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 July 22, 2021, to include the Sony WH-XB900N as a notable mention, add more information on Beats Solo Pro, and fix typos and gallery images.
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 its headphones. If you want a pair of headphones that are good at everything, check out the V-MODA Crossfade M-100. This has an industrial design complete with exposed screws and metal.
V-MODA Crossfade M-100Full Review
Each ear cup has a 50mm driver baked into it which gives the M100 an impressive and accurate bass response. You can use the Crossfade M100 throughout the entire day. When not in use you can fold the headset at the hinges and toss it in the included hard-shell carrying case. The V-MODA Crossfade M100 comes 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 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 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 just 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 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 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 650
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 650 in this case. This has an open back design to help you get a more natural sound out of your music. If you thought the ATH-M50X has an accurate sound, wait until you hear this.
Sennheiser HD 650Full Review
The cable ends in a 1/4” connector and though it comes with a 3.5mm adapter to plug into your phone, don’t be fooled: this isn’t meant for your typical smartphone. Will it work? Sure. But if you really want to get the full experience, you’re probably going to need a decent portable amp as well.
The ear pads make the HD 650 comfortable enough for all-day listening, and it has a nice and neutral sound if you’re into that. Not to mention that the HD 650 is made of lightweight aluminum and only weighs about 272g. While it’s not what you’d expect for bass headphones, it does the job nicely and gives you a clear representation of what your work will sound like.
If you’re a gamer, check out the Custom One Pro from Beyerdynamic
The Custom One Pro combines lets you toggle the bass response with hardware bass ports. You can adjust the sliders to choose between four sound styles: light bass, linear, vibrant bass, or heavy bass. Say you’re listening to something classical and would prefer not to have too much bass response on your music, you can simply slide it over to “linear” which has the most neutral 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 this has 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 is a pair of headphones we can get behind. Not only does it handle the bass much better than some of the other products from the company, but it also offers plenty of great features that make it 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. We weren’t impressed with the noise cancelling of the Beats Studio3 wireless headphones when they were released, but the Solo Pro is an improvement. You’re still dealing with the limitations of on-ear headphones, which by design cannot seal over the ear like big brother over-ear designs utilizing passive isolation in concert with ANC. On-ears are a matter of taste and usually a touch more portable.
The microphone quality is also pretty decent here, but the best part 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 MDR-XB800 headphones
If you’re not a fan of Beats or don’t want to shell out too much money, then the Sony MDR-XB800 is the way to go. Sony doesn’t really make bad audio products, and these are proof. The MDR-XB800 is an inexpensive pair of headphones for the average bass headphones lover, but it also does 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 this is technically a pair of over-ears, the fit more closely resembles on-ears in that there’s no depression to fit around your ears. The headset also folds down for travel which is good news for commuters.
Interested in Beats?
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 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 of the best alternatives. Whatever you’re after, hopefully, we have you covered with those two lists!
Best headphones for bass: Notable mentions
- Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2: These true wireless earbuds bridge the gap between super bass-y and still clear audio. So long as you can get a proper seal with the ear tips, you should find that bass is emphasized while other frequencies are represented relatively accurately. You can also EQ the sound signature in the companion app.
- Anker Soundcore Life A1: This pair of true wireless earphones pumps out a maddening level of bass, reserved for die-hard bassheads.
- Beats Powerbeats Pro: These true wireless earbuds have a strong bass response but still sound great across the rest of the frequency spectrum. What’s more, they have an IPX4 rating and ear hooks, so they’re great for working out.
- Sony WF-1000XM3: These true wireless buds find a beautiful balance between bass emphasis and clarity in the rest of the spectrum. The midrange frequencies also get boosted a bit, reducing the effect of auditory masking on vocals and other midrange instruments.
- 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. These are for the wireless basshead who wants the benefits of ANC and LDAC codecs.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
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 to put in a favorable review, don’t worry. It’s against our ethics policy to receive a dime from any company for promotions or reviews. 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 good review and which don’t.
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.