Every year here at Audiophile On we but together a list of the best headphones and 2018 is no different. However a lot has change since 2017 and the market is flooded with awesome headphones which is a very good thing if you are looking to buy but a very bad thing for us charged with choosing just 3 models for each category.
What have been the big advancements in headphones for 2018?
Well there are a number of factors to the standards of headphones in every category improving immensely throughout 2018. The biggest one we have noticed is the increased adoption of wireless headphones. Its no surprise since most of us consume media on our phones and manufacturers made have made the decision to remove the standard headphone jack from most flagship phones. People are being pushed into a wireless life and only now have headphone companies started to respond with some truly awesome products.
The next big factor has to be the aggressive competition from the eastern headphone companies commonly known among st audio geeks as the ChiFi explosion (Chinese Hifi). Asian companies continue to push boundaries both in innovation and price and in kind established western brands like Sennheiser and Westone are stepping up to take the challenge head on. The result for you is either even more technically advanced headphones or cheaper good quality headphones.
Finally I think that people have over time became aware of good quality audio. Whilst not everyone aspires to be an audiophile I think it is fair to say that more and more people are beginning to appreciate the benefits of good sounding headphones. The days of the crappy earbuds seem well and truly numbered.
2018’s Best Headphone Categories
We noticed recently a spate of sites writing about the best headphones of 2018 and were shocked to find a bunch of absolutely useless nonsensical lists created without experience with out having used the product and existing only to get views to a website and draw that sweet sweet ad revenue.
Well here at Audiophile On we of course have monetized the site but this is first and foremost a hobby. I don’t accept brand sponsorship on this site and as such no company holds influence over the words that I write. I want you to get the best headphones possible so I am going to do something a little different that I might regret over time. But here its goes.
We have split the best headphones list for 2018 into a few separate categories and have selected 2 runner ups as well as one winner for each. We think these will cover the most commonly requested recommendations. However if you have more specific requirements or have further questions then simply message me of our Facebook page and I will try my damnedest to recommend the perfect set for you.
So with that said what are the categories we are going to cover for 2018
Best Headphones 2018
Best Earphones 2018
Best Audiophile Headphone
Best Budget Headphone
Best Budget Earphone
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones
Best Sport Headphones 2018
Best Bluetooth Headphones
We think that covers the basics but we may add more categories before the end of the year if we see specific demand for certain topics
Best Headphones of 2018
Campfire Audio Cascade
Winner: Sony WH-1000XM3
Sony already was worthy of a spot on any list with there hugely popular WH-1000XM2 but the have taken bluetooth and wireless headphones to a whole other level with the incredible XM3.
These headphone represent the absolute pinnacle of technology and they are Jam packed full of cool features. The noise cancelling is simply outstanding and by this point Sony have well and truly pulled down the pants of Bose and left them standing.
The sound quality is also greatly improved thanks to Sony being the first company to figure out how to put a small sized acoustic amplifier directly inside the headphone.
The XM-3 win awards this year for best noise cancelling headphone in the world but also our pick for the best headphone of 2018 period.
The Westone W80 are extremely expensive but they are also one of the best sounding earphones ever made.
The W80 achieve this feat by cramming 8 balanced armature drives in each housing with 3 crossovers resulting in a sound that is incredibly rich in detail and immensely powerful at throwing back a full size headphone like sound stage.
These are true reference level earphones that give no quarter to poorly produced tracks, a true reference earphone if the ever was one.
Build quality was also noted to be exceptional and we still cant figure out how they got so many drivers into such a sleek and low profile housing.
I hade just upgraded my headphones to the Sennheiser HD800s earlier this year and now I am already eyeing their replacements. Sennheiser recently dropped the HD820 which is theri new flagship no expense spared audiophile headphone.
I have only spent a few sessions with the 820 but I am 1000% sold on these to the point that it makes it hard to recommend some of the other high priced headphones from the likes of Hifiman and Audeze.
