If you are an audiophile and look towards great audio devices, you should know that the performance you demand comes at a cost. People who use different types of headphones would surely be aware of the performance difference between the low end and high end models. However, that does not suggest by any means that you should have $1000 in your pocket to get a good model. There are instances when best headphones under 500 dollars will overpower a $800 one in the market in terms of performance. So let's have a look at the top products under 500 dollars.
Quick Answer: Top-Rated Best Headphones Under 500 in 2021
- Best Overall: Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphone
- Best Buy: Bowers & Wilkins PX Headphone
- Best Budget: Sennheiser HD 4.50 Headphone
- Best Noise Cancelling: Sony WH1000XM3 Headphone
- Best Studio: Sennheiser HD 660 S Headphone
- 6 Best Over Ear: AKG Pro Audio K712 Headphone
- Best In-Ear: Sony WF-1000XM3 Headphone
- Best Gaming: SteelSeries Arctis Pro Headphone
- Best Bluetooth: Bose QC 35 II Headphone
Best Overall: Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphone
Ratings: 4.3 | Type: Combo
Bose 700 is a Bluetooth model that comes with one of the most trustworthy batteries. The company claims that the battery will last for about 20 hours as you use it continuously at high volumes. Moreover, you have a chance to communicate with Alexa as Bose 700 comes with built-in Alexa compatibility.
Moreover, with headphones, you also get a case which makes it easy to carry. There is noise cancellation feature in it which gives you 11 different levels of noise cancellation. Thus, it certainly is a standout and not just another headphone with poor noise cancellation to offer.
Also, with its over-ear structure and comfortable wear, the headphones are good for superior sound experience. There is also a Bose SimpleSync pairing option using which you can pair these headphones with a Bose Soundbar 500 and Bose Soundbar 700.
Best Buy: Bowers & Wilkins PX Headphone
Ratings: 4.1 | Type: Combo
Bowers and Wilkins has come up with an award winning headphones in the form of Bowers and Wilkins PX. This model features a 22 hours long battery and a Bluetooth connectivity to throw away the hassle of wires. They come with a carrying case for better portability and offer you a stylish appearance.
Additionally, the smart playing system of this headphone is simply amazing. As you put them on, the headphone starts operating. When you take them off, they go to standby mode. If you lift up the ear cups or hang them around your neck, it will pause the playback.
As for the performance, the headphones offer you a wider soundstage. They are great for noise cancellation and offer you a realistic sound output. Just like many other over ear models, you get great bass. Also, the balance of the sound and its tuning is among the features that you will certainly love.
Best Budget: Sennheiser HD 4.50 Headphone
Ratings: 4.1 | Type: Combo
Sennheiser has come up with some great models in the market and the HD 4.50 SE is a prime examply of it. Overall, the construction of this headphone is pretty appealing and you get a great sound experience. As you pick it up first, it may appear a bit flimsy at first but they are not that fragile. In fact, if you take care of these headphones appropriately, they are likely to last for several years.
Also, you get controls on the cups to help you control the volume and playback. Moreover, you can also activate and deactivate the noise cancelling feature through volume rockers. As far as the sound performance is concerned, you have a deep and smooth bass. However, the profile of sound may leave a little to be desired as the sound output won’t feel all natural.
Furthermore, the battery life is 19+ hours with and 25 hours without noise cancellation. You will find wearing pretty comfortable and considering the price point at which they are on offer, you are very unlikely to find better options.
Best Noise Cancelling: Sony WH1000XM3 Headphone
Ratings: 4.6 | Type: Combo
When it comes to noise cancellation, the ANC technology by Sony is certainly an industry leader. The WH1000XM3 come with ANC and provide you virtual soundproofing like no other model in the market. The given over the ear headphones are great for people that look towards blocking all the ambient sound and live in a world of their own.
Moreover, there are responsive touch controls to assist you with your playback controls. You can also manipulate the calls and virtual assistant as there is Alexa compatibility with these headphones. The battery life of this model is greater than the ones listed above as you have 30 hours long playtime.
Also, if you are on the go individuals and travel frequently, you can benefit from the foldable design of this headphone. You have an assurance of listening comfort as the headphones feature an ergonomic design that is great for longer plays.
Furthermore, the mic may not be the best when you compare it with other models in this list of best headphones under 500. However, it certainly is good enough to deal with your calls. Overall, it's among the top-rated noise cancelling headphones in the market.
