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Compare the Best HeadphonesApril 2019

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What is the Kagoo Score? Our unique headphones rating which considers: 13,000 US prices • 30,000 expert & user reviews • 1,600 product comparisons • 790 industry awards • Score breakdown
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Rank
Kagoo Score
Average Review Rating
Price
Bluetooth
Weight
Speaker Size
Type
Colour
Release Date
#1
 Compare  Shortlisted
Koss logo

Koss The Plug

97 Reviews

$10.98

Info
7g
Info
19mm
Info
In-Ear
Info
Info
Mar 2014
#2
 Compare  Shortlisted
AKG logo

AKG Y45BT

12 Reviews

$99.63

Info
150g
Info
40mm
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Mar 2014
#3
 Compare  Shortlisted
AKG logo

AKG K52

5 Reviews

$18.29

Info
200g
Info
40mm
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Dec 2018
#4
 Compare  Shortlisted
KRK logo

KRK KNS6400

32 Reviews
techpowerup.com - Editor's Choice

$91.71

Info
202g
Info
40mm
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Feb 2016
#5
 Compare  Shortlisted
Steelseries logo

Steelseries Arctis 7

306 Reviews
PC Mag - Editor's ChoiceTrusted Reviews - Editor's Choicetomsguide.com - Editor's Choicevonguru.fr - Gold Award

$97.99

Info
408g
Info
40mm
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Sep 2017
#6
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Aftershokz Trekz

47 Reviews
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$69.99

Info
45g
Info
10mm
Info
Bone Conducting
Info
Info
May 2017
#7
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Sony MDR‑EX110

$13.98

Info
3g
Info
9mm
Info
In-Ear
Info
Info
Feb 2014
#8
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AKG Y50

121 Reviews
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$60.99

Info
190g
Info
40mm
Info
On-Ear
Info
Info
Sep 2014
#9
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Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Wireless

70 Reviews

$119.99

Info
260g
Info
40mm
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Jun 2016
#10
 Compare  Shortlisted
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KRK KNS8400

32 Reviews
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$134.99

Info
232g
Info
40mm
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Feb 2016
#11
 Compare  Shortlisted
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Sennheiser HD559

1 Review

$73.99

Info
250g
Info
50mm
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Sep 2016
#12
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Nuheara IQbuds

19 Reviews
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$169.99

Info
4g
Info
10mm
Info
In-Ear
Info
Info
Jan 2017
#13
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Steelseries Siberia 840

30 Reviews
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$160.00

Info
318g
Info
40mm
Info
Over-Ear
Info
(Unknown)
Info
Sep 2017
#14
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Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E6

8 Reviews

$190.00

Info
21g
Info
10mm
Info
In-Ear
Info
(Unknown)
Info
Sep 2018
#15
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Plantronics BackBeat Go 810

22 Reviews
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$54.99

Info
189g
Info
40mm
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Sep 2018
#16
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Skullcandy Uproar

976 Reviews

$14.00

Info
122g
Info
40mm
Info
On-Ear
Info
Info
May 2017
#17
 Compare  Shortlisted
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Skullcandy Jib

7 Reviews

$6.99

Info
11g
Info
9mm
Info
In-Ear
Info
Info
May 2017
#18
 Compare  Shortlisted
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Sennheiser Momentum

411 Reviews
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$48.59

Info
238g
Info
10mm
Info
In-Ear
Info
Info
May 2017
#19
 Compare  Shortlisted
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JayBird Freedom 2

24 Reviews
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$25.99

Info
19g
Info
6mm
Info
In-Ear
Info
Info
May 2017
#20
 Compare  Shortlisted
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JAYS Wireless

13 Reviews
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$110.00

Info
224g
Info
40mm
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Jan 2017

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What Are The Best Headphones Brands?

We looked at the reviews for every pair of headphones and used this to calculate the average overall rating of each brand. The top rated pair of headphones brand is Audio-Technica with an average rating of 93%. Compare all award winning headphones.

