Thu. Apr 2nd, 2020

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Best headphones 2020: your definitive guide to the latest and greatest audio

The best headphones of 2020 combine incredible audio fidelity an stunning design, and come packing in tons of cool features like noise cancelation, built-in voice assistants, and wireless connectivity.

A great pair of headphones are a necessity for many of us – aside from breathing new life into our favorite songs, they keep us entertained with music, podcasts, and audio books when we’re working out, commuting, or just trying to disconnect from the world around us.

We spend a lot of time with our headphones – and if you’re looking for some new cans, you’re going to want a pair of the best headphones you can find that your budget allows. 

There’s so much choice these days, and there could be even more on the way, with rumors of the first-ever Apple over-ear headphones and the AirPods Pro Lite circling. With all those options out there, making the right buying decision can be tricky – and it’s our mission to hook you up with the perfect headphones for your needs (and your budget).

We encourage you to take a look at all the headphone lists here on TechRadar – however, if you’re in a hurry and just want to find the best headphones your money can buy, check out our top picks below.

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Our best headphone picks

sony wh-1000xm3

(Image credit: Sony )

Best headphones 2020: Sony WH-1000XM3

The headphones that can do everything

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 254g | Cable length: 3.94 ft | Frequency response: 4 Hz-40,000 Hz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Neodymium | Sensitivity: 104.5 dB / mW (1 kHz) | Impedance: 47 ohm | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: 33 ft | NFC: Yes

Outstanding noise cancellation

Fantastic sound quality

30-hour battery life

Mediocre call quality

The Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless Headphones are the best headphones you can buy in 2020 – for now, anyway. 

They’re pretty consistent with what Sony has released in the last two years in the form of the Sony WH-1000XM2 and Sony MDR-1000X, improving on some already fantastic models. 

A dominant noise-cancelling pair of headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM3 can beat anything Bose has with ease.

That’s because, while Bose has done a tremendous job working out its noise cancellation algorithm over the years, Sony has spent that time perfecting audio playback while simultaneously creating an adaptable algorithm that doesn’t just create a single sterile sound barrier, but multiple kinds that can tailor itself to whatever situation you’re in. 

Beyond being exceptional at keeping external noises at bay, these impressive Sony headphones are Hi-Res Audio-ready, sporting aptX, aptX HD and LDAC codecs, and offer the smarts of Google Assistant right on-board. If you need a pair of headphones that can live up to any challenge and excel in any environment, these are the pair for you.

We could soon see a new contender for the top spot though; rumors of an imminent Sony WH-1000XM4 release date have been circling since an FCC filing from Sony revealed the model number of what could be a brand new pair of noise-canceling headphones. 

Read more: Sony WH-1000XM3 review

http://www.techradar.com/

1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone

(Image credit: 1More)

Best in-ear headphones: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone

Your search for great-sounding, good value headphones ends here

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99 dB/mW | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Lush sound quality

Excellent build and design

Unmatched value

Plastic remote feels cheap

After spending a few weeks with both the 1MORE Triple Driver in-ear headphones, we were blown away by the great value for money they represent.

For $100 / £100 (about AU$168), it’s hard to think of a better-sounding and more well-built pair of earphones than the 1MORE Triple Drivers. (That said, if you want just that little extra refinement and luxury materials, the 1MORE Quad Drivers are still a bargain at twice the price.)

There’s very little we can fault the Triple Drivers for. Sure, the inbuilt remote feels a little cheap, but that’s more than made up for by the lush sound quality offered by these luxe-looking earbud.

For the price, it’s impossible to do better than 1MORE’s Triple Driver in-ear headphones. 

Read more: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone review

http://www.techradar.com/

rha s500u

(Image credit: RHA)

Best budget in-ear headphones: RHA S500u

Great-sounding, incredibly cheap in-ear headphones

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 14 grams | Cable length: 1.35m, dual material | Frequency response: 16-22,000Hz | Drivers: Micro Dynamic | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 100dB | Impedance: 16 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Excellent build quality  

Balanced, rich audio  

Sibilant at times 

Narrow soundstage 

If you have a tendency to lose or break headphones, but you still value sound quality, it’s hard to think of a better value pair of earbuds than the RHA S500u. 

