12 Best Headphones Under $500 in 2017

Headphones can be incredibly cheap, and you don’t have to look hard to find a pair under $10 these days. You’ll get what you pay for in most cases at that level, and it is not what we would refer to as high-def audio. If you are an audiophile in need of a new set of cans or earbuds, you’ll appreciate our list of the best headphones under $500.

Our list is comprised of headphones that will sound great whether you are listening to Hendrix, The Future or your own mix tape. They’ll work with gaming systems and other gadgets as well although most of our choices are geared more towards home audio systems and pocket-based music machines.

Top 12 Headphones Under $500 Comparison Table  

DesignNameStyleTypeRating (1-5)
  1. Sennheiser HD 700 Headphone Over-Ear Open Back Wired 4.6
  2. Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones Over-Ear Wireless 4.4
  3. Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones Over-Ear Either 4.4
  4. Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones On-Ear Wireless 4.4
  5. Sennheiser IE80 Headphone Earbud Wired Wired
6. Sony Premium Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Wireless 4.2
7. V-MODA Crossfade Wireless Plus Wired Over-Ear Bluetooth Headphone Over-Ear Wireless 4.2
8. Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless Bluetooth Headphone Over-Ear Wireless 4.1
  9. Beats Studio Wireless Over-Ear Headphone Over-Ear Wireless 4.1
  10. OV: World’s First Alexa Enabled Bluetooth Headphones Neckband Wireless 4.1
  11. Westone W40 Quad Driver Universal Fit Noise-Isolating EarphonesWestone W40 Quad Driver Universal Fit Noise-Isolating Earphones Earbud Wired 4.0
  12. Shure SE425-V Sound Isolating Earphones Earbud Wired 4.0

Get the Best Bang for Your Buck with Our Guide

When you enter the realm of expensive audio equipment, things can get a little hairy – especially with headphones. We’ve narrowed the field with our table, and our tips will slim your selection even further.

Headphone Style

If you are new to the world of high-powered audio equipment, you may think you have to wear a huge set of cans to get amazing sound. Well, that is not the case thanks to new technology which allows manufacturers to keep things small. That means you can walk the streets with slim hi-def headphones although you still need to consider two main styles.

  • Over-Ear – These have large cups that fit over your ears and form a seal to drown out the sound. They can be closed-back with built in noise suppression tech to isolate you or have an open-back. They let in a little noise, but also leak sound out as well. A similar style is On-Ear, which sits on your ear instead of around it.
  • Earbuds – While not nearly as common, you can still find high-end earbuds that really pound out the sound. They often come with perks you won’t find on lower priced models including snap-away cables or interchangeable cones that can alter the tone. Neckbands also fall into this category as the earbuds are used the band as a hub.

Usage

Where do you plan on using your new headphones the most? If you need a top-notch pair for the gym or track, you obviously want to go the in-ear route when looking for the best headphones under $500. You may also want to consider looking for sweat-proof headphones or ones that come with cleaning tools. If you like the style of earbuds and want to try something different neckbands are an attractive option as well.

Music lovers that tend to listen to several albums at a time will want to look at over-ear headphones. The only real concern with this style would be getting “hot head” syndrome although most models in this class combat that with the overall build and the materials used. Heat aside, you will want to make sure the cans are comfortable and don’t pinch pressure points if you are going to listen for hours on end.

Connectivity

This comes down to Bluetooth or Wired headphones and is more of a personal preference than anything. Battery life on Bluetooth headphones has gotten to the point where you don’t need to worry about running for a charger. Most people don’t listen to music or use headphones for 7-8 hours which makes battery life a moot point for some. If you fall into that category, you may want to go wireless.

Wired headphones never need to be charged, and you don’t have to worry about a faulty battery throwing a monkey wrench into things. On the downside, wires on Pro style headphones can be quite long and tripped over with ease. Unless the headphones come with detachable cables, think about how much you plan on moving around while wearing your new earbuds or headphones.

Top 5 Best Headphones Under $500 Reviews

1. Sennheiser HD 700 Headphone

Sennheiser is a name audiophiles will be very familiar with, so it’s no surprise they find themselves at the top of our best headphones under $500 list. Their first entry is the HD 700 headphones, which come in on the high end of our pricing spectrum. There’s a good reason for that, however, and that reason is quality.

