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Best headphones in SA

Best Headphones
Image credit: Sony

The best headphones of 2020 are fantastic devices. All of the top headphones on this list combine incredible audio fidelity with stunning all-day-wear design. Most of them also boast lots of cool features, including noise cancelation, wireless connectivity and built-in AI assistants you can control with your voice.

A good pair of headphones is a necessity for many of us. Aside from breathing new life into our favourite music, they keep us entertained with music, podcasts, and audio books when we're commuting, running, at the gym or just trying to disconnect from the world around us.

Most of us spend a lot of time with our headphones – it's important we get our choice right. If you're looking for some new cans, you're going to want a pair of the best headphones you can find that your budget allows. 

The problem? There's so much choice these days, and there could be even more on the way, with rumors of the first-ever Apple over-ear headphones and the AirPods Pro Lite circling. With all those options out there, making the right buying decision can be tricky – and it's our mission to hook you up with the perfect headphones for your needs (and your budget).

We encourage you to take a look at all the headphone lists here on TechRadar – however, if you're in a hurry and just want to find the best headphones your money can buy, check out our top picks below.

Best headphones at a glance: 

Our best headphone picks

sony wh-1000xm4

(Image credit: Sony)

Best headphones 2020: Sony WH-1000XM4

The headphones that do it all

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 8.95 oz | Cable length: 3.94 ft | Frequency response: 4Hz to 40kHz | Drivers: 1.57-inch | Driver type: Dome-type | Sensitivity: 104.5 dB | Impedance: 47 ohm | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: 30 meters (98ft) | NFC: Yes

Improved noise-cancellation
DSEE Extreme audio upscaling
Multipoint pairing
Not water-resistant

The Sony WH-1000XM4 deliver excellent noise-cancellation and surprising sound quality all in a lightweight, comfortable design. 

While they don't look significantly different from their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM3, a number of new features including multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, conversational awareness and auto-play/pause using a built-in sensor all help the WH-1000XM4 claim the title of best headphones in 2020.

By every possible metric, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is a wonderful pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones. They deliver exactly what they promise and then some thanks to their exceptional noise cancellation and cutting-edge codec support.

On top of the adjustments listed above, the Sony WH-1000XM4 support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format that enables spatial audio on stereo headphones plus the LDAC codec that can send a bitrate of up to 990 kbps. The unfortunate bit there, though, is that it no longer supports aptX or aptX HD, so your Hi-Res Audio support mileage may vary.

Despite being usurped by the XM4s, the Sony WH-1000XM3s are still well worth considering – and they're likely to be discounted now that the newer model is out.

Read more: Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones review

sony wh-1000xm3

(Image credit: Sony )

Runner up: Sony WH-1000XM3

The headphones that can do everything

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 254g | Cable length: 3.94 ft | Frequency response: 4 Hz-40,000 Hz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Neodymium | Sensitivity: 104.5 dB / mW (1 kHz) | Impedance: 47 ohm | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: 33 ft | NFC: Yes

Outstanding noise cancellation
Fantastic sound quality
30-hour battery life
Mediocre call quality

The Sony WH-1000XM3 were far and away the best headphones of 2019, and they would still be in top spot if Sony hadn't delivered the upgrades above.  So expect a little price drop as they make way for the new king, and then scoopthem up as a bargain. 

A dominant noise-cancelling pair of headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM3 can beat anything Bose has with ease.

That’s because, while Bose has done a tremendous job working out its noise cancellation algorithm over the years, Sony has spent that time perfecting audio playback while simultaneously creating an adaptable algorithm that doesn’t just create a single sterile sound barrier, but multiple kinds that can tailor itself to whatever situation you’re in. 

Beyond being exceptional at keeping external noises at bay, these impressive Sony headphones are Hi-Res Audio-ready, sporting aptX, aptX HD and LDAC codecs, and offer the smarts of Google Assistant right on-board. If you need a pair of headphones that can live up to any challenge and excel in any environment, these are the pair for you.

Read more: Sony WH-1000XM3 review

1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone

(Image credit: 1More)

Best in-ear headphones: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone

Your search for great-sounding, good value headphones ends here

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99 dB/mW | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Lush sound quality
Excellent build and design
Unmatched value
Plastic remote feels cheap

After spending a few weeks with both the 1MORE Triple Driver in-ear headphones, we were blown away by the great value for money they represent.

For between R1499 and R1699, it’s hard to think of a better-sounding and more well-built pair of earphones than the 1MORE Triple Drivers. (That said, if you want just that little extra refinement and luxury materials, the 1MORE Quad Drivers are still a bargain at twice the price.)

There’s very little we can fault the Triple Drivers for. Sure, the inbuilt remote feels a little cheap, but that's more than made up for by the lush sound quality offered by these luxe-looking earbud.

