Top 5 Headphones
Looking for the best headphones in 2021? These top 5 headphones on the market can immerse you in the mesmerizing soundscape that ardent audiophiles like you have always coveted. Good cans = happiness.
With such a rich assortment of choices, there is a fine headphone model for every budget and style. So no one will be left out.
But you might feel overwhelmed and daunted with having to find an optimal model for your needs from such a wide spectrum of choices.
This in-depth guide for the best headphones in 2021 can help to narrow down your choices and find one that will suit you best.
You guys know I’m a sucker for the Bose Noise Cancelling range. The QC25 and then QC35 II and now the Bose 700 NC are just another step up in the range. They are cool on the ear and the sound stage is great – just give your ears some time to learn them a little.
- superior noise cancellation
- DSEE Extreme audio upscaling
- multipoint pairing
- not waterproof
The Sony WH-1000XM4 boasts excellent noise cancellation capabilities and purveys superb sound quality in one neat package. The headphones feel comfortable and lightweight when in use.
The latest Sony model may not terribly different from its predecessors. But make no doubt about it. This model has serious upgrades like auto-play/pause, conversational awareness, DSEE extreme upscaling, and multipoint pairing. Such brilliant features are not available in prior models.
These features together with ergonomic design and other compelling factors have made this audio unit one of the best choices overall for the best headphones in 2021.
The wireless unit delivers on all fronts and scores well on all metrics. It has practically everything that you could ask for from a premium headphone model. The models work as advertised delivering immersive sound quality. Codec support is cutting edge and works seamlessly.
The model is compatible with the 360 Reality Audio format of Sony that allows stereo headphones to provide spatial audio. Support for the LDA codec allows bitrates to go up to 990 kbps. Unfortunately, there is no more support for aptX HD or aptX.
If you are looking for cheaper alternatives then the XM3 range may be a good place to search. While the XM4 lineup is indeed superior, XM3s nevertheless deliver top value for money at a lower price range.
Although they are a good choice for travelers and executives looking to break the tedium of long flights, they are not the best for the fitness crowd since they lack water resistance and secure fit. But as far as everyone else is concerned, this is perhaps the best headphone model to buy in 2021.
There is not much of a difference in design between the latest model and its predecessors. However, new features and functions are included in the latest version that were not available on older models.
The flexible padding together with the high-quality build makes these headphones comfortable on your ears.
The earcups’ exterior has the USB-C port to charge the unit. It also has the 3.5 mm auxiliary jack, a button for selecting noise-canceling modes, and 2 power/pairing control buttons.
The touch-capacitive interface allows for basic functions like reducing or increasing decibels, skipping or pausing music, playing music, and more.
- Robust Bluetooth connection
- long battery life
- excellent sound quality
- ear cups are not collapsible
If your budget permits a $400 premium headphone, then the Bowers and Wilkins PX7 will certainly be a strong contender with its top-class sound quality and active noise cancellation.
The honed aesthetics, immersive sound, and noise cancellation technology distinguish the PX7 as one of the best in its class.
The unit has aptX Adaptive that permits better latency and stability between the device and headphones. The aptX HD is another noteworthy feature that will enthuse audiophiles.
The Bowers and Wilkins score strongly on a wide range of basic and advanced features making it a leading choice for even the most demanding audiophile.
If you are familiar with Bowers and Wilkins models, you will know that smart technology is their forte. Their models work seamlessly and sport sleek designs.
This can be clearly seen in the quality fabric finish, robust framework, elliptically shaped earcups, and branding elements of the PX7. PX7 headphones are very comfortable to wear. The carbon fiber composite that replaces metal construction makes them lightweight and easy to wear for extended periods.
The soft leather pads gently envelop your ears and the unit as a whole does not feel burdensome on your head even after extended use.
A hard case is included as part of the package so that you can keep the exterior in good shape and free of scratches. The only real issue with the design is that earcups don’t fold inwards – that would allow you to fold it up in compact form so that it takes up less space in a bag.
Since the phone pairs so well with devices like tablets and smartphones, there is little to no lag or dropouts. Even while taking your smartphone in or out of pockets, there will be no discernible lag. Both audio and video sync well which means that you can play games and watch movies on your phone with no hassle. This is mainly due to excellent wireless and Bluetooth connectivity which works efficiently and smoothly.
You have 3 noise cancellation modes to choose from. Furnishing multiple modes for noise cancellation is now a standard feature of premium headphones.
With the PX7, you can select between the high, medium, or low noise cancellation modes. The left earcup has a physical button for this purpose. You can press the button for a 4th mode if you want to hear something from your environment like a flight announcement, for instance.