These in-ear headphones have no business sounding so good for $40 / £30 / AU$52, sporting a balanced soundstage with a slight mid-bass bump to power you through your workouts and make your music sound great. 

Bass is slightly emphasized but not egregiously and features good impact while maintaining good control – and highs, while sibilant at times, makes music sound more exciting. In short, these are the best earphones you can buy if you’re on a strict budget.  

Read more: RHA S500u review

http://www.techradar.com/

grado sr60e

(Image credit: Grado)

Best on-ear headphones: Grado SR60e

Truly excellent sound performance for a stellar price

Acoustic design: Open | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99db | Impedance: 32 ohm | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Very comfortable

Impressive definition for the price

Highly recommended

No in-line controls

For your money, you can’t do any better than Grado’s SR60e. The third-generation of the Brooklyn, NY-based company’s Prestige Series are its best and most refined yet. 

The SR60e in particular are a smart choice if you’re looking for an entry-level pair of headphones that sound far more expensive than they really are.

Their open-backed earcup design makes them feel more breathable than most on-ear headphones, delivering a wide, natural soundstage. In a few words, they’re our gold-standard when it comes to on-ears.

(Our review is for the SR60i, but the newer SR60e headphones are largely similar in design and performance.)

Read more: Grado SR60e review

http://www.techradar.com/

Urbanears Plattan II

(Image credit: Urbanears)

Best budget on-ear headphones: Urbanears Plattan II

A perfect value buy if you want headphones that are cheap and comfortable

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99db | Impedance: 32 ohm | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Very comfortable

Good value

Narrow soundstage

No volume controls

While the original Plattan headphones were just fine for a pair of on-ear headphones, Urbanears wasn’t satisfied with being mediocre. The company took customer feedback to heart and addressed many complaints about comfort, sound quality and isolation. 

For the most part, Urbanears succeeded, making the Plattan II a worthy sequel to the company’s most popular headphone.  

In short, these are basic headphones without a ton of features. But, because they’re feature-light, you get a good-sounding pair of wired headphones for significantly less than you would otherwise. 

Read more: Urbanears Plattan II review

http://www.techradar.com/

best over ear headphones

(Image credit: Beyerdynamic)

Best over-ear headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

Professional headphones that know how to have fun

Acoustic design: Open | Weight: 370 g | Cable length: 9.8ft or 3.9 ft | Frequency response: 5 – 40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 102dB | Impedance: 250 Ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Built like a tank

Excellent comfort

Breathtaking resolution

Slightly recessed mids

While Beyerdynamic may not be as well known as its German brother, Sennheiser, the audio company has a history of creating some of the best sounding audio gear on the market – the company’s DT770, DT880 and DT990 were renowned for their excellent build and sound quality. 

Above them all, however, stand the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro, an open-back version of the Beyerdynamic DT 1770 Pro, which won our Editor’s Choice for its imaging, design and value for the money. Both headphones are priced the same ($599 / £589 / AU$1,159), so you won’t find a deal picking up one over the other. The difference here comes down to sound. 

As they’re open-back, the DT 1990 Pro are meant to be used at home or in the studio for serious analytical listening. Sound is able to get in and out, but the good news is that the open-back design gives the DT 1990 Pro a great sense of space. The soundstage is quite wide, too, allowing even the most lackadaisical listener to pinpoint the exact location of where each instrument is playing.  

If you’ve been searching for a pair of high fidelity cans that are used by some of the world’s leading audio engineers, these are the best headphones for you.

Read more: Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro review

http://www.techradar.com/

JBL Live 650BTNC

(Image credit: JBL)

Best budget over-ear headphones: JBL Live 650BTNC

Well-rounded headphones that are excellent value

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 249g | Cable length: 3.93 feet | Frequency response: 16Hz – 20kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 100 [email protected]/1mW | Impedance: 32 | Battery life: 20 hours with ANC and wireless enabled | Wireless range: N/A