We’ve all had the unfortunate experience struggling to listen to to cheap, tinny headphones – and a decent set of cans can blow you away. They’re the audio equivalent of having laser eye surgery. However, emptying your wallet is no guarantee of quality.
Headphones come in many forms, styles, and sizes. But once you’ve decided the type of headphones you want, the biggest decision becomes the brand you will go for.
What are the best headphone brands? While there is a bit of subjectivity involved in determining which is superior to the other, we can make observations about the sales numbers and reputations of headphone makers.
What Are the Best Headphone Brands & What Makes Them Great?
Some brands seem to enjoy higher revenues and higher reviews than their competitors. It doesn’t mean they’re perfect, or that every product in their catalog is stellar – but it does mean that, on average, these brands have been proven where it counts.
They offer a combination of style, comfort, longevity, and most importantly, sound quality.
Sennheiser is such a master of headphones and have a great heritage stretching back to 1945 when German inventor Fritz Sennheiser decided he could turn his talents to the audio industry. Despite being a serious name in the business, they are surprisingly accessible.
They have their catalog split up into several popular categories. These include sports, travel, gaming and many more. From over-ear to earbuds, every model you could want is represented in their inventory. Whether the user is about to record an album or do cardio, Sennheiser has it covered.
They also offer wireless models, models with noise cancellation technology, and more. Not only are they a leader in the field of headphones, they’re an innovator. Sennheiser is constantly offering new models that utilize the latest technology, such as their NoiseGard feature.
While the offer quality at any price range, their more expensive Momentum 2.0s are probably their stand out model. They tread the line between accuracy and bass to produce the funnest sounds you can get in the $300 dollar range.
Sony is a juggernaut in the fields of consumer electronics and audio equipment. It’s no surprise they’re one of the top headphone makers in the world, but what exactly makes their offerings in this area different from the competition?
All the major variations are represented in their catalog – the main categories are headband-style phones, in-ear or bud-style headphones, and wireless models. Simple but thoughtful features like resonance-free housing and ergonomic earpads make for a comfortable and enjoyable listening experience.
On the higher-end models, you can enjoy features like HD noise cancellation and adaptive sound control for a more immersive sound quality.
Another name that’s renowned in both the field of general electronics and home audio equipment, Panasonic has an impressive line of headphones with some impressive variation represented. Whether you prefer earbuds or earphones, you can find something you like.
A lot of detail is put into their designs – for example, the 3D ball-joint structure and padded ear covers make these headphones flexible and comfortable, yet durable. In some of the models with mics, there’s even a built-in voice assistant.
Panasonic is another company that demonstrates a forward-thinking approach to their audio technology, including their line of headphones.
With a stylish logo that is unmistakable to fans of the brand, Skullcandy has a lot to offer. It’s more than just a catchy name – they are a specialty company. While this means their overall selection of electronics may not be as broad as Sony or Panasonic, their headphone specialization is an asset.
Having an area of focus like this makes them a little more capable. They offer headphones, earbuds, and plenty of custom accessories designed to make a user’s listening experience better. They’re also constantly growing their product line.
Consider the Venue Noise Cancelling set, with its active noise-cancellation technology, 24-hour battery life, monitor mode, and find-your-headphones feature. There’s also the Crusher 360 Ultra-Realistic set with an ultra-fast charging option – enjoy 3-hours of battery life with a 10-minute charge.
Speaking of specialty companies, there is arguably no bigger player in the headphone market than Beats by Dre. With a music legend’s name attached to the name, the headphones already appeal to the music market.
They used to have a reputation for sacrificing accuracy for bass, but in recent years (especially since they were bought by Apple) they have made strides to address this problem. Many artists, producers, and sound engineers find this brand is the best choice.
From the iconic lowercase “b” symbols on the individual phones to the sleek, black-on-black color scheme that oozes style, these headphones are iconic. They are also available in other colors and styles, and possess some of the most highly rated sound quality on the market.
Another name that is iconic in the fields of music production and audio engineering, Bose headphones are touted as world-class in their performance and superior to the competition in terms of the comfort they offer the user.
Bose headphones have some very unique and hard-to-find features. Examples include adjustable noise cancellation – a valuable quality that helps those who find too much cancelation dampens audio quality.
This brand is probably the best for all day listening at the office. There are also models with mics and virtual assistants. Their flagship QC35 model is now ubiquitous on train commutes across the country – and with good reason.
Closing out our list is Shure, a brand known for high quality and portability. Their headphones are designed with comfort-focused ear covers, and a design that lends toward natural sound reproduction over artificial audio enhancements.
When it comes to their higher-end models, there are some very creative features which lend themselves well to specific environments. Take the SRH550DJ – made for delivering high-quality sound to DJs who need to hear everything.
With 90-degree swivel earcups, DJs can easily free up one ear to address the crowd while still monitoring the music. This is just one example of Shure’s approach to creating headphones with specific buyers in mind.
Best Headphone Brand: Is There a Clear Winner?
We mentioned that subjectivity comes into play when buying headphones. But there’s also a lot of advantages to choosing brands that already have a good reputation.
This isn’t to say a name alone means a product is good. However, the companies that have these names usually got them through producing great products.
There’s no clear way to tell if one brand is objectively superior. Buyers are better off browsing individual models based on the features they’re looking for and the price range they seek. But, for a starting point, any brand on this list is a good choice.