming services like Amazon Music and Tidal. You can also toggle things like automatic play/pause and prioritize connection or sound quality.
It's easy to tweak the WH-1000XM4 sound from the Headphones Connect app.
With Bluetooth 5.0, you can stream over the SBC, AAC, and LDAC Bluetooth codecs, and you can even plug in via the aux cable for lossless playback. Battery life is very good at just shy of 20 hours with ANC on, and you can fast charge the WH-1000XM4 with its included USB-C cable: just 10 minutes of charge yields five hours of playback.
While there’s a ton to love about the Sony WH-1000XM4 one thing we aren’t in love with is the $348 USD price. Fortunately, many of Sony’s headsets often go on promotion during different times of the year, and the WH-1000XM4 can even dip to $248 USD from time to time. If you’re someone who wants a feature-packed headset that’s comfortable for hours-long listening sessions and looks as great as it sounds, Sony’s flagship headset is a great pick.
What you should know about the best headphones for bass
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 “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, low frequencies (512Hz and below) are reproduced notably louder than mids. This happens because audio engineers for headphone manufacturers intentionally tune the drivers this way. While not everyone likes a heavy dose of bass to their music, many of us do. After all, that’s why you’re here! The drawback to this, is that a great output differential between bass and mids can lead to masking of the quieter midrange notes, which makes it harder to perceive other instrumental detail from your music.
Still not getting enough bass? It could be poor isolation
If you already have a pair of headphones and you’re just not getting enough bass out of it, the problem might not be the headset 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 another example of 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 prioritizes as 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. When you wear in-ears, it’s likewise important to get a good seal at your ear canal entrances.
Can bass headphones cause hearing loss?
A set of bass-heavy headphones can’t cause hearing loss just because you don it on, but if you increase the volume too much (on any headset), you could damage your hearing.
You should be mindful of how loud you’re listening to your music. Exposing your ears to great volume levels for extended (or even short) periods of time can damage the tiny hairs in your ear that are responsible for transferring vibrations. The fewer 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 accelerate the process?
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(SPL). Many modern smartphones have volume limiters for this reason, so you can essentially set and forget it for safe listening. 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 great design, get the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 Wireless
Anyone who appreciates a subdued, luxurious design will fall in love with the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 Wireless. This headset is not for vegans as it uses a leather headband. Still, the stylish design and beautifully wrapped memory foam ear pads sit comfortably for 90 minutes at a time. This isn’t quite as comfortable as Sony or Bose’s flagship headsets, but it’s the price you pay for style.
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 WirelessFull Review
This noise cancelling headset has plenty to offer like SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Low Latency streaming over Bluetooth 5.0. Sennheiser is no stranger to hi-fi audio, and includes a headphone jack for those who want to fully dive into their FLAC file library. Bass notes sound twice as loud as mids, making them the loudest part of any mix with this headset.
You can adjust the EQ from the Sennheiser Smart Control app (iOS and Android), and handily, the app also supports Tile tracking in case you misplace the MOMENTUM 3 Wireless. The app isn’t quite as stable as others but you can toggle between three ANC modes (anti-pressure, anti-wind, and maximum). You may also disable ANC completely and use this headset as a standard pair of wireless headphones, which isn’t always the case.
Sennheiser’s noise cancelling performance won’t blow you away with the MOMENTUM 3 Wireless but it’s better than nothing at all. Still, it’s important to know that the bulk of your money goes towards design and sound quality here, rather than advanced features or durability ratings. If you don’t mind the middling battery performance, and value premium build quality above all else, you’ll like all that the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 3 Wireless brings to the table.
The Skullcandy Crusher Wireless is a resilient pair of bass headphones
Headphones for bass don’t need to be expensive, and that’s where the Skullcandy Crusher Wireless comes in. At just $99 USD, you can enjoy a bass-heavy sound, solid battery life, and a portable build.
Skullcandy Crusher WirelessFull Review
What really makes the Crusher Wireless stand out from the rest of the pack is its bass response slider on the left headphone. You can move this slider up or down to increase or decrease the bass response accordingly. When the bass slider is decreased all the way, the Crusher Wireless has a pretty typical frequency response with slightly amplified bass notes that are louder than the low-mids. We like the flexibility of the bass slider, and that you don’t need to download an app to use it.
See also: Skullcandy Push Active review
The Skullcandy Crusher Wireless has some of the best battery life that we’ve tested with Bluetooth headphones coming in at 57 hours, 28 minutes. This is a great option for listeners who don’t want to top-up a headset every night, or who want to extend the life of their headset’s Li-ion batteries. While the microUSB charging really shows the headset’s 2016 release date, it still holds up today. At least it has fast charging whereby 10 minutes of charge provides 180 minutes of playtime.
Save a buck with the Monoprice BT-600ANC
The Monorpice BT-600ANC isn’t necessarily a unique headset, until you see its price. For $99 USD (often just $69 USD), you get great active noise cancelling, a compactable design, and Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX and AAC support. While the frequency response is a bit wonky, what with the bass notes sounding more than twice as loud as the mids, it’s just what we’re looking for in this best list.
Monoprice BT-600ANCFull Review
The active noise cancelling isn’t something to gloss over here, as low-frequency sounds are rendered anywhere from one-quarter to one-eighth their original loudness. To put it in perspective, this rivals the Sony WH-1000XM4, Bose QuietComfort 45, Bose QuietComfort 35 II, and even the Apple AirPods Max for a mere fraction of the cost.
