Anyone can appreciate a good set of headphones over the ear, especially music fans, students and couples who are stuck at home. But shopping for cans is quite overwhelming thanks to nice new features like Bluetooth and ANC. Don̵7;t worry – we explain the features that matter and help you buy a set of headphones.
Headphone features to watch out for
You do not have to worry about whether a set of headphones sounds good or not. So to make things as simple as possible, we only look at amazing sounding headphones from trusted brands. We also share the headphones with features instead of sound quality, so you can quickly choose a good pair of wired, wireless or ANC cans without fussing over a lot of options.
Do you need to speed up fine headphone functions? Here is a quick walkthrough:
- Wired VS wireless: Wired headphones are cheaper and offer (in general) better sound quality per dollar than Bluetooth headphones. Just remember that some phones and laptops no longer have headphone jacks, and wireless headphones are more convenient than their wired counterparts.
- ANC (active noise reduction): Do you want to eliminate background noise? ANC headphones use reverse phase waves to remove ambient noise such as the hum of an engine or dishwasher. They are perfect for people who live in noisy environments or who travel a lot.
- Microphones: Most Bluetooth headphones have built-in microphones. Headphones with high quality microphones are great for Zoom meetings and phone calls.
- Open back: Open back headphones allow your music to leak out for everyone to hear. Yes, say goodbye to privacy, but the open backed design provides a clear sound similar to stand-alone speakers – a serious advantage for music fans and musicians who do not want to disturb their neighbors in full size speaker.
Without further ado, let’s look at the best earphones for Christmas 2020!
Best wired headphones: Sony MDR7506
You can’t go wrong with the legendary Sony MDR7506 headphones. Sony introduced the MDR7506s back in 1991 as a professional studio product, and they are still one of the best sounding, most comfortable headphones available today. Heck, some still use their original 90s MDR7506 headphones thanks to the durable design and interchangeable ear pads.
Do you want something cheaper? Turn on the AKG Pro Audio K72 headphones. They are a bit bulky, but the AKG K72 offers sound quality and comfort comparable to the Sony MDR7506. They also look cool, which is always a plus.
Best wired headphones
Best Budget ANC: Skullcandy Venue
Why overpay for the ANC? Skullcandy Venue Bluetooth headphones have a fantastic bass response, a 24-hour battery and ANC that competes with brands like Sony and Bose. Skullcandy’s Venue headphones also have built-in controls for adjusting the volume or skipping tracks, microphones for phone calls and a built-in Tile tracker to help you find your headphones when they disappear at home or in nature.
For a set of Bluetooth cases without ANC, consider the Skullcandy Hesh 3 headphones. It has a battery life of 2 hours, a comfortable fit and a deep bass-heavy sound. Like the Venue, Skullcandy’s Hesh-three headphones also have built-in controls and microphones.
Best budget ANC headphones
Best premium ANC: Sony WH-1000XM4
You can not beat Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones. By all accounts, they are one of the absolute best Bluetooth headphones available today. They have it all – fantastic sound quality with sound upscaling, class-leading ANC and a comfortable lightweight build. The Sony WH-1000XM4 has a battery life of 30 hours and can be connected to two devices at a time so you can quickly jump between listening to music on your laptop and making a call on your phone. Do not have time to charge the battery? Sony WH-1000XM4 also works over 3.5 mm cable.
A common alternative to the Sony Wh-1000XM4 is the Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones with the same price. These headphones are (probably) on the same ground in terms of ANC performance and sound quality. The thing is, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II is easy to find for sale because they still use the old Bluetooth 4.1 audio standard, which is a bit dull compared to the Sony WH-1000XM4’s Bluetooth 5.0 system.
Best premium ANC headphones
Best for players: SteelSeries Arctis 1
Do not buy basic headphones for hardcore players. SteelSeries Arctis 1 is a high quality gaming headset that delivers 3D sound to any console. It also has a detachable microphone for high-quality in-game voice chat (or Zoom calls), its own receiver for lawless wireless listening and an included 3.5mm cable for wired gaming. Plus, with its 20-hour battery life, the SteelSeries Arctis 1 extends even the most intense gaming sessions.
Do you want something cheaper? The BlueFire headset is a solid little headset that connects to consoles via a 3.5 mm cable. The durable teen-friendly design withstands all addictions and the microphone is perfect for online school or voice chat in the game.
Best headest for players
Best for musicians: Audeze LCD-1
There is nothing better than a pair of headphones with an open back – as long as you are not worried about sound insulation or noise bleeding. Audeze LCD-1 are some of the most affordable open-back headphones available today and provide a sharp and clean sound that can be compared to stand-alone speakers.
Open back does not have the intense base of many close-back headphones. Combine that with their lack of privacy or noise reduction features, and you have a beautiful niche product! I suggest you buy these for a musician who already has a good pair of headphones with a close back, or someone who prefers to use standalone speakers but does not want to disturb family members or neighbors during certain hours of the day.
Best for musicians