Though the article is titled “the best podcast headphones” I can’t write this and tell you I own all 25 or have even tried all 25 — I’m a podcast fan, not a headphone reviewer. Rather, these 25 headphones are the most recommended by podcasters and podcast fans alike. So whether you have a large budget and want some over-ear noise-cancelling headphones, or your prefer the convenience of quality ear buds, here’s a list for you to help with your decision making.
If you’re a podcaster, chances are you’ve already invested considerably into the production of your podcast. This includes investing in the best podcast mic, soundproofing a studio, countless hours writing and editing the podcast, and also brainstorming how to make your podcast better and grow your audience. If you’re already putting so much effort into the production of podcast, isn’t it time to enjoy it? Nothing better than sitting back and listening to a quality podcast with crystal clear sound pumping straight into your ears from the best headphones you could find.
On the flip side, if you’re a podcast fan (like me), listening to a great podcast with comfortable and great-sounding headphones is crucial to the listening experience. For me, I typically listen to my podcasts at work, working out, or just when I have some free time at home. With these different use case scenarios I prefer different headphones. The sweat-resistant wireless earbuds are a must in the gym, while noise-cancelling is absolutely vital in my loud office.
Factors Going Into Your Decision:
- Price – everyone has a different budget
- Comfort – if you’re lounging at home, your ears shouldn’t be sore
- Sound Quality – if you’re an audiophile and appreciate good sound
- Wireless – convenience of bluetooth headphones
- Noise Cancelling – block outside noise when listening in public areas
- Mobility – depending on your situation, you may want headphones that fit in your pocket
Podcast Headphone Tiers
I firmly believe there are no truly bad headphones, but instead, there are headphones for specific or broad uses based on the factors above.
- Tier 1 — Affordable Earbuds — these are earbuds typically under $30 that you leave in your gym bag, at your office, or in some drawer at home. Given their affordability, you don’t need to keep a close eye on them, but they’re perfect for a quick run or to shove in your pockets.
- Tier 2 — Quality Earbuds — these are earbuds (or small wireless headphones) that range from $30 to $120. These are your “first pick” when it comes to a gym headphones or to listen to podcasts on the go.
- Tier 3 — Bang-for-your-buck Headphones — these are headphones typically under $200 that have great reviews and are more quality than earbuds. Some consider these “entry models” as audiophiles start to make investments in headphones
- Tier 4 — Premium Headphones — these are the creme de la creme. The ultra premium, noise cancelling, headphones. Often expensive purchases, these headphones are often researched and compared against each other.
So without further ado, here are the best headphones for podcasts recommended by podcasters themselves.
Review: The Audio Technica ATH-M50x is typically referred to as the best bang for your buck on-ear headphone set. Though it’s not wireless — you can purchase a Bluetooth adapter — the headphones come with three detachable cables and the headphones themselves collapse for easy mobility.
It is also adjustable, since you can rotate the earpieces up to 90º and leave them flat. Often commended for their comfort, the sports cloth pads are coated with a soft material and are relatively lightweight. They have a maximum input power up to 1600 mW and can produce frequencies ranging from 5-28,000 Hz. Though they’re not marketed as noise cancelling, reviewers recommend they still do a great job when listening in public.
I dare you to find an owner of the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones and get them to say a bad thing about them. I dare you! Asking headphone owners if they’d buy the headphones again is a great barometer for headphone satisfaction. For Bose QuietComfort owners, both in the 25 and 35 model, you’ll likely never find a group of brand advocates so loyal to a specific headphone series.
But it’s not without good reason. The Bose QC35 headphones are ideal for a variety of use cases, not just podcasts. Their noise cancelling technology allows you to listen in utter silence in a public area, at the office, or to drown out outside noise. With a lithium-ion battery, you can listen up to 20 hours on a single charge — enough to get you through even the longest workday.
This model offers great comfort thanks to its ergonomic design, its comfort pads and comfortable and adjustable headband. At the same time, it offers high-resolution audio with its 40mm neodymium speakers.
A knock on these (if it’s important to you), is the lack of a Bluetooth adapter and the 9.8 ft cord is not detachable. For some people this is a dealbreaker. Another potential issue is their lack of noise cancelling feature. Though they cup your ear and block a good amount of outside sound.
The ATH-M40x are the baby brother to the M50x. A little cheaper, less flexible, and minimal compromise on sound quality, these are still an excellent on-ear podcast headphone.
