The Best Headphones for Music Lovers to Buy in 2018
These days, headphones are one of the few cherished items that we keep with us at all times. Being able to listen to music, radio, podcasts, lectures and watch movies and videos on-the-go is not a luxury, but a necessity in 2017.
With so much entertainment at our fingertips 24/7, it’s important to have the best headphones possible (and, of course, within our budget). But with so many options (wireless, earbuds, noise-canceling, fitness-centric, etc.), it can be hard to pull the trigger on which to buy. So we’ve done your homework for you and selected the best headphones available in 2017, from the budget Skullcandy Uproar Wireless to the Bose QuietComfort 35. All you have to do is plug in and press play.
Best Overall: Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II)
When you combine best-in-class active-noise canceling and an extremely comfortable, fold-up headphone design, the result is the Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II). While the latest over-the-ear headphone in the QuietComfort line offers plenty to rave about, perhaps the most notable is that it’s the first in the series to be wireless. Weighing 8.32 ounces, the QuietComfort 35 (Series II) looks much like the QuietComfort 25. However, the QC35 does offer an additional piece of technology to the overall appearance with the Bluetooth toggle on the power switch. The headband offers 12 separate steps to provide maximum comfort, as well as allowing the earcups to rotate up to 90 degrees one way and five degrees in the other.
The oval-shaped design of the earcups attempt to fit over the whole ear to provide a heightened level of comfort over fully round earcups. Beyond the design, the Bluetooth wireless capability allows the QC35 to add multipoint pairing or connecting to two devices simultaneously via NFC. An LED battery indicator lets you know how much juice you have left (its said to last up to 20 hours on a single charge). If the battery runs out, the headphones work just fine when wired with the included cable.
Best WiFi: Beats Solo3
Music lovers have been hesitant to take the Beats plunge, worrying that the expensive price tag goes more to cover marketing budget than a quality product. But the latest generation of wireless headphones from the stylish line is their best-ever product, thanks to top of the line wireless connectivity.
As usual, the consumer can choose from a host of luxe colors. This line-up draws heavily from Apple’s palette, with classy but understated rose gold, silver and gold accented with white. But beyond the looks, these headphones have over 40 hours of battery life, good enough to last all week at the gym. They also have the option to take calls, control music, activate Siri and more. Class 1 Bluetooth pairing from a W1 chip has never been easier, with the device easily switching between wireless compatible devices without an issue and functioning from up to 75 feet away. Sound quality and comfort also make these headphones the pair to keep for years to come.
Best for Fitness: Jaybird X3 Sport Bluetooth Headset
There’s no denying the benefits of breaking a sweat to music: Studies show that listening to music while you work out increases your endurance by up to 15 percent. But no matter if you run to Rage Against the Machine or lift to Ludacris, you’ll want a pair that fit comfortably, can withstand sweat and hold a charge – not to mention, sound good. The Jaybird X3s deliver on all fronts. They ship with three different size eartips, in both silicone and Comply foam, that have a hydrophobic nano-coating to resist moisture, whether it’s from sweat or rain. The neckband-style earphones also include optional ear fins that sit securely on your ear, even under a helmet.
But comfortable earphones do you little good if the sound quality slacks. The X3’s 6mm driver yields a balanced bass and well-defined highs that can also be adjusted using the MySound app. Those settings will even follow you when you connect to other devices. Though they are small, they pack up to eight hours of playtime (though that’ll depend on your volume levels) and charge an hour’s worth of power in just 15 minutes.
Skullcandy is all about quality at an affordable cost. For many, on-ear headphones offer far more comfort than over-ear, as they do not rest on the head. Grind from Skullcandy is their latest on-ear offering with soft cushions, a high quality adjustable metal headband and plastic earcups. Grind headphones have a classic low-profile design that look cool and come in seven vibrant color schemes including orange, navy, grey and more.
The TapTech remote control – a button the side of the earcup - doubles as a mic for phone calls and makes it easy to control your music when you’re on the move. At less than $50, you get comfort that rivals what many $200 headphones offer. For the price, the sound quality is excellent, with accurate bass and clear mid-tones. If they have a downside, it’s that they don’t offer complete isolation from external noise.
