Since we use headphones when we want to listen to music, podcasts, streaming content or audiobooks without disturbing others nearby, most people want comfortable headphones to wear for long periods. Headphones aren’t typically a product people try on before buying though, so searching for comfortable headphones can be tough. They may look soft and pillowy in pictures, but then be hot and uncomfortable when you place them on your head.
In this guide, we break down the most comfortable headphones for 2022 into different categories: the most comfortable overall, the most comfortable for gaming, the most comfortable wired headphones, the most comfortable noise-canceling headphones, the most comfortable wireless earbuds, the most comfortable headphones for working out, the most comfortable headphones for audiophiles and the most comfortable budget headphones. Although some of these products we select as our top picks may overlap in some of these categories (i.e. our selection for the most comfortable gaming unit may also be wireless as well), we chose each selection based on its overall comfort and stellar performance in its specific category.
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Before we look at the most comfortable headphones, here are a few things to look for when searching for your ideal pair.
How We Chose the Most Comfortable Headphones
We all have different preferences, and what comfortable headphones for one person might not be comfortable for another. On the other hand, there are certain headphone designs and features most people rate higher and tend to find more comfortable on a general basis.
When reviewing the most comfortable headphones, we considered the following factors:
Quality ear pad materials: Some of the more comfortable ear pads are made of dense foam or memory foam, along with a soft leather, faux leather or a velour-type material. These materials are durable and allow for some noise blocking, yet they also tend to provide a soft feel on the ears. You also want the ear pads to have some venting and breathability, or your ears might get hot.
Oval ear pad shape: Most of the best ear pads are oval-shaped, fitting over the ears without completely covering them like earmuffs. Other ear pad shapes can be comfortable, but oval is what we’re seeing on many of the highest-rated models.
Durable headband: Headbands come in a lot of different styles and materials, but a comfortable pair will be made of quality material like steel. It will also have ample padding (or a ski goggle–style band) so it doesn’t dig into your head.
Adjustability: The most comfortable headphones allow for adjustment on the headband, as well as some level of pivot and tilt on the ear cups to allow for an ideal fit on your head. You don’t want headphones that dig into your temples or push into your ears.
Lightweight: Most of the highest-rated brands weigh between 0.5 and 0.7 pounds.
Easy-to-access buttons and ports: Any volume buttons and other controls should be easy to push while you are typing, gaming or performing other activities. Oftentimes, the best units have these easily accessible on one (or both) ear cup(s). For any ports, like USB-C, micro-USB or 3.5 mm ports for wired connectivity, these should be located in such a place where you can connect the headphones to use them in a wired configuration without jumbling cords. Typically, the bottom of an ear cup is an ideal location.
Finally, we also considered overall audio quality, as the most comfortable headphones aren’t worth the investment if they don’t also offer features such as premium audio and active noise-cancellation. With all these factors in mind, we selected the 12 most comfortable headphones (and wireless earbuds) for 2022.
1. Bose QuietComfort 45
In addition to being stylish, the Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones are made of durable and comfortable materials that make for a long-lasting pair of headphones you can wear all day. The ear pad cushions and headband are coated with a soft, synthetic leather material that feels good against your skin.
The Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones weigh only 8.5oz. (0.53 pounds), so they don’t feel too heavy on your head throughout the day. Compatible with the Bose Music app, they have a 24-hour battery capacity on one charge, a 30-foot Bluetooth range, high fidelity sound and exceptional noise cancellation. You can make adjustments to sound settings via the app, as well as take calls and listen to music without worrying about running out of juice too quickly or not being able to hear the caller on the other end.
Buy These If: You care about comfort over all else when buying headphones.
2. Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones
Sony’s newest flagship headphones, the WH-1000XM5 Headphones, are the gold standard in active noise-cancellation. And before the XM5s were released, we said the same thing about Sony’s XM4 headphones (and the XM3 headphones before that). But while the XM4 only offered minor upgrades over the previous generation, Sony seriously changed the physical design of its newest release, and the result is a serious improvement in overall comfort.
In our review of the XM5 headphones, we praised the new design, and they just barely lose out to Bose for the title of most comfortable headphones. You can wear these headphones all day without worrying about ear fatigue or irritation.
Buy These If: You want the best ANC and supreme comfort.
Full Review: Sony’s New WH-1000XM5 Headphones Are Finally Here
3. AirPods Max Headphones
BEST FOR APPLE USERS
When Apple released its over-ear headphones, no one was surprised to see that they had nailed the physical design and invested in premium materials. However, the best features of the AirPods Max headphones are actually on the inside. The spatial audio lets you enjoy movies and music in an entirely new way, and with noise-cancellation activated, you can disappear into your own little world. These headphones are also extremely comfortable, with a lighter-than-air design only Apple could have dreamed up.
For Apple users, these are the most comfortable headphones around, but that comfort comes at a cost. Even when they’re on sale, these headphones never go below $440. Everyone we know who owns these headphones swears they’re worth the investment, but we know they’re not in everyone’s price range, unfortunately.
Buy These If: You’re a cinephile, audiophile, and Apple-phile all in one.
4. SteelSeries Arctis 7+
BEST GAMING HEADPHONES
The SteelSeries Artcis 7+ has so much to offer for its under-$200 price tag, including compatibility with multiple gaming platforms, compatibility with SteelSeries Sonar and USB-C charging. These comfortable headphones offer gamers an affordable yet versatile unit they can use for PC, console and mobile gaming.
