Are you the type of student who fears the onslaught of silence? If that’s you, a good pair of headphones will encapsulate your ears for as long as you like, with calm music for mindfulness or blaring pop to provide a sense of euphoria. Many swear by headphones to immerse themselves in the Stranger Things experience, while others seek music to help them concentrate on their studies.
Whatever your intended use case is for a pair of headphones, they come in millions of different shapes and sizes, so finding a pair perfect for you takes some careful consideration. Adding to that complexity is the increasing popularity of Bluetooth headphones that make their wired counterparts look archaic in comparison, and liberate us when we need to move away from our smartphones for a minute. Of course, there will be some who cherish the existence of wired headphones, pointing to their superior sound quality and lack of need to charge as major advantages over the new crop of Bluetooth devices.
The key pillars that intertwine with one another to create an excellent pair of headphones include an ergonomic, lightweight and collapsible design, a solid and balanced audio experience and, perhaps, most importantly, comfort. These pillars are found in few headphones, at any price, and achieving a combination of the above will leave your ears craving for more music or podcasts.
5 Best Overall Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM2
Sony’s WH-1000XM2 Bluetooth headphones are on the higher end of pricing, and many will be immediately deterred by their high asking price of over €220. However, if you can manage to swallow the price, your ears will thank you for splurging on a top-class audio experience. These headphones stand out in so many different ways, not least in the department of audio and noise cancelling performance.
The polycarbonate design is durable and functional thanks to the ability to collapse the headphones for travel. In the realm of comfort, this device will allow you to jam to the beat for hours on end, with extremely soft padding flanking the headphone interior. And the excellent battery life, which stands at over twenty hours, means you can relax in music utopia for longer than your phone’s battery will last. A range of active noise cancellation features enhances the experience, allowing you to hear more music and less background noise. In-depth tests show that these headphones block out more ambient sounds than most of their competitors. When you want to travel back to reality, activating Quick Attention Mode allows you to hear like you would without wearing the headphones. In practice, this is a strange but extremely useful feature. There is also an Ambient noise mode that floods your ears with ambient sounds in the mid to high tones so you can hear announcements from speakers.
Sony has pulled out all the stops when it comes to the quality of audio playback, with the device supporting LDAC for HiRes Music experiences. There is a fine balance between treble and bass with these on-ear headphones, and the inclusion of NFC puts the cherry on top for those that use an Android smartphone. If you’ve got the cash, these headphones won’t disappoint and you’ll find yourself wanting to purchase a second pair as soon as you indulge in the stellar performance delivered by Sony’s active Noise Cancellation magic.
4 Best Budget Headphones: TaoTronics BH223.
I’ve used these headphones extensively for over one year now, and every time I listen to Spotify with them, I ask myself the same question. How has TaoTronics managed to design an excellent device, with no glaring flaws, and keep the price below €60? The polycarbonate design is durable, and after one year of usage, I have no issues to report whatsoever. The ear padding is exceptionally comfortable, even after long listening sessions.
As a student, having the ability to collapse these headphones and carry them in a pocket as small as that found in my coat is brilliant. What’s also brilliant is the inclusion of a large carrying case for the headphones. This case features a clamshell design with a nylon texture and provides ample room for storing the headphones and their Micro-USB charging cable. Thankfully, you won’t need to reach for that charging cable often because the battery life provided by these headphones is phenomenal for the price, easily lasting over ten hours. If for some reason, you want to use a wired connection, there is a 3.5mm port located on the lower end of the headphones, alongside a microphone for calls.
Now, on to the part that can make or break a headphone product, the audio quality. Straight up, I think you will struggle to find another pair of headphones that resonates your ears with sounds quite as nice as those provided by this device, within the budget price range. The deep bass will satisfy many, and the volume offered is far in excess of what most people desire. Furthermore, the active noise cancelling feature does what you would expect it to, blocking unwanted ambient sounds in the car well. If you are seeking a quality audio experience on a budget, pick these headphones up.
3 Best Budget Headphones: Sony MDR-XB950AP
with a 3.5mm jack
Sony’s prestigious history in audio is well documented, and many will recognise the company as one of the most trusted brands in the tech world. Products from the Japanese giant are perceived to be of high quality and are priced to meet that reputation. However, with this particular pair of headphones, which are one of the best selling on Amazon right now, Sony provides a quality product at an affordable price of just over €60.
For those of you, a dying breed, that still reaches for the wire when it comes to headphones and lament the war on the 3.5mm port, Sony caters for you with this product. Listen to Serial to your heart’s content because these headphones don’t require a charge, and heck, there isn’t even a single button to be found on the device’s exterior. Oh, and that exterior is typical Sony quality, which is to say, fantastic. A two-tone black polycarbonate design with subtle red accents means you can jam to the beats in style, and the over-ear design with soft padding will leave you feeling comfortable for long periods of time.
With almost half a thousand reviews on Amazon giving this product an astounding rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars, it is clear that Sony has done something terribly right with these headphones. No surprise, the excellent audio performance is one of those rights, with great separation between the highs and lows and good bass. Quite simply, for this price, you will be blown away by the audio performance that Sony has managed to deliver.
2 Best Bluetooth Earphones: Taotronics Wireless aptX Earbuds
I was tempted to include Apple’s Airpods in this section of the article because the company has essentially inspired a tidal wave of new Bluetooth earphone products in lieu of their introduction. However, at €180, I doubt many students will be willing to pay a price as high as that for a device that can find itself missing in a matter of seconds.
Instead, Taotronics IPX6 Waterproof Wireless aptX Stereo Magnetic In-Ear Earbuds, are a better option for most students out there. These earphones are perfect to use while exercising thanks to their sweat resistant and lightweight design. The ear hooks which are attached above each earphone provide greater stability in the ear, meaning the risk of these becoming loose is dramatically lower than with other earphones. Another blessing is the magnetic lock which is created when both earphones are joined together, providing you with a device that remains tangle-free and compact at all times.
At €20, these earphones are priced within most people’s reach, and the surprisingly brilliant battery life of up to seven hours is sure to set a glimmer alight in your eyes. With soft silicone tips that nestle in your ear and are comfortable, replaceable and high-quality, it’s tough to fault this product. Bluetooth 4.2, which is not the latest generation of the technology (5), is still very prevalent in today’s world, and most devices in this price range do not boast a Bluetooth modem which is as modern as that found in this. Sound quality is on point, with sufficient volume to drown even the loudest of treadmills, and a great balance between treble and bass. As a student, you will need a pair of earphones, and these ones are perfect for those that don’t want to spend much on a good pair.
1 Best Budget Wired Earphones: Betron B25
Betron’s B25 earphones pack a mighty punch for a device costing under €10. A braided wire ensures you can listen to your music without the fear of these earphones being damaged and the brushed aluminium design on the earbuds creates a device that looks several times their actual price. The interchangeable silicone tips keep your ears feeling comfortable, and the addition of rubber coverings at the wire ends is a neat touch for improved longevity.
The absence of an in-line remote may frustrate some, but I tend to think that some manufacturers over-do the functionality of their remotes, leading to a clunky and obtrusive design. Another feature which many will despair to learn is missing is a microphone, so these earphones won’t necessarily help you on your calls or video chats. That said, the volume offered is top-class, and so too is the sound quality for the price.
Reviews rave about the surprisingly great treble and pronounced highs, not to mention, the good bass provided. These will conform to any ear, as they include a set of three silicone tips out of the box, something that isn’t found on some more expensive earphones. You can play rough with these earphones because if they break, you need not shed a tear for the price you pay. These earphones are cheap and cheerful, nothing more and nothing less.