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I do not know about anyone else but I am so excited that wired headphones are coming back in style. Thought it would be a good time to do a some reviews of our top picks for the best wired headphones market.
Last Update: 05/11/2022: Updated best budget wired headphone.
We wanted to keep the list realistic so kept our budget for contenders to headphones under $500 and picked winners for several price points and uses.
To determine what we wanted our wired headphones to sound like we used the Beyerdynamic T1 and our SENNHEISER HD 800 S headphones as a reference comparison for each pair of headphones tested. These great cans both punch in over $1,000. We wanted to try to see how close we could get to the crisp, clear highs and deep, punchy bass while staying within our budget. The results were surprising how close some of the wired headphones we tested delivered above their price range.
Beyerdynamic T1 High-End Tesla Open-Back Headphones
Beyerdynamic Amiron – Best Wired Open Back Headphone
The Beyerdynamic Amiron does everything we want in a great wired headphone. They are durable, super comfortable for long listening sessions and sound amazing.
In terms of bass extension and retrieval of textural layers in the mid-bass, this open-back headphone has a lot going for it. They have a good low-end impact, yet their presentation is tight and composed rather than messy.
Mids are well-defined, and both male and female vocals sounded excellent. A slightly forward yet non-aggressive approach to sound reproduction is combined with clarity and resolution. The reverb and fade on the strings added a lot of weight to the mix.
The treble range is when the Beyerdynamic T1 tuning begins to deviate. The treble is more prominent and has more extension on this track. The music’s top notes are clear and prominent in the sound before the midrange, making them an important part of the overall sound design. In the event that a track is not well-mastered, these cans will make you aware of any flaws in your set-up.
When you listen to them, the soundstage is medium to wide, and there is enough of space. I found it straightforward to install instruments and thought they sounded quite genuine and alive when re-creating environments using the software.
Note: If you don’t give the Amiron Home enough power, you won’t be able to get the most out of this earphone. Since they have a relatively high impedance of 250 ohms, pairing them with an audiophile amp or digital music player (DAP) is highly recommended.
Grado SR325x – Runner-up Best Wired Open Back Headphone
Some of Grado’s best headphones have come from their Prestige collection during the past 30 years. Series ‘x’ models have improved in quality and value over time, yet they still offer the same balance.
Aside from a new cable and lighter-colored stitching on the heavily padded headband, these headphones seem quite similar to the SR325e model that preceded them in price class.
What makes the SR325x different from its predecessors is how much more detailed and expressive the performance sounds, making it sound more precise and insightful than ever before.
As long as you don’t mind a pair of headphones that are open-backed and allow sound to leak out, the SR325x should be at the top of your list. And they’re unbeatable at this price.
Shure Aonic 5 – Best High-end wired earbud
Most earbuds we test these days are wireless, but also cordless, thus Shure’s Aonic 5 earphones are an oasis for those who still enjoy the sound of a corded headset. Three-way array of balanced armature drivers delivers clear sound. Detachable cable and interchangeable nozzle filters allow the earbuds to be used in a variety of ways. For an additional price, you can get the Shure True Wireless Secure Fit Adapter and turn them into truly wireless earphones.
The soundstage of these IEMs is one of the best things about this series. The Aonic 5’s left/right stereo width is on the correct side, so it’s a game of big imaging and depth. Despite the stage’s size, there’s enough focus here to warrant a passing grade. Most of the work is done by the spatial imaging, which creates visually appealing presentations of sound reproduction.
The Aonic’s individuality and versatility appealed to me. Shure has demonstrated that a single earphone can attempt to do it all, and the Aonic 5 has done it to a large extent. The more effort you put into the Aonic 5, the better the results you’ll get. The Aonic 5 is a great monitor IEM for those who want a flat, neutral response, but if you want a richer, more fulfilling sound, you’ll want to use outboard gear with it.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO – Best Wired Studio Headphones for Recording
If you are looking for closed-back wired headphones to use for recording in the studio the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO are the best we have tested. In-ear headphones, especially those with closed backs, can assist generate a wide, out-of-the-head passive soundstage that enhances the listening experience. The ear cups are lined with a soft microfiber material, which makes them comfortable to wear.
