Whether it’s to psyche yourself up for a run, get lost (spiritually of course) on a hike, or escape the white noise of modern air travel, music makes everything better. The best albums can provide the perfect escape. But, the right listening experience requires the best headphones. Here are our picks for the best headphones for every budget, activity, and listener style in 2022.
Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
Best Overall Headphones
After 18 months of testing, we still love Bose’s industry-leading 700 headphones (our No. 2 pick for the best headphones). But, Sony’s fantastic WH-1000XM4 wireless headphones eke out the win for best overall headphones. They boast all of the same features, including a sleek design, superb audio, better noise-canceling tech, touch sensor controls, and a soft, comfortable fit. They also deliver a whopping 30 hours of wireless playback (more than enough for even the longest of long-haul flights, plus a quick 10-minute charge is enough for five hours of playback. The best part is that they’re around $60 less than the Bose 700. They’re our pick for the best headphones overall and the best headphones for travel too.
Bose Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Headphones 700
Best Overall Headphones (Runner-Up)
Years after they first dropped in the U.S., Bose’s Headphones 700 continue to impress. With 11 levels of active noise cancellation, they effectively drown out everything from chatty coworkers to airplane engines to screeching subway noise. The sound is crisp, deep, and lifelike whether you’re listening to your favorite podcasts, Zeppelin, or Bach. The lightweight steel construction is durable and packable, while soft angled earcups provide a perfect all-day fit. Plus, they deliver nearly 20 hours of wireless audio on a single charge.
Apple AirPods Max
Best High-end Headphones
Few brands nail sexy, drool-worthy design like Apple. The AirPods Max are no exception. Available in a handful of bold colors, these Bluetooth wireless headphones are among the sleekest on the market. Dual Apple-designed dynamic drivers and active noise cancellation combine for crisp, clear, beautiful audio, no matter what you're listening to. Plus, with memory foam ear cushions and a knit-mesh canopy, they're comfortable enough for all-day wear.
AIAIAI TMA-2 HD Wireless Headphones
Best Modular Headphones
Upgrading your headphones usually means tossing the old and buying an entirely new pair, which can get pricey. AIAIAI takes a smarter approach with a modular catalog. Start with the TMA-2 HD Wireless, the company’s flagship headphones. They deliver precise sound representation with rich lows and highly detailed mids and highs -- all transmitted wirelessly using HD 24-bit quality with 18 hours of playback time. Plus, buttery soft Alcantara over-ear cushions provide comfortable wear for all-day listening sessions. If you ever need to upgrade the headband, earcups, or speaker unit, just buy the piece you need and keep everything else.
House of Marley Redemption ANC Headphones
Most Eco-conscious Headphones
House of Marley’s Redemption ANC are an upgrade to its popular Liberate Air earbuds. The next-gen edition boasts many of the same features but adds active noise-cancellation to the mix. The new stem design also ensures a more comfortable, anchored fit during more active pursuits. Even more important is the company’s use of environmentally-friendly materials like bamboo, natural wood fiber composite (sourced from sawdust), and recycled silicone. They’re a kinder, greener alternative to Apple’s AirPods Pro.
Tribit MoveBuds H1 Wireless Earbuds
Best Budget Earbuds
The fact is you don’t need to spend $300 or more on the best headphones to get a decent pair of cans. Tribit’s latest MoveBuds H1 Wireless Earbuds deliver all the most important features, including ultra-long battery life, immersive sound, and anti-bacterial ear tips to protect your ears while working out. Coupled with an IPX8 sweatproof, waterproof construction, they’re among the best headphones for runners. At less than $80, they’re practically a steal.
Marshall Major IV Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
Best Retro-look Headphones
Marshall has a long history of creating legendary speakers and headphones. The company’s latest Bluetooth wireless cans, the Major IV, are the next iteration in its best-selling Major series. The newest edition brings the brand’s five-plus decades of experience to bear. The Major IV deliver incredible audio courtesy of custom-tuned dynamic drivers for deep bass, smooth mids, and crisp highs. We love the handsome, textured, retro-contemporary design and, with an eye-popping 80 hours of wireless playtime, you won’t need to take them off to recharge any time soon.
Bose Sleepbuds II Headphones
Best Headphones for Sleep
It seems strange to buy a pair of headphones or earbuds just for sleeping. But, Bose has always been a little “forward-thinking” (read unconventional). Unlike every alternative on this list, the company’s renewed Sleepbuds II lean more on their noise-canceling tech than their ability to recreate studio-quality sound. The tiny buds are designed to fit comfortably in your ear for all-night wear. Using the dedicated Bose Sleep App, you then select from three different sound types to help you fall asleep. Noise Masking sounds help drown out ambient noise, Naturescapes are soothing nature sounds like falling rain or rustling leaves, and Tranquilities are the sort of tinkling new-age music you’d hear at any modern spa. They’re pricey for a gadget that does just one thing. But, for hard-luck sleepers who have tried everything, they can be a godsend.
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