Best Studio: Sennheiser HD 660 S Headphone
Ratings: 4.6 | Type: Wired
Sennheiser HD 660 S is an open back headphone and is one of the most versatile models that you’ll find in the market. The transducers are given to you which provide superb stereo sound and there is a great frequency response to help you experience all the highs and lows. While they may not appear as appealing as their predecessors, HD 650, this one gives you better sound quality and clearer vocals.
However, the notable point here is that you are opting for an open back model. Therefore, you won’t be able to enjoy good sound when outside as the noise main interfere with your experience. So, for those of you that look towards a good travelling headphone, this might not be an ideal pick.
Best Over Ear: AKG Pro Audio K712 Headphone
Ratings: 4.6 | Type: Wired
Looking at AKG Pro Audio K712 Pro, you will find a powerful headphones that can deliver quality sound experience to anyone. Whether intended for home use or office work, you will find them appropriate for all the use. These headphones are very comfortable to wear and look more of a gaming headphones. However, you can use them for music and other audio output as you prefer.
Also, the headphone comes with a dual headband support so you have less pressure on your head. There is a decent ear padding to support long duration wearing. You get flat wire voice coils that help in enhancing the response to treble and impulse. As for the sound performance, it gives solid mid to high frequency output.
Best In-Ear: Sony WF-1000XM3 Headphone
Ratings: 4.0 | Type: Wireless
These are one of the best wireless headphones on offer in the market with an earbud kind of build. If you look for compact headphones that are wire free and sit appropriately inside your ears, this is your go to model. The WF-1000XM3 provides great noise cancellation and fantastic sound experience. Considering the structure, you get a headphone that perfectly sits inside your ears with a bit of body outside that allows you to control your playback and answer the calls.
Moreover, there are 6mm drivers in it to provide you clear and rhythmic sound experience. They are updated for 2021 to deal with different genre of music and sound and provide the listener a dream experience. These headphones have noise suppressing power which, considering their size, is certainly amazing.
As they are Bluetooth headphones, they give you 6 hours usage time per charge. While it may appear a touch on the lower side, you have to consider the size of these headphones. They are small and compact and if compared to the rival earbuds such as Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless headphones (4 hours battery) or the costly and more lavish Apple AirPods Pro (5 hours battery), it certainly gives you more playback time per charge.
Best Gaming: SteelSeries Arctis Pro Headphone
Ratings: 4.3 | Type: Wired
Steel Series Arctis Pro is one of the most expensive headset from the manufacturer. It is a wireless model that promises to deliver you all the lows and highs from a sound signal that you desire. If you are a traveler or a person who uses headphone for longer durations, you will find this a perfect fit. You get a 10+ hours battery but the catch here is that you don’t get one but two batteries. So, you can use one in the headset while put other on the charging dock to charge.
Moreover, test this for in-game sound or go with your favorite music, the Arctis Pro has the ability to do great in all the different aspects. What else? You can use it in combination with the SteelSeries Engine 3 software that gives you a chance to customize and enhance the sound for a better experience. You get many presets such as gaming, cinema, studio, etc.
However, comfort is an aspect where this headphone leaves a bit to be desired. The adjustment option is missing and you will have a hard time with these if you have a bigger head. As for small to medium sized heads, this would be good to use. It's one of the best budget-friendly gaming headsets you can get.
Best Bluetooth: Bose QC 35 II Headphone
Ratings: 4.6 | Type: Combo
Are you searching for headphones that you can use for movie, gaming, and music? Well, take a look at the Bose Quiet Comfort 35. It is a headphone to address all your needs as you get lavish listening. The wireless operation makes it hassle free to manage and the soft padding assures usage for longer durations. The Alexa compatibility is given to you so that you can use your voice to control Alexa without any trouble.
Also, if you do recordings in a studio or play multi-player games, you can certainly benefit from its dual mic system. The active noise cancellation is another sought after feature that audiophiles seek. As far as the listening matters, initial profile appears pretty balanced.
For additional customization and configuration, you can use the Bose Connect app. It helps in changing the configuration and personalizing the headphones to suit your use. You can also share your music through it. Overall, it's among the finest Bluetooth headphones out there.
beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Studio Headphone
Ratings: 4.5 | Type: Wired
Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro is a headphone that provides quality sound output at optimal price. For music lovers that don’t want to spend a lot on headphones, this can be an ideal choice. The design features an open back stereo sound with a comfortable wear. You will find the calibration to boost bass and create a spacious sound without compromising a single bit on the power of treble. Therefore, you can use it for different applications.
