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Best wired headphones in 2024

In the increasingly wireless world, springing for a pair of wired headphones might seem a bit counter-intuitive, or at least eye-wateringly retro. However, this cannot be farther from the truth, as wired headphones still have numerous advantages over their cordless brethren.


These advantages, of course, start with the sound quality and connection stability, but go much farther than that, spanning through more varied designs, better prices, longer lifespan, and finally, many more devices to choose from. If you really want to get into mindful music listening, staying wired is still the way to go.

Related

After using wired headphones for 2 months, I get why old tech is new again

Going back to wired headphones offered more convenience and quality listening than I thought, but wireless buds still do one thing better.

So, whether you’re a beginner-audiophile looking for a first set of decent wired cans, or a seasoned music lover looking for another pair to grace your headphones rack, here are the best wired headphones you can get right now.


Best wired headphones: Our top picks

  • Sennheiser HD 660S2

    Sennheiser HD 660S2

    Best overall

    The old mate Senny

    The Sennheiser HD 660S2’s offer balanced sound mixed with top-tier soundstage, making for an immersive listening experience. They deliver clear trebles and bass, with a bit of a drop-off at sub-bass as a result of their open-back construction. A gateway into the world of premium sound, they deliver amazing performance at (in the audiophhile world) a reasonable price.

  • Sony MDR 7506

    Sony MDR-7506

    Best for balanced sound

    Hear the sound as the artist intended

    Since their debut in 1991, the Sony MDR-7506 have been a recording studio staple. They deliver a neutral, detailed sound ideal for close listening and mixing. If you appreciate every note’s detail and want to hear music just as the artist intended, they are an incredible choice for a reasonable price — as far as studio headphones go.

  • AKG K702

    AKG K702

    Best for wide soundstage

    Get lost in your music

    AKG’s K702 open-back headphones are a prime example of the company’s industry-leading soundstage. They have a treble-forward sound with a bit of a fall-off at sub-bass, which means that music with pronounced vocals will sound top-tier using them. Add to it extremely wide soundstage and excellent imaging, and you’ll easily get lost in your music with these cans.

  • Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

    Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO

    Best value

    The name of the game is price-to-performance

    The Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro are a staple of every best headphones lineup thanks to their incredible price-to-performance ratio and excellent sound. These closed-back headphones offer a reasonably V-shaped sound profile, with both trebles and bass emphasized slightly for a more fun sound profile. Coupled with detailed sound and a reasonable price, these are an excellent value pair.

  • Moondrop Blessing

    Moondrop Blessing 3

    Best IEMs

    Small headphones, big sound

    The Moondrop Blessing 3 offer a neutral, detailed sound in a sturdy yet low-profile body. Their mix of dynamic and armature drivers ensures great soundscape coverage, and their low weight and over-ear hooks promote comfortable wear. Their detachable cable also adds a touch of versatility, as you can add an in-line mic for all your calling needs, too.

  • Superlux HD 681

    Superlux HD 681

    Best budget headphones

    Get into great audio on a budget

    For often less than $50, the Superlux HD681 sound incredible — with detailed sound and wide soundstage thanks to the semi-open design. They have pronounced trebles and well-balanced mids, with a bit of a falloff at sub-bass, but still enough low-end performance not to sound harsh. They are a staple of budget audio proving great sound can come cheap.

  • Kiwi Ears Cadenza

    Linsoul Kiwi Ears Cadenza

    Best budget IEMs

    Great at heart

    The Kiwi Ears Cadenza are a shining example why Chi-Fi (Chinese Hi-Fi) devices are so valued. For a fraction of the price of the competition, the Kiwi Ears offer an excellent, sound that could easily compete with competition several times their price. Their audio profile is a bit V-shaped without going overboard with neither trebles nor bass.

  • Grado SR80X

    Grado SR80X

    Best on-ear headphones

    Bright and cheerful

    The Grado SR80X offer a fairly balanced sound in low to mid-range, with a noticeable bump in trebles, resulting in a breezy, bright sound that suits string instruments and vocals well. They might not block much outside noise and heavily leak sound, but their lightweight construction and detailed sound make for a great set of headphones.

