The 43 Best Headphones, Noise Canceling Headphones & Headphones for 2021

“For heavy-duty studio headphones, the SMB-02s are amazing,” says Sam Valenti IV of Ghostly International. “I like the really clean top of the line, and these dazzle.” He loves them so much, in fact, that Ghostly has teamed up with Phonon on a special edition of the Phonon 4400, an on-ear model designed for travelers and DJs, with a foldable design and extra-long cable.

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Phonon 4400 Ghostly Edition


These models don’t come cheap, but for audiophiles with deep pockets, the sound may be worth it. ADAM Audio from Berlin, an acclaimed manufacturer of high-end studio monitors, entered the headphone market with the Studio Pro SP-5, a closed model produced in collaboration with German audiophile brand Ultrasone. The lightweight, foldable headphones return a frequency response of 8Hz to 38kHz, with generous bass and a wide soundstage. “On the more expensive side,” acknowledges Willie Green, a producer and engineer whose credits include Armand Hammer, the Roots and Wiz Khalifa. Yet, he adds, “it’s like listening to loudspeakers, right on your head.”

German mastering engineer and experimental musician Stephan Mathieu said the Audeze LCD-1 open-back headphones “are a big favorite in this price range.” They’re lightweight, comfortable, and deliver surprisingly crisp sound, thanks to their incorporation of planar magnetic technology, which was previously limited to models with four-digit and higher price tags. Closed-back Audeze LCD-XC and open-back Audeze LCD-X fall into this category. Bob Power, producer, songwriter, and teacher at the Clive Davis School of Music, praised the LCD-XC’s “amazing detail and nuance”. Berlin-based electronic musician Tim Van de Meutter, aka Locked Groove, agrees: “These are basically studio monitors for your head. Ideal if you have boring neighbors.


Jump to: Wired headset | Bluetooth wireless headphones | Noise canceling headphones | Earphones


Bluetooth wireless headphones

Audiophile speaker brand Bowers & Wilkins have made confident strides in headphones over the past decade. Launched in 2010, the P5 was the company’s first model; the PX5 cuts the cord, with adaptive noise cancellation and 25 hours of playback. And if you’re short on time, a 15-minute emergency charge can keep you going for the next five hours. “In subways and on flights, I like the Bowers & Wilkins PX5 wireless headphones,” says Nabil Ayers, US reporter and CEO of 4AD. “They sound good without being awkward.” A step up from the on-ear PX5s, the PX7 is an on-ear model that features the largest pilots in the Bowers & Wilkins headphone collection and, despite its size, promises 30 hours of playtime. On both models, lifting one headset pauses the music, allowing you to reconnect to your surroundings without missing a beat.

Image may contain: Electronics, Headphones and Headphones
Image may contain: Electronics, Headphones and Headphones

The Japanese company Audio-Technica, founded in 1962, is in a way a one-stop-shop for quality hi-fi: it started by making phono cartridges, then branched out into turntables (their ATLP120X is highly recommended as a turntable. introduction) and finally in helmets. The company’s ATH-M50x wired headphones are popular with sound engineers like New York’s Philip Weinrobe (Adrianne Lenker, Deerhoof), who calls them “rock solid boxes that I use for tracking and mixing all of the time.” the days of the week “. Now, Audio-Technica’s Wireless Edition lets you take that sound anywhere. The closed on-ear design facilitates passive sound isolation, for noisy situations such as subways and airplanes. “The Audio-Technica have very good battery life,” says Noah Yoo of Pitchfork. In fact, they are valued at 40 more than generous hours. “They’re also super sturdy – I never hesitated to throw them in my bag with other things. Plus, they’re also great studio headphones when you use them wired.

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Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT


Master & Dynamic of New York, launched in 2014, is positioned as much as a manufacturer of luxury goods as a technology company: its collaborations include brands like Proenza Schouler, Leica and Aston Martin. But their headphones are the real deal. The company has won rave reviews with its MH40 headphones, which combine a retro mid-century design – all metal and leather, with no visible plastic – with clear, transparent sound. Italian ambient musician Gigi Masin raves: “If you love swimming in a sea of ​​loops and drones, Master & Dynamic MH40 are gorgeous, perfect, irreplaceable.” The MH40 Wireless translates everything audiophiles love about the original into a wireless package with Bluetooth 5.0 supporting aptX and SBC, two microphones for clear voice calls and up to 18 hours of battery life. A full charge takes less than an hour and a half, while you can restore 50% of the power, or nine hours of battery life, in just 30 minutes.

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Master and dynamic wireless MH40


When it comes to high-end audio engineering, the New York-based family business Grado stands up to a number of German and Japanese multinationals. The store has been making headphones in its Brooklyn workshop since 1953, and their products have a matching retro aesthetic: “Think of the 1930s amateur radio operator,” says Kent Williams, aka Chaircrusher, of Iowa City. The company’s GW100, introduced in 2018, brings the old and new schools together into one package. Considered the world’s first open-back Bluetooth headset, the GW100 supports Bluetooth 5.0 and promises 40 hours of playtime on a full charge, though it also works with a standard cable. It uses the same speakers as the wired headphones from Grado, adapted to the specifics of these speakers, with a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz. The open-back design isn’t ideal for crowded commutes, but for listening in the home or backyard, it produces a rich and immersive soundstage.

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Jump to: Wired headset | Bluetooth wireless headphones | Noise canceling headphones | Earphones


Noise canceling headphones

Sennheiser’s proven track record in the studio has made it a favorite with audio professionals, and the company is no less innovative when it comes to wireless and noise-canceling headphones. With a sleek foldable design, the HD 450BT is built for the road, with USB-C charging and 30 hours of battery life, while support for high-quality wireless codecs (AAC, aptX, aptX Low Latency) a configurable equalizer (via Sennheiser’s Smart Control App) guarantees optimum sound quality. “They’re great noise-canceling headphones,” says Willie Green, a producer and engineer whose credits include Armand Hammer, the Roots and Wiz Khalifa. “They come with an app to adjust the sound, but they sound great right out of the box. “


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