The best 10 headphones in comparison

Which are the best headphones of 2020?

Best headphones of 2020 (1 - 5)
headphones comparison
Comparison winner
headphones comparison
Comparison winner
Jabra Elite 85h
Comparison winner
Philips PH805
Comparison winner
Sennheiser PXC 550
Comparison winner
Marshall Mid A.N.C
Comparison winner
Sony WH-1000XM3
Comparison winner
JBL Club 950NC
Comparison winner
Harman Kardon Fly ANC
Comparison winner
Mavin Air-X
Comparison winner
JBL Club One
Comparison winner
Sony MDR-ZX770BN
Image
Jabra Elite 85h
100points
Philips PH805
96points
Sennheiser PXC 550
93points
Marshall Mid A.N.C
91points
Sony WH-1000XM3
90points
JBL Club 950NC
90points
Harman Kardon Fly ANC
90points
Mavin Air-X
89points
JBL Club One
89points
Sony MDR-ZX770BN
88points
Best price
Best price
Summary
Summary
  • Design (100)
  • Sound quality (63)
  • Power (87)
  • Connectivity (49)
  • Features (85)
  • Design (82)
  • Sound quality (72)
  • Power (65)
  • Connectivity (49)
  • Features (80)
  • Design (73)
  • Sound quality (90)
  • Power (63)
  • Connectivity (77)
  • Features (77)
  • Design (91)
  • Sound quality (68)
  • Power (61)
  • Connectivity (47)
  • Features (70)
  • Design (72)
  • Sound quality (73)
  • Power (86)
  • Connectivity (68)
  • Features (77)
  • Design (64)
  • Sound quality (54)
  • Power (68)
  • Connectivity (56)
  • Features (83)
  • Design (75)
  • Sound quality (69)
  • Power (79)
  • Connectivity (77)
  • Features (89)
  • Design (67)
  • Sound quality (57)
  • Power (72)
  • Connectivity (42)
  • Features (83)
  • Design (74)
  • Sound quality (54)
  • Power (66)
  • Connectivity (56)
  • Features (83)
  • Design (57)
  • Sound quality (84)
  • Power (70)
  • Connectivity (71)
  • Features (52)
Pros
Pros
  • Lower low-frequency
  • Passive noise reduction
  • More microphone(s)
  • Sweat resistant
  • Weather-sealed (splashproof)
  • Higher high-frequency
  • Lower low-frequency
  • Lower impedance
  • More microphone(s)
  • Higher high-frequency
  • Lower low-frequency
  • Higher sound pressure level
  • Passive noise reduction
  • More microphone(s)
  • Bluetooth pairing using NFC
  • Higher sound pressure level
  • Longer battery life
  • Higher high-frequency
  • Lower low-frequency
  • Higher sound pressure level
  • More microphone(s)
  • Bluetooth pairing using NFC
  • Longer battery life
  • Lower low-frequency
  • Shorter charge time
  • Lower low-frequency
  • Higher sound pressure level
  • Shorter charge time
  • Higher sound pressure level
  • Passive noise reduction
  • Lower impedance
  • Shorter charge time
  • Greater wireless connectivity range
  • Sweat resistant
  • Longer battery life
  • Higher sound pressure level
  • Shorter charge time
  • Lower low-frequency
  • Higher sound pressure level
  • Passive noise reduction
  • Lower impedance
  • Bluetooth pairing using NFC
Cons
Cons
  • Highest frequency
  • Battery life
  • Sound pressure level
  • Charge time
  • Battery life
  • Bluetooth version
  • Impedance
  • Bluetooth version
  • Charge time
  • Battery life
  • Highest frequency
  • Over-the-ear form
  • Charge time
  • Impedance
  • Bluetooth version
    • Bluetooth version
    • Battery life
    • Battery power
    • 3.5mm male connector
    • Highest frequency
    • Over-the-ear form
    • Detachable cable
    • Highest frequency
    • Warranty period
    Design
    Detachable cableWith a detachable cable you can use alternative cables, and if the cable is pulled it will pop out instead of breaking.
    Detachable cableWith a detachable cable you can use alternative cables, and if the cable is pulled it will pop out instead of breaking.
