The Best Headphones For 2024 (Comparison)

Best Headphones Comparison

Looking for the best headphones on the market this year? You’re in the right place.

We trawled the market to pick out the very best in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear headphones for every budget. Then, we put them to the test and reviewed each of them in-depth so that you don’t have to.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about each of our top picks, including their specs, pros and cons, and key features. 

Plus, if you stick around until the end, we’ll also be answering some of the most commonly-asked questions about headphones to help you learn what to look for when you’re shopping around.

The best headphones – summary


  1. Sony WH-1000XM5 – Best headphones for most users (balancing price, features, and audio quality)
  2. Sony MDR-ZX110 – Best budget headphones
  3. Beyerdynamic DT 990 – Best for professional audio applications (e.g. mixing/mastering/editing)
  4. Sennheiser Momentum 4 – Best for audio quality and features
  5. Bose 700 – Best noise canceling headphones (ANC)
  6. Sony WF-C500 – Best wireless earbuds
  7. Sennheiser HD650 – Best for audiophiles (sound quality + comfort)
  8. Apple AirPods Pro 2 – Best wireless earbuds w/ noise cancellation
  9. Sony MDRXB55AP – Best wired in-ear headphones
  10. Sennheiser HD599 – Best headphones for comfort + sound quality that won’t break the bank
  11. JBL Tune 230NC TWS – Best budget wireless earbuds

#1 –  Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones

Best headphones for most users (balancing price, features, and audio quality)

The Sony WH-1000XM5 is our top pick for the overall best headphones in the world right now. If you’re in the market for a good all-around pair of noise-canceling headphones, this is as good as it gets.

The XM5 builds on everything that was already great about the XM4. Sony has really stepped up its game when it comes to sound performance, and the latest model features more clarity and definition than before thanks to the new Integrated Processor V1.

And the noise cancellation has had a big upgrade too. The XM5s boasts industry-leading adaptive ANC that automatically adapts to your environment and wearing conditions to block out just the right amount of noise.

This is seriously cutting-edge stuff. The Auto NC Optimizer literally learns your behavior and recognizes locations that you frequently visit, then uses that data to tailor the noise cancellation. 

Then there’s the Speak-to-Chat feature, which knows when you start a conversation and automatically starts letting in ambient sound. And in general, the ANC now does a much better job of blocking out mid- and high-end frequencies compared to the previous model.

The advanced features don’t end there, either. One of our favorite new features is the XM5s support for multipoint connections. You can now pair it with not one, but two Bluetooth devices simultaneously. 

So you could be listening to music on your laptop at home and have it paired with your smartphone at the same time. If you get a call, your headphones will automatically know it’s ringing and switch over to your mobile automatically. Or you can just switch between them automatically in one touch.

We really like the design of the XM5s too. They’re beautifully finished and look slick and elegant. And the lightweight materials mean there’s less pressure on the head and ears so you can wear them for longer with minimal discomfort. 


  • Fit type: Over-ear
  • Design: Closed-back
  • Frequency response: 4Hz to 40kHz
  • Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC
  • Battery life: 30 hours
  • Noise-canceling? Yes
  • Built-in mic? Yes

Pros and cons

Outstanding audio performanceQuite expensive
Advanced featuresNot fully foldable
Fantastic adaptive ANC
Stylish design

#2 – Sony MDR-ZX110

Sony MDR-ZX110 Headphones

Best budget headphones

If the WH-1000 XM5 is out of your price range, the Sony MDR-ZX110 might be a better fit. This is another great product from Sony with a much, much more affordable price tag.

Given the cost, we were pleasantly surprised by the sound quality of the ZX110s. Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t going to be winning any awards. But for budget headphones, they’re not bad at all. 

The quality is much better than the vast majority of other headphones in a similar price range and they do an overall adequate job at music reproduction, delivering full, balanced sound across the frequency spectrum. 

The ZX110s are on-ear headphones, so the earpads don’t go completely around your ears. This makes them more comfortable and easier to wear for long periods without your ears getting too hot.

There’s plenty of cushioning, and they’re fairly lightweight. The swivel, foldable design makes them nice and compact so you can fit them in your bag, and the tangle-free cables seem to be durable enough.

Keep in mind that there’s no mic on this model, so you won’t be able to take hands-free calls. 

But overall, the Sony MDR-ZX110 is a solid option. When it comes to value for money, there’s no better option. Just don’t set your expectations too high going in (after all, they’re still budget headphones).


