Once you cross over from the mid-range, say a good pair of
$500 headphones, there’s pretty much no limit. Spending
around $500 for a pair of good headphones is the happy medium. This level
headphones look great, feel like air with zero-fatigue and sound pristine.
After spending hours evaluating most models I can reveal the best 5. Looking
to make an investment in the best headphones money can buy? Let’s start.
When it comes to choosing a pair of over-ear headphones, there is always the
contradiction of desires. Connectivity, whether it is wireless or wired,
noise-cancellation, weight, compact design, and the best possible sound
quality all play a role in choosing the perfect headphones for ourselves.
Of course, this is most often done with a limited budget which makes the
choice harder. Here we take a look at a few awesome suggestions, without going
overboard with the price.
What to consider
Headphones come in all different forms and sizes these days. To limit our
choice a little we are going to focus on over-ear (circumaural) headphone
designs. Speaking of the best headphones, comfort, and isolation would likely
be some of the main considerations, so the circumaural design would be the way
Connectivity is another feature to pay attention to when choosing your
headphones. A wired set could be perfect for indoor use and provide the best
performance. On the other hand, a wireless pair of headphones would often the
solution to the cord issues you have been looking for.
The foldable design is useful if you would be traveling with them often.
Durability is a must in such cases. And a quality sound is a must-have with
wireless headphones of such a high class, but it is still a matter of the
hearing, so do try your headphones before buying.
1. Editor’s Pick: Bowers & Wilkins PX – award-winning set with
The PXs combine incredible sound with adaptable noise cancellation technology,
a 22-hour battery life and intuitive controls that respond to your behavior.
They are also the first pair of noise-canceling headphones by the respected
Construction & Design
Bowers & Wilkins have made a few different wireless headphones in the
past. The PX, however, is the company’s first headphones to feature both
Bluetooth and noise cancelling. And there are plenty of other reasons to
consider them too. First of all, there is design.
The headphones are available in two color options – space gray and soft gold.
As with other Bowers & Wilkins headphones, the PXs have that sleek,
sophisticated look, with some metal parts and ballistic nylon on its ear cups.
They are a pair of great-looking headphones that are no less sturdy too.
The headphones come with a quilted carrying case and a cable for listening in
The controls are placed on the right ear cup. Having the middle multifunction
button raised above the volume controls lets you operate the headphones
easily. Thanks to the built-in sensors, these headphones also feature
Turning the headphones on is a matter of putting them on, taking them off puts
them in standby mode, while lifting an ear cup or hanging them around your
neck would pause the playback
The memory foam-padded, elliptical ear cushions adhere magnetically and are
easily replaceable. As of now, the replacement pads are available at around
Weighing 336 grams, these headphones are comfortable to wear but could be a
bit too much for wearing over extended periods of time.
Their over-ear design complements the comfort, while the closed-back does so
with active noise canceling. Bowers & Wilkins have used the same angled
drivers as in its flagship P9 Signature which is intended to improve the
soundstage of the PX headphones.
The first thing you notice in the PX has a wide soundstage. And it is
impressive in comparison with other good noise-canceling alternatives. The
sound is open and gives a realistic sense of the music. They are a bass-heavy
pair of headphones and this proves perfect for in outdoor usage, but even with
the low boost, the PXs are beautifully balanced.
Vocals are very well-defined and the bass response is deep, which helps to
keep the overall impact and pleasure of listening.
The PXs also feature active noise cancellation with three modes. Flight mode
blocks out engine and cabin noises during flights; City mode reduces the
noises around but keeps you aware of your surroundings; Office mode limits
background noises but keeps you aware of your close surroundings.
At the $400-mark there is hardly anything more to wish for from a pair of
wireless noise-canceling headphones. Durable, well designed, with amazing
sound and wide soundstage
Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones , take a deserved place in our pick for the best headphones under 500 bucks.
- Durable design
- Adjustable active noise cancellation
- Easy-to-use controls
- Good battery life
- Great audio quality
- A bit heavy
2. Beats Solo3 Wireless – Built for Apple enthusiasts and bass-focused
Comes in a variety of colors, the Beats Solo3 Wireless headphones are ideal
for Apple users with its W1 Bluetooth chip. They are excellent for anyone into
the hip-hop, classical music and dance genre as it’s heavily focused on its
Construction and Design
Beats Solo3 Wireless
undoubtedly has the longest battery life for a Bluetooth headphone. You can
charge it one time and use the headphone for up to 40 long hours. Throw in the
Beats’ Fast Fuel feature – a 3-hour battery life from a 5-minute charge. It’s
definitely for users always in a rush or on the go. BeatsX units use a
Lightning Cable for charging. However, this particular model still uses the
Micro-USB charging cable.
