The 5 Best Headphones – In 2023 Reviews From A To Z
Not only should a good pair of headphones sound full and balanced, but they should also be comfortable, flexible, well-built, and full of features. There are some surprisingly good budget headphones, but the best ones usually have more extra features, like active noise canceling (ANC), dedicated companion apps for customizing, pairing with multiple devices, and NFC compatibility. Even though cheaper headphones often don’t have all of these high-end features, you can still find some that are well-rounded and versatile and offer great value.
We’ve tried out more than 710 different sets of headphones, and here are our top picks. Check out our recommendations for the best Bluetooth earbuds, the best wireless headphones, and the best headphones that block out noise.
1. Sony’s wireless WH-1000XM4
The best headphones we’ve tried so far are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. The ANC system in these premium over-ear headphones does a great job of blocking out background noises like rumbling engines and conversations, making them a great choice for commuting or traveling. With the ANC on, their battery lasts about 37 hours, so you don’t have to worry about running out of power on long days when you’re on the go. Sony just came out with a newer version of these headphones called the Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless. However, most people don’t find them as comfortable, and their ANC doesn’t do as well at blocking out noise in the bass range.
The default sound profile for these headphones is bass-heavy, which brings out the thump and rumble in genres like EDM and hip-hop. If you want a different sound, you can also change it in their companion app with a graphic EQ and presets. Even with the EQ, you might find their sound to be a little muddy and busy. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, you might want to look at the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless instead, which have a more neutral default sound profile and less bass overall. Their ANC, on the other hand, doesn’t block out as much noise, and their battery life isn’t as long.
2. A wireless Anker Soundcore Space Q45
The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless are the best upper mid-range headphones we’ve tried. These headphones are much cheaper than the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. However, they are not as well made or as comfortable, and they have a shorter battery life. Still, they have a lot of the same features and work about the same way to block out noise. Their ANC does a great job of blocking out a wide range of background noise, but it’s not as good as the Sony at blocking out low-frequency sounds like rumbling engines. You can manually set the ANC to different levels, or you can use the “Adaptive ANC” feature to make it adapt to your environment.
Their v-shaped default sound profile works well for pop and rock, and the companion app lets you change it with a graphic EQ and presets. They also work with LDAC, which is Sony’s own high-resolution audio codec. They can be used nonstop for about 27 hours and have physical controls in the form of buttons on the ear cups. This might be more convenient if you want to change the volume while wearing gloves. They don’t have virtual surround sound or customization options like button mapping like the Sony headphones do, but they do support pairing with multiple devices and NFC for faster pairing.
3. A wireless Anker Soundcore Life Q35
Instead, think about the Anker SoundCore Life Q35 Wireless if you want to spend a little less. These headphones are just as comfortable and well-made as the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless. Their ANC system doesn’t block out as much noise as that of the Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless, but it still works well with a wide range of noises. You can also set it up in different ways for different uses. Their battery lasts about 44 hours of continuous use with ANC on, which is great for long trips, and they can be paired with more than one device at once if you need to use your phone and computer at the same time.
Their sound is heavy on bass, which makes the thump and rumble in genres like EDM stand out. If you want a different sound, you can also use the companion app’s graphic EQ and presets to change how it sounds. They have the LDAC codec, which lets them send high-quality audio over Bluetooth. But the sound is different when the ANC is on or off. When it’s off, the sound is more hollow and thin than when it’s on. If you care more about sound quality than noise cancellation, the Beyerdynamic might be a better choice. These headphones for audiophiles have a brighter, more analytical sound that can help bring out flaws in the sound but can also sound sharp. Their open-back design makes the soundstage seem bigger, but it also lets a lot of sound out and doesn’t block out background noise.
4. A wireless Anker Soundcore Life Q30
If you’re looking for a cheaper pair of headphones, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless is another option. They’re an earlier version of the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 and aren’t as well-built. But overall, they have better ANC than their predecessor and do a better job of blocking out low-frequency sounds like engine noise when you’re on the go. They can connect to more than one device and fit most people in the same way. With ANC on, their batteries last for about 44 hours straight, and they have an auto-off timer to help save power.
They have an excited sound profile that gives the audio extra bass and sparkly vocals, which makes them well-suited for genres like rock and pop. Their app also has a graphic EQ and presets that you can use to customize how their music sounds. Unfortunately, like the Q35, their sound seems more hollow and thin when the ANC is turned off. They have a worse mic overall, so if you want headphones for phone calls and online meetings, you might want to keep that in mind.
5. A wireless Anker Soundcore Life Q20
The best cheap headphones we’ve tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless. Yes, they are the fourth Anker pick in a row, but that just shows how well Anker dominates the lower end of the over-ear market. With these headphones, you can expect the same excited, thumping sound as with their successor, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. However, they are the first headphones on this list that don’t have extra features like an EQ to help you fine-tune the sound. If you want more bass, they do have a bass boost built in.
Unlike the more expensive options on this list, they also have trouble blocking out noises like bus engines that are in the bass range. Still, they have a good ANC system that can block out office chatter and the hum of AC units. They can be used passively in a pinch and can play music for more than 32 hours straight. The way they fit is also comfortable enough for long periods of listening. Even though they are pretty well made, the hinges feel hollow and plasticky, so they may not be the most durable headphones. But at this price point, it’s pretty common for the quality of the build to be low.
The earbuds and headphones we suggested above are what we think are the best ones for most people to buy right now. We take into account the price (cheaper headphones win over more expensive ones if the difference isn’t worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
Here is a list of all our headphone reviews, in case you want to choose for yourself. Don’t let yourself get lost in the details. There is no perfect pair of headphones. Your tastes, preferences, and listening habits will be more important than anything else when making your choice.