Top 10 Headphone Brands

Top 10 Headphone Brands - Ranked By Style

With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to decide which company you should trust with your hard-earned cash! We know how disappointing it can be when you buy a new pair only to find out they don’t perform exactly as advertised. By then it’s usually too late. 

Is there any way to sift through the pile and find exactly what you’re looking for before you settle on your best option? How can you tell low-quality apart from high-quality if you haven’t had a chance to listen to them yourself? 

One of our favorite time-tested methods is to do a little research about the company’s reputation. Maybe they struck gold once or twice and managed to create a few one-hit wonders. When that’s the case, it usually doesn’t guarantee their next model will automatically surpass your expectations. (In fact, it usually means the opposite.) 

That’s exactly why each of the Top 10 headphone brands we selected for this list have a proven track record you can trust. Although it’s pretty much impossible that every single pair from any company is going to be a home run – consistent quality is clear marker of a solid brand!

Top 10 Casual & Audiophile Headphone Brands – Ranked By Style!

Each of the companies listed below specialize in a specific wearing and listening style. Some excel in multiple areas, while others tend to stick to their guns and continue to make what’s been proven to make us happy! (Technically, our list includes a total of 20 companies.)

It’s broken down into 2 main sections: ten of the best for casual listeners and ten of the best for audiophiles. As we mentioned above, some of the companies not only specialize in a certain area, but make ‘phones that fit within a specific budget.

Before you dive into the actual list, keep in mind that we were not paid by any company to be included on this list. Our rankings are solely based on a combination of experience, consumer reviews, research, and a rock solid reputation. Now that that’s out of the way, take a look at the table below to see which ones made the cut!

BEST BRANDS RANKED
For Casual Listeners For Audiophiles
1. Audio Technica 1. HIFIMAN
2. Beats 2. Beyerdynamic
3. 1More 3. Grado
4. SoundMagic 4. Etymotic Research
5. Bose 5. Sennheiser
6. B&O (Bang & Olufsen) 6. Audeze
7. Shure 7. Focal
8. V-Moda 8. MrSpeakers
9. Sony 9. ZMF
10. Sennheiser 10. Stax

Ready to get started? 


Best Brands For Casual Listeners

We all enjoy listening to music with some freshly-opened headphones that just arrived in the mail. It’s hard to deny the excitement of cutting the tape, unfolding each flap, and pulling them out of the packaging.

Before you get to that step, making the best decision possible and choosing a quality pair that delivers everything you expect, saves a ton of time and prevents the unnecessary headache of dealing with multiple returns. 

If you love music, but would rather not spend more than $300 on a single pair of ‘phones, this section is for you!

  1. Audio Technica
  2. Beats
  3. 1More 
  4. SoundMagic
  5. Bose
  6. B&O
  7. Shure
  8. V-Moda
  9. Sony
  10. Sennheiser

Casual Listener - Top 10 Headphone Brands


1. Audio Technica

Audio Technica first made their mark designing phonograph cartridges for turntables. After some success in that area, they began to branch out and explore other audio equipment. One of their most notable personal audio creations is the ATH-M50x. 

The M50x have gotten overwhelmingly positive feedback since their release, but they’re not the only model worth checking out. We reviewed two of their other models that are both equally (if not more) impressive than what some consider to be their ‘flagship’. 

If you can’t resist a solid performance coupled with a bargain value, it’s definitely worth taking a look at some of their other personal audio gear! 

Our Favorite Reviews:


2. Beats

Beats - Top 10 Headphone Brands

Despite some of the negative attention they’ve received in the past, we still think Beats are a solid option (for some people). In the audiophile community, Beats have gotten a bad rap since they aren’t exactly designed for critical listening.

Most of their models (especially in their earlier days) are known for a stronger bass response that some people love – and others don’t. Later releases from the company have seen pretty significant improvements, ranging from a more durable build, to a sound profile that isn’t as divisive. 

Although there is still some debate about whether or not their models are a bit overpriced – one thing you can’t deny is their worldwide impact on the audio community! 

Our Favorite Over-Ear Review:

Our Favorite In-Ear Review:


3. 1More

1More hadn’t really been in the mainstream spotlight until they released their Triple Driver in-ears. “Hear More” is the company’s slogan and they definitely deliver on that promise. They have a pretty wide variety of styles to choose from including over-ear, in-ear, gaming headsets, and Bluetooth sports earphones. 

1More is considered by many notable review sites (including ours) to be one of the most promising breakout companies in this arena. Ultra premium packaging, a futuristic build design, and most importantly, awesome sound quality are just a few words to describe their craftsmanship. 

If you’re not willing to spend upwards of $300 on a pair of in-ears, we highly recommend you browse the reviews below to see what they have to offer! 

Our Favorite In-Ear Reviews:


4. SoundMagic

The ability to craft high-performing in-ears that fit well into any budget, is one task that SoundMagic excels at. Models like the highly-rated and reviewed E10 have earned them respect from both casual listeners and audiophiles. 

Although they’re still a relatively young company (founded in 2005), their drive to continue innovating based on consumer feedback they receive will continue to propel then into the spotlight. 

If you’re someone who loves affordable earbuds that won’t fall out of your ears every 5 minutes, you’ll definitely want to take a look at the review we linked to below! 

Our Favorite Review:


5. Bose

Unless you’ve been living under a rock since 1964, you’ve at least heard of Bose. Chances are, you’ve probably experienced one of their speakers or headphones at some point. They’ve been able to cross barriers and earn a solid reputation in their field.

They make quality audio products that have found their way into cars, homes, and professional studios across the world. One of the accomplishments they’re most well-known for, is their knack at creating some of the best noise cancelling over-ears that are well-loved by commuters and travelers everywhere.

Their equipment does tend to cost a bit more than some of the companies above, but most people agree that the extra comfort and performance is worth every penny! 

Our Favorite In-Ear Review:


6. B&O (Bang & Olufsen)

If you’ve ever spent any time browsing the selection of headphones on Amazon, Best Buy, or any other electronic retailer – you might’ve stumbled upon a pair of B&O ‘phones. Like Bose, they also specialize in manufacturing noise cancelling headsets. 

Technically, they’re considered to be a ‘high-end’ audio company that has their hand in a few different pots at the same time.  B&O Play is one of their subsidiary companies whose primary focus is crafting beautiful wireless ‘phones and earbuds.

Their E8 true wireless earbuds are neck and neck with the competition, taking further steps towards a completely wire-free existence. Although they aren’t exactly giving their high-end equipment away, as the old adage goes: “You get what you pay for”

Our Favorite In-Ear (True Wireless) Review:


7. Shure

Shure is another company that makes a variety of audio equipment. Originally founded in 1925 as a radio parts kit supplier, they branched out and have become one of the most respected names in audio. 

They make IEMs and studio monitors that are easily among the best in the industry. IEMs like the Shure SE215 and SE315 remain a staple for anyone looking to bridge the gap between casual listening and audiophile-level performance. 

Studio monitors like the SRH440 were specifically designed for professional applications, although they can be enjoyed for regular at home listening as well. If you’re on the lookout for an affordable studio monitor, take a look at our review below! 

Our Favorite Review:


8. V-Moda

Much like Shure, V-Moda is another great company to check out if you’ve tried a few others and still want more. Since their foundation in 2004, they’ve made a name for themselves based on a few different performance factors. 

For one, they craft personal audio gear with unprecedented durability put through rigorous and extensive testing. (You can almost literally put them through hell without having to worry.) Their second area of expertise lies in their extreme attention to the detail required for creating a true work of art in the form of in-ear, over-ear, and on-ear headphones.

On top of all that, they tune each pair to produce some of the most exciting playback you’ll ever experience. We consider them to be one of the best choices for the stage in between casual listening and becoming a full-blown audiophile! 

Our Favorite Over-Ear Review:

Our Favorite In-Ear Review:


9. Sony

Sony - Top 10 Headphone Brands

TVs, speakers, gaming consoles, laptops, and headphones are just a fraction of the spaces Sony specializes in. When it comes to noise cancelling ‘phones, most people agree that there are two main competitors. Sony and Bose. Which one’s better? The answer almost completely boils down to personal preference. 

Although their noise cancelling earbuds could still use some improvement, their over-ear WH1000XM2 and WH1000XM3 are 2 of the industry-leaders. Their logo is instantly recognizable and they consistently try to set a better standard with each new release. 

Whether you’re in the market for a studio monitor or noise cancelling over-ear – Sony is a stand out competitor that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon! 

Our Favorite Reviews:


10. Sennheiser

Sennheiser is another well-established name in the audio world. Since their foundation in 1945, they’ve managed to create products that compete with both casual and higher-end competitors. Unlike many others, they’re able to craft audio gear that appeals to both worlds.

Headphones like the HD 4.40 and PXC 550 are 2 of their most well-received portable models. Both come equipped with above-average wireless performance at a pretty affordable price point. At this point, Sennheiser is easily one of the most respected pillars of personal audio. 

If you need a new pair of portable over-ears or some wireless earbuds, browse one of the reviews below! 

Our Favorite Over-Ear Reviews:

Our Favorite In-Ear Review:


Best Brands For Audiophiles

If you’re like most audiophiles, you probably have as much (if not more) fun testing new headphones as you do listening to the actual music. Many audiophiles are willing to go the extra mile and invest in the ‘best of the best’. You probably don’t mind dropping a nice chunk of change on a new pair (as long as the performance justifies the investment). 

Chances are, you’ll recognize at least one or two of the companies below. Some specialize in both ends of the spectrum and manufacture what would be considered ‘budget’ as well as offering a few more expensive high-end models. The bottom line is that each one targets the serious listener who will settle for nothing less than an absolutely outstanding performance! 

  1. HIFIMAN
  2. Beyerdynamic
  3. Grado
  4. Etymotic Research
  5. Sennheiser
  6. Audeze
  7. Focal
  8. MrSpeakers
  9. ZMF
  10. Stax

Audiophile - Top 10 Headphone Brands


1. HIFIMAN

If you’re an audiophile, you know that HIFIMAN specializes in a very specific style of headphone. Two of their breakout planar magnetic models (the HE 400 & HE 400i) are among some of their most well-received. 

They’ve been awarded over 20 awards by many well-respected review sites and continue to remain a popular choice for audiophiles all over the world. Their main priority is driving the best sound quality possible into your ears. Each of their models features a unique design.

When you couple HIFIMAN’s unmistakable build with an extremely noteworthy sonic performance, they’re easily one of the best all-around open back manufacturers! 

Our Favorite Review:

Browse the entire collection at the Official HIFIMAN website


2. Beyerdynamic

Since their foundation in 1924, Beyerdynamic has managed to not only survive, but thrive in the personal audio space. Most of their gear is manufactured in Germany and they consistently strive to uphold their rock solid reputation. 

Much like Sennheiser, they also make quality gear that ranges from mid to high-end (although they don’t offer quite the same variety in price). Two of their stand-out open back cans are the DT 770 and DT 990 Pro. 

They’re versatile enough to be used for both professional and non-professional applications. Those are just 2 of the most notable examples that highlight their mission to provide a premium and extremely comfortable listening experience. Take a look at the review below to learn more!

Our Favorite Review:


3. Grado

Grado - Top 10 Headphone Brands

Grado (also known as Grado Labs) builds every single pair of headphones by hand. Their knack for high-fidelity audio reproduction has garnered the attention of audio fans across the globe. They also have an unmistakable design and finish that you instantly recognize.

Although their hand-crafted ‘phones aren’t everyone’s cup of tea – you can’t deny the niche path they’ve carved out and tapped into. (Plus, who doesn’t enjoy having at least one beautifully hand-crafted pair to show off in their collection?)

If you’re a sucker for handmade audio gear with an equally impressive performance, we recommend you take a look at our review below! 

Our Favorite Review:


4. Etymotic Research

Etymotic Research started out manufacturing hearing aids and have since displayed their expertise by crafting some of the best in-ear monitors around. They consider constructive feedback from consumers like us and aren’t afraid to make adjustments as needed.

After the release of their original flagship (the ER4SR IEMs), some listeners felt that they could use some improvement. They decided to use the feedback and came back with the ER4XR which have an extended bass response that some felt was previously lacking. 

If you’ve been on the lookout for some high-quality IEMs, Etymotic Research should, without a doubt, be at the top of your list! 

Our Favorite IEM Review:


5. Sennheiser

Sennheiser - Top 10 Headphone Brands

 

We briefly covered this company in the first section, but if you skipped ahead, you probably have a pretty good grasp on what Senneheiser is capable of. They easily succeed at making gear for the average consumer and definitely aren’t afraid to reach even higher.

To this day, many audiophiles refer to the HD600 as the ‘Gold Standard’ of reference cans. There aren’t very many companies that have a classic model that’s as popular today as it was 20 years ago. Audiophiles and studio professionals everywhere understand that Sennheiser will always have a solid foothold in the hifi community.

If this is your first time hearing of the ‘Gold Standard’ for open back reference cans, take a look at the review below to see what they’re all about! 

Our Favorite Review:


6. Audeze

Audeze first came about when its 2 founders realized that the materials they were using to make products for NASA would be perfect for designing headphones. The first-ever model they released was the LCD-1. 

Due to the overwhelmingly positive response it generated, they continued to innovate and have since released multiple variations of their original model. The waves they made are so powerful that they can’t be missed or overlooked and remain a strong presence at any audio convention, festival, or CanJam you’ll ever attend.

