12 Best Headphones Under $400 in 2018
Audiophiles have a lot of options when looking for the best headphones under $400. In fact, it can be overwhelming considering there are well over a dozen brands at the head of the pack with dozens more falling slightly below. That means consumers need to trim things down a bit, which is what we’ve done for you in this guide.
Here, you can compare 12 of the top headphones in this class side by side, including options that go over your ears as well as ones that sit in your ear canal. There are also high-end headphones for all types of listeners including consumers that prefer to mixing tracks over listening to them and portable solutions for users that stay on the go.
Top 12 Headphones Under $400 Comparison Chart
|1. Sennheiser HD 650 Open Back Professional Headphone||Open-Back||No||4.6|
|2. Shure SRH1440 Professional Open Back Headphones||Open-Back||No||4.6|
|3. Sony MDR7550 Professional In-Ear Headphones||In-Ear||No||4.5|
|4. Beyerdynamic DT 990 Edition 600 ohm HiFi headphones||Open-Back||Open-Back||4.5|
|5. Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones||Closed-Back||Yes||4.4|
|6. V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphone||Closed-Back||No||4.4|
|7. Bose SoundLink around-ear wireless headphones II Black||Closed-Back||Yes||4.4|
|8. Sennheiser IE80 Headphone||In-Ear||No||4.2|
|9. Sony Premium Noise Cancelling||Closed-Back||Yes||4.2|
|10. RHA T20i High Fidelity with remote and microphone Dual Coil In-Ear Headphone||In-Ear||No||4.1|
|11. Beats Studio Wireless Over-Ear Headphone||Closed-Back||Yes||4.0|
|12. Shure SE425-CL Sound Isolating Earphones||In-Ear||Yes||3.9|
Where Will You Use Your Headphones the Most?
This is going to be a relatively straightforward question for most. Do you listen to most of your music from the comfort of your home on the couch or in your favorite chair? If so, you will probably want to go for an Over-Ear style of headphone as they usually have more oomph than earbuds. They also have longer cables, something that’s key depending on how long your equipment is from your seating.
Consumers that like to travel with their tunes can still go Over-Ear, but that cord is going to cause a problem. Thankfully, there are wireless models as well, and some have a slim profile that allows them to be worn anywhere you roam. The In-Ear headphone style is, of course, your top choice for the best headphones under $400 if you want to stay portable, but are not ideal for use with home audio systems due to the cord length.
While there are several exotic styles of headphones including neckbands, we chose two types of headphones with Over-Ear and In-Ear. That said, each has its own set of options, which means there are some things to consider when choosing between models. Every headphone in this range will sound amazing, so it comes down to options.
Over-Ear – This style of headphone has large cups or cans that sit over your ear to create a solid seal against the outside world. The size means more power and larger drivers, and they can come in both wired and wireless models. You’ll get more impedance and better specs overall with this style in most cases.
In-Ear – Just like their larger brethren, you can also get these sans wires. At this price point, options include detachable/replaceable cables that allow you to change the tone and memory wire. This allows you to conform the wire over your ear which helps it stay in place while you move.
We talked about how you need to consider where you’ll wear your new headphones and briefly spoke of the features to expect from the styles. Now it’s time for comfort, arguably the most important factor in your buying decision. Unless you suffer from hot head syndrome, a lightweight Over-Ear model is going to be your best bet for extended listening.
Padded earcups can come covered with anything from velvet to leather, so think about what you want touching your ears for hours on end. In-Ear headphones may irritate your ear canals after extended periods of time, but high-end models are going to be more comfortable than you’d think. They also come with a full array of ear tips which ensures a perfect and comfortable fit for almost everyone.
Top 5 Best Headphones Under $400 Reviews
Sennheiser is a brand that will show up regardless of the price point you’ve set – unless you’re going cheap that is. They make high-end headphones for audiophiles, and the Sennheiser HD 650’s were our top choice for the best headphones under $400.
We chose these headphones as our top pick for two reasons in audio quality and comfort. Any style of music you listen to will sound amazing through these cans which have aluminum voice coils and drivers that can handle a frequency range of 10 – 39,500Hz. That’s top of the line, but so are the rest of the tech specs as they have an impedance of 300 ohms and a THD (total harmonic distortion) of 0.05%. They sit over the ear with large cushioned cups and tip the scales at 9.1 ounces. That’s light, which makes them perfect for long listening sessions. Unfortunately, there is one feature that will keep these from being a universal choice for everyone.