Overall, you will find the sound pretty balanced. The comfort is great and the sound is rich. However, the fact that they are open back means they lack noise cancellation. So, it won’t be idea to use it on the go or outside in open areas as the environment sounds can interfere. Apart from that, it gives you great value for money.
HIFIMAN HE-400I Open-Back Headphone
Ratings: 4.1 | Type: Wired
Hifiman HE 400I can amaze anyone at first glance. If you take a look at the structure and design, it can appear bulky to some extent. Therefore, they may look a little uncomfortable. However, in truth, as you wear it, you will find them a lot lighter and pretty comfortable.
Additionally, the unique headband is to relieve the pressure that people feel on their head as they wear a headphone. With oversized ear cups, you get beveled pad to create space and give breathing room, making the headphone feel lighter as you put them on.
As far as the soundstage is concerned, you have a balanced output. Bass and treble experience come with detail and midrange end up being pretty crisp and clear. Passive noise cancellation is another feature to consider as it takes out the competition in a decent fashion. Moreover, as they are planar magnetic headphones, the sound quality is improved to a great extent.
Top Headphones Buying Guide
So, it is all about your choice and how you choose a good headphone that determines its performance. Here, we have a ton of different models for you that fall in the category of best headphones under 500. Take a good look at all the models and benefit from our guide below on how to choose a good headphone. Don’t be swayed by the fancy outlook and catchphrases that can trap you and pursue you to make a wrong decision.
What are some different types of headphones?
Before we proceed further to our picks, it is important to get to know about different types of headphones. It may be hard to distinguish for you between various types but you should know what makes a headphone different from another model.
The closed back models come with a back that is sealed thoroughly in order to channelize the sound appropriately. This way, it reaches exactly to the point where intended and goes through the ear at the right spot. However, you may notice a slight bit of variation in the sound as tones may not appear natural.
But these headphones are very good at blocking the background noise. Therefore, you end up with better clarity. Consequently, there is a down side that you may feel a bit isolated from the environment.
Open back headphones are completely opposite of the ones listed above. Here, you have an open back which means that there isn’t any barrier between the drivers of your headphone and your environment. Some models even allow you to have a peek inside of the headphones.
These headphones give you a wider sound and give you a chance to head the ambient sounds too. Also, there is an open back which assures that the headphones are less bulky. However, you may experience a poorer sound quality and the real world sound from your environment can get mixed with the sound output from headphones. Moreover, the sound leak is another aspect that you should notice before picking an open back headphone.
On Ear, as the name suggests, are the headphones that cover your entire ear. They are also known as Supra-aural and they can appear to be bulky. Yet, these headphones are compact when you compare it to the over-ear counterparts.
As you use these headphones, you are taken into another world where there is minimal sound leak and background sound. However, the fact that they are bulky means you may have a hard time handling these headphones.
On ear headphones stay on your ear while the over ear headphones will go over and around your ear. Known as circus-aural, these headphones will completely seal your ears, enclosing them to provide great bass response and superb sound experience.
However, if you are looking for headphones that you can use for longer durations, this might not be the best choice it is because your ears are enclosed and sweat and discomfort can be a serious issue especially if the padding is not comfy. But the better shape, form, and superior sound experience make it a preferred choice for many people and also a costly type of headphones.
In ear headphones are also known as the in-ear monitors or canal phones. These do not sit over or around your ear. Instead, they have the tips inserted in the ear so that the sound can go straight to your eardrums. They are compact and easy to carry which makes it a great companion for your travel. However, they may not be good for people who share the earphones.
Earbuds are also very compact and they get inserted in your ears. These are regarded as the modern headphones and generally they are wireless. People who are continuously moving around can benefit from their compact size and wireless operations.
However, they are not very hygienic and depending on the build quality they also pose some threat to your ear if you use it for longer durations.
Generally, these headphones fall in one of the above categories when it comes to the structure. But people label it as Bluetooth headphones because of the fact that they operate on Bluetooth technology for connectivity and help you to get rid of wired connections. However, as for the structure, you have to rely on the information given above.
While these headphones give you a wire free connectivity, the signal is prone to interference. But that is certainly a very rare case.
Another label that you will see with many headphones is the ‘noise cancelling’ as they help you filter the background noise. So, these headphones are likely to block the noise from ambient environment with the help of soundproofing techniques and create a space for you to enjoy foreground sound only.