What makes them stand out? Each model they create houses proprietary planar magnetic drivers that combine multiple technologies, resulting in a completely unforgettable sonic experience!

Browse the entire flagship LCD collection at the Official Audeze website

7. Focal

“Listen Beyond” is Focal’s concise, but promising mission statement. The French company has specialized in high-end audio equipment since 1979. The Focal Utopia cost upwards of $3,500 which earns them a spot among some of the most expensive over-ears available. 

Anyone who’s actually listened to the Focal Clear or Utopia will tell you that the asking price is absolutely appropriate considering their ultra-impressive sonic performance. The Utopia are widely-regarded as being one of (if not the best) headphones your money can buy.

If you have a few thousand extra dollars to contribute towards your audio budget, it’d be well worth your time to consider Focal! 

Browse the entire collection at the Official Focal website

8. MrSpeakers

Although MrSpeakers also manufacture extremely high-end headphones, they offer a few options that are much more affordable. Make no mistake, their VOCE electrostatic cans usually retail for close to 3 grand!

They still hold true to the goal behind their foundation which is to create an audiophile performance that can be enjoyed by more than just a select few. Their ÆON Flow models cost a fraction of the VOCE without sacrificing quality. 

Their headphone pads are also favored by many listeners who enjoy replacing the stock pads with a much more comfortable upgrade. If you’re an audiophile on a tighter budget, we recommend saving up and trying the ÆON Flow. (You won’t be disappointed!)

Browse the entire collection at the Official MrSpeakers website

9. ZMF

If you like the idea of receiving a carefully-crafted (and appropriately-priced) work of art – you might want to consider ZMF. They offer an extremely personalized purchase process that allows you to ask questions 1-on-1 directly with the manufacturer. 

That way, you know exactly what you’re getting, before the package arrives on your doorstep. Few companies exist that offer such a quality blend of artisan craftsmanship, audio performance, and a made to order pair of over-ears that sound as good as they look.

If you’ve made one too many dissatisfied returns in the past, we recommend trying the personalized approach that ZMF takes! 

Browse the lookbook on the Official ZMF website to see what we mean by a ‘work of art’. 

10. STAX

Decades ago, STAX was the first company to design and release an electrostatic headphone, which is just one of many reasons they’re among the most well-loved and highly-rated companies on this list. STAX doesn’t even like to call their creations headphones.

Instead, they refer to each model as an ‘earspeaker’, which still makes perfect sense. (In fact, it might make even more sense than calling them headphones.) Ever since they quite literally broke ground with their first release in 1960, STAX continues to make waves throughout the audiophile community. 

Much like a few other brands listed here, they also offer a fairly widely-priced selection of options that range from around $400 all the way up to $4,000. If you’re looking for the upgrade of a lifetime, take a look at the Official STAX Audio website here!


Are You Surprised? Did You See A Personal Favorite?!

We hope you had as much fun browsing as we did putting this list together. Now that you’ve made it to the end, what do you think? Were you surprised to see one of your personal favorites here? Do you think we left one off that should’ve been included? 

Headphone Background - Top 10 Headphone Brands

Whether you discovered a new company to check out, or just want to add your two cents – leave a comment below and let us know what you think about the top 10 headphone brands! If you have any questions, feel free to ask away! We always do our best to respond within 24 hours and look forward to hearing from you!

Thanks for taking the time to browse our list, we hope you enjoyed! 

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Headphone Brands

  1. Hi. I consider myself an audiophile, but I prefer the in ear variety for their noise isolation.
    I bought the Etymotic ER4 about 18 years ago, since then I’ve owned Shure’s SE535 and now SE846. My question is, is there an in ear model that comes close to the best over the ear types?
    Thanks

    1. Hey Luis,

      Based on what you mentioned, I think you’re already on the right track. Ultimately, I think it depends on what you deem as the “best” over ear headphone.

      As you know, the Etymotic Research ER4XR and ER4SR are both very well known for their noise isolation and sonic performance. Can the ER4XR or the Shure SE535 compete with open back cans like the Sennheiser HD600?

      That’s like comparing apples to oranges. Even though there definitely are some in-ears that balance comfort and sound quality – I’m not aware of any that can replicate what it’s like to wear over-ear headphones. As you mentioned, you prefer in-ear because they isolate you from the noise around you.

      Other people would rather wear over/on-ear because they’re usually more universally-comfortable. Once again, it’s tough to say either way. If we had to recommend a few in-ears that compete, the 1More Triple Driver & 1More Quad Driver are two very budget-friendly options.

      What do you think? Do the IEMs you already own compete with any over-ear you’ve compared them to?

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