10 Best Headphones Under $500 In 2021 (Open Back & Closed Back)

Want the perfect pair of headphones to fit into your specific budget?

This can be disheartening to say the least when you look at headphone after headphone, only to learn that you’re no closer to finding the right pair than when you started.

You’re in luck my friend because your search is finally over.

I took it upon myself to review the top 10 best headphones under $500 in this guide.

Please keep reading to see my favorite picks because you’re bound to like at least one or two of them.

Quick List: Top 10 Headphones Under $500

  1. AKG Pro K553 HeadphonesBest Closed Back
  2. GRADO Prestige Series HeadphonesBest Open Back
  3. Philips Fidelio X2HR HeadphonesBest Over Ear
  4. Sennheiser HD 600 HeadphoneBest for Bass
  5. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
  6. Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones
  7. OneOdio Adapter-Free Headphones
  8. AfterShokz Aeropex Bone Conduction Headphones
  9. JLab Neon Folding Headphones
  10. Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones

Researching Headphones Under $500

Best Headphones Under $500

It’s during the research phase that so many people get bogged down and overwhelmed by the hundreds or even thousands of choices of headphones that they can buy under $500.

There are so many options that it practically becomes a full-time job to look at and learn about all of them before you can choose the right headphones to meet your personal needs.

I took it upon myself to handle the research for you to save you countless hours of time and the massive feelings of excess anxiety and overwhelm. And I did it by reviewing the top headphones in a number of categories including the best closed back headphones, the best open back headphones, the best over ear headphones, and the best headphones for bass.

But I didn’t stop there. I also felt it best to review bone conduction headphones, wireless headphones, and headphones with noise cancelling capabilities, Bluetooth headphones, adapter free headphones, and much more.

Save yourself plenty of time and aggravation by skipping the research phase altogether.

I picked a number of plum headphones that I know you’ll love and I wrote a small but detailed review about each of them below. Read my reviews and look at my choices and pick one or more headphones that sound exactly like the ones you’re looking for.

If you want to take a look at some cheaper headphones we did a great post of headphones under $200.

The Best Headphones Under $500

1. AKG Pro K553 Headphones – Best Closed Back

The AKG Pro K553 Headphones are an outstanding option if you’re looking for desirable closed back headphones with all of the latest accessories and extras. They are lightweight, comfortable, made with advanced closed back technology, deliver precise sound reproduction, and impressive performance.

✔️ What we like: 50 mm transducers, designed for portability

❌ What we don’t like: The headband arc is uncomfortable

Standout Features

  • Powerful noise insulation
  • Portable
  • 2D-axis fold flat mechanism
  • Precision sound reproduction
  • Detachable cable

The interesting thing about these closed back headphones is they are outstanding headphones if you’re a professional audio engineer working in the fields of mastering, mixing, or monitoring. But at the same token, they’re also ideal for regular people looking for high quality headphones that they can bring with them to the beach, the museum, when they go out for a walk, or anywhere else for that matter. This is an exceptional choice because the quality of the audio is so high that it will seem like you’re listening to live music right on your headset.

The lightweight over the ear design is important as well. They created it this way to provide excellent performance along with maximum comfort. Unfortunately there was one reviewer who didn’t like the way that the headband arced and found it uncomfortable. Most people don’t seem to feel the same way as she did. But it seems like a good thing to mention regardless because she was pretty adamant with her negative feelings toward the arc of the headband.

All things considered, the AKG Pro K553 Headphones are the ideal choice because of the closed back technology that leads to high noise isolation, the detachable cable which adds additional ease-of-use and convenience, and the 2D-axis fold flat mechanism that makes it very simple to fold these headphones, pop them into a bag or your pocket, and easily store and transport them wherever it is that you need to go.

2. GRADO Prestige Series Headphones – Best Open Back

The GRADO Prestige Series Headphones are the Best Open Back headphones because of their new speaker design, their reconfigured diaphragm, and the high-quality engineering, which is specifically designed to maintain audio integrity.

