Best Headphones Under $400 in 2022

by Alex.   Last Updated On September 26th, 2022.
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There are a variety of choices when you are searching for headphones, and finding the best one for your budget may be difficult. However, setting your specific budget can be a great first step in being able to pinpoint the perfect headset for your needs.

Whether you are an audiophile looking for the best sound quality from your favorite music, you’re a gamer that needs to have high levels of environmental awareness, or you’re a studio professional in search of headphones that can help with audio sampling and editing, there is a pair of headphones for you on this list.

We have focused on a variety of highly rated wired and wireless headsets under $400 in order to narrow down the list to a few perfect options. We took a closer look at the various pros and cons, features, and how each of the noise canceling headphones differ from the competition.

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Comparison of the Best Headphones Under $400

Best Design Headphones Under $400See On Amazon
photo of the Audeze MobiusAudeze
Mobius
Best Budget Headphones Under $400See On Amazon
photo of the Bose 700 Headphones WirelessBose
700 Headphones Wireless
Best Overall Headphones Under $400See On Amazon
photo of the Sony WH-1000XM4 WirelessSony
WH-1000XM4 Wireless
Best Quality Headphones Under $400See On Amazon
photo of the Audio-Technica ATH-R70xAudio-Technica
ATH-R70x
Best Premium Headphones Under $400See On Amazon
photo of the Sennheiser HD650Sennheiser
HD650

Reviews of the Best Headphones Under $400

Impressive and stylish design with excellent ear coverage for deep and well balanced audio for music and vocals.

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Audeze Mobius has created an extremely high quality closed-back headphones for gaming which is also perfect for music lovers and audio editing. The headset includes a built-in microphone which offers crisp and clear vocals to shine through which is great when playing online games where voice communication is important.

Additionally, these over ear headphones offer 7.1 surround sound (see also the best surround sound headphones) with positional audio which gives you a detailed soundstage for all sounds both low and high no matter which direction they are coming from. For gaming, this is a vital part of environmental awareness and can mean the difference between getting the drop on the enemy team, or being dropped on yourself.

Since gaming headsets are made to be worn for long periods of time, you’ll notice large and well padded ear cups which are also replaceable. These ear cups won’t cause pressure fatigue or pain, and can be worn for several hours without becoming uncomfortable or painful. The replaceable headband is well padded too which is great for the top of your head.

What We Like

Extremely comfortable for long hours of wear

Excellent 7.1 surround sound high quality audio

Detachable cable for wired or wireless listening

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Flexible and detachable microphone

Independent call volumes can be finicky

Ear pads are replaceable as needed

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From a well known brand name in the industry, these over ear headphones are designed to be high quality in detailed sound and looks.

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Perfect for all-around use, these noise canceling headphones from Bose can be the perfect headset for a wide range of uses. They offer excellent vocal isolation and have a unique four-microphone setup that provides background noise cancelling technology so you can be heard clearly when on voice calls or Zoom meetings.

This headset is also a great choice if you use voice assistants often, or use vocal dictation for writing such as speech-to-text software. Your voice will be clearly picked up and sent to the computer or other device you are using so you can get accurate voice transmission when you need it most.

When it comes to audio listening, these headphones offer 11 levels of noise cancellation so you can enjoy your favorite music or podcast even in a busy environment. Being wireless, you’ll also have more than 20 hours of battery lifespan for full volume listening.

What We Like

Intuitive controls on the ear cups for volume

High levels of noise cancellation

Up to 20 hours of battery lifespan

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Noise cancellation can be fine-tuned at 11 levels

Headphones are perfect for podcasts, music, or gaming

Excellent vocal recreation for voice assistant programs

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These headphones offer industry leading noise cancellation technology for the clearest and most accurate vocal reproduction possible.

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As one of the most well known names in the market, this Sony wireless headset is an outstanding model to consider for all purposes. These audiophile headphones provide extremely clear and crisp audio for serious audiophiles, while also allowing you to clearly hear and be heard when using the built-in microphone for Zoom meetings, conference calls, and podcast recording.

These Sony audiophile headphones not only offer industry leading noise cancellation, but they offer it at two different levels. The first is a personal noise canceling optimizer which is perfect for reducing noise from the room around you. This is perfect for busy offices, bus commutes, and more.

