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What features make the best headphones for listening to music? Good headphones for music start with high-quality speaker components, such as dynamic drivers, to ensure the best sound quality. If you want audiophile headphones for critical listening, they should have faithful sound reproduction over a broad frequency range. The best-performing studio headphones and headsets for music generally use a balanced sound profile to let you hear each track as the mixers and writers intended.
Next, any top pair of headphones for serious listening sessions should provide crisp, detailed sound with well-defined left and right sides, clear highs, and strong, natural bass. Finally, great wired or wireless headphones for music should provide comfort to match their outstanding audio performance. Both in-ear and over-the-ear headphones can work well in terms of audio quality. Still, most high-end headphones seek to strike a delicate balance between blocking out external noise and maintaining natural, pleasing sound quality.
If you’re an audiophile listening to your favorite music on vinyl or digital high-res audio files, a great pair of headphones can make a difference in your overall listening experience. Finding the perfect pair is even more necessary if you record music or work in the studio. Cheap headphones will often introduce distortion and exaggerate highs and lows. In contrast, a quality pair of headphones will provide balanced and faithful playback, letting you hear how a mix sounds.
Keep reading to learn more about studio and audiophile pairs of headphones and how to pick the best headphones for music listening.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll appreciate the ergonomic design of these headphones, which prevents fatigue during long listening sessions. This is also a multifunctional model that can be used across the board for many usages.
This is a pair of studio-quality headphones that will provide a superior listening experience to most competing models. They have a large, built-in 50-millimeter driver that is capable of producing a full range of stereo sound for your enjoyment. However, this model does have a cord, and many consumers report that it is on the shorter side. Because of this, you might have more restricted movement than with some competing models.
You’ll also enjoy the exceptional clarity in the audio of this pair of headphones. There is an extended frequency range that has deep, accurate bass. The booming bass is enough to please even the pickiest of audio palettes. You’ll appreciate the inclusion of professional-grade active noise cancellation. This ensures that you won’t be distracted by outside noises, and you can ensure an immersive experience. It’s also a highly compatible pair of headphones with many connection options, including a 3.5-millimeter jack and a 6.35-millimeter adapter.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The built-in rechargeable battery is highly impressive, and this cordless model can provide 2 hours of playback with only 5 minutes of charging. At a full charge, you can expect 48 hours of playtime.
If you need to have music on the go, this pair of headphones will not disappoint with its list of features and functions. You’ll love that it has the option of going cordless, giving you a free rein of movement to go about your daily life. The Bluetooth connection allows you to play audio from almost any device. While complaints from consumers are rare for this pair of headphones, some folks say that the audio sounds a little bit “flat.” This might be a dealbreaker for some.
Those looking for fantastic noise-canceling headphones will not be disappointed in this pair. This is especially helpful if you’re in a meeting or on a different type of call. You won’t have to deal with static or poor call quality. If you work in a busy office, these will allow you to immerse yourself entirely in a quiet environment just by slipping them on. You’ll also love that this pair of headphones can charge quickly and efficiently. That means they’re always ready when you need them.
Award: BEST FOR IN-LINE CONTROLS
WHY WE LIKE IT: The built-in microphone that this pair comes with means you can easily take calls, record audio, and more. This is great for those who are often taking calls at their desk. It’s also a lightweight model with easy-to-use controls.
If you’re looking for an effortless experience when listening to your favorite tunes, these headphones will meet your needs. There is excellent control built right in line, allowing you to quickly switch to the next song, pause the music, answer a call, and more. Unfortunately, this is not a cordless pair of headphones. Because of this, you’ll have a restricted range of motion and will not be able to connect to devices through wireless methods like Bluetooth.
Those looking to mix and master some tracks will love the studio-quality sound this pair can produce. They’re specially designed for those who need to work in noisy environments. There is unique noise reduction isolation technology that will keep distraction to a minimum as far as ambient noise is concerned. You’ll also be able to store them away quickly. They fold into a smaller size and are reasonably stretchy, so storage is never an issue.
Award: BEST FOR HIGH DEFINITION AUDIO
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll appreciate the inclusion of a built-in microphone on this model, allowing you to take calls. This pair will also cancel out ambient sounds so that you will be less aware of distractions around you.
If you are looking for a truly magical musical experience, these headphones have you covered. One of their best features is passive noise cancellation. This allows for total immersion in any music you’re playing. They have enhanced memory foam padding to help block ambient sound and an angled design. However, you’ll want to keep in mind that this pair of headphones might have issues with the microphone after a few months. Multiple consumers reported this.
You’ll love how the 44-millimeter drivers impact the sound quality. They are also leak-tolerant and produce high-definition sound for your listening pleasure. You’ll be able to have crystal clear audio whether you’re rocking out or taking a call. The enhanced 3-microphone technology will translate into 23% less background noise from your end on calls. This makes them a multifunctional tool that you can use to listen to music while also answering the phone when you need to.
Award: BEST FOR DEEP SOUNDS
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll be able to expect many hours of playback from this pair, improving your overall experience with long listening times. It also packs a 40-millimeter dynamic sound unit and can easily produce deep sounds.
Those who want to be able to enjoy their music in multiple different ways will love these headphones. They offer three different modes so you can have precision control over your next audio experience. These three modes are extra powerful bass, mid-treble enhancement, and balanced sound. These headphones will never displease whether you’re listening to rock, jazz, or classical. Unfortunately, if you’re an Apple user, you might want to look elsewhere. It’s been reported that these headphones struggle to connect through Bluetooth with Mac laptops.
They can provide you with 55 hours of playback time under optimal conditions. This level of power is provided by a 500mAh battery, which is able to go 950 hours when on standby. This is all from a single charge. Even if you’re low on battery, these headphones come with a cord so that you can hook them directly into power when you need to. Even audiophiles will appreciate this technology and the high-quality audio it produces.
Award: BEST FOR CHILDREN
WHY WE LIKE IT: This unique pair of headphones are incredibly comfortable, featuring significant padding that lessens strain and fatigue during long listening sessions. They also feature light-emitting diodes.
These are one of the cutest pairs of headphones imaginable, and they are great starter models for children who are starting to appreciate good music. Even if your child just wants a boost to their video game audio, these headphones are a great option. However, this is a highly unique design that is mainly meant for children. Because of this, some adult listeners might be turned off by the aesthetic these headphones have to offer.
You can count on these headphones to provide up to 8 hours of Bluetooth playtime. If the power gets low, just plug them in and keep listening through a wired connection. The ability to go wireless makes them even more child-friendly since you can avoid the potential mess that tangled wires bring. LED-light detailing on the cat ears and earpads makes them stand out. This is especially great for dark rooms since you’ll always be able to locate them.
Headphones perfect for music are any high-quality wired or wireless headphones with a sound output optimized for careful and critical listening sessions. Unlike general-use headphones, phone and gaming headsets, and audiophile noise-canceling headphones, the best music headphones deliver an even, natural sound over a wide frequency range. For example, great Bose headphones produce accurate sound without any exaggerated bass or heightened treble that some specialized and budget headphones deliver.
No single trait separates good headphones for music from any other headphone type, including the top headphones for sleeping. Still, the best models for listening to music generally stand out for their balanced, accurate sound, wide frequency range response, and attention to detail.
Music and mixing headphones are more likely to emphasize audio quality over portability or blocking out external noise. They are often open-back headphones since most users feel that an open-back design allows for more natural sound. Closed-back headphones can also deliver excellent sound quality, and they have an advantage in noisy environments, but they can get hot and become fatiguing for longer listening sessions.
Both wireless and wired headphones can work well for music listening. Traditionally, many top-rated studios and mixing headphones use a wired connection with headphone jacks or 3.5mm audio cables. However, you can now find wireless headphones with audiophile sound quality.
Compared to noise-canceling headphones and ear protection headphones for mowing or using machinery, the best music headphones have less emphasis on noise isolation. They may offer active noise cancellation, but those that do so also have a transparency mode or other feature that allows you to turn the “white noise” off.
Unlike mobile phone earbuds and headphones for voice calls, the best headset for music is more likely to come with over-the-ear options for the most comfortable headphones. They also generally have a more durable design than casual listening headphones.
Music and production headphones use specialized speaker components and carefully-designed ear cups to deliver a neutral sound profile that lets the inherent qualities of the music come through.
Like other types of headphones, the best models for music connect to an audio source using a wired or wireless connection such as Bluetooth 5.0. Many wired models use a detachable cable for ease of storage and extra durability. A pair of studio headphones typically use analog audio input, though some newer high-end studio headphones do also employ some digital sound processing, which adds flexibility and may enable extra features like spatial audio.
Headphones for listening and production use transducers and one or more magnetic drivers in each ear, along with components such as tweeters. They may be closed-back headphones, open-back headphones, or may employ a semi-open design. Music producers often value accurate audio reproduction over noise isolation, so many consider open or semi-open models the best-sounding headphones. Some semi-open and open-backed headphones incorporate resonance ports for more powerful bass frequencies without losing the high end.
Whether you’re a music producer, audio engineer, artist, or discerning listener, the best music-focused headphones can add a lot to your listening experience. Excellent sound quality is essential for audio production, so if you’re building out a setup for your recording studio, it might be a great time to invest in a pair of high-quality studio headphones or mixing headphones.
You might also want a new pair of headphones for listening if you’re a songwriter or music artist getting ready to send out tracks for mixing and mastering. Ordinary headphones and some high-end models typically add extra digital processing that artificially enhances bass frequencies or highlights treble. Proper studio headphones are thus necessary for critical listening, letting you hear how a given track sounds.
Great headphones for mixing and arranging also come in handy when you want an audiophile-quality listening experience on the go. If you travel for work, you might find that a pair of high-quality headphones helps replicate the immersive sound of listening on your home hi-fi or stereo setup.
Newer audiophile headphones have improved resolution and detail. They also offer a greater sonic range and more resonant, natural-sounding bass. Improved planar magnetic drivers and clever resonance chamber designs allow some of the best sounding headphones today to produce a convincing impression of “room-filling” sound.
Compared to older high-end studio headphones, newer models offer more flexible connection options and extra features. Like some of the latest high-end audio gear, many newer production headphones have wireless capability while maintaining the ability to function in wired mode. Bluetooth headphones with 3.5-mm and USB or USB-C connectivity can connect to various audio sources.
While headphones, in general, may last from six months to ten years or more, the category of headphones that work best for critical music listening and production tasks are often more durable and long-lasting than other types of headphones. Intrinsic factors such as the quality of their construction, and external factors like how well you store and care for them, can significantly affect the lifespan of your headphones and earbuds.
Unlike most in-ear headphones or earbuds for working out, the average pair of studio headphones see primarily indoor use, with less-frequent travel and more careful storage. Thus, studio headphones have a life expectancy of at least five years, compared to the one or two years you can generally expect from a pair of travel headphones.
As with other electronics and audio equipment, environmental factors can also play a role in how long a pair of headphones lasts. Humidity, dust, and the excessive heat can accelerate wear and tear on a set of headphones. Avoid charging wireless headphones in areas where the temperature is above 110 degrees F.
To maximize the longevity of your headphones, experts suggest keeping them on a headphone stand when not in use. If equipped with a detachable cable, store the cable separately to help minimize the stress on the connectors.
Various factors can help you decide on the best music headphones for your listening needs. You may want to consider what types of music you mainly play, whether you listen mostly in quiet environments or areas with more ambient sound, and what audio source devices you need to connect to. Your preferences for comfort and aesthetic taste can also play an important role.
Different headphones may perform more strongly with varying genres of music. Some types of electronic and pop music emphasize bass frequencies, so the best-sounding headphones for these genres will likely be those that excel at the powerful, low-frequency sound.
If you’re looking for a set of music headphones that performs well with just about any device, including a mobile phone, you may want to check out a wireless pair. On the other hand, if you rarely connect to devices other than your home audio interface and it uses a quarter-inch cable, you may not need wireless connectivity.
Even at a premium price, some headphones have sound profiles meant to add dynamism or contrast to the audio they play. This can be enjoyable for gamers and casual listeners, enhancing the sound in movies and making beats seem to “pop.” However, if you want the most accurate impression of a track for critical listening or mixing purposes, you’ll want production-quality headphones with a neutral sound profile.
The type of device you use for your primary audio source can also affect the choice of which headphones work best for you. If you frequently use an iPhone, you’ll want the finest headphones for iPhone, like a wireless pair, since it’ll be more convenient than a pair that uses a headphone jack.