“I do not have ropes to hold me down, to worry me or make me frown…” You would think, wouldn’t you, that if it was good enough for Pinocchio, it should be good enough for the rest of between us ? And it’s true, there’s a lot to be said for basic comfort (in general) and string loss (in particular). Whether you use wireless headphones when you’re on the go, or wireless headphones for focused listening at home, the flexibility of movement and lack of tripping hazards or noise makes perfect sense.
Wireless headphones, however, come with a few key tradeoffs: a range within which they can operate, the risk of interference from external factors, and a potential reduction in high-resolution files. So if you’re interested in sound quality, then good old-fashioned wired headphones start to look very appealing. We’ve selected 16 pairs of wired headphones that have our backs – a mix of in-ear and over-ear headphones, and ranging from very affordable to even not affordable at all. Because let’s face it: sound is the most important thing, right?
Check out WIRED’s other audio guides, including our best noise-cancelling headphones, best wireless headphones, best cheap headphones, best earbuds, and best phones with a headphone jack.
Updated November 2023: We have added the FiiO FT3 and Campfire Audio Andromeda Emerald Sea.
Special offer for Gear readers: get a One-year subscription to CABLE for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to CABLE.com and our print magazine (if you wish). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.