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The Best Headphones To Buy In 2024

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Buying a pair of headphones is a much more complex affair today than it was just a few years ago. This is because the range of features that are now available can make choosing the best headphones a lot more challenging, and that doesn’t even take into account noise-canceling headphones. This difficult choice is compounded by the sheer number of hardware options on the market, with thousands of devices vying for favor with users. But some headsets are trying harder than others to give users the best listening experience possible.



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While built-in mics used to come at a premium, it’s now standard to include some kind of mic with a headset. At the same time, adjustable headbands are more durable than ever, allowing a wider variety of sizes to be readily available for purchase. Regardless of whether the headphones are built for movies or video games, top brands like Sony, Bose, and SteelSeries have some of the best options on the market.



Key Factors For Finding The Best Headphones

Choosing the best headphones for each individual is easier than it sounds. Headphones are a pretty straight-forward product, and there are clear tiers within the market. Users wanting to find the perfect pair of headphones for them only need to think about a few factors when shopping online.


Taking these factors into consideration should lead most people to the right pair of headphones for their specific needs.

Game Rant’s Best Headphones for 2024

The Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones are the successors to the celebrated Sony WH-1000XM4 & Sony WH-1000XM3, and they have big shoes to fill in terms of expectations. The XM5s do this by improving the XM4’s performance with better bass, a tuned soundstage, and a much better set of mics. As a result, it sounds much punchier than its previous iteration, with a focus on clarity while also improving battery life and enhancing the overall aesthetic.

It is hard to narrow down who these headphones would be perfect for because they are such excellent all-around headphones. The only real downside of the WH-1000XM5 is their price. But as long as people are okay with the fairly high price tag, these headphones will last for years to come, making daily commutes, chilling out to some music, or even exercising an excellent musical experience.


The XM5 replaces the previous king of the hill, the XM4, which significantly dominated competing hardware, so to say that the XM5 are completely new headphones would be overreaching. They obviously take inspiration from the XM4, but they do make meaningful changes, such as moving to a new 30mm carbon fiber-based driver instead of its predecessor’s much-lauded 40mm driver. The design changes have been met with mixed reception, but in Game Rant’s opinion, these changes enhance users’ experience, making this pair the best headphones in 2023.

The Bose Noise Cancelling 700 Headphones are currently Bose’s flagship consumer-grade ANC headphones, sporting an excellent finish, outstanding noise-canceling performance, and an impressively accurate gesture control system, all in one neat package. It does get somewhat upstaged by the Sony XM5s at lower frequencies when it comes to noise-canceling, and it also has some unfavorable stats when it comes to battery life. However, it does make up for those downsides with an impressive audio-calling performance.


The Bose Noise Canceling 700 headphones are perfect for people who are regularly in noisy environments or just like complete silence while they listen to music but don’t want to sacrifice clarity. Unlike a lot of headphones that focus on heavy noise-canceling, these headphones don’t narrow the sound stage too much and don’t create that weird inner-ear pressure.

Featuring Bluetooth 5.0, it does support the bulk of devices on the market right now, and Bluetooth is backward compatible on both sides. It does have limited codec support, bringing in only SBC and AAC support out of the box, which feels a bit underwhelming when one considers that its most direct competition outdoes it in this regard with LDAC support out of the box. Overall, these are excellent noise-cancelling headphones and definitely worth considering as the top pick in this category.


Noise-canceling headphones that are budget-friendly are few and far between. Thankfully the Soundcore Space One is here to save the day. At this price point, most people would be hard-pressed to find a pair of Bluetooth headphones that sound this good while featuring incredible comfort, outstanding battery life, and some of the best noise-canceling available. In Game Rant’s full review of the Soundcore Space One, we found that these headphones can block out 98% of outside noise, so even on the loudest commutes, users can tune out and relax.

The Space One headphones are perfect for anyone who wants a set of headphones that can block out the outside world but still come in under $100. Whether these headphones are used for gaming, listening to music, or hanging out on Zoom calls, these headphones sound crystal clear, and they are not overly bass-heavy. Users who prefer a different EQ can easily change it with the Soundcore app, where they have access to an 8-band manual EQ or an automatic EQ users can set it up by listening to a series of tones and tapping what they can hear. Not only does the Space One sound good, but it is also incredibly comfortable. Long-wearing sessions don’t create that usual ear strain or sweaty feeling that comes with over-ear headphones.


The SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Headphones are a class apart when it comes to gaming. While pricey, they offer a host of features that most gaming headsets are a generation or more away from achieving. Featuring excellent sound quality and backed by the flexibility of going wireless on either 2.4 GHz or Bluetooth, the Arctis Nova Pro makes inroads in an industry normally bound by budget constraints, being that the bulk of gaming headsets are priced in the $50-150 range. It sports active noise-canceling for audio, as well as an excellent noise-canceling microphone.