  • Fit type: On-ear
  • Design:  Closed-back
  • Frequency response: 12 Hz to 22 kHz
  • Bluetooth codecs: N/A
  • Battery life: N/A 
  • Noise-canceling? No
  • Built-in mic? Available

Pros and cons

Super cheapMediocre sound quality
Comfortable on-ear fitNo noise cancellation
Great value for money

#3 – Beyerdynamic DT 990

Beyerdynamic DT 990 Headphones

Best for professional audio applications (e.g. mixing/mastering/editing)

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 is our go-to recommendation for audio professionals. Its unique set of specs and features makes it perfect for studio applications and professional mixing, mastering, and editing.

Beyerdynamic is known for its outstanding sound quality, and the DT 990s are no exception. This is German engineering at its finest.

Most consumer headphones color the sound to some degree. This is great for casual listeners, but it’s something professional users like music producers and mixing engineers are better off avoiding. It’s important to aim for balance and choose a pair of headphones that reproduces sound the way the artist intended.

And the DT 990s excel in that area. These are a true pair of studio headphones that offers extremely transparent sound, impressive spaciousness, and detailed resolution.

Producers will appreciate the wide stereo image and three-dimensional sound reproduction. And the phenomenal tonal depth ensures that you can perceive even the smallest changes in the positioning of the music source.

The open-back design allows air to flow through freely and creates a more realistic sense of auditory space. And the overall build quality is excellent. The fit is nice and secure thanks to the spring steel headband design and the cables don’t tangle easily.


  • Fit type: Over-ear
  • Design: Open-back
  • Frequency response: 5 – 35,000 Hz
  • Bluetooth codecs: N/A
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Noise-canceling? No 
  • Built-in mic? No

Pros and cons

Very transparent soundLeaks sound
Ideal for mixing and audio productionNo mic or noise cancellation
Durable constructionWired headphones
Secure fit

#4 – Sennheiser Momentum 4

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Headphones

Best for audio quality and features 

The Sennheiser Momentum 4 offers outstanding audio quality that audiophiles will appreciate  thanks to the 42mm transducer system  It also has a bunch of cool features like personalized smart sound control and adaptive noise cancellation. Plus, it has one of the longest battery lives we’ve seen.

One of the best things about the Momentum 4 is the level of personalization it offers. You can download the Sennheiser Smart Control App to your phone and tailor the sound to your individual listening preferences. 

There’s a fully-integrated equalizer and a bunch of presets and modes that you can toggle between in a few clicks. If you’re particular about the way you like to enjoy music, this is a nice feature to have.

Other smart features we appreciate include the built-in Transparency Mode, automatic wind noise suppression, and adaptive ANC. 

The battery life on the Momentum 4 is outstanding. You get a whopping 60 hours of playback time. And it charges lightning fast too—just 10 minutes gets you 6 hours of listening.


  • Fit type: Over-ear
  • Design: Closed-back
  • Frequency response: 6Hz-22,000Hz
  • Bluetooth codecs: N/A
  • Battery life: 60 hours
  • Noise-canceling? Yes
  • Built-in mic? Yes

Pros and cons

Great for audiophilesEar cups seem small
Outstanding sound qualityDesign is a little boring
Excellent personalization
Superb battery life

#5 – Bose 700

Bose 700 Headphones

Best noise canceling headphones (ANC)

The Bose 700 doesn’t mess around when it comes to noise cancellation. The ANC works super well and shuts out all external noise so you can really immerse yourself in the music. 

While it’s true that most headphones these days come with some sort of noise cancellation, Bose 700 takes it to the next level. There are 11 levels of noise canceling to choose from so you can personalize it to match your environment. 

If you’re in a noisy cafe trying to get some work done, crank it up to the max and all that hubbub will disappear. But if you’re crossing the street and you need to keep an ear open for approaching vehicles, turn it down low and you’ll still be able to hear just enough ambient noise.

The noise-canceling effects even extend to the built-in mic. You can be on a call outside on a super windy day and your voice will still come through crystal clear. That’s thanks to the four-mic system that picks up and isolates your voice while canceling environmental noise.

But of course, it’s not only the ANC that makes the Bose 700 worth buying. Even if you take that away, it’s a solid pair of headphones. 

Sound quality is at least on par with the latest Sony MX series models. Audio sounds crisp, clear, and well-balanced at every volume level thanks to the signature active EQ. And you get a deep, full bass.

