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Wired headphones offer portability and simplicity. Between wired and wireless options, wireless headphones pretty much only win in convenience—wired headphones offer a lot more than that.
Let’s explore the best wired headphones on the market this year.
The Best In-Ear Wired Headphones
In-ear headphones (or earphones) offer the most portability. They’re useful for everything from relaxing to running around your neighborhood—though fitness buffs may want to invest specifically in sports earphones.
Budget: Panasonic ErgoFit
The Panasonic ErgoFit costs little, but you can’t tell from looking at it alone. As you might expect from its name, the ErgoFit offers comfort without sacrificing sound quality.
At this price point, a good pair of headphones sounds halfway decent and won’t chafe your ears. The ErgoFit ticks both of these boxes, making them some of the best cheap wired earbuds. Just be careful with them, as they aren’t exactly durable.
Enthusiast: Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass Earbuds
Fancy a little more from your buds without paying a great deal of money? Try the Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass Earbuds. The non-tangle cord, built-in microphone, and the media controls make it ideal for smartphone usage, while its extra bass is great for home use.
Audiophile: Bose QuietComfort 20 Noise Cancelling Headphones
If you can’t imagine leaving home without the best headphones possible, the Bose QuietComfort 20 Noise Cancelling Headphones won’t let you down. They doesn’t try to pander to both Android and iPhone at the same time. Instead, there are variants for both iOS and Android devices, allowing for greater control over your preferred operating system.
These headphones are designed to help you hear your music, no matter how loud the outside world gets. They offer a comfy fit and noise-canceling technology, which both work together to keep the tunes in and the noise out. If you do need to hear your surroundings, touching the Aware Mode button lets you hear what’s around you.
The Best On-Ear Wired Headphones
On-ear headphones are exactly what they sound like; they sit over your ears without fully covering them. As a result, they tend to press your ears against your skull. On-ear headphones are a compromise between in-ear headphones (portable but subpar sound quality) and over-ear headphones (often heavy but best sound quality).
Budget: Vogek On Ear Headphones
The Vogek On Ear Headphones are a great choice for people on a tight budget. They come with a built-in microphone, 1.5 meters of cable, and an attractive range of colors to choose from.
Fortunately, despite the low price point, the Vogek headphones have decent audio quality. It’s not studio-levels by any means, but it still punches above its weight class.
Enthusiast: Grado SR80e Prestige
Although the Grado SR80e Prestige were released back in 2014, they’re still on our radar today. The headphones have a sleek and compact design, though blemished slightly by the prominent text on the cups. They are also very comfortable, and you can tell right away that this is a well-made product.
The sound produced by the SR80e is great—from low notes through to high notes, and even through the middle notes. The audio profile is excellent regardless of volume level. Just note that the cans are open-backed, so you’ll be able to hear everything going on around you even as you listen.
Audiophile: Audio-Technica ATH-ESW990H
Audio-Technica are known for producing great audio devices across all budgets, and the Audio-Technica ATH-ESW990H are no exception. It’s hard to find on-ear headphones in this price range that sound as good as these, all the way from bass to treble.
Notable features include 42mm drivers, a detachable 3.9-foot cord with microphone and volume controls, durable leather earpads for long-term comfort, and wooden can housings made from polished sycamore.
The Best Over-Ear Wired Headphones
Over-ear headphones tend to produce the best sound quality, if only because the circumaural cups are excellent at isolating ambient noise (but only when the cups are closed-back). If you’re worried about the stuffiness and dampness of over-ear headphones, opt for ones with open-back cups (which won’t be as good at isolating noise).
Budget: Creative Aurvana Live!
The Creative Aurvana Live! are, in a word, impressive. You shouldn’t expect top-grade performance out of them, but at this price point, it’s rare to find audio quality that sounds even half as good. Audio quality is decent, especially in the lower notes.
The earpads are detachable, which is fantastic for cleaning and for when they need replacing. The cord is five feet long and comes with a 3.5mm-to-6.3mm adapter for use with home audio equipment. This makes the Creative Aurvana Live! a choice pick for those on a budget.
Enthusiast: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50X are some of the best headphones the company has ever put out, and they are regularly used by professionals—even though it’s a consumer-grade set of headphones.
One of the best parts about the ATH-M50X is their exceptional noise isolation. These were, after all, designed as studio monitors—so if you want perfect audio without any distracting background or ambient noise and at a reasonable price, this is the set for you.
Audiophile: Sony MDR-1A
If you’re looking for something a little better than the ATH-M50X and you’re willing to pay about double the price, the Sony MDR-1A is a solid choice. They delivers excellent sound with maximum comfort and are built for comfort, too.
The Best Noise-Canceling Wired Headphones
A lot of people hear noise-cancelling and immediately think that these headphones will block out everything. Unfortunately, that’s not true. When active, they can block out certain kinds of sounds such as background and ambient noises, but you may still hear loud conversations, buses driving by, etc. The feature can also reduce audio fidelity while active.
When you’re on a budget, you’re never going to get truly high-quality noise cancellation. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist on the budget level, however. The FMLOVES Active Noise Cancelling Headphones make a decent attempt at blocking out ambiance so you can enjoy your tunes.
Despite being wired headphones, noise-canceling models still have a battery on-board to power the technology behind the cancellation. Fortunately, even at the budget level, these headphones can last 20 hours with noise cancellation on before they need a recharge.
Enthusiast: Bose QuietComfort 25
For top-notch consumer-grade noise cancellation, you really can’t go wrong with the QuietComfort series. The Bose QuietComfort 25 are over-ear models, making them very effective when you need to block out as much noise as possible without sacrificing comfort.
The sound quality is the best you are likely to get with noise-canceling headphones. Despite this, the quality is far from disappointing, so these should suffice for all but the pickiest of audiophiles.
The Best Wired Headphones for You
Regardless of your budget options or your headphone preference, there’s a model for everyone. From the cheap-but-stylish in-ear headphones to the audiophile’s dream, there’s never a shortage of wired headphones to suit your needs.
If you want to protect your brand new purchase, be sure to read why your headphones keep breaking and how to avoid it.