Rank Brand Number of Headphones Price Range Average Rating
#1
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Audio-Technica Headphones 32 $89 - $229
93%
1,038 reviews
#2
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JVC Headphones 38 $7 - $82
88%
1,149 reviews
#3
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Sony Headphones 69 $6 - $1,998
87%
2,443 reviews
#4
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AKG Headphones 21 $18 - $1,400
86%
209 reviews
#5
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Skullcandy Headphones 23 $7 - $128
85%
1,106 reviews
#6
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Sennheiser Headphones 33 $16 - $3,600
84%
1,213 reviews
#7
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JBL Headphones 37 $9 - $172
72%
291 reviews
#8
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Goji Headphones 21
69%
4 reviews
#9
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Panasonic Headphones 23 $16 - $76
58%
3 reviews
#10
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Philips Headphones 67 $8 - $215
58%
55 reviews

Trending Headphones Comparisons

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Klipsch
R6 In-Ear
$59.00
6.7g lighter
VS
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1More
Triple Driver
$48.95
$10 cheaper
Newer by three
years
Better Kagoo
Score
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AKG
K52
$18.29
$16 cheaper
Better Kagoo
Score
Newer by 18
months
VS
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Edifier
H840
$33.96
One more award
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Nuheara
IQbuds
$169.99
Lighter
1 Expert Review
Site Gave It a
Higher Review
Score
VS
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Bose
SoundSport Free
$160.00
$10 cheaper
Better Kagoo
Score
Four more
awards
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Beyerdynamic
DT 1990 PRO
$549.00
Better brand
Moderately
better overall
reviews
Better expert
reviews
VS
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Sennheiser
HD 660 S
$396.83
$152 cheaper
Better Kagoo
Score
Newer by 18
months
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Bose
SoundSport Free
$160.00
Six more awards
VS
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Sony
WI-SP600N
$148.00
$12 cheaper
Better brand
Better Kagoo
Score
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Beyerdynamic
DT 1990 PRO
$549.00
Better brand
Better Kagoo
Score
Better
Stereo.de
review score
VS
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Focal
Elear
$499.00
$50 cheaper
Two more awards
Newer by one
month
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Beyerdynamic
Amiron home
$498.78
Better brand
3 Expert Review
Sites Gave It a
Higher Review
Score
VS
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Bowers & Wilkins
PX
$261.75
$237 cheaper
Better Kagoo
Score
14 more awards
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Sennheiser
HD 800 S
$1,242.69
$755 cheaper
Five more
awards
2 Expert Review
Sites Gave It a
Higher Review
Score
VS
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Sony
MDR-Z1R
$1,998.00
210g lighter
Better Kagoo
Score
Better brand
loading image
AKG
K872
$900.00
$343 cheaper
Better brand
Marginally
bigger speaker
size
VS
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Sennheiser
HD 800 S
$1,242.69
Better Kagoo
Score
12 more awards
Overall reviews
are hugely
better
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Bose
QuietComfort 35
$239.99
Better Kagoo
Score
21 more awards
10g lighter
VS
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Sony
WH-L600
$214.97
$25 cheaper
Newer by 20
months
Better brand
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JBL
REFLECT MINI 2
$48.89
Better PC Mag
review score
Lighter
VS
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Sennheiser
CX Sport
$34.99
$14 cheaper
Five more
awards
Better Kagoo
Score
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Sennheiser
HD 800 S
$1,242.69
Six more awards
27% lighter
10mm bigger
speaker size
VS
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Focal
Elear
$499.00
$744 cheaper
Better
Soundandvision.
com review
score
Better brand
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AKG
K812
$1,399.99
Expert reviews
are appreciably
better
Better brand
20% bigger
speaker size
VS
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Focal
Elear
$499.00
$901 cheaper
Better Kagoo
Score
Four more
awards
loading image
AKG
K812
$1,399.99
Expert reviews
are appreciably
better
Better brand
3mm bigger
speaker size
VS
loading image
Sennheiser
HD 800 S
$1,242.69
$157 cheaper
Better Kagoo
Score
10 more awards
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Sony
MDR-ZX310
$18.97
$11 cheaper
Better Kagoo
Score
Better brand
VS
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Sennheiser
HD 206
$29.99
Newer by three
years
More popular
29% bigger
speaker size
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Sennheiser
HD 206
$29.99
$4 cheaper
Better brand
35g lighter
VS
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Edifier
H840
$33.96
One more award
Five months
newer
loading image
Audeze
LCD-X
$1,199.00
Bigger speaker
size
VS
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Focal
Elear
$499.00
$700 cheaper
Four more
awards
Better Kagoo
Score
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Marshall
Minor II
$315.90
A lot lighter
23% bigger
speaker size
VS
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Beats
Beats X
$84.99
$231 cheaper
Better Kagoo
Score
Eight more
awards
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Urbanears
Plattan ADV Wireless
$321.82
Better Kagoo
Score
2% lighter
VS
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Urbanista
Seattle
$35.00
$287 cheaper
Four more
awards
Better brand
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Plantronics
BackBeat PRO
$75.00
$23 cheaper
Two more awards
Lighter
VS
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Steelseries
Arctis 7
$97.99
Better Kagoo
Score
Better brand
User reviews
are better
All Pair of Headphones Comparisons