    Over-the-ear formComfortable full-size form with earcups that fully enclose your ears. This model is loved for its increased sound isolation and the fact that it won't leak sound to your neighbors. It offers potential for maximum bass and loudness levels.
    Over-the-ear formComfortable full-size form with earcups that fully enclose your ears. This model is loved for its increased sound isolation and the fact that it won't leak sound to your neighbors. It offers potential for maximum bass and loudness levels.
    Stereo speakersDevices with stereo speakers deliver sound from independent channels on both left and right sides, creating a richer sound and a better experience.
    Stereo speakersDevices with stereo speakers deliver sound from independent channels on both left and right sides, creating a richer sound and a better experience.
    Sweat resistantResistance to sweat makes it ideal for use while doing sports.
    Sweat resistantResistance to sweat makes it ideal for use while doing sports.
    Weather-sealed (splashproof)The device is protected with extra seals to prevent failures caused by dust, raindrops, and water splashes.
    Weather-sealed (splashproof)The device is protected with extra seals to prevent failures caused by dust, raindrops, and water splashes.
    Total score for "Design"
    Total score for "Design"
    Sound quality
    Highest frequencyThe highest frequency at which device produces audio. The higher the high-frequency response, the clearer and crispier the treble.
    Highest frequencyThe highest frequency at which device produces audio. The higher the high-frequency response, the clearer and crispier the treble.20000Hz40000Hz23000Hz20000Hz40000Hz22000Hz22000Hz20000Hz20000Hz22000Hz
    ImpedanceImpedance is the device’s electrical resistance to the current being pushed through it. The lower the impedance, the easier it is to get higher volume and requires less power.
    ImpedanceImpedance is the device’s electrical resistance to the current being pushed through it. The lower the impedance, the easier it is to get higher volume and requires less power.N.A.16 Ohms46 Ohms32 Ohms47 Ohms32 Ohms32 Ohms16 Ohms32 Ohms23 Ohms
    Lowest frequencyThe lowest frequency at which the device produces audio. The lower the low-frequency response, the stronger and juicier the bass.
    Lowest frequencyThe lowest frequency at which the device produces audio. The lower the low-frequency response, the stronger and juicier the bass.10Hz7Hz17Hz20Hz4Hz16Hz16Hz20Hz20Hz8Hz
    Passive noise reductionThe device sits tightly in place, creating an acoustic seal which reduces background noise and prevents your music from leaking out.
    Passive noise reductionThe device sits tightly in place, creating an acoustic seal which reduces background noise and prevents your music from leaking out.
    Sound pressure levelDevices with a higher sound pressure level are generally louder when supplied with any given audio source.
    Sound pressure levelDevices with a higher sound pressure level are generally louder when supplied with any given audio source.N.A.90dB/mW110dB/mW98dB/mW104.5dB/mW91dB/mW100dB/mW96dB/mW95dB/mW98dB/mW
    Total score for "Sound quality"
    Total score for "Sound quality"
    Power
    Battery level indicatorAn indicator shows you when the device has low battery.
    Battery level indicatorAn indicator shows you when the device has low battery.
    Battery lifeThe device's battery life (when in use) as given by the manufacturer. With a longer battery life you have to charge the device less often.