The Sennheiser HD 650 is an open-back headphone so that some sound will get out, and ambient noise will get in. While this is a favorite style among musicians and some listeners, they are not for everyone; especially if you don’t want others to listen in.
There’s only so much a manufacturer can do when it comes to headphone style. Most over-ear headphones have a similar design although occasionally we see something different. We’re still not sure where the Shure SRH1440 Professional Headphones fit in, but they are unique compared to the rest of the equipment in this class.
These headphones have a modern or even futuristic style with large open-back cups that house 40mm drivers. The cups are slightly angled towards the chin with a bit of a swivel to ensure a perfect fit. The cups are padded with a soft material that will keep your ears comfy, and the same can be said for the top of the headband as well. It’s padded to protect the top of your skull from the steel frame and built to hold up through years of use. The cable is stout considering its reinforced by Kevlar and they detach on the chance they give out, or you want to go portable.
These 37-ohm headphones will put out a full-range of sound, and you shouldn’t need an amp unless you really want to take things to the next level. They are definitely on the “Pro” level but far from what we would consider portable as they don’t break down well and come with a sturdy, but large hard case.
Our first set of high-end earbuds originates from an unexpected but welcome source in Sony. The company has produced many headphones over the years, but most of their audiophile quality products are a bit larger than these. The Sony MDR7550 are Pro model earbuds that are discreet but still pack quite the punch.
While these headphones don’t have the stylish looks of some in-ear units in this class, we’re here to talk about sound quality. These babies have 16mm drivers housed in an ergonomic shell and wires that conform over the top of your ear. They won’t “hang down” like traditional earbuds although that’s not unusual for in-ear monitors of this style. The Sony MDR7550 drivers can cover a frequency range between 3 – 28kHz with a sensitivity of 108 dB/mW and rated at 16 ohms. They can also handle a whopping 500mW of power, which is impressive given their small stature.
Like other in-ear options at his price point, you can detach the cables from the Sony MDR7550. That’s a big bonus with any earphones as it allows you to change the tone in some cases while also extending the lifespan of the product. On the downside, there isn’t any variance with the type of ear tips included although you do get a carrying case.
Sometimes 30 or even 50 ohms isn’t going to be enough for your needs. Consumers that need a high-powered solution for their home audio system will appreciate what Beyerdynamic brings to the table with the DT 990 Premium Headphones.
The DT 990s are headphones built for those that need the best and need it at high volume levels. These come in three different models although we opted for the 600-ohm variant this time around. They have a more classic style with thick padded cups that sit over the year. They are “semi” open-back with sturdy aluminum yokes, which means you will have to deal with sound leakage, but it will be worth it once you hear the sound quality. Tech specs of interest for this model include a frequency response of 5 – 35,000Hz, sound pressure level of 96 dB, and a weight of only 290 grams.
These headphones have been fan favorites for decades, and there’s a good reason for that. They sound amazing, are comfortable for extended listening, and you can buy parts for almost any component, so they can virtually last forever. If 600 ohms is overkill for your system, you can also scoop these up in 32 or 250 ohms.
We’ve spend an ample amount of time discussing cables and how nice it is when they detach. You know what’s nicer? When you don’t have cables at all. The Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones are wireless and work through the magic of Bluetooth aptX. They also produce some of the sweetest sounds you’ve ever heard.
Most of the headphones we chose are portable to a degree, but only a handful are wireless. The P7’s have a strong battery that can provide up to 17 hours of music before needing to be recharged. They also fold up and will leave a small footprint in your bag when you decide to take them on the road. The build quality is first class with an aluminum frame and leather cups with the hinges being the only point of concern as is usually the case. Thankfully, that won’t be an issue with the P7’s as B&O put a lot of thought into the design and there’s a 2-year warranty to boot.
The only drawback with the Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones is the fact they are wireless, so eventually, they will run out of power. When that happens, you will have a universal cable on hand to extend your listening experience although the battery life is top-tier as it stands. The P7’s come with a case, charging cable, and the aforementioned universal cable and are available in a wired model as well.