You control playback and volume from a touch-sensitive panel on the right ear cup, and three buttons rest along the headset too. You can use the buttons to power the headset on/off, connect to Bluetooth, or alternate between ANC modes. The controls aren’t the best as they’re clustered fairly closely and are small, so accidental misfires are fairly common.
For $99 USD or less, the Monorpice BT-600ANC can do it all.
The Monoprice BT-600ANC lasts for just over 36 hours and recharges with the included USB-C cable. With the affordable price, Monoprice cut some corners, so the BT-600ANC lacks quick charging. Still, you can plug in via the 3.5mm headphone jack for wired playback if the battery dies unexpectedly.
The Campfire Audio Honeydew is lightweight, yet bass-heavy
Maybe headphones are a bit too clunky for you to use every day. If that’s the case, the Campfire Audio Honeydew is a great lightweight option with a unique design. The earbud cases have a bright yellow finish with a smooth gloss that feels good and doesn’t irritate the ear. Each housing has an MMCX connector for the detachable cable, which is great and means you can replace the cable should it break or fray.
Campfire Audio HoneydewFull Review
You get a whopping 11 pairs of ear tips to choose from that differ in size and material. Listeners who want a comfortable fit should reach for the foam ear tips, though the silicone ones may be easier if you pop the earbuds in and out frequently. While the Honeydew doesn’t have noise cancelling, its isolation is fine for regular use. It does a good job blocking out high-frequency sounds cafe din or chit-chat on a train car, but it won’t do much to quiet the sound of the same train car’s rumble.
Bass notes sound about twice as loud as mids and there is no software here to equalize the sound. Of course, that shouldn’t stop you from playing around with third-party EQ apps if you’re so inclined.
The Campfire Audio Honeydew is a no-nonsense pair of wired earbuds that’s made for music listening, and really not much else. If you want a pair of earbuds that stands out from the rest and want it to outlast wireless alternatives, the Honeydew is worth pocketing.
The best headphones for bass: Notable mentions
- Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro: This set of true wireless earbuds has a uniquely bass-heavy sound that you can equalize from the SoundCore app. The earbuds have an IPX4 rating and you get nine different-sized ear tips, along with a software ear tip fit test to get the best fit possible.
- Anker Soundcore Life A1: This pair of true wireless earphones pumps out a maddening level of bass, reserved for die-hard bassheads.
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2: If you want a more studio-friendly sound that still boosts bass a tad more than truly “flat” headphones, the ATH-M50xBT2 is a great option. This takes all that we love about the wired M50X and adds Bluetooth capabilities, with a long battery life that makes it more eco-friendly than its other wireless counterparts.
- Beats Powerbeats Pro: If you exercise and want a strong bass response with stellar battery life, this is the set of Beats for you. It may not be as compact as the Beats Fit Pro, but it holds its own with an IPX4 rating and secure ear hook design.
- Jabra Elite Active 75t: This set of noise cancelling earbuds has a particularly bass-heavy sound that’s bound to make an impression. We like the Elite 75t series because of Jabra’s mobile app (iOS and Android) that allows you to EQ the sound to your liking. The earbuds also have an IP57 rating, making them great for any sport.
- JBL Quantum 350: The JBL Quantum series is a great option for gamers who like a bit more oomph to their games from explosions than other headsets offer. For just shy of $100 USD, the Quantum 350 includes nice features like surround sound and a software EQ.
- Sony WF-1000XM4: This set of earbuds amplifies bass notes a bit more than mids, making for a standard consumer-friendly sound, save for the quiet treble reproduction. Sony’s flagship pair of true wireless earphones has the best noise cancelling around, with only the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds giving it a run for its money.
- Sony WH-XB900N: It’s in the name… somewhere… Extra Bass! Once you get the logical—but easily confusing—Sony naming scheme in your head, look for anything that says “XB” for Extra Bass. This is for the wireless basshead who wants the benefits of noise cancelling and the LDAC codec.
- Razer Kraken V3: If your love of gaming and bass overlap, you may want to get the $99 USD Kraken V3. This is a pretty basic gaming headset with a good microphone and spatial sound (Windows 10). It isn’t the best headset money can buy, but the bass sounds about twice as loud as mids by default.
- V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex: This set of Bluetooth headphones can withstand just about anything, and supports SBC, AAC, and aptX for high-quality streaming to any device. You can also enjoy wired audio thanks to the integrated headphone jack. Listeners who want a bit of bass emphasis without it completely masking the rest of the frequencies will enjoy V-MODA’s signature sound.
Should you get Beats headphones for bass?
One company is known for its emphasis on 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 is a solid ANC headset, it’s no longer in production. 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 of the best alternatives. Whatever you’re after, hopefully, we have you covered with those two lists!
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Next: The best JBL headphones
Frequently Asked Questions
The Apple AirPods Max were not designed to please bassheads. Though they do offer a slight bass emphasis in their sound signature, it is not dramatic by any means, and there are no customizable EQ options for these headphones.
Depending on what operating system you are using to listen to your music, you will likely need to go into the sound settings on your device. On an iPhone, for example, under Settings, Music, Playback, EQ, you can select a Bass Booster. Some operating systems allow for personalized equalizer settings, but a preset bass booster is an option on almost all. Additionally, depending on which streaming service you use, you will be offered a varying amount of freedom in changing your equalizing settings within that application. For example, Spotify Premium allows for very personalized EQ settings.
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.