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

QWhat is the difference between earphones and headphones?
AWhile they can be used interchangeably, earphones are used to describe small in-ear models, while headphones cover the larger models that sit over the ear.
QCan headphones be used with any device?
AAlmost all devices use a standard 3.5mm audio jack, which is the industry standard for audio output, so a set of headphones should work in nearly every device capable of playing audio. The exception to this is certain newer models of mobile phone, which have dropped the audio jack, and will need to use an adapter.
QWhat is a 3-button control?
AThis is terminology you'll see on some headphones meant for use with mobile phones and mp3 players - it means the headphones have a set of 3 buttons, usually on the lead or attached to the ear cups themselves. These control play/pause, volume up and volume down.

Headphone Buying Guide

Headphones are a crucial part of everyday life, and your choice of headphone is a deeply personal one. From tiny in-ear monitors to enormous studio-quality cans, headphones come in all shapes, sizes, weights and colours. For someone not sure what they should get - or what they want - it can be a daunting issue. Our guide will attempt to answer some of the most common questions about headphones and give you an good overall knowledge of them.

Types Of Headphones

Let’s start with the different types of headphones. There are many different designs, but they all boil down to 2 different types: in-ear and on-ear. In-ear headphones are normally smaller, cheaper and with lessened sound quality - they are good for travel and easy to shove in a pocket when not in use. On-ear headphones tend to be larger and more chunky, but have a far superior sound quality (and normally, a far higher price to match). Let’s take a look at the difference between them:

In-ear headphones: These are smaller headphones, means to be placed into your ear. They usually have no band, and are designed to hang down from your ears. They are two main sub-categories of in-ear headphone:

  • earbuds (which are placed in the entrance to the ear)
  • in-ear monitors (which have rubber or foam caps, and are pushed directly into the ear canal. When inserted, the the rubber expands to create a tight seal inside the ear canal, meaning outside noise is blocked out)

Earbuds are the easiest headphones to wear, though let in a lot of noise and aren’t very stable - they can easily fall out of your ears while moving (especially jogging). Monitors, on the other hand, block out a lot of noise and provide a louder overall volume - making them best for public places or loud backgrounds. However, the act of pushing the foam caps into your ears can feel awkward, and requires some trial-and-error to find the best size/shape of caps. The end result may well be worth the perseverance - monitors allow for a far better overall sound quality, with less invasive noise to ruin your music.

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On-ear headphones: These types of headphones are bigger than in-ear models, and are designed with 2 speakers linked by a headband to keep them in place on your head. They are two main sub-categories of on-ear headphone:

  • on-ear headphones: these headphones sit over the entrance to the ear, directing sound into your ears. They normally have limited cushioning, but are normally light, so easy to wear for long periods. These are normally the cheapest style of large headphones, but you sacrifice the noise insulation and superior quality of over-ear models.
  • over-ear headphones: these types of headphones are larger, and actually encompass the entire ear - covering the whole ear so as to block out all other noise. This gives them excellent sound quality, but they are normally the most expensive type of headphone, due to their size and the amount of padding used to keep them comfortable pressing against your ears and head. Also, because they encompass the whole ear, many people find their ears can get uncomfortably hot and sweaty after wearing for a long time - meaning a break might be necessary every once in a while.

