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Home / Features / Best wired headphones 2024: in-ears, over-ears, open and closed-back

Best wired headphones 2024: in-ears, over-ears, open and closed-back

Get ultimate corded audio with the best wired headphones

best wired headphones featuring Philips Austrian Audio SoundMagic RØDE Beyerdynamic and Shure

From in-ears to over-ears, closed-back and open-back, there are plenty of wired headphones options out there. They’re ideal if you’d rather have the reliable, charge-free, and tactile experience of a cable-toting pair of cans or buds.

While Bluetooth headphones have become the norm, audiophiles and people who’d rather not have to deal with charging another gadget still flock to wired headphones to get their audio fix.

With so many different options available, choosing the right ones for you can be tricky. That’s why we’ve rounded up our top pick of the best wired headphones, to help make your decision that little bit easier. If you’re looking for a little more freedom of movement, you should check out Stuff’s guide to the best wireless earbuds and best headphones.

What are the best wired headphones?

We think the Grado SR325x (buy now) are the best wired headphones. An open-back pair of headphones with 44mm drivers, we love the premium metal construction and precisely balanced, music into your ears. You’ll be amazed by the incredible clarity, trust us.

Other wired headphone recommendations

Are the Grado SR325x not quite right for you? Here’s a quick glance at our other picks:

Best cheap over-ear headphones

The Superlux HD681 (buy now) are, to be rather blunt, ludicrously under-priced considering the sonic performance they offer. We think they’re one of the best value-for-money headphones around, they’re superb for those who place sound quality over looks and all-day comfort.

Best wired in-ear headphones

The Shure AONIC 3 (buy now) in-ears are light and comfortable, with the cables cleverly looping over your ears for a secure fit. Oh, and they sound absolutely fabulous too, with superb sound isolation thrown in for good measure. There are few rivals at this price.

Best premium wired headphones

The Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X (buy now) is one of the more expensive options on our list, the DT 900 Pro X headphones blend exceptional sound performance with a sturdy, premium, and comfortable build for great all-round performance.

The best wired headphones you can buy today:

1. Grado SR325x

Stuff Verdict

These stunning open-back cans are the best wired headphones you can buy


  • Stunning clarity
  • Gorgeous retro design


  • Foam earpads are unsual
  • Open backs leak sound
Grado SR325x specs
TypeOpen-back on-ear
Driver size44mm
Frequency Response18 – 24,000 Hz

New York-based Grado has been crafting some incredible headphones for just shy of 70 years, and their retro design never fails to impress. Don’t be deceived though — there’s plenty of audio tech hidden beneath those foam earpads and padded headband.

An open-back pair of headphones with 44mm drivers and a premium metal construction, they’ll pump precisely balanced, music into your ears with incredible clarity. A reassuringly durable, braided cable provides extra peace of mind.

Fiio FT5 best wired headphones

2. FiiO FT5

Stuff Verdict

Purpose-built to please audiophiles who refuse to give up on wired listening. The FiiO FT5 is a fantastic pair of planar over-ears.


  • Superb sonic performance
  • Looks great and is built to last
  • Extensive wired connection options


  • Proprietary cables
  • Ear cups not the largest
FiiO FT5 specs
Drivers90mm planar magnetic
Frequency response7Hz-40kHz
Impedance36 ohms
Connectivity1.5m cable with 3.5mm/4.4mm interchangeable, 3.5mm to 6.35mm, 4.4mm to XLR-4 balanced

FiiO knows a thing or two about DACs and DAPs, but doesn’t have the headphone lineage of some of the other brands mentioned in this list. It’s beyond impressive, then, that its first pair of planar magnetic over-ears are so well-rounded. The FT5 uses large 90mm planar drivers to deliver wonderfully nuanced audio, with more bass than we expect from the tech – although swapping to the second pair of included ear pads can dial that back if you prefer a more balanced sound.

Multiple connection options, a luxurious travel case and some delightful industrial design mean they punch well above their weight, considering an asking price that’s considerably lower than many planar rivals.

3. Shure Aonic 3

Stuff Verdict

If in-ears are more you thing, you can’t go wrong with the Shure Aonic 3


  • Impeccable sound
  • Lightweight and comfortable


  • Not the most dynamic
Shure Aonic 3 specs
Driver sizeBalanced Armature
Frequency Response20 – 18,500 Hz
Weight20.8 g

Shure has historically made some of the best wired headphones around, and the Aonic 3 is up there with them. Lightweight and comfortable, the cable is designed to hook over your ears for a secure fit. The included nine different ear tips provide an excellent choice for a comfortable fit with superb sound isolation.

Sound quality is exceptional, as you’d hope at this price, and not many other in-ear buds can rival them for sound quality. The in-line controls are handy too, saving you from whipping your phone out to change tracks or answer calls.

4. Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X

Stuff Verdict

Yes, they’re expensive, but you certainly won’t be disappointed by the sound quality or comfort of these cabled headphones


  • Incredibly comfortable
  • Premium build quality


  • Not the most portable option out there
Beyerdynamic DT 900 Pro X specs
TypeOpen-backed over-ear
Driver size45mm
Frequency Response5 – 40,000 Hz
Weight345 g

If you’re prepared to drop a big wad of cash for some top-tier headphones, Beyerdynamic’s offering won’t disappoint. Open-backed for a more spatial listening experience, its Stellar 45 driver promises to loudly reproduce the best sound in studio quality. And Beyerdynamic promises no distortion, regardless of what device you’re using. Just be wary of the quality of your source, as they’re accurate to the point of bringing out flaws in poor-quality material.

Comfort-wise your ears will have no complaints either, thanks to soft velour earpads and a memory foam headband — both of which can be easily replaced for improved longevity. Coupled with a rugged cable, metal, and glass-fibre reinforced plastic parts, this is a pair of over-ears that should last you for years to come.

5. Superlux HD681

Stuff Verdict

Amazing bang for your buck, if you’re after ultimate sound quality without breaking the bank, these are the headphones for you


  • Neutral sound
  • Comfortable fit


  • Not the best build quality
  • Can’t detach the cable
Superlux HD681 specs
TypeSemi-open over-ear
Driver size50mm
Frequency Response10 – 30,000 Hz
Weight235 g

If you dive deep enough down the near-infinite depths of audiophile forums and Reddit threads, you’ll eventually come across people discussing the Superlux HD681. Described as semi-open (but definitely more on the open end of things), they are regarded by audio enthusiasts to be one of the best headphones around, period. Despite their ludicrously low price, they are lauded for their fantastic, rich, balanced sound. Although many people do recommend nudging the high end down in an EQ app to reduce the sharpness.

At this price, you’re not going to get luxurious build quality of comfort, which is where the HD681 is likely to let you down. Still, the sound quality-to-price ratio is, quite frankly, insane. They’re absolutely worth a punt if you’re starting out on your audiophile journey or simply want to experience their value for money with your own ears.

6. RØDE NTH-100

Stuff Verdict

The RØDE NTH-100 are the perfect pair of podcast headphones – fact.


  • Uncoloured sound
  • Adjustable fit


  • Fairly heavy
  • Fabric earcups are harder to clean than vinyl
RØDE NTH-100 specs
Driver size40mm
Frequency Response5Hz – 35,000 Hz

Better known for its microphones, RØDE’s NTH-100 are the company’s first-ever pair of headphones. A pair of over-ear monitors aimed at professionals like podcasters, live streamers and audio engineers, they combine excellent sonic performance with superior all-day comfort, with a sturdy build quality to boot. A pair of 40mm dynamic drivers deliver a frequency response ranging from 5Hz to 35kHz. That provides a clarity you might normally expect to hear from a high-end pair of open-back headphones.

Despite their impressive specs, they won’t break the bank, and luxurious materials like Alcantara-covered memory foam earpads belie the sticker price. The pads are made with a layer of CoolTech gel, which helps absorb and dissipate heat. This means you remain comfortable during marathon listening sessions. A solid all-rounder for work and play.

7. SoundMagic E11C

Stuff Verdict

A truly excellent pair of wired in-ear headphones – affordable, entertaining, and complete with in-line controls.


  • Thumping bass
  • In-line controls and mic


  • Lackluster design
SoundMagic E11C specs
Driver size10mm
Frequency Response15 – 22,000 Hz

SoundMagic prides itself on providing great sound at budget prices, and the E11C is no exception. A successor to the critically acclaimed E10, each bud in the E11C packs in improved drivers, which provide substantial thump for bass lovers. The sound is warm and balanced, with nothing harsh or jarring to disturb sensitive ears.

They might not look exciting, but for a pair of buds that sound this good for this low a price, there’s little to complain about. Throw in built-in in-line controls for volume, music and call playback… And you’ve got a set of headphones that serve up heaps of bang for your buck.

8. Philips SHP9500

Stuff Verdict

If you are looking for an open-back experience, these are a great pair of headphones to get you started.


  • Wide, open soundstage
  • Comfortable


  • Large and bulky
  • Leak sound
Philips SHP9500 specs
TypeOpen-back Over-ears
Driver size50mm
Frequency Response12 – 35,000  Hz
Weight295 g

The Philips SHP9500 have an open-back design, which gives music a wider, more open feeling, and, in most cases, more accurate, better sound. The downside though, is that they also leak sound, which will disturb anyone else around you. They also let in external noises too. So if you’re going for an open-back pair of headphones, bear in mind that they’ll be best suited for use at home, ideally in a quiet room.

With all that said, if you are looking for an open-back experience, these are a great pair of headphones to get you started. Punchy 50mm drivers provide crisp yet balanced lows, mids and highs. They’ve been specifically positioned to better deliver sound directly into your ears. With premium materials including a steel headband and breathable ear cushions, they look and feel the part too.

9. Austrian Audio Hi-X15

Stuff Verdict

If you want to listen to tracks with perfect balance at an affordable price, these will serve you well


  • Seriously comfortable earpads
  • Metail design, despite affordable price tag


  • Benefits from the addition of a DAC or AMP
Austrian Audio Hi-X15 specs
Driver size44mm
Frequency Response12 – 24,000 Hz

These closed-back headphones have a solid metal construction for a more robust feel, along with soft memory foam earpads for comfort. They’re foldable for easier storage too, and come with a generous 1.4m-long detachable cable. The 44mm drivers, in conjunction with a ring magnet system, translate to a crisp, clear, and accurate listening experience.

Reviews mention a slight lack of bass — or, rather, accurate bass that’s a faithful reproduction of the artist intended. If you’re used to more bass-orientated mainstream headphones, or simply prefer more oomph, then these crisp cans might not be the best choice. But if you want to listen to tracks with perfect balance at an affordable price, these will serve you well.

10. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

Stuff Verdict

Used by professional audio engineers around the world, the ATH-M50x is a legendary pair of headphones


  • Tank-like build
  • Fantastic sound quality


  • Getting a little old now
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x specs
Driver size45mm
Frequency Response15 – 28,000 Hz

Used by professional audio engineers around the world (not to mention heavy hitters including Drake, Mariah Carey, and Lady Gaga), the ATH-M50x is a legendary pair of headphones. They’re renowned for their tank-like build and useful 90-degree swivelling earcups for easy one-ear monitoring.

Sound quality is, unsurprisingly, excellent, driven by 45mm large-aperture drivers. A selection of different cables available in different lengths and coil types makes for a flexible solution depending on the scenario. They look the part too, with a minimal-yet-functional design aesthetic that should appeal to practically everyone.