The Sennheiser HD 700’s are built for comfort and tuned for high-quality audio thanks to an angled acoustic baffle and ventilated magnet system. From the 40mm Duofol drivers to the four-wire copper cable, the company has used top-tier components in the build quality. Important tech specs to note include a frequency response of 10Hz – 42kHz, an impedance of 150 ohms, and a weight of 3.5 pounds. On the downside, they are not wireless, so you will need to stay tethered to your audio equipment.

Sennheiser’s headset is perfect for consumers looking for a comfortable pair of headphones suited for long listening sessions. These are extremely comfortable on your ears for hours on end and are pretty nice looking to boot. While they are Over-Ear headphones, they have an open-back design, so sound will leak out.

2. Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones

Bose is another fan favorite in the high-end headphone world, and the QuietComfort 35 headphones are their best in this class. Well, actually they are arguably the best pair of headphones they make period. They have built-in active noise canceling which makes them outstanding in noisy environments, and these bad boys are wireless.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones are rated at around 20 hours of battery life on a charge. We put that closer to 17-18, but it’s still impressive, and you can always opt for a wired mode when the battery runs out. The ANC tech requires juice as well, so you can go 40 hours in wired mode with noise canceling active. These headphones sound great even at higher volume and include a microphone for taking calls and are Android Control compatible. While there’s no Lightning connector for wired mode, NFC and Bluetooth allow you to use these with almost any gadget.

There is really no downside to this particular headset, and they leave a little room left at our price point so you can load up on music as well. The Bose QuietComfort 35’s are available in Black or Silver and come with a sturdy carrying case with an extra pocket for accessories.

3. Bowers & Wilkins P7 Headphones

If you appreciate the finest things in life, you will definitely dig the Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones. As you would expect, they sound outstanding but are built like a luxury car. The company uses aluminum to house their drivers but surrounds the metal with leather. Not just any leather mind you, but soft sheepskin leather which is going to be comfortable on your ears.

Comfort aside, these headphones sound great whether you are listening to classical tunes or Pearl Jam at full blast. They aren’t what we would consider “bass heavy” compared to some other models on our list, but nothing to scoff at in that department either with a frequency response of 10 – 20 kHz. The sensitivity is listed at 111dB while the impedance is 22 ohms. The battery life is robust as well with around 17 hours of usage before you’ll need to charge up.

Bowers & Wilkins P7 headphones are only available in black although we don’t think anyone will complain as they are a stunning set of headphones. You can choose between a wired or wireless model, however, both of which come with a built-in microphone.

4. Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphone

You’ve seen them on TV being worn by athletes and celebrities as they walk through airports or tunnels on game day. They are the Beats Solo3 headphones, and are the only set of cans on our list people will recognize on sight. We’re pleased to say they also live up to their namesake as they are built for bass.

These Bluetooth headphones buck the trend by sitting on your ears, instead of over them. While they won’t quite block out every sound from the outside world, they perform admirably and are considered more comfortable by some. They adjust and fold up for easy access when you are on the go, and the battery life is beyond solid. That’s because they are rated at a whopping 40 hours, although you’ll want to dial that number down a bit depending on your listening habits.

While wireless, the Beats Solo3’s come with a RemoteTalk cable to go along with a universal charging cable with both USB-A and Micro USB-B connectors. As a bonus, these work well with Apple products and are Siri compatible to boot.

5. Sennheiser IE80 Headphone

The majority of the headphones in this price range are either over-ear or on-ear. Sennheiser decided to go a different route with the Sennheiser IE80 headphones which are earbuds or in-ear monitors if you prefer. They are smaller than the rest of our Top 5 but still manage to put high-quality audio despite their tiny form factor.

These are no ordinary earbuds. The company designed these for consumers that need Pro quality sound, including musicians that perform on the stage. The housing is sturdy as are the cables which are interchangeable if you want to alter your tone or need a replacement. Worried about background noise? Don’t be as they have amazing attenuation to the tune of 20dB. You can actually tune the bass on this model, and it comes with more accessories than you can shake a stick at.

The minds at Sennheiser want to ensure you have a perfect fit, so they have included 10 pairs of ear tips that cover four different styles. There are ear hooks included as well to go along with a clip and cleaning tool. These may not be suited for folks with sensitive eardrums but are our top choice when it comes to premium earbuds in this range.