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Best headphone deals: Sony, Apple, Bose, and more

Headphones can come in handy in many ways, whether you’re looking to grab something to listen to your music or block out the rest of the world. That said, they can be quite expensive, especially if you want something a bit fancier with better Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) or that can handle higher audio fidelity. To that end, we’ve gone out and collected some of our favorite headphone deals below, from some budget-friendly options to the more expensive stuff like the AirPods Max.

Today’s Best Headphone Deals

  • — $10, was $20
  • — $45, was $70
  • — $80, was $100
  • — $100, was $130
  • — $130, was $200
  • — $199, was $329
  • — $300, was $350
  • — $278, was $350
  • — $400, was $600
  • — $480, was $549

Sony ZX Series — $10, was $20

Sony ZX Series
Sony

While it’s pretty normal to see headphones that easily cost $100-$200 or more, it’s pretty rare to see ones that are priced as cheap as the ZX Series. Even more so when you consider that they’re coming from Sony, so they’re not some generic set of headphones that’s going to fall apart in a few weeks or sound terrible. In fact, for the MSRP price, they’re surprisingly good, and they’re an excellent option if you just need a basic pair of headphones that won’t put you in the poorhouse.

In terms of audio, the equalization is a bit flat and neutral, which is perfectly fine since you don’t really have any way to change the EQ, so it’s better to have something neutral than something skewing in a direction you don’t like. That said, the bass isn’t that deep, which isn’t surprising, but you do at least get a relatively full, if imperfect, sound. You’ll also be happy to know that there is a multi-function touch button on the wire itself, along with a microphone, and it can do things like play and pause music, or answer calls, which is a nice addition.

As for comfort, it’s alright, and the padding is adequate, although you certainly won’t be wearing them for long periods of time; they’re just not that comfortable after an hour or two. Even so, they do have some nice features, such as being compatible with both Google Assistant and Siri, which is a bit surprising for their price bracket. You’ll also be happy to know that passive noise canceling is pretty good, assuming you can get a good seal against your ears, which is not something we can say for most headphones that cost this little.

Soundcore by Anker Q20i — $45, was $70

Anker Q20i
Anker

You might be more familiar with Anker as the brand that makes mobile gear like power banks, but the brand also makes quite a solid range of headphones, and you’d be surprised at what you get for such a low price. In fact, one of the big selling points of the Q20i is its active noise-canceling, which is really good for what you’re paying. Granted, it won’t compete with the big dogs, but at the very least, when you combine both active and passive noise canceling, a lot of stuff ends up being blocked out.

Another nice thing about the Q20i is that you do get some EQ management, so if the audio coming out of the headphones isn’t really up to what you like, you can absolutely change things around to fit your audio sensibilities. As for the sound itself out of the box, it’s rather neutral, which is normal for headphones at this price bracket, if we’re honest. The mid-range is great, although there’s maybe a bit too much bass, and for those who don’t enjoy that, it might be a problem, and the same somewhat applies to the treble, although it isn’t as overwhelming.

The Q20i comes with a carrying case, which is a nice addition, and while it isn’t going to protect it from more considerable impacts, it will protect it against dirt and scratches when in your bag. Also, one thing worth mentioning is that it has a pretty excellent battery life, reaching a whopping 30 hours in total, so it’s easily a one or two-day set of headphones. As such, wearing them for a long time isn’t a problem, especially when you consider they’re much more comfortable than the Sony ZX Series.

JBL Tune 660NC — $80, was $100

JBL - Tune 660NC
JBL

JBL, which is technically a brand owned by Samsung, has been at the forefront of great audio and makes some of the best waterproof speakers out there, which are pretty popular at pool parties and outdoors. To that end, the company has packed all that tech inside a great pair of headphones, probably one of the best budget-friendly headphones you’ll find. It does have some downsides, like the lack of EQ support, but that’s not a dealbreaker, given what you’re getting for the price.

One such example is active noise cancellation, and while it may not compete with the best, it should be a good option for commuters because it can help cut down on the rumble of engine noise, which can get annoying. As for the passive noise-canceling, on-ear headphones tend to rely on getting a good fit, but if you can manage it, then you’ll get some of the higher frequencies cut out, such things as the chatter of people and the honking of horns. Equally impressive is the fact that you’ll easily get over 35 hours of battery life with ANC switched on, which even some of the best headphones can’t quite manage.

As for the audio, it’s pretty neutral and will be fine for most folks, and while it does have a slightly boomy feel to it in terms of base, it should be ok for the most part. That’s good because, as mentioned above, there are no EQ settings in the JBL app, which is one of the biggest downsides of these headphones, so if you like to tinker with EQ, you might want to pick one of the other headphones in this list. Also, it’s worth noting that the Tune 660N can handle multi-point Bluetooth, meaning you can connect to more than one device in one go, such as your laptop and phone, meaning you can go from Zoom meetings to listening to your favorite tracks seamlessly.