Your vocals and lead instruments will be crystal clear and detailed thanks to their neutral sound profile. Bass is well-balanced and flat, ensuring that mixes have rumble, body and punch. In general, they are well-built and strong because they are supported by a metal frame. Additionally, a 1/8″ to 1/4″ adapter is included so that you can connect them to your amplifier.
Don’t miss our review of the Topping DX3 Pro+ AMP / DAC
One potential issue is some find them a touch shrill, especially when sibilants like cymbals are used. If you have thick hair or need headphones for glasses, you may hear a decline in bass quality when using these headphones as well. But if you want wired closed-back headphones, they are a great option.
Sennheiser IE 800 S – Best Recording Earbud
Sennheiser IE 800 S In-Ear Audiophile Reference Headphones
Cleanliness, detail retrieval and refinement are the primary goals of the IE800S’s expansive sonic signature. Condensed, quick and clear instruments are juxtaposed against an intricately detailed stage. As an additional benefit, the earphone places its instruments on the stage at a neutral position—north of the listener, not too far away—with enough of space and air in between them. As a result, its soundscape is always wide, free, and expansive. Because of this, there is no listening fatigue as a result of the single-driver design.
Overall, the IE800S has a neutral sound. Nothing stands out except for the faint shimmering of the mid-treble. The’s’ notes in Ariana Grande’s Imagine may be noticeable. It’s not abrasive, but it may get quite hot. This isn’t to say that there aren’t any flaws in the IE800S; there just aren’t many. The IE800S’s instruments, as previously stated, are small and tiny. If you’re an audiophile who prefers closer-in monitors with more body and grit, this isn’t the one for you. However, they haven’t been withdrawn. A dynamic monitor with an ear for detail that doesn’t compromise coherence can be achieved by ensuring that the middle has enough presence.
MOONDROP KATO – Best Wired Earbud
Moondrop KATO Earphone DLC Composite Diaphragm Advanced Ultra Linear Technology Dynamic in-Ear
The MOONDROP KATO are the greatest wired earbuds that we’ve tried. Because of their replaceable design, these in-ear monitors (IEMs) have a high level of quality. A detachable audio cord and a variety of foam and silicone-like ear tips are included. With two nozzles, one brass and one stainless steel, the horns can be used in a variety of ways.
This is the first year I have spent time with these and was very impressed. If you would have asked me last year for a top earbud iem I would have etymotic without hesitation but taking in the sound versus price of the Moondrop they edge them out by a hair.
A reasonably neutral sound profile can be achieved with the help of their silicone-like spring tips and steel nozzles. Although the bass range is underemphasized, the mid-range is pretty flat and neutral, so vocalists and lead instruments sound clear and detailed. You shouldn’t worry about others hearing your music at loud volumes because of the low leakage these headphones have.
They look great, but they’re a little hefty and tiring to wear for long periods of time, even though they’re made of stainless steel. The fact that they have a hard time blocking out ambient noise makes them unsuitable for use during loud live performances. That being said, their interchangeable design and neutral sound make them an excellent option for wired IEMs.
Etymotic Research EVO Three – Runner-up Best Wired Earbud
The Etymotic EVO is the greatest performer in terms of technical prowess that I’ve heard so far. That the EVO has three BA drivers instead of the single driver used in their other IEMs should not be a surprise, though. In keeping with the EVO’s heritage as a reference monitor, I hear no audible blunting in the notes as they are articulated sharply. Your voice has the conventional, plastic-sounding BA timbre, with notes lacking a sense of weight.
