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Best Headphones

Consumer Reports Ratings for Best Headphones

Best Headphones

We tested 160 headphones to determine the best-performing models. Our expert lab technicians tested each Headphone based on the following criteria:

  • Noise reduction
  • Design
  • Type
  • Sensitivity
  • Sound quality

Below lists the Headphones that rated best in each of the tests our experts looked for. Learn about how these tests were performed and find out which Headphone is rated best when you subscribe.

Consumer Reports Ratings for Best Headphones

Best Headphone for Noise reduction

Represents how well the headphone reduces ambient noise when the active noise cancellation feature is activated.


This Headphone which tested best for Noise reduction has the following features: Weight (oz.), Cable length (in.), Battery type, Plug type, Works with noise reduction off, Integrated microphone, Call connect/disconnect control, Integrated volume control, Integrated player control, Monitor function (mute), Battery life (hrs.), Battery recharge time (hrs.), Low battery indicator, Warranty (mos.): parts/labor, Additional features and Included accessories.

Best Headphone for Design

Closed headphones rest on or around the user's ears and rely on a seal between the user's ears and the headphone for proper bass response, and somewhat isolate the user from outside sounds. Open air models rest on or around the user's ears but do not rely on a seal between the user's ears and headphones for proper bass response and do not isolate the user from outside sounds. Ear insert models are inserted into and are held in place by the ear canal; they rely on a seal between the user's ears and the headphones for proper bass response, and somewhat isolate the user from outside sounds. Earbud models rest in the area outside of the ear canal and may extend into the ear canal but do not rely on the ear canal to be held in place; they do not rely on a seal between the user's ears and headphones for proper bass response and do not isolate the user from outside sounds.


This Headphone which tested best for Design has the following features: Weight (oz.), Cable length (in.), Battery type, Plug type, Works with noise reduction off, Integrated player control, Battery life (hrs.), Warranty (mos.): parts/labor, Additional features and Included accessories.

Best Headphone for Type

Over the ear models completely envelop the ear. On-ear models sit on top of the ears. Insert models are inserted into the ear canal. Earbud models rest in the ear outside of the ear canal and may have a portion that extends into the ear canal.


This Headphone which tested best for Type has the following features: Weight (oz.), Cable length (in.), Battery type, Plug type, Integrated microphone, Call connect/disconnect control, Integrated volume control, Integrated player control, Detachable cable, Monitor function (mute), Noise canceling unit in earpiece, Low battery indicator, Warranty (mos.): parts/labor, Additional features and Included accessories.

Best Headphone for Sensitivity

An assessment of how loud wire connected headphones will play for a given audio input signal level. This is an important consideration if the headphones will be used with audio devices that have relatively low maximum audio output signal levels like some battery powered portables. Some models have 2 sensitivity levels given: one with the highest selectable setting or noise-reduction switch ON and the other with the lowest selectable setting or noise-reduction switch OFF. Not applicable for wireless headphones that lack a cord connection option.


This Headphone which tested best for Sensitivity has the following features: Weight (oz.), Cable length (in.), Battery type, Plug type, Works with noise reduction off, Integrated microphone, Call connect/disconnect control, Integrated volume control, Detachable cable, Monitor function (mute), Noise canceling unit in earpiece, Battery life (hrs.), Low battery indicator, Warranty (mos.): parts/labor, Additional features and Included accessories.

Best Headphone for Sound quality

Represents the tonal accuracy, clarity, detail, ambience, and dynamics of the audio reproduced by the headphone.


This Headphone which tested best for Sound quality has the following features: Cord length (in.), Weight (oz.), Warranty: parts, labor (mos.), Additional features, Included accessories and Plug type.