It’s no easy task to narrow down the best headphones when there are thousands of possibilities in the audio world. Ideally, you want something that is worth your money in terms of sound, portability, and use. Modern features and compatibility with all major audio devices – smartphones, tablets, laptops, and SmartTVs – are also sweet bonuses. The good news is that this roundup includes our top-of-the-range headphones in multiple categories, so you’re sure to find something here that appeals to you.
You’ll find a number of heavyweight hitters from Bose, Sony, Jabra, and even Apple, brands that have all released praiseworthy products, leading the way in their respective categories. There are also some newcomers like Jabra and Samsung who have come out of nowhere and left lasting impressions with their recent launches.
Best Headphones List
We’ve reviewed hundreds of models and also put many of them head to head to narrow down our list of the best headphones of 2020.
The best headphone in the world
Sony has made subtle changes to its latest flagship, and that was enough to make the Sony WH-1000xM4 the best headphones on the market. You’ll still get the same warm, detailed sound and responsive touch control as with the WH-1000xM3, along with a slightly more advanced ANC that challenges what Bose has to offer. What you’ll appreciate most about these headphones is the plethora of features, from the sound customization via the Sony Headphones Connect app to the versatile wireless performance, which includes Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, and multipoint technology to connect to two devices at the same time.
Not much has changed in the design, except for the slimmer headband and soft rubber finish that gives the WH-1000xM4 a more premium feel; it’s a step up from its predecessor’s plastic chassis. Sony has improved its microphone system, making the digital assistant and voice memos easy to perform, although it doesn’t work so well for phone calls.
The best tree wireless headphone right now
Considering the fact that it is still rare to get noise cancellation in wired earplugs, the fact that Sony managed to wrap it in a pair that is not only wireless but true wireless is very impressive. The Sony WF-1000XM3 manages to offer a level of noise cancellation that is very good for a pair of earplugs – they will not offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear cans, but if you are looking for a slim form factor then the compromise is worth it.
That said, despite a few minor problems, we feel like Sony has knocked the ball out of the park with the WF-1000XM3: not only is this hands-down the best looking true wireless headphones out there, but they also combine serious noise-canceling technology with fist-pumping musicality. If you don’t want the inconvenience of wearing full-size cans, these true wireless headphones are a convincing and smart alternative. Overall, this is one of the best headphones right now.
Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700
One of the best noise-canceling headphones
Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphones are the 2nd runner-up to the best headphones, with a sexy new design and cool features that come with the high price tag. They feature up to eight microphones, six of which are used to provide the Bose champion noise cancellation when listening to music or talking on the phone. It offers up to 11 levels of adjustable ANC that work equally well to neutralize noise across different frequencies.
Bose even made improvements in sound quality, as the 700s produce clean, balanced audio for crisp highs and solid bass; the lowest tones are felt more when at maximum ANC level. Despite having the same battery life as its predecessor, the QC35 II, it still holds up well at 20 hours with ANC. Apple also sells a special version of the 700 for an additional $50 that comes with a charging case that provides an additional 40 hours of listening time; Bose sells the case individually for $80.
The smart auxiliary integration, touch controls, and enhanced multi-desk technology also make these a few intuitive noise-cancellers for commuters and music lovers. If that’s not enough, Bose just released a firmware update that introduces adjustable EQ, enhanced connectivity, and voice recovery capabilities.
Apple AirPods Pro
The best headphones for Apple fans
It sounds a bit corny to say that Apple has made the AirPods even better, but in the case of the AirPods Pro, it is an understatement. These third-generation buttons are much bigger than any of us could have predicted. Apple’s clever engineering has squeezed three microphones and six sensors into the small, redesigned enclosure, while still leaving room for the acclaimed H1 chip. The addition of earbuds makes a world of difference and provides a comfortable and customized fit, which can also be optimized for better audio output through the all-new Ear Tip Fit Test.
Hands-free Siri gets better and better, while cool features such as Announce Messages and Audio Sharing showcase the AirPods Pro’s multi-functional talents. The sound is great and gets a nice upgrade in the form of spatial audio via an upcoming iOS update. Auto Switching is another feature you can expect in the coming months, where the buttons will automatically connect to the current device you are using. Overall, this is one of the best headphones.