For the price, it’s impossible to do better than 1MORE's Triple Driver in-ear headphones. 

Read more: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone review

Skullcandy Ink’D+ wireless

Skullcandy Ink’D+ wireless (Image credit: Skullcandy)

Best budget in-ear headphones: Skullcandy Ink’D+

Durable with decent sound at an unbeatable price

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 23.5g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 93-101dB | Drivers: 10mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 16 Ohms | Battery life: 20 hours | Wireless range: 100 meters (330 feet) | NFC: No

Very affordable 
Available in bright colours 
Unrefined sound
Middling battery life

Better known for their garish colour schemes and "street" pop music sensibilities SkullCandy have consistently raised their build quality over the years. While the Ink'd+ are by no means an audiophile-class experience, the sound is not as lightweight and unbalanced as their price might suggest. 

The sturdy plastic collar allows you to roll them up into a jeans pocket without the delicacy required for more sensitive pairs, and large buttons make for ease of use while on the move. Get these if you're okay with pop music highs and lows and don't want to pamper your gear.

jbl tune 750btnc

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Best budget over-ear headphones: JBL Tune 750BTNC

Quality noise-cancelling over-ears for a great price

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 220g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 95dB | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: 15 - 22 hours | Wireless range: 30ft (10m) | NFC: No

Good sound quality
Strong active noise cancelation
No waterproofing
Average battery life

JBL is a popular name in the world of headphones and Bluetooth speakers, and rightly so. Solidly dependable, consumers know what to expect from the brand – decent sound quality for a decent price. 

That's what we found with the JBL Live 650BTNC last year – and now, ready to take their place are the JBL Tune 750BTNC, a superior successor to the 650BTNC's as a high-spec and well-priced set of over-ear headphones.

The JBL Tune 750BTNC sound great, look great, and they fit well. Reliable and easy to use, you might miss waterproofing and a few minor features – but at this price (1999.95), it feels foolish to complain too readily.

Read more: JBL Tune 750BTNC review

bowers & wilkins px7

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

Best wireless headphones: Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless Headphones

Strong all-rounders

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 310g | Cable length: 1.2m | Frequency response: 10 – 30,000 Hz | Drivers: 43.6mm | Driver type: Full range | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 20 kOhms | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Best-in-class sound quality
Competitive battery life
Robust Bluetooth connection
Earcups don't collapse

If you’re looking for wireless headphones with active noise cancellation and you're not put off by the hefty R8500 price tag, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 are well worth considering. The title of best wireless headphones still goes to the Sony WH-1000XM3 of course, but there's not much in it. 

With sophisticated noise cancellation, much-improved sound quality, and a honed aesthetic, the PX7 could give any of the headphones on this list a run for their money. 

Plus, they're packing aptX Adaptive for improved stability and latency between the headphones and your device, as well as high-quality (24-bit) streaming aptX HD brought to the table. That's why they're the best headphones if you're looking for a strong pair of all-rounders.

Read more: Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless Headphones review

Plantronics BackBeat Go 810

(Image credit: Plantronics)

Best budget wireless headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Go 810

Solid, affordable, mid-range noise-cancelling headphones

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.64 lbs (289g) | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 24 hours | Wireless range: 100 meters (330 feet) | NFC: No

Excellent build quality
Warm, balanced sound
Reliable wireless connection
Hiss when music isn't playing

For years, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 were among our favorite wireless headphones because of their excellent sound, build quality and features. Unfortunately, they were also kind of expensive. 

For a lot less (R2699), Plantronics now sells the brilliant BackBeat Go 810, which use less premium materials but sound nearly identical to its more expensive predecessor – and sport an equally chic design. 

With that in mind, the BackBeat Go 810 are an affordable pair of ANC headphones that will please travelers and commuters who don’t want to spend too much money on headphones.   

Read more: Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 review

Bowers & Wilkins PI3 Wireless Headphones

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

Best wireless earbuds: Bowers & Wilkins Pi3

Superb sound that's easy to wear

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 31g | Frequency response: 10Hz - 30kHz | Drivers: 9.2mm | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 96 dB | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 8 hours | NFC: No

Comfortable design
Excellent sound quality
No waterproofing
Average battery life

In a very competitive market segment the Bowers & Wilkins Pi3 edges some strong competitors by the sheer quality of its sound. That's down to the dual driver design, each with dedicated amplification, resulting in a perfectly balanced sound effortlessly maintained no matter what we threw at them.  

The neck band is especially comfortable but still sturdy enough to withstand a little rough treatment. They're also extremely light making them ideal for all-day use.  The companion app means you can easly update their software and also keep tabs on battery levels. We're a little disappointed that they don't have a proper IP-based splashproof rating, making one reluctant to use them at gym or in a rainstorm, but the overall music quality is so good you can easily overlook this tiny limitation.

Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins PI3 Wireless Headphones review

Sony WF-1000XM3

(Image credit: Sony)

Best true wireless earbuds: Sony WF-1000XM3

Noise cancelation without the wires

Weight: 70g | Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Dome Type | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life (charging case): 18 hours | Wireless range: 30ft | NFC: Yes

Efficient noise cancelation
Inconspicuous looks
Great fun to listen to
Not suitable for sports

The Sony WF-1000X manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that's very good for a pair of earbuds – they won't offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear cans, but if you're after a sleek form factor then the compromise is worth it. 

The Sony WF-1000X manage to offer a level of noise-cancelation that's very good for a pair of earbuds – they won't offer the same isolation as a pair of over-ear cans, but if you're after a sleek form factor then the compromise is worth it. 

That being said, in spite of a few minor problems we feel that Sony has knocked the ball out of the park with the WF-1000XM3: not only are these hands-down the best-looking true wireless earbuds out there, but they also combine serious noise cancelling tech with fist-pumping musicality. 

If you don’t want the inconvenience of carrying full-size cans, they’re a persuasive and smart alternative.

Read more: Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Earbuds review

Bose headphones

(Image credit: Bose)

Best noise-cancelling headphones: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Class-leading noise cancellation, but not the best battery life

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 25g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 20 hours | Wireless range: 33 ft | NFC: Yes

Outstanding noise cancelation
Fun, lively sound
Elegant design
Battery life could be better

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 seek to remedy this, by applying noise-cancellation to phone calls as well as music. The sound quality is undeniably good, with a vibrant, lively character and well-balanced soundstage.t.

Traditionally, noise-cancelling headphones have been designed to block out the environmental sounds around you, so that you can hear your music more clearly (or catch some shut-eye on a noisy flight). 

This can be really effective if you’re listening to music. If you’re making a phone call however, the person you’re speaking to can still hear everything that’s happening around you, whether you’re standing on a busy street or trying to speak on a rumbling train.

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 seek to remedy this, by applying noise-cancelation to phone calls as well as music. The sound quality is undeniably good, with a vibrant, lively character and well-balanced soundstage.

If you’re trying to decide between buying the Sony WH-1000XM3s and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, we’d recommend going for the former because of that lower price and better battery life. That being said, you wouldn’t be making a mistake if you opted for the Bose cans instead (and we wouldn’t blame you if you did) – they sound great, look stunning, and the noise cancellation is out of this world. 

Read more: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review

sennheiser hd 450bt

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

Best budget noise-cancelling headphones: Sennheiser HD 450BT

Great noise-cancelling headphones for those on a budget

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 238g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 18Hz - 22kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 100 dBSPL@1kHz/1mW | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: 30ft (10m) | NFC: No

Fantastic sound
Comfortable fit
Flimsy build
Soundstage could be more open

Sennheiser is well-known for its great-sounding noise-cancelling headphones, and its latest, the R2199 Sennheiser HD 450BT, offer a cheaper alternative to previous models like the Momentum 3 Wireless and class-leaders like the Sony WH-1000XM3

With a minimal design and built-in noise cancellation, these fully-foldable wireless headphones are aimed squarely at the commuting crowd. Their well-balanced profile should appeal audiophiles and bass-hunters alike. 

Battery life and connectivity are both very good, and the noise-cancelling works well enough, although you might find that these headphones don’t quite block out all external noise. 

Read more: Sennheiser HD 450BT review

grado sr60e

(Image credit: Grado)

Best on-ear headphones: Grado SR60e

Truly excellent sound performance for a stellar price

Acoustic design: Open | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99db | Impedance: 32 ohm | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A

Very comfortable
Impressive definition for the price
Highly recommended
No in-line controls

For your money, you can't do any better than Grado's SR60e. The third-generation of the Brooklyn, NY-based company's Prestige Series are its best and most refined yet. 

The SR60e in particular are a smart choice if you're looking for an entry-level pair of headphones that sound far more expensive than they really are. Sporting a pair of these will cost you R1700.

Their open-backed earcup design makes them feel more breathable than most on-ear headphones, delivering a wide, natural soundstage. In a few words, they're our gold-standard when it comes to on-ears.

(Our review is for the SR60i, but the newer SR60e headphones are largely similar in design and performance.)

