Everybody thinks that great headphones have to be expensive. Big brands and advanced tech seem to cost more and more with each release, and nobody wants to settle for lower quality. You want the best audio experience on the market, the coolest aesthetics, and the highest quality – but you don’t want to break the bank. So, is it possible to get premium headphones at a cheap price? Which are the best headphones under $500?
Luckily for you, we’ve got the answer. We’ve looked across the personal audio market to bring you the best headphones under $500 for every listener. Whether you need some comfy earbuds for fitness, noise-cancelling earphones for commuting, or high-fidelity cans for losing yourself in music, we’ve got the perfect cheap headphones for you – that don’t compromise on quality.
Product Comparison Table: Best Headphones Color
|Best in class
|Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones
|Best for Commuting
|Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones
|Beats Fit Pro Wireless Earbuds
|Best for Workouts
|Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Wireless Headphones
|Best for Music
|Sony L600 Wireless Digital Headphones
|Best for Media
The Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones are premium headphones built specifically for noise cancellation. With 8 total microphones, these headphones are Sony’s biggest step forward in noise-canceling technology. Ambient sound is captured even more accurately for a dramatic reduction in high-frequency noise, while the microphones simultaneously compensate based on your environment. Thanks to this Auto NC Optimizer technology, you only ever hear your music – or your calls.
You can always enjoy crystal clear hands-free calling, thanks to 4 beamforming microphones, precise voice pickup, and advanced audio signal processing. Even the body of the headphones is designed to reduce outside noise, and amplify your music. The light and rigid precision-engineered driver unit improves high-frequency sensitivity for more natural sound quality. Lastly, they have up to 30 hours of battery life with quick charging. Just a 3 minute charge provides 3 hours of uninterrupted playback.
- Industry-leading noise cancelling tech
- Long battery life and fast charging
- Excellent sound quality on music and calls
- Sleek design and free matching case
- Bluetooth can be finicky
The Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones are our ultimate best headphones under $500 for commuters. With noise cancelling this powerful, you won’t have to worry about annoying noises disturbing your quiet subway ride. Just slip these on, and you can take a relaxing trip every time. The call quality is excellent if you find you need to get some work done, too. The only downside is the Bluetooth, which can drop out occasionally. However, this is not a big issue, as some people never have this problem with their pair.
The Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones are high-performance wireless noise cancelling headphones. Beats was one of the first companies to pioneer adaptive noise cancelling (ANC) tech; the Studio3’s ANC accurately dampens atmospheric sound, whilst real-time audio calibration preserves a premium, high-fidelity listening experience. Plus, Apple’s W1 chip and industry-leading Bluetooth technology combine to keep you connected farther with fewer dropouts.
Like the Beats Fit Pro Earbuds, they also support spatial audio for immersive music, movies and podcasts. There are also on-ear controls on the left earcup that control your music. As for charging, the Beats Studio3 hold up to 22 hours of battery life on a full charge. If you’re short on time, you can also deploy the Fast Fuel function; this gives you three hours of playback from just 10 minutes on charge. They also come in several colors: blue, black, red, white, gold, and more.
- Active noise cancelling function
- Supports spatial audio
- Come in a range of colors
- Long lasting battery life and fast charge
- Lower sound quality
The Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones are a perfect example of the classic Beats design. There’s a good reason why this is the brand with some of the most celebrity endorsements, and a pair of Beats has almost become a fashion accessory nowadays. However, although they’re primarily our best headphones under $500 for aesthetics, they also offer a pretty strong listening experience. They might not be enough for the most committed audiophiles. But for casual listeners, they’re a solid choice.
The Beats Fit Pro Wireless Earbuds are the most comfortable wireless sport earbuds around. The universal design eartips are covered with soft flex silicone material, that’s been tested to stay put on athletes. Simply tuck the wingtip under the whorls of your ear, and these headphones will stay in no matter what. On-ear controls allow you to manage calls and control music, too. There’s even a huge range of colors: black, white, grey, purple, pink, beige, brown, nude, blue, and lime.
On top of all this, they have powerful active noise cancelling. Plus, there’s a transparency mode so you’re always aware of your surroundings. They also support Spatial Audio, a cutting-edge technology that makes for the most immersive music, movie, or podcast listening experience. This uses dynamic head tracking with gyroscopes and accelerometers to adjust the sound as you move, for a multi-dimensional experience.
- Stylish ergonomic design in many colors
- On-ear controls
- Supports spatial audio
- Excellent active noise cancelling
- Short battery life
The Beats Fit Pro Wireless Earbuds are by far the best headphones under $500 for sports. Whether you’re an accomplished athlete or just doing a gentle workout, they won’t let you down. The ergonomic wingtip design also keeps them in your ears, without causing discomfort when you wear them for a long time. The only problem is the ANC and spatial audio features are incredibly power hungry. The charging case holds 24 hours of charge, but the buds will only last 6 hours out of it with active noise cancelling enabled.
The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Wireless Headphones are an upgrade on the award-winning original Px7. With a redesigned and optimized acoustic system, an all-new angled drive unit design, and a more powerful motor system, the Px7 S2 model delivers improved performance and clarity. It has active noise cancelling with 6 microphones, plus adjustable external microphones to enhance your voice clarity when making calls. Charge-wise, it offers 7 hours playback after 15 minutes plugged in.
However, the Px7 S2’s strongest point is its sound quality. It uses custom-designed 40mm drive units, carefully angled inside each ear cup for a truly focused, immersive listening experience. Even with ANC enabled, the system works to preserve your music’s natural dynamics. Plus, ptX Adaptive wireless technology and powerful DSP (Digital Signal Processing) ensures outstanding 24-bit high-resolution sound quality from suitable streaming services.
- ANC technology for immersive listening
- Exceptional sound quality
- Long lasting battery life and fast charging
- Memory foam lined ear cups for added comfort
- Quite heavy and bulky
The Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Wireless Headphones are our best headphones under $500 for music. If you’re an audiophile who really wants their music to sound great, these headphones will give you all the sound quality you’d expect from the Bowers & Wilkins name. The sound processing and fidelity are greta whether plugged in or working wirelessly. The one negative point is they’re quite heavy and bulky, but the memory foam padding keeps them feeling comfy and luxurious when worn.
The Sony L600 Wireless Digital Headphones offer cinematic surround sound from movies, sports, TV, and games. From the stand, you can access four specifically tailored EQ modes for different forms of media: voice, theater, game, and sport. Each of these modes is designed with support from Sony’s different media departments, such as PlayStation and Sony Pictures, to offer you the most authentic sound experience.
Although they come with a charging stand – on which the controls are situated – but have a huge wireless range of up to 98.43 ft. It has 17 hours of battery life per charge, too. You can also connect directly to various sources via a range of inputs, including optical, stereo, and HDMI. As for sound quality, the 1.57″ (40mm) dome drivers deliver deep bass and a wide frequency range, whilst Dolby Audio tech simulated crystal clear theater-style surround sound.
- Great sound quality and four EQ modes
- Long battery life and wide range
- Charging stand with multiple inputs
- Dolby Audio simulated sound
- Very expensive
The Sony L600 Wireless Digital Headphones are our best headphones under $500 for media. These headphones are perfect for any form of media: from TV to movies to sport, or even gaming. In fact, these headphones are an outstanding choice for anybody who uses their cans for things other than music. They have a long battery life, tailored modes, and excellent sound. Of course, excellence comes at a price – these push right to the boundary of our $500 budget.