We buy our own products and put them under the same testing methodology so that you can easily compare them. Unlike most websites, we do not get our products directly from the manufacturers, which means our units aren’t handpicked and actually represent what you would buy yourself. We spend a lot of time comparing the products side-by-side to validate our results and we keep them until they are discontinued so we can continually go back and make sure our reviews are always accurate.
Buying headphones can feel like a chore when facing all the different choices on the market. Whether you consider music to be your greatest passion and have a dedicated listening room or just like having some background music throughout your day, comfortable headphones with great audio reproduction are the best way to listen to music as intended.
Sennheiser HD 800 S: Premium headphones with an outstanding soundstage
The overall best headphones for listening to music are the Sennheiser HD 800 S. They have a very comfortable design with large, spacious microfibre-coated ear cups so you can enjoy your favorite albums for hours without fatigue. They’re expensive and require a powerful amp and quiet listening room, but if you have the right setup and money is no object, they’re worth considering.
These headphones sound amazing and cater well to virtually all genres of music. They have an open-back design that reproduces audio remarkably well and creates a spacious, immersive soundstage. These headphones deliver a crisp and detailed representation of instruments and vocals without sounding too sharp and have a very balanced, honest sound overall.
On the downside, they are a little shy in bass, especially compared to the slightly more affordable HiFiMan Ananda. However, HiFiMan are a relatively new brand and don’t yet have the quality control of more established brands like Sennheiser. With a proper EQ, it’s also possible to add more bass to the HD 800 S. If you’re looking for the absolute best in quality and they’re within your budget, they are an outstanding choice.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x: Closed-back headphones with a great neutral sound
If you want great-sounding headphones that are versatile enough to use outdoors, then get the Audio Technica ATH-M50x. Their simple design is comfortable, feels durable and is easy-to-use. They’re quite affordable and provide very good value for the quality they bring.
These are popular headphones in the audiophile community for multiple reasons. They deliver powerful bass, an even, neutral mid-range and well-balanced treble. This results in an exciting sound that brings out the thump and rumble of more bass-heavy music genres without drowning out instruments and vocals. Their closed-back design also helps block out a bit of noise which means they’re great not only for critical listening in the studio but can also be used more casually outside.
On the downside, they don’t sound as spacious as some open-back headphones we’ve tested, like the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. They also don’t have any controls for music management or customization features like you can find on the Sony WH-1000XM3. On the upside, their great sound quality will most likely be worth the trade-off for most casual and critical listeners.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO: Durable open-back headphones for instruments and vocals
If you’re looking for open-back headphones that won’t break the bank but still feel built to last, then get the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. They also have a comfortable over-ear fit with well-padded ear cups coated in a pleasing velvety fabric. They have an impressively sturdy metal frame that feels very durable, especially for their price.
They reproduce audio on par with headphones two or three times their price range. They deliver excellent bass that packs decent thump, have a near-perfect mid-range that reproduces instruments and vocals accurately and have a great treble. They reproduce a lot of detail and have a clear and crisp sound, but some may find they can sound a bit sharp on already bright tracks.
Since they’re open-back headphones, they are quite sensitive to ambient noise and leak a lot of sound, so they’re not ideal for use outdoors. They can also feel quite a bit tight on the head, which can get tiresome after a while; however, we expect them to loosen up a bit with time. Overall, they are easy to recommend if you’re looking for open-back headphones that provide great value for their price.