It has a steel band for durability, with a ski-goggle design for comfort. The ear cups have dense foam and are cushioned with a leather-like material that is comfortable and breathable, so you can wear this headset for long periods. In our review, we raved about the comfort of these gaming headphones, which are perfect for all-day marathon gaming sessions. The battery life is impressive as well, providing around 30 hours on a single charge. Plus the microphone is retractable, so you can put it away when you don’t need it.
Buy These If: You want the most comfortable headphones for gaming in the world, full stop.
Full Review: Are the SteelSeries Arctis 7+ Worth the Hype?
5. Sennheiser HD599
BEST WIRED HEADPHONES
When searching for the most comfortable wired headphones, you can find professional models that cost upwards of $1,500. For this category, we looked for a pair that had excellent sound quality and a reasonable price. We landed on the Sennheiser HD599–a pair of wired headphones with a frequency response of 12 to 38,500 Hz to play clear low, mid and high tones. They also have a detachable cable for compatibility with 6.3 and 3.5 mm connections. The soft, velour ear pads allow for a soft feel on the ears, while the cushioned headband doesn’t dig or press into your head or temples.
Buy These If: You don’t mind being tethered to your devices.
6. JLab Epic Sport Air Earbuds
MOST COMFORTABLE EARBUDS
After we compared dozens of wireless earbuds for comfort, the overall winner was a bit of a surprise. Although we love Apple AirPods Pro and the customization of Ultimate Ears UE Fits, nothing outperformed the JLab Epic Sport Air Earbuds.
For athletes and gym rats, they’re perfect for working out. However, the supreme comfort and clever design also make them a great choice for anyone who likes to wear their earbuds for extended periods of time. Even after hours of continuous use, you won’t experience any ear fatigue whatsoever.
Buy These If: You want the most comfortable earbuds for extended use or the gym.
Read More: Best Waterproof Earbuds
7. Bose 700
BEST BOSE ANC
Although this pair of headphones is a bit pricier than other options on this list, the Bose 700 has some of the most impressive noise cancellation features we’ve encountered. These headphones can listen for sounds around you and instantly produce opposing signals to drown out those background noises.
The ear pads are made of a comfortable foam covered by protein leather, while the stainless steel headband is cushioned by a gel-like foam. The result is a headset that you’ll forget you’re even wearing.
Buy These If: You’re looking for the best alternative to the AirPods Max headphones. When you care about design, audio quality and comfort equally (and don’t mind a high price tag), the Bose 700 are an excellent choice.
8. Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC
MOST COMFORTABLE HEADPHONES FOR WORK
If you’re working all day in an office, a call center or even from home, having a reliable and comfortable headset is an absolute must. The Voyager 8200 UC is a USB-A wireless headset that looks like an attractive pair of headphones but serves as an ideal headset for Zoom meetings. It’s reasonably light (weighing 0.63 pounds), while also having soft coating materials and plentiful cushioning for a comfortable feel.
Buy These If: You prefer comfortable over-ear headphones but still need a Bluetooth headset for work.
9. Beyerdynamic T1 (3rd Generation)
BEST FOR AUDIOPHILES
If you are a musician or an audio purist who wants a premium pair of headphones, the T1 by Beyerdynamic is worth a look. It have an impressive frequency response of 5 to 50,000 Hz, so you can hear low, mid and high tones. These powerful headphones are more than comfortable enough to wear during a long studio session. With materials like stainless steel, breathable velour and memory foam, these are top-of-the-line.
Buy These If: You’re looking for the most comfortable studio headphones.
10. Sony WHCH710N
BEST UNDER $150
If you don’t want to spend more than $150 on a good pair of headphones, the WHCH710N model by Sony might be your best option. Although they might not have some of the bells and whistles you get with the other options on this list, they still offer wireless connectivity with up to 35 hours on a single charge and USB-C charging, smart noise-canceling and comfortable materials so you can wear them all day.
Buy These If: You’re looking for the most comfortable headphones under $150.
11. Apple AirPods Pro
We like the AirPods Pro because they offer a better fit than traditional AirPods. With small, medium and large silicone ear tips that conform to the ears, the AirPods Pro feel just right.
The noise cancellation on these in-ear headphones is tough to beat. It combines a perfect fit with equal anti-noise technology to drown out background noises. Plus, with an included charging case that gives you more than 24 hours of listening time, the AirPods Pro is an ideal pair of headphones for work, exercise and general use.
Buy These If: We still think these earbuds are a must-own for iPhone users and Apple loyalists.
Full Review: Apple AirPods Pro Still Impress
12. Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II
Equipped with voice control and weighing just over half a pound, the lightweight QuietComfort 35 ii headset is one of our favorites. Although Bose only sold this model from 2017 to 2022, it’s still available at most retail stores and we enjoy the product so much that we still wanted to include it on this list.
Like its cousin, the Bose QuietComfort 45, the 35 ii has ear cushions that are coated in soft synthetic leather. The cushioned headband is also coated in a soft leather-like material that makes for a comfortable feel, while the swivel ear cups make the headphones fit just right.
Buy These If: The Bose Quiet Comfort 45 headphones aren’t quite in your price range.
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