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The top headphones on the market in 2023

Top headphones: The greatest headphones are wired and wireless, for every budget and taste.

Welcome to What Hi-Firound-up?’s list of the top headphones you can purchase in 2022.

In addition to being a terrific way to listen to your favorite music wherever you are, headphones are also a reasonably priced option to hear music with good sound quality. Obviously, as should purchase the appropriate ones.

These “correct ones” come in a variety of styles, including studio or sporty, in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear, wired, wireless, and genuine wireless. So which investment type is ideal? This is where we come in. Here is a quick checklist of things to keep in mind when looking for a new pair, followed by our picks for the finest headphones in every category. Additionally, there is truly something for everyone.

How to pick the ideal headphones

Wired over-ear headphones are probably best if you want a set for home use, to plug into your hi-fi system or music player. The second choice is whether you like an open-back design or the more traditional and popular closed-back shape (which isn’t leaky but has sonic advantages).

However, if you’re traveling, you might choose something more portable for a pair to use with your phone. And if that’s the case, you’ll need to choose between in-ear earbuds’ extreme portability and the less intrusive fit of on-ear headphones. Both designs have different price points and feature sets.

You can choose between wireless and wired as your next option. Wireless headphones and earbuds are fantastic because of how easy it is to be cable-free, but they are often more costly than their tethered counterparts with identical sound quality.
Then there are the noise-canceling headphones, which might be at the top of your list if you’re looking for a pair to block out the background noise of daily living. By actively reducing background noise, noise-canceling technology lets you blot out the outside world, and these days, more and more expensive wireless pairs are offering the feature. Wired noise-canceling headphones are an uncommon breed these days.

Last but not least, if you’re a fitness enthusiast who values tight fit and waterproofing, you’re better off choosing a set of athletic headphones.

Check out our article on how to pick the best headphones if you’re still unsure about what to do. When that happens, you might want to look into one of our specific buying guides or perhaps have a look at our top picks for all styles, feature options, and price points, which is where this page comes in.

Here is a list of the highest-caliber headphones currently available.

1. Sony WH-1000XM5

Top headphones:

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Bluetooth: SBC, AAC, LDAC
  • Battery life: 30hr
  • Charging: USB-C
  • Built-in mic and controls: Yes
  • Transparency mode: Yes

Fantastic audio clarity + Easy to use + nimble bass with punch and precision

It can be challenging for a manufacturer to constantly improve the sound quality of a product from generation to generation, but Sony has done it with the WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones, which have become our new Bluetooth ANC favorites.

When we initially saw the official pictures of the Sony WH-1000XM5, we were greater than a little surprised. We questioned if it was the best course of action to entirely revamp one of Sony’s most notable recent achievements. But it turned out okay.
Although the Sony XM5 headphones may not sound as high-end as they previously did, the sound quality over the previous model has significantly improved, so rivals may once again have a challenge. If you’re looking for a new pair of wireless noise-canceling headphones, start your search right here. For those who can afford to pay the money, the XM5 is undeniably better than the older XM4 (below), which was previously the best model available.

2. Sony WH-1000XM4

SPECIFICATIONS

Yes, Bluetooth Noise cancellation: 30-hour battery life USB charging length of the cable: N/AB Built-in microphone and controls:

PURPOSE OF BUYING

  • dynamism and rich detail
  • an exciting sense of timing
  • Lightweight, comfortable, and shrewd

The WH-1000XM4 headphones, which are older models of the Sonys mentioned above, are nonetheless competitively priced and, for some, that will be the deciding factor. The new level has arguably better design and sound quality, but these XM4 are still a great choice if you’re trying to save a little money.

High levels of comfort, Bluetooth convenience, and one of the best noise-canceling features currently available all contribute to the device’s lightweight design. Oh, and they have a great sound as well—one that is clean, open, and detailed. Low frequencies also strike precisely.

Additionally, they include some great new capabilities, like Speak to Chat, which lets you carry on a conversation without taking off or touching the headphones.

3. Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X

Top headphones:

SPECIFICATIONS

  • No Bluetooth
  • No noise cancellation
  • Life of battery: N/A
  • Battery: N/AC
  • cable lengths: 1.8 m and 3 m
  • No built-in microphone or remote

The DT 900 Pro X are said to as high-end studio headphones by Beyerdynamic. We were all left scratching our heads about that. We have spent a lot of time with them and are still unable to determine what makes these over-ear headphones less acceptable for usage at home. Whether or not they are designed for the studio, we really enjoy them because they are well-made, comfy, and have terrific sound.

In the end, these Beyerdynamics give all the resolution, stability, and control needed to analyze a recording while still managing to express the emotional effect of the music as well as anything we’ve heard at this level. They thus satisfy their “studio” brief. Put these at the top of your purchasing list if you’re seeking a good pair of headphones at this price.

4. Apple AirPods Max

Top headphones:

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Built-in mic and controls: Yes Bluetooth: Yes Noise-cancelling: Yes Battery Life: 20 Hours USB-CCable Length: N/A

The Apple AirPods Max is far more expensive than the vast majority of luxury (if we can still call them that) wireless noise-canceling headphones, but they are well worth the additional cost. To make the most of them, you’ll need an iPhone or iPad. By using standard Bluetooth 5.0, they will function with non-Apple goods, but you won’t get many of their special capabilities. The AirPods Max is by far the greatest wireless headphones you can purchase, presuming you are an avid Apple customer.

5. Sony WF-1000XM4

Top headphones:

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Bluetooth
  • Noise cancellation: 8-hour battery life (24hrs with charging case)
  • USB charging -Length of CCable: N/AB
  • Built-in microphone and controls

Sony has created an amazing pair of truly wireless earbuds with the WF-1000XM4 by capitalizing on the success of the WF-1000XM3 (a few spots below).

With plenty of dynamics and texture, crisp, precise bass notes, and polished, intelligent vocals, it’s a well-balanced performance. It’s tough to avoid getting carried away by their musicality.

Those who emphasize battery life in their AirPods alternatives should be satisfied by the Sonys’ eight-hour battery life guarantee. With the wireless charging case, this is additionally increased by an additional 16 hours.

Touch-sensitive controls and superb noise isolation ear tips make the Sonys comfortable to use as well. The Sony Integrated Processor V1 provides excellent noise cancellation on top of this, making the WF-1000XM4 tough to criticize.

Along with IPX4 water protection, the device has clever features like Quick Attention and Speak-To-Chat that allow you to carry on a conversation without taking out the headphones. You should only get the WF-1000XM4 truly wireless earphones this year.

6. Panasonic RZ-S500W

 Panasonic RZ-S500W

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Bluetooth
  • Noise cancellation: 6.5 hours of battery life (19.5hrs with charging case)
  • USB charging -Length of CCable: N/AB
  • Built-in microphone and controls

Not many people think of Panasonic when they picture inexpensive wireless earbuds. But maybe it ought to be. The RZ-S500W is the company’s first attempt at making wireless noise-canceling earphones, and they deliver outstanding performance for the price.

The detailed specifications include noise-canceling technology, an Ambient Mode, twin microphones for voice calls, and a battery life of 19.5 hours (6.5hrs from the buds and 13hrs from the charging case). 70 minutes of playback may be obtained with a 15-minute USB-C quick charge. You can easily manage your music and choose between noise-canceling settings thanks to the responsive and clear touch controls on each bud.

Additionally, you receive earbuds in five sizes to aid in fit. We found this to be a little hit or miss, so if mixing sizes may result in a more secure fit, we’d absolutely experiment with it.

Excellent sound quality and noise cancellation are both present. There is a ton of richness throughout the frequency range and plenty of low-end agility. At this pricing point, the music sounds clear and is very refined, which is to be commended. In conclusion, these Panasonic earphones are excellent value.

7. Grado SR325X

SPECIFICATIONS

  • No Bluetooth
  • No noise cancellation
  • Life of battery: N/A
  • Battery: N/AC
  • length: 1.8m
  • No built-in microphone or remote

Since it was initially introduced three decades ago, the Prestige line of headphones has served as the foundation of Grado’s product line. Grado has always evolved in little, incremental steps, even as the series has grown over time. For the new “x” generation, the narrative has not changed.

The only differences between the top-of-the-line SR325x and its immediate predecessor, the What Hi-Fi Award-winning SR325e, are the redesigned, flatter foam earpads, the updated cable, and the lighter-colored stitching on the thickly padded headband. However, the SR325x sound noticeably cleaner and clearer than its predecessor, which is where the distinction lies.

The ‘x’ generation sounds slightly more accurate and perceptive than previous models, which have always been detailed and expressive performers.

These Grados demonstrate once more that improvement can sometimes come more reliably through evolution than through a flashy design revolution. The best has recently improved slightly.

8. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3

Top headphones:

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Noise-cancelling: Yes Bluetooth: aptX Adaptive, aptX, AAC, and SB
  • 7-hour battery life (28hrs with charging case)
  • Powered by USB-C
  • Built-in controls and microphone: Yes

The Sennheiser Momentum Genuine Wireless is one of few true wireless headphones that have continuously delivered on their promise over time, making a new iteration difficult to ignore when it appears.

The wireless noise-canceling earbuds are now in their third generation, two years after the debut of the sophomore efforts. With an up-to-date performance, a competitive spec sheet, long-lasting battery life (28 hours), and Bluetooth codec support (aptX Adaptive), as well as the bonus of additional in-app personalization features, the earbuds continue to be at the top of an increasingly tall ladder. Oh, and a nice new launch price that is lower than the ones for the previous Momentum models.

They provide one of the most sophisticated, roomy, and pleasant performances on the market, and they also have the added benefit of noise cancellation.

Three consecutive strikes in bowling referring to as a “turkey,” while three consecutive five-star ratings in What Hi-Fi? evaluations are referred to as a “blinder of a run.” The Momentum True Wireless 3 is Sennheiser’s best yet, building on an existing successful formula with a better feature set, respectable performance improvement, and a more affordable price. A wise investment.

9. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Yes, Bluetooth
  • No noise cancellation
  • Up to 45 hours of battery life
  • USB-cable charging; cable length: N/A
  • controls and in-line microphone: yes

We are loving Cambridge’s original Melomania 1 true wireless earbuds when they were released in 2019 because of their small, hassle-free, and inexpensive design. The new Melomania 1 Plus has an improved paint job, app support for EQ customization, and an increase in sonic detail and finesse, all without the predicted price increase. This only makes us want to praise it even more.

Even though the original Melomania 1 is now available at a great discount, we nevertheless recommend this upgraded version. The latest Melomanias don’t have noise-canceling onboard, but those who don’t need it shouldn’t hesitate to put them on their shortlist. The Melomania 1 Plus is very much in the competition for the finest at this level for an interesting, comprehensive, and broad listen.

10. Austrian Audio Hi-X15

 Austrian Audio Hi-X15

You could be excused for assuming that wired headphones were becoming obsolete given everyone’s apparent fixation with wireless headphones, especially at the more cheap end of the market.

However, we’d be shocked if those ideas ever came up in the Vienna headquarters of Austrian Audio. With its first-ever line of wired headphones, Hi-X, the company, which was founded by former AKG employees, has made a strong first impression.

Although the Hi-X15 are analytical headphones, they nonetheless manage to make music enjoyable since they extract tons of information while preserving the musical spirit. These headphones consistently produce excellent dynamics and outstanding detail levels across the whole frequency range. No sound played over the Austrian AudioHi-X15 headphones has even a hint of fat. Low frequencies have enough weight and substance, though, that you don’t feel like you’re losing out.

Although we wouldn’t need you to combine them with a proper DAC/headphone amplifier, if you do, you’ll be rewarded with a sophisticated-sounding set of headphones that are exceptional for the price.

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