The Best Headphones: In-ear, over-ear, gaming, wireless and more

By Jos · 27 replies
Apr 25, 2016
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  1. There's an endless selection when it comes to headphones and finding the right pair of can be not only tough but there’s a lot of subjectivity involved depending on what matters most to you -- audio quality, comfort, features and so on. But if you’re serious about your music, movies and gaming those plastic earbuds that came with your smartphone just won’t cut it.

    We've gone through dozen professional audio reviewer and user reviews to bring you our favorites headphones across a few different styles and categories, including over-the-ear, in-ear, noise cancelling, gaming, sports-oriented, budget and wireless.

    Read the complete article.

  2. hojnikb

    hojnikb TS Enthusiast Posts: 33

    Any idea how does ATH-M50x compare to something like HD598 ?

    I'm planning on upgrading from HD202 (which are great for the money) and those two are seem to be priced similarly (in EU anyway).
  3. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,285   +900

    I have the second first generation Hyper X (The first one came with interchangeable everything, cables, padding, etc and they had awesome reviews but couldn't find them), the Cloud Core and damn they are good headphones. When I first saw them when looking for headsets I didn't know what to expect about Kingston in the audio department, so looked up for reviews and gee, bought one and boy I'm happy with them.
  4. Randomthom

    Randomthom TS Enthusiast Posts: 50   +17

    Surprisingly, no inner-ear budget choice. I can thoroughly recommend the SoundMagic e10 s though. What Hi-Fi gave them 5/5 & you can get them for £20 on ebay (new).
    I wouldn't use them over my ATH-M50 (non-X version) cans but if I want something more subtle then they're the best inner-ears I've tried <£70.
  5. Agnomen

    Agnomen TS Enthusiast

    I've been singing the praises of my first gen Cloud's for a long time now and I couldn't agree with you more. I place them above all these other gaming headsets with subpar (I.e. plastic) build quality and over the top looks. They're obscenely comfortable and once I swapped out the pleather for the velour pads it came with I have no complaints on how they feel.

    The only part I find frustrating is the part of the cable that's built into the headphones is extremely short. I'm forced to use the extension cable it comes with which is so long it ends up getting tangled if I don't keep it contained. Just being picky though.
    Kibaruk likes this.
  6. ManuelV

    ManuelV TS Booster Posts: 101   +42

    The best cheap headphones are the AWEI ES800M, impressive sound for so cheap headphones.
  7. birthdaymonkey

    birthdaymonkey TS Rookie

    I've owned both. The ATH-M50 was my first $100+ headphone purchase. Liked the sound, found it very uncomfortable and sweaty to wear for more than an hour or so.

    Switched to HD598. I love these headphones. Less bass than the Audiotechnica, but so comfortable you can wear it all day. I liked the HD598 so much that I bought a second pair as a backup when they were last on sale.

    Other than the comfort, the main difference is open (Sen) vs. closed (AT) design. Closed gives more bass and isolation; open gives wider sound stage and leaks sound (but you can hear what's going on around you).
  8. howzz1854

    howzz1854 TS Evangelist Posts: 611   +94

    HD598 is more superior mainly due to the open back setup. you'll notice a wider soundstage than tha M50. M50 is an ok headphone mainly if you compare to commercial beats sets. in recent years, I've found M50 to be overhyped.

    a few headphones that you should look into in the same price bracket as HD598 are Audio Technica AD-900X, AKG 701 (might be too light on bass), Beyerdynamic DT-770/DT880. IMO all of those choices will be superior to M50 in terms of separation, soundstage and depth.
    SirChocula likes this.
  9. lripplinger

    lripplinger TS Addict Posts: 283   +98

    I use the Logitech G230 headset for gaming/voice. They are fine for voice, although not good for music, since they lack the drivers and range. But they are built solid. Only problem I have with them is for some reason the right can has a high pitched whine sound, and sometimes crackling. I also have a Sennheiser HD 595 set, which is great for movie watching, etc.
  10. darkzelda

    darkzelda TS Evangelist Posts: 302   +108

    I really want those Kingston HyperX Cloud headsets.
  11. howzz1854

    howzz1854 TS Evangelist Posts: 611   +94

    sounds like electronic interference. I had a G930 a long time ago and would get that occasionally.
  12. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,920   +751

    I think it would be really nice if there really were a set of best headphones, but, in my opinion, it is something that is subjective and depends on how much one is willing to spend. High price, also, does not necessarily equate to quality, and there are so many different headphones out there that it would be impossible to evaluate all of them.

    As I see it, headphones are like speakers. If possible, listen to them first before buying; otherwise, make sure that you can return them if you don't like them.

    I bought Soundmagic e-80s based on reviews from, for $55, I am happy with them.

    For gaming, I'm using an old pair of Sony HDR-CD1000 headphones I had lying around that I put new ear pads on along with the mic from a Soundblaster ZxR. I went that route after having taken a recommendation for Turtle Beach's Z-60's, got a pair without trying them, and as soon as I put them on, realized that they were so uncomfortable to me, I would never be able to wear them for more than a few minutes.

    For over-ear, I use Sennheiser HD-515. I am happy with all of them. The Sony's and the Sennheiser's I listened to before I bought them and compared them with different models the store had in stock.
  13. howzz1854

    howzz1854 TS Evangelist Posts: 611   +94

    I think for most casual users and gamers, this review is a good place of a start. but as said, it's a very subjective subject, and also heavily depends on the budget, and equipment experience of the user. Personally my audio budget is way above most people would consider reasonable. so my "best" would not fit most people's needs. also the price/performance ratio goes exponentially as you move up the scale. when I went from HD598 to a HD650, it was "almost" subjective twice as good. but when I went from HD650 to the new HD800S, yes it was vastly better, but was it three times better? I am not sure. just like the AD900x was IMO much better than AD900, but price wise they are almost identical. that's the problem with audio gear, things are not always proportionally improved as you move up the ladder. not to mention everyone's ears are built differently and have different taste. I personally have experience with more headphone than most people in their lifetime, and subsequently DACs and Amps, just because that's one of my hobbies. I know I sound like a wine snob, this one is darker than the other, but that other one is too dry blah blah... I went through many headphones, collected them, sold, exchange, upgrade etc. like all hobbies, it gets very subjective and expensive.
  14. R Prinsloo

    R Prinsloo TS Rookie

    One problem with this article: The ATH-M50x is an on-ear (supra-aural) headphone, not over ear. That makes an enormous difference. I also have the M50x and I love it, but in terms of comfort it can't come close to a decent pair of circumaural cans. My go-to headphone is the Shure SRH-1540 - just absolutely incredible... also somewhat more expensive than the M50x, but miles ahead in terms of sound quality and comfort (as expected for this price point).
    bluto 2050 likes this.
  15. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,285   +900

    If you can't spend 50+ bucks on a pair of headsets why bother reading reviews, just get the cheapest sennheiser ones and those would be way better than whatever you can get on that range.
  16. lripplinger

    lripplinger TS Addict Posts: 283   +98

    It doesn't happen all the time, which I should have clarified. It could be a problem with my computer case (Lian Li). The front mic/headphone jacks could be the culprit, since that is where I plug my headset in.
  17. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,272   +456

    Wish I'd known this article was being written... would love to have made some suggestions for cans to test. In my opinion the M50's are overrated also. Sure, they're better than Beats, but I could suggest a couple pair in the same price range that are considerably better. Someone mentioned the SoundMagic in ears... the SoundMagic HP100 and HP150 are also really good around ears for the price - considerably better than the M50 in my opinion.
  18. Badelhas

    Badelhas TS Booster Posts: 74   +26

    What about the Xiaomi Piston? For the price they can't be beat. Anyone tried those? Lots of good feedback on
    I have the 2.0 and the 3.0 versions and love them both. For 10-15 bucks they are a steal.
  19. Larryx22yz

    Larryx22yz TS Rookie

    I am a particular type of user, I do NOT like BASS and prefer to increase the TREBLE. Can any one recommend a head phone set that can cancel out or down Bass and increase the Treble on the set. When using a computer, I have to get into the sound settings but other devices such as phones, it is still lacking.
  20. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,713   +3,690

    If you are up to making your own adapter, you can wire in a crossover capacitor that will remove all low frequencies. The reason I say make your own is, I'm not sure they sell them pre-built.
  21. howzz1854

    howzz1854 TS Evangelist Posts: 611   +94

    ATH-AD900 (NOT the X version) and AKG 701/702. those two are accurate with great separation with the lightest bass I've heard. they'll also bring all the classical music to life, and won't require any expensive Amp to drive them.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
    LNCPapa likes this.
  22. yukka

    yukka TechSpot Paladin Posts: 861   +67

    Nice article. Any chance of expanding it to include budget and non-budget Bluetooth headphones? I'm in the market for something to take to the gym and use with my iPhone, cordless.
  23. bluto 2050

    bluto 2050 TS Addict Posts: 270   +33

    I cant answer the ATH-M50x vs HD598 but my new ATH-M50x phones are a significant upgrade over the decent Senns HD 280's I own and would be even more of an upgrade over the SEnns HD 202 which are not really critical listening or studio headphones.
  24. bluto 2050

    bluto 2050 TS Addict Posts: 270   +33

    Haven't tried the well regarded Sure headphones but you are wrong about the ATH -M50x being ON the ear and not over the ear .

    I have a pair of M50-x ,KRK 8400 and Senns HD 280 all of these are definitely circumnaural OVER ear albeit the M50-x earcup may be *slightly smaller than the HD 280 or KNS 8400 its still over ear.

    Product details:
    Brand: Audio‑Technica M50X
    Form: Over‑ear
    Use: Studio
    Connectivity: Wired
    Type: Headphone
    Series: M Series
  25. bluto 2050

    bluto 2050 TS Addict Posts: 270   +33

    Edit : above should read smaller and not slightly smaller the ATH M50 x ear cups are maybe ~ 1/4" plus to nearly 1/2 " smaller vertically than the Senns HD 280's and perhaps not the best fit for everyone .

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