Gift Guide: 15 Headphones, From Dirt Cheap to Damn Expensive

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re living in an audio-hungry world. You’re listening to Spotify and 2 Dope Queens all day, while thumbing through all the videos on Instagram and the latest on Snapchat Discover. You’re talking with Siri while The Daily plays in the background. Sometimes, when it all gets too much, the best thing your headphones can do is block everything out. Either way, treat your ears right.

Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbuds Headphones

Panasonic’s standard earbuds cost less than half what you’ll spend replacing your iPhone’s EarPods. They also sound better, come in more vibrant colors, and offer more isolation since they’re actually creating a seal in your ear. Get a pair for your gym bag, another for your car, and a third just in case, and you’ve still barely spent EarPods money. Buy for $12.

Credit: Panasonic

Panasonic’s standard earbuds cost less than half what you’ll spend replacing your iPhone’s EarPods. They also sound better, come in more vibrant colors, and offer more isolation since they’re actually creating a seal in your ear. Get a pair for your gym bag, another for your car, and a third just in case, and you’ve still barely spent EarPods money. Buy for $12.

KZ-ATE Hi-Fi Earphones

When it comes to bang for your buck, you can’t beat these buds. These Chi-Fi beauts look, feel, and sound so good you’ll think the price tag’s a lie. Sure, they’re a “borrowed” design and won’t blow your eardrums away—but they’re 14 bucks! Often even less! What is there to possibly complain about? Buy for $14.

Credit: KZ ATE

When it comes to bang for your buck, you can’t beat these buds. These Chi-Fi beauts look, feel, and sound so good you’ll think the price tag’s a lie. Sure, they’re a “borrowed” design and won’t blow your eardrums away—but they’re 14 bucks! Often even less! What is there to possibly complain about? Buy for $14.

Phiaton BT 100 NC

Despite their slightly odd aesthetics, neckband headphones (call ’em neckbuds) still have their appeal. Phiaton’s set puts plane-deafening noise cancellation in your ears, and keeps going even under a river of sweat. They’re also the rare wireless earbuds that accept a cable, so your music can keep going even after the battery gives out. Buy for $75.

Credit: Amazon

Despite their slightly odd aesthetics, neckband headphones (call ’em neckbuds) still have their appeal. Phiaton’s set puts plane-deafening noise cancellation in your ears, and keeps going even under a river of sweat. They’re also the rare wireless earbuds that accept a cable, so your music can keep going even after the battery gives out. Buy for $75.

Status Audio CB-1

Your standard set of great-sounding over-the-ear studio monitors costs north of $300. (See: the second half of this guide.) But if you want to get your Skrillex on but don’t have the skrilla for Beats, Status Audio’s cushy headphones will do the trick just fine. They don’t look like much, but nobody’s looking anyway. Buy for $79.

Credit: Status Audio

Your standard set of great-sounding over-the-ear studio monitors costs north of $300. (See: the second half of this guide.) But if you want to get your Skrillex on but don’t have the skrilla for Beats, Status Audio’s cushy headphones will do the trick just fine. They don’t look like much, but nobody’s looking anyway. Buy for $79.

Jabra Move Wireless

These ultra-popular cans are everyone’s favorite on-ear headphones. They sound and look better than you’d expect for the price, and the battery lasts at least long enough to get you across the Atlantic. They’re great for phone calls, too, and even count as a fashion statement—as long as you get the red ones. Buy for $80.

Credit: Jabra

These ultra-popular cans are everyone’s favorite on-ear headphones. They sound and look better than you’d expect for the price, and the battery lasts at least long enough to get you across the Atlantic. They’re great for phone calls, too, and even count as a fashion statement—as long as you get the red ones. Buy for $80.

Libratone Q Adapt

If you’re missing your headphone jack, and aren’t ready to live your best dongle life…you don’t have that many options. Libratone’s Q Adapt are some of the best USB-C earbuds on the market. They’ll control your music, cancel ambient noise, and let you access Google Assistant. And they don’t need a single dang dongle. Buy for $149.

Credit: Libratone

If you’re missing your headphone jack, and aren’t ready to live your best dongle life…you don’t have that many options. Libratone’s Q Adapt are some of the best USB-C earbuds on the market. They’ll control your music, cancel ambient noise, and let you access Google Assistant. And they don’t need a single dang dongle. Buy for $149.

Jaybird Freedom 2 Wireless

Jaybird’s latest wireless earbuds are about as versatile a pair as you’ll find. Enough tips and wings come in the box to fit in almost any head. Since Jaybird packed most of the battery and electronics into the in-line microphone, the buds themselves are light enough to keep in all day. You’ll get more bass and volume than you might expect, too. Buy for $150.

Credit: Jaybird

Jaybird’s latest wireless earbuds are about as versatile a pair as you’ll find. Enough tips and wings come in the box to fit in almost any head. Since Jaybird packed most of the battery and electronics into the in-line microphone, the buds themselves are light enough to keep in all day. You’ll get more bass and volume than you might expect, too. Buy for $150.