The second option in these audiophile headphones is atmospheric pressure optimization which not only helps adjust your ear pressure when traveling by air, but also ensures you receive the music and vocal tones playing in your headphones at a high quality level. This makes these headphones the perfect option for anyone that commutes or travels by air more often than not.

What We Like

High quality noise canceling processors in each ear cup

Rapid and high quality sound replication with the Bluetooth SoC

Extremely comfortable ear pads for long hours of wear

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Includes double built-in microphones for noise canceling

Two levels of noise canceling including personal and atmospheric

Up to 30 hours of battery lifespan on a full charge

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The first pair of professional headphones by Audio Technica, this pair offers a high quality standard when it comes to sound reproduction.

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If you’ve struggled to find audiophile headphones that focuses on being lightweight while also providing high quality sound, look no further than this pair of professional audiophile headphones from Audio Technica. While the brand may not be as well known as some other heavy hitters in the industry, they put an emphasis on providing high quality components, excellent design aesthetics, and lightweight comfort.

The housings are made from aluminum honeycomb mesh to be both lightweight and acoustically transparent. This helps provide a clear and natural soundscape for all styles of music and vocals. Comfort is also improved by the 3D wing support on each headphone which makes them extremely good for long hours of continuous use without causing ear fatigue or pain.

Even though these audiophile headphones are extremely lightweight, they are not delicate. Their robust and durable construction makes them a pair of headphones you can use for years to come. The highly efficient exterior material provides a reduction in magnetic distortion when playing music at any volume.

What We Like

Extremely accurate high frequency response from each ear cup

Spacious open-back design with honeycomb-mesh housing

Extremely lightweight at a mere 210 grams headphone weight

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Memory foam earpads are breathable for long hours of use

Highly detailed transient response from carbon composite

Flexible headband for use over hats or with various hairstyles

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Perfect for serious audiophiles, these dynamic headphones provide a sound quality that can’t be found in most other models.

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Providing one of the highest rated sound quality returns possible, these Sennheiser dynamic headphones are an outstanding choice for serious audiophiles. If you desperately need to hear every high and low in perfect clarity, these headphones can deliver exactly that to you.

Made with a specific focus on providing the highest quality performance possible, any music enthusiast will love the features these headphones offer. Not only are they made with extremely high quality components inside and out, but Sennheiser also put a focus on acoustic engineering every step of the way. These headphones are the caliber needed to please serious audiophiles as well as professionals that need to hear every pitch in critical listening projects and applications.

When it comes to sound reproduction, the HD650’s use a range of improved materials and modern drivers hand selected specifically for high end listening applications. Even the most critical listener will hear absolute precision, emotion, and independent expressiveness with every genre of music they try.

What We Like

Absolutely outstanding high quality audio reproduction

Very comfortable harness system for each ear cup

High levels of acoustic isolation for recording professionals

Know Before Buying

Exterior finish includes both titanium and silver accents

Great choice for audiophiles and sound engineers alike

Crisp and detailed balance on both highs and lows

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How to Choose the Best Headphones Under $400

Battery Life

When considering wireless capability headsets, battery life will be a huge concern. Afterall, the last thing you want is to be listening to your favorite music or in the middle of a professional sampling stage when your battery dies and the headphones cut out.

High end headphones can offer up to 30 hours or more of battery lifespan, giving you the chance to use these headphones continuously for that amount of time before needing a recharge. Additionally, some headphones offer a quick charge feature, giving you the option to charge for 10 minutes and get a 5 hour return on battery lifespan in case you just need to finish a few last parts of your project.

There are several factors that can come into play with a battery life. This is most often due to the type of battery used, as lithium ion batteries will have the longest lifespan. These batteries are power dense, quick to recharge, and can hold a charge for a long period of time. Other factors may include the ambient temperature of the room. Warmer batteries may not hold a charge as well as cold batteries, though many modern batteries today are unaffected by external temperatures.

For wired headphones, battery life will not be a concern as you will be drawing your needed power from the device you are plugged into. In many cases, some audiophiles will argue that wired headphones provide a better return on sound, but studio professionals and musicians may prefer wireless headphones for the freedom of movement they allow.

In the end, battery life will be a concern for some, and not a concern for others. If you are set on purchasing a wireless pair of headphones, always be sure you know how long the manufacturer estimates the battery to last on a full charge and then determine whether or not that will work with your listening requirements.

