If you’re a music fan, you have probably already invested quite a bit into your listening experience. On top of the music itself, you may have a great set of speakers or a expensive system to play vinyl. Or, you may have shelled out an extra bit of cash to get a limited edition or remastered version of your favorite release. However, no collection is complete without a great set of headphones and in an increasingly crowded space, it can be hard to know where to start.

Whether you’re listening to Spotify on your phone or a record at home, a great pair of quality headphones can make any listening experience better. In fact, chances are most of your music listening does happen through headphones these days and there is no reason to be limiting yourself with a bad set.

We recommend taking one of two approaches to headphone shopping. One idea is to have a great pair of “special experience” headphones that may have less features, but produce great quality audio, and to pair that with a second, more affordable all-purpose pair. If you’re listening at the gym, for example, you may not want to be wearing a luxury pair of headphones. On the other hand, on a long flight, you probably want the best sound blocking possible. The other suggested approach is just to ball out with a single pair. If your pads or cable wears out, many of the best brands allow you to easily replace part by part.

Whatever route you choose, we hope this list of over a dozen of the best headphones currently on the market is helpful.

Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

Created for studio use, these are great headphones for podcast editors and sound engineers. It’s a closed studio headphone pair designed for detailed resolution and great sound at every volume.

Their marketing messaging says a lot about the headphones they make and who they make them for. Instead of leading off about their style, or different colors they come in, Beyerdynamic says, “Ultra-low bass sounds are defined and reproduced crisply. High frequencies are translated to an analytical, clear and differentiated sound. The spatial reproduction of these headphones is remarkable despite providing excellent isolation from the outside world.”

Beats Solo3

Beats headphones tend to get a lot of criticism for spending more on marketing and fashion and less resources on crafting quality headphones. Whether you agree with this or not, The Beats Solo3 are nice and functional headphones. Also, being stylish isn’t necessarily a bad thing, right?

If you’re looking for wireless on-ear headphones to listen to podcasts during your commute or at work, these are a pretty good pair. They won’t break the bank compared with other premium headphones and you won’t look super nerdy wearing them either.

Sennheiser HD280PRO

Right in the wheelhouse of both premium and affordable, you’ll find the Sennheiser HD-280PRO. These headphones perch on the edge of a triple-digit price, and include many features you’d expect from headphones that blow past it: excellent ergonomics for long-term listening, high-fidelity treble and respectable bass, passive noise cancelling to 32dB, and a gorgeous frequency response curve.

Less sexy but worth mentioning are the easily replaceable individual components. If you primarily use one pair of headphones and wear them all the time, this is a great way to combat inevitable wear-and-tear.

Audio Technica ATH-M50x

The Audio Technica ATH-M50x is typically referred to as the best bang for your buck on-ear headphone set. Though it’s not wireless — you can purchase a Bluetooth adapter — the headphones come with three detachable cables and the headphones themselves collapse for easy mobility.

It is also adjustable, since you can rotate the earpieces up to 90º and leave them flat. Often commended for their comfort, the sports cloth pads are coated with a soft material and are relatively lightweight. They have a maximum input power up to 1600 mW and can produce frequencies ranging from 5-28,000 Hz. Though they’re not marketed as noise cancelling, reviewers recommend they still do a great job when listening in public.

Bose QuietComfort 35 Series 2 (QC35)

I dare you to find an owner of the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones and get them to say a bad thing about them. I dare you! Asking headphone owners if they’d buy the headphones again is a great barometer for headphone satisfaction. For Bose QuietComfort owners, both in the 25 and 35 model, you’ll likely never find a group of brand advocates so loyal to a specific headphone series.

But it’s not without good reason. The Bose QC35 headphones are ideal for a variety of use cases, not just podcasts. Their noise cancelling technology allows you to listen in utter silence in a public area, at the office, or to drown out outside noise. With a lithium-ion battery, you can listen up to 20 hours on a single charge — enough to get you through even the longest workday.

Sony MDR 7506

This model offers great comfort thanks to its ergonomic design, its comfort pads and comfortable and adjustable headband. At the same time, it offers high-resolution audio with its 40mm neodymium speakers.

A knock on these (if it’s important to you), is the lack of a Bluetooth adapter and the 9.8 ft cord is not detachable. For some people this is a dealbreaker. Another potential issue is their lack of noise cancelling feature. Though they cup your ear and block a good amount of outside sound.