One of its defining features is
Apple’s W1 custom Bluetooth chip. It makes it entirely easy
to pair this headphone with any Apple device. For iPhone users, the connection
is instant. You can easily pair it with a single button. By far, it is the
first headphone that utilizes the W1 Bluetooth chip. When you use iCloud and
have multiple devices, it offers seamless switching between your Mac and your
iPhone or tablet.
Its earphones are exceptionally comfortable that you can wear
them for longer periods. Expect a really snug fit even when you are running or
doing some chores. The earphones stay securely on your ears. However, the
headphones may not be as comfortable. Your head may feel a little heavy after
hours of using it. The headband’s underside is not that padded.
In your left earcup are the control panels: controlling playback and pause,
navigating song tracks, and answering or ending calls. You’ll find a built-in
hidden mic too so taking calls or talking to Siri is a lot easier. You don’t
need to touch your phone.
This is a very compact headphone. You can fold it to fit in a small case. It’s
portable and you can take it anywhere with you.
The Beats Solo3 Wireless headphone offers a clear and crisp sound. When
outdoors, the bass does its job in sealing out noises so you can clearly
listen to the music.
Its base may be quite strong but it sure isn’t overpowering. You never hear a
distorted sound. The only downside is it may not be the best headphone for
some music genres.
Classical music and hip-hop are great for these headphones as its focused on
the bass’s strengths. Some music may struggle with it. They are not that good
for guitar-focused songs.
W1 connectivity for the Beats Solo3 Wireless is a sure winner. However, it may
be a bit overpriced as it won’t suit all music tastes. It’s heavily focused on
the bass feature which makes this headphone ideal only for certain users. If
you like to listen to hip-hop, dance and classical music, this headphone is
designed for you. If your priority is aesthetics though and doesn’t mind
paying a premium, this is an excellent choice.
- Provide you with fun energetic sound
- The inclusion of the Apple W1 chip will enhance your listening experience
when used in conjunction with iOS devices
- Has a superb battery life
- Utilizes W1 Bluetooth chip
- Comes with a cable that you can detach with inline remove for passive
- Great wireless performance
- Light and comfortable to wear
- Bass sound is dominant
- Are expensive to buy
- The headband gets uncomfortable when worn for a long time
- They are very flimsy in construction because of the use of so much
- Do not handle acoustic music well
- You will not get the best out of these headphones if you do not use them
in conjunction with iOS devices
3. Sony MDR-RF925RK – big and bulky, but light and comfortable
The Sony MDR-RF925RK Wireless Headphones are awesome for going around your
room or even the entire house without any cables to pull. Not only this. You
can wear them day and night, as these were created with comfort in mind.
Construction & Design
Although the headphones are big and bulky they are amazingly light at 300
grams, so you can wear them all day long with your pajamas still on and you
won’t even notice them. The headphones also feature two types of inputs –
phono jacks, stereo mini-jack. This allows you to use more than one source.
Volume and tuning controls are available on the right ear cup which makes them
pretty easy to use. Earpads are also replaceable and can be found as cheap as
10 bucks online.
These headphones are not intended for
critical listening. However, they do a great job with gaming and action movies
they are booming and the sound is clear and crisp when close to the
transmitter. However, going further away from the source would cause
interference, noises, and loss of signal and so will additional walls.
Built with comfort in mind, the
might be big and bulky, but they are light and so comfortable that you can
forget about them as soon as the movie starts. Combined with a battery life of
16 hours, these are a great pair to play games or watch movies at home without
being bound to your seat.
- Good sound
- Setting them up is easy
- Have a good battery life
- Comfortable to wear for quite a while
- Not suitable for outdoor use
- Battery life could be better
- Interference at distance
4. Sennheiser HD 700 – designed for a truly accurate sound
The Sennheiser HD 700 over-the-ear headphones sound have no harshness or
aggression in their sound. The soundstage these headphones deliver is more
open and spacious than most audiophile headphones. The balance between low,
mid and high frequencies is very smooth and without any exaggerated
The HD 700s are a very accurate set of headphones designed for those who want
to hear the truly accurate sound.
Construction & Design
The first intention you get when you put them on is that these headphones feel
like they weigh almost nothing, although they are almost 300 grams. Their
plush earpads are covered with microfiber and allow air circulation which
means less heat and sweat.
The comfort level the HD 700s provide is well above the average, even when
having the headphones on for prolonged periods of time. The earpads do not
pressure the ears and work well for people wearing glasses.
The HD 700’s styling is not surprising for Sennheiser, so you either like it
or not. The overall build quality is, of course, top-notch and the earpieces
and headband are made of plastic. The drivers are 40mm and are unique to the
They are supported by the open-frame earpiece within a tightly controlled,
open-air acoustic chamber. The ultrafine stainless-steel mesh grilles are
carefully designed to control the air movement behind each driver.
This Sennheiser’s earpieces are free to move horizontally and vertically to
assure optimal comfort. The open-back design comes at the price of no sound
isolation whatsoever, so these won’t be a top choice if you require for that
The headphones come in a padded storage case along with the 3-meter-long Y
cable that connects to the left and right earcups.
The HD 700s have a 150-ohm-rated impedance which means that they aren’t really
suitable for mobile devices. They are not foldable and are not really intended
for outdoor use.
The HD 700s perform equally well in all use cases. The resolution of fine
details is top tier even amongst high-end headphones. The sound is never harsh
or unpleasant in any way.
The HD 700 soundstage is wide-open, so the sound is not confined in any way.
HD 700’s balanced, natural and clear sound is especially complementary to
vocals and classical music. Quiet details, room sounds, and ambience are, as
expected, amazingly accurate.
At around 500 dollars the
Sennheiser HD 700 headphones
provide extraordinary sound, build quality and comfort. Their exceptional
accuracy, liveliness, and clarity can satisfy any classical music audiophile.
- Large full-size audiophile headphones
- Comes with a wide-open sound profile
- Sounds great when used with digital music players
- Average Isolation
- Might be too big for some tastes
- Not intended for outdoor use
5. Sony WH1000XM5 noise-canceling – versatile with superior sound quality
and smart features
Like previous models in this range, they have amazing noise-canceling
properties. Like previous versions, these come with ANC (Active
noise-canceling) technology. Providing them with the ability to block out a
wide range of external sounds, from cars, or air conditioning units and
other background noise.
As with previous models, the processor and noise-canceling technology
ensure good sound quality.
Construction & Design
The latest pair in the Sony flagship wireless headphone range comes with
some notable refinements. These include noise-canceling abilities, call
quality, and how fast they charge.
They come with a much sleeker frame. They are a joy to wear even for a long
period. But is this enough to justify their high price tag?
These Sony WH-1000XM5 are an improvement on other high-quality over-the-ear
headphones. They come with refined noise-canceling microphones and a slim
As with previous models in this range, these are ideal if you travel a lot,
as they come with an audio cable and an airplane adapter. Plus their
ergonomic design will ensure that you can listen to anything on them in
comfort whether traveling by plane or bus. Plus also included is a hard case
making them even more portable.
Like previous models, you can access Adaptive Sound Control through the
app. This means that they will automatically adjust the sound settings as
they can detect whether you are traveling or walking. Also, the inclusion of
several sensors in them means they can automatically switch between ambient
sound and ANC.
Another great feature of the Sony WH-1000XM5 Bluetooth headphones is they
have long battery life. The noise-canceling feature lasts for over 31 hours
Great-looking headphones are not any good if they do not provide you with
great sound. But you need not worry when it comes to this pair as with all
other Sony headphones these provide you with good sound quality.
Listening to music or podcasts on these is an absolute joy, as Sony’s
WH-1000XM5 headphones produce a rich well-balanced sound. They even
highlight the smallest details in any song from any genre of music.
Even when you listen to loud music, noise-canceling sound leakage is very
good. And if you have the volume turned up to a moderate level it will not
affect others around you.
The Sony WH-1000MX5 headphones have undergone several improvements. Their
audio quality, long battery life, and noise cancelation feature help to make
them stand out from their competitors.
All packed into a very sleek design that comes with even better noise
cancelation, and faster-charging facilities. Plus of course not forgetting
the extra sensors that help to make the ANC features on these much smarter
and more adaptive.
- Comes with even better noise cancelation
- Can pair them with two devices at the same time
- Has a more balanced, tighter sound
- The app is something you will want to use
- Light and comfortable to wear
- Has 30 hours of battery life
- Design is quite plasticky
- No major upgrades carried out since the previous model
- Cost more than the previous model
- Some audio issues on macOS
- Find that they do not fold up very well
6. Bose noise-canceling Headphones 700 – designed with traveling in mind
These noise-canceling headphones from Bose
are different from the QuiteComfort model. They continue to fit in with
Bose’s reputation of making good quality noise-canceling headphones. Which
is what makes them such a great choice.
