The 10 best headphones for music 2021

Headphones (aka ‘earphones’ or ‘cans’), there is no more fundamental accessory than a good pair of headphones. Whether you crave high-energy tunes to juice up your workout, listening at home, or working in a studio. They’re essential tool if an individual decides to listen privately to music, media and any sort of entertainment.

In the studio, the best monitor headphones for you will be the ones that you can mix on and produce a result that will sound epic on whatever system you play it. So, your choice will be entirely subjective. Perhaps you’re looking for a pair solely for mixing, or something that you can employ for everyday music-listening duties too. Or perhaps you’re a looking for a pair of headphones that will make your journey soothing

To help with your choice, this article will guide you to the best studio headphones. We have reviewed every model and have highlighted the strengths, weaknesses, durability and suitability for different musical disciplines below.

1. Sony WH-1000XM4 Headphones

Image Credit: Sony

Digital meets analogue in these ace, wireless, noise-cancelling cans

  • Price: £349/$349
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Bluetooth: Available
  • Noise-cancelling: Available
  • Mic: Available
  • Controls: Available
  • Battery life: 30hr
  • Connector: USB-C

Sony’s fourth-generation headphone, The Sony WH-1000XM4 delivers wonderful noise cancellation. Plus, great sound quality all in lightweight, comfortable design. While they don’t look really different from
predecessors, a number of new features including:

Multipoint pairing
DSEE Extreme upscaling
Conversational awareness
Auto-play/pause using a built-in sensor

These all help the WH-1000M4 the tittle of the best headphones of 2021.

40mm Liquid Crystal Polymer drivers lie at the hard of the audio performance of these cans. These delivers soaring highs, song-appropriate bass and smooth midrange.

2. Focal Listen Professional Studio Headphones

Image Credit: Focal

The best studio headphones for all music production needs

  • Price: $299/£219/€229
  • Type: Closed-back, over-ear
  • Frequency response: 5Hz – 22kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Driver type: Mylar/Titanium, 40mm
  • Connection: Wired

The Focal Listen Professionals is the ideal headphone for pro work, if you are working on mixing sounds, this model is ideal for long time work.
Many engineers and audio specialists might prefer open-backed designs for their lack of fatigue, the closed Listen Pros perform admirably in this regard.

We found the reaction of these cans to be balanced, with extraordinarily neutral, punchy bass with plenty of extension, full, clear mids and sparkling, smooth highs. Complete with a beautiful hard-shell case, we don’t think there’s a better all-round studio headphone out there at this price.

3. Sennheiser HD-206 Studio Headphones

Image Credit:

The best studio headphones for making music for less

  • Price: $59/£35/€42
  • Type: Closed-back, over-ear
  • Frequency response: 21Hz – 18kHz
  • Impedance: 24 Ω
  • Driver type: Dynamic, closed
  • Connection: Wired

In search of headphones for everyday studio use within a small budget, you need to check out the Sennheiser HD-206. Bearing the well-respected Sennheiser name on the headband, the extremely tough and durable HD-206’s are comfortable to wear for extended periods.

Remarkably accurate for the money, the HD-206’s measure up more than favourably to much pricier peers. The bass response in particular is rich and crisp, with plenty of detail also to be found in the mids and highs.

The ear pads are more than adequate for blocking out extraneous noise whether in the studio or out on the move. Plus, at this price, you need never fear recklessly throwing these in your laptop bag. Grab a pair before Sennheiser realize how good they are and increase their price.

4. Audio-Technica ATH-R70x

Image Credit: Audio-Technica

The best studio headphones when you need open-back reference cans

  • Price: $349/£279/€339
  • Type: Open-back, over-ear
  • Frequency response: 5Hz – 40kHz
  • Impedance: 470 Ω
  • Driver type: Carbon composite resin, 45mm
  • Connection: Wired

Open-back designs like the ATH-R70x tend to be favored for long mix sessions. This is because they are generally lighter and less tiring than closed-back cans. This is good news as this model has been developed especially as a reference headphone for mixing.

At this price and above we’ve used models with more apparent ‘air’, but we don’t consider this a deficiency. If anything, it means you’re less likely to end up with a dull mix. Down the other end the response is no less smooth with all the extension you need without the slightest hint of boom or false fatness.

Moving up, the low mids continue untampered with, free from cheap scooping back so you can really hear what’s going on, for better or for worse. It’s all about the mids and low mids for us, and with the R70x all the juice comes through without complications; everything appears clearly delineated, unless the source is otherwise.

It’s a high-impedance model, so you’ll need a suitable headphone amp to connect them to for best results.

5. Grado SR325e Headphones

Image Credit: Grado labs

Incredible hi-fi headphones for luxurious at-home listening

  • Price: £259/$295
  • Type: On-ear
  • Bluetooth: No
  • Noise-cancelling: No
  • Mic: No
  • Controls: No
  • Battery life: N/A
  • Connector: 3.5mm, 6.3mm

These models of headphones don’t look like a luxurious fashion headphone, this model looks a classic headphone like it was designed in the 50’s.