The one major gripe Game Rant had in the full review of the Nova Pro is that it is the same one with almost all gaming headsets. Thanks to licensing issues, it is rare to see a wireless headset that works with both current-gen Xbox and PlayStation consoles simultaneously, and it seems the Arctis Nova Pro wireless is not an exception. Thankfully, buyers who have a smart TV that supports Bluetooth audio can salvage the audio end of the headsets on the incompatible console (assuming one has both), but it is still an inconvenience, to say the least.


All in all, the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless Headphones are an excellent pair of gaming-centric headphones that we can also see becoming a mainstay for casual use (i.e. music, streaming, etc.) given their comfort, Bluetooth support, and ability to hot-swap batteries to extend usage in a single sitting. For all these reasons, the SteelSeries Arctis Pro is Game Rant’s pick for the best gaming headphones one can currently buy.

When jumping from consumer to audiophile-level headphones, the Sennheiser HD 600 is bound to come up. The HD 600 is a perfect example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” these headphones originally came out over 25 years ago and are still easily some of the most popular headphones in the high-end audio community. These headphones are perfect for anyone looking to step up their listening experience, whether for music, movies, or gaming.


With their open-back design, these headphones produce an extensive sound stage, making music, especially live albums, very intimate. When listening to surround sound content, it is very easy to pick up what side the sound is coming from. However, the open-back design is not great for commuting or users looking for ANC. The HD 600 leaks a lot of sound, which can easily be heard by people around; for the user, there is very little isolation. Unlike most other headphones in this guide, the HD 600 does need an amp to get the best performance out of them.

The HD 600 is not a budget headphone by any means, but the hefty price tag for the performance that these deliver is well worth it. Sennheiser focuses on replaceable components, and the HD 600 is no different. Nearly every element of these headphones is replaceable, and because they have been out so long, there is no shortage of options for replacement parts. Not to mention, they are easily one of the most comfortable audiophile headphones on the market. With the reasonably lightweight design, velvet earpads, and open grills on the earcups that allow the user’s ears to breathe, these headphones can easily be used all day with minimal discomfort.


Working out and listening to music is like peanut butter and jelly; it is hard to picture one without the other. While many earbuds offer a comfortable and secure fit that makes them suitable for working out, few offer what the Shokz OpenRun Pro does. For the last couple of years, Shokz has perfected bone-conduction headphone technology that allows users to jam out to their favorite music but stay aware of their surroundings. The Shokz OpenRun Pro is a perfect choice for anyone looking for headphones for running, cycling, climbing, or just anyone who wants to listen to their music while staying aware of their surroundings.

Bone conduction headphones are a super exciting development in the headphone space because, while they do leave the user’s ear unoccluded, people around the user can’t hear the music. So unlike the Sennheiser HD 600, which instantly lets everyone else on the train know what the user is listening to, the OpenRun Pro is the best of both worlds. That said, while the OpenRun Pro sounds fantastic, especially compared to other bone-conduction headphones, these are not the best for analytically listening to music.


Budget headphones are a weird category. There are a ton of $20 or $30 headphones that sound okay, but for the most part, these headphones will last a year and have unreliable connections. Thankfully, that is not the case with the OneOdio A70. These headphones come in at a very reasonable $70, and they provide outstanding sound quality, an impressive steady Bluetooth connection, and incredible battery life. Making them a perfect choice for anyone looking for a pair of headphones that doesn’t break the bank but doesn’t sacrifice performance.

In Game Rant’s full review of the OneOdio A70, we found that these headphones have punchy bass, clear mids, and sparkling highs, providing a satisfying listening experience. With most other budget Bluetooth headphones providing muddy and over-emphasized bass to sound more powerful, the A70 defies all of those tropes, much to the delight of the users. Regardless of what genre or content users want to listen to with these headphones, the A70 delivers performance that punches way above its weight.


Besides the fantastic sound quality, the most impressive thing about the A70 is its Bluetooth connection. Most of the time, the Bluetooth connection is unstable on budget headphones and cuts out once the device is outside five feet. The A70’s Bluetooth connection rivals headphones like the WH-1000XM5; these headphones stay stable and have no loss in quality even when the connected device is on the other side of the house. And with 72 hours of battery life, it is hard to go wrong with the A70.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 had some pretty big shoes to fill with how big of a hit the WF-1000XM4 earbuds were. Surprisingly so, these earbuds filled those shoes and made some very appreciated upgrades to make the WF-1000XM5 an even better experience than the previous generation. These earbuds have a smaller, rounder shape and use memory foam ear tips, which are quite comfortable. The earbuds additionally allow for a good amount of passive noise cancelation. Still, they might be a bit too big for people with smaller ear canals to be comfortable for long periods.


The WF-1000XM5 is perfect for people who want fantastic sound quality, excellent ANC, and an overall very premium listening experience in earbud form. These earbuds reproduce a very natural sound profile that rivals full-sized headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM5. The lower end is boomy and powerful, but it doesn’t overwhelm the top end or make vocals muddy.

While the ANC isn’t as powerful as some earbuds that put a big focus on ANC, like the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC, the WF-1000XM5 still does make commutes more enjoyable, blocking out a majority of lower-end sounds like engine rumbles. The memory foam ear tips take care of sounds like conversations and higher-pitched noise.

With the focus being on wireless earbuds ever since the first set of AirPods came out, wired earbud manufacturers have started to focus more on the audiophile community. There is nothing wrong with that, but some of these in-ear headphones can easily cost upwards of $200, and that is where the IE 200 comes in. These in-ear headphones aim to bridge the gap between consumer earbuds and audiophile earbuds. With a no-frills design that produces incredible sound and fantastically accurate audio, these earbuds are perfect for anyone looking to upgrade their wired earbud performance.


Sennheiser has firmly established itself as a go-to source for quality audio equipment, and while the IE 200 in-ear headphones don’t carry the same weight as the HD 600, these earbuds produce some fantastic sound quality. The IE 200 is not going to deliver gut-punching bass like the WH-1000XM5, but it does make up for it with a very accurate frequency response that is still very enjoyable to listen to. Plus, users who edit audio in any way can easily rely on these headphones for mastering.

While the wired connection can feel like a hindrance at times, there is nothing better than just being able to plug in a pair of headphones and being ready to listen. And just like the HD 600, the IE 200’s cable is replaceable, so if the cable goes, users can easily replace it without having to buy a new pair of headphones. However, because the IE 200 is a newer pair of headphones, there are not as many third-party options for replacements, and the Sennheiser replacement cables are fairly expensive.


Those looking for earbuds on a budget can fall back on an old favorite: Skullcandy. This classic brand is still developing some of the most popular earbuds around, including the Sesh Evo earbuds for under $50.

Available in four different colors, these earbuds are just as stylish as ever and yet still offer high-quality sound. The battery is a little disappointing, giving just five hours of life, but the included headphone case brings with it 19 hours of battery. Plus, the quick charge function gives users two hours of use after just 10 minutes of recharging.

Resistant to both water and sweat, these earbuds are perfect for the gym, work, or school. Additionally, users can download the Tile companion app and never lose their earbuds again.

How To Choose The Best Headphones


With so many headphones there are to choose from, choosing what headphones are the best can be pretty challenging. Game Rant looks at the main factors to help decide;

Portability

Portability is crucial for choosing a pair of headphones because it plays into how much people can use these headphones. Depending on the use case, this does vary quite a bit. Some headphones are fabulous for commuting and are easy to bring everywhere, but some are best enjoyed at home with a full audio setup. Earbuds are the most straightforward kind of headphones to take everywhere and anywhere, and it is probably worth having a pair of earbuds to throw in a bag, even for over-ear headphone fans. Over-ear headphones, however, are more challenging to have in a bag constantly, but if they fold up or come with a carrying bag, it is a lot easier.


Wired or Wireless?

Many of the headphones listed in this guide are Bluetooth headphones, which are compatible with many devices at this point, but wired and 2.4 GHz wired headphones still have their uses. For gaming, wired and 2.4GHz connections are preferred for their lower latency and more stable connection. However, if people plan to listen to music or watch content, Bluetooth headphones will be perfect and tend to be the most convenient.

The Headphone’s Style

The style of headphones is a great way to narrow down the results when looking for headphones. There are three main types of headphones: over-ear, on-ear, and earbuds. Of course, there are variations in each of these types, but most websites will filter headphones by these three. Over-ear headphones are typically the most bulky and offer better noise cancelation and more robust drivers. On-ear headphones are a nice in-between for over-ear and earbuds; these headphones don’t usually have any ANC but still have relatively large driver sizes for louder sound production. Earbuds are the smallest of the three and offer the easiest portability and discreet appearance.


Regardless of what headphones are the best for each user, as long as people pick a pair from a reputable company and hit the above points, they will be wearing an excellent pair of headphones.

FAQ

Q: Does the Samsung Buds Pro 2 work with an iPhone?

Yes, they work just fine as standard earphones. However, they do not support Samsung’s latest Seamless Codec or some of the ‘smarter’ features that Samsung has with their own phones.

Q: How important is Active Noise Canceling (ANC) for headphones?

ANC is important in areas where users expect to have some degree of ambient noise which can affect the hearing experience. Most headphones do allow sound to seep in from the sides, making for a less-than-stellar listening experience for users. ANC fixes this issue by reducing the amount of incoming noise and therefore ‘filtering’ what is heard. In the same way, ANC microphones in some of these headphones tend to amplify one’s voice while reducing background noise to allow more clarity and coherence when talking to someone or simply using a voice assistant.

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