Best for High-End Quality Sound: V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
When we look at the newest generation of headphones, versatility is king due to some smartphones not having a headphone jack and many devices requiring Bluetooth connections. The V-MODA Crossfade 2 headphones fall into this category because they can play both wired or wireless via Bluetooth. They can also play for 14 hours over wireless with a single charge.
The V-MODA Crossfade 2 headphones, when wired, sound incredible. They feature new dual-diaphragm 50mm drivers and have high-resolution audio certification from the Japan Audio Society. This ensures clear sounds with great bass, mids and highs.
On top of it sounding great, the V-MODA Crossfade 2 headphones also have military-level durability with a steel frame and cables that claim to be able to be bent one million times before breaking. Even with this, these headphones are comfortable with memory foam cushions and a flexible headband. They might sound too good to be true, but they're not. They're just a little pricey.
Best Wired: Oppo PM-3
Oppo’s PM-3 headphones immediately separate themselves from the rest of the pack, thanks to planar magnetic drivers that create a very coherent sound. As opposed to the dynamic driver used on most headphones today, Oppo’s planar magnetic option includes a plastic strip that vibrates rapidly causing sound to be precisely controlled. This change in design leads to improved highs, mids and lows all with low distortion. The pairing of noise isolation and planar sound allows the fantastic sound to come through without the noise of the outside world interrupting.
Available in black, white and blue, the closed-back, over-ear headphones are a superb combination of both comfort and sound. As over-ear headphones, they are slightly larger overall (and they weigh 11.28 ounces). Fortunately, they are comfortable and have soft ear cups that offer just the right amount of snug fit without feeling too tight on the head.
The included three-meter cable offers a 3.5mm plug along with a 1.2-meter cable that’s Apple-centric with mic and music controls. Amazon also offers an option to contact them before shipping to send a similar cable that’s Android-friendly. The PM-3s fold flat into their included denim case that’s great for traveling and protection. All it takes is one listen to recognize that Oppo produced a headphone that is serious about design while offering a sound that feels like it should cost a whole lot more.
Best Earbuds: Bose QuietControl 30 Wireless Headphones
The Bose QC30 are truly remarkable earphones when it comes to noise-cancellation. But sometimes, the silence can be maddening (or unsafe) and you want to let a little noise in. That’s where the QC30 shine: they let you control how much of your surroundings you want to hear over your calls and music.
The neckband-style earphones provide a secure and comfortable fit thanks to the StayHear+ QC tips and small wings slip over your ear for even more snug of a fit. A dual “noise-rejecting” microphone sits towards the front of the neckband to minimize wind and other unwanted noise during your calls. And while its rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides up to 10 hours of use, which should be sufficient, but we do wish there was a corded option for long flights and such.
Runner-Up, Best for High-End Sound Quality: B&O PLAY Beoplay H4
When it comes down to it, music lovers’ main concern is really sound quality and these Bang & Olufsen headphones don’t disappoint. They house 40mm electro-dynamic drivers that produce a deeply rich and balanced sound with high clarity and crisp mids, and we’re happy to report that the sound quality holds up even when used wirelessly over Bluetooth. The battery life impresses too, promising an impressive 19 hours of playtime per charge.
Aside from sound quality, anyone who knows Bang & Olufsen knows the company is renowned for its design details. Sleek yet sturdy, the Beoplay H4 is made of metal with lambskin leather on the headband and features memory foam earpads that one Amazon reviewer says “feel like clouds.” While they don’t have active noise cancellation, you’ll find the design minimizes sound rather well regardless.
Runner-Up, Best Under $50: Skullcandy Uproar Wireless
Stylish wireless Bluetooth headphones for less than $40? Yes, please! Skullcandy Uproar Wireless headphones are skillfully crafted to be light and offer up to 10 hours of continuous usage without a charge. The audio controls are thoughtfully put together, and they have a built-in microphone, built-in Bluetooth, synthetic leather, a year’s warranty and a carrying case. Sound quality is much better than you’d expect considering the price point; Uproars use neodymium magnets to offer unparalleled sound for the money.
On the downside, Uproar headphones are Bluetooth only so there’s no aux cable input support, and the build quality is relatively cheap. However, if you’re looking for low cost wireless headphones to keep your kids plugged in on a long car journey, you can’t do better than Skullcandy Uproar Wireless.