✔️ What we like: Cable made with durable braided sheathing

❌ What we don’t like: Treble is too loud and tinny sounding

Standout Features

  • Comfortable design
  • High-quality construction
  • Made in the USA
  • Intense sound signature
  • Upgraded padded headband

I personally appreciate the GRADO Prestige Series Headphones, and in particular model SR80x because they have an open back design, which creates an intense yet high quality audio experience that you don’t get with closed back headphones. In fact, listening to music or audiobooks on these headphones almost seems like you’re experiencing everything in stereo surround sound, which is truly astonishing in my opinion.

These headphones are wired, so they connect via 3.5 mm headphone jack. I know some people prefer wireless headphones for the convenience, but I’ve always liked wired because I feel like they provide a much better-quality sound. With wireless headphones, the audio often cuts in and out and you experience other problems as well that you’re never going to deal with when you’re using wired headphones such as these.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, I read a story from one guy who was unhappy with this headset because he said the treble was way too loud. He said it delivered an annoying and piercing tinny sound that really ruined the entire listening experience. It sounds like his headphones were broken when he took them out of the box, because I never read about another person having terrible treble, so I think this is an isolated incident.

When all is said and done, I fully endorse these GRADO Prestige headphones as the best open back headphones because the audio quality is intense and amazing. The design is comfortable, durable, and it even incorporates synthetic vegan friendly material. And lastly, the manufacturer provides a one-year warranty to their customers in the United States, so they really stand by their product in my opinion.

3. Philips Fidelio X2HR Headphones – Best Over Ear

The Philips Fidelio X2HR Headphones are a powerful choice for the best over ear headphones. They come fully equipped with a built-in microphone, high resolution audio, noise cancellation and echo cancellation technology, and they were engineered specifically to create and deliver high-quality audio sound waves for the world to enjoy.

✔️ What we like: LMC diaphragm, 50 mm HD drivers

❌ What we don’t like: Worked great until they failed after four months

Standout Features

  • 3.5 mm and ¼ inch connectors
  • Genuine leather headband
  • Acoustic open back architecture
  • 3.5 mm detachable cable
  • Certified high resolution audio

There are so many reasons to love these headphones from Phillips that it’s hard to keep track of them all. But I personally appreciate the engineered double layered ear shells because they deliver maximum comfort, incredible sound, and high definition music that make me want to get up out of my seat and start dancing.

The great thing about the lightweight design is that the headset is made from genuine leather on the outer headband, so when you put it across the top your head it feels soft, comfortable, and it doesn’t hurt at all. Some other headphones made from hard plastic really begin to hurt after wearing them for a few hours, but nothing could be further from the truth when talking about the gorgeous leather outer headband of the Philips Fidelio headset.

And speaking of high quality audio, these headphones were certified with extended response frequencies to deliver Hi-Res audio in spades. And one reviewer really loved the way that these headphones sounded until they stopped working on her after four months. She was obviously perturbed and upset by this unexpected turn of events and she decided to write a negative review because of it. Although Philips doesn’t mention anything about a warranty on their advertisement, they would likely have replaced the headphones if this person contacted them and let them know about their problem.

When all is said and done, the Philips Fidelio X2HR Headphones are an awesome choice because of their high quality sound, comfortable genuine leather headband, the soft double layered ear shells, the acoustic open back architecture, the memory foam breathable ear pads, and so much more.

4. Sennheiser HD 600 Headphone – Best for Bass 

The Sennheiser HD 600 headphone is my favorite choice because it delivers powerful bass and has it resonate throughout your eardrums. Besides that, the sophisticated design, the elegant finish, the high-quality open mesh ear piece covers, and the lightweight device make this an all-around favorite of people far and wide.

✔️ What we like: Detachable oxygen free copper cable, adapter plug

❌ What we don’t like: Low volume and connection wire is too long

Standout Features

  • Lightweight aluminum voice coils
  • Outstanding transient response
  • Metal mesh ear piece covers
  • Kevlar reinforced copper cable
  • Neodymium ferrous magnets

What stands out the most about these headphones is their ability to create powerful bass that seems to resonate throughout your skull as it pumps out of your favorite songs. This makes the overall listening experience that much more pleasurable while you’re commuting to work, going out for a jog, or just having a blast listening to music right in the comfort of your own home.

I personally like these headphones because they’re really comfortable to wear and they’re lightweight so they fit right on top of your head without weighing you down. Again, if you like to go running or want to break a sweat while exercising, you’ll love these headphones because they aren’t going to feel like an added burden while you hit the trails for a jog or run a marathon.

I had no problem with the audio and thought the music was very loud as it played through my headphones, but one reviewer had the opposite experience. He said that the volume was way too low and he had to turn it all away up to 10 in order to hear it at a fairly comfortable level. When compared to his Bose headphones, he said he’d get the same level of music with the Bose at level 3, which means his headphones obviously weren’t very loud at all. It sounds like a defect in the product that he probably could’ve corrected if he contacted the manufacturer and had them replace them.

Overall, I think the Sennheiser HD 600 headphone is a great choice because of the high quality metal mesh ear covers, the detachable Kevlar reinforced copper cable, the wired connectivity, the lightweight aluminum design, and the elegantly finished and sophisticate design of the headphones that look absolutely amazing.

5. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are very impressive to say the least because they have Alexa voice controls, unrivaled voice pick up, impeccable sound, and noise cancellation capabilities that are hard to beat.

✔️ What we like: 20 hours of wireless battery life, lightweight headband

❌ What we don’t like: Right side earpiece speaker cut out

Standout Features

  • Lightweight stainless steel headband
  • Optimized for use with Alexa
  • Optimized for Google Assistant
  • 20 hours of continuous battery life
  • 11 levels of noise cancellation

One of the most exciting and standout features of these Bose headphones is the noise cancellation technology that they use. You can adjust the levels to 11 different settings, which allows you to create the perfect environment to listen to music, audiobooks, or anything else for that matter. If you have kids in the background that you need to hear, you can adjust the level enough where you’ll still hear them without being interrupted. Or if you need to block out all background noise in its entirety, you can also adjust your levels to experience total background silence.

These wireless headphones are also amazing because the battery life is incredibly powerful. In fact, the battery life will last for 20 hours per charge, which means you can use them for a long stretch of time without needing to recharge them again. So if you forget to charge them one day and still need to use them for a couple of hours, they should have enough battery life to last for the duration before you must charge them again.

One reviewer complained that the right side earpiece speaker cut out after owning the headphones for a couple of months. This happens from time to time and it’s to be expected because products aren’t created perfectly. While it’s not fun to have this happen to you, it is something that you can fix by contacting the manufacturer and letting them know about your problem. They are usually pretty good and want to keep their customers happy so they’ll usually send a replacement set of headphones without any additional charges.

You’ll love the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 because of the lightweight design, the comfortable headband, the angled ear cups, the long battery life, the hands-free assistant, and much more.

6. Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones

The Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones are an outstanding choice for all audio aficionados. They deliver 40 hours of listening time, they’re compatible with Android and iOS devices, and you can charge them for five minutes and grab an additional three hours of battery life.

✔️ What we like: Comfortable fit and custom cushioned ear cups

❌ What we don’t like: Stopped working after one month

Standout Features

  • Apple W 1 chip
  • Class 1 wireless Bluetooth connectivity
  • 40 hours of battery life
  • 5 minute quick charge
  • Durable and foldable headset

The Beats Solo3 headphones are a great choice because they not only work perfectly with all of your favorite Android devices; they’re also fully compatible with Apple devices. In fact, Apple bought Beats from rapper Dr. Dre and producer Jimmy Iovine a few years ago for about 2 ½ billion dollars, which really put these awesome headphones on the map.

You’ll like these headphones because the battery life last so freaking long. If you’re like the average listener and use them anywhere from 6 to 8 hours a day, you can go five days before you actually need to charge them again. And if you do run out of battery power and still need to use them, you can plug them in for a mere five minutes and get an additional three hours of battery life. Guess what? You could plug them in five minutes more after the three hours of battery life runs out for an additional power boost too.

While I think these headphones are remarkable and I love the sleek and streamlined design, one reviewer didn’t appreciate that their headphones stopped working after a month. This certainly sounds like a cause for concern since these headphones cost about $150 give or take depending on the retailer. But Apple is known for doing the right thing with their customers, so you can always contact them to see if you can get a replacement if this were ever to happen to you.

All in all, the Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones are excellent headphones because of their strong performing Bluetooth connectivity, their long battery life, the quick battery recharge, the comfortable cushioned ear cups and adjustable fit along with the streamlined design.