They’re comfy too. And they include some cutting-edge features like voice assistant optimization (Alexa and Google Assistant) and intuitive touch control that actually works (unlike some competitor models).

If we had to nitpick, our one gripe would be the battery life. You still get up to 20 hours of non-stop music, which isn’t bad—but we’ve seen better.


  • Fit type: Over-ear
  • Design: N/A
  • Frequency response: N/A
  • Bluetooth codecs: SBC and AAC
  • Battery life: 20 hours
  • Noise-canceling? Yes
  • Built-in mic? Yes

Pros and cons

Best-in-class ANCBattery life could be better
Well-balanced sound
Cutting-edge features
Durable and comfortable construction

#6 – Sony WF-C500

Sony WF-C500 Earphones

Best wireless earbuds

If you prefer in-air to over-ear headphones, you can’t go wrong with the Sony WF-C500. These are our favorite wireless earbuds thanks to their excellent audio quality, snug ergonomic fit, sophisticated feature set, and outstanding value for money.

We’d go as far as to say the C500s are the best earbuds on the market right now, at least when you factor in the price. Sony has managed, somehow, to create a budget-friendly set of earbuds without cutting too many corners. 

Quality, comfort, and performance are all comparable to their much-more-expensive WF-1000XM4s, but at a much less intimidating price tag.

The sound quality is good thanks to Sony’s Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE), which restores the high-frequency sounds that are lost in compression. And you can fine-tune your sound through the Sony Headphones Connect app to your personal tastes.

The ergonomic surface design allows for a more stable fit that matches the ear cavity, and the rounded shape makes them very comfortable. No more sharp edges digging into your skin and ruining your listening experience! Just make sure you choose the right tips for a snug fit.

These earbuds are good for up to 10 hours of battery life. But that doubles up to 20 hours once you factor in the pocket-sized charging case that comes with them.

We also appreciate that the WF-C500s are splash- and sweat-resistant, so you can wear them in all weather conditions and take them out with you when you go for a jog. And the built-in mic comes in super useful for when you want to take hands-free calls.


  • Fit type: In-ear
  • Design: N/A
  • Frequency response: N/A
  • Bluetooth codecs: SBC & AAC
  • Battery life: 10 hours (20 w/ charging case)
  • Noise-cancelling? No
  • Built-in mic? Yes

Pros and cons

Excellent value for moneySound quality is good, but not great
Good sound qualityAverage battery life
Water resistant and durable
Ergonomic fit

#7 – Sennheiser HD650

Sennheiser HD650 Headphones

Best for audiophiles (sound quality + comfort)

The Sennheiser HD650 is the obvious choice for audiophiles who are serious about sound. It offers best-in-class performance, reproducing subtle musical details with non-fatiguing sound and expertly-balanced acoustics for an outstanding Hi-Fi listening experience.

Here are some facts and figures for all you discerning Hi-Fi enthusiasts out there.

The total harmonic distortion (THD) of the HD650s is an impressive 0.05 percent. That’s thanks to the specially-designed acoustic silk, which ensures precision dampening over the whole frequency range.

Speaking of the frequency range, these cans reach up to a whopping 41 kHz with near-perfect consistency. 

If that all sounds like a lot of jargon to you, all you need to know is this: They sound incredible. The in-house acoustics are best-in-class.

The headphones also come with a detachable, impedance-matched 3m-long cable and 6.3mm stereo connector, so you can connect it to devices like headphone amplifiers, A/V receivers, and all your other audiophile gear. There’s also a premium adapter that can reduce the 6.3mm connector to 3.5mm if needed.


  • Fit type: Over-ear
  • Design: Open-back
  • Frequency response: 10 – 41,000 Hz
  • Bluetooth codecs: N/A
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Noise-canceling? No 
  • Built-in mic? No

Pros and cons

Purpose-built for audiophilesNot the best choice for casual listeners
Natural, well-balanced, and transparent soundExpensive
Elegant finishNo noise cancellation
Very durable and comfortable

#8 – Apple AirPods Pro 2

Apple AirPods Pro 2 Earphones

Best wireless earbuds w/ noise cancellation

The Apple AirPods Pro 2 are another great choice if you’re looking for a solid, comfortable pair of wireless earbuds. They’re a big jump up from the first generation of AirPods in terms of the fit thanks to the customizable silicone tips, and the specs are a lot better too.

The new H2 chip and low-distortion, custom-built driver has dramatically improved audio performance. Not only do they deliver an incredibly immersive sound with crisp, clear high notes and rich bass, but the ANC is also twice as good as previous models.

Adaptive Transparency adjusts the level of noise cancellation in real-time, so you can comfortably hear as much of the world around you as you need without it impacting your listening experience.

We really like the Personalized Spatial Audio feature, which totally immerses you in the sound. You’ll feel like you’re right there in the movie or at a live concert.

The earbuds also come with a super-cool case that’s jam-packed with new tech, and four pairs of silicone tips in different sizes. And of course, they work really well alongside Apple products like iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs.


  • Fit type: In-ear
  • Design: N/A
  • Frequency response: N/A
  • Bluetooth codecs: N/A
  • Battery life: 6 hours (30 hours w/charging case)
  • Noise-canceling? Yes
  • Built-in mic? Yes

Pros and cons

Excellent audio performanceA little expensive
Plays well with Apple productsNot very durable
Adaptive ANC
Cutting-edge case

#9 – Sony MDRXB55AP

Sony MDRXB55AP Earphones

Best wired in-ear headphones

Sony MDRXB55AP are wired earbuds that give you plenty of bang for your buck. They’re super affordable with a nice adjustable fit and a robust tangle-free cable. 

They offer a deep, punchy sound with extra bass thanks to the Powered Bass Duct++ technology that’ll make you feel like you’re at the club.

But again, we’re very much in the budget category here. These earbuds aren’t going to win any prizes for audio quality, but they perform much better than other models in the same price range, which is why they made the cut.

The cable has an in-line mic so you can take calls without having to touch your smartphone, and they come with 4 sizes of tips for a comfortable fit.

There’s not much else to say. If you’re on a budget and you’re looking for earbuds rather than headphones, these are your best bet.


  • Fit type: In-ear
  • Design: N/A
  • Frequency response: N/A
  • Bluetooth codecs: N/A
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Noise-canceling? No 
  • Built-in mic? Yes

Pros and cons

Very affordableNot wireless
Good bassMediocre sound quality
Fairly comfortable

#10 – Sennheiser HD599

Sennheiser HD599 Headphones

Best headphones for comfort + sound quality that won’t break the bank

The Sennheiser HD599 open-back headphones are one of the most comfortable pairs we’ve tried. It features plush padding and luxurious velour-covered ear pads that reduce pressure on the ears, so you can listen for hours without any discomfort. And it’s pretty affordable too.

There’s a lot to like about these Sennheisers. The audio quality is excellent. They’ve opted for an around-ear, open-back acoustic design that allows for an impressively open sound. And the transducers use aluminum voice coils that deliver excellent dynamics and super-low distortion.

But what we like most about the HD599s is how comfortable and stylish they are. 

The premium materials look as good as they feel. There’s just something about the overall design and ivory/brown color scheme that has a timeless sophistication that we really like.


  • Fit type: Over-ear
  • Design: Open-back
  • Frequency response: 14 – 26,000 Hz
  • Bluetooth codecs: N/A
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Noise-canceling? No 
  • Built-in mic? N/A

Pros and cons

Incredibly comfortableNo noise cancellation
Sophisticated designAudio quality is very good but not best-in-class
Premium materials
Good audio quality

#11 – JBL Tune 230NC TWS

JBL Tune 230NC TWS Earphones

Best budget wireless earbuds

Last but not least, we have the JBL Tune 230NC TWS. These are our top-recommended wireless earbuds for anyone on a tight budget. 

While not quite as cheap as the Sony MDRXB55APs, the value for money of the JBLs is a little better. They offer many of the same premium features as high-end earbuds like the AirPods Pro 2—including ANC and water resistance—but for a fraction of the cost.

They utilize smart-designed 10mm drivers to deliver outstanding bass, and smart ambient ANC means you can tune in or out of your surroundings without having to take your headphones out.

The battery life on these is also superb. At 40 hours (10 plus 30 with the charging case), you can go longer between charges compared to most other earbuds. And when you do have to charge, it only takes 10 minutes to get an additional 2 hours of playtime.


  • Fit type: In-ear
  • Design: N/A
  • Frequency response: N/A
  • Bluetooth codecs: N/A
  • Battery life: 10 (40 w/charging case)
  • Noise-canceling? Yes
  • Built-in mic? Yes

Pros and cons

Excellent value for moneyAudio quality is good but could be better
Good battery life
Decent noise cancellation
Excellent bass

Best headphones FAQ

What is ANC?