Audio Technica ATH-M40x

The ATH-M40x are the baby brother to the M50x. A little cheaper, less flexible, and minimal compromise on sound quality, these are still an excellent on-ear podcast headphone.

Along with the M50x’s, they provide a great balance of comfort and audio quality. The major differences between the two models are the M40x only produces audio to 24,000 Hz, has less impedance, and the earcups don’t swivel in 90 degrees.

Skullcandy Grind Bluetooth Wireless

Probably the most stylish on-ear headphone of the bunch, the Skullcandy Grind has a minimalist look and aesthetic. The Bluetooth capability, combined with up to a 12 hour battery life, give this a strong mark for convenience.

For its part, however, the Grinds are fairly durable replacing most headphones plastic parts with metal. The more expensive models offer longer battery life, but have the same sound quality for the most part. Their 40mm audio drivers produce excellent stereo sound quality to hear all the details of the podcast.

GRADO SR80x Prestige Series Headphones

Grado make some of my favorite and some of the best headphones out there. The one caveat is they tend to run on the expensive spectrum. If you’re looking for headphones specifically to edit or listen to podcasts, you can’t do much better than these. Some people knock them for their lack of deep bass support, but if you’re focusing on vocals that’s not much of an issue for you.

Panasonic HJE120 Earbuds

Quite frankly, some people prefer the convenience and ease of earbuds they can easily fold and put in their pocket. If you’re looking to have a spare pair (or two) for your office, car, gym bag, or another occasion, give these a try. They’re not going to set you back to much, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better pair in this price range.

LG Tone Pro HBS-770

You’ve probably seen these headphones around town and wondered what exactly they are. With a unique look and fit, the LG Tones have a band that fits around your neck with the earbuds sprouting from there. Completely Bluetooth, these headphones are great for listening to podcasts during your commute. Their tethering capabilities allow you to answers calls and read texts without having to take your phone out. For the price point, they offer great sound quality and convenient for riding your bike or taking the train to work.

Sennheiser HD 558 Headphones

Maybe not as well known as their counterparts like Bose, Sony, or Harman and Kardon, Sennheiser has continued to make great headphones over the years. These headphones are relatively unique with each earcup having an internal sound reflector, immersing the listener in sound.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Sennheiser’s marketing team. They call their headphone technology and unique properties part of the “Eargonomic Acoustic Refinement” design. Or, what they call E.A.R. for short. Well done.

Jaybird X4 Wireless Headphones

As an owner of the Jaybird X4 headphones, I love them, simple as that. These active Bluetooth headphones are discrete, mobile, convenient, have a good battery life, and sound excellent. Literally, zero complaints.

So while they’re probably not what you’re looking for in the studio, and they don’t have noise cancelling technologies, if you’re working out or commuting and want full range with good headphones — look no further. These are the perfect commuter podcast headphones.

AKG K 240 Studio MKII

These are the mid-range AKG headphones, which I think present the perfect blend of quality and affordability. Though typically thought of as studio headphones created for musicians, all the headphone qualities musicians are looking for — deep lows, clear vocals, etc. — are what podcasters look for in headphones as well.

AKG themselves describe their headphones technology as “Varimotion 30 mm XXL transducers deliver solid low end, accurate mids and crystal-clear highs.”

Bose SoundLink II

With up to 15 hours of playtime, their battery life isn’t quite up to the level of their QC35 counterpart. However, they still live up to the Bose brand and provide (what many claim is) the best sound quality headphones in the business. They don’t boast the proprietary noise cancelling of the QuietComfort line, but this makes them lighter, and what some people claim, more comfortable. These are excellent podcast headphones.

Sony WH1000XM2

These headphones are Sony’s answer to the Bose QuietComfort series. Excellent sound quality Bluetooth headphones with noise cancelling technology. If it’s my money, I’m likely buying the Bose, however, there are fierce evangelists that prefer Sony — it’s kind of an XBOX vs. PS4 situation.

The Sony WH100XM2 noise cancelling technology is graded better than the Bose QC series, and their touch controls are intuitive and provide a sleek design. Quite frankly, you can’t go wrong with either headphone and they’re both great investments. Either choice will make for a great podcast headphone.


Brian Benton

Brian Benton is a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles.