Headphones are among the most personal audio accessories. When shopping for headphones, you are shopping for an audience of one. While the cost of premium headphones may appear high, there is no more cost-effective way to experience high-fidelity sound than with a good pair of cans. Don’t put up with mediocre audio by using whatever earbuds came with your mobile device.

Choosing Headphones

When shopping for headphones, it is helpful to decide ahead of time what style you are looking for. The first question, undoubtedly, is wired or wireless. This is closely followed by whether you want ANC (active noise cancelling) as part of the package. Then there is the question of earbuds, vs. on-ear, versus over-ear. And for those who choose on-ear or over-ear, there is the further question of open-back or closed back. And all this needs to be considered before getting into actual performance, comfort and style.

Quick Tips:

If you plan on exercising, a pair of true wireless earbuds are going to be your best option. They won’t get in the way, as long as they have a good fit, they’ll stay put, and they do not get sweaty like the earpads on larger headphones. Some of the most popular headphones in the world are true wireless earbuds, for example Apple’s Airpods and Airpods Pro.

Wired earbuds likely offer the highest price/performance ratio in the audio world. The only trick is finding the right pair, because there are hundreds and hundreds of options to choose from, at seemingly every single possible price point from a few bucks to thousands of dollars. From aesthetics to fit to sound profile, picking a pair of wired earbuds can be a little tricky simply due to the enormous selection. But one thing is for certain, you can get world-class performance out of earbuds the cost a few hundred bucks, and because they offer high sensitivity, chances are you only need a smartphone to drive them to satisfying output levels.

Wireless over-ear, closed-back headphones with ANC are another hot category. This is where you’ll find Sony, Bose and Apple fighting it out to sell you $300+ headphones that are equally excellent for travel and for enjoying a great album at home. If you dislike the “feel” of earbuds, a pair of over-ear headphones are likely to be a better fit.

If you are a music lover, full size open-back headphones (on-ear or over-ear) offer a listening experience that typically delivers better soundstage and imaging than other headphone types. But you’re not going to find this style of headphone with active noise canceling, of even as a wireless option. Open-back models are typically passive, and they have the specific disadvantage of noise leakage: Whatever you are listening to, anyone around you is going to hear as well. Therefore, open-back designs are best suited for private, critical listening in quiet environments. On the plus side, open-back keeps your ears cool because ventilation is an intrinsic part of the design.

Wired (passive) closed-back headphones are an interesting category. There are many “gems” to be found, and some of the best performing options are of this variety, including headphones that cost thousands of dollars. What closed-back, full-size cans offer is better bass than open-back, as well as passive isolation from ambient noise.

Headphone Deals on Amazon

The goal of this list is to find significant discounts on popular and highly rated headphones. It is not a hands-on comparison, but it is informed by user feedback, reviews and ratings. And as the thread title indicates, it is all about headphones that are on sale or available at a discount through Amazon.

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Apple AirPods Pro

True Wireless earbuds with ANC

Officially, Airpods Pro retail for $249. But psychologically, they come across as a bargain any time the price dips below $200. Although you get the maximum functionality when you use Airpods Pro with an iOS device, you'll still get the full benefit of active noise canceling and enjoy the excellent ergonomics of this great sounding earbud over any standard Bluetooth connection. Basically, at this price you can't go wrong with a pair of AirPods Pro.



Sony WH-1000XM4

Over-ear wireless with ANC

For years, Bose has the full-size, over-ear, wireless ANC headphones market practically to itself. But then Sony came along and challenged Bose with its WH-100XM headphone line. Now in its fourth iteration, the WH-1000XM4 offers bass-rich, yet crystal-clear sound, extremely high levels of comfort, and extraordinary noise cancelling that puts you in a "bubble of silence" that lets you hear the fine nuances in a recording that might get lost if the noise floor is any higher.

Broad compatibility including full functionality through iOS and ANdroid apps make this a universally great option for anyone seeking that one pair of full-size headphones that can "do it all."



Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Over-ear wireless with ANC

While snarky audiophiles enjoy making puns at the expense of Bose, the reality is the company has a leadership position in the headphones market and it is largely responsible for the popularization of active noise cancelling.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is immediately recognizable, you might not have realized that the design is iconic, but just take a look at a pair and you'll surely agree that they are familiar to the point of being the "proto"-headphone of this category. And there is good reason for the QC35 II's popularity, Bose focuses on the exact features that are in this model's name: Quiet and comfort. Simply put, reviewer and user feedback confirm that you get some of the very best noise cancellation money can buy, and comfort that lets you wear these headphones all day without fatigue. And guess what, as a bonus, they sound good too!



Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X

Over-ear passive open-back

This is precisely what we were referring to when discussing the advantages and disadvantages of full-size, passive, over-ear, open-back headphones. This pair of Audio-Technica is a great value for music lovers. The ATH-D700X offers high sensitivity, a broad frequency response, excellent comfort, high power handling, and there is tons of user feedback indicating that the price-performance ratio is very high, and even more so when on sale.



AKG Pro Audio K361BT

Over-ear wireless closed-back

If you want wireless full-size headphones that are comfortable, affordable, and tuned to offer balanced high-fidelity sound you'll find what you're looking for in these AKG Pro Audio K361BT. This model does not have active noise canceling, so it might not be the best option for a long airplane flight, but in your home or in your studio, they're going to sound great.

Key features include 50 mm drivers that offer robust performance in the bass region, and according to AKG they are the "largest in clayeah around the Caribbean from 150 nits suress" for headphones in this category. Despite the affordable price, battery life is rather incredible, with up to 24 hours of playback per charge. Memory foam ear pads provide a comfortable and reliable seal, which is key to enjoying the bass performance these headphones have to offer.



Sennheiser PXC 550-II

Over-ear wireless with ANC

Sennheiser is well known for its fastidious attention to detail that results in headphones that perform great in terms of audio fidelity as well as ergonomics. With the PXC 550-II you are looking at headphones designed to compete with the full-sized, wireless ANC offerings of Bose and Sony and now Apple, too.

You get all the features that you expect, 30 hour battery life, touch sensitive your cups that include voice assistant support, be it Siri or Google Assistant or Alexa. These headphones also fold, making them easy to take with you. But the real highlight here is the price when on sale, the cost of entry is considerably lower than the aforementioned options.



AKG Pro Audio K702

Over-ear passive open-back

These headphones could be just the ticket if you specifically seek high performance over-ear open-back headphones with superb comfort and build quality. Currently offered at a discount on Amazon ($238.50 as of this posting) and if you happen to have an Amazon Business account, the discount is even steeper.

These headphones are tuned for accuracy, and improve on the revered K701 in terms of deep bass reproduction, which is always an issue with open-back designs. But here AKG has engineered headphones that offer the audible and comfort benefits of full-size open-back designs while adhering closely to the Harman curve. 62-ohm impedance means they are not tough to drive, and high sensitivity (105 dB) ensures that you'll have a good listening experience even with modest amplification.



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