Music is incredibly personal, and everyone has a different preferred genre.
But when it comes to headphones there almost as many preferences to choose from. Some people like the convenience of wireless, others the reliability and audio quality of wired. Some want the portability of in-ear headphones, and others the comfort of over-ears.
Upgrading your headphones is a personal choice, but it’s an essential step if you want to step away from the cheap earbuds that probably came bundled with.
A better pair of headphones will bring a new dimension to your music, whether it’s more detail, additional functionality or just more bass.
And while you could spend hundreds or thousands to get audiophile-grade gear, we’re the kind of people that like stellar performance for a good price.
The headphones you’ll find here have tons of features to help you to get the most out of your music however you like to listen to it. 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.
It sounds like a lot. But that’s where our guide to the best headphones steps in.
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 what your budget.
Here’s a quick look at the best headphones this year:
Don’t forget we’ve also got our specific guide to the best in-ear headphones.
What headphones does TechRadar recommend?
We think the two most important things to consider when buying a pair of headphones are form-factor and price, and so that’s exactly how we’ve organised our guide.
Below you’ll find our top picks for the best in-ear headphones, the best on-ear headphones, the best over-ear headphones, the best noise-cancelling headphones and finally the best wireless headphones.
As well as a top pick for each form-factor we’ve also included a budget pick which manages to offer great sound at a much more competitive price point.
Best in-ear headphones: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone
Your search for great sounding, good value headphones ends here
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99 dB/mW | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Lush sound quality
Excellent build and design
Plastic remote feels cheap
After spending a few weeks with both the 1MORE Triple Driver in-ear headphones we were blown away at just how much value they give in this price ranges.
For Rs 8,999 it’s hard to think of a better sounding and built headphone than the 1MORE Triple Driver.
There’s very little we can fault the Triple Drivers for like its rubber cable being an unnecessary pain and the remote control which feels cheap but that will be nitpicking. Instead what we will tell you is that the 1More Triple Driver sounds great and when you take into consideration the price, it’s impossible to do better than 1MORE’s Triple Driver in-ear headphones.
Read the full review: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone
Best budget in-ear headphones: Sennheiser CX 213
Great-sounding, incredibly cheap in-ear headphones
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 45 grams | Cable length: 1.2m | Frequency response: 25-20,000Hz | Drivers: Micro Dynamic | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 16 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Excellent build quality
Balanced, rich audio
Better noise reduction and bass
Marginal difference over the CX 180
The Sennheiser CX 213 builds upon the legendary budget in-ears, the CX 180 which have been around quite some time. Although there’s minimal upgrade when it comes to the CX 213, the sound quality is balanced with a slight mid-bass bump. Bass is slightly emphasized but not by much and features good impact while maintaining good control. It also brings better noise cancellation to the table over the CX180.
Best on-ear headphones: Grado SR60e
Truly excellent sound performance for a stellar price
Acoustic design: Open | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99db | Impedance: 32 ohm | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Impressive definition for the price
No in-line controls
For your money, you can’t do any better than Grado’s SR60e. The third-generation of the Brooklyn, NY-based company’s Prestige Series is its best and most refined yet. The SR60e in particular is a smart choice if you’re looking for an entry-level set of headphones that sounds like it should cost you way more than it does. Its open-backed ear cup design makes them a more breathable experience than what most on-ear headphones can deliver. In a few words, it’s our gold-standard when it comes to on-ears.
Read the full review: Grado SR60e
Best over-ear headphones: Oppo PM-3
Closed back planar magnetic headphones from the gods
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 322 grams | Cable length: 9.8 ft or 3.9 ft | Frequency response: 10-50,000Hz | Drivers: 55mm | Driver type: Planar Magnetic | Sensitivity: 102dB | Impedance: 26 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Stunning sound quality
Faux leather earpads
Less precision than open-back cans
The Oppo PM-3 are truly deserve to be called as the best over-ear headphones. They offer great quality of audio with mimimum isolation and are equally comfortable inside and outside the home. In other words, Oppo PM-3 never fails to provide crisp sound quality to the users.
Read the full review: Oppo PM-3
Best budget over-ear headphones: AKG K92
Budget over-ears that make no compromises on sound quality
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 199 grams | Cable length: 9.8 ft | Frequency response: 16-20,000Hz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 113dB | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Comfortable to wear
Budget plastic construction
No detachable cable
Even though they have a plastic body, but AKG K92 stands as a very good competitor when it comes to audio quality. They deliver extremely good sound quality and comfort to the users. Being lightweight, they are easily portable.
The headphones are priced at Rs 5,950 on Amazon India.
Read the full review: AKG K92
Best noise-canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM2
Crystal clear-sounding noise-cancelling headphones
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 23g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 10 hours | Wireless range: 33 ft | NFC: Yes
Hinges on arms are fragile
When you buy a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, you’re often trading sound quality for the ability to block out outside noise. It’s a trade that we’ve been willing to make for years because, honestly, we just hadn’t been able to find a headphone that could do both noise-cancellation and Hi-Res audio.
The Sony WH-1000XM2 is the follow-up to the surprisingly great MDR-1000X. They might have a slightly shorter battery life than Bose’s flagship over-ear headphones, the QuietComfort 35, but Sony’s WH-1000XM2 outclass the QC35 in terms of both performance for the price and overall feature-set.
Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM2
Best budget noise-canceling headphones: Philips Fidelio NC1
An all-around headset offering quality sound and noise cancellation
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: 3.9 feet | Frequency response: 7-25,000Hz | Drivers: Two 1.5″ Neodymium drivers | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 107 dB | Impedance: 16 ohm | Battery life: 25+ hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No
Brilliantly balanced sound
Great build quality and battery life
Some sound leakage
The Philips Fidelio NC1 replaces the Sony WH-H900N in our list. They comes with two 1.5″ Neodymium drivers and has a 3.9 ft cable. This may disappoint the users who are looking for wireless headphones. The headphones offer quality audio to the users with a promising 30 hours of battery life. Moreover, they have foldable ear cups which add to the portability of the headphones.
Read the full review: Philips Fidelio NC1
Best wireless headphones: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
Incredible audio fidelity backed by a serious price
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: 4.6 feet | Frequency response: 16-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 28 ohms | Battery life: 25+ hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | NFC: Yes
Comfy, rugged build
Everlasting battery life
Best wireless earphones: Optoma NuForce BE6i
Sporty wireless earphones that are great for casual listeners too
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 18 grams | Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz | Drivers: 10mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 95dB +/-3dB | Impedance: 20 Ohms | Battery life: 8 hours | Wireless range: 98 feet | NFC: No
Light on features
Optoma NuForce BE6i are an updated version of the original NuForce BE6. However, the changes are minimal in the new pair of headphones. They comes with 10mm dynamic drivers and an eight hours of battery life. Coming to the audio quality, the headphone delivers extremely good sound.
Priced at Rs 10,901, the earbuds are worth buying.
Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE6i
Best true wireless earbuds: Jabra Elite Sport
Great sound with fitness tracking to mach
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 4.5 hours (13.5 hours in charging case) | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No
Great sport features
Following the footsteps of Apple, Jabra launched a pair of ‘true wireless’ earbuds in India recently. Apart from offering great sound quality, the earphone comes with advance fitness analysis technology. Through this, the earbuds can track your heart rate during workouts.
They also support all the major operating systems including Android and iOS and can be easily paired with any smartphone.
Read the full review: Jabra Elite Sport
Press on to page two to see how to pick out a good pair of headphones along more of our recommendations.