Jabra Elite 45h
The best headphone under $100
Different models make a strong case for the best headphones under $100, but after weeks of testing, we think the Jabra Elite 45h is the clear winner based on performance and specifications. The 40-millimeter audio drivers deliver an entertaining sound that can also be adjusted by manually adjusting the EQ or selecting from a handful of music presets. It’s the only feature available at the moment, but with headphones that support firmware updates, we expect more in the coming months.
Bluetooth 5.0 works great and provides a stable connection between all devices, while 50 hours of playing time ensure you’ll have enough juice to enjoy music and movies for nearly two weeks before recharging the headphones. We can look beyond the plastic construction, especially considering how light and comfortable these headphones feel. Our biggest complaint is the lack of sound insulation, which leaks a lot of sound due to the on-ear design. However, it doesn’t matter if you’re listening at medium volume.
Remarkable sound and ANC
Powered by Sony‘s brand new HD Noise Cancelling Processor, the QN1, and with an advanced sound image, tons of sound customization options, and a thinner design, the feature-rich WH-1000XM3 headphones are designed to compete with and, in certain categories, outperform the best. The audio fidelity enhancements alone place these headphones above the Bose 700 and QC35 II. They deliver a powerful low-end stamp suitable for their target audience of bass enthusiasts, providing listeners with a range of sound-optimizing options accessible via the Connect app.
Sony’s ANC technology has been enhanced with every model in the series but is most effective on the WH-1000xM3. By enabling the feature, loud rumbles are easily muffled, from crying babies to aircraft engines. Battery life is also first-class, giving you constant 30 hours of continuous play with ANC on and 38 hours in passive mode, which is among the highest in the category. Overall, this is one of the best headphones to buy in 2020.
Jabra Elite Active 75t
An alternative to the Sony WF-1000XM3
Jabra has found a way to enhance our favorite wireless earphones by wrapping a hell of a lot of performance into a lightning-sharp waterproofness. The Elite Active 75t has better battery life and sound than the AirPods Pro, plus the charging case has more carrying capacity and feels firmer to the touch. Fitness enthusiasts will love the reliable comfort and fit they offer; sweat absorption is one of the many unsung features here.
All areas where the Elite 75t failed, such as call quality and digital assistant support, have also been improved. Best of all, the tops produce consistently clean detail and warm, vibrant instruments and vocals that can also be customized through special features (e.g. built-in EQ, music presets) in the companion app for personalized sound. For those who like to make a fashion statement in the gym, Jabra has released two new exciting colorways (Mint, Sienna) that are sure to attract attention as they hit the weights.
JBL Tune 750BTNC
Decent performance at a decent price
JBL is a popular name in the world of headphones and Bluetooth speakers, and rightly so. The consumer is trustworthy and knows what to expect from the brand: a decent sound quality at a decent price. That’s what we found with the JBL Live 650BTNC last year – and now, ready to take their place, are the JBL Tune 750BTNC, a superior successor to the 650BTNCs as a high-specification and well-priced set of over-ear headphones.
The JBL Tune 750BTNC sounds great, looks great, and fits well. Reliable and easy to use, you may miss the waterproofness and a few small features – but at this price, it feels silly to complain too easily. Overall, this is one of the best headphones to buy in 2020.
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
Excellent multi-platform wireless headphones
The original Surface Headphones were a pleasant surprise that we didn’t see coming and the successor is even better. The Surface Headphones 2 is now available in matte black and is an ideal option for audiophiles and homeworkers who are constantly switching from platform to platform, from device to device. Digital assistant support works well and the Microsoft 365 integration is a cool feature that allows you to use voice commands to take notes and captions hands-free on Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and other Office programs.
The ability to connect up to 10 devices at the same time is also great fun. But let’s not forget that this is first a noise-canceling headset and then a productivity tool. That said, Surface Headphones 2 delivers ANC quality that can be easily adjusted via dial switches. Microsoft’s 40mm Free Edge drivers produce a vibrant sound to enjoy music, videos, and games as well. Overall, this is one of the best headphones to buy in 2020.
HyperX Cloud Alpha
The best gaming headset
If you’re a PC gaming enthusiast, you’ll need headphones that sound good, fit comfortably in long game sessions and have a clear microphone for chatting with teammates or opponents. The HyperX Cloud Alpha offers the best mix of audio performance and comfort for the money. It’s beautifully built and impressively comfortable – you can wear it for hours without cranial stress. The sound quality stands up to some of the best specialty headphones in its price range. It also has great bass that doesn’t drown out other sounds when playing games.