11. Campfire Audio Honeydew

Stuff Verdict

With a unique design, these are definitely a top contender in the design department


  • Standout design
  • Great sound with plenty of bass


  • On the expensive side
  • Could be too bassy for some
Campfire Audio Honeydew specs
Driver size10mm
Frequency Response5 – 18,000 Hz
WeightNot available

This rather unusual set of in-ears from Campfire Audio does a great job of standing out from the dull crowd that makes up the majority of its competitors. With a strikingly soft yet angular shape and a rich, deep yellow/orange colour, it’s definitely a top contender in the design department.

Looks aside, they sound superb too, thanks to 10mm drivers that offer up a very impressive amount of bass compared to most rivals, without muddying the audio waters. If your ears love hanging out in the low end, and you’re after a premium experience with an eye-catching design to match, look no further.

12. Sennheiser IE200

Stuff Verdict

Entry-level IEMs have excellent build quality, supreme comfort, and a fantastic sonic performance for the money


  • Supreme comfort
  • Excellent build quality


  • Lacks bass
  • Replacement cables are pricey
Sennheiser IE200 specs
Driver size7mm
Frequency Response6 – 20,000 Hz

These entry-level IEMs have excellent build quality, supreme comfort, and a fantastic sonic performance for the money. They don’t go above and beyond, so as not to take the shine off Sennheiser’s more expensive in-ear models, but little else can rival it unless you’re prepared to take a shot on relatively unknown brands.

The connectors might be Sennheiser’s take on the industry-standard MCXX, but they make it a breeze to swap out the cable should it fail (or you fancy an upgrade). A bunch of silicone and foam ear tips in the box ensure a comfortable fit, too.

13. Urbanears Zinken

Stuff Verdict

Stylish and affordable wired on-ear headphones from Urbanears


  • Attractive, minimal design
  • Affordable price


  • No built-in volume control
  • Not the best sound
Urbanears Zinken specs
Driver size40mm
Frequency Response
20 Hz – 20 kHz
WeightHeadphones: 207g / Cable: 45g

If you’re looking for style, the Urbanears Zinken are a great option. We love their minimal, streamlined design. The audio is loud, but a little muddy (there are certainly better sounding wired headphones out there). They’re collapsable, which makes them great for travel, and they come with an extra input/output port for sharing music, allowing you to plug in another pair of headphones. The tough yet flexible on-ear construction feels comfy, and they’re lightweight too.

How to choose the best wired headphones for you

Wired headphones, as the name suggests, connect to your audio source using a physical cable rather than using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. While wired headphones come with the obvious limitation of mobility, they offer reliable audio performance, compatibility, and often deliver excellent sound quality at an affordable price.

That last point is the most important, really. Wired headphones generally offer better sound quality compared to their wireless counterparts, as the audio signal is transmitted directly through the cable without any potential loss of quality or interference.

The wired connection also provides a more reliable audio transmission, so you don’t have to worry about connectivity issues (is there anything more grating than Bluetooth transmission issues?).

You also don’t need to worry about confusing pairing processes, which can be incredibly annoying if you pair with more than one device, or battery life.

One thing that you will need to bear in mind is the length and durability of the cable provided with your wired headphones.

If you’re looking to properly block out the outside world, you should check out Stuff‘s guide to the best noise-cancelling headphones.

Profile image of Esat Dedezade Esat Dedezade Contributor


Esat has been a gadget fan ever since his tiny four-year-old brain was captivated by a sound-activated dancing sunflower. From there it was a natural progression to a Sega Mega Drive, a brief obsession with hedgehogs, and a love for all things tech. After 7 years as a writer and deputy editor for Stuff, Esat ventured out into the corporate world, spending three years as Editor of Microsoft's European News Centre. Now a freelance writer, his appetite for shiny gadgets has no bounds. Oh, and like all good human beings, he's very fond of cats.

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