Along with the M50x’s, they provide a great balance of comfort and audio quality. The major differences between the two models are the M40x only produces audio to 24,000 Hz, has less impedance, and the earcups don’t swivel in 90 degrees.
We previewed the QC35 headphones above, but if the price tag was a little too steep, check these out. Though they’re not wireless, they still have all the sound quality and noise cancelling technologies as their more expensive counterpart.
The Bose noise cancelling technology is truly unique. They pick-up the ambient noise around you and emit the opposite sound resulting in absolute silence for whoever’s wearing them. You might have heard these headphones featured as the exclusive partner of one of our favorite podcasts, Twenty Thousand Hertz, people who definitely know quality sound.
Probably the most stylish on-ear headphone of the bunch, the Skullcandy Grind has a minimalist look and aesthetic. The Bluetooth capability, combined with up to a 12 hour battery life, give this a strong mark for convenience.
For its part, however, the Grinds are fairly durable replacing most headphones plastic parts with metal. The more expensive models offer longer battery life, but have the same sound quality for the most part. Their 40mm audio drivers produce excellent stereo sound quality to hear all the details of the podcast.
Grado make some of my favorite and some of the best headphones out there. The one caveat is they tend to run on the expensive spectrum. If you’re looking for headphones specifically to edit or listen to podcasts, you can’t do much better than these. Some people knock them for their lack of deep bass support, but if you’re focusing on vocals that’s not much of an issue for you.
Quite frankly, some people prefer the convenience and ease of earbuds they can easily fold and put in their pocket. If you’re looking to have a spare pair (or two) for your office, car, gym bag, or another occasion, give these a try. They’re not going to set you back to much, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better pair in this price range.
For those looking for a model that not only works very well and brings high quality surround sound to their podcast experiences, check out these entry pairs of Harman and Kardon. They have a striking, modern design and live up to the Harman and Kardon brand of quality sound. Nearly a polar opposite of the Grado’s highlighted earlier, these modern headphones go heavy on the bass. So if you’re looking for podcast headphones, music, and other activities, these bring a more well-rounded sound to your listening.
You’ve probably seen these headphones around town and wondered what exactly they are. With a unique look and fit, the LG Tones have a band that fits around your neck with the earbuds sprouting from there. Completely Bluetooth, these headphones are great for listening to podcasts during your commute. Their tethering capabilities allow you to answers calls and read texts without having to take your phone out. For the price point, they offer great sound quality and convenient for riding your bike or taking the train to work.
It’s kind of hard writing reviews on some of the best headphones on the market. I can’t just write “they have excellent sound quality” for all of them, that wouldn’t be fun to read. But, for the most part, they do! The Bowers & Wilkins P5 headphones, along with their P3, P7, and P9s are no exception. They have an excellent design intended to be both durable and comfortable for long periods of time. Combine that with well-constructed hardware underneath, hi-fi drive units, and you have a superb headphone at a reasonable price.
Maybe not as well known as their counterparts like Bose, Sony, or Harman and Kardon, Sennheiser has continued to make great headphones over the years. These headphones are relatively unique with each earcup having an internal sound reflector, immersing the listener in sound.
I’d also like to give a shout-out to Sennheiser’s marketing team. They call their headphone technology and unique properties part of the “Eargonomic Acoustic Refinement” design. Or, what they call E.A.R. for short. Well done.
These are the mid-range AKG headphones, which I think present the perfect blend of quality and affordability. Though typically thought of as studio headphones created for musicians, all the headphone qualities musicians are looking for — deep lows, clear vocals, etc. — are what podcasters look for in headphones as well.
AKG themselves describe their headphones technology as “Varimotion 30 mm XXL transducers deliver solid low end, accurate mids and crystal-clear highs.”
As an owner of the Jaybird X2 headphones, I love them, simple as that. These active Bluetooth headphones are discrete, mobile, convenient, have a good battery life, and sound excellent. Literally, zero complaints.
So while they’re probably not what you’re looking for in the studio, and they don’t have noise cancelling technologies, if you’re working out or commuting and want full range with good headphones — look no further. These are the perfect commuter podcast headphones.
I group headphones in four tiers, each having their place and purpose. You have your affordable earbuds you can have multiple pairs of so you’re never far away from them, premium earbuds for commutes and working out, bang for your buck on-ear headphones, and then the ultra premium on-ear headphones. These Sony XBA earbuds would fall into that second category — quality earbuds idea for traveling and daily activity.
So if you’re in the market for a decent set of earbuds to upgrade or replace the ones you have, give these a go.
