When it comes to finding the best headphones, it can be hard to find the perfect pair for your style and needs - especially when there are so many models to choose from! We saw a lot of amazing releases in 2020, and to help make things easy for you as you shop for your next pair, we tried the best of them and chose our favourites for each category.
We have sorted our top picks for the best headphones of 2020 into five categories each with a runner up: best noise cancelling headphones, best true wireless earphones, best sports & fitness earphones, best home & office headphones, and best bass headphones.
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones
Sony WH-1000MX4 (Winner)
The Sony WH-1000MX4’s take the top spot as the best noise-cancelling headphones of 2020. Sony stepped it up with some awesome new improvements in 2020 that we simply can’t look past. The WH-1000MX4s have improved, industry-leading noise cancellation features and algorithms to keep you truly immersed in the sound! These include dual noise sensor technology, HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1, and a new Bluetooth Audio SoC (System on Chip). The audio quality has also been given a boost, that’ll make the awesome noise-cancelling experience all the better!
One thing that has held back the Sony WH series in previous comparisons was the fact that they didn’t have multi-point Bluetooth connectivity. That’s no longer an issue, adding total convenience! The WH-1000MX4’s can now be paired with two Bluetooth devices that are the same. It’ll even prioritise audio based on importance, meaning if you get a phone call, it’ll turn Spotify off on your laptop and connect to phone audio. You’ll also be able to quickly, smoothly switch your headphones to either of the two devices at the touch of a button.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (Runner Up)
If you’re after more portability, but still want killer noise-cancellation and premium sound, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds have landed our runner up position for these reasons. It combines the best of true wireless technology with ultra-effective noise cancelling. In fact, with the QuietComfort Earbuds, you can pretty much block out the entire outside world when they’re securely fitted in your ear. Using a combination of patented active and passive noise cancelling innovations, these earbuds feature the outstanding noise-cancelling performance you know and love from Bose’s best over-ear headphones - in a compact, truly wireless earbud. Being True Wireless, you’re also getting all of the advantages such as wirelessly charging, touch controls, and Bose’s signature active EQ settings.
Best True Wireless Earphones
Samsung Galaxy Buds+ (Winner)
Taking up our top position for the best true wireless earphones are the Samsung Galaxy Buds+. This wasn’t a big surprise to us here at PB Tech considering its predecessor - the Samsung Galaxy Buds - came out on top in our True Wireless Showdown video. It came out on top thanks to its high-quality sound, which of course, has been carried through to the Galaxy Buds+.
On top of the awesome sound quality, the Galaxy Buds+ also have amazing best in class battery life, a super-compact case and buds, fast wireless charging, and frequent improvements through updates via the Samsung app. The Galaxy Buds+ are everything you already know and love about the Galaxy Buds, just PLUS!
Apple Airpods Pro (Runner Up)
If you’re an iPhone user, perhaps you want to stick with Apple so you can enjoy all the luxuries that the Apple ecosystem provides. The great news is we have the Apple Airpods Pro as our runner up! These have great sound thanks to Adaptive EQ, and a remarkably efficient high-dynamic-range amplifier that produces pure, incredibly clear sound while also extending battery life. They also have awesome squeeze controls, good active noise cancellation, and even come with a special new audio feature which provides an immersive directional surround-sound-like experience.
Best Sports & Fitness Earphones
Skullcandy Push Ultra (Winner)
Music is so important for getting you in the zone, so of course, finