I test headphones: these are the 3 Memorial Day over-ears and earbuds deals to look for

A set of Technics earbuds, Apple over-ears and Sony over-ears on TechRadar's Memorial Day background
(Image credit: Sony, Technics, Apple)

So, you're shopping the Memorial Day sales. Sensible – retailers regularly offer extra-special discounts in the lead up to this most important of days, and you love to see it. 

But when it comes to finding the best headphones and best earbuds for you, there are so many options out there (and so many on offer!) that you're going to need to narrow your search terms. Don't be swayed by buds claiming to be the best noise-cancelling earbuds in the business – come to me first.

Each product I'm about to recommend has been through TechRadar's rigorous review process and emerged with flying colors, otherwise it wouldn't be here. I'll add a link to the full-length review, alongside my own mini appraisal on why you should consider these headphones above the rest, depending on your priorities – et voilà! You've found yourself a great deal on something for your next flight, road-trip, office commute or gym workout. 

I'm already seeing a fair few headphones and earbuds Memorial Day deals live now, which means right now could be your moment – before the mad rush on Monday, May 27, 2024. 

I'll get to my recommendations in just a sec, but first, let's quickly unpack whether it's a good idea to buy now, or to wait... 

Buy now because...

Some of the best savings are already live: At TechRadar, we track headphones and earbud prices all year long, so we know which Memorial Day deals are good (and which are, well, not so good). If you're not sure about a saving, cross-check with our best cheap headphones deals and sales, where we round up the best of the best, live now – and tell you whether the deal is as good as we've ever seen.

You don't need delivery delays: This event can be a super busy time to buy the object of your heart's desire, and while major stock issues are unlikely, you might find your earbuds or headphones take a little longer to reach you – or sell out. If you're heading on vacation the day after Memorial Day, it would be wise to order a couple days ahead and give yourself some wiggle room.

You've already seen a deal you love: The most obvious reason to shop now is that you've already spotted a deal you love. Why wait on a good thing – especially when we tell you the price is equal to (or even lower than) the cheapest it's ever been? If the deals are good early on in this sales event, we say go for it! 

Wait and see 'til the big day because...

You like to know all your options: Here's what happens; a few online retailers go early with deals on class-leading headphones for Memorial Day (like, before the weekend early), others wait to announce their savings – and may launch counter-deals, depending on rival retailers' offers. Maybe you only like to shop at Walmart (see our Walmart Memorial Day sale roundup for this) but you only see a deal via another retailer. Your chosen seller may match it, but you'll need to wait and see… 

You want the biggest, best saving possible: Retailers like to dance to the beat of their own drum. What that means is that they have their own sales strategies, so some like to leave it to the last minute – and some prefer to drop their Memorial Day deals within a strictly limited time-frame (case in point: Amazon Flash Deals). Others occasionally increase the discount on the big day itself, so to ensure you're making the maximum saving, it could be better to wait. The main issue with this course of action? You run the risk of your favorite earbuds or headphones selling out.

The 3 early Memorial Day headphones deals I'm looking for

The Sony WH-1000XM4 on an orange background

(Image credit: Sony)
The best over-ear headphones for most people


Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 253g
Frequency response: 4Hz to 40kHz
Drivers: 1.57-inch dome-type
Battery life: 30 hours

Reasons to buy

Excellent noise cancellation
Great rich audio
Light and comfortable design

Reasons to avoid

Not water-resistant
Better noise cancellation now available

You probably know that the WH-1000XM4 are no longer Sony's newest flagship headphones – that baton passed over the Sony WH-1000XM5 in May 2022 – but these 2020-issue Sony over-ears are basically iconic in that the design is based on the game-changing (and excellent) Sony WH-1000XM3, which caused a sensation back in 2018, but have finally flown to the big gig in the sky

The sound quality of the WH-1000XM4 is still every bit as impressive against the 2024 competition, the feature-set still holds up as one of the best propositions around and considering the lower prices you can now find them for, I think they're all the headphones most people need.