JBL Tune 760NC — $100, was $130

JBL Tune 760NC
JBL

The JBL Tune 760NC is a good improvement on the previous generation of headphones, and while it still doesn’t have any EQ customization in the JBL app, it’s a pretty good piece of tech overall. For example, it has much more improved padding since it’s much thicker and feels a bit softer. That makes the on-ear experience a lot better, although it is worth noting that it has a pretty strong clamp force, so if you have a bit of a bigger head, that might be a problem in the long run.

As for audio, the fidelity is much improved on the 660NC, although it still has a relatively neutral mid-range with a bit of a heavy-ish bass sound, which isn’t too bad if you’re into the more bass-heavy types of music, so that’s a plus. Luckily, the sound is quite deep and doesn’t feel shallow or tinny like you might find with some cheaper headphones, and it’s more than versatile enough to work for music or shows or really any content you fancy. Also, the Active Noise Cancellation is a lot more improved, which is nice, so if you’re a big commuter, then going for these is probably the better buy compared to the 660NC.

Luckily, battery life remains quite impressive, hitting an almost 40-hour run time, which should last you several days before you need to charge, especially if you don’t use them often. Controlling the headphones is also pretty easy, with nice big buttons on the side that are perfect for those who absolutely despise the capacitive touch that a lot of higher-end headphones have. All-in-all, this is a great contender for one of the best budget headphones you can buy.

Beats Solo³ — $130, was $200

Beats Solo 3
Beats

If you aren’t familiar with the Beats brand, then you might not know that it was acquired at some point by Apple, meaning that most modern Beats gear is very compatible with Apple products. As such, Beats is an excellent alternative to the AirPods if you want something for Apple that won’t potentially cost you an arm and a leg, especially for this price. That said, it does have some downsides, such as having the same issue the JBL Tune 760NC has with clamp force, which might be annoying for some when wearing it for a long time.

Luckily, the audio fidelity is pretty good and on par with what you’d expect at this price point. That said, it doesn’t have the typical bass-forward sound that beats are known for, so if you’re buying them for the bass, you might be disappointed. On the other hand, the Solo 3 has been very well-optimized in terms of the EQ to fit everybody’s tastes, so whether you’re a bass head or not, you’ll still enjoy how versatile these headphones are. It does do quite a good job in the vocal range, so if a lot of your music tends to lean towards the vocal, then this will work well.

For the most part, the Solo 3 is at the same level as other budget-oriented headphones, with the main difference being that it’s very compatible with Apple products. One downside, though, is that there’s no active noise canceling, which is where it falls a bit flat compared to other headphones in the same price bracket. To make up for it, you do get some excellent battery life, about 40 hours all-in-all, as well as a quick charge option that will give you three hours of listening on a ten-minute charge.

Bose QuietComfort 45 — $199, was $329

Bose QuietComfort 45 Headphones.
Bose. / Bose

If you’re a bit of an audio freak, then you’re probably familiar with Bose and its wide range of audio products, in which case, you’ll love the QuietComfort 45 or QC45 as they’re known. In fact, it has a lot of upgrades from the previous versions, and while it can’t quite compete with the higher-end Bose NC 700, it still has some of the best noise-canceling in its price bracket. Combine that with its excellent transparency mode as well, and it’s a pretty good option if you want something that can handle both pretty well.

As for audio, the QC45 has typical Bose beautification that you might be familiar with, giving you a neutral yet not flat sound that’s quite energetic at the higher frequencies. The audio is crisp and clear, and pretty much anybody is going to enjoy listening to stuff on it, except maybe if you really love bass, in which case, you’re out of luck. Sadly, the QC45 doesn’t have any way to adjust the EQ, so if you don’t like what you hear, there’s really not much you can do about it.

When it comes to battery life, you’ll get about 24 hours out of them, which is less than some other, cheaper options, but the QC45 does come with better audio fidelity and ANC, so it’s worth the compromise you need to make. To make up for it, call quality is pretty good, and while the noise canceling sometimes has hiccups that may cover your voice, the person on the other end will hear you crystal clear in a quiet place. Overall, for the price, it’s hard not to highly recommend the QC45 as long as it’s on sale.

Beats Studio Pro — $300, was $350

Beats Studio Pro
Beats

If you like the AirPods Max but don’t want to spend that much cash, the Beats Studio Pro comes pretty close to recreating the tech and audio of the Max. One of the things that actually set them apart is a new set of 40mm drivers that help reduce distortion, which is great if you like to listen to heavy and loud music. Clarity is also pretty excellent throughout the frequencies, whether you want to listen to the screeching cymbals or the dulset tones of a bass guitar, you’re going to enjoy these headphones.

