Ditch those awful Apple earbuds and you’ll be amazed at just how sweet your music sounds. Here are some of our favorite top-rated earphones and headphones.
You might not want to hear it, but those ubiquitous white earbuds that come bundled with your iPod just don’t sound very good. The single best accessory upgrade you can buy for a new media player, smartphone, or tablet is a solid pair of headphones. With so many choices, ranging from $30 cans you can pick up at the local Best Buy to $1,000+ custom-audiologist-fit in-ear monitors, finding the right pair of headphones can be tough. But if you spend the time to pick the right pair, and you take good care of them, your headphones can easily outlive the device that’s delivering your music. Whether you prefer padded over-the-ear headphones or snug in-canal earphones, we’ve got you covered with a quick look at some of the best we’ve tested in a variety of prices and types, including noise-cancelling, wireless, and gym-friendly pairs.
For in-depth headphone shopping advice, check out our comprehensive buying guide, and our headphone product guide for the latest reviews. For now, here are some of our favorite earphones and headphones.
Bowers & Wilkins C5 In-Ear Headphones
The Bowers & Wilkins C5 In-Ear Headphones offer beautiful, rich bass and fantastic audio performance inside the most secure-fitting earphone design in its under-$200 price range.
The ER-4PT, the latest in Etymotic’s ER series, is perhaps the most accurate flat response pair of earphones you can buy, and it’s worth every penny.
Sennheiser CX 680 Sports
Sennheiser’s gym-friendly CX 680 Sports’ high-quality audio performance and secure fit in a rugged, waterproof design make them our Editors’ Choice for workout earphones.
At just $119, the Shure SE215 has no business sounding this good—and its replaceable cable means it should last longer than typical hard-wired models.
Phiaton PS 20 BT
Phiaton’s wireless PS 20 BT earphones, with their strong bass response, are an affordable example of how much stereo Bluetooth audio transmission has improved.
Phiaton PS 20 NC
For the price, Phiaton’s PS 20 NC noise-cancelling earphones exceed expectations, offering high quality audio performance and noise cancellation in a thoughtful design.
Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Hi-Fi Headphones
With the P5, Bowers & Wilkins gracefully enters the consumer headphone market with a stunning design that’s comfortable and sonically superb.
With a simple design, but superb audio quality, fans of strong-but-not-overwhelming bass response will love Denon’s comfortable AH-D1100 headphones.
Bose QuietComfort 15
Bose takes noise cancellation to the next level with the QuietComfort 15 headphones, and while the audio performance isn’t perfect, it’s an improvement over previous iterations.
SOL Republic Tracks
The affordable SOL Republic Tracks out-competes plenty of more expensive headphones that specialize in bass performance, but it’s not a particularly comfortable headphone pair.
Beats Pro by Dr. Dre from Monster
Outfitted with flip-up ear cups and a detachable cable to suit the modern DJ, the Beats Pro by Dr. Dre from Monster offers high quality audio performance.
By Eugene Kim, PCMag