Apple AirPods

For the Apple enthusiast on your list, there’s no product more enticing than the AirPods. They pair effortlessly, dangle weightlessly from your ears, and work well for Siri and phone calls in addition to Apple Music. Best of all, you can pair them with an Apple Watch, and leave your phone at home altogether. Perfect for the smartphone (or Watch) addict in everyone’s family. Buy for $159.

Credit: Apple

For the Apple enthusiast on your list, there’s no product more enticing than the AirPods. They pair effortlessly, dangle weightlessly from your ears, and work well for Siri and phone calls in addition to Apple Music. Best of all, you can pair them with an Apple Watch, and leave your phone at home altogether. Perfect for the smartphone (or Watch) addict in everyone’s family. Buy for $159.

Beats Solo3 Wireless

Now that Beats is part of Apple, the company’s tech cred has skyrocketed. The Solo3 use the same wireless chip as the AirPods, ensuring the same easy pairing and strong connection. And the battery lasts for at least 40 hours of music, which is just ridiculous. Buy for $219.

Credit: Beats

Now that Beats is part of Apple, the company’s tech cred has skyrocketed. The Solo3 use the same wireless chip as the AirPods, ensuring the same easy pairing and strong connection. And the battery lasts for at least 40 hours of music, which is just ridiculous. Buy for $219.

Master & Dynamic MH40

Master & Dynamic is one of those companies that doesn’t skimp on anything. Not materials—these over-ear ‘phones are made from machined aluminum and genuine leather. Not sound—the MH40s are deep and broad. Not style—they have a retro look that’ll take you right back to an old-school studio session. Buy for $300.

Credit: Master And Dynamic

Master & Dynamic is one of those companies that doesn’t skimp on anything. Not materials—these over-ear ‘phones are made from machined aluminum and genuine leather. Not sound—the MH40s are deep and broad. Not style—they have a retro look that’ll take you right back to an old-school studio session. Buy for $300.

V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless

Arielle Pardes, one of WIRED’s editors, wears a rose gold pair of Crossfades at work every day. She wears them pretty much all day, taking phone calls and bumping “Despacito” for the umpteenth time. She loves them. Audiophile sound and all-day comfort in a decidedly more fashionable package—what’s not to love? Buy for $330.

Credit: V Moda

Arielle Pardes, one of WIRED’s editors, wears a rose gold pair of Crossfades at work every day. She wears them pretty much all day, taking phone calls and bumping “Despacito” for the umpteenth time. She loves them. Audiophile sound and all-day comfort in a decidedly more fashionable package—what’s not to love? Buy for $330.

Bose QC35 II

Hate Bose at your own peril: these are the best travel headphones on the planet. Nobody beats the noise cancellation, for one thing. Add in the monstrous battery life, the comfort, the touchable controls, the high-end construction, and you get why they’ve been the favorites of first-class flyers for years. Buy for $349.

Credit: BOse

Hate Bose at your own peril: these are the best travel headphones on the planet. Nobody beats the noise cancellation, for one thing. Add in the monstrous battery life, the comfort, the touchable controls, the high-end construction, and you get why they’ve been the favorites of first-class flyers for years. Buy for $349.

Bowers & Wilkins PX

B&W is another of those brands that’s always been a little more impressive and a little less convenient. But with the PX, the company’s first noise-cancelling headphones, B&W walks that line perfectly. Control the ambiance and EQ with your phone, or just throw on the metal cans and let them pour sound waves into your ears. Buy for $400.

Credit: Bowers and Wilkins

B&W is another of those brands that’s always been a little more impressive and a little less convenient. But with the PX, the company’s first noise-cancelling headphones, B&W walks that line perfectly. Control the ambiance and EQ with your phone, or just throw on the metal cans and let them pour sound waves into your ears. Buy for $400.

Shinola Canfield Over-Ear

Brand new, and made in Detroit, nobody sells headphones with a story quite like Shinola’s. The company has serious audio cred after hiring Audeze founder Alex Rosson, who knows his way around headphone drivers. But make no mistake: this is as much an industrial design story as an audio one. The leather and lambskin feel great, and give the Canfields a premium but natural look all their own. Buy for $549.

Credit: Shinola

Brand new, and made in Detroit, nobody sells headphones with a story quite like Shinola’s. The company has serious audio cred after hiring Audeze founder Alex Rosson, who knows his way around headphone drivers. But make no mistake: this is as much an industrial design story as an audio one. The leather and lambskin feel great, and give the Canfields a premium but natural look all their own. Buy for $549.

Sennheiser HD-800 S

If price is no object, size is no problem, and all you want is the absolute best damn headphones you can find, Sennheiser’s got you covered. The giant transducers and open earcups make them look like a prop straight out of Star Wars, and that’s a good thing. But fair warning: don’t even listen to them if you’re not ready to drop $1,700 on a pair for yourself. Once you hear it, it’s hard to go back. Buy for $1,700.

Credit: Sennheiser

If price is no object, size is no problem, and all you want is the absolute best damn headphones you can find, Sennheiser’s got you covered. The giant transducers and open earcups make them look like a prop straight out of Star Wars, and that’s a good thing. But fair warning: don’t even listen to them if you’re not ready to drop $1,700 on a pair for yourself. Once you hear it, it’s hard to go back. Buy for $1,700.

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