If you are looking for new headphones, there is an unbelievable assortment to choose from. In figuring out which ones are best, you could research lab evaluations and critiques, or compare technical specifications but there are a few problems with doing this. First of all, technical superiority tends to mean “more expensive.” What you really want are the best ones in your price range. Technical specs often aren’t easy to decipher, and usually don’t point to a clear-cut winner, and they can’t account for personal preferences. After all, there is a personal element to what type of sound people like. So rather than rely on the audiophile experts, who can recite frequency response and impedance statistics, why not rely on the toughest critics of all – other consumers?
I have put together a summary of the best headphones based on aggregate ratings of people that have actually bought them. Their experience in their own real-life applications, which are not likely dissimilar to yours, is invaluable. Plus the average consumer is typically not afraid to give an honest opinion about their purchases. They will tell you if it is junk or if it is great! Here are some of the best headphones according to the harshest critics in every home.
I have split them into their three natural categories: in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear headphones. I have also looked at only those that have a decent amount of ratings – 10 or less ratings isn’t enough and most have well over that.
These are your more typical commuting, jogging, walking, or workout headphones; although I have seen some of the other types used here. Very light, small, and portable.
Bose MIE2i and SIE2 Sport
Both of these headphones get high praise with the MIE2i at 4.7/5 (20 ratings) and the SIE2 Sport at 4.3/5 (9 ratings). These two are very similar in design and sound, the main difference being the MIE2i has a mic and volume control that is compatible with Apple products and the SIE2 is designed for sports that are more sweat and weather resistant and comes with an armband.
Consumers have raved about the sound quality from both of these ear buds, which should be no surprise from Bose. They like the clarity and crispness of the sound and have adequate bass from a very small speaker. Comfort is also important, and both of these ear buds rank highly there. Although you may pay a little bit more for them, most consumer consider them to be very good value.
These come in a number of different colours, which has been a very popular feature among consumers. When I add up the ratings for all the different colours of Skull Candy INK’d they come in at 4.4/5.0 (36 ratings). They have a microphone and are sound isolating, which are nice features in a relatively inexpensive ear bud.
Although they are not quite up to Bose standards, the sound quality and comfort of the Skull Candy INK’d have been highly rated, and because the price point is so much lower they rank extremely high in value for dollar. For an inexpensive ear bud, they sound great and look great with their assortment of colours.
On ear headphones sit on top of your outer ears and tend to be lighter and smaller than over ear headphones so they are more comfortable and much easier to transport on planes or elsewhere. They are a less effective at noise isolation and typically have less bass than over ear phones, but there are some excellent sounding models. Here are some of the best according to users.
These Monster DNA headphones are extremely stylish, fold up nicely, and have multiple sound settings depending on your preferences. As well they come with a mic and volume control that works with your iPhone. Rated 4.3/5.0 (17 ratings), consumers have really liked the sound quality, the styling, and the overall build quality. They are durable and most agree that they are great value for the money. The only con that has come up from a few people is they had comfort issues if they wore them too long. Like the Skull Candy INK’d headphones, Monster has produced these flashy headphones in a choice of four different colour options.
Avantree Hive Bluetooth Stereo Headset (BTHS-849)
The big feature of these headphones is that they are wireless, using Bluetooth that easily connects with your phone, tablet, mp3 player, or computer. The high ratings for these Avantree Hive Headphones, 4.5/5.0 (30 ratings), are because everyone seems surprised at the quality and features for the money. Sound quality is very good, Bluetooth is excellent, and the battery life is great. Although they are Bluetooth, you can still connect them to a non-Bluetooth device as it comes with a corded option as well.
Sennheiser Stereo Headphones (HD-201)
Sennheiser have been a consistently strong headphone maker and these are very economical phones that sound great. They are rated 4.5/5.0 (34 ratings) and have high ratings in value for money. The sound is very good, but you can tell from the reviews not quite as good as the Monster DNAs above, but then they are a lot less expensive. The Sennheiser HD201 has gotten a lot of positive comments on comfort, probably because they are a bit lighter, and they also come with a long 6’ cord which may or may not add to the convenience.
Sony Headband Headphones (MDRZX100W)
These are the least expensive of my picks of on-ear headphones, but have really high ratings for performance, comfort, and value (which you might expect). The Sony Headband Headhones are rated 4.5/5.0 (28 ratings). They seem to be more comfortable than most on ear headphones because of their design and the much lighter weight. The sound quality is surprisingly good given the relatively low cost, as a number of people comment on how good the bass is. Sony is a good brand and have made an affordable and attractive headband headphone.
Because over ear headphones are larger, they can provide the maximum bass and improved sound quality as they block out outside noise and seal the music in. The con is their larger size that fully cups around the ears can create some discomfort with extra heat on the ears, and a bit more weight.
Bose QuietComfort 15 Noise Cancelling Headphones (QC15)
These Bose over ear headphones are the Cadillac of headphones, with noise cancelling electronics built into the headphone to eliminate external sounds as well as enhance the clarity and crispness. They come with an inline remote control and microphone that work nicely with all your Apple devices. They are consumer rated 4.5/5.0 (33 ratings) with the highest ratings for performance and comfort. If you want the best sound, these are the ones that consistently perform and user comments support that. The Bose QuietComfort 15 is pricier, but definitely support the adage that you get what you pay for!
Sony Wireless Headphones (DRBTN200B)
Like the Avantree Hive headphones above, the big feature of these is their wireless capability. These have both Bluetooth and Near Field Comunications (NFC) technology so you can easily pair up with a wide variety of devices. Users have rated these at 4.3/5.0 (17 ratings) as they have very good sound quality and excellent features for the money. They rate high in value, comfort, and have very decent performance. The sound quality is very good but not as good as the Bose Quiet Comfort (QC15) but given the price difference that would be expected.
If you are looking for some headphones, these are some great choices tested out by people like you. If they like them, chances are you will too, but remember everyone’s personal tastes are different so make sure you listen and get what sounds good to you in your budget. Best Buy has a big variety to choose from.