Oct 21, 2023

Best wired headphones in 2023

Here are some of the best wired headphones from well-known brands like Sennheiser, Sony, and Grado

Whether you’re a music pro or a casual listener, there’s no denying that a solid pair of headphones can significantly elevate your experience. While wireless headphones are all the rage now, many still prefer wired headphones, so they don’t have to worry about finding a charger and sound quality degradation. Wired headphones also don't have any connectivity issues, and open-back or closed-back designs are available depending on where and how you plan to listen. There's a lot to choose from, but if your heart is set on wireless headphones, we've got you covered.

Grado is a well-known name in the headphones world, offering high-quality, distortion-free sound with their open-back headphones. The SR325x take this a step further with an improved driver, coil, and diaphragm - components that make the sound clearer and more immersive. In a market full of modern headphones, the SR325x also stand out due to their retro look. However, their open-back design means they leak sound, so they’re best suited for at-home listening.

The Austrian Audio Hi-X15 are ideal if you want powerful headphones on a tight budget without compromising much on sound quality. You’d think the lower price means sacrificing some sound detail, but the Hi-X15 surprise with a broad range and detailed sound, picking up on all the little instruments. Moreover, their closed-back design means sound doesn’t leak, so you can wear them in public. They’re also quite lightweight, weighing about 8.8oz (250g), making them ideal for trips and daily commutes.

Sennheiser HD 660S2 are a big investment, especially if you’re just a casual listener, but the smoother sound quality, snug fit, and lightweight build are worth it. The headphones make vocals sound quite pleasant and clear, so they’re ideal for listening to movies, podcasts, and vocal-focused songs (rather than just instrumentals). Like the Grado SR325x, they have an open-back design that leaks sound, making them more suitable for at-home listening.

Sony is one of the oldest and most popular headphone brands, especially for everyday users, because of its reliable performance and high-quality sound. The Sony MDR-Z7M2 stand out with their Fibonacci grill that reproduces accurate sound and further enhances the listening experience. The wide soundstage is another highlight here, making the sound feel expansive and 3D-like. Also, this pair is closed-back, so no sound leaks out.

The Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X are marketed to pros but offer great performance for those seeking highly detailed sound without burning a hole in their pocket. These headphones produce really clear sound, picking up on the smallest of instruments and vocals, so you can analyze and enjoy the music in greater depth. This can also work well for sound-based games, offering a more immersive experience than everyday headphones.

If you can’t choose between wired and wireless headphones, go for the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2; they do both. You can go wireless with Bluetooth 5.0 support or connect them to a device with the 3.5mm audio input. Whichever way you choose to use them, they have a wide soundstage and detailed sound. You'll easily pick up on every nuance in music and more. The headphones are also praised for their balanced sound profile; nothing is too loud or muffled.

The Shure SRH840A tick a lot of boxes. They make music feel warm and pleasant, their closed-back design prevents sound leakage, and the golden lettering in their design makes them look premium. What else can you ask for? The detailed sound they provide makes them suitable for studio and casual use. Also, the sound's richness highlights vocals, so they’re ideal for podcasters.

Røde is one of the biggest brands in the world of pro audio headphones. With the NTH-100, they raise the bar with rich sound detail that’s accurate enough for pros and quite enjoyable for everyday listeners. These are the kind of headphones that accurately recreate music with little distortion. The NTH-100 also has a 2.4m cable, so you can roam around the studio or your house without removing them.

Like the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2, you can use the Focal Bathys as wireless and wired headphones, depending on your preference. They’re expensive, but you get a rich, warm, and balanced sound with a wide soundstage - making every song more enjoyable. Their unique, hole-y design also makes them stand out in a sea of typical black headphones. To top it all off, the Focal Bathys are quite lightweight and comfortable, so they’re ideal for commutes and long listening sessions.

The best wired headphones depend on the user. Pros and casual listeners will have different requirements. The pros will lean toward a detailed sound that picks up on all instruments and vocals for a proper analysis, while casual listeners will be satisfied with a pleasant, balanced sound, even if it sacrifices some detail. You also might have trouble finding a pair that offers active noise-cancellation, if that's something you really want.

Apart from sound quality, users should consider design. Wired headphones can have an open-back or closed-back design. Open-back headphones offer an immersive experience but tend to leak out sound, so they’re better used at home. Closed-back headphones, on the other hand, offer sound isolation, so fellow commuters don’t get annoyed.

Now that you know what to look for in wired headphones, here are the ones that tick the most boxes.

The Grado SR325x, our top choice, boast many must-haves that will please most users. They have a classic retro look, rich sound quality, and a comfortable, open-back design that makes music sound natural. On the other hand, the Austrian Audio Hi-X15 are perfect for those with a tight budget who want to experience high-quality sound without spending a fortune. Despite the smaller price tag, these headphones pack a punch with clear, detailed audio and a comfortable, lightweight build.

But if you’re willing to splurge a little, the Sennheiser HD 660S2 really bring out the vocals, making them ideal for movie and podcast lovers. If you want the best of both worlds, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 or Focal Bathys options can be used as wireless and wired headphones. There’s something for every need and budget on this list, so you don’t have to compromise.

Sakshi Udavant is a tech writer working with industry-leading brands like PayPal, Mozilla, Business Insider, NBC, Digital Trends, and several others found on sakshiudavant.comSakshi covers cybersecurity, tech reviews, product recommendations, online trends, and how tech affects our lives.