Sony recently released the Sony ULT Wear, which carried over a feature I really liked in the XM4 which didn't arrive in the XM5; the ability to fold up for easier travel. But under intense review we felt the bass was just a little overstated in those. That isn't an issue with the excellent XM4. Aside from clear agile sound, there's also highly effective noise cancellation, multi-point pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling of lower-quality audio (ahem, Spotify), auto-pausing when you remove them, Sony’s excellent 360 Reality Audio processing (a real bonus if you're a Tidal subscriber), plus LDAC higher-quality wireless audio streams if your phone supports it. 

My advice? If you see an extra discount on the Sony WH-1000XM4 this Memorial Day, you can't go wrong – they're still at the top of our best headphones buying guide for a reason, folks. 

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM4 review

Technics EAH-AZ80 on TR blue background

(Image credit: Technics)
The best earbuds for both sound and features


Weight: 7g
Frequency response: 40-20,000Hz
Drivers: 10mm
Battery life: (Up to) 7h (earbuds); (up to) 25h (charging case)

Reasons to buy

Poised, revealing sound
Triple-point connectivity
Outstanding comms and comfort

Reasons to avoid

Noise-cancelling and battery life aren't best-in-class
They're not very small or light

The Technics EAH-AZ80 buds sound fantastic. They’re stacked with excellent specs and features (triple-device multi-point support, anyone?) including Bluetooth 5.3 with LDAC compatibility and Technics' own ‘Just My Voice’ technology, which means call quality is excellent. 

I called these earbuds the best earbuds of last year, against tough competition from Sony and Bose, each of which released new options to compete with the EAH-AZ80. The sound the Technics buds make is accomplished – accurate, balanced and detailed – and the design is resoundingly premium. Essentially, the EAH-AZ80 feels like a product that is both built to last and will outlast its rivals. There are seven different earbud sizes to choose from too, which means along with the excellent 'concha' shape (fashioned following extensive research) you’re highly likely to find a perfect fit. 

Okay, the price of the Technics EAH-AZ80 is that of a premium product, (thankfully, so is the specification) but given their May 18 2023 release date, might we see a deal to mark both Memorial Day and their first birthday? It wouldn't be unheard of for discounts to start appearing… 

Read our full Technics EAH-AZ80 review

Apple AirPods Max on red TR background

(Image credit: Apple)
Great noise cancelling headphones for those deep in the Apple system


Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 350g
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: 40mm dynamic
Battery life: 20 hours

Reasons to buy

Brilliant extra features for iOS
Great noise cancellation

Reasons to avoid

No 3.5mm audio port
Limited features for Android

What new things can I tell you about the Apple AirPods Max? As you'd expect, they come with excellent active noise cancellation, superb audio quality and a striking design that feels immensely high-quality – and of course this is Apple, so you have to pay for that. 

Except, it's been a while since they launched on December 15, 2020, with a price-tag of $549 / £549 / AU$899. Yes, they're still very good indeed in today's market, but given the growing competition since their arrival over three-and-a-half years ago (see the October 2023-issue Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones for starters, which boast even better noise cancellation and a cheaper asking fee) they could be ripe for an extra price cut over their $50 / £50 discount we've seen recently. 

What of the hotly anticipated AirPods Max 2? We don't know any more than you do (yet) and although a recent leak suggested they may launch later in the year we have no concrete evidence to go on. 

Ultimately, the original AirPods Max's Apple-specific features cannot be beaten by Tim Cook's Beats-branded May 2024 Beats Solo 4, so if there are some choice discounts kicking around on the AirPods Max (and you have an Apple source device) I think the time is right to bag a bargain. 

Read our full Apple AirPods Max review

More early Memorial Day deals to consider

Becky Scarrott
Audio Editor

Becky became Audio Editor at TechRadar in 2024, but joined the team in 2022 as Senior Staff Writer, focusing on all things hi-fi. Before this, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.