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Top 5 Best Headphones for Music to Purchase in 2021 Review

If you love music and want to hear it at its best, you need a quality set of headphones or earbuds. This is even more true if you are a recording engineer or an artist.

You may be wondering what makes one pair of headphones better than another. We will be answering that and more in this in-depth Best Headphones for Music review.

No matter if you are a gym nut who just wants a new set of cans or a DJ who wants more audio clarity, we have what you need. So, let’s go through them and find the perfect headphones for music for you…

Best Headphones for Music

Top 5 Best Headphones for Music for All Budgets in 2021 Reviews

ProductSpeakersANCConnectivityPriceRating
Speakers
40mm Drivers
ANC
Yes
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Price
$$$
4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)
Speakers
6mm Drivers
ANC
Yes
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Price
$$
4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)
Speakers
56mm Drivers
ANC
No
Connectivity
Wired
Price
$$$$
4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)
Speakers
8mm Drivers
ANC
No
Connectivity
Bluetooth
Price
$$
4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)
Speakers
50mm Drivers
ANC
No
Connectivity
Wired
Price
$
4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

1 Sony WH1000XM3 – Best Noise Cancelling Headphones for Music

Starting off this review is the WH1000XM3 from Sony. If you want to keep ambient noise out and your music nice and crisp, these headphones are exactly what you are looking for.

ANC doesn’t get any better…

These headphones are equipped with Sony’s new QN1 noise-canceling processor that automatically adjusts to the surrounding environment and ambient noise. As a result, these are some of the best ANC headphones you can buy.

If you are waiting in the airport for your flight to be called, you will still hear your surroundings but with less background noise, for instance. Once you get on the plane, background noise is all but eliminated, allowing you to become fully immersed in your music.

360 Reality Audio…

No matter what you are listening to, the 40mm driver in each ear cup produces a deep rich sound. It is also an immersive and spacious sound thanks to the 360 Reality Audio technology on board.

For this to work, you need to download Sony’s Connect app on your mobile device. This app will analyze your ears and adjust the sound profile of the headphones. With the use of Sony’s 360 Reality Audio and the integrated Bluetooth 4.2 LDAC technologies on hand, it sounds like the artist is performing right in front of you.

The only problem with this is that if you do not have a high-quality audio source, the WH1000XM3 makes it more noticeable. That said, these are some of the best immersive headphones for music on the market.

Very comfortable…

Once you put these headphones on, you might not want to take them off. They only weigh 225 grams and have good breathability. But we would not recommend using them at the gym.

You also get access to hands-free calling and your smartphone’s voice assistant. This is all possible by using the super-sensitive touch controls integrated into the right ear cup.

If you want to find out even more, check out our in-depth review of the Sony WH 1000XM3.

Sony WH1000XM3
Our rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Pros

  • Superb noise cancellation.
  • 30-hour battery life.
  • 360 Reality Audio.

Cons

  • USB adapter not included.

2 Jabra Elite Active 75t – Best Bluetooth Workout Headphones for Music

Next up, we have a fitness-focused pair of wireless earbuds from Jabra. The Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds are IP57 rated, so you do not need to worry about them getting sweaty while running or lifting weights at the gym. Therefore, these are some of the best waterproof headphones for music you can buy.

They come with three different-sized gel ear tips allowing for a secure fit for pretty much anyone. Since they are so lightweight, you can wear them for long periods with no discomfort.

A lot of features in a small package…

The earbuds have Bluetooth 5.0, which allows you to connect them to multiple devices. However, the battery life maxes out at about seven hours. You will find the included case can recharge the earbuds as well.

Battery life will vary, depending on whether you have active noise cancellation turned on. Yes, you heard us right; these tiny earbuds have ANC. Furthermore, each earbud has a series of microphones to actively monitor ambient noise while still allowing you to make and receive phone calls hands-free.

The active noise cancellation integrated into these earbuds is decent, but nothing like what you get from an over-the-ear type headphone. With ANC turned on, battery life drops to about five hours as well.

That is not all…

When it comes to listening to your favorite tunes, these earbuds are some of the best bass heavy headphones for music. The mids and highs are still present but depending on the type of music you are listening to; they will come across quietly.

You can adjust the sound profile of the earbuds further by installing the Jabra Sound+ app. This app offers some preset equalizer settings like speech, energize, and smooth.

Up close and personal…

It also allows you to create personal sound profiles based on your hearing as well. You will also have access to HearThrough mode, so if you are riding your bicycle, you will be able to still hear what is going on around you, which is an obvious plus for safety reasons.

Need more info? No problem, take a look at our in-depth Jabra Elite Active 75T Review.

Jabra Elite Active 75t
Our rating:4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Pros

  • Amazing call quality.
  • IP57 water-resistant.
  • Energizing bass-heavy sound.

Cons

  • No wireless charging.

3 Sennheiser HD 800 S – Best Reference Headphones for Music

Next up in our Best Headphones for Music reviews, studio artists, audio engineers, and DJs will drool over these Sennheiser headphones. The Sennheiser HD800 S reference headphones are about as good as you can get, but they are not for everyone. That said, they are some of the best studio headphones for music you will find.

