Listening to music can be one of the most relaxing and motivating experiences of your day. But great tunes are only as good as the device you’re listening to them with. We’ve all experienced shoddily-made headphones. Cords that fray or break easily, uneven audio volume or quality, and poor connectivity or weak batteries on wireless headphones are some of the most common issues.
You get what you pay for, and if you listen to music every day (like most of us do), whether on your way to work, while at work, on your lunch hour, when working out, or relaxing at home, it’s worth it to invest in some quality. A little extra spent on your headphones goes a long way. This is particularly true if you work in the music industry or are in another field where you need a high-quality, reliable audio connection for work.
Still, that doesn’t mean you should shell out a ton of money on expensive headphones!
I don’t know how many of you need to hear this, but you do not need to spend more than $1,000 on earbuds!
You can own top-end earbuds for less than $1,000, and still have the best audio quality on the market! On this listing, you’ll see four top picks. Scroll down for a fifth budget option that still provides great audio quality, as well as a sixth special offer entry!
Noble Audio – Sage Wizard Edition Custom Shell ($799)
These hand-assembled headphones are a sight to behold, with exquisite designs on the egg-shaped bud, from an ornate spalted wood to blue, green-yellow, and red-blue acrylic patterns. They’re sensitive enough for smartphone use in addition to portable amps and DAPs, so they translate well between industry professionals and the casual listener.
The Sage features two proprietary balanced armature drivers for a refined sound, updated Noble universal form factor and geometry with precision-machined aluminum faceplates, and a detachable connecting cable. These Sage earbuds from Noble Audio offer an especially great bass response, due to a newly reconfigured (from the previous Noble offerings) vented port on the bass driver.
Westone – W60 Signature Series ($999)
We’re scraping the ceiling with these $999 W60’s from Westone, but the lofty price tag is worth it. These lightweight buds feature a six-driver system with a three-way crossover. The W60 has dual drivers for high frequencies, mid-range, and bass, offering a robust but well-balanced sound with a high level of detail and energy output.
Several exchangeable metallic finish faceplates come with the W60, so you can customize the look of your earbuds. Stealth matte coated MFI cable provides control with Apple devices. Skip tracks, change the volume, or talk on calls and access Siri with the built-in microphone.
Shure – SE846 Sound Isolating Earphones ($999)
This is another pricey pick, but the sound quality is unparalleled. The SE846 headphones from Shure come with quad drivers, each custom-designed and with adjustable frequency and customizable sound signatures.
Their “Sound Isolating” build ensures quiet listening even in the noisiest environs, and they come with two 3.5mm connectors (one with a microphone and one without). A kit of custom sleeves makes it easy to take the SE846’s on the go.
Campfire Audio – Jupiter CK ($799)
These Steampunk-esque earbuds (featuring a liquid alloy metal shell) have the coolest design out of any we’ve found. Their dual drivers eschew the normal “tube & damper” build for a revolutionary “Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber™ (T.A.E.C.)”. This is a 3-D printed chamber that offers acoustic tuning sans compression, providing unmatched high frequencies that are both open and extended.
Jupiter CK’s also have one of the most reliable connection cables on the market, designed with custom Beryllium Copper, a much harder construction than the traditional soft brass found in most headphone connectors, and come with a sweet leather case.
Best Budget Pick: AirPhones ($99)
If you’re just looking for high-quality audio and don’t want to shell out hundreds for more expensive offerings, check out the AirPhones, a cheap and affordable set of wireless earphones and an excellent alternative to Apple’s famous AirPods.
AirPhones feature an HD quality microphone, a long-lasting charging case, great stereo sound, and Bluetooth compatibility with iPhone and Android. They’re AirPods, but 60% cheaper! Right now, you can pick AirPhones up for only $99.
Best Noise-Cancellers: QuietBuds ($40)
Sometimes the stunning sound isn’t what we want. Sometimes we want no sound at all. QuietBuds are hands down the best noise-canceling earbuds on the market. I would know. I was the lead singer in a punk rock band in high school, and one of my biggest problems was finding adequate ear protection that blocked the wavelengths I didn’t want to hear without canceling out all sound.
QuietBuds uses revolutionary “Interchangeable Acoustic Filters,” so you select the range of noise you don’t want to hear, insert those filters, and can hear everything else. These noise-canceling earbuds are perfect for relaxing beach vacations. With QuietBuds, you’re tuning out all the noise around you while still being alert enough to hear when you need to.