    Battery lifeThe device's battery life (when in use) as given by the manufacturer. With a longer battery life you have to charge the device less often.36h30h30h20h38h55h20hN.A.45hN.A.
    Battery power
    Battery powerN.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.730mAh700mAhN.A.730mAhN.A.
    Charge timeThe time it takes to fully charge the battery.
    Charge timeThe time it takes to fully charge the battery.2.5h2.5h3h3h3h2h2h2h2h2.5h
    Rechargeable batteryThe battery can be recharged and used over again.
    Rechargeable batteryThe battery can be recharged and used over again.
    Total score for "Power"
    Total score for "Power"
    Connectivity
    3.5mm male connectorA standard 3.5mm male connector is suitable for use with all MP3 players and computer sound cards.
    3.5mm male connectorA standard 3.5mm male connector is suitable for use with all MP3 players and computer sound cards.
    Bluetooth version
    Bluetooth version554.244.254.255N.A.
    Maximum Bluetooth rangeThe device can connect at a greater distance via Bluetooth or infrared to another device.
    Maximum Bluetooth rangeThe device can connect at a greater distance via Bluetooth or infrared to another device.10m10mN.A.10m10mN.A.N.A.100mN.A.10m
    Bluetooth pairing using NFCDevice supports fast Bluetooth pairing using NFC so it can communicate with other devices over Bluetooth. You can fastly pair devices without entering a code by simply holding one device next to the device with which it is to be paired.
    Bluetooth pairing using NFCDevice supports fast Bluetooth pairing using NFC so it can communicate with other devices over Bluetooth. You can fastly pair devices without entering a code by simply holding one device next to the device with which it is to be paired.
    WirelessWireless devices allow users more freedom of movement.
    WirelessWireless devices allow users more freedom of movement.
    Total score for "Connectivity"
    Total score for "Connectivity"
    Features
    Control panel on deviceThere is a control panel on the device body, so you can easily access the volume control or remote without having to interact with a cable or another device it's connected to.
    Control panel on deviceThere is a control panel on the device body, so you can easily access the volume control or remote without having to interact with a cable or another device it's connected to.
    Headset capabilityA headset is one headphone or pair with a built-in microphone. Headsets can be used for apps that require communication i.e. Skype, games with voice chat, mobile phones, etc.
    Headset capabilityA headset is one headphone or pair with a built-in microphone. Headsets can be used for apps that require communication i.e. Skype, games with voice chat, mobile phones, etc.
    Number of microphonesMore microphones result in better sound quality and enable the device to filter out background noise.
    Number of microphonesMore microphones result in better sound quality and enable the device to filter out background noise.883232N.A.222
    Noise-cancelling microphoneThese microphones are designed to filter out background noise from the desired sound. Especially useful in noisy environments.
    Noise-cancelling microphoneThese microphones are designed to filter out background noise from the desired sound. Especially useful in noisy environments.
    Warranty periodWhen covered under the manufacturer’s warranty it is possible to get a replacement in the case of a malfunction.
    Warranty periodWhen covered under the manufacturer’s warranty it is possible to get a replacement in the case of a malfunction.2N.A.2N.A.2N.A.N.A.N.A.N.A.1
    Total score for "Features"
    Total score for "Features"

