Don't Waste Your Money is supported by our readers. When you purchase an item through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Headphones

Last updated on November 12, 2019

We looked at the top 14 and dug through the reviews from 92 of the most popular review sites including New York Times Wirecutter, Wired, CNET, Android Police, Soundguys, Tech Radar and more. The result is a ranking of the best .

Why Trust The DWYM Score?

DWYM is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

Bose

QuietComfort 35 Headphones

Overall Take

First-Rate HeadphonesThe Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones are a top pick because of their lightweight design and excellent sound quality.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus New York Times Wirecutter, Top Ten Reviews, BestReviews, Tech Gear Lab, Consumer Reports, CNET and 7 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and Target.
Pros
" If noise cancelling is what matters most to you, the Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II is the wireless headphone pair to get—its noise cancelling ranks among the best available. On top of that, it sounds good, it’s exceptionally comfortable, and..."
Cons
"Audio quality isn't the best. Style leaves something to be desired. Audio leakage due to loose fit on some."

Sennheiser

RS 165 RF Wireless Headphone

Overall Take

Headphone SystemThe Sennheiser RS 165 RF Wireless Headphones are great for movies or gaming.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus New York Times Wirecutter, Engadget, RTINGS.com, Best Reviews Guide. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Best Buy.
Pros
" If you’re planning on using your headphones for watching TV frequently, and you’re willing to spend around $200 on a pair of wireless headphones for use at home, we recommend the Sennheiser RS 165, which is that company’s current base..."
Cons
"But no one on our panel was thrilled with its sound in light of its higher price tag. We preferred our previous pick, Sennheiser's cheaper, more-balanced-sounding, and now-discontinued RS 160."

Bose

QuietComfort 20

Overall Take

Crisp AudioThe Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones offer crisp audio quality and a lightweight design.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus New York Times Wirecutter, Consumer Reports, CNET, Tech Radar, Tom’s Guide, PC Magazine and 4 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and Target.
Pros
" The Bose QC20 came out on top because it provided better active noise cancelling than any other model we tested by far. In this regard it even bested the larger QuietComfort 35 Series II, our pick for the best over-ear..."
Cons
"Expensive; they don't sound as good as many competing in-ear headphones in this price range; rechargeable battery isn't replaceable."
  The Best Value

Toysdone

Wireless Headphones

Overall Take

Comfy OptionThe Toysdone Wireless Headphones are affordable and comfortable.

Experts Included
DWYM Electronics Experts plus . Along with user reviews from Amazon.
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
21

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the available to purchase.
14

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

92

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: New York Times Wirecutter, Wired, CNET, Android Police, Soundguys.

99,888

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Target, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart.

Our experts reviewed the top 14 and also dug through the reviews from 92 of the most popular review sites including New York Times Wirecutter, Wired, CNET, Android Police, Soundguys, Tech Radar and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best .

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones

Our Expert Score
9.0
13 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.0
8,178 user reviews
Our Take

These over-ear headphones by Bose boast first-rate noise cancellation and excellent sound quality in a lightweight, comfortable design. Built-in compatibility with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant and a skip-free Bluetooth connection make this pair well worth the money. During our testing, we were blown away by these headphones, which were comfortable and had awesome sound quality. We also like the accompanying storage case.

What other experts liked
If noise cancelling is what matters most to you, the Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II is the wireless headphone pair to get—its noise cancelling ranks among the best available. On top of that, it sounds good, it’s exceptionally comfortable, and...
- New York Times Wirecutter
December 10, 2018 | Full review
Comfortable cups. Lightweight. Long battery life. Excellent noise-cancelling technology.
- Top Ten Reviews
Wireless headphones. You can adjust the level of noise cancellation. Up to 20 hours of wireless play time. Connect to Amazon Alexa. Comfortable to wear. Excellent sound quality. Control on the headphones and in...
- BestReviews
December 1, 2018 | Full review
Great sound quality, good noise cancellation, comfortable, built-in Google Assistant
- Tech Gear Lab
Here's the thing: Yes, the QuietComfort 35s are an expensive set of headphones. But it's hard enough to find wireless headphones that either sound good or perform well, and most only manage to do one of these things well. The...
- Reviewed
July 18, 2017 | Full review
This wireless Bluetooth model from Bose delivers excellent active noise reduction and excellent sound quality; they are a decent choice for the listener who will not be satisfied with anything less than top notch music and movie soundtrack playback. These...
- Consumer Reports
The Bose QuietComfort 35 combines top-of-the-line active-noise canceling with wireless Bluetooth operation in an extra-comfortable, fold-up design. The sound is excellent for Bluetooth, and it doubles as a great headset for phone calls. Works in wired mode with included cord...
- CNET
June 19, 2016 | Full review
The QuietComfort 35s are exactly what Bose promised they’d be. They’re the best noise-canceling headphones around, and the best-sounding headphones that the company has produced yet. Now you’ve got the added convenience of them being wireless — just in time...
- The Verge
June 22, 2016 | Full review
Broad and clear soundstage. Amazing noise cancellation. Long battery life. Quick and hassle-free pairing.
- Tech Radar
Superior noise cancellation. Light and very comfortable wireless design. Intuitive controls. Excellent audio quality. Long battery life.
- Tom's Guide
June 20, 2016 | Full review
Best noise cancellation on the market. Balanced and powerful audio. Can function wired or wireless.
- PC Magazine
June 8, 2016 | Full review
My new favorite travel headphone. Battery life exceeds the quoted 20 hours. Comfortable and unobtrusive over-ear fit. Noise-canceling tech is the best in the biz. Premium construction: anodized aluminum covers and synthetic protein leather cushions on the ear cups, stainless...
- Wired
January 14, 2019 | Full review
Outstanding noise isolation. Wireless and comfortable design. Good sound quality.
- RTINGS.com
February 27, 2018 | Full review
What other experts didn't like
The downside is that the aggressive noise cancelling produces pressure on the eardrums that some people (including most of our testers) find uncomfortable.
- New York Times Wirecutter
December 10, 2018 | Full review
Audio quality isn't the best. Style leaves something to be desired. Audio leakage due to loose fit on some.
- Top Ten Reviews
Headphones pick up external noise during phone calls, which may be distracting for the person you're talking to.
- BestReviews
December 1, 2018 | Full review
Expensive.
- Tech Gear Lab
The QC35s are absolutely worthy of consideration, but only if you don't mind your credit card taking a pretty hefty hit; they're the real deal, but at $350, they're not for everyone.
- Reviewed
July 18, 2017 | Full review
Battery isn't user-replaceable, and the headphone is heavier than the QuietComfort 25.
- CNET
June 19, 2016 | Full review
$350 isn’t cheap
- The Verge
June 22, 2016 | Full review
Active EQ an acquired taste. Boring looks.
- Tech Radar
App doesn't do much. Bass could be beefier.
- Tom's Guide
June 20, 2016 | Full review
Cable has no inline remote control. DSP has a major impact on the sound signature in terms of EQ sculpting and dynamics.
- PC Magazine
June 8, 2016 | Full review
They sound terrible in passive mode, just use them wirelessly. They fold down pretty small, but they still take up too much room in the carry-on.
- Wired
January 14, 2019 | Full review
Moderate sound leakage.
- RTINGS.com
February 27, 2018 | Full review

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Toysdone Wireless Headphones

Expert Summarized Score
0.0
0 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
7.8
4,208 user reviews
Our Take

These Toysone Wireless Headphones earn high marks for comfortability. They're lightweight, plus they come with three types of ear tips and two types of ear hooks to make sure they fit your ears and head. You can get up to six hours of usage in between charges. During our testing, we found these to be surprisingly easy to connect and use. We also found the audio quality to be great.

What other experts liked
What other experts didn't like

Overall Product Rankings

1. Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones

Overall Score: 9.4
Reviews Included: 17

2. Sennheiser RS 165 RF Wireless Headphone

Overall Score: 8.7
Reviews Included: 6

3. Bose QuietComfort 20

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 14

4. SoundPEATS Bluetooth Wireless Earphones With Mic

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 5

5. Sony Hi-Res Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphone

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 5

6. Toysdone Wireless Headphones

Overall Score: 8.5
Reviews Included: 1

7. Plantronics BackBeat Fit 2100

Overall Score: 8.4
Reviews Included: 7

8. HyperX Cloud

Overall Score: 8.3
Reviews Included: 11

9. Sony MDRZX110NC Noise Cancelling Headphones

Overall Score: 8.2
Reviews Included: 16

10. Jabra Elite 65t

Overall Score: 8.2
Reviews Included: 14

12. Beats Studio 3

Overall Score: 7.7
Reviews Included: 15

13. Plantronics BackBeat GO 410 Wireless Headphones

Overall Score: 7.4
Reviews Included: 5

14. MEE audio Headphones

Overall Score: 6.6
Reviews Included: 7

Our Findings

Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones

What We Liked: These over-ear headphones by Bose boast first-rate noise cancellation and excellent sound quality in a lightweight, comfortable design. Built-in compatibility with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant and a skip-free Bluetooth connection make this pair well worth the money. During our testing, we were blown away by these headphones, which were comfortable and had awesome sound quality. We also like the accompanying storage case.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Sennheiser RS 165 RF Wireless Headphone

Best for Gaming

Sennheiser RS 165 RF Wireless Headphone System (Electronics)


List Price: $219.95 USD
New From: $139.99 USD In Stock
Used from: $139.99 USD In Stock

What We Liked: Sennheiser goes beyond standard wireless headphones with an entire wireless headphone system. The transmitter improves the audio quality of your home’s TV or entertainment system, making these a great pick for anyone who wants a more immersive movie-watching or gaming experience.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

SoundPEATS Bluetooth Wireless Earphones With Mic

What We Liked: These magnetic wireless earbuds won’t break the bank, which is great if you’re shopping on a budget. On top of that, we like that they’re sweat-resistant, so you won’t have to worry about these earbuds while you’re sweating at the gym or on a run. We also liked the carrying case and accompanying carabiner.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Toysdone Wireless Headphones

What We Liked: These Toysone Wireless Headphones earn high marks for comfortability. They’re lightweight, plus they come with three types of ear tips and two types of ear hooks to make sure they fit your ears and head. You can get up to six hours of usage in between charges. During our testing, we found these to be surprisingly easy to connect and use. We also found the audio quality to be great.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Bose QuietComfort 20

Also Great

Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones, Apple Devices, Black (Electronics)


List Price: $249.00 USD
New From: $249.00 USD In Stock
Used from: $249.00 USD In Stock

What We Liked: The lone pair of wired, earbud-style headphones in our top four makes a powerful case for itself with surprisingly effective noise cancellation, secure silicone tips and a portable earbud design. Android fans might be turned off by the Apple-centric compatibility, but the crisp sound across all genres make these buds worth it.

Plantronics BackBeat Fit 2100

What We Liked: You won’t have to worry about these Plantronics earbuds falling out while you’re at the gym. Nor will you have to worry about wearing them while running outside. They’re made with a reflective finish that helps people see you and they let in ambient noise so you can hear your surroundings.

Our Expert Consultant

Calvin West   
Music and video producer

Calvin West, a music and video producer, recorded his first album at 19 and has been in the music business since. Currently based in Spain, where he has worked with artists and labels around the world providing services in music mixing, mastering and lyric video production.

Our Buying Guide

Headphones are huge right now. Music fans, gaming buffs and podcast aficionados spent more than $9.5 billion dollars on them in 2016, and that number is projected to balloon to $13.8 billion in the next seven years.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

There are multiple styles of headphones. Earbuds, on-ear and over-ear headphones are the three most popular types, and they’re all available in wired and wireless versions. If you’re intimidated by the number of options you’re seeing online or in the electronics aisle, there are a number of ways to narrow down the choices and find the best headphones for your needs.

“The most important factor to consider when shopping for headphones is the environment it’s going to be used in,” says music and video producer Calvin West.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

At the gym? At home? On the train? For example, if you’ll be outdoors a lot or wearing the headphones on the bus while you commute to work, consider headphones with noise-canceling properties, West suggests.

Earbuds, or in-ear headphones, sit just inside your ear canal. Soft silicone tips fit snugly inside your ears, and some models come with different sizes for a customized fit. Other models, like the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 2100, have secure-fit eartips that create a stronger seal in your ear canal for a more secure fit.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Earbuds are available in standard wired versions, wireless versions (which connect around the back of your neck with a small wire but do not need to connect to your device with a wire), and true wireless versions (where both earbuds operate independently with no wires at all).

On-ear headphones, which are sometimes called supra-aural headphones, are larger, with soft ear cups made from real or synthetic leather. They sit on top of your ears and allow more sound in while you’re listening, which makes them great for times when you want to listen to music without completely canceling out surrounding sounds. They’re also more lightweight and portable than heftier, full-coverage over-ear headphones.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Over-ear headphones enclose your entire ear in soft ear cups. They’re the largest headphone option, and they boast advanced features like noise cancellation and higher sound quality than other types of headphones. They’re great for wearing indoors while you’re focused on work, playing video games or enjoying high-definition sound on your smart TV. They tend to be a bit bulky to take with you when you’re commuting, but the total noise cancellation option makes them great for long flights.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Some over-ear headphone models have active noise cancellation as well as ambient sound modes for different listening scenarios. Other types of over-ear headphones, like the Bose QuietComfort 35, come with a transmitter that connects to your home audio or entertainment system for a more robust digital listening experience.

DWYM Fun Fact

You owe your favorite pair of headphones a salute. The first pair of modern audio headphones were picked up by the U.S. Navy in 1910 after being repeatedly rejected by private sector investors. Mormon inventor and engineer Nathaniel Baldwin invented them on his kitchen table; the Navy’s eventual investment made him a rich man. They ordered 100 pairs and sparked a headphone revolution. Unfortunately, Baldwin never patented them, so the German company Bayerdynamic made some serious cash when they created the first pair for home enjoyment in 1937. Baldwin also wound up bankrupt after using his payout from the Navy to make a less-than-sound investment in the Mormon polygamous movement. Whoops!

The Tips and Advice

  • If you’re picking out new headphones, the first order of business is choosing between wired and wireless. Wired headphones are generally more reliable, since they don’t rely on a Bluetooth connection to connect you to your music, but wireless technology is quickly catching up. You can get more bang for your buck in terms of sound quality with wired headphones, too, and you’ll never have to worry about your wired headphones running out of battery. However, the freedom of wireless headphones outweighs their downsides for many people, and high-end styles like the Bose QuietComfort 35 have up to 20 hours of battery life per charge.
  • Next up: what activities will you be doing while you wear your headphones? Gym rats will benefit from earbud styles, like the Soundpeats Wireless Earbuds. Their cone-shaped silicone tips fit securely in your ears, staying in place during very active sweat sessions. Plus, the in-line mic and volume control helps you answer calls or switch songs without fumbling with your phone. If you’re relying on headphones to help you focus while working from home or enjoying your favorite music, a pair of plush over-ear headphones can provide premium sound and comfort with active noise cancellation.
  • How portable do you need your headphones to be? Earbuds, like the Soundpeats Wireless Earbuds or the Plantronics BackBeat Fit 2100, are lightweight and fit into a purse, pocket or briefcase, but wireless and true wireless versions are easier to lose. If you’re not planning on taking your headphones far from home, on-ear or over-ear options make more sense; you can enjoy their superior sound quality without worrying about hefting them around.
  • If you’re going to drop your hard-earned cash on headphones, you’ll want to take steps to care for them to keep the music playing. Wired headphones need cable care; you’ll want to wind up the cable and secure it with a twist tie or velcro rope while not in use. Make sure you don’t leave your headphones in areas where it becomes extremely hot or cold (like inside your car during chilly winter days or hot summer nights). Those temperatures can damage the internal audio components.
  • Keeping your headphones clean also contributes to their life span. Earbud-style headphones need special attention since wax buildup can affect sound quality and hygiene. Removing the silicone ear tips, rinsing them with warm water, and drying them with a soft cloth should be part of their regular maintenance. All types of headphones should be wiped with a damp, clean cloth and dried if they’re exposed to excessive sweat or moisture. Make sure to keep your charging port clear of crumbs and debris for reliable charging, and store on-ear and over-ear headphones in a hard case when they’re not in use.

About The Author

Abby Stassen
Abby Stassen 

Abby Stassen has a bachelor's degree in English language & literature from the University of Michigan. She's been writing professionally for over a decade, and she's been covering electronics for three years. Electronics can save you a lot of time and add some fun to your day. Abby is a gadget-head who scours endless online reviews and product specs to recommend the best electronics you can buy. She also loves testing her own purchases at home (especially video games). If a set of headphones or a new tablet makes its way into her heart, you'll also see it in one of her online pieces.