Best Headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best headphones you can buy on any budget in 2019.
With the arrival of smartphones and streaming services, music has never been more widely accessible. However, without the right hardware, even the best tunes can sound pretty underwhelming. Even the best smartphone speakers can only take it so far. That’s why, if you’re looking to experience music and audio in all its glory, you need the right pair of headphones.
And when it comes to headphones, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Music and audio is a very personal experience and people have all kinds of different preferences. Furthermore, there are so many categories of music, there are just as many options. Some people like the convenience of a wireless set while others prefer the reliability and audio quality of wired headphones.
Some people prefer portability, while others prefer the highest comfort. Some have very specific sound signature requirements such as high bass, or high treble, or just overall balanced quality.
Owing to all these factors, We've selected the best headphones for each form-factor, and we've even picked out a budget option for each so that you should be able to find an excellent pair, no matter where your price point lies.
The headphones that you'll find here have tons of features to help you get the most out of your music. These features range from wireless connectivity to noise-cancellation and come in the three major form-factors: in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones.
We've selected the best headphones for each form-factor, and we've even picked out a budget option for each so that you should be able to find an excellent pair, no matter where your price point lies.
If you already know which kind of headphones you're looking for, then you can browse through our other, more specific, recommendations:
Here's a quick look at the best headphones in India right now:
After spending a few weeks with the 1MORE Triple Driver in-ear headphones we were blown away at just how much value they give in this price range.
It’s hard to think of a better sounding pair of headphones that are as durable. There’s very little with which we can find fault with but it's worth mentioning that the rubber cable is an unnecessary struggle and the remote control feels cheap because it's made of plastic without a metallic finish. But this is honestly just nitpicking.
Instead, it's better to highlight the 1More Triple Driver's warm tonal balance. Even the bass sounds good with extension and impact. It gives you the right amount of boost without completely taking over.
Read the full review: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone
The Sennheiser CX 213's build upon the legendary budget in-ears, the CX 180, which have been around quite some time.
Although it's a minimal upgrade when it comes to the CX 213's, the sound quality is balanced with a slight bass bump. Bass is slightly emphasized and features good impact while maintaining good control. It also has better passive noise cancellation to the table over the CX180.
Grado has improved on its already great SR60e model with these new open-backed headphones. The design is exactly the same and unapologetically retro. However, what this pair of headphones lack in looks, they make up for it in terms of listening experience. Due to its open-ended design, there’s much depth and space in tunes with excellent midrange and treble detail. The clarity for the price is also excellent.
The downside is that there’s too much leakage compared to closed earphones. Everyone else hears you loud and clear. For that very reason, it’s best to use them indoors. Otherwise, be prepared for some odd gazes on the road.
The Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signatures are simply some of the best-sounding headphones we’ve ever used. They have a tight, refined sound that offers an almost unmatched level of detail.
That said, the fact remains that they’re a comparatively feature-light pair of cans. If you want to spend less then you can get a much more portable pair that’ll be better suited to the morning commute or a plane ride thanks to additional features like noise-cancellation and Bluetooth connectivity.
But, if you’re looking to invest in a seriously high-quality pair of headphones to listen to a high-quality music collection, then there are few that can match the P9s at this price point.
Read the full review: B&W P9 Signature
- Want more options? Check out our guide to the best over-ear headphones.
Even though they have a plastic body, the AKG K92 stands as a very good competitor when it comes to audio quality. In most cases, you get what you pay for but these headphones push above and beyond their price range.
They're dynamic, expressive and let you clearly listen to individual instruments without being reduced to a mess of sound.
Most users prefer them for in-house use due to their size but being lightweight, portability is feasible. Their size is an asset rather than a drawback because their fit wouldn't be comfortable otherwise.
All in all, their performance is amazing and they definitely give other brands a run for their money.
Read the full review: AKG K92
If there’s anything surprising about the new Sony WH-1000XM3 it’s that they’re so consistent with what Sony has released in the last two years in the form of the Sony WH-1000XM2 and Sony MDR-1000X. To wit, they’re a dominant noise-cancelling pair of headphones that can beat out anything Bose has with both arms behind its back.
That’s because, while Bose has done a tremendous job working out its noise-cancellation algorithm over the years, Sony has spent that time perfecting audio playback while simultaneously creating an adaptability algorithm that doesn’t just create a single sterile sound barrier, but multiple kinds that can adapt to whatever situation you’re in.
Beyond being exceptional at keeping external noises at bay, Sony's headphones are Hi-Res Audio-ready, sporting aptX, aptX HD and LDAC codecs, plus offer will offer Google Assistant support right on-board. If you need a headphone that can live up to any challenge and excel in any environment, these are them.
Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM3
The JBL Tune 750 indeed offer great noise cancellation as advertised and much more. They sound great, look great, and they fit comfortably with the over-ear soft cups. Rivals offer these features at much more than JBL model.
However, the JBL Tune isn’t perfect. Battery life, app support, and the lack of adaptive noise cancellation is what holds it back a bit. However, at this price, we’re not about to complain.
Read the full review: JBL Tune 750BTNC
If you're a frequent traveller you're probably all too familiar with headphones that can't hold a charge and can't block out sound, let alone sound very good. Let us introduce you to the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, one of the few headphones on the market that can do all of the above and cost less than half as much as one of the bigger names like Beats, Bose and Sony.
They also include a neat little feature that allows them to automatically turn off when you're not wearing them, meaning you're able to easily maximise their battery life without much effort.
If we had to boil it down to its core, the BackBeat Pro 2 offers an excellent travel headphone with incredible battery life, supreme comfort, the ability to pair two devices as once and, most importantly, good sound quality for the cost.
Read the full review: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
Optoma NuForce BE6i are an updated version of the original NuForce BE6. However, the changes are minimal in the new pair of headphones.
They come with 10mm dynamic drivers and eight hours of battery life, which is a bump up from the 6 hours that their predecessor offered. They have an aluminium enclosure for the drivers but it's paired with a sub-par plastic remote on their tangle resistant flat wire.
They deliver good quality sound with controlled bass and decent clarity up top.
The Optoma NuForce NE6i are a pair of no-huss, no-fuss headphones that can survive heavy use.
Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE6i
All things considered, the Jabra Elite 65t are one of the best truly wireless headphones you can buy today. They cost slightly more than the Apple AirPods but they also offer better sound quality, noise isolation and adjustable ambient noise when you want it. And if you don’t like the design of the odd, alien-looking AirPods, the mature, understated look of the 65t may be to your liking.
While the Jabra Elite 65t are easily one of the highest-scoring true wireless headphones we've reviewed, there are a few others on the market worth considering: If you want a pair of exercise earbuds, there’s the Jabra Elite Sport which has higher water resistance and handy sports-oriented features. For audiophiles who don’t mind stretching the budget, the active noise cancelling Sony WF-1000X are an excellent choice. Bassheads will want to try the SOL Republic Amps Air.
If you only have the budget for one of these, though, go for the Elite 65t.
Read the full review: Jabra Elite 65t
- Want more options? Check out our guide to the best wireless headphones.
Press on to page two to see how to pick out a good pair of headphones along more of our recommendations.