Over-ear headphones generally have the better sound quality, due to larger drivers and better noise insulation. However they are bulkier, more expensive, and may simply be more heavy-duty than many people need, especially if you’re just going to listen to music while you commute or at your desk. On ear headphones are lighter, and provide a good mid-point between the power of large cans, and the simple light ease of earbuds. Their quality isn’t the best though - they are very much the jack-of-all-trades of headphones. Which may be all you need!

Driver Units

Once you’ve decided the type of headphone you want, things get a bit more technical - next you want to think about driver unitss and power. Driver units are simply the part of the headphone that generates noise - they convert the audio signal into actual sound. Larger drivers mean the headphones are capable of generating more sound, making them louder. Crucially, this doesn’t mean the sound they generate will be a better quality, just that it’ll be louder. However it’s a good starting point for a pair of headphones - generally speaking better quality headphones will have larger drivers, so they have more volume and range to play with.

Unsurprisingly, on-ear headphones tend to have larger driver units, since they have a lot more space available to fill. In-ear phones generally don’t need particularly big driver units though - pushing the sound directly into your ear canal means a little goes a long way, and if you’re not careful a very loud volume can cause serious damage to your hearing.

Closed Ear vs. Open Ear

One important nuance of on-ear headphones is the choice between closed ear and open ear designs. This refers to how the cups of the headphones are designed, and how much noise insulation they give, as well as how they effect the sound of your music. Here is the main difference between the two;

Closed ear cups are solid cups that fully encompass the ear, letting no noise in or out. This makes them excellent for noise insulation, and they will not only block outside noise from disturbing your music, but will stop your music from leaking out and disturbing everyone around you. The downside is that the sound quality is slightly lessened by closed cup - it gains an echoey quality and some people feel that music sounds more dead and flat.

Open ear cups have perforated cups surrounding the driver unit, meaning that air can freely flow in and our of the headphones. This helps give the music from the cans a more natural feel - it doesn’t feel projected right into your eardrums, but instead as if it is more naturally coming from around you. However the main disadvantage is that you will have little insulation from all the noise around you - meaning loud surroundings will interfere with your music. This goes both ways - your music will also ‘leak’ more, and will be heard by people around you. Depending on your surroundings and who is around you, this might not be a beneficial thing - not everyone wants to listen to atonal screamcore death metal at 10am in a library!

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Noise Cancelling

Noise cancelling technology is an important addition of on-ear headphones, and one that has improved drastically in recent years. First off, it’s important to note the difference between active noise cancelling, and passive noise insulation. Closed-cup on-ear headphones and well-fitting monitors provide noise insulation - i.e. they block external noise from reaching your ears and disturbing your music. This is passive, and depends largely on the fit of your headphones.

Active noise cancelling is far more interesting and complicated, but here’s a brief rundown. At it’s most basic, sound is a pressure wave with peaks and troughs - the exact makeup of this wave denotes both the sound and the loudness of the noise. Noise cancelling headphones use a tech known as ‘active noise control’ - they monitor the external noise coming into the headphones, and generate a pressure wave with exactly the same volume, but completely opposite peaks and troughs (known as ‘antiphase’). When these two waves combine, they effectively cancel each other out, leading to silence - a process called interference. This allows noise cancelling headphones to entirely block out all external noise, leaving you to enjoy music free of absolutely all external distractions.

While an excellent addition, there are a couple of caveats to noise cancelling headphones. First off - because of the microphones and extra tech required, it is only found in larger on-ear headphones, not earbuds or in-ear monitors. Secondly, the tech requires a sizeable power draw, meaning that noise-cancelling headphones normally require batteries (or a recharging internal battery) to function. Finally, the tech is still relatively new, and thus confined to the top-tier headphones, meaning you’re going to be paying a premium for it. However if you frequently struggle to listen to music in high-noise areas (such as the Tube or on planes), this expenditure may well be worth it to be able to hear your music again!