Comfort Level

When worn for long periods of time, comfort can be a huge consideration when it comes to large and bulky headphones. Most headphones, especially the over-the-ear style, are somewhat heavy and will provide some amount of pressure around the ears as well as on top of the head.

If these areas are not well padded, or the padding is too firm and dense, you can suffer from fatigue and pain. This can even lead to bruising, rubbing, and other discomfort and pain. Regardless of the style of headphones you are considering, always be sure they are comfortable to wear. And keep in mind that what may be comfortable for a short amount of time might not be comfortable after 1 or 2 hours of use.

Ensuring the headphones are the proper size for your head can be important as well. Small headphones will be tight around your ears and can cause fatigue in the cartilage of your ear. The headband can also rub on your scalp and potentially cause damaged hair or even bald spots if worn for long amounts of time on a daily basis.

Design Quality

When looking for the right shape of headphones, the design quality comes into play. This not only gives you a choice in how the headphone looks, but can also play a part in how the headphones feel. Not all design elements are made for aesthetics, some have a valid comfort concern as well.

In most cases, design quality will vary from large and robust to small and discreet. Both styles can be lightweight as this will depend more on the material used than the actual design of the headphones. Additionally, design quality will differ greatly between over-the-ear headphones and wireless earbuds with the latter being much smaller and more discreet in general.

Noise cancelling earbuds, for example, come in two styles most often; normal and hook style. For wearers that move around a lot, or may worry about the earbud falling out and getting lost, the hook style is the preferred choice as it can be a more secure choice. Both styles of noise cancelling earbuds can be equally comfortable for glasses wearers (see also ways to wear headphones with glasses comfortably) as well.

Sound Quality

One of the more important considerations, sound quality and frequency range will make or break a pair of studio headphones whether they are over-the-ear or earbud styles. If a headphone has poor sound quality and can’t provide a natural sound or hit most bass frequencies without distortion, they won’t be enjoyable to use. Whereas if they have high quality audio, every music lover be able to enjoy music in the high quality and excellent sound as it was intended by the recording studio.

Higher end sound quality is perfect and almost necessary for serious audiophiles as well as studio and audio mixing professionals. Entry level headphones will simply not be able to offer the same quality of sound as higher end or professional headphones can. This is mostly due to the available drivers and internal components used in construction.

While professional headphones will carry a premium price compared to entry level headphones, the sound quality improvement alone is usually worth it. Especially for audiophiles and audio mixing professionals that depend on hearing every note exactly as it was meant to be from the recording artists.

Connection Options

In today’s modern market, the most common connection you will find for professional headphones is USB. These connections may be somewhat controversial as some audio purists insist you cannot get the same quality of sound from a USB as you can from a 3.5mm jack for example.

However, as technology advances and more internal components are fine tuned, USB connections can provide the same or better audio return than either 3.5mm or 6mm jacks can provide. Additionally, more devices can accept USB than 6mm jacks. This includes tablets, computers, and many modern stereo systems.

For wireless Bluetooth headphones, the most common connection option will be Bluetooth dongle. This device plugs via USB into a computer, laptop, or tablet and allows the Bluetooth headphones to sync with the device quickly and easily. Many smartphones will not require a dongle or other connective device and can instead sync with certain noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones independently.

When deciding on a pair of headphones for your needs, always consider whether or not wired or wireless connections are more important to you. For some, staying in a single spot such as at a desk or table will be the majority of their headphone usage, in which case wired are fine. For studio professionals or musicians and vocalists that move around quite a bit within a single room or between two rooms, wireless headphones are vital.

Extra Features

The best headphones can have a variety of standard and extra features from noise cancelling technology to a woven audio cable. This will vary between manufacturing brands as well as models within the same brand. Most standard features can include things like foam ear pads, adjustable harness, and more.

Extra features can be either aesthetic or acoustic. One of the most common extra aesthetic features is replacement ear pads. While most headphones will not offer this, a few of the best headphones on the market may. This can help change up the looks of the headphones, as well as improve the comfort level of them too.

Price Range

As with all electronics, the price range can vary drastically between devices. This can depend on the name brand, the features, the design aesthetics, the quality of sound and internal technology, and more. Even the best wireless headphones can be found in a hugely drastic price range even when the audio quality itself is identical between brands or models.