Construction & Design
These Bose noise-canceling headphones have an over-the-ear design. But they
no longer come with pleated ear cups or visible hinges. Plus the removal of
the bulky hardware has enabled Bose to come up with a completely different
design for these wireless headphones.
On the outside of the ear cups, you will find several preset buttons. You
can control the headphones’ functionality with touch-sensitive housing on
the right ear cup.
Unfortunately, these headphones do not collapse inwards like other Bose
models do, but they do fold flat. Also, come with a case in which to carry
them so suitable for using when commuting or away traveling.
They come with a battery life of around 20 hours which is pretty
reasonable. But this can vary and will depend on how loud you like to play
music when wearing such equipment. Listening to music at higher volume
levels tends to drain the battery faster.
Noise-canceling headphones use technology that helps to block out
environmental sounds. But it does not help if you happen to take a phone
call when wearing them, as those on the other end of the call will still
hear these sounds.
But Bose has come up with a remedy for this and introduced noise-canceling
to phone calls also. This happens through an eight-microphone system. Six of
the microphones help to cancel noise allowing you to listen to your favorite
These headphones sound fantastic, as you would expect from any that carry
the Bose name. They provide a great deal of detail and clarity, no matter
what music you like to listen to.
If you are looking for a great pair of noise-canceling wireless headphones,
then these from Bose are a good choice.
The sound quality is very good and makes everything sound beautiful.
But what you will love about these over some brands is the design, with
their sleek modern look.
- Comes with outstanding noise cancelation technology
- Produce a fun, lively sound
- The design is stunning
- The battery life of 20 hours could be better
- These are more expensive than some comparable models from other
7. AKG Pro Audio K553 MKII – designed for professionals
AKG’s K553 MKII Pro Audio
is a very high-quality set of wired headphones. They have a great deal to
offer and come with some of the best sound quality for a set of headphones
that will cost you less than $500.
The AKG Pro Audio K553 MKII model is suitable for casual users as well as
Construction & Design
These are among some of the best-looking headphones around. The combination
of the matte black and metallic finish to these helps them to look great
without looking flashy.
Made completely from metal, they are very durable. Do not worry about
dropping them as they can withstand all kinds of punishment.
Even though they contain metal, they are very flexible. When you twist or
turn the ear pads, they do not make any sound. They are easy to wear as they
only weigh in at 0.67 pounds (303 grams).
There is one slight problem with the design of these in that the material
used as padding for the ear pads and headband is quite thin.
Luckily, it is possible to replace the ear cushions that come with these
with others from AKG.
The sound quality produced by these headphones will not prove
There is one vital thing to remember about these headphones is that they
reference headphones. The main aim of this type is to ensure that they
reproduce all sounds in as authentic a manner as possible.
The signature sound produced by these is flat, whereas high-frequency notes
get boosted. Unlike casual headphones, the bass is not as pronounced.
These AKG Pro Audio K553 MKII headphones are a great set of studio-quality
You will love them for their amazing reference sound at an affordable
price. They come at a price that is ideal for anyone who wants to own a
great pair of studio headphones.
Remember that they come with a cable measuring three meters long.
- Made of metal so very strong and durable
- Allows you to use them with your smartphone or other smart devices
- Very comfortable to wear
- It will not take up much space in your bag or backpack as can lay
- Come with a high volume output
- Are great value for money
- The material used for ear pads and covering headband is thin
- Includes only one accessory a 6.3mm adapter
- The 3-meter cable is not detachable
8. Shure SRH1540 – built with comfort and good sound quality in
Construction & Design
Shure SRH1540 are sturdy, over-ear and wired headphones that are ideal for
music professionals and serious audio enthusiasts. Albeit made with mostly
metal parts, this headphone is incredibly lightweight.
The headphones’ ear cups make it a sure winner. It feels luxurious and
extremely comfortable. Whether you are using it for an hour or several hours,
it will stay comfortable and secure every time. Because it’s breathable and
spacious, the headphone is ideal for almost any user.
You will love the soft ear pads that feel like soft pillows on your head.
There are no ear sweats or heat built-up even after using it for several
This headphone is ideal for use in the studio as it doesn’t feel tight on the
head at all. They may look bulky but they provide utmost comfort.
The Shure SRH1540 isn’t portable yet it comes with a hard case for secure
storage. It also includes an adapter and extra earpads in the package.