Read more: Grado SR60e review

Sony WH-CH510 headphones

Sony WH-CH510 headphones (Image credit: Sony)

Best budget on-ear headphones: Sony WH-CH510

Amazing battery life

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 132g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20Hz - 20,000Hz | Drivers: 30mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 35 hours | Wireless range: 10m | NFC: No

Incredibly affordable
Solid audio and battery life
Lightweight and compact
Somewhat flimsy construction
No 3.5mm jack or USB audio

It's almost ironic how Sony has come in from a year or two in the tech wilderness to dominate the headphone business. The WH-1000XM4 noise-cancelling over-ears have replaced its predecessor in our top spot overall and the WF-1000XM3 true wireless buds also tops its class. And now these low-priced Sony cans have turned in a winning audio performance too. 

You don't expect top notch sound from on-ears, but these do exceptionally well nevertheless, especially considering the price. We especially like the USB-C charging and the extraordinary 35 hours of battery life (there's no cabled option as a fallback plan, though).  The biggest drawback is a slightly lightweight all-plastic construction, but the padding on the cups is decent, and they're otherwise small and light, so well-suited to the mobile lifestyle.   

Read more: Sony WH-CH510

focal stellia

(Image credit: Focal)

Best luxury headphones: Focal Stellia

Luxury cans with a luxury price tag to match

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.96 lbs (435g) | Cable length: 1 x 4ft OFC 24 AWG cable, 1 x 10ft OFC 24 AWG cable | Frequency response: 5Hz - 40kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Sensitivity: 106dB SPL / 1mW @ 1kHz | Impedance: 35Ohms | Battery life: NA | Wireless range: NA | NFC: No

Stunning, precise sound
Open soundstage
Opulent design
Extremely expensive

The Focal Stellias are perhaps the best-sounding headphones on the planet. Their wide-open soundstage and detailed, accurate sound treatment means they make any genre of music sound brilliant.

If you listen to songs you think you know inside out, the Stellias' precise separation of the frequencies means that you will probably hear details you’ve never noticed before.

If you like to keep things minimal in the headphones department, you probably won’t like the showy, opulent design of the Focal Stellias, and they can feel a little chunky for wearing on the commute into work. 

But if luxury is your thing, the full-grain leather cups, woven cables, brushed copper accents, and matching carrying case are likely to appeal. 

That luxury feel is translated right down to the presentation of the user manuals in a neat little leather-style wallet – and you may well expect to find this level of detail in exchange for parting with R115 485. Ouch. 

Read more: Focal Stellia headphones review

Best headphones of 2020, at a glance

What to look for

Which headphones style is best for you?

Check out TechRadar's exhaustive guides to the best over-ear headphones, best on-ear headphones and the best in-ear headphones.

For some more specialist pairs, take a look at our guides to the best wireless headphones, best true wireless earbuds, best wireless earbuds, and the best noise-cancelling headphones.

Need a specific brand? We have guides to the best Sony headphones, the best Bose headphones, and the best Audio-Technica headphones.

Looking for some headphones you can work out with? Check out our guide to the best swimming headphones and the best running headphones

Choosing the right headphones for you can be an agonizing decision – but it doesn't have to be if you look for a few key features. 

Above all, sound quality is the most important thing to look for. That doesn't mean you have to buy the most expensive audiophile headphones on the market; it just means that you should have an idea of what kind of sound you like. 

How you define good sound quality depends on your personal taste. Do you like a warm, well-rounded sound, or do you prefer ultra high-fidelity that allows you to hear every single detail of your music? Are you a dedicated bass head or a classical music junkie?

If you're all about that bass, you'll want to look out for dynamic drivers that displace lots of air, leading to a bassy soundstage. If detail is everything, look for large frequency ranges – 20Hz to 20 kHz is the standard, so anything larger than this may allow for more detail in the highs and lows. 

It's also important to consider the soundstage as a whole; if you love a wide, open sound, try a pair of open-back headphones. Worried about sound-leakage when you're in the company of others? Try a pair of closed-back cans with a secure fit to stop your tunes bothering the people around you.

You also need to consider the design of your new headphones. Do you want the freedom of true wireless earbuds or the security of a pair of sturdy over-ear headphones?

Wireless or wired is also an important consideration. A few short years ago, we may have tried to dissuade you from buying a pair of wireless headphones (the technology had issues with wireless connectivity over Bluetooth and sound quality took a dive as a result). 

Nowadays however, advances in Bluetooth technology means that wireless headphones can sound fantastic and rarely experience annoying dropouts. If you're going for wireless headphones, make sure the battery life is decent, too.

You should also think about what you'll be using your new headphones for; if you need to soundtrack your workout, you'll want to look at headphones specifically designed for running or swimming.

Lastly, you need to consider price. You don't have to break the bank when your buying a pair of headphones, as evidenced by our guide to the best cheap headphones of 2020.

Press on to page two to see how to pick out a good pair of headphones along more of our recommendations.

Check out our videos below for a roundup of the best headphones available.

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