    How to choose the best headphones

    Whether you are an audiophile who loves the alluring sound quality of on-ear or over-ear headphones, or a sporty type who wants a pair of light-weight earbuds, there are plenty of models available on the market. The sound signature, form factor, and extra features, such as wireless transmission and active noise cancellation, are only a few of the aspects you should take into account when looking for a new pair of headphones. To help you choose the best headphones for your needs, we've compiled this helpful guide.

    Types of headphones

    Most of us wear our headphones for a long time, during a commute or while traveling. This leads to the issue of comfort and durability. Some full-size headphones (over-ear and on-ear) have cushions surrounding the neckband for added comfort. There are also ear-fitting headphones (in-ear and earbuds), which are small enough to be carried just about anywhere since they can easily fit in your pocket. There are, of course, some drawbacks. Here's a list of advantages and disadvantages of full-sized and ear-fitting headphones:

     

    Full-size

    (over-ear and on-ear)

    Ear-fitting

    (in-ear and earbuds)

    Sound Quality

    Bigger drivers produce more bass and are generally better sounding than their smaller-size counterparts.

    Much smaller drivers produce much less bass and have less potential in creating quality sound.

    Comfort

    Full-size headphones are heftier and can become uncomfortable if worn for a long time.

    Ear-fitting headphones fit into the outer ear or ear canal. They are significantly lighter.

    Portability

    Full-size headphones are larger and heavier. While some of them have foldable designs, they are still considerably harder to carry.

    Ear-fitting headphones are much smaller and lighter. They can easily fit in a small bag, purse, or pocket.

    Repairability

    Full-size headphones large components that can easily be replaced when damaged. There are also some models with detachable cables, allowing you to use them with different types of cables (3.5mm or 6.3mm cables, USB cables, etc.).

    Ear-fitting headphones are made of very small parts that are usually glued together. In most cases, damaged ear-fitting headphones are more difficult to repair without special tools, and it's easier to send back to the manufacturer if the damage is covered by the warranty.

    There are also subtypes for each of the two headphone sizes. They don’t differ that much (if at all) in terms of size, but come with their advantages and disadvantages:

    Full-size Headphones

    • Over-ear: This type of full-size headphone has ear cushions shaped to go around the ears so that the earcups which hold the drivers completely cover the ears. Compared to on-ear headphones, these are typically heavier and bulkier, though not by much. Since it fully encloses the ears, it has more potential for heavier bass, better surround sound, and, if designed to do so, it can also block external noise more effectively than on-ear headphones. Another downside is that it also traps body heat around the ears. To find out which are the best over-ear headphones at the moment, you can consult this list.
    • On-ear: Instead of going around the ear, on-ear headphones have ear pads that fit on the ears. These headphones are usually a bit smaller and lighter compared to over-ear headphones. The disadvantages come from the fact that the pads press on the ears. This results in less effective noise isolation and uncomfortable fit due to the clamping force on the ears. On the other hand, it is less susceptible to trapping body heat around the ears. You can check out the top on-ear headphones here.

    Ear-fitting Headphones

    • In-ear: In-ear headphones have earplugs that extend into the ear canals. The earplugs are designed to mold into the shape of the ear canals to form a perfect seal. This leads to superior noise isolation and better bass reproduction. On the other hand, the perfect seal also makes the listener unaware of the surroundings and in places where environmental noise is important, for example, on the road, it is not advisable to wear in-ear headphones.
    • Earbuds: Instead of extending into the ear canals, earbuds rest in the outer ear. As a downside, there is so much room for ambient noise to seep into your ears, and the bass sounds are not that powerful since there is no perfect seal. Since there’s so much environmental noise that can pass through, people tend to put the volume at dangerously high levels, leading to a higher risk of hearing loss. On the other hand, earbuds can make you more aware of your environment. In addition, they are typically the cheapest type of headphones. On Versus, you have an extensive overview of in-ear headphones and earbuds.

    Aside from the size of the headphones, the materials also play a vital role in the product's design and durability. After all, stylish headphones look chic, and once you find a pair that fits well, you'll want to hold on to it. Depending on your budget, you may see a combination of the following materials on your headphones:

    • Plastic: Since it is the cheapest material readily available to manufacturers, a lot of headphones are made almost entirely of plastic. It is also much easier to mold during manufacturing than metal.
    • Rubber: Most headphones are usually covered with rubber. Rubber protects the headphones and is more scratch-resistant than plastic; it can also serve as a form of thin padding for comfort.
    • Foam: Most full-size headphones have foam on the earcups and headbands to provide a cushion between the headphones and the head. Ear-fitting headphones may also have ear tips made out of foam so that the earphones can adjust to the specific shape of the ear canal.
    • Metal: Metals, such as aluminum, are also used on some headphones, especially for high-end models. Metals, such as aluminum, are also used on some headphones, especially for high-end models. Aluminum alloys are much denser and stronger than plastic. This increases endurance and makes the headphones much more resistant to everyday wear. It can also have a positive impact on sound production if designed correctly, with a crisper and tighter sound signature, without the music sounding like it's coming from an enclosed dome.

    Sound quality

    Physical qualities aside, it is essential to consider the specifications of the audio driver. After all, when buying headphones, we are mainly looking for a gadget capable of delivering an exceptional sound experience. There are some key driver specifications you should check if you want to asses the sound quality of the headphones:

    Frequency Range

    A sound wave is characterized by its frequency. Sounds are created using a vibrating medium, and the physical measurement of how fast that medium is vibrating is the audio frequency. The frequency of the sound determines the perceived pitch of the listener. Most young individuals can hear sounds with frequencies ranging from 20 to 20,000 Hz, although this range becomes smaller as an individual ages.

    Since the normal hearing range is from 20 to 20,000 Hz, it makes sense that most headphones reproduce sounds in this range, although some headphones, especially high-end models, are pushing the limits of the lowest and highest frequencies.

    Frequencies below 20 Hz can still produce significant vibrations even though they are inaudible, giving you the impression of more profound bass sounds. Frequencies higher than 20,000 Hz are inaudible and can't be felt. So why bother making headphones which can produce sounds above 20,000 Hz? The answer isn't quite as straightforward. Even though humans can't detect the frequencies above 20,000 Hz, headphones designed to operate at that level would tend to sound better at the audible upper frequency. It may not make sense at first, but to put it into perspective, imagine asking two people, one a weightlifter and the other an average person, to lift a heavy object. While both may be able to do it, and you might argue that the weightlifter's power is overkill, the weightlifter would be able to do it effortlessly. At the same time, the average person might need all of his reserved energy to be able to do the job. In our glossary, you can find more information on the lowest and highest frequencies of audio devices.

    Impedance

    Headphones are driven by the electrical current that comes from the source, which may be your phone, your laptop, or another device. Impedance is the measurement of the resistance of the driver to that electrical current. The lower the impedance, the higher the volume is at the same electrical input. On the other hand, high impedance headphones are much less susceptible to blowouts – the situation in which the electrical input is too much for the drivers to handle.

    Choosing the right impedance depends on what device you are using with your headphones. If the headphones will be plugged mostly in your smartphone, laptop, or iPod, a low impedance headphone is better since the sound amplifiers in these devices can only output a small amount of current. But if you are planning to plug the headphones in audio mixers, it is better to go for headphones with high impedance to avoid running the risk of damaging the audio drivers.

    Most consumer headphones have below 50 Ohms, but professional-grade headphones have three-digit impedances, sometimes reaching over 250 Ohms. Generally, it's believed that the impedance of a headphone won't affect the sound quality. However, higher impedance headphones have much thinner voice coils (the moving electromagnets in the drivers), which means that there are less spaces in between each winding. Since there are not so many windings, the magnetic fields are stronger, and the diaphragm of the driver can be much lighter, which leads to fewer distortions in sound production.

    Sound Pressure Level (SPL)

    Also referred to as the headphone's sensitivity, it is the efficiency of the process of conversion from electrical current to audible sound waves. It is related to impedance in a way – both determine the loudness of the produced sound at a given electrical signal. However, while impedance is a technical measurement calculated using electrical instruments, SPL is a real-world measurement acquired through actual testing. In any way, the impedance predicts the SPL of the headphones. High impedance leads to lower SPL and vice versa. A higher SPL means that the headphones can produce sounds at a louder volume than headphones with lower SPL when the electrical input is the same. This is particularly useful when using headphones with portable devices that have weak built-in amplifiers.

    Magnet type

    Headphone manufacturers use ferrite magnets or neodymium magnets for the headphone drivers. There are just a few differences between the two, the most important one being the weight. Neodymium magnets are much lighter. Neodymium magnets can have the same magnetic force as ferrite magnets at just a fraction of the weight, and lighter headphones are, of course, more comfortable to wear.

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