Wired vs. Wireless

A quick note on wired and wireless headphones. Traditionally headphones have been entirely wired - meaning the audio signal was sent from the music source to the headphones via a wire. However in recent years the rise of bluetooth and improvements in battery technology have meant wireless headphones are becoming more and more common. These headphones have an internal rechargeable battery (some still use AAs, but these are blessedly rare) and connect to the music source via bluetooth. This allows them to stream music from a phone, computer or hifi without the need for wires - meaning no getting tangled up in cables, no trapping/breaking cables and the freedom to roam away from your computer when listening to music!

There are some negatives to wireless headphones - first off, they usually come at a premium price when compared to standard wired headphones. Moreover, they need power to function - most use a rechargeable battery - which means that if the battery runs dry, you will either have to plug in a wire, or use a different pair of headphones. Battery life varies massively with wireless headphones - some will only get 5-6 hours of life before needing a recharge, while others boast a full 24 hours of use before they die. Pay close attention to the battery life, especially if you use your headphones for long journeys. Finally, wireless headphones can experience some latency - the lag between the signal being sent to the headphones, and it being heard by your ears. When listening to music, this isn’t a massive issue - a few milliseconds of lag isn’t noticeable at all. However if you are watching a movie or playing a video game, larger amounts of latency may cause the audio in your headphones to run out of sync with the video, leading to a sub-par experience. Generally though, the tech for wireless headphones has progressed enough that a good £150-200 pair of wireless headphones will serve you very well indeed!

Extra Features

Headphones come in many different shapes and sizes, and with a lot of different extra bells and whistles. Here are some of the more common additions:

Sports Headphones: these are a special subset of in-ear headphones, designed to be worn while running or working out. They push into the ear like in-ear headphones, but have a headband to keep them stable while you move. Many have extra water-resistance to protect against lots of sweat - some are even fully waterproof, meaning they can be used while swimming!

Bone Conduction: this is a very different type of headphone - in fact they don’t actually make any sound at all. Instead they conduct sound from the device to the inner ear via vibrations sent through the bones in the skull - meaning sound in heard ‘inside’ your head without any external sound actually being made. Bone conduction headphones are very rare, but used with specialist underwater headphones (such as those used for divers) or military earpieces, where it’s a benefit to make no external noise. They are also of a benefit for people with limited hearing, since they bypass much of the ear completely, and deliver sound direct to the inner ear.

Integrated Microphone: these headphones have a microphone built into the frame of the headset, meaning you can talk while wearing the headphones. This is useful for taking phonecalls while wearing your headphones, or for voice chat while playing multiplayer video games, which means you don’t need a separate microphone to pick up your voice.

Headphones Retailers, Prices and Features

Earphone Prices

We currently list 530 earphones ranging from $5 to $4,100. A new pair of headphones costs on average $133 and 80% of earphones are priced between $12 and $223. The most expensive pair of headphones that we found is the Marshall Mid at $4,100, and the cheapest is the Scosche thudBUDS at only $6.

Earphone Brands - Price Range

The highest average earphone price out of all brands is HiFiMAN headphones with an average price of $2,200. HiFiMAN headphones start at $2,200 and their most expensive earphone costs $2,200.

The average price of Audeze headphones is $1,187 which is the second highest average price of all pair of headphones brands. Audeze headphones range in price from $799 to $1,450.

The average price of Marshall earphones is $863 which is the third highest average price of all pair of headphones brands. Marshall earphones range in price from $18 to $4,100.

Earphone Brands - Average Ratings

We have evaluated 5,638 expert reviews and 16,985 user reviews for earphones and used these reviews to evaluate the average rating for each brand of pair of headphones. The top rated pair of headphones brand is Audio-Technica with an average rating of 93%. The second best brand is JVC with 88% and the third best brand is Sony with 87%.

Biggest Earphone Retailers

We found 800 current offers for headphones from eBay making it the biggest earphone retailer. That is over 4 times bigger than the second biggest retailer, Adorama for whom we found 173 current offers for headphones. The third biggest retailer is Target with 116 current earphone offers.

When Are Most New Earphones Released?