Quality comes at a cost…

First of all, you need to be able to afford them, and they don’t come cheap. What you get with the HD800 S Reference headphone system is a sound profile with minimal coloration. Coloration describes how your audio source can affect the audio output. It can adjust the frequency response and dynamic compression of the audio you are listening to.

The neutral sound profile of these headphones allows you to easily hear any issues when mixing or mastering audio in sound. This is super important in the recording industry because you want the music you are working on to sound as accurate, defined, and clear as possible.

Sound reproduction…

The HD800 S headphones have a large 56mm dynamic transducer in each ear cup. According to Sennheiser, this is the largest transducer ever used in a pair of headphones. The HD 800 S headphones provide a very consistent frequency response from 4 to 51,000Hz. Mid, treble, bass, and high-frequency accuracy are outstanding.

But there’s a catch…

You will not want to take these headphones out on your daily commute or use them in the office. They are big and bulky, and they only come with a thin carry pouch to protect them.

The HD800 S headphones do not isolate external bass or midrange noise very well. Because of the open-back design of the headphones, noise leakage is also pretty awful. So, if you were to wear these on a plane, you would hear everything around you. And the people sitting around you will hear exactly what you are listening to as well.

For more info, check out our in-depth Sennheiser HD 800 S Review.

Sennheiser HD 800 S
Our rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Pros

  • Stable frequency response.
  • Extremely well made.
  • Perfect for professional audio engineers.

Cons

  • Expensive.

4 Bose SoundSport Free – Best Sports Headphones for Music

Any Best Headphones for Music review is certainly going to contain a Bose product. The Bose product in question is their SoundSport Free earbuds. As their name implies, these earbuds will be an excellent choice for athletes who value superb quality audio. To withstand your daily workout, Bose has made these earbuds IPX4 water-resistant.

You can use them wirelessly with pretty much any Bluetooth device for up to five hours at a time before you run out of juice. Like most wireless earbuds, the included protective case also charges the earbuds, giving you ten extra hours of playback time.

Audio by Bose…

Audio quality is what you would expect from a Bose product. You get a warm, full-bodied sound profile no matter the type of music you are listening to. However, they do not offer ANC. Bose uses what they call “StayHear” ear tips that cut back on passive noise, all while keeping the earbuds securely in place, too.

Simplicity…

Bose has made these earbuds super simple to use. You will find a volume button and multi-functional button all on the right earbud. This multi-functional button also acts as the power button. Once you turn these earbuds on, you cannot turn them off unless you place them back in the case.

Thanks to the integrated standby timer, you will never have to worry about the earbuds dying because you forgot to turn them off. Likewise, when you pair these with the Bose Connect app, you can adjust the equalizer settings for a customized sound. It also lets you adjust the standby timer interval as well.

Quality throughout…

These are not the flashiest earbuds on the market, but they deliver in all the right places with reliable sound quality and decent battery life.

For more info, check out our in-depth review of the Bose SoundSport Free.

Bose SoundSport Free
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • A warm sound profile.
  • Easy to use.
  • IPX4 water protection.

Cons

  • Bulky.

5 Philips Audio Philips SHP9500 – Best High Fidelity Over-Ear Headphones for Music

Our final product comes to us from Philips. Philips SHP9500 HiFi Precision headphones are more geared to audio professionals as well. They are a quite simple set of headphones that use a wired connection. This allows for reliable lag-free audio, which is never a bad thing.

The sound produced from the SHP9500s is very neutral. Frequency response is excellent and offers superb treble and mid accuracy. Bass accuracy is okay but might not be suitable if you are working with bass-heavy music. You will notice that the bass spectrum of the track you are listening to does not come across as detailed as you would probably like.

Craftsmanship…

These are some of the cheaper headphones in this review, but you would not know it by looking at them. Philips designed them to be lightweight with a simple metal frame and matte black color scheme. The ear cushions are exceptionally large and comfortable yet still breathable.

Like with the Sennheiser headphones we looked at earlier, these also have an open back design that creates noise isolation and leakage issues. However, these are some of the best budget headphones for music you are going to find, so are a great buy if you don’t want to spend a lot.

Philips Audio Philips SHP9500
Our rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Pros

  • Inexpensive.
  • Reinforced headband.
  • Excellent passive soundstage.

Cons

  • Bass accuracy is lacking.

Best Headphones for Music Buying Guide

Best Headphones for Music Review

Everyone has different tastes in music. But it is fair to say that if you love your music, you want to hear it how the artist intended it to be heard.

Earbuds and Headphones

Throughout this review, you will have noticed wired and wireless headphones and earbuds. The type of headphones or earbuds you need will be influenced by where you will use them the most.

Earbuds offer the most amount of portability because of their small form factor. That does not mean over-the-ear headphones are not portable, but they do weigh more and take up more space.

If you are going to be listening to music at the gym, you will want earbuds. Specifically earbuds that come with some sort of protection against sweat and dust. If you are only going to be listening to music at home, the office, or while traveling, over-the-ear headphones are going to be your best bet.