7. OneOdio Adapter-Free Headphones

The OneOdio Adapter-Free Headphones are the right choice for over ear DJ stereo monitor headphones. They’re perfect if you’re into monitoring and mixing, or you just prefer to listen to great music, podcasts, and other audio programs from the highest quality stereo headphone devices.

✔️ What we like: In-line microphone and one button remote control

❌ What we don’t like: Poor design because headphones are falling apart

Standout Features

  • 50 mm speaker drivers
  • 9.8 foot coiled cord
  • 6.35 mm and 3.5 mm plugs included
  • 90° swiveling ear cups
  • Compatible with Apple and Android devices

Guitar players and professional DJs tend to love these headphones because they deliver superior sound. The audio is crystal-clear, the headphones are so comfortable that you hardly even notice you have them on your head, and the 50 mm speaker drivers deliver clear vocals, booming bass, and exciting hi-fi sound.

As mentioned, comfort is incredibly important when you work in the music world. You will have to wear headphones for many hours at a time and if you don’t like the way they feel on your head or ears, you’ll basically feel uncomfortable all day long. OneOdio uses high-quality padded ear cushions and the ear pads are adjustable so you can put them over your ears at the perfect angle to maximize your levels of comfort.

Some reviewers didn’t like the design and said it was flawed and made poorly. One reviewer said that his headphones began falling apart after owning them for a couple of months. This is something to be concerned about, but it doesn’t seem to be a regular occurrence for most reviewers since I’ve only heard this mentioned once.

At the end of the day, most reviewers prefer the OneOdio Adapter-Free Headphones because of the great sound, the lack of an adapter, the swiveling ear cups, and the great connectivity with your favorite electronic devices make these headphones the perfect choice for music lovers, professional musicians, DJs, and everyone else in between.

8. AfterShokz Aeropex Bone Conduction Headphones

The AfterShokz Aeropex Bone Conduction Headphones take technological innovation to the next level to deliver premium sounds and high quality audio. These wireless headphones are light, comfortable, and waterproof, they have a one click multifunction button, and provide eight hours of battery life per charge.

✔️ What we like: The audio comes in loud and clear

❌ What we don’t like: The headset vibrates and it’s uncomfortable and unexpected

  • Open ear design
  • Bone conduction technology
  • Premium audio conducted through the cheekbone
  • IP67 waterproof rating
  • Multifunction button

One of the most annoying things about listening to headphones on your smart phone is you have to constantly keep taking the phone in and out of your pocket to skip to the next track, pause the music, answer your phone, or to even use your voice assistant. But with these headphones there is a multifunctional button that handles all of these tasks and more. So you can leave your phone securely in your pocket, pocketbook, backpack, or anywhere else and still use all of your favorite features without having to dig in to find it.

The lightweight and comfortable design provides an unmatched experience of pleasantness that you just don’t find with other bone conduction headphones. Sometimes these headphones are so tight and squeeze your head so roughly that you actually feel pain and get a headache. But nothing could be further from the truth when discussing the bone conduction headphones from AfterShokz.

On a down note, one reviewer didn’t like the headphones because he didn’t like the way that they vibrated against your skull. Well, if they weren’t vibrating you wouldn’t actually be able to hear the audio because that is the bone conduction technology at work. Without the vibration you might as well stand there singing your favorite song because that’s about all you’d hear. So maybe bone conduction headphones aren’t for everyone, which seems like the moral to this story.

In the end, you’ll appreciate the AfterShokz Aeropex Bone Conduction Headphones for their lightweight and comfortable design, the eight hours of battery life, IP67 waterproof rating, the crystal-clear audio, and the always exhilarating multifunction button.

9. JLab Neon Folding Headphones

The JLab Neon Folding Headphones are a fantastic choice because they were designed with 40 mm neodymium drivers, a tangle free braided nylon cord, noise isolation for an intense listening experience, and sound delivered with crystal clarity.

✔️ What we like: Lightweight design and easily adjustable

❌ What we don’t like: Designed using poor quality hardware

Standout Features

  • Convenient headset controls
  • Comfortable fit
  • 30-day moneyback guarantee
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Feather light build

In truth, I really like the JLab Neon Folding Headphones for many reasons, but in particular I am a big fan of their sound isolation capabilities. Very similar to earbuds, these headphones block your ear canal entirely from the outside world. This means background noise is not going to creep into your awareness when listening to music or audiobooks while wearing these headphones. Background noise like talking, loud cars, and more remains outside of your awareness, which provides an isolated listening experience.