Unlike other headphones, the Shure SRH1540 does not include modern features
such as noise-canceling technology. However, they do provide great sound
quality. It’s ideal for most music genres.
If you are using a headphone in a studio, this is a perfect choice. It’s ideal
for mixing sounds and recording tracks in a professional studio.
The sealed ear cups are excellent for making music. It blocks out background
noises that will interfere with the recording.
The Shure SRH1540 sound quality is exceptionally dynamic. Bass is potent and
deep and yet never emphasized. The treble is also never harsh. It features
good instrument separation which makes it ideal for almost all music genres.
Shure SRH1540 is extremely durable and offers unparalleled comfort. While no
modern features, it is an excellent choice for serious music lovers.
Price-wise, this headphone is a little expensive on the side. With its
superior comfort and durability, the Shure SRH1540 surely will last several
years. If you are into sound mixing and work in a studio, this is an excellent
choice for you.
- Extremely comfortable
- Clear and detailed sound
- Easily connects with other devices
- Incredibly light
- Superior sound quality
- Comes with extra accessories
- Not portable
- Bulky and huge
- No Bluetooth
- No noise-canceling feature
Verdict – Best Headphones Under 500$
So, this is our latest selection of the
best headphones under $500. We have once again covered as
much ground as possible. Wireless or wired, with superior isolation or
wide-open soundstage, with booming low frequencies or accurate, balanced clear
sound it is up to you. These are all top-notch headphones, so you should
definitely give them a try.
Without further ado and with no doubts on the matter, our number one nominee
Bowers and Wilkins PX .
These quality headphones have it all – incredible sound with adaptable noise
cancellation, 22-hour battery life, and intuitive controls that respond to
Although this is the company’s first pair of headphones to buy featuring
Bluetooth and noise-canceling, they certainly make a statement.
The sensor-based controls are pretty cool too and provide additional ease of
usage. Turning your headphones on is a matter of putting them on your head and
by taking them off you put them in standby mode. Lifting an ear cup or hanging
the headphones around your neck would pause your music
Important Terms You Need To Know When Buying Over-ear Headphones
When you are looking to buy headphones, you must have an understanding of
important terms. That way when you come to buy a pair of over-ear
(circumaural) headphones you know which ones are going to best suit your
But before we look at the various terms used then let’s explain a little
more about what over-ear headphones are.
These are the kind of headphones that completely cover the whole of the
ear. As a result, they come with a much larger driver. This provides you
with better bass performance and a lot more volume.
These types of headphones also provide you with much better noise
isolation, even though they are not as portable as other types such as
So what other terms will you come across when trying to decide what pair of
over-ear phones to buy.
Open & Closed Back
Most over-ear phones have an open or closed back. What this refers to is
whether the rear of the ear cups is even open or sealed.
Worth considering opting for those with a closed back as they offer much
better noise isolation, and come with much more forceful sound.
Unfortunately, open-back headphones tend to let in more ambient
This is the most vital component in a set of headphones, as it turns
electrical signals into sound pressure. It is this that creates the sound
Headphones tend to use a variety of different drivers. But most have
magnets, diaphragm, and voice coils. The magnets and voice coils are what
make the diaphragm vibrate and produce sound waves.
When you look at the specifications of various headphones the use of the
term Driver is there to show how wide the diaphragm inside is. All
measurements for drivers are in millimeters. It is best if you opt for ones
that have a driver of 40mm or larger inside the over-ear headphones. These
produce high-quality audio.
SPL (Sensitivity And Sound Pressure Level)
This is what shows you how the headphones can go up. But what does
sensitivity and sound pressure level mean?
This shows how the headphones can turn an electrical signal into an
Sound Pressure Level
This is often displayed in decibels of SPL per milliwatt.
Most headphones have a range of between 85 and 120 decibels of SPL per
milliwatt. To put this into context the sound made by traffic is around 80
decibels and the sound a jet makes as it takes off is around 130
Electronic chips and microphones record ambient sound. They then use
technology inside them to help create an inverse sound wound. This feeds
back into the over-ear headphones so outside sounds cancel out.
This type of technology works best with constant low-frequency sounds. So
you may find when using them on a plane that the sound is not as loud. But
you may still hear the sound of a baby crying from the seat in front of
For those of you who consider styling a priority, these come in two different
color schemes and the design is outstanding.
Sound-wise, the Bowers and Wilkins PX doesn’t disappoint either. The
soundstage is really wide and open while maintaining a great level of detail
in your sonic experience.