Overall, the EVO doesn’t deviate from the Etymotic sound in a significant way. In terms of bass, the EVO falls between between the ER4XR and ER2XR. It adds a bit of warmth to the low end, and I’d say it’s towards the higher end of the BA bass spectrum. Compared to the typical BA monitor, this one is noticeably tighter and cleaner. However, at the end of the day, it is simply BA bass. It doesn’t slam properly, the decay is cut short, and greater amount would have been nice. But if you want want your bass on display, the EVO is a good option for those looking for something more.
Shure AONIC 3 – Honorable Mention Best Wired Earbud
It’s possible that the Shures aren’t quite as exciting a pair of headphones as we’d want. Despite this, they continue to enthrall with each new release. When it comes to transparency, detail, dynamics, and musicality, there are few in-ear headphones that can compete with the Shures.
SoundMagic E11C – Best Cheap Wired Earbud
In the footsteps of the five-star E10, SoundMagic has released the E11C wired earphones. Thanks to an upgraded driver and a silver-plated copper connection, the new kids on the block are still fairly magical.
But even with the enhanced driver, the SoundMagic sound remains distinct. The bass is substantial, with a good amount of warmth and depth to keep you engulfed, but the top-end isn’t hampered. The middle offers good definition and a lot of drive and control.
These wired earbuds are nothing short of a miracle when you consider how cheap they are. No doubt about it, we’d recommend them to anyone on a budget. A solid investment.
Jabra Elite 45H – Best Budget Wired Headphone
Even if you listen to music for several hours every day, the Jabra Elite 45H headphones will last a week or longer between charges thanks to their long-lasting battery life and sleek design. These attractive headphones may be used for up to 50 hours of medium-level playing, making them an excellent choice for individuals who prefer to avoid the power grid.
Consistent high resolution and dynamic range are provided across the frequency spectrum. Listening with the headphones, you’re able to nearly feel the texture of each instrument being played. We were shocked with how well these performed for the price and suggest you give them a spin.
Grado SR80x – Best Open Back Wired on a Budget
GRADO SR80x Prestige Series Wired Open Back Stereo Headphones
As affordable headphones, the SR80x are capable of playing a role in a more complex system. Their class-leading transparency allows them to do so.
There’s a lot to enjoy about the SR80x’s forebears, including the nimbleness, expressiveness, rolling dynamics, and clarity across well-defined frequency ranges that made the Prestige models such natural performers. A hefty dousing of polish has enhanced their forward, clinical presentation even if they’re far from rich or warm in tone.
AKG Pro Audio K553 – Best Wired Portable Headphone
The wired headphone AKG K553 has a lot to offer and excellent sound quality.
These headphones can be worn around your neck, placed on a flat surface, or even listened to with only one ear like a DJ because to their flat-folding design. Even though they don’t come with a built-in case, you should be able to take them from one location to another with no issues.
See our picks for the Best DJ Headphones Under $100
The most important thing to keep in mind is that these are reference headphones first and foremost. To put it another way, their goal is to generate the most accurate and genuine sound reproduction possible. The high-frequency sounds are slightly enhanced, but the overall sound is extremely flat.
Austrian Audio Hi-X55 – Runner-up Best Portable Wired
Austrian Audio Hi-X55 Closed-Back Over-Ear Headphones
Having a lot of bass is nothing new, but finding a bass area with enough quality while being tight and punchy is. The Hi-X55 is capable of producing bass of this caliber, and it’s a genuine delight to hear.
On the Hi-X55, the vocal range is generally neutral; it isn’t enhanced, but it isn’t recessed either. The vocal range’s detail retrieval is still outstanding, even when it isn’t being stressed. In both male and female performers, I’m able to discern the different tones of their voices with ease. Hi-X55 does not need to emphasize vocal range to effectively show details, that is my impression.
There is an airiness to some of the tracks since the treble is slightly boosted, but this can also make the music sound a little too bright on occasion. It’s perhaps more apparent on recordings made with pianos that have a higher natural brightness.