May to July is the most common period for new headphones to be released in. For the latest earphone technology you may want to consider waiting until May 2019. Alternatively you might be able to buy one of the current headphones cheaper in May once the latest models have been released. In July 2018, 92 new earphones were released making it the biggest month that year for new earphone releases. 172 new earphones were released in May 2017 making it the biggest month that year for new earphone releases. Also the biggest month in 2016 for new earphone releases was May, with 55 new headphones released that month.

How Fast Do Pair of Headphones Prices Drop After Release?

In the first 6 months after release, earphones drop in price by 0% on average. That means that on a typical earphone costing $133 you could save on average $1 by waiting 6 months before buying.

Weights

'Weight' denotes how heavy the headphones are, measured in grams (g).

Comparing all earphones, the weights range from 0.012g to 6.3kg. The weights of most earphones range from 0g to 40g. The earphone with the heaviest weight is the Modecom MC1001HF, which is a 998g pair of headphones and currently retails for $83.49. The earphone with the lightest weight is the Philips SHE3905, which is a 0.012g earphone and currently retails for $42.50.

Lighter headphones will be more comfortable to wear for long periods.

Speaker Sizes

The driver unit is the part of the headphone that converts the audio signal into actual sound. This attribute denotes the physical size of this driver unit, measured in millimetres.

Comparing all earphones, the speaker sizes range from 4mm to 106mm. The speaker sizes of the majority of earphones range from 38mm to 44mm. The pair of headphones with the biggest speaker size is the Audeze LCD-XC, which is a 106mm driver earphone and is priced at $1,299.00. The earphone with the smallest speaker size is the Jabra Elite 65t, which is a 5.1mm driver earphone and can be purchased for $20.00.

A bigger driver unit means that the headphones will be capable of generating more sound, making them louder. It doesn't necessarily mean the sound will be better quality, just louder. However it's a good starting point if you're looking for a powerful pair of headphones.

Bluetooth

The denotes whether the headphones support wireless Bluetooth communication or not.

Most new headphones are headphones which do not support Bluetooth. 686 out of 1,107 on Kagoo are headphones which do not support Bluetooth and 420 headphones (38%) are earphones which support Bluetooth.

Bluetooth allows you to stream music and audio directly to the headphones without the need for wires. This makes the headphones far more convenient and easy to use, and frees you from the restriction of an audio cable.

Style

The way in which the device is worn.

The most common style amongst new earphones is head-band. We found 574 earphones that are headphones that have a head-band style. The second most popular style amongst new earphones is in-ear. We found 382 earphones that are headphones that have an in-ear style.

Type

Ear coupling describes the way in which headphones or earphones stay attached to, or inside, the ear. There are three common types of ear coupling: circumaural, supra-aural and intra-aural. Circumaural headphones enclose your ears with large pads that suppress external noise. Supra-aural headphones are typically more lightweight and sit on top of the ears with small pads. Intra-aural headphones come in two basic designs and neither style sits on the head itself. The first are ear buds, which sit just outside of the ear canal, on top of your ear lobes. The second type is actually inserted directly into the ear canal and offers some external noise suppression.

In-ear is the most frequently found type amongst new earphones. We found 506 earphones that are in-ear earphones. The second most frequently found type amongst new earphones is over-ear. We found 340 earphones that are over-ear earphones.

Which Are the Cheapest Retailers for Earphones?

The chart below helps you decide which retailer is normally cheapest for buying headphones. For each retailer it shows the total number of headphones where they currently have a market leading price. The chart below helps you decide which retailer is normally cheapest for buying earphones. For each retailer we took all of their prices and looked at what proportion of those prices where the cheapest on the market. The cheapest retailer that we found was eBay. 755 of their earphone prices were the cheapest that could be found anywhere.

Proportion of Earphones for Which Each Retailer is Cheapest?

Assessing how cheap each retailer is for headphones by counting the number of cheapest prices for that retailer, makes the retailers that offer the greatest number of earphone prices more likely to offer the greatest number of cheapest prices. The chart below considers the proportion of each retailer's earphone prices that are the cheapest compared to other retailers. The cheapest retailer that we found using this approach was eBay. 94.4% of their pair of headphones prices were the cheapest that could be found anywhere.

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