  • HiFiMan Arya

    HiFiMan Arya Stealth

    Best planar magnetic headphones

    High-end audio here we come

    The HiFiMan Arya are an excellent example why planar magnetic headphones are so popular in the high-end audio space. Thanks to their unique drivers they deliver exceptionally detailed and clear sound that is difficult to match with dynamic drivers, all the while staying balanced and neutral throughout the whole soundscape.


Bottom line: What are the best wired headphones?

Overall, we believe that the Sennheiser HD660S2 are the best wired headphones to buy right now. They provide amazing, neutral sound that will suit most of the music you’re listening to, all while also providing you with an extremely detailed experience, worthy of real audiophile headphones. Thanks to their open-back design, they also have an excellent soundstage, which coupled with top-tier imaging makes for a very immersive listening experience.

Sennheiser HD 660S2 1

Sennheiser HD 660S2

$400 $600 Save $200

That being said, there are many more great choices when getting a pair of wired headphones. If you value a wide soundstage, the AKG K702 are an excellent pick, while if you’re looking for a pair of flat, balanced studio monitors, the Sony MDR7506 are a mixing booth mainstay for a reason.

If you’d rather keep your budget down, the Superlux HD 681 are an excellent choice that often goes under $50, and if you prefer IEMs, the Linsoul Kiwi Ears Cadenza punch way above their price tag. Speaking of IEMs, the Moondrop Blessing are a perfect choice if you’re prepared to spend a bit more on a pair of in-ear buds.


FAQ

Q: What are the advantages of wired headphones?

Generally, wired headphones excel when it comes to sound quality and price. They sound much better than their wireless counterparts for the same price, as manufacturers don’t need to pack them with additional hardware, such as batteries or Bluetooth receivers, amplifiers, etc. You can also get a great sounding pair of wired headphones for much less than wireless ones, for exactly the same reason.

Wires are also, still, more reliable when it comes to connection quality and stability. You don’t have to risk any connection issues due to range or interference, nor do you have to worry about different audio codecs being able to fully utilize your high-quality music files.

Q: What type of headphones should I choose?

Choosing to grab a pair of wired headphones is one thing, but choosing what kind to get is another struggle altogether. All of them have their pros and cons, and choosing one to suit your needs is the key to being happy with your purchase. Here are the basic types of wired headphones and what they’re great at:


  • Open-back headphones – They excel at providing a wide soundstage and imaging, as well as bright trebles and clear mids. However, they tend to struggle with lower sound frequencies.
  • Closed-back headphones – They are great at providing clear, natural sounding bass and sub-bass, as well as balanced sound in other areas. However, it’s more difficult to get a wider soundstage with closed-back headphones.
  • Over-ear headphones – Over-ear headphones are the cans that sit around your years, usually providing you with the most comfort and your ears more room to breathe, which is great for longer listening sessions. However, they are the biggest and bulkiest type of headphones.
  • On-ear headphones – On-ear headphones sit on your ears, which means they can be much smaller and lighter than over-ear designs. However, they are also often less comfortable when you wear them longer, and provide worse passive sound sealing.
  • IEMs or in-ear headphones/earbuds – IEMs are the standard in-ear buds, typically with silicone tips. They are the smallest, most portable type of headphones with the most varied sound, ranging from bass-heavy, to balanced, to really bright picks. However, they sometimes lag behind when it comes to soundstage and imaging.
  • Planar magnetic headphones – when you get into more advanced (and pricier) headphones, you start hearing about planar-magnetic drivers. These are essentially another type of driver (or the speaker inside your headphones) that, instead of using magnets and a plastic dome, uses a thin film with printed-on wires. This makes planar-magnetic drivers generally much more precise than dynamic drivers, but they’re also more pricey and require more powerful amps to drive.


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