Besides, I love the way these headphones fit. The plush circular cups are so light and comfortable that you barely feel like they’re on top of your ears. And unlike earbuds, you will not feel any pain in your ears whatsoever because these pads rest comfortably on top of your ears, so you never have to put anything inside your ear canals to achieve sound isolation.

On a sourer note, I read a recent testimonial from a previous customer who had an annoying experience with these headphones. He said that every few seconds, he would get a burst of static that completely disrupted and interrupted the audio experience and ruined the audio quality. I understand his frustration, but he didn’t have to suffer for too long. Not only does the company offer a two-year limited warranty, but they offer a 30-day moneyback guarantee, so he could easily have replaced his headphones with a new pair or gotten his money back.

In the end, I recommend the JLab Neon Folding Headphones to everyone for their comfortable fit, button controls on the side of the headset, the foldable design for added convenience, and the well put together braided cord.

10. Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones

The Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones are highly rated earbuds that are a joy to own. They can last for 24 hours as long as you have the charging case with you, they securely fit over your ears with ear hooks, and they’re stable, comfortable, and lightweight and have a reinforced design.

✔️ What we like: Adjustable ear hooks, volume and track controls

❌ What we don’t like: Rubber ear tip falls off easily

Standout Features

  • Wireless earphones
  • Lightweight and comfortable design
  • Voice control capabilities
  • Class I Bluetooth
  • 5 minute quick recharge

The reason so many people like Powerbeats Pro is because they have so many tremendous features that you can literally bring them with you wherever you go and you’ll get maximum listening pleasure. Let’s start by looking at the small size. You can literally put these things in your pocket and barely even notice they’re there, yet they deliver high-quality audio every step of the way.

The wireless technology makes these earbuds a true delight. They are capable of connecting to just about any Bluetooth enabled audio device you can find, but they’re especially compatible with your favorite Android and iOS devices. So you should have no trouble connecting to your favorite MP3 player, phone, tablet, or other devices.

One reviewer wasn’t too thrilled that the little rubber ear tips fall off very easily. He said that underneath the ear tip is an ugly plastic ball that felt very uncomfortable inside of his ear canal. In most cases, you can either buy a new rubber ear tip which shouldn’t cost all that much money. Or you can contact Apple or Beats and let them know about your ear tip troubles and I’m sure they’ll send you a bunch more for free just to keep you happy.

In the end, the Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones are a great choice because of their fast fuel charging capabilities, their enhanced call performance, the extended range with strong Bluetooth connections, the volume and track controls, and so many other great features.

A Guide to Choosing the Best Headphones Under $500

guy wearing quality headphones worth $500

So you’ve decided to venture out and look for the best headphones under $500 on your own. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with going this route and it makes sense if you prefer to do your own sleuthing. Other people like to get recommendations handed to them, which is why my reviews are usually a big hit.

If you do plan to discover your own favorite headphones under $500, please consider the following:

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Noise Cancellation Capabilities

Some people love headphones that completely block out the noise. Other people want high quality headphones that let some background noise in so they can hear their kids while they’re playing in the backyard. The best noise cancellation headphones give you the ability to block out all of the noise, block out some of the noise, or block out the level of noise that you feel the most comfortable with.

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Battery Longevity

Depending on your headphones, battery longevity certainly comes in handy. You do not want to get stuck on the subway or the bus without any power left in your headphones. You’ll have to sit there and meditate or maybe grab a newspaper instead of listening to your favorite audio programs. Find headphones with battery life anywhere from eight hours to 24 hours or better and you should be fine.

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Stereo Quality Sound

Obviously you should always look for headphones with awesome sound quality. Focus on finding a pair that come highly recommended from audiophiles and you can’t go wrong.

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Discover The Ultimate Headphones For You Under $500

Thanks for reading my reviews and considering my advice.

I spend a lot of time writing these detailed guides and I really hope they come in handy.

Use this information to the best of your ability to find high quality headphones that you absolutely fall head over heels in love with.

If you discover your next favorite headphones then I did my job and I can sleep like a baby at night.

Further Reading: