22 Best Headphones Under $300 In 2017

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We’re pretty sure that you’ll agree with us: the right pair of headphones can significantly improve the quality of life. They allow you to listen to music, watch movies and play video games late at night without annoying the rest of the household. But more importantly, headphones allow you to carry your favorite tunes with you anywhere – while jogging, working in the garden, taking a stroll, doesn’t matter. They can eliminate distracting noises while you’re working really hard in your office, studying, or just taking a break. Even if you just want to get a better sound from your home TV system, the high-end headphones could be an affordable solution. When choosing the right pair, you have to ask yourself what do you need them for? If you’re ready to answer this question, we suggest that you use our comprehensive guide, so you can choose the best headphones under $300 that will suit your needs and please your ears.

Why Do You Need New Headphones?

If you want to listen to music late at night, or enjoy some fresh tracks while working in your office, it’s important to have a comfortable pair of HiFi headphones. They’re also an affordable way to get much better sound from your TV, because most of the high quality HiFi headphones can be purchased for less than the price of a new surround system. First, consider whether you want headphones with closed or open-back. We recommend closed-back for noisy environment where you might need sound isolation, or for the shared office where you don’t want to disturb your colleagues (the sound can “leak” from the open-back headphones, especially at higher volume).

In case you do not need closed-back headphones, the open-back headphones can provide the best overall sound quality thanks to their design. They cover the ear shell leaving room for the sound to flow in and out of the headphones cup, rather than going back and forth between the ear and headphones, which can create unwanted resonance. If you’re planning to wear headphones for longer periods of time, look for the ones that are comfortable and adjustable to the size of your head.

Wireless And Surround Sound Headphones

Whether you’re planning to connect your headphones to the receiver, your computer, or portable MP3 player, always make sure that the cable is long enough. If you found a nice pair of headphones, but the cable is too short for your needs, an extension cord designed for the headphones can be very useful. You may also want to consider buying headphones with one-sided cable – it’s connected to one headphone, but not the other.

You may also want to consider buying wireless headphones, because they allow you to listen to your favorite music while you’re on the move, without worrying about any regular cable related issues. Most wireless headsets use a 2.4 GHz radio frequency transmitter to send audio tracks from a source, such as your A/V receiver, to a pair of battery-powered headphones. These smart devices allow you to move anywhere within a certain range, so if you don’t like the idea of ​​dragging wires on the floor or around your head, the wireless headphones are definitely for you.

If you like to watch movies or spend a lot of time playing video games, high-quality headphones can provide excellent surround experience. Look for headphones that offer virtual surround sound, because they use sophisticated processing to make the sound seem like it’s coming from multiple directions.

Best Headphones Under $300 In 2017 – Top 22

Best Under $300ModelRatingPrice
ActivBuds4.2$30 - $50
Beats Solo24.2$100 - $200
Powerbeats33.1$70 - $150
Sony SBH703.8$50 - $90
HyperX Cloud4.2$70 - $100
BÖHM B-663.9$80 - $100
Audio-Technica4.6$130 - $170
Skullcandy Hesh4.2$60 - $100
Logitech G5334.0$70 - $100
COWIN E74.1$60 - $100
Samsung Level4.3$220 - $300
Bose SoundSport4.0$100 - $180
V-MODA Crossfade4.4$220 - $280
Mpow Cheetah3.9$20 - $40
Bose QuietComfort 204.4$200 - $300
Jabra Sport3.1$50 - $100
Bowers & Wilkins3.8$100 - $180
Bluedio Turbine3.9$20 - $50
Bose QuietComfort 254.3$200 - $300
Brainwavz HM53.8$100 - $180
Beyerdynamic4.5$150 - $220
Grado Prestige4.5$270 - $320

In-ear And Clip-on Headphones

All headphones designed for portable use are lightweight for better mobility. In-ear headphones, or clip-on headphones are designed for active use while on the move, and you can also wear a hat while using them, which is pretty neat, especially during cold winters. If you use public transport to get to work, or you simply want to enjoy the music thoroughly, look for in-ear headphones, as they are slightly less than your ear canal and can naturally block noise from the outside world. If you need portable headphones to use with your iPhone or any other cell phone, look for those with cable microphone and controls. Like home wireless headsets, most portable wireless headphones come with a small transmitter that connects to the headphone connector on your cell phone. This way you can easily pause your music and answer an incoming call by pressing the button. The best thing is, you can do it while your cell phone or any other music device is safely stored in a bag or your pocket, which is a convenient choice for long walks and public transport rides.

Just be aware that in-ear headphones can accumulate earwax, so don’t forget to clean them from time to time (or buy a new pair). And of course, it’s better not to share your headphones with others for too long, because it’s an easy way to spread bacteria.

Noise Canceling Headphones

Whether you travel a lot, work in a noisy environment that draws your attention, or simply live in a lively household, sound-canceling earphones can be a necessity. They use Active Noise Control – a sophisticated system that relies on small microphones that pick up the sounds around you. The headphones then re-signal these sounds to the opposite phases with unwanted sounds, which helps to cancel out the noise. Just keep in mind that they work best with constant sounds, such as aircraft engine sound; they can’t help with loud and sudden noises. Most of these headphones use batteries to operate the noise elimination system, so check the battery specifications before purchasing.

And Finally, Take Care Of Your Ears!

It’s very important to remember that listening to loud music can cause serious hearing impairment! So what can you do to protect your ears? Start listening at lower volume levels, without trying to overpower the external noise. Also, note that inserting the headset into the auditory channel has the effect of significantly increasing the volume. This is because the sound is less scattered and it reaches your eardrums faster. Try using closed-back or open-back headphones when you’re planning to listen to the music for longer periods of time, and portable ones when you can’t bring any other type of headphones with you. Noise Canceling Headphones can also help you keep low volume levels, due to their reduction of external sounds that might otherwise make you raise the volume.

Top 22 Best Headphones Under $300


SENSO ActivBuds S-250 Wireless Headphones

Approximate Price: $38.00

At the beginning of our list, we are proud to present you one of the best-selling wireless earbuds on the market – the ActivBuds S-250! Without any doubt, these headphones have earned their superior customer rating due to amazing sound quality, unmatched durability and minimalistic, yet stylish design.

First of all, the ActivBuds S-250 are placed highly among other waterproof sports headphones that you can actually take underwater, with a slight loss of audio quality. This basically means you can swim with these earbuds and enjoy the music without worrying about any technical issues. The ergonomic ear hooks will safely wrap around your ear and keep the headphones attached at all times, and we do mean at all times, because we even tried to do a handstand and the ActivBuds were still hanging!

The battery is of average capacity, as it can support up to 8 hours of constant playback, but the Bluetooth range is impressive; we found out that these headphones work like a charm even when you’re 40 feet away from the connected device! Yes, that’s whole 40 feet of seamless wireless connection, so you can basically leave your smartphone in the bag near the pool and go swimming without experiencing any connection problems.

Their high-definition sound is loud and crisp, with a subtle yet deep bass that adds to the atmosphere. For a pair of sports in-ear headphones, ActivBuds deliver quite a punch, and after we tested them with some Jazz and Classical tunes, after listening to Hip-Hop and House music, we could all agree that they can easily cover a wide array of different music genres. They’re far from professional monitor headphones, but for those who need high-quality sound while being underwater – ActivBuds will be more than enough.


Beats Solo 2 Wireless Headphones

Approximate Price: $110.00

The Solo 2 is the successor of Beats Solo HD, the headphones which undeniably popularized the more expensive headphones on the global market. In our opinion, the predecessor was a somewhat average product, with main focus on headphone design and recognizable Beats logo, and sound quality in the second place. The situation with Beats Solo 2 headphones is much better, although there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

These headphones are still not ideal for true music lovers, but their appealing design and build quality is more than satisfying. Although the plastic is inflexible, which makes the headphones press your head so you could wear them for a short time before feeling the pressure, they are foldable, have a detachable cable, and come with a personal protective bag. The design is rounded, unlike many of the classic headphones in the same category.

The sound is decent, far clearer than the muffled sound of Beats HD, but the emphasis is still on the bass. Yes, a lot of bass, which makes the high and medium tones sound too soft. For example, if you’re planning to enjoy your favorite singer’s poems, some of the words might be unrecognizable due to the dominant bass frequencies. But if you’re getting ready to put on loud EDM, techno or drum and bass – these headphones will just blow you away. For the more “sophisticated” ears willing to enjoy a wide range of music genres, the Beats Solo 2 will definitely turn out to be too loud and even fuzzy. Either way, these headphones provide a pleasant experience on medium volume and are considered quite reliable among the satisfied owners.


Powerbeats3 Wireless In-Ear Headphones

Approximate Price: $95.00

The Powerbeats 3 headphones are fairly large and designed like most sports earbuds you can find today. The housing is made of hard plastic, so it is seems durable and long lasting, and ear hooks are made of soft and flexible material which makes them comfortable to wear. The left earbud has a control switch where you can turn the headphones on and off.

The cord is flat and about 10 inches long. On the left side of the cord there are controls for selecting tracks, pause, volume and activate Siri. The buttons are clearly visible and of high quality, but are somewhat hard to reach during jogging. The battery lasts 12 hours and has a Fast Fuel option, which means fast-charging that gives you about an hour of playback after only 5 minutes of charging.

We weren’t surprised that the sound quality is typical for Beats headphones – it’s very loud and full of bass, so we have to emphasize the fact that the Powerbeats 3 are sports headphones and therefore you shouldn’t expect crystal clear sound. But let’s be honest: if you have the time to pay attention to sound quality during your training, you’re probably not exercising hard enough (we’re not judging).

Overall, the Powerbeats 3 sports earbuds are very well built, they’re comfortable to wear and offer average sound quality. We recommend them to anyone looking for good headphones that will spice up training sessions.


Sony SBH70 Wireless Headphones

 

Approximate Price: $59.00

These are incredibly lightweight sports headphones, and that is why we decided to put them in our top headphones list. In fact, they’re so comfortable that you can easily forget that you’re wearing them at all, as they’re very flexible, ergonomic and can be folded in every direction. You can put them in a bag without fear of damage, just make sure they won’t get tangled (every headphones owner worst nightmare).

The controls are pretty much the standard: the power key, the music playback button and the pause, which also has a call answer or reject function, and of course – volume control keys that you can also use to change the tune you’re listening to. If you simultaneously press the buttons to amplify and reduce the sound, you can also record sound.

The SBH70 can be paired with any Bluetooth device, a smartphone, tablet, various types of music players and they also include an IP57 waterproof certificate, a multipoint connection, one-touch NFC, and they’re even built from Smart Memory metal that makes the headphones memorize the shape of your ears (isn’t that great?).

As for the basic purpose of these headphones – sound reproduction – it is of high quality no doubt, and you’ll be also making calls without any interference, but if you love to pump up the volume while listening to the music, you’ll probably end up disappointed. Although the sound is rich in bass and you will definitely enjoy each and every tone while sitting in a quiet room, walking down the crowded street surrounded by traffic noise will have a huge impact on your listening experience. These headphones can’t isolate the sounds from your environment at all, which means that you’ll be fully aware of everything that’s happening around you. On the other hand, this might be a good thing, because being completely isolated from the city surroundings can be dangerous.

And when it comes to battery power, we experienced about 8 hours of constant playback without recharging, which basically means the SBH70 will keep going throughout the whole day. They consume additional battery power by vibrating during an incoming call, but don’t worry, the Marketplace application will provide you with information about the battery life.

Overall, the SBH70 are very durable and comfortable Bluetooth headphones with average sound quality and long battery life. They’re great for indoor sports activities and quiet surroundings, though anyone interested in a loud pair of headphones should definitely look for something else.


HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset for PC & PS4 & Xbox One

Approximate Price: $98.00

Let’s take a few moments to appreciate the Hyper-X Cloud II gaming headphones, because they’re really amazing, just keep in mind that we tested them on our PC, because they can be connected via USB only.

What brought these headphones to our attention are the surprisingly large 53 mm speakers. They make the headphones even bigger, so they almost cover your ears and thus isolate the sound quite efficiently. They support a virtual 7.1 sound, which makes it easier to detect where the enemy is coming from in the battlefield. Although these are gaming headphones, the Hyper-X Cloud II are good for listening to music too, offering a relatively good sound separation, accompanied by moderate tones and with no part of the sound spectrum sounding prominent.

Although they can’t be compared to more expensive headphones designed primarily for listening to music and sound engineering, they are significantly better than most of the headphones in its price range. But because their build quality is excellent, we have the impression that they are a decent opponent in more expensive categories.

The built-in microphone is okay, though it does not offer noise cancelation like other popular gaming headphones on the market. The Hyper-X Cloud II, although not ideal for audiophiles, still offer a good mix of gaming and music worlds, and are seen as an excellent choice for customers who want to use headphones both to play games and listen to music.


BÖHM Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with Active Noise Cancelling Headphones Technology

Approximate Price: $84.00

It seems pretty obvious to us why the Böhm’s wireless headphones are currently dominating the market. The remarkable features are well worth your money and their durability guarantees they will serve you for a long time, if you take care of them, of course.

Along with their amazing Bluetooth 4.0 support, these noise cancelling headphones are capable of isolating almost any ambient noise and unwanted distractions, so you can completely enjoy the music (or the philosophical audio book). Just flick the switch and you’ll be instantly protected from the outside world.

The headphones allow flawless wireless streaming from most PC’s, tablets and smartphones across the range of 33 feet, which is also quite impressive, and the Premium Stereo Drivers are responsible for delivering the high-quality sound. The bass is powerful, yet well balanced with mid and high tones, so the overall experience is very pleasant and can be compared to more expensive headphones like Sennheiser or Bose.

Thanks to their zinc alloy build, the Böhm wireless headphones are lightweight and very comfortable, which means your head and ears won’t get tired. The battery needs about 3 hours to recharge and can support 18 hours of continuous playback. They are compatible with most modern phones and allow you to receive a call while listening to music, and of course, the playback will resume when the call ends.

In conclusion, we love the Böhm headphones! They are without a doubt one of the best headphones on the market that money can buy, and most of us think that they should be widely used for different purposes.


Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Professional Monitor Headphones

Approximate Price: $148.00

These are an advanced headphones for everyone who appreciates the high-quality sound, but most likely won’t satisfy those who’re into “fashion accessory” headphones like the ones manufactured by Beats or V-Mode, for example.

Although they’re mostly made of light plastic, they give the impression of an incredible workmanship and exceptional durability. In addition, they come with a two year warranty, which is twice as long as many other headphones on the market.

Neatly designed ear cups do a great job covering your ears, especially when compared to classic “coated” ones, and will fit almost everyone’s ears, regardless of size and shape. The closed back will isolate you from any outside noise and also won’t let anything out. This is always a plus if you plan to watch movies, play video games or listen to loud music without bothering people around you. The pressure of the headphones frame is moderate – it’s strong enough to hold them on your head, yet will remain comfortable after several hours.

The ATH-M50x headphones were tested together with an iPod mp3 player and several headphones amplifiers, and also with several A / V receivers. Our conclusion? They sound great altogether. The tonal equilibrium is blissful, and although the bass is loud, it’s not excessive. The “deep” bass has been very popular lately, but only a few headphones have the precise bass that won’t drown the medium and high frequencies. The ATH-M50x is definitely one of those handsets.


Skullcandy Hesh 2 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones with Mic

Approximate Price: $71.00

The character of the Skullcandy brand is clearly noticeable in the design of all its headphones which almost become a fashion accessory around the world, especially for young musicians. But compared to Apple Beats, for example, Skullcandy continues to pay close attention to each technical detail and offers good quality products at an affordable price.

The Hesh 2 headphones is the wireless version of one of the company’s most popular products. The rather minimalistic design of these headphones is dominated by two large memory foam earpads, coated with comfortable synthetic leather. As it’s usually the case with Skullcandy’s headphones, there’s plenty of color schemes to choose from: from black, green, purple, blue, to screen prints of leading American baseball or football teams and dozens of custom combinations (you can check them all out on Amazon).

The headphones are quite compact and lightweight, though it would be great if they were foldable, as it would certainly increase their portability. They’re made of high quality glossy plastic that looks quite durable and reliable, so we think it could sustain a lot of damage (though we didn’t want to push our luck). It’s important to mention that all of us agreed that the Hesh 2 headphones are beyond doubt one of the most comfortable headphones we’ve tested so far.

Although these headphones are incredibly stylish, the sound output is still their strongest attribute.  They feature a 50 mm neodymium driver with a response between 20hz and 20Khz, and a balanced equalization that adds a very pleasant and warm sound while listening to music. The lower frequencies of the sound range are sufficiently powerful and accurate, without any distortion at fairly low volumes. The medium and high range are also balanced very well: for example, Eva Cassidy’s voice in “Somewhere over the Rainbow” was always crystal clear, without distortion at higher volumes. The combination of well-balanced medium and high range with deep, accurate bass, makes them perfect for listening to all kinds of electronic music, but at the same time, live recordings and instrumental music will sound great, too.

The built-in microphone makes the Hesh 2 great for making calls on your smartphone. During conversations, the microphone behaves quite well by capturing clear audio with very little background noise, and the headphones will make each voice sound loud and clear.

With probably the largest variety of headphone color schemes to choose from on the market, the company’s attention to the aesthetics of their products is astonishing, but the sound quality of their headphones is the real reason why you should be looking to buy them for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.


Logitech G533 Wireless Headphones

Approximate Price: $89.00

These wireless headphones are powered by advanced technologies such as Pro-G speaker membranes and DTS Headphone: X multi-channel audio, with extraordinary long battery life that allows up to 15 hours of playback and operating range of up to 50 feet. Sounds cool? It is.

The G533 headphones are primarily manufactured for hardcore gamers, but Logitech didn’t want to point out their specific purpose and decided to go with simple design in classic black color. One of the main reasons why we wanted to test the Logitech G533 is the 7.1-channel sound. According to the specifications, each headphone is equipped with as 40 mm Pro-G loudspeaker, meaning that it has a lot of space to create “wide” and realistic sounds.

Speaking of playing video games, the G533 manages to impress. We played Tom Clancy’s The Division and were very pleased with the purity and balance of sound, as well as precise localization of sound that literally helped us survive the multiplayer mayhem. The effects of weapons and explosions were also quite astonishing. The only bad thing is the balance of sound at higher volumes, because high-tones become too loud, and the low tones lose their power to the point where you almost can’t hear them anymore.

These headphones can also be used for listening to music, and could be easily compared with headphones of the same price range. The bass is well balanced and the overall sound quality is satisfying, although not so reach and detailed, but if that’s what you’re looking for, you should definitely try some of the Sennheiser headphones, for example.


COWIN E7 Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones with Mic

Approximate Price: $69.00

The Cowin E7 Bluetooth headphones have earned the bestseller status for a good reason. They’re simple, stylish, comfortable to wear and their strongest attribute is the superior sound quality.

Although the design is very nice and their soft padding offer exceptional acoustic isolation, they’re slightly heavy and the earpads are definitely pressing the ears too hard: after a few hours of use you will have to take them off for a while, as the discomfort sometimes becomes too much to take. Still, some of us didn’t have any problems, so we’re guessing it’s an individual thing.

Coupling with PCs and Smartphones is simple, just turn on the Bluetooth on the headphones, and check if the blue LED light it blinking, and that’s it – the headphones are ready to be paired. They also support NFC pairing for devices that support it (just tap the phone and it will be paired immediately). The headphones’ range is about 25 feet, and the battery is definitely able to support 30 hours of playback (we did our best to exploit the battery’s full potential).

As for the Cowin E-7 sound quality, you can expect to hear each instrument distinctly, and the balance of medium and high tones is very pleasant. These are among the few headphones on the market that can deliver high power bass, and at the same time keep the sound image crystal clear no matter what kind of music you’re listening to.

Unlike other Bluetooth headphones, there’s absolutely no audio delay, but the noise canceling feature could be better; you’ll hardly notice any difference by activating it, although it doesn’t make too much difference since the earpads are pretty soundproof anyway.

All in all, we can safely recommend the Covin R7 headphones for their simplicity and design, but above all, for their sound quality, which can be easily compared to the most well-known and expensive brands everyone’s been telling you about.


Samsung Level Over-Ear Bluetooth Headphones

Approximate Price: $249.00

In case you didn’t know, Samsung has released a series of headphones along their famous cell phones and accessories, and the Level are probably the best ones yet. Although they’re quite large in size, these over-ear headphones look stylish, they’re pretty comfortable even though they’re tight (the soft headband helps a lot), the build quality is solid, and if you own a Samsung cell phone, you know what kind of durable plastic we’re talking about.

Their battery lasts about 16 hours, and based on our experience with different kinds of Samsung batteries, its capacity won’t change for a long time. The package includes a carrying purse, or more precisely a carrying plastic case, a charging cable (micro USB), and an audio cable.

The sound quality is good but not sensational, and despite their 50 mm drivers that can be found on headphones of much better quality, the bass is a bit hollow and loud, while mid and high tones are somewhat poor and flat. Still, they make a pretty solid atmosphere and the sound is clear even when you turn up the volume to maximum.

The Level’s casing is well-built and does a good job isolating the sound coming in and out. The active noise cancellation works great, but also drains the battery, so every time you turn it on, you can expect the battery life to drop to about 14 hours. As usual, the noise cancellation can be used even if you don’t want to listen to music, and in that case the headphones can provide total silence.


Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones

Approximate Price: $149.00

The Bose SoundSport Bluetooth headphones are currently one of the most popular earbuds on the market, specifically designed to meet the demands of those who want to partake in sports activities while enjoying their favorite music.

Being wireless and surprisingly lightweight, their StayHear + Sport earbuds are of the utmost importance to ensure maximum comfort and high stability, thanks to the soft silicone from which they’re made of. In addition, their shape is designed to fit in the most delicate ears in a very comfortable way. Benefiting from a powerful and high-quality sound, these headphones allow you to work out, run, ride a bicycle, or at least walk without fear that sweat will ruin them, or that they will fall out of your ears.

Stable and comfortable, the Bose SoundSport headphones are paired via NFC and Bluetooth to any compatible wireless device. They also offer a wide variety of features that make them so popular: for example, the EQ with volume optimization, with perfectly balanced audio performance regardless of listening level. From a technical point of view, the lithium-ion battery may be the only downside of these headphones, as it provides only six hours of playback per charge.

Still, the Bose SoundSport headphones are remarkable piece of audio equipment. The Base Connect app facilitates the management of coupled devices and, in addition, offers features that can be optimized to suit everyone’s needs. In fact, the Bose SoundSport headphones are absolutely perfect for going to the gym: their incredibly flexible earbuds became a synonym for stability, as it seems that they can never fall out of your ears, no matter what you do. We tested these headphones during a couple of exhausting training sessions, and we were fascinated by the softness of silicone, even after long periods of time! In fact, these earbuds are so comfortable and their sound quality is so good, that we just have to recommend them to every sportsman and sportswoman as our number one pick.


V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone

Approximate Price: $249.00

There are a few iconic headphones on the market such as the V-Moda Crossfade M-100. Produced by a relatively new American company (founded in 2004), these headphones can even challenge the Beats by Dr. Dre in all aspects. They have received almost unanimous consents for their hi-tech looks, metal build, foldability and extraordinary sound quality.

The Crossfade M-100 is a premium crowdsourced product, made under the supervision of the world’s greatest DJs, including Deadmau5, Avicii and Eric Morillo, as well as other famous music producers, singers and critics. The final result is a product that has low accentuated shades, a rather “dark” and deep sound, but without killing the medium and low frequencies. The sound is powerful and clear, and it will satisfy the most demanding customers that are into Techno, House, Trance and even Hard Rock.

Among interesting technical details are the 50 mm drivers, which are definitely not too common for a pair of over-ear headphones. The comfort is surprising, due to their reduced weight and soft earpads that will press your ears just as much as they’re supposed to. Also, the Crossfade M-100 headphones are designed to withstand falls, dust and moisture. We haven’t come across a pair of large headphones that are so light and comfortable to wear while walking, and even running (while trying to catch a bus).

The V-Moda Crossfade M-100 also have some rather unusual features, such as the dual cable input useful for DJs, and the ability to share the music source with another pair of headphones. The package also includes the carrying case and a cable with remote control microphone. Sweet!

Oddly enough, these headphones are somewhat hard to find in the stores around the world, which kind of makes them even more desirable. Of course, finding them on Amazon is easy, so if you’re looking for a best buy headphones – we suggest that you immediately check them out.


Mpow Cheetah Bluetooth Headphones V4.1 Wireless Sport Headphones

Approximate Price: $23.00

The popular sports headphones category on Amazon also includes the Mpow Cheetah, without any doubt the Chinese-American company’s “bestseller”. As Mpow is focusing heavily on the headphones’ mobility, we were pleasantly surprised they’re also taking great care of the relation between the headphone’s sound quality and price.

The Cheetah headphones, which we have been testing in the past few days, are very flexible and light as a feather, having a resilient wire that goes around the back of your head and keeps them stable during sports activities. The earbuds are large in size and nano coated to improve the sweat-resistant level, and like it’s usually the case with most sports wireless headphones, their behind-ear ergonomic design ensures secure fit while running and exercising.

The matte plastic build is not of bad quality, and the design looks nice, characterized by a black tint that makes them discreet and usable in all kinds of occasions, not just the gym. Basically, these headphones can be used, for example, while traveling to work or home, since their shape can be easily adjusted to everyone’s needs and they really are quite comfortable. On the other hand, despite the mentioned sweat-resistant nano coating, there’s a few unsealed openings on these headphones through which the water can easily enter, so we wouldn’t recommend wearing them in heavy rain. Also, putting them on can sometimes turn out to be a bit tricky, because the wire between the earbuds has to be positioned together with both earbuds, which means that the best way would be putting both earbuds in your ears at the same time.

The Bluetooth connection procedure is the same as for all other wireless headphones: you connect the Cheetah to the device and they immediately appear in its list, so that the connection can be made. Being a Bluetooth 4.0 headset, you can see the battery level on iPhone and other compatible devices. The commands are all grouped on the right headset; a multifunction button to turn on, turn off and pair headphones, and even answer incoming calls, and two more for setting the volume. These buttons, which are a bit difficult to press, will allow you to change the track and adjust the volume of each phone call, and there’s also a (very loud) computer voice notifying you about the headphone’s connection and battery status.


Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Approximate Price: $249.00

Bose has done it again! We are truly proud to write about their amazing QuietComfort 20 in-ear headphones, as they’re equipped with Acoustic Noise Cancelling (ANC) technology that many other headphones are using, but none of them do it with such ease and elegance.

There are four in-built microphones behind the noise cancelling magic: two microphones in each headphone capture the outside and the incoming noise, and then send signals to the system to suppress it with a countercurrent. These headphones also have a microphone, which makes them ideal for chatting with other over the phone, and also a remote control that allows you to take calls and set up other functions. The remote control comes with two keys to manage controls for Android and Windows, while for Apple there is a dedicated version with four control buttons.

The lithium-ion battery can support up to 16 hours of playback and can be recharged in about 120 minutes via included USB cable. The design is slim and stylish, and the special earbuds created by Bose and called StayHear + are very comfortable and durable and will fit inside your ears perfectly. The cable seems to be robust and carefully built, as well as the jack cover. The junction points are of high-quality with metal endings, while the earbud silicone is soft like a dream.

The Bose QuietComfort 20 headphones’ sound quality is fantastic and much of the credit goes to the noise reduction system that leaves lots of space for the music you’re listening to. Earpads’ design allows good passive sound isolation and becomes even better when the ANC function is activated.

Even though we shouldn’t even try to compare these headphones to others on the market, The Bose QuietComfort 20 equalization is rather standard, with a slight prevalence for medium-low tones.  Nevertheless, the sound is superb, especially if the music you’re listening to is emphasizing these frequencies.

So, the biggest advantage of these headphones is their effective noise reduction system. Secondly, their sound output is beautifully balanced and clear. And finally, they’re so comfortable that you’ll definitely forget you’ve put them in your ears after some time. To sum up, the Bose QuietComfort 20 are indeed remarkable headphones, one of the best we’ve tried so far!


Jabra Sport Pace Bluetooth Earbuds

Approximate Price: $69.00

As Bluetooth headphones and sports apps are getting more and more popular, Sport Pace earbuds’ reputation has been rapidly increasing. These headphones are easy to use and have a very strong bass that could motivate you during exhausting trainings.

The headphones have a durable cord that goes around your neck, it’s resistant to dust and water and comes in three different colors – blue, yellow and red. The package includes an accessory for fixing the cord in place, while the headphones are designed to stay positioned in your ears at all times. The cord has three buttons – volume up and down, as well as “the menu button”, which is a multifunction knob with options for music playback and phone calls. The sound is better than we expected; it’s clean and full of bass, which is not usually the case with sports headphones.

Among other features, the LED lights on the left headset are showing whether the headphones are turned on and what is their battery status. Speaking of which, the battery can support up to 5 hours of playback, or more if you’re listening to music at low volume. The handset on the left handset is powered and operated by the Jabra Sport app, available for both Android and iOS, and it’s very easy to install and use. It’s also possible to access the music library on your phone through the application, which proved to be quite useful during trainings. The headphones have a USB charger connector, and unlike the Sport Pulse model, the Sport Pace package doesn’t include a complimentary pouch.

If you love training and listening to music, the Jabra Sport Pace headphones would be a great choice for you. They offer excellent sound quality and wearing comfort, and the Sport app is fun to use.


Bowers & Wilkins C5 S2 In-Ear Headphones

Approximate Price: $149.00

The in-ear headphones C5 manufactured by Bowers & Wilkins are certainly a very interesting product, both in terms of design and technology. They caught our attention thanks to their open, panoramic sound (which is surprising for this type of headphones) and powerful bass, plus the secure fit in the ears due to their safety loop. It turns out that the professionals from Bowers & Wilkins have created something truly magnificent.

The casing is made of metal with glossy plastic details. Ear plugs are made of high-quality plastic, very thin and gilded, so they can stay in your ears no matter what, and offer a comfortable experience at the same time. The headphones are compatible with iOS-devices and contain a compact built-in microphone with remote control. The microphone quality is mediocre, but we have no complaints about the function buttons, as they can be easily pressed, and thanks to the shape of the headphones, finding the right key isn’t difficult either.

The C5 S2 use dynamic radiators with a diameter of 9.2 mm and with a wide range of reproducible frequencies between 10 and 20,000 Hz. The latter frequency positively affects the level of bass, which is very present, yet not too loud. The company describes it as a “powerful, but controlled bass” – and it really is. Mid and high frequencies are quite dynamic, resulting in rich sound that can sometimes be too crisp, but this is a standard issue with many other in-ear headphones.

We went through different music genres during the test and realized that the Bowers & Wilkins C5 S2 headphones are simply universal, meaning they’re perfect for listening to Jazz, Downtempo and all kinds of ambient tracks, but they also work like a charm while listening to Pop, Rock and even EDM. Clear and powerful bass, crystal clear high tones and impressively detailed midrange frequencies flow together easily and harmoniously, so we came to conclusion that these are currently one of the best in-ear headphones and, apparently, the most versatile.


Bluedio Turbine T2s Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with Mic

Approximate Price: $25.00

The Bluedio T2S headphones are the perfect product for listening to the music you want for as long as you like, thanks to their long battery life that allows amazing 40 hours for music playback, and 45 hours for phone conversations. The overall autonomy in standby mode is 1625 hours, which means that even if you forget to charge the battery, the risk of running out of power while you’re on the move is minimal.

The Bluedio T2S headphones’ 57 mm drivers fulfilled our expectations. These headphones are suitable for a variety of users and allow you to enjoy the high-quality sound; the highs are sharp and the bass is well-defined, and although we wouldn’t recommend them for listening to classical music while sitting in a comfortable armchair, they’re great for listening to energetic music on the go, because they’re quite soundproof and they allow high volume playback.

Speaking of build quality, the highest standards are obviously met: they’re made of high-grade plastic that can sustain a lot of damage. So, if the Bluetooth Bluedio T2S headphones fall on the ground, we’re absolutely sure that it won’t have any impact on their functionality.

As far as other features are concerned, it should be noted that all controls are located on the right headphone: the power on-off button, the micro USB port for charging, and the joystick that allows you to manage the playback, pause, and track progress. The Bluetooth 4.1 allows instant and perfect connection with any compatible device, and it’s very stable as fast. A list of positive features and benefits of Bluedio T2S headphones would certainly be very long, and would involve not only the quality of sound, but also their reliability because of the extraordinary long battery life.

With regard to the possible negative aspects of the Bluedio T2S headphones, you have to consider the fact that these headphones are very cheap, especially when compared to other devices of the same category, so it’s really not difficult to understand why they have achieved such great success on the global market.


Bose QuietComfort 25 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Approximate Price: $279.00

The noise canceling headphones offer is increasing with hundreds of models of all kinds, especially those with Bluetooth connectivity, but Bose decided to keep the cables on their Quiet Comfort 25, the new headphones replacing the famous QC20 thanks to improved quality and performance.

The design is simple and refined just the way Bose likes it, they’re comfortable to wear and very durable, with just one button for activating the noise canceling system. The Bose QC25 are incredibly lightweight (196 grams) and come with a convenient carrying case, which contains the airplane adapter and has room for extra battery. As soon as you put them on your head, you’ll see they’re both very light, and the comfort is doubled by their soft earpads and elastic plastic build. A standard triple A battery can power the noise cancellation system for 35 hours, although they stopped working after about 30 hours when we were testing them.

When using the noise cancellation system, depending on the manufacturer, you may experience a feeling of “pressure” on the ears. This is actually quite normal and after some time you get used to it, but with the QC25, however, the feeling of pressure is almost nonexistent, all for the benefit of comfort. Nevertheless, their noise cancellation system works perfectly and we challenge you to hear anything but music after turning it on, because the QC25’s are honestly incredible when it comes to sound isolation.

In addition to high-quality build and excellent noise cancelling system, the QC25 also succeed in delivering one of the best experiences when it comes to comfort: wearing them for hours without the slightest annoyance could be one of the main reasons why we recommend them. The sound quality is high, but we weren’t too happy with the bass, which could have been a bit more powerful and defined. It’s great when listening to rock and pop music, but if you’re an electronic music fan, the lack of deep bass will be obvious to you, although the headphones will maintain in clear mid and high frequencies.

To sum up, if you travel a lot and want one of the best noise canceling headphones available on the market, that are also light, comfortable and stylish, you definitely will not regret buying the Bose QuietComfort 25.


Brainwavz HM5 Studio Monitor Headphones

Approximate Price: $109.00

Brainwavz is a young and dynamic company founded in 2008 and based in Hong Kong. It’s been distributing its products worldwide, primarily focusing on earbuds, over-ear headphones and amplifiers.

The HM5 are low impedance closed-type headphones with very neat design. They’re lightweight, comfortable to wear and easy to use, with soft earpads which are suitable for “big headed” audiophiles. They will apply a strong but painless pressure on the head, adhering comfortably to everyone’s ears even after a few hours. We also want to point out the excellent sound isolation on these headphones. At a fairly sustained volume, if the earpads are well placed, they’re almost completely soundproof. They’re packing a 43 mm driver, interchangeable earpads (and an extra pair included in the package) and two cables (1.3 and 3 m), their impedance is 64 ohms and the frequency response is between 10 and 265000 Hz.

The HM5 are studio headphones, so they’re characterized by a neutral and well balanced sound. The low and high ranges are well reproduced, although they appear somewhat limited by the linear character of the frequency response. The voices, both male and female, are indeed clear and detailed, but depending on the quality of the audio file and its compression, sometimes it might seem like the sound is coming out of a box. Nevertheless, the sound feels like its “closer” to the listener, and this is typical for many headphones of this type; it might affect the listening experience, but at the same time, it allows you to focus on each sound individually and pay more attention to details. Turning the volume up won’t cause any distortion, which is great since these headphones can support really, really loud sound levels (we don’t recommend pumping up the volume EVER).

As you can see, these are very interesting headphones, especially because of their design and rich sound output which is ideal for late night hours in your studio. Still, keep in mind that these are not the average “turn-up-the-volume-and-drown-in-bass” headphones like some others in our list – these are very precise and highly efficient “monitor studio” headphones for professional producers. Oh, and their package also includes a nice-looking, reliable transport bag, with a shoulder strap and an inside pocket for other much needed accessories. What’s not to like?


Beyerdynamic DT 990 Edition 32 OHM HiFi Headphones

Approximate Price: $184.00

Beyerdynamic is quite famous for making high-quality products at a very affordable price. The DT990 headphones are no exception; they’re reliable, aesthetically beautiful and sound amazing.

The arc is made of metal and it’s very flexible, covered with leather that can be replaced if necessary. The pads are padded with soft fabric in gray velvety pattern, which makes them quite comfortable even after wearing them for a couple of hours. They’re also replaceable, so you can expect these headphones to last for a few years. The cable is 3 meters long, and the jack at the end is 3.5mm.

The Beyerdynamic DT 990 are open headphones, so they’re not designed for walking in crowded and noisy places. Although the sound isolation is quite satisfactory, the high impedance doesn’t make them very suitable for portable devices. The low capacity of most portable players distorts the sound on these headphones, as they really don’t go well with poor quality MP3s. So, keep in mind that the Beyerdynamic DT 990 are semi-professional headphones, which means that they probably shouldn’t be carried around. To exploit their full potential, we suggest that you use them indoors in your music studio, or at least with your Hi-Fi.

The sound is crisp, detailed and sometimes even overwhelming. One of the strong points of these headphones is the bass, which is usually not the case with other open headphones. These are articulated, they cover all frequencies with great precision and nothing is exaggerated. Their sensitivity is 96 dB, frequency response ranges from 5 to 35000 Hz. The middle tones are slightly covered by the bass, but not too much, while the highs are clear and sharp (sometimes too much). They can keep everything together even when the volume is turned up to the max, but like we said, for best performance we recommend an amplifier.

There are cheaper headphones on the market that can be used for listening to all kinds of MP3’s on the go, but the DT 990 are made especially for those who love to listen to high definition music, whether because it’s their job, or passion, and if you belong to either of these categories – we can recommend them with pleasure.


Grado Prestige Series SR325e Headphones

Approximate Price: $295.00

Last but not least in our list are the Grado’s Prestige Series Headphones, which thanks to their high-quality features developed in a professional laboratory, have always enjoyed unanimous respect in the world of audiophiles. The SR325e is continuing the evolution of these renowned headphones, because Grado has worked on every single aspect of their new model. Build material, sound drivers and overall design have been further developed and optimized to achieve unmatched results.

The casing of these open headphones is responsible for the reduction of distortion and resonance, and extends the frequency response at low frequencies. The design parameters of transducer housings has been redefined in order to prevent any kind of resonance that might affect the sound quality. Likewise, the magnetic structure has undergone better calibration to maintain a perfect symmetry of the magnetic field, and even the glue used in the SR325e is optimized to achieve greater cohesion, lower mass and greater headphones’ reliability.

The membrane is made using a special low-mass polymer, in order to achieve maximum loudness and clearly reproduce all frequencies of the audio spectrum, so the SR325e sound has all the qualities of the Signature series. With open and sharp high tones, precisely defined medium tones and warm low bandwidth, these headphones should definitely be considered an excellent purchase for those looking for pure performance at a price 3/4 times lower than some other headphones of the same category. Of course, this model has also been optimized for comfort and allows long and pleasant listening without any problems.

