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Headphone reviews

Consumer Reports is the only place to find unbiased, independent headphone reviews. Because we now listen to music individually or watch movies and other entertainment on mobile devices, headphones have become an important accessory.

You may be thinking about noise-canceling headphones or stereo headphones. Should you get earbuds or over-the-ear headphones? Do you need a special feature, such as bluetooth connection for your headphones? Our experts at the Consumer Reports National Testing and Research Center have evaluated more than 150 current headphone models at our on-site headphone testing labs.

Our reviews will provide you with headphone Ratings, where you will find the exact numerical score our experts have assigned to each of the five tested review criteria: sound quality, noise reduction, sensitivity, headphone type, and headphone design. We provide information on such major headphone brands as beats by dre, SMS Audio, Bose, Panasonic, Sony, Koss, and many others. Our headphone review pages also include a headphone selector, where you can input brand, category, and price to narrow down the right headphones for your listening needs.

After reading the headphone reviews, you can compare models, review our list of the features and specifications, read user reviews, and submit your own review.

See more on headphone reviews.

Also look at our headphone buying guide, which shows you which features are important and gives you the pros and cons of each headphone model.

Read the headphone reviews below and compare the Ratings of each headphone model before you shop.

Headphone reviews

House of Marley Liberate

Type: Stereo headphones
Summary: Portable closed on-ear headphones that comes with a carrying bag.
Own this model?

Panasonic RP-HJE120

Type: Stereo headphones
Summary: Portable isolating earbud earphones that come with three pairs of ear pieces in various sizes.
Own this model?

beats by dre powerbeats 2

Type: Stereo headphones
Summary: Portable Bluetooth wireless ear-insert sports earphones that come with four pairs of earpieces of various types and sizes, a USB charging cable, and a carrying case.
Own this model?

Koss QZ900

Type: Noise-canceling headphones
Summary: Home/Studio-style closed, over-ear noise-canceling headphones that come with carrying case and detachable connecting cord.
Own this model?

JVC HA-NC120

Type: Noise-canceling headphones
Summary: Portable noise canceling, closed, on-ear headphones that come with a carrying pouch and mini-plug-to-airplane-jack adapter.
Own this model?

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What's behind our headphone Ratings?

Experts at our National Testing and Research Center tested 169 models in headphones to see which ones perform best.
We look for:
  • Overall score
    Overall score is based on sound quality and effectiveness of ambient noise reduction. The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points.
  • Sound quality
    Represents the tonal accuracy, clarity, detail, ambience, and dynamics of the audio reproduced by the headphone.
  • Noise reduction
    Represents how well the headphone reduces ambient noise when the active noise cancellation feature is activated.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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