With up to 15 hours of playtime, their battery life isn’t quite up to the level of their QC35 counterpart. However, they still live up to the Bose brand and provide (what many claim is) the best sound quality headphones in the business. They don’t boast the proprietary noise cancelling of the QuietComfort line, but this makes them lighter, and what some people claim, more comfortable. These are excellent podcast headphones.
If you’ve ever read Lifehacker, you know these are a perennial favorite among their readers. Affordability and bang-for-your-buck are always thrown around with Anker products, and their wireless headphones are no exception.
Sleek, flexible, and with a decent battery life these are great headphones for the gym or your commute. They have a waterproof coating and an ear hoop to give them a sturdy feel. I own a pair of these as well, and before I bought the Jaybird X2 headphones, these were my running pair.
Similar to the AKG headphones presented above, these present a good balance between price and quality — albeit this pair is the more premium model. They are built on a metal frame with synthetic leather covering and are foldable, so do not bulge much in a backpack, bag or suitcase. Their sound is rich and balanced: the bass has detail and forcefulness without dirtying the rest of the audio while the treble offers a great spaciousness to the sound.
19. Sony WH1000XM2
These headphones are Sony’s answer to the Bose QuietComfort series. Excellent sound quality Bluetooth headphones with noise cancelling technology. If it’s my money, I’m likely buying the Bose, however, there are fierce evangelists that prefer Sony — it’s kind of an XBOX vs. PS4 situation.
The Sony WH100XM2 noise cancelling technology is graded better than the Bose QC series, and their touch controls are intuitive and provide a sleek design. Quite frankly, you can’t go wrong with either headphone and they’re both great investments. Either choice will make for a great podcast headphone.
Right in the wheelhouse of both premium and affordable, you’ll find the Sennheiser HD-280PRO. These headphones perch on the edge of a triple-digit price, and include many features you’d expect from headphones that blow past it: excellent ergonomics for long-term listening, high-fidelity treble and respectable bass, passive noise cancelling to 32dB, and a gorgeous frequency response curve.
Less sexy but worth mentioning are the easily replaceable individual components. If you primarily use one pair of headphones and wear them all the time, this is a great way to combat inevitable wear-and-tear.
Remember the four tiers of headphones? The Otium Wireless Sports fall squarely into tier one – they’re only going to set you back an Andrew Jackson and, given the features, seem like a steal. These are your workout headphones, the headphones you keep at your partner’s house so you can listen to the latest podcast episode without disturbing their sleep, the pair you keep in your backpack so that the next time you forget your tier twos or threes, you have a backup that doesn’t compromise on sound.
The upsides are obvious (bluetooth with 30ft range, painless pairing, durable design). The downsides are an 8hr lifespan on a single charge and, apparently, a voice warning of “Low Battery” that can interrupt your listening experience if you push it to the edge. So keep em charged and you’ll have a great on-the-go pair of headphones well worth the price of a couple six-packs of beer.
For the price, these are great over-ear headphones. They’re not going to set you back a whole lot and they don’t come with any fancy bells and whistles. That said, these headphones were designed to be an affordable option to higher-price studio headphones, meaning they didn’t skimp much on sound quality or comfort.
Created for studio use, these are great headphones for podcast editors and sound engineers. It’s a closed studio headphone pair designed for detailed resolution and great sound at every volume.
Their marketing messaging says a lot about the headphones they make and who they make them for. Instead of leading off about their style, or different colors they come in, Beyerdynamic says, “Ultra-low bass sounds are defined and reproduced crisply. High frequencies are translated to an analytical, clear and differentiated sound. The spatial reproduction of these headphones is remarkable despite providing excellent isolation from the outside world.”
24. Beats Solo3
Beats headphones tend to get a lot of criticism for spending more on marketing and fashion and less resources on crafting quality headphones. Whether you agree with this or not, The Beats Solo3 are nice and functional headphones. Also, being stylish isn’t necessarily a bad thing, right?
If you’re looking for wireless on-ear headphones to listen to podcasts during your commute or at work, these are a pretty good pair. They won’t break the bank compared with other premium headphones and you won’t look super nerdy wearing them either.
25. BeatsX Wireless
I was gifted these headphones and I have zero complaints. They compare nicely to the Jaybird X2 headphones, but I had some trouble getting them to fit comfortably. These headphones fall into the Tier 2 category I discussed earlier, quality wireless earbuds that provide the convenience and flexibility you’re looking for while still providing decent sound quality.
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