Sound Quality and ANC

Any of the products in this review will give you a much better listening experience compared to those free headphones that come with most phones and tablets.

Speaker drivers…

These will vary in size, and you obviously cannot fit over-the-ear headphone drivers into tiny earbuds. You typically find that larger speaker drivers put out more bass and can get louder than small drivers can. This does not mean they produce an overall better sound, though.

To put it simply, it all comes down to the quality of the drivers that are integrated into the headphones or earbuds. Brands like Sennheiser are world-renowned for the quality of their speaker drivers.

Sony, Bose, Philips, and Jabra also make exceptional speaker drivers that will produce an amazingly crisp and clear sound. If you are a professional DJ or audio engineer looking for studio-quality sound, it is hard to beat Sennheiser, though.

Cutting out the noise…

Something else that will affect the sound quality of your earbuds or headphones is ambient noise. That is why you see that a few of the speakers in this review have active noise cancellation (ANC). It analyzes the ambient sound around you and uses tiny microphones that register low-frequency sounds. Then blocks frequencies out before they reach your ear.

If you have not worn ANC headphones or earbuds before, you might get the sense of being in a vacuum. Not being able to hear any ambient noise is a unique experience that can take some getting used to.

By using ANC, the music you are listening to is more detailed since you do not have background noise seeping in. ANC provides a more intimate listening experience.

Connectivity and Battery Life

Most of the best headphones and earbuds nowadays are wireless, except for studio or reference headphones. When you are working as a DJ or studio engineer, you need to hear the music without latency between the audio source and the headphones.

Therefore, almost every studio-quality headphone is wired. A wired connection provides zero-latency. You will never notice any lag when recording or playing back music.

Bluetooth…

Wireless headphones will usually connect via Bluetooth. A Bluetooth connection sends information to and from the headphones quickly, but you may experience a tad amount of latency.

If you are just streaming music to your headphones or earbuds, latency is not an issue. That being said, if you were to listen to a movie through your headphones, you want as little latency as possible, so the video and audio stay in sync throughout playback.

Listening times…

Wireless earbuds or headphones have integrated batteries that need to be charged. You will find over-the-ear headphones that offer playback of over 24-hours on a single charge. Earbuds might only have a battery life of seven hours, though. While this is probably long enough for most people, if you are on a 15-hour flight, you will need to recharge them.

Thankfully, wireless earbuds come with a protective case that doubles as a charger. This rechargeable case will usually be able to recharge your earbuds at least two additional times. Once your charging case runs out of battery, you will need to recharge it as well. With anything that needs to be recharged, expect to wait a few hours for it to go from empty to full.

Some earbuds and headphones offer quick charge capabilities that can give you a few hours of playback time after a short charge of 10 minutes, though.

FAQs

Best Headphones for Music FAQs

How much should I spend on headphones?

We would recommend spending whatever amount you are most comfortable with. Not everyone needs a $1000 set of studio-quality headphones. Like with most things, the quality of the headphones relates to their price.

Why can’t I hear anything?

If you have wireless headphones or earbuds, check your Bluetooth connection, and make sure they are charged. Also, make sure you do not have them on mute.

With wired headphones, make sure the audio cable is securely connected to the correct audio jack. If you still have no sound, you may need to replace the audio cable.

What is that hissing sound coming from my ANC headphones?

When you first turn on your headphones in a quiet environment, this hiss or whistle sound is normal. It is common on all ANC headphones. Once you play some music, you will not notice it, and it does not affect the sound quality.

Should I download the app that works with my headphones?

Yes! While you can use your headphones or earbuds right out of the box, you will miss some key features. Headphones and earbuds are usually set up with a default sound profile. If you want to add more bass or vocals, the optional smartphone app will allow you to change the sound profile to fit your needs.

Can I use my headphones while at the gym or on the bike?

Depending on the earbuds or headphones, yes, you can. You will want to make sure that they have an IP water-resistance rating. If they do not have any sort of water-resistance, you should not wear them at the gym or in the rain. The slightest amount of water can damage the internal electrical components and make them unusable.

Looking for Something Else?

We have a huge selection of headphones. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Headphones Under $200, the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal Music, the Best Bluetooth Headphones for Commuting, the Best Headphones for Skiing or Snowboarding, and the Best Lightweight Headphones you can buy in 2021.

Also, take a look at our comprehensive reviews of the Best Podcast Headphones, the Best Headphones with Google Assistant Integration, the Best aptX Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Lightning Headphones for iPhone iPad, and the Best Bluetooth Headphones Under $200 currently available.

What are the Best Headphones for Music?

For the average listener, you cannot beat the…

Sony WH1000XM3 Wireless Headphones

They are perfect for the office, on your daily commute, or at home, thanks to how the ANC automatically adjusts to your surroundings. Sound quality is also top-notch thanks to the 960Hz LDAC and 360 Reality Audio capabilities on these Sony headphones. No matter the genre you are listening to, audio clarity is superb.

With a 30-hour battery life on hand, you can listen to your heart’s content. They are also extremely lightweight and breathable, making them wonderfully comfortable to wear all day long.

Until Next time, happy listening.

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