Consumer Reports: Choosing Good Headphones

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A pair of good headphones can be a godsend, whether you want to listen to music without disturbing anyone or get some sonic sanctuary from others. If you're in the market for some, check our latest headphone Ratings (available to subscribers) of several types.

The type of headphones you buy will likely depend on your lifestyle and perhaps on your budget. You may decide to buy different types of headphones for different uses, such as a portable sports model to wear at the gym or a larger over-the-ear set for listening to music at home.

If you'll be listening anywhere extraneous sounds could be distracting—in a crowded airplane or train, for example—you may want a noise-reduction model that can diminish unwanted ambient noise. Make sure the headphones fit comfortably, especially if you'll be wearing them for extended periods of time. (Watch our Guide to Buying Headphones video.)

The good news is you don't have to pay a fortune to get good sound. One of our recommended portable models, a Sony, costs just $20, and our top-rated noise-canceling model, an in-ear set from Panasonic, is $60. The best-sounding headphone we tested, a Grado, costs less than $100.

We've separated our latest headphones Ratings and recommendations into two sections. One section features Ratings of home and portable stereo headphones along with our Recommended models. The other includes Ratings of noise-canceling headphones and our Recommended models. (Ratings and Recommendations are available for subscribers.)

Don't see a model you like? Check back with us this summer when we'll be updating our headphone Ratings with newer models.



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