The Best Headphone Brands For Audiophiles and Musicians

BEST CHOICE

Bose QuietComfort 35 Headphones

Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II
Our Rating:
4.7/5

PREMIUM PICK

Sennheiser HD 800 Headphones

Sennheiser HD 800 S
Our Rating
4.9/5

BEST VALUE

Audio-Technica ATH-Mx50s Headphones

Audio Technica ATH M50X
Our Rating
4.7/5

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Whether you’re a professional musician or just an avid listener, a great pair of headphones can take your music to the next level. From studio models, to audiophile headphones and pairs for on-the-go, there are dozens of different brands to choose from — and that can make finding good quality headphones a bit of a challenge.

We’ve taken on the challenge and, after much deliberation, have chosen Bose as the best headphone brand on the market. The durable frames, noise cancelling and sculpted audio signature truly set them apart from their peers.

Not a Bose fan? Not to worry. We’ve also highlighted 10 additional brands with good quality products. So, no matter your studio expertise or favorite music styles, you’re sure to find a pair that’s perfect for you.

The 11 Best Headphone Brands:

ImageHeadphone Brands
Bose Quiet Comfort 35 IIBose
Audio Technica ATH M50XAudio-Technica
Sennheiser HD 800 SSennheiser
SONY WH1000XM4Sony
beyerdynamic DT 1990 ProBeyerdynamic
JBL CLUB 950JBL
Beats Solo3 WirelessBeats
Skullcandy S6HTW K625Skullcandy
Bang Olufsen 1643874Bang & Olufsen
AKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIOAKG Pro Audio
Bowers and Wilkins PX7Bowers & Wilkins

Bose

Since its founding in 1946, Bose has become one of the best-known headphone brands in the United States. The Massachusetts company offers great durability and fidelity, with industry-leading, noise cancelling headphones. 

Bose offers in-ear headphones as well as on-ear and over-ear studio headphones. They’re aimed at music enthusiasts who want top-notch sound, with a sculpted response curve and outstanding noise cancelling. 

The QuietComfort 35 is one of Bose’s flagship wireless headphone models, with top-notch noise cancelling and a balanced sound signature. The bass and treble are slightly sculpted for a dynamic listening experience. The EQ changes as you increase the volume to preserve dynamics and articulation.

Ease Of Use
4.8/5
Sound Quality
4.7/5
Features
4.8/5
Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II

The wireless headphones offer two microphones onboard for taking phone calls and voice messages. They provide up to 20 hours of battery life on one charge. With outstanding build quality, they’re perfect for use around your home and office as well as specific listening sessions. 

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Audio-Technica

While the brand might not be as well known as Bose or Beats by Dre, Audio-Technica makes some of the best studio headphones around. They’re perfect for professional players and audiophiles alike. 

Audio-Technica headphones are known for their wide range and even response curve between bass, mids and trebles. Compared to other brands, this makes Audio-Technica cans perfect for recording and mixing as well as listening to your favorite tunes. 

No matter what genres you listen to, Audio-Technica headphones will present them exactly as the artist intended. For use outside of the studio, you can look at Audio-Technica earbuds and over-ear headphones as well. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X are famous among audiophiles and studio managers for their wide range and smooth, supple response curve. 

Ease Of Use
4.7/5
Sound Quality
4.5/5
Features
4.9/5
Audio Technica ATH M50X

Unlike bass-heavy brands that color your music’s sound and add extra EQ to your tracks, the Audio-Technica headphones give you a clear and accurate picture of every song. Whether you’re an audiophile or just looking for headphones with a great value, Audio-Technica offers some classic models. 

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Sennheiser

With German precision and balanced sound, Sennheiser is one of the best headphone brands for listeners in search of a premium option.

They’re known for their active noise cancelling and wireless headphones, so you get studio-quality sound in a package you can take anywhere. The company range includes both affordable and ultra high-end options aimed at audiophiles and pros. 

Sennheiser headphones offer a smooth, balanced sonic signature that’s versatile enough for all genres of music. If you want a more powerful character, you can also find some headphones Sennheiser makes with a slight boost in the bass and low mids. They sound great in modern music, but they’re still versatile enough for a broad range of applications. 

Ease Of Use
4.8/5
Sound Quality
5/5
Features
4.6/5
Sennheiser HD 800 S

The company’s flagship headphones are the Sennheiser HD 800 cans; these over-ear headphones offer an open back and proprietary drivers for the most immersive sound possible. If you want the absolute best sound available for studio applications and everyday use, these quality headphones set the standard.

The HD-800s use Sennheiser’s absorber technology to eliminate the “masking” effect. This prevents high-end frequencies from getting “masked” by louder midrange sounds, preserving the finest articulations across the entire audible spectrum. 

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Sony

Since the days of the Walkman, Sony has been a stalwart in the portable music world. Sony headphones build on that history, providing punchy and dynamic sound at accessible prices. 

Sony is known for its “V-shaped” tuning curve, which boosts the bass and trebles in comparison to the midrange. This design preserves weight and punch in the low end as well as clarity and sparkle at the top of the range. It’s perfect for genres like rock, blues, hip-hop and modern alternative.

Many of the best Sony headphones are on-ear headphones and earbuds, designed for listeners in need of more affordable options. However, some higher-end Sony models provide professional sound quality for studio use and everyday listening as well. 

Ease Of Use
4.7/5
Sound Quality
4.6/5
Features
4.7/5
SONY WH1000XM4

Their flagship Sony WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones fall into the latter category. These wireless noise-cancelling headphones are tough enough to withstand years of daily use — but their outstanding clarity and punch surpass most other headphones in their category. 

With up to 30 hours of battery life and an onboard voice pickup, the Sony models are also some of the best headphones for listening and talking on-the-go.

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Beyerdynamic

Among audiophiles and studio technicians, Beyerdynamic is one of the most popular headphone brands. The company makes some of the best quality headphones for studio musicians in search of a flat, balanced sound signature. 

Compared to other headphone brands, Beyerdynamics are smooth and airy, with a clean and articulate character. Because they don’t include any prominent bass boosts or treble adjustments, they sound natural and lifelike. So, if you’re looking for a headphone set to record, mix and master, this is one company you need to know about. 

The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 is the company’s flagship headphone design. It’s an open-backed model with 45mm drivers for pristine, natural tones. You can also switch out the ear pads to change the tuning of the headphones.

Ease Of Use
4.9/5
Sound Quality
4.9/5
Features
4.3/5
beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

The single-sided cable and heavy padded ear cups make these headphones perfect for long studio sessions as well. The padding offers extra sound isolation, while the one-sided design keeps the wire out of your way while recording and playing. 

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JBL

JBL provides audio equipment, loudspeakers and in-ear monitors to some of the world’s biggest bands; their headphones are a great way to capture that same great sound in an affordable and compact package.

For consumers, JBL headphones offer a powerful attack and plenty of response through the bass and low midrange. Some of their headphones even include an extra “Bass Boost” mode, for users who want more aggressive, punchy tones. However, the audio is still balanced enough for everyday use. The midrange is muscular and clear, while the trebles are bright.

The company’s Club 950NC noise cancelling headphones offer outstanding bass response and high-quality wireless connectivity. With the in-app EQ adjustments, you can also modify the response to let the trebles and midrange shine. 

Ease Of Use
4.5/5
Sound Quality
4.3/5
Features
4.7/5
JBL CLUB 950

With up to 30 hours of battery life, they’re built for extended sessions. The Smart Ambient mode is another plus for everyday listeners. With the push of a button, it lets you turn down the music and boost the volume of the outside world. You can have a conversation without removing the headphones.

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Beats

Beats by Dre headphones are best known for their celebrity endorsements — but while they’re certainly flashy, the company makes headphones for a great listening experience as well. Beats by Dre provide a muscular, bass-heavy signature that’s perfect for rock, hip-hop and electronic music.

The brand’s headphones are also some of the best for everything you need beyond music, like phone calls and wireless noise cancelling. If you’re looking for one pair that you can use in the studio and on the street, Beats by Dre makes some compelling options. 

The Solo3 Wireless headphones are some of Beats’ most popular models. Their slim profile and outstanding battery life make them great for users on-the-go as well as audiophiles. The sonic signature shines with modern music styles and they’re powerful enough to hold their own in noisy environments. 

Ease Of Use
4.8/5
Sound Quality
4.5/5
Features
4.5/5
Beats Solo3 Wireless

Rather than bulky over-ear audiophile headphones, the Solo3s rest directly on your ears. The leatherette ear cups and padded headband keep the headphones comfortable for listening to hours of music at a time. With the wireless version, you don’t need to worry about plugging in anywhere you go. 

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Skullcandy

Skullcandy headphones provide good audio quality and powerful response for music lovers looking for headphones at a lower price. The company’s reputation for durability and value places them among the best-known labels on the market.

The company tuning is decidedly modern, with heavy bass emphasis and a scooped midrange. It’s perfect for hip-hop, R&B and trap. With a wide range of headphones from earbuds to large over-ear options, Skullcandy has something for every type of listener. 

The HESH 3 Wireless is Skullcandy’s flagship pair. They deliver fun, dynamic audio at an accessible price. The cans fit over your ear for an immersive fit with good noise isolation, while the Bluetooth connectivity keeps the frame sleek and eliminates any messy wires. 

Ease Of Use
4.8/5
Sound Quality
4.4/5
Features
4.4/5
Skullcandy S6HTW K625

Inside, the 40mm drivers provide good response with some more punch than competitors in their price range. The extra bass emphasis is more noticeable here, which can detract a bit from the clarity and dynamics of certain songs. Overall, the HESH 3 headphones work great for daily listening no matter your favorite genres.

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Bang & Olufsen

Bang & Olufsen headphones combine uncompromising audio with beautifully refined frames. They’re some of the best high-end headphones around for daily use and extended listening sessions.

The company is known for its detailed, open sonic signature. The bass and midrange offer outstanding clarity, while the trebles are bright and crisp.

Bang & Olufsen provides pairs of headphones ranging from small earbuds to studio-grade over-ear models. Almost all of the brand’s range is fully wireless, so you can get the best headphones on the market without wires getting in the way. 

Ease Of Use
4.5/5
Sound Quality
4.8/5
Features
4.8/5
Bang Olufsen 1643874

If you’re looking for one specific pair of B&O headphones, the Beoplay H4 models are a great place to start. These are some of the company’s most popular over-ear headphones, with a traditional Bang & Olufsen voicing and wireless capability. The balanced and articulate audio is perfect for listening on your own, although they’re powerful enough to take out as well. 

Along with the tones, the Beoplay H4 headphones are some of the most sleek and durable models anywhere. They’re built with classic materials like real leather, braided textiles and stainless steel so you know you’re getting a durable product.

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AKG Pro Audio

AKG is a company well-known for its audio equipment and microphones. AKG brings that experience to bear in all of its headphone designs as well. These cans are built for studio use and they offer the well-balanced response that recording musicians need. The sonic signature is fairly flat, with just a touch of EQ to help the music pop. 

The brand spans both affordable and higher-end models, with the main focus on wired studio headphones. Unlike some competitors, AKG makes plenty of open-back headphones, so you can get the best audio quality with an immersive, absorbing sonic profile. 

One of those more affordable models is the AKG K240. It’s a set of studio headphones that outperform almost every other pair in its class. These headphones are nearly completely flat, without many EQ adjustments to alter your music’s base tone.

Ease Of Use
4.7/5
Sound Quality
4.8/5
Features
4/5
AKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO

The K240’s “semi-open back” is another great feature for an affordable pair of studio headphones. This combines the noise isolation and punch of closed-back headphones with the airy, luscious feel of open-back headphones. They sound dynamic and precise yet balanced and clean.

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Bowers & Wilkins

Bowers & Wilkins headphones are some of the most luxurious on the market. With a sleek, futuristic aesthetic, they’re perfect for users who want a refined pair of headphones they can take anywhere. 

Bowers & Wilkins headphones include more than just great looks. They incorporate the same audio technology that’s made the British company’s loudspeakers so popular in studios around the world. The audio signature prioritizes a rich, deep midrange that blends nicely into warm basses and smooth trebles. 

The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 is the company’s flagship pair of headphones, and it lives up to the company reputation. These headphones are refined and sleek, with a carbon fiber composite frame and outstanding large drivers. Those drivers provide audio that’s powerful and focused, with plenty of depth and great articulation across many different styles of music.

Ease Of Use
4.7/5
Sound Quality
4.9/5
Features
4.7/5
Bowers and Wilkins PX7

The battery life reaches 30 hours, with a 15-minute quick charge option to restore five hours of battery in a pinch. For high-end wireless headphones with noise cancelling onboard, the battery is one of the longest-lasting you’ll find.

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The Best Headphone Brands: What to Look For

While every company we’ve highlighted here is a top headphone brand, a couple of factors separate each design. If you’re struggling to pick between multiple models, you can use the following criteria to help you make a choice.

Studio Quality Sound

No matter what you plan to use your headphones for, studio-quality sound is the first thing you should look for. However, even the best headphone brands can offer many different sonic signatures.

“Flat” sound signatures are the most common type for professional headphones. These models transmit pristine sound that mirrors the artist’s original arrangement. While these headphones work best in the studio, many audiophiles also love them for listening to music at home and work. 

Some well-known brands like Beats, JBL and Skullcandy offer a more sculpted EQ curve. This often involves raising the bass and sacrificing some treble clarity. These headphones are perfect for listening to more upbeat styles of music, but the EQ sculpting makes them a poor choice for the studio. 

If you want to get the best sound out of your headphones, you should also look for high-quality drivers. Drivers convert electrical signals into the sound you hear. Larger drivers can produce more punch, and often more dynamic expression as well. 

However, this doesn’t mean that all larger drivers sound better than smaller models. If you want lots of punchy bass, then larger drivers are essential. If you prioritize a lighter, more airy sound, then smaller drivers may work just fine. Testing out multiple pairs is the best way to find which drivers you like at a given size. 

Durability

Sound might be the most important factor for a pair of headphones but, if they’re not durable, you won’t be able to take advantage of their tone. It’s particularly important to find a tough pair of headphones if you want to take them out and about with you each day. 

To find more durable headphones, examine the materials. Frames made from steel, aluminum and carbon fiber are all good choices. The same goes for materials for the ear cups. Genuine memory foam works well, with standard foam offering a bit less comfort and durability. 

Some studio headphones from Sony, Audio-Technica and Beyerdynamic are also known for their durability. Because they have wires and don’t use active noise cancelling, they’re less likely to fail. If you want the toughest headphones on the market, look for one of those designs.

Comfort

For extended listening sessions, it’s critical to find a comfortable pair of headphones. 

In general, over-ear headphones tend to be more comfortable than on-ear models, which can press into your ears over time. A good set of ear cups can also make a big difference. Look for memory foam cups and extra headband padding to keep the headphones comfortable.

Along with the frames themselves, the best headphone brands offer wireless options. These free you from cables, so you don’t need to carry your phone or computer as you listen to music.

Intended Use

Studio headphones focus only on music. They don’t offer the call support, app integration or wireless performance that most other headphones do. However, they provide fantastic audio, particularly open-back models with an airy and bright tone. 

If you’re building a home studio, these headphones are a perfect complement. You might also want to check out our guide to the best audio interfaces, which can help you record, mix and master your home studio tracks.  

Headphones aimed at regular consumers are often less balanced, without the crisp precision of studio models. Their audio signatures often include significant bass or treble boosts to help the music sound punchier.

Along with the music itself, these headphones include onboard microphones and phone integration. This lets them take phone calls and control your phone as well as play music. If you’re always on-the-go and need one pair to do everything, a company like Sony, JBL or Beats will make the best headphones for you. 

Bottom Line

Of all of the best headphone brands, Bose is the top of the heap. Bose models provide dynamic audio with noise cancelling and outstanding integration for your daily life, making them a great choice for anyone. 

Audio-Technica, Beyerdynamic, Bang & Olufsen and Sony are also great options depending on your needs and how you plan to use them.

If you’re interested in more studio and stage monitoring solutions, check out our reviews on the best in-ear monitors here.

Do you prefer studio headphones or modern noise-cancelling designs? Where do you take your headphones each day? Let us know in the comments below. 

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