Manufactured according to very high standards set by the Grado Laboratories technical staff, the SR325e headphones guarantee exceptional sound clarity, excellent frequency response, very little distortion and a superior sense of comfort. This is why these extraordinary headphones have been awarded with several first prizes by some of the most prestigious audio technology magazines in the world.


Everyone Deserves Good Headphones

Headphones have become an inseparable part of everyday life some time ago, so if you’re still using “default” headphones that came with your cell phone, it may be time to consider an upgrade. The international market is flooding with headphones of all shapes and sizes, from tiny, sci-fi-looking sports earbuds, and really, really huge over-ear headphones for professional sound engineers, producers and different kinds of audiophiles, to stylish, expensive headphones that can be used as a fashion accessory. In our list, we’ve focused mostly on over-ear and sports headphones, and also a few models for sound monitoring (reference headphones). We’ve also set a limit of $300, which is not enough for high-end professional headphones, but for this amount of money most users can buy a decent and reliable pair of headphones for everyday use.

We didn’t just include the headphones intended for listening to music on the go, but we also have a few models that require an additional amplifier (i.e. an external DAC), or that need to be connected to a computer or smartphone. The list includes various types of headphone connections, from classic wired connectivity to wireless connectivity via Bluetooth or RF. Among classical headphones designed for the consumption of multimedia content, we also wanted to present a few gaming headphones with high-quality sound, because some of these models can be used both for playing video games and listening to music.

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Our goal was to find the best-selling headphones on the market, and then test out their sound and build quality, as well as the quality of Bluetooth connection on wireless headphones and other interesting features. We can only conclude that the quality of playback has significantly increased in the last few years, as well as the quality of Bluetooth connections and longer battery life. Audio technology is improving at an amazing rate and probably everyone is able to find the perfect headphones for a reasonable amount of money.

The Art of Sound

One thing needs to be clarified: not every “expensive” pair of headphones is automatically worth the price. In some cases, the customer actually buys a design or brand headphones, whereas audio quality is secondary. Therefore, in this list we have tried to distinguish the quality headphones from these so-called fashion accessories. We also have to acknowledge the improvement of headphone technology and the way population is starting to feel about audio equipment in general; for example, Apple’s white headphones of relatively low quality are becoming increasingly rare, and often the headphones of renowned manufacturers, such as Sennheiser, are becoming more popular. That’s because more users are looking for something better than high-compressed mp3 files, and the awareness for new technologies is constantly on the rise.

In a nutshell, a better sound quality is obtained by investing a larger amount of money in the new headset, but the more you invest, the difference in quality becomes less significant. According to our estimation, the sweet-spot is somewhere between $150 and $250, which means that most headphones under $150 aren’t able to reproduce the high-quality sound at all, and those over $250 will mostly be as good as any other model of the same price. This is because the differences in more expensive categories are hardly noticeable for the majority of population; in order to fully enjoy the high-quality sound, the listener must have “the perfect hearing”, which is mostly the case with people directly involved in music production, i.e. professional producers and sound engineers.

Nevertheless, almost everyone can recognize the difference between a $15 earbuds that are being sold in every grocery store, as opposed to those offered in tech shops. Although a set of good headphones can be found for about $50, they’re still miles away from those in the more expensive category. Most expensive models can reproduce a clearer sound, and thus logically – better listening experience. Tracks will be full of details, bass won’t be so shallow, and highs won’t be so painfully sharp. With better headphones you can experience the famous “soundstage” effect: a feeling that you are really in the studio while your favorite band is recording a song, or being somewhere in the audience while the band performs live on stage.

It will be much easier to identify each instrument individually, especially when multiple instruments are playing at the same time. Cheaper models often can’t reproduce these subtle details, so the song that you’ve listened to hundreds of times on bad headphones, will sound completely different on high-end headphones (and that’s a fact). It’s like you’ve been listening to music at the top of the mountain with clogged ears, and high-quality headphones will finally allow you to hear everything just like it was intended.

A Simple Glossary of Technical Terms

Instead of a conclusion, we decided to leave you with this simple glossary of technical terms that might be of use to you in the future. We hope that our list will help you in choosing the best headphones, and we kindly invite you to join us and the rest of audiophiles in discovering the pleasures of magnificent audio technologies!

Frequency responseFrequency response indicates the ability of headphones to reproduce tones at various frequencies, or simply, it indicates what frequency range is supported by the headphones. Most digital music has a theoretical range of 20 – 20,000 Hz, and although the entire range definitely won’t be used, it’s always good to have headphones that can cover as wide range as possible.

Impedance (Ω) – The impedance is the electrical resistance that headphones have against the voltage being pushed through them. It’s measured in Ohms, and the resistance depends on the quality of components in each headphones. Basically, the higher the resistance, the harder will your music player have to work to send the sound, therefore a special sound card or DAC (digital-to-analog-converter) is recommended for high impedance headphones.

Sound pressure level / sensitivity level (dB / mW) – Although it’s often not specified in some product specifications, the sound pressure level is a measure in which the volume is tested when playing 1 kilohertz sound at a power of 1 Vrm2. Simply put, headphones with higher sound pressure levels are noisier than others at the same volume level.

Harmonic distortion – When you send a high volume sound to the headphones, it’s possible that the speaker diaphragm can’t move fast enough. This causes the high-tone distortion, which usually manifests itself as cracking. You should always look for headphones with the lowest harmonic distortion. Most headphones have a harmonic distortion of about 1%, while high-end headphones rarely exceed 0.1%.

Maximum input power (mW) – This is the maximum power that can be used on the headphones. However, 2,500 mW does not mean that the headphones can be continuously powered with 2,000 mW. As long as the maximum input power level of headphones matches, or is within the maximum level of the player, every value is acceptable.


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