ANC stands for active noise cancellation. It’s a common feature amongst higher-end headphones and can help to reduce or eliminate background noises so that you can completely immerse yourself in the audio coming through your headphones.

What makes active noise cancellation different than—and arguably, superior to—passive noise cancellation is the way in which it eliminates that external noise. 

Passive noise cancellation simply seals out unwanted noise using well-designed ear cups, but active noise cancellation takes a more sophisticated approach. 

It utilizes an advanced system that ‘listens’ to the sounds coming in from the outside, inverts the soundwaves, then emits them from the internal speaker to neutralize or cancel out the unwanted noise.

Open-back vs closed-back headphones: What’s the difference?

The key difference between open-back and closed-back headphones is that open-back headphones allow air to pass through the ear cups from the rear of the speaker driver, whereas closed-back headphones don’t.

High-end headphones tend to be open back as the flow of air enables the headphones to recreate a more realistic sense of auditory spaces and allow for a more natural, clear sound. 

In contrast, headphones with closed backs can amplify low-frequency sounds due to the resonance of the sealed chamber. 

This makes open-back headphones the obvious choice for things like mixing and mastering in which you need to be able to hear the music the way the artist intended.

On the other hand, closed-back headphones have the advantage of being able to more effectively block out external sound and are less likely to ‘leak’ sound into the surroundings. This makes them a better choice for commuting and casual listening.

What is frequency response?

Frequency response is an important specification that tells you the range of sound the headphones can reproduce. 

The ideal frequency response range will cover the whole audible spectrum of 20 Hz to 20 kHz as these are the frequencies humans are capable of hearing.

However, it’s important to note that the given frequency response range in the manufacturer’s specs may not tell the whole story. 

For example, a pair of headphones may have a frequency range of 20hz to 20kHz, which suggests it should sound pretty great. But this doesn’t tell us which frequencies are over- or under-produced.

It may be that the headphones struggle with higher frequencies and have a large dip in amplitude (dB) from 1kHz to 2kHz, which would mean the actual sound produced is poor-quality relative to the intended audio signal.

For the sake of brevity, we’ve only included the manufacturer’s given frequency response range in the specs table for each of the headphones in this article. 

But if you really want to dig into the data to explore how it performs at given frequencies, you can look for a frequency response graph online, which plots frequency against amplitude.

What does the Bluetooth codec mean?

Most wireless headphones rely on Bluetooth to connect to your smart device and transmit music and audio between them. The Bluetooth codec tells you how Bluetooth media is transmitted.

The best Bluetooth codec will be the one that provides optimal quality and connection stability, and this will depend on the device you’re using. 

For example, AAC is the only high-quality Bluetooth codec that’s supported by iOS devices. So if you’re using an iPhone or other Apple product with your headphones, you’ll want to look for headphones that support AAC.

How do I connect wireless headphones to my device?

The exact process of connecting wireless headphones to your device will differ depending on the device and headphones you’re using.

As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to put your headphones into pairing mode first. This may require you to click or hold down a button. 

Then, you’ll need to turn Bluetooth on (you can usually do this through the settings app on your smartphone) and search for devices. Finally, find your headphones in the list of available devices and tap it to complete the pairing, and you should be ready to go.

Final thoughts

That concludes our comparison of the best headphones available right now. 

All of the headphones in this list offer different pros and cons. But the right choice for you will depend on how much you want to spend and what your priorities are when it comes to specs, features, comfort, etc.

If you’re still not sure which one to choose, here are our top picks:

  • The Sony WH-1000XM5 are the best headphones if you’re not looking for anything specific and just want a good all-rounder. They offer exemplary audio quality, a stylish and minimalist design, world-class noise cancellation, and superb comfort.
  • The Sony MDR-ZX110 are the best budget headphones if you’re on a tight budget and you don’t need all the bells and whistles. They’re incredibly affordable and offer excellent value for money. And despite the budget price point, the audio quality isn’t bad. They’re definitely lacking in some areas, but they do the job.
  • The Beyerdynamic DT 990 are the best headphones for professional audio applications like mixing and mastering. The extremely detailed resolution and transparent sound make them perfect for studio applications. If you’re an audio producer, there’s no better choice.

We hope you found this helpful. Enjoy!