The 325es are open-backed and leak noise like a sieve leaks water. Therefore, they are completely unsuited to be used on public transport. But that allows them to deliver a really open, airy and spacious sound that’s more akin to listening to a great pair of hi-fi speakers.

The sound here is natural, it is untampered with. If you take your listening seriously, these are some of the best headphones for music out there.

6. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Image Credit: Bose

These models have the best noise cancelling in the game

  • Price: £349/$399
  • Type: Over-ear
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Noise-cancelling: Yes
  • Mic: Yes
  • Controls: Yes
  • Battery life: 20 hours
  • Connector: USB-C

Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 sit at the top table amongst the best headphones for music.

Not only do they offer 11 different levels of noise cancellation. But the headphones also boast a proprietary TriPort structure that delivers active noise reduction. This actually has a positive impact on the sound quality. Talking of which, our listening experience was one of stunning clarity and directness.

Other tech triumphs include a fantastic four-microphone system for taking and receiving calls. Also, for talking to Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant, with superb clarity, while the headphones’ angled ear cups are designed for comfort.

If you want the same audio experience but aren’t so bothered about such high levels of noise cancelling, the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II model sounds just as good for a little less.

7. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Image Credit: Sennheiser

Astonishing mid-range from these minimalist buds

  • Price: £279/$299
  • Type: In-ear
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • Noise-cancelling: Yes
  • Mic: Yes
  • Controls: Yes
  • Battery life: 28 hours
  • Connector: 3.5mm/USB-C

Another Sennheiser entry for this guide, this time in the slick shape of the diminutive True Wireless 2 earbuds. If you’re looking for something more discrete, these could be the way to go.

Audio fans will enjoy lush mid-range detail, propelled by a pair of 7mm dynamic drivers, which breathe new life into classic albums, while adding extra wallop to new music. Bass can be a little over-zealous at times, but the mids and highs are compelling enough to balance out any minor noise at the low-end.

For the money you also get active noise cancelling, which is decent but not market-leading, voice control and touch controls on the buds themselves.

8. Nuraphone by Nura Headphones

Image Credit: Nuraphone

The best studio headphones for a personalised listening experience

  • Price: $399/£349/€399
  • Type: Closed-back, over-ear and in-ear
  • Frequency response: n/a
  • Impedance: n/a
  • Driver type: Inova
  • Connection: Wired and Bluetooth (aptX)

Nura’s Nuraphone system is unique in that it automatically generates a personalized user profile, then tailors its response to suit your hearing, creating a bespoke listening experience. There’s almost no point in us telling you how good these headphones sound, as they’re going to sound great to you, no matter what.

The profiling is voiced in a such a way to sound very soothing, with a crisp and detailed top-end, slightly scooped mids and haptic drivers that deliver more than enough low-end to offer plenty of depth and absorption. Of course, how this is achieved differs with each user, but they perform admirably when stacked up against other headphones at a similar price point, so be prepared to find yourself going back over old mixes and making some tweaks.

Even though the Nuraphones fit firmly into the ‘listening’ category of headphones, the technology is fascinating and they do prove useful as an alternative monitoring source in the studio – perfect for those hasty club mixes if you’re missing a sub-woofer in your speaker setup.

9. Mackie MP-240

Image Credit: Mackie

High-performance in-ears that dazzle

  • Price: $199/£179/€239
  • Type: In-ear
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Impedance: 32 Ω
  • Driver type: Hybrid driver design – LF dynamic driver, MF/HF armature driver
  • Connection: Wired

The MP-240 uses a dynamic driver for bass and a balanced armature for the mids and highs. Although this model isn’t significantly more expensive than the MP-220, we feel it’s ahead sonically. First up, the mid-range is more defined yet overall feels less prominent, which should be less stressful.

However, it’s the top end where these really win, with clear yet smooth high frequencies delivering excellent articulation. Indeed, switching back over to the MP-220 only goes to hammer home how much better the MP-240 sounds.

10. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 True Wireless

Image Credit: Cambridge audio

Great sounding true wireless buds for less than £100?

  • Price: £99/$99
  • Type: In-ear
  • Bluetooth: Available
  • Noise cancelling: No
  • Mic: Yes
  • Battery Life: 9 hours
  • Available in stone grey or black

They might be low-priced, but the Cambridge Audio Melomania buds offer plenty to the astute music fan. A pair of 5.8mm graphene enhanced drivers provide a considerable amount of musical muscle, with plenty of dynamics to go round, regardless of what you’re listening to.

In addition to the quality audio for the price, these true wireless buds are super light at 4.6g and boat some of the most impressive battery life we’ve seen in this category. You’ll get 9 hours of playback on a single charge, but the supplied charging case can add an additional 36 hours of battery life before it needs to be plugged into the mains.

There’s no noise cancelling present here, but what did you expect for the price?

Aroyewun Abdulahi
Science and Technology, the easy life, I create non-mediocre contents based on Computer and Technology for easy understanding and use

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