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Compare the Best HeadphonesMarch 2021

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87

What is the Kagoo Score? Our unique headphones rating which considers: 42,000 US prices • 56,000 expert & user reviews • 2,100 product comparisons • 1,200 industry awards • Score breakdown
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In Ear Headphones
In-Ear Headphones
Small, light headphones that are placed into the ear
True Wireless Earbuds
Light bluetooth earbuds that have no wires whatsoever for true freedom
On-Ear Headphones
Headphones that sit on the ear for better noise isolation
Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Active-noise cancelling headphones
Electronics Copy 27Created with Sketch.
Wireless Headphones
Bluetooth headphones that don't require a cable
#1
Best Selling Headphones
The most popular headphones on the market
Award Winning Headphones
Headphones that have won industry awards
Latest Headphones
The newest headphones on the market
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Rank
Kagoo Score
Average Review Rating
Price
Bluetooth
Weight
Driver Size
Style
Type
Colour
Release Date
#1

87

 Compare  Shortlisted
JVC logo

JVC Gumy Plus

9 Reviews
Very light 
Very light

$5.99

Info
17g
Info
9mm
Info
In-Ear
Info
In-Ear
Info
Info
May 2017
#2

87

 Compare  Shortlisted
JBL logo

JBL Live 400BT

186 Reviews
Supports Bluetooth  Long battery life Foldable 
Supports Bluetooth
Long battery life
Foldable

$34.00

Info
186g
Info
40mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
On-Ear
Info
Info
Feb 2019
#3

87

 Compare  Shortlisted
Kingston logo

Kingston HyperX Cloud

49 Reviews
Noise canceling  Long battery life Foldable 
Noise canceling
Long battery life
Foldable

$44.99

Info
275g
Info
40mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Dec 2018
#4

87

 Compare  Shortlisted
AKG logo

AKG K92

7 Reviews
pcauthority.com.au Recommended

$39.00

Info
200g
Info
40mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Jun 2016
#5

86

 Compare  Shortlisted
Shure logo

Shure SRH440

102 Reviews
ljudochbild.se Especially Recommendedmaclife.com Awesome Awardmacworld.co.uk Editor's Choice

$65.00

Info
311g
Info
50mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Jun 2019
#6

86

 Compare  Shortlisted

Sennheiser HD300

4 Reviews

$49.95

Info
182g
Info
40mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
On-Ear
Info
Info
Jan 2019
#7

86

 Compare  Shortlisted

JBL Live 500BT

233 Reviews

$39.99

Info
232g
Info
50mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Feb 2019
#8

86

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JVC HAF160

 

$5.88

Info
5g
Info
13.5mm
Info
In-Ear
Info
In-Ear
Info
Info
Jun 2014
#9

86

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Beats Solo Pro

14 Reviews

$119.00

Info
267g
Info
40mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
On-Ear
Info
Info
May 2018
#10

85

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Plantronics BackBeat FIT

168 Reviews

$24.00

Info
27.2g
Info
13.5mm
Info
Ear-Hook
Info
In-Ear
Info
Info
Jul 2017
#11

85

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Bose QuietComfort 25

114 Reviews

$63.00

Info
194.3g
Info
40mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
May 2017
#12

85

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Steelseries Arctis 3

307 Reviews

$44.00

Info
316g
Info
40mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Sep 2017
#13

85

 Compare  Shortlisted

HyperX Cloud

824 Reviews

$20.00

Info
19g
Info
14mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
(Unknown)
Info
Info
Apr 2019
#14

85

 Compare  Shortlisted

Beats SOLO3

86 Reviews

$79.99

Info
215g
Info
40mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
On-Ear
Info
Info
May 2017
#16

85

 Compare  Shortlisted

Plantronics BackBeat Go 810

22 Reviews

$39.99

Info
189g
Info
40mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
(Unknown)
Info
Info
Apr 2019
#15

85

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Sennheiser Momentum

182 Reviews

$62.99

Info
238g
Info
10mm
Info
Neck-Band
Info
In-Ear
Info
Info
May 2017
#18

85

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Shure SRH840

61 Reviews

$149.00

Info
318g
Info
40mm
Info
Head-Band
Info
Over-Ear
Info
Info
Dec 2009
#17

85

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JLab Go Air

113 Reviews

$13.50

Info
10g
Info
9mm
Info
True Wireless
Info
In-Ear
Info
Info
Jan 2019
#19

85

 Compare  Shortlisted

JayBird Vista

19 Reviews

$98.76

Info
15g
Info
10mm
Info
True Wireless
Info
In-Ear
Info
Info
Apr 2018

No matching products found.

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What Are The Best Headphones Brands?

We looked at the reviews for every headphones and used this to calculate the average overall rating of each brand. The top rated headphones brand is Audio-Technica with an average rating of 88%. Compare all award winning headphones.

Rank Brand Number of Headphones Price Range Average Rating
#1
Audio-Technica Headphones 57 $69 - $299
88%
1,038 reviews
#2
Sony Headphones 88 $6 - $1,709
87%
2,380 reviews
#3
Sennheiser Headphones 68 $15 - $1,776
81%
2,834 reviews
#4
JVC Headphones 63 $6 - $138
78%
1,354 reviews
#5
AKG Headphones 34 $20 - $1,480
76%
219 reviews
#6
Skullcandy Headphones 35 $6 - $2,000
75%
3,101 reviews
#7
JBL Headphones 64 $7 - $189
74%
1,988 reviews
#8
Hama Headphones 24 $11 - $20
72%
2 reviews
#9
Goji Headphones 29 $13 - $61
68%
6 reviews
#10
House Of Marley Headphones 20 $14 - $190
68%
479 reviews
#11
Panasonic Headphones 29 $10 - $245
61%
3 reviews
#12
Pioneer Headphones 22 $122 - $127
59%
10 reviews
#13
Audio Technica Headphones 25 $15 - $214
58%
13 reviews
#14
Philips Headphones 100 $6 - $260
57%
94 reviews
#15
KitSound Headphones 20 $7 - $135
47%
10 reviews

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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.

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!

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

The price range of headphones is from $5 to $8,646 and in total we found prices for 808 headphones. The average price of a new headphones is $141 and the 80% of earphones are priced between $12 and $230. The Gear Beast GearBuds is the cheapest earphone at only $6, and B&O H4 is the most expensive at $8,646.

Headphones Brands - Price Range

B&O earphones start at $8,646 and their most expensive earphone costs $8,646. The average price of B&O earphones is $8,646 which is the highest average price of all earphone brands.

HiFiMAN earphones range in price from $2,679 to $2,679, and the second highest average earphone price out of all brands is HiFiMAN earphones with an average price of $2,679.

The average price of Quad headphones is $1,918 which is the third highest average price of all earphone brands. Quad headphones start at $1,918 and their most expensive earphone costs $1,918.

Earphone Brands - Average Ratings

We have analysed 7,988 expert reviews and 31,834 user reviews for headphones and used this data to evaluate the average rating for each brand of headphones. Audio-Technica is the top rated earphone brand with an average rating of 88%. Sony is the second best brand with 87% and Sennheiser is the third best brand with 81%.

Biggest Headphones Retailers

We found 1,142 current offers for headphones from eBay making it the biggest earphone retailer. That is over 3 times bigger than the second biggest retailer, Adorama for whom we found 321 current offers for headphones. The third biggest retailer is Overstock with 71 current earphone offers.

When Are Most New Earphones Released?

Over the last 3 years we couldn't see any clear trend in the release month for new earphones. 13 new earphones were released in April 2020 making it the biggest month that year for new headphones releases. Also the biggest month in 2019 for new earphone releases was April, with 57 new headphones released that month. In 2018 most new headphones were released in December, with 111 new headphones released that month.

How Fast Do Headphones Prices Drop After Release?

New headphones drop in price by an average of 4% in the first 6 months after they were first released.

A typical new headphones costs on average $141. By waiting 6 months before buying you could save on average $6.

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 Bose 700, which is a 900g headphones and is available at $229.99. The headphones with the lightest weight is the Philips SHE3905, which is a 0.012g earphone and is on sale for $8.99.

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

Driver 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.

The driver sizes of earphones range from 4mm to 195mm. The driver sizes of most headphones range from 38mm to 44mm. The headphones with the biggest driver size is the Audeze LCD2, which is a 106mm driver earphone and sells for $749.99. The Klipsch T5II, which currently retails for $149.00, has the smallest driver size and is a 5mm driver earphone.

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.

The number of new earphones that do and are headphones which do not support Bluetooth is roughly the same. 771 earphones out of 1,649 do are earphones which support Bluetooth and 53% of earphones are headphones which do not 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.

Head-band is the most popular style amongst new headphones. We found 830 headphones that are earphones that have a head-band style. The second most frequently found style amongst new headphones is in-ear. We found 446 headphones that are earphones 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.

We found 774 headphones that are in-ear headphones, which makes this the most frequently found type amongst new headphones. We found 487 earphones that are over-ear headphones, making this the second most popular type amongst new earphones.

Which Are the Cheapest Retailers for Earphones?

The chart below helps you decide which retailer is normally cheapest for buying earphones. For each retailer it shows the total number of earphones 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. 1,089 of their earphone prices were the cheapest that could be found anywhere.

Proportion of Headphones 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 headphones prices more likely to offer the greatest number of cheapest prices. The chart below considers the proportion of each retailer's headphones prices that are the cheapest compared to other retailers. The cheapest retailer that we found using this approach was eBay. 95.4% of their headphones prices were the cheapest that could be found anywhere.

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