However, you are certainly at risk because you can be swayed with the audio and lose touch with your surroundings. So, it may give you great sound experience but you have to be very careful when you use such headphones.
As you plan on buying a headphone, there are a few questions you must ask before you finalize your pick.
How will you use the headphones?
First of all, determine how are you going to use the headphones. Whether you use it for gaming or while you are travelling? Or you will just sit in your gaming chair and proceed with the games? It is going to influence the type of headphones you should buy.
What type of headphones you need?
As you know how will you be using them, the next thing to determine is what type of headphones you need. Take a look at the section given above to know different types of headphones and their pros and cons. Know the type of structure you need? In Ear or Over the Ear or Ear Buds?
Wired or wireless?
Wired connections are great for full strength signals as wireless connections may receive some interference. However, the wireless connections give you freedom of movement. What else? You may get the best of both worlds as some of the best headphones under 500 offer both wired and wireless connectivity.
Closed back or open back? Which one to buy?
Closed back comes with all sealed structure and no to minimal outside interference is seen. However, the experience might not be natural. On the other hand, you get open back that let some ambient environment noise pass through but gives more of a natural sound output.
How to choose best headphones under 500?
The following are some simple steps to identify which headphone will work best for you.
Know how you are going to use the headphones
Start by knowing how you are going to use the headphones. There are people who will use the headphones for gaming and movies. Then you will find individuals that look towards purchasing the earphones for workout and evening strolls in the park. Moreover, there are people who use it for professional work such as some tasks in studios. So, knowing your use will ease the choice as you will get to know which sort of headphones will be best for you.
Do note that if you are using headphones for multiple tasks, use that you do most at the point to determine what sort of headphones you need.
The type of headphone
There are different types of headphones and we can categorize in a few different ways. First of all, you need to know about the wearing style which includes over the ear, on ear, and in ear headphones.
Over the ear headphones leave a bit of space between your ear and speakers and give you a concert or studio kind of experience. On ear headphones give great balance between the sound you are listening and the environment where you are present. In ear fits inside your canals and are compact, easy to carry, less bulkier option which if preferred by many individuals.
Open back vs. closed back
This is where most people will find themselves confused as the difference between the two can be best noticed if you use them. The closed back headphones seal the sound to assure no leaks and provide you great output. However, they may not sound all natural. But they are labelled leak proof as no to minimal sound is leaked to the environment.
Open back, on the other hand, leaks some of the sound to the environment. Also, they may let the environment noise interfere with your experience. However, the vented holes can create a more spacious soundstage.
Wired vs. wireless
While this is all about personal preference, the wired headphones carry signal in a better way. Therefore, they can carry more details about the sound. On the other hand, wireless connectivity may lead to some signal interference. Still, you can purchase a wireless headphone and use AUX cable as most of the wireless models also offer wired connectivity.
Noise cancellation is another critical aspect to consider because you don’t want the outside noise to interfere with your experience. Therefore, noise cancellation is a critical aspect that you should consider and different manufacturers imply various technologies to take care of it.
Additional headphone options include the amplifiers usage, digital to analog conversion, cables, stands, and compatibility with existing sound systems. These are some of the extras that you may want to consider but aren’t absolutely necessary. You can learn more on HeadphonesAholic's guides.
So, this is all about best headphones under 500, our picks, and how you can select the one that suits you best. Make sure that you choose the model depending on your usage and needs. Don’t just blindly pick a headphone because your friend has it and he or she speaks highly of it. It is you who are going to use it so it must be you to determine whether it is going to work good or not.
- 1 Quick Answer: Top-Rated Best Headphones Under 500 in 2021
- 2 Best Overall: Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphone
- 3 Best Buy: Bowers & Wilkins PX Headphone
- 4 Best Budget: Sennheiser HD 4.50 Headphone
- 5 Best Noise Cancelling: Sony WH1000XM3 Headphone
- 6 Best Studio: Sennheiser HD 660 S Headphone
- 7 Best Over Ear: AKG Pro Audio K712 Headphone
- 8 Best In-Ear: Sony WF-1000XM3 Headphone
- 9 Best Gaming: SteelSeries Arctis Pro Headphone
- 10 Best Bluetooth: Bose QC 35 II Headphone
- 11 beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO Studio Headphone
- 12 HIFIMAN HE-400I Open-Back Headphone
- 13 Top Headphones Buying Guide