For me, it was tough choosing between this and the Focal Utopia as I rate both as top of the line end game headphones. However for me the Sennheisers are iconic and I do feel myself drawn by brand loyalty on this one having owned the previous iterations of the 800 series headphones..
2018 was a great year for budget headphones yet still the ones that we would recommend have been on the market for more than just this year.
The winner was an easy choice because the Audio Technica ATH-M40x is just a superb headphone for the money and it carries so many traits from its popular older brother the legendary M50x that its inclusion was a no brainer.
A comfy set of cans that is good looking on the street and a workhorse in the studio. Sound is clear, neural and detail rich.
Build quality is also top notch and we lover that the headphones look so good on the head thanks to the low profile design of the earcups.
Still the undisputed budget champs. Easily the best sounding earphone under $100 and even more impressive when you realize they cost just half that at many online stores.
If you enjoy energetic fun tuning, an ability to slam some extra hard bass through your ear canals and ridiculous soundstage then the Final Audio E3000 are an outstanding choice.
Comfort was also another big selling point for these earphones as their miniscule housing just dissapears into your ear canals.
We have been recommending these earphones for over a year now and the feedback has been nothing but positive.
Well the Sony WH-1000XM3 did take the win for the best headphone of 2018 so its kind of not hard to make them the winner of theri specialist category as well.
The noise cancelling on Sony headphones continues to get better with every generation and the XM3 is the culmination of all that work.
Bose has really lost out as Sony managed to completely remove the sucked out hollow feeling that other noise canceling headphones have and they even addressed the often maligned sound quality penalty that people had just accepted came with ANC.
An incredibly good sounding headphone with lots of handy features and the best noise reduction of any headphone you can buy in 2018.
Who would have thought Beats headphones would be included twice on this list. As much as everyone wants us to hate them we just cant. The Powerbeats narrowly outpointed the Bose Soundsport to take the crown of best sports headphone of 2018.
Why do you ask? Well the just seem perfectly designed for working out. whether your running, lifting of cycling these things stay locked in your ears and over time have proven to be very hard wearing.
The have a 12 hour battery life and if you do run out of juice then charging them for just 5 minutes will give you a full hours playback.
The Powerbeats are both sweat and water resistant and they are tuned perfectly to get the pace going with their extension towards a deep low end with hard hitting bass.
We also liked that they were very well priced and can be found online for around $100. Great headphones for the task.
These bluetooth earphones have been on the market for some time now and with that they have dropped in price significantly to the point that they are impossible to ignore when it comes to value for money.
The Momentum line are sennheisers range of consumer focussed headphones and earbuds and have a much better aesthetic to them thatn the studio and reference lines. We think they look classy and understated but were most impressed with the build quality and sound. The earpeices are solid metal with a clever strain relief system built in and the neckbad is covered in leather.
Tuning on these earphones leans towards the warm side with a good amount of depth and extension of the low end. You get a buttery smooth midrange and slightly recessed top notes that make it comfortable to listen to them all day long.
Battery life is decent at just 10 hours but it takes only 1.5 hours to charge them to full. You also have the inclusion of Bluetooth 4.1 and support for aptx to ensure a higher level of sound than most other Bluetooth earphones.
We recently did a full and in depth review of the outstanding Master & Dynamic MW50+ headphones and good lord these have to be one of the best looking and best built set of headphones we have ever tested.
Attention to detail has always been something M&D are proud of but the bar has been raised in the implementation of this 2 in 1 headphone.
We say 2-in-1 because these wireless headphones can be used in 2 separate configurations (on-ear or over-ear) Allowing you to opt for either compact portability or ultimate comfort. The MW50 is entirely built from metal and high quality leather and offer a modern take on a retro design.
Sound is super smooth and detail retrieval excellent. Unlike a lot of wireless headphones they also stand up well when volumes are pushed and exhibit a strong yet controlled low end.
Good sound, outstanding build and killer good looks.