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10 Best Headphones of 2020 ▷

The most important things at a glance:

  • is differentiated by type, purpose and construction principle
  • closed headphones shield well, convenient for outdoor use
  • open headphones sound natural but shield less well
  • Best try on shell headphones: On-ear or over-ear more convenient?
  • Headphones with Bluetooth radio offer maximum freedom of movement

loudspeaker, whether Classic, connected via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, sometimes wear too thick. With a headphone, you get a more discreet transducer, which is worn directly on or even in the ear. They hear and enjoy, everyone else hears nothing. The only question is: which headphones do I choose? Which type suits me, which model is the best? Not an easy decision, because the choice is huge. First, consider where, how, and with which signal source the headphones are inserted.

The NuForce BE Sport3 in-ear headphones sits securely in the ear while jogging. You also save a connection cable – and can move freely.

Indoors, outdoors or in sports? Types and areas of application

Basically, the range is distinguished into compact earbuds, which are either seated in the earcups or pushed directly into the ear canal, as well as in large and comparatively bulky shell headphones. It also distinguishes between regular-use hi-fi headphones, DJ headphones, and studio headphones for sound professionals, noise-canceling ANC headphones, and gaming headsets for game fans. Headphones for the outer ear, including the increasingly popular in-ear headphones, are particularly suitable for mobile use on smartphones or portable audio players and sports activities due to their compact shape, while shell headphones offer more comfort and thus provide relaxed music enjoyment even in the living room. In the case of padded shell headphones, the construction principle is also important.

DJ-Headhörer Ultrasone Signature DXP A “reliable workhorse” for DJs that also puts a lot of pressure on privately: the closed Ultrasone earphone Signature DXP. (Image source:

Construction principle: Closed, open and semi-open system

A closed system shields the ear completely. Closed headphones are not air permeable to the outside. So there can be no or very little sound pressure to escape – probably this is probably why closed headphones are particularly popular nowadays. Tests show: The closed system ensures a strong bass reproduction, conversely, ambient noise only penetrates the ear at a subdued time. This is important for the disc jockey, for outdoor recordings and in general whenever you want to enjoy your music as undisturbed as possible. However, the wearing feeling is not for everyone, because there is no pressure equalization between the transducer and the environment. With prolonged use, this leads to an unpleasant pressure on the ears, and in addition, there can be a heat build-up under the shells in the case of over-ear and on-ear receivers.

Open Headhörer Hifiman Sundara Sounds, airy, detailed and homogeneous – only not on the smartphone: the open magnetostat headphones Hifiman Sundara.

In the case of an open system, the headphone shell is air permeable. The sound pressure can escape more or less strongly outwards and disturb the seat neighbor, in return, the ear is not insulated from noises from the environment. An open system is not suitable for disc jockeys, outdoor assignments, or for recording and recording in the recording studio. For this, the wearing comfort of the rather loose-fitting models is higher, because compared to a closed system there is no heat build-up under the shells. In addition, open headphones guarantee a spatial and transparent sound. In short, you should reach for open-plan headphones if you want to enjoy their music in a quiet environment and no one else can disturb it. In the recording studio, open headphones are mainly used for listening and mixing.

Semi-open headörer Beyerdynamic T1 The Beyerdynamic T1 sounds very precise and of course, also in the bass range, is only partially suitable for outdoor use due to its semi-open construction.

Also a semi-open system can be worn comfortably over a long period of time but shields the ear better against outside noise compared to an open system. In contrast to the high frequencies, the low frequencies can penetrate outwards, the bass reproduction is, therefore, more natural than with a closed system and the overall sound is somewhat “airier”. This construction principle is not really suitable for live use or outdoor shooting.


Irrespective of the construction principle, shell headphones are distinguished into ear-mounted and ear-enclosing systems. Of course, this also has an impact on wearing comfort: the cushions of an ear-enclosing or on-ear headphones are shaped in such a way that they sit directly and – depending on the size or weight of the model – relatively tightly on your ear, while ear-enclosing or over-ear systems are completely placed around the ear cups. In most cases, the seat of an ear-enclosing model is perceived as more pleasant; In the end, however, this is an individual decision and probably also a matter of getting used to it – test it yourself. The fit and seat of ear-enclosing headphones are even more important than an ear-enclosing model because ear-enclosing headphones can only unfold their full sound potential if it is optimally aligned. Practically, on-ear receivers are on the move, they simply fit better in the pocket.

Sennheiser HD 800 S with Pentaconn connection The Sennheiser HD 800 S finds connection via 6.3-millimeter jack or, quite unusual, symmetrically via a Pentaconn jack with 4.4 millimeters. (Image source:

Fixed, detachable, or no cable at all?

Last but not least, the cable is important. So you have to ask yourself whether the cable – in addition to the smooth version there are spiral or reversing cables – should be connected on one or both sides, whether it is firmly attached to the headphones or, useful in the event of a defect – can be easily replaced. A model with a 6.3-millimeter jack plug is suitable for use on the home stereo system, while a 3.5-millimeter diameter plug is needed for portable play-offs. If you want to do without cables, you can use wireless headphones, but you sometimes have to accept noise or noise. In addition, the range and battery performance of the wireless models are limited. Wireless headphones are differentiated into infrared headphones, analog or digital wireless headphones, depending on the transmission technology. The latter group basically includes Bluetooth headphones and Bluetooth headsets.

Wireless headphones with extra-long battery life


True Wireless Headhörer Apple AirPods Pro No pressure on the ears: With the True Wireless Bluetooth Headphones AirPods Pro, ventilation ducts provide pressure equalization. (Image source:

What are the pros and cons of Bluetooth headphones?

No annoying stripping: If you’re on the go a lot, Bluetooth headphones definitely have advantages. The smartphone connects wirelessly, your freedom of movement is not restricted. In return, you need persistent batteries. If the battery goes to its knees, the music stops and you can no longer make phone calls. In many cases, but not always, a cable can then be connected. True wireless headphones are particularly short-breathed, which is due to the tiny batteries. Conveniently, these models come with a charging case so you can refuel the dwarf batteries on the go. According to tests, Bluetooth headphones also have a tendency to lag behind the sound, at least in the opposite vein. Good models come with aptX or AAC support, which slightly compensates for the sound loss compared to the (high-quality) cable connection. With the connection stability, on the other hand, current models have hardly any problems.

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