The Austrian Audios sound so transparent and mature that their relatively low price tag belies their sound quality. To get the most out of these headphones, we recommend utilizing a DAC/headphone amplifier like the DragonFly Red rather than merely putting them into a smartphone (though they will still sound good). A more expensive option, such as the Chord Mojo, would function perfectly with the Hi-X15.
HiFiMan Sundara – Best Wired Planer Magnetic Headphone
When we start getting into planers we are pretty limited in the sub $500 range. Luckily, one of our favorites fits right into our budget and punches way above it’s price, the HiFiMan Sundara.
New to the headphone arena, don’t worry, we have you covered. What should I consider when buying headphones?
It’s hard to go wrong with HiFiMan Sundara. Despite the lack of wallop and rumble from its open back design, their sound is quite neutral and well-balanced. As a result of their wide and open soundstage, they are able to provide listeners with an immersive audio experience. In addition, they produce sound consistently, so you won’t have to keep readjusting them.
Sony WH-1000XM4 – Best Wired Noise Cancelling
The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are lightweight, comfy, and have exceptional noise-cancellation capabilities. Though most view them as a wireless headphone, they have a 3.5mm cable and we are including them as part of our list. Think of it as an added benefit of being able to go wired or wireless.
However, even though the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones don’t appear that different from the WH-1000XM3, the WH-1000XM4 has a slew of innovative new capabilities like multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme scaling, and conversational awareness, as well as auto-play/pause with a built-in sensor. What does all this mean? Mainly that the active noise cancellation in these headphones will block out most environmental noise.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless noise-cancelling headphones are excellent in every way. Excellent noise suppression and cutting-edge codec support ensure that they deliver precisely what they promise.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones also support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format, which provides spatial audio on stereo headphones, and the LDAC codec, which can transfer a bitrate of up to 990 kbps. Unfortunately, aptX and aptX HD are no longer supported, so your experience with Hi-Res Audio may be limited.
SteelSeries Arctis Pro – Best Wired Gaming Headset
SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless Gaming Headset
Like the Sony WH-1000XM4, these can be used as a wired or wireless headphone. The Arctis Pro blend a lot of features and are our top pick for a hybrid headphone that can provide top notch gaming voice and audio along with a solid music listening experience.
Into gaming, so are we! See our picks for the Best Gaming Headsets
The SteelSeries Arctis Pro Wireless headsets are excellent for gaming on the move. If you’re looking for an all-in-one headset that can be used with both your console and your mobile device at once, these are your best bet. The wireless latency is likewise quite low. If you’re playing in a quiet room, these headphones won’t be a problem because they have poor noise isolation.
Byerdynamic DT 990 Pro – Audiophile headphones from Beyerdynamic, the DT 990 PRO, feature an open back design, well-built construction, and a great sound signature.
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 ohm Over-Ear Studio Headphones For Mixing, Mastering, and Editing
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x – A long time favorite for a portable, wired headphone. You can see our full review here.
Austrian Audio Hi-X65 – Premium headphone with great sounding like the rest of the lineup from Austrian Audio
Sony MDR-7506 – A close competitor for our top studio recording corded headphones and a set of wired headphones you should checkout.
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
Sennheiser HD 600 – The open-back Sennheiser HD 600 headphones have a wide, large passive soundstage and a rather neutral sound quality. In comparison to the Sennheiser HD 800 S, these headphones don’t feel as solidly built and struggle more to reproduce low bass.
Shure SE425 – High quality earphones that are comfy to wear.
Etymotic Research ER4SR – A great neutral earbud that you should checkout if you enjoy the Etymotic sound signature.
Conclusion for Best Wired Headphones
We hope you enjoyed the article and it gets you on the way for finding the perfect headphones with you that have great audio quality and a perfect fit. If you have any questions on any of the models discussed, do not hesitate to let us know in the comments below.