The selection of headphones is bigger than ever and can make one dizzy if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We carefully selected a broad range of what we feel is a well-curated collection of the very best headphones for 2018 to cover every user need and budget. We haven’t tried every model, so don’t worry if you found something you like that isn’t on this list, at the end of the days it’s really about personal preference, but we feel strongly about each of the headphones here and feel confident that whatever model suits your needs, from casual listener, audiophile, or professional studio engineer, it will be tough to go wrong with any of these! Have more questions? leave us a comment!
Before we get to our recommended Best Headphones of 2018 list, some basics you should know:
On-Ear Headphones – Don’t cover and enclose entire ear, these let in more outside sound
Over-Ear Headphones – Fully cover the entire ear, let in less outside sound, typically the most comfortable but larger
Closed-Back – Usually found in over-ear headphones, where sound is retained in the headphone cup and does not escape, good for listening in public areas because sound doesn’t escape from headset
Open-Back – Found on higher-end models and specified as such. Open backs allow air and sound to pass in and out of the headphones and usually sound best, but not meant for use in planes or small offices etc. where escaping sound will be heard by others. These are best for home use.
Earbuds – Small size earphones that fit in the ear canal, great for working out and obviously less bulk
Noice Cancelation – This requires the headphones to emit some type of white noise that masks outside noise. Some sound quality is sacrificed to achieve a more quite headphone. These are best for commuters and biz travelers, not for those looking for ultimate sound quality.
OK! On to our recommendation of Best Headphones for 2018 (least to most expensive)
Affordability and bang for the buck are what these over-ear value-driven headphones deliver. Big sound, comfortable fit deep bass, versatility and a great reputation. There are cheaper headphones out there, but this is where you really start to get good sound. These are a no-brainer and perfect for mobile use on your daily commute, the office or casual listener. See Details on Amazon
These long-standing headphones are a staple within the recording, film industry. Low impedance (easy to drive) and closed ear design does a good job of cutting down background noise even though it’s not a true “noise reduction” headphone. The Sound is natural, clear and well detailed. The headphone has a foldable design, making it convenient to store and its coiled cable allows some stretch when you want a bit more reach. Sony does a few things right, and headphones at this price point are one of them –this old-school brand still knows their stuff! See Details on Amazon
Killer vintage style with modern sound. AKG continues to be one of our favorite headphone brands that continuously delivers big bang for the buck. These super comfortable cans, with 2 kinds of comfortable ear pads included, had to be on our list for the money. Sweet mids and highs with crisp uncolored bass. These deliver sound the way the studio engineers meant it to be. Many Studio engineers use the pro version of these, so it’s not a wonder why. This is a great honest set of headphones that deliver. See details on Amazon
In short, the AKG Y50BTs are amazing. We are huge fans of their headphones and these are excellent across sound performance, features, design and build quality. These wireless are good enough to pass for a good wired performance, and if you run out of battery you can use the included headphone cable. Sometimes there is some faint hiss from lesser quality wireless headphones, but not here. These have tons of clarity and clean punchy bass and have to be at the top of your list if you’re someone wanting a wireless headset. See more details on Amazon
Welcome to the big leagues – at this stage, you’re getting into a level richness and detail that separates the men from the boys and women from the girls. These Beyerdynamic DT 770’s can pack serious punch and detail that makes them a pure joy to listen to. Superbly comfortable and cloud cushion ear pads feel like puffy clouds caressing your ears while you enjoy. These are our favorite closed-back design headphones for the money. See details on Amazon
Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Headphones with/without Active Noise Cancellation – Wireless/Regular ($125-$350)
Yes, we all know Bose can do Noise cancellation well, but the luxury feel and sheer sound quality of these make them a winner. These have Bluetooth, active noise cancellation as well as a built-in high-quality microphone for crystal clear phone conversations. The ergonomically designed ear cups are fitted with genuine leather covered memory foam cushions and they are great for long listening sessions. If noise cancelation AND great sound is important to you than this is for you. Not cheap at just under $350, but the price is a drop from the $499 original retail. You can also get the non-wireless, no noise cancellation HD1’s for under $125 See details on Amazon.
Some things to note as you continue beyond this point into the high-end…
Ohm Levels – Some of these, depending on Ohm level, may sound fine on a portable device like your iPhone or laptop (under 40 Ohms, but above that Ohm level a better amp is needed), but at this level you are selling yourself short if you don’t run them off a quality amp or their own dedicated headphone amp/DAC combo. The good news is that there are tons of great options out there starting as low as $50! The Dragonfly Red is one of our new favorites
Don’t know why you need a DAC? Read our article WTF is a DAC, and Why you need one!
Welcome to the top floor of headphones. At the new price, these are now an outstanding deal for true Audiophile grade headphones that take your music to new heights. HiFiMan HE-400i is a large, full-size headphone that uses planar-magnetic drivers for exceptional sound quality, detail and well-defined bass and a tremendous detailed soundstage. These drivers are nothing like regular speaker cones and use special thin magnetized planar metal ribbons similar to that of $10K speakers. All technology and cool factor aside, they sound outstanding and we think they offer the best bang for the buck of anything on this page unless money is no object. See details on Amazon.
The HD 650 from Sennheiser is a true reference class stereo headphone that delivers a serious benchmark audiophile experience with open airy natural sound. Specially developed with acoustic silk over the entire area of each ear-cup. The precision german engineered aluminum voice coils create sound like you’re part of the concert. Their large elliptical design of the earpads are supremely comfortable and naturally adapts to the shape of the ear. This iconic design is time tested and Sennheiser is a true Jedi of the headphone space –listen to these and you’ll understand why. See details on Amazon
At first look, for those who don’t know, you think these are some old school cheap 70’s headphones, then you put them on and they blow your mind with unexpected levels of detail clarity and composure and you are forever changed. WTF just happened – you’ve been Grado’d! Professionally of course! The PS500e boasts an overall sound that is pure Grado, with their signature warm and rich full-bodied vocals and an ultra-smooth top end. Midrange and highs are out of this world and talking about it do them no justice. As long as you’re not a bass, rap or dance music freak these are a must listen and will make vocals sweeter The PS500e is a compact showstopper will deliver big smiles on the face of the most demanding music pros and audiophiles. See details on Amazon.
Beyerdynamic T1 2nd Generation Audiophile Stereo Headphones with Dynamic Semi-Open Design ($999, previously $1200)
Made in Germany by a guy named Dieter in a white coat, these will make you invest in a lounge chair as the puffy cloudy silky earpads caress your ears by touch as well as sound –That Dieter is a dirty man! These headphones are obscenely good and yes, there are more expensive ones out there that go way over the top, but these will give you everything you need to launch you deep into outer audiophile space. With this kind of sound and feel you might shed tears when you’re listening to your favorite vinyl tracks. Silky-smooth lush warmth with precise deep accurate bass. This is the flagship of Beyerdynamic’s headphone range for the home and sets new standards thanks to its unique Tesla technology, but all you need to know is that it’s headphone bliss. See details on Amazon.
Didn’t see one of your favorites make the list? Comment below and let us know! We’ll be continually updating the list as the year goes on and we listen to what our readers say!
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