When pricing the best headphones for your needs, determine your set budget, then decide on which features are most important to you. Average sounding noise cancelling headphones will be much lower on the price list, while professional quality or audiophile headphones will require a considerably larger budget.

Some of the best audiophile headphones, especially those for professional audio sampling or recording monitoring can be considered investment quality gear. In some cases, however, this can be written off as a business expense which may make the purchase price easier to handle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are gaming headphones fine for audiophiles?

In some cases, yes, but in other cases, no. It will specifically depend on the brand and model of gaming headphones in question. Some noise cancelling gaming headphones make use of extremely high end components to provide an extremely detailed soundscape for online gaming.

In these cases, most audiophiles may enjoy listening sessions with their favorite music through a noise cancelling gaming headset just as much as they would from professional noise cancelling headphones. If you have a specific idea as to what might sound good to you personally, there is no limit to what headphones can work for your needs.

Gaming headphones almost always have microphones, which in many cases are unnecessary for audio mixing, studio professionals, and audiophiles. The addition of a built-in microphone can cause a reduction in space needed for other components in order to get a high quality and pristine sound, or detailed noise cancelling components.

How important is sound quality?

The quality of sound is probably the most important factor when choosing a new pair of noise cancelling headphones. If you are just looking for a casual listening experience for music videos online, lower end noise cancelling headphones may be fine.

Audiophiles, studio professionals, audio sampling professionals, and others may need a much higher return on sound. Frequency ranges can also make a massive difference in how well you hear each bass response tone and each treble or soprano tone. Especially when it comes to vocals, as lower end planar magnetic headphones may distort extreme lows or extreme highs leading to a poor quality sound.

Both passive and active noise cancelling features can have a role in overall sound quality as well. As can the physical design differences between open back headphones or a closed back headset. For example, when wearing open back headphones you may notice a lot of sound leaking in from the background. Active noise cancellation can quickly manage this sound leaking in and help reproduce a clearer and crisp audio quality and frequency response in the ear drivers.

Why is there such a huge price range?

Brand names can make up a good chunk of the price when it comes to the best headphones. For example, extremely well known names such as Sony, Bose, and Sennheiser can command more money in purchase prices than brands such as Jenyu, Audio Technica, and Mobius.

When purchasing a new pair of headphones, try not to focus on the brand name. Oftentimes, less popular or even unknown brand names can sound just as good as the well known brands. They often use the same or similar components and driver technology but may have simply come to the market at a later date and not had the chance to build up as much of a following.

Don’t be afraid to compare features between headphones of different prices too. You may find a nearly identical pair that is considerably cheaper than the headset you were originally looking at. This could be due to a different in branded internal components such as drivers or magnets, or may simply be due to external builds not being as flashy or fancy as higher end designer headphones.

How do I choose a good headset for my needs?

First, determine exactly what your needs are. Are you a gamer that needs to hear every footstep around you? Are you an audiophile that demands the highest quality sound on your favorite songs? Are you a recording or sampling professional that needs extreme clarity from highs and lows?

Once you know exactly where you stand and what you need a noise cancelling headphone to do, you can more easily choose the right one for your needs. Audiophiles and studio professionals may turn to many of the same noise cancelling headphones, while gamers will focus on noise cancelling headphones that have built in microphones, noise canceling, and precise directional sound.

If you travel a lot, consider foldable headphones. Travel headphones fold together to be much smaller and easier to transport. They can offer the exact same noise isolation and all the features non-folding headphones offer, but are simply easier to carry around in a satchel or backpack when needed. Not every pair of headphones under $400 can be suitable for travel, and some of the best audiophile headphones will do much better staying in one location protected from every slight bump and potential scruff.

Conclusion

Best Budget Headphones Under $400
Best Overall Headphones Under $400

After thoroughly comparing a variety of headphones under $400 and determining how their pros and cons compare to others in the same price range, we have decided that the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones are the best all-around high quality professional headphones on this list.

They are wireless which gives you a wealth of freedom if you want to dance along to your favorite music. Additionally, they provide extremely high quality sound with an emphasis on well balanced and crisp highs and lows. You won’t hear any distortion even when playing deep or punchy bass tones at higher volumes, which is hard for other headphones to claim as well.