- strong wireless connection
- balanced sound
- good build quality
- slight hissing sound when music is not playing
Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 models have stood out over the years as premium models capable of providing superior sound quality and technology. However, the price tags were rather prohibitive.
Thankfully, the latest Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is now available at a much more economical price tag. This should be good news for budget buyers who were put off by the previously high price points of this exceptional headphone.
The materials used don’t feel as luxurious as previous models. However, there is virtually no difference in sound quality. Thus, you get great value for money coupled with elegant design.
Due to these factors, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is a prime candidate for budget buyers who desire seamless wireless connectivity minus the high cost.
The noise cancellation technology is quite decent for a mid-range headset.
Although sound quality is up to par, you may have to miss out on certain premium features since this is, after all, a budget model.
Battery life is very decent since the phones can work for up to 22 hours when ANC is activated and for 28 hours when ANC is deactivated. These are great budget-friendly, wireless, noise-canceling headphones to accompany you on long flights, drives, and trips.
The BackBeat is capable of extending good performance overall. However, there a few caveats to consider. As far as the ANC goes, you will find that sound quality is best when the ANC is at play. When the ANC is not working, then the sound quality feels somewhat flat and the bass becomes rather overwhelming. There is also the faint but audible hiss to contend with when the music is not playing.
The noise cancellation technology works fairly well in most cases. But when tested to the extreme, like in very noisy environments (that are to be found in bustling train platforms for instance) you will feel that some high-pitched noise is seeping through.
Of course, since this is a budget model, you should be ready for a few compromises especially when you consider BackBeat’s price tag which is around half the price of premium models.
- extraordinary noise cancellation
- mesmerizing sound quality
- chic design
- battery life could be better for its class
Bose is the leader in noise-canceling technology that has enabled it to make big strides in sound quality for both music and phone calls. There are few that can match the sound quality of the Bose 700.
Deciding between the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 and the Sony WH-1000XM4 might seem tricky. The noise cancellation technology of the Bose is unmatched, the unit sports a sleek design, and the sound quality is undeniably great. However, Sony excels in terms of longer battery life and lower price.
The design certainly lends a feeling of opulence and luxury. The sleek aesthetics are visually appealing which is what you expect from a headphone of the highest class. The brand has done away with bulky hardware, visible hinges, and pleated earcups. The one-piece design looks upscale and attractive.
To get these phones working, you have to deploy the Bose Music app on your smart device. This app is available free of cost on the Google Play store. To complete the process, you can follow on-screen instructions to seamlessly connect your smart device with these headphones.
Touch operation is self-explanatory and intuitive. To increase or decrease volume, you just have to swipe the right earcup up or down. Tapping twice will pause or play music. Swiping backward or forwards can help you to skip into the previous or next soundtrack.
Alexa comes built-in. Hence, you can activate Alexa assistant by saying ‘Alexa.’
The dedicated button situated on the right earcup lets you activate Siri or Google Assistant. Thus, you have a whole gamut of options for issuing voice commands.
The battery life is a pretty solid 20 hours. To get maximum battery life and extend it as far as possible, you will want to keep the sound volume low. This, of course, is much shorter when compared to the 30 hours battery life of the Sony headset.
The noise cancellation technology is definitely a standout feature. Whether you want a muted serene ambiance to catch up on your beauty rest in a noisy flight or block out the environmental noise from ruining your music experience, the Bose passes with flying colors. This is a useful feature to have during phone calls too, so that you can hear the other person’s voice clearly above the noise.
The unit achieves noise cancellation performance par excellence via 8 microphones. Noise cancellation technology is enabled on 6 of them for an uninterrupted music experience.
2 microphones are connected with 2 different mics for better noise cancellation performance. Not only does your voice become more clear to the other person on the call, but you are also able to cancel out noise even in a noisy bustling thoroughfare.
At the highest level, noise cancellation provides for top-notch performance. Even with construction work in the background along with drilling noise, level 10 settings bring down the cacophony to just a faint whisper. And when you turn the music on, you won’t hear it at all.
- Up to 30 hours battery life
- superb sound quality
- lossless audio support
- Less comfortable than premium models
The AKG N60NC is an award-winning top-rated headphone model that provides tremendous value at a bargain price. The budget headphone has become even cheaper while providing the same great level of sound quality.
You can work these headphones for up to 30 hours with noise cancellation before connecting them to the charger. But with Bluetooth, the battery life is around 15 hours.
Noise cancellation technology is up to par. The bass is decent and does not overwhelm treble and midrange.
Being budget headphones, they do not feel as good to wear as premium models. However, they are still good enough for long hauls and trips.
Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.
Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.
This post was last updated on 2023-09-28 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.