If there’s one thing 2020 has illustrated, it’s the importance of having a set of headphones you can count on. Whether it’s because you’re catching up on podcasts, streaming a game of Escape From Tarkov, or attending your millionth Zoom meeting for school or work, having the right pair of headphones can make a world of difference in how you hear the things that matter most.
At the same time, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of headphones available to purchase. It seems like for every new trend there are a dozen knock-offs—and even the most popular brand might raise some important questions about whether or not they’re actually a good fit for you. Which brands are truly worth the extra money? Are in-ear or over-the-ear headphones better? The following list gives you an overview of ten of the best headphones you can get right now. From the hottest brands to the features you need most, we’ve got you—and your ears—covered.
COWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
The COWIN E7 headphones are this list’s middle-of-the-budget winner. If you’re shopping for an over-the-ear pair of headphones and have a little bit of money to spend, COWIN’s pair of noise-canceling headphones have plenty of features and a reasonable price point to offer some serious bang for your buck. Featuring Bluetooth connectivity, comfortable earpads, and a microphone, this set of headphones gets even more attractive when you see that it’ll only run you $60.
Especially if you travel frequently or commute, you’re bound to appreciate the active noise canceling features on this set of headphones. Whether you’re on a crowded bus or waiting for your flight in an airport, the active noise canceling technology makes it easier to enjoy what you’re listening to without any distractions. Plus, you can buy a pair of COWIN E7 headphones in a variety of colors to match your own sense of style. From basic black to blue, purple, red, and white, there are six different colors to choose from when making your purchase.
Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones
One of the more high-end options on this list, you’d be forgiven if you thought that the popularity of the Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones was the result of great marketing. While they certainly have more name-recognition than other pairs on this list, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth the price. In fact, when it comes to headphones in the $100 to $200 price range, the Beats Solo3 offer some of the best features in an undeniably-stylish package.
A major selling point of the Beats Solo3 wireless headphones over competitors comes down to battery life. The audio quality offered by Beats is hard to measure up to, thanks to acoustics that provide superior balance and clarity. Boasting more than 40 hours of continuous play, you’ll rarely need to recharge your Beats more than once or twice a week. Plus, thanks to Fast Fuel technology, you can charge up to three hours of playing time in just five minutes. With pairs available in Club Yellow, Club White, or Rose Gold, there’s a pair of Beats for everyone.
Apple AirPods Pro
One of the hottest gifts the past few holiday seasons, Apple’s AirPods Pro are still just as worthy of your hard-earned money in 2020 as they were when they were just launched. While one of the most expensive options on this list, the AirPods Pro earbuds complement your iPhone so perfectly that it’s hard to imagine not getting plenty of value out of them in the first week of ownership alone. These feature-rich earbuds are easy to set up across multiple Apple devices and offer quick connectivity to Siri, making them a must-have for any Apple fan.
Beyond their integration with other Apple products, users will love listening modes that let you choose between active noise canceling and something called “transparency mode,” which allows you to continue to hear your surroundings if you’d like. Although the Apple AirPods Pro earbuds only have a 24-hour battery life, the included wireless charging case makes it easy to keep them at full power while you’re on the go. If you want a trusted name in tech, AirPods are your buds.
SAMSUNG Galaxy Buds+ Plus
If you don’t have the budget for Apple’s AirPods, Samsung has a more budget-friendly option that offers some of the same features for around half of the price. The SAMSUNG Galaxy Buds+ Plus are completely wireless and come with a convenient wireless charging case just like Apple’s AirPods. Similar to Apple, SAMSUNG offers a mode for letting some of your surroundings in, too, thanks to an Ambient Aware2 mode. Another feature many people appreciate about the SAMSUNG Galaxy Buds+ earbuds is the fact that only three minutes of charging will give you another hour of playtime.
With three dedicated microphones, your voice will sound great using the SAMSUNG Galaxy Buds+ for catching up with friends on the phone or joining conference calls for work. Plus, these earbuds are compatible with iOS and Android devices, so you can pair them with your iPhone without shelling out as much money for the true Apple product. As an Apple alternative for work and play, you can’t go wrong with SAMSUNG’s Galaxy Buds+.
iFrogz Audio - Charisma
One of the biggest benefits of wireless headphones is the opportunity to wear them while running, jogging, or working out at the gym. As such, some features are more important than others, such as water-resistance and comfort. iFrogz Audios’ female-inspired Charisma wireless earbuds are the perfect option for women with smaller ears who want to work up a sweat to their favorite playlists on a budget.
Running under $20, and meeting IPX-2 standards for water-resistance, this pair of Bluetooth earbuds is an inexpensive option to toss in your gym bag without worrying about them needing to be replaced if something happens to them in transit. Although these are a lower-end pair of headphones, you won’t sacrifice too much audio quality when considering the price point on these earbuds. Plus, with features like a magnetic clip, you can keep your earbuds secure without worrying about your HIIT workout sending them to the floor to be stepped on by a fellow gym rat.
Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Canceling Headphones
Co-developed with Sony Music Studios, the Sony WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling headphones offer top-of-the-line sound quality and noise cancelation for buyers with a top-of-the-line budget. Featuring 40mm drivers with Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) diaphragms, the proprietary technology behind these headphones offers a full range of frequencies no matter where you are. Plus, Sony’s Dual Noise Sensor technology is powered by a total of four microphones across both earcups, helping you hear everything more clearly.
Sony’s WH-1000XM4 headphones aren’t just about technology, either. The built-in Touch Sensor allows you to control your music and volume without crowding the headphones with an ugly array of buttons, making these on-ear headphones as stylish as they are functional. You’ll also be able to charge them for five hours of playback in a manner of a few minutes, meaning you’ll rarely wind up with the battery low while you’re out and about. These features combine to create a highly-usable headphone for all types of applications. When you need an industry-leader in audio quality, Sony has your back.
Bose QuietComfort Noise Canceling Earbuds
Do you consider yourself a serious sound snob? If money is no object in your quest to find some of the best sound quality and noise canceling earbuds on the market, it’s hard to go wrong with Bose’s QuietComfort noise canceling earbuds. Available in Soapstone or Triple Black, Bose advertises these as “the world’s most effective noise canceling earbuds”—and with over ten different levels of active noise canceling, it’s hard to argue with them. Like other earbuds on this list, Bose also offers a Transparency Mode so you can hear your barista or flight attendant without having to stop enjoying your tunes.
While Bose’s earbuds have less battery power than other buds on this list, the included wireless charging case makes it easy to add 12 more hours of playtime to the equation. Also of note is the fact that each element that touches your ear is made of comfortable silicone, so you won’t regret wearing them all day working or traveling.
TOZO T10 Bluetooth 5.0 Wireless Earbuds
Whether or not you’re the type of person who thinks Apple’s AirPods are worth the money, it’s hard to argue with the features and functionality Apple pioneered in perfecting the wireless earbud. Case and point is the fact that all the wireless earbuds on this list feature a signature of Apple’s AirPods: a portable wireless charging case. That being said, for some people, even SAMSUNG’s Galaxy Buds+ are still a bit pricey, which is why the TOZO T10 Bluetooth 5.0 Wireless Earbuds offer the best of both worlds for budget-conscious consumers.
Clocking in at under $40, the TOZO T10 earbuds feature stereo sound and come with a built-in microphone and a wireless charging case. Unlike other wireless earbuds on this list, you can purchase the TOZO T10 earbuds in a wide range of colors, including options like khaki, blue, black, gray, and white. Wireless charging through the case offers an additional 14 hours of audio playback, so you can enjoy hi-fi stereo sound complete with bass boost. Ultimately, this pair of budget-friendly wireless earbuds offer the best of both worlds.
Letscom Bluetooth Headphones
When it comes to picking a pair of headphones for exercise, you likely don’t want to spend top dollar. As such, an affordable pair of wireless running earbuds like Letscom’s Bluetooth headphones are a perfect choice. Available for about $20 and packed with features that make them perfect for working out or running hands-free, you’re bound to get a lot of use out of these earbuds from Letscom.
Perhaps one of the best features of Letscom’s Bluetooth headphones is the fact that they comfortably fit over your ear and in your ear, offering reliable stability while you exercise. Beyond being a secure pair to wear hands-free, the 11mm copper speakers Letscom has included in these headphones mean that you’ll still get great sound quality even at a lower price point. Offered in a range of colors like Black/Green, Red/Purple, and Red/Black, these waterproof headphones are a welcome addition to any gym bag.
iClever BTH03 Kids Wireless Headphones
Of course, headphones aren’t just for adults. In fact, with more and more kids using tablets or learning through online videos, it’s just as important to have a comfortable, smaller pair of headphones for children that you can trust. That being said, you don’t want to break the bank on something that your child might break, which makes iClever’s BTH03 kids' wireless headphones a great option for families.
iClever’s wireless pair of headphones has the features parents will appreciate without forgetting that children are the ones who’ll also need to be happy with the purchase. With four color options and customizable LED lights, these wireless headphones are sure to appeal to kids who want to show off their own personal flair with their new tablet accessory. At the same time, parents will appreciate the built-in volume restrictor which allows you to protect your kid’s ears by restricting the volume to certain decibel levels. Great for tablet time or digital learning, iClever’s BTH03 headphones should please parents and kids alike.