The ANC has also been quite improved, and while it sometimes struggles when dealing with wind, the overall effect is pretty good. The same applies to the transparency mode, which is almost at the level of not feeling as if you’re wearing any headphones. That said, the ANC itself is not smart in terms of adjusting for the loudness of things outside, such as with sudden spikes, so it’s not exactly perfect, although it’s much better than having nothing at all. We’ll also say that the fit is pretty comfortable, as it should be for over-ear headphones, so you can easily wear these for long periods.

As mentioned before, you do get special audio with these, although the truth is that they are pretty substandard for music listening. On the other hand, it’s a lot of fun to watch movies that support it, so if you love to watch films, then you’re going to get a lot more out of Studio Pro. Finally, when it comes to battery life, you can expect about 24 hours with ANC on and 40 hours with ANC off, which is pretty standard fare for the industry.

Sennheiser Momentum 4 — $278, was $350

The Sennheiser Momentum 4 wireless headphones.
Sennheiser

While Sony’s XM5 may offer some of the best ANC, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 does manage to beat them out when it comes to audio quality, and that should tell you quite a lot. In fact, even the ANC isn’t so bad, and while the XM5 does cut down on a lot more comparatively when you’re listening to music on the Momentum 4, you aren’t really going to notice the difference. And better yet, if you’re a fan of bass, then these are the headphones for you, having some of the deepest and most robust bass tones on this list.

That’s not to say they aren’t great for other things; the Momentum 4 is quite versatile, with a deep soundstage and a clear treble that isn’t muddled up in the higher frequencies as you might find with other headphones. As for call quality, it’s also pretty good, although, to be fair to competitors, the XM5 and AirPods Max do a much better job of stopping any noise bleeding in from outside into the call, so you have to pick your battles. Also, the Momentum 4 doesn’t have any smart functionality to switch your headphones off after a while if they aren’t in use, so be sure to do that, or else you risk draining your battery.

Speaking of battery, it’s probably one of the most impressive ones on the list, with a whopping 60 hours, and that’s with ANC turned on; you’ll get a lot more out of it with ANC turned off, although we probably wouldn’t do that if we could. Also, it has only one capacitive button for you to control it, which is great on the one hand since it makes things a bit simpler, but problematic on the other if you’re not a fan of capacitive controls. Even so, it’s worth compromising on some things here and there, given the incredible audio, solid ANC performance, and overall comfortable fit.

Sennheiser Consumer Audio HD 660S2 — $400, was $600

Sennheiser Consumer Audio HD 660S2
Sennheiser

You don’t often see consumer-grade open-backed earphones, but a lot of audiophiles swear by them, and they aren’t wrong. The truth is, these headphones are probably more suited to those with a bit more audio gear experience, especially since they’re wired and not as plug-and-play friendly as some other options on this list. By that, we mean that you can run these headphones as both balanced or unbalanced, and if you go for the balanced version, then you’re going to need something like a DAC or a pre-amp.

But if you’re willing to learn or already have that sort of gear, you’re going to get some incredible audio, especially since having an open back means that the air moving freely around your ears gives you much clearer audio. It’s precise and clear, with a bit of a bass-leaning tilt, and a great option for listening to more nuanced music, such as classical or jazz. Also, it’s worth noting that, even with a 300-ohm impedance, you probably don’t want to plug it directly into your computer, and even a cheap DAC will make a big difference.

Of course, one thing to keep in mind is that these headphones are not like your typical headphones, meaning they don’t have an internal battery, wireless connection, or any of that stuff. In essence, these are just your old-school wired headphones with some really high-end audio and are perfect if you’re the type of person who enjoys sitting in a chair and listening to music.

Apple AirPods Max — $480, was $549

Apple AirPods Max on a white background.
Apple

The Apple AirPods Max is a pair of headphones that probably don’t need an introduction, especially if you’re already familiar with any of the Apple products. One thing that really sets the AirPods Max apart is Apple’s H1 audio chip, which is probably one of the most powerful on the market. That gives you a very smooth experience with Apple products and a bunch of additional features like spatial audio and advanced codecs, which is great if you’re into high-fidelity audio.

When it comes to ANC, the AirPods Max is industry-leading, with the ability to cut out most noise out there, so whether you’re having a coffee or flying in a plane, you’ll feel as if you’re in your own world. Even more impressive is the transparency mode, which really makes you feel as if you aren’t wearing any headphones at all, which is very rare. That said, one annoying thing about taking your AirPods Max outside is that the carrying case provided with it isn’t really a carrying case so much as a very basic foldable cover that doesn’t even cover everything, which is unfortunate.

As for battery life, you’re likely going to get around 20-25 hours, which isn’t great compared to some other headphones in the price range. We probably don’t need to mention that the audio is pretty great, with a bit of a midbass bump and overall great quality, so you’re going to get a gorgeous listening experience.

Editors' Recommendations

Lucas Coll
Lucas Coll is a freelance commerce and affiliate writer for The Manual and our tech-focused brother site, Digital Trends…
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