The price range in this article - $39 - $350

After spending over 15 years working in the music industry as a musician and being an avid music fan, you certainly pick up more than enough knowledge to help you choose the best headphones or in-earphones for a variety of different situations when it comes to music, recording, or even streaming live podcasts. A lot of high-quality brands used to be out of reach for the average consumer, such as me and you, however, tech is cheap and the competition is so fierce, companies are forced to ensure their headphones are high quality, and affordable. But don’t be fooled, there are still products you should avoid and certain brands of headphones you can always trust!

Over the years my ears have been exposed to almost every type of audio delivery system out there, from wireless to Bluetooth, over the ear to in-earphones and even custom made plugs made for audio monitoring, so when it comes to comfort and practicality, I know exactly what works and what doesn’t. Below, I’m going to outline a selection of headphones, including plugged, wireless and Bluetooth, over-ear phones, in-earphones, and also tell you what these headphones are best suited for. You might be looking for headphones to take to the gym, listen to audiobooks, plug into your iPhone, hook up to your home audio system, drown out colleagues at work, or even just some useful allrounders you can use in any situation. I’ll include a wide budget range for each use so you have wide financial flexibility whilst still getting great quality for your money.

First, I’m going to list a few of the best brands I’ve used over the years. These are the brands that I go back to time and time again due to their consistent high quality, durability, and affordability. I’ve lost count of the number of headphones I’ve bought over the years, mostly because I lose them on tour, but mainly, I just love buying headphones and having a wide range to choose from. I'm a music nerd and studied Music Technology at University, hence why I'm addicted to music tech!

Brands I will always trust

Bose, Sennheiser, Philips.

The last set of headphones I bought and why

Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

Sennheiser-cx I’ll be straight up with you on these, they are not cheap. Bose QuietComfort 35 II retail around $360 and are by far the most expensive headphones I have ever purchased. I usually shop around the 100 dollar budget range, however, Bose has always been a brand I trust and they haven’t let me down yet. Plus, my partner has an Alexa Echo and these Wireless Headphones can connect to the device so they’re useful for when she wants to listen to music without annoying the dog (The dog likes to sing along).

I bought these headphones to essentially listen to music when I’m at home. I spend a lot of time working on my laptop, writing articles like this, and one of my main jobs is to listen to music, sometimes for up to 6 hours a day so I need headphones that are comfortable, long-lasting in terms of battery life, and enable me to walk around the apartment and make a coffee, well, several coffees. If you like the sound of these I’ll drop a few cheaper Bose headphones that will give you the same benefits.

The headphones are wireless and noise-canceling which is essential for me with almost every set of cans I but. I want to be able to fully concentrate on the audio in my ears so these fit that need. Bose headphones are also super comfortable, even after wearing a pair for hours at a time. This is one reason I avoid the Marshall headphones, they’re too small for my ears and end up hurting after about an hour. To be honest, the main reason I decided to try this product from Bose was that it literally spelled out my needs in the product name. Quiet, Comfort, Wireless, Bluetooth, Headphones. The marketing team really smashed it with the name. It’s not catchy, but it gets your attention.

Bluetooth and Wireless are important to me. Having both of these connectivity options means I can use these with all of my tech. Plus, if for some reason the Bluetooth isn’t working on my phone or laptop, which often happens, I can use the wireless option, and vice versa. These are great for my needs at home, however, I don’t take them outside. I don’t like taking over-ear headphones outside, especially ones that cost over $300. Amazon often has these on special offer so have a look here for the current price on Amazon.

I have another set of Bose, a much cheaper set as well. A set I take mainly to the gym. Bose SoundSport in-earphones cost me 100 bucks and came with a nice little carry case. They work with Android, Samsung and Apple devices and also have up to six-hour battery life, however, I’ve never used them for that long in one go to find out if that’s true. The longest I’ve used these for was a 3-hour flight, and they lasted the train journey home as well from the airport which was another 50 minutes. They fit in my pocket, the sound is immense so they're versatile to me. These are in-earphones so much better for the gym and outdoors.

If you like the sound of the Bose QuietComfort and Bose SoundSport but not the price tag then here are two other sets of headphones I use with a much lower price tag

Sennheiser’s CX 100 earphones are seriously impressive for their price tag. I picked up a pair for $40. I take these EVERYWHERE! I was really cautious about buying these as I love to have great audio quality regardless of what I’m listening to so for a low price tag I didn’t expect to be blown away. However, I’ve used Sennheiser products for years so I always expect good quality, and I wasn’t disappointed. The oval sound tube inserts that seal out ambient noise pretty much act as a noise-canceling set of earphones. If you’re listening to music, you might hear a bit of background noise from the subway but not much. I’d even recommend these to work well for audiobooks. Sennheiser is a brand I’ve turned to over the years for audio equipment, mainly when I’m in the studio as they always deliver incredible sound and durability. Their customer service is also amazing if you have any issues, of which I’ve had very few. I have a set of Sennheiser HD 300 PROtect that I use when I’m recording music, or mixing music and an MK 4 Sennheiser cardioid condenser microphone I use when recording voice overs for videos. I’m not bragging, just pointing out the act I use this brand a lot because they’re extremely reputable in the products they produce.

Again, Amazon often has the Sennheiser CX 100 In-Ear Headphone on offer so check here for the latest price if you want to grab a bargain on some awesome, affordable earphones. These are NOT wireless though. If you want a wireless version of these headphones I’d recommend Philips UpBeat Wireless earphones. Again, a great pair of cheap, good quality earphones with great sounds, however, in my opinion, the Sennheiser CX 100 delivers better sound quality. Not a huge difference but noticeable to myself.

If you’re looking for a cheaper option to the Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones I mentioned at the start, you could go with the Sennheiser HD 300 PROtect I discuss above, however, these are about $250 so they wouldn’t save you much money. If you want an insane sound and can afford them though, buy them! I’d recommend either the Sennheiser HD280PRO at $100, or Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones which come in at about $160. I also own both of these, however, I paid more for the Bose QuietComfort 25 but they’ve been on offer on Amazon for a while so most likely still will be now. If they’re not, go with the Sennheiser HD280PRO.

Check prices on Amazon

$39 Philips UpBeat Wireless earphones
$40 Sennheiser CX 100
$99 Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphone
$100 Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones
$160 Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic
$229 Sennheiser HD 300 PROtect
$349 Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Author Bio: AC Speed

Senior Editor

I started my career as a music journalist in 2013 and have been involved in the music industry as a touring musician, studio engineer and artist consultant since 2002, as well as previously being a signed artist. My passion for delivering high quality, informative music-related news is a daily driving force behind the content I create. Also a huge gaming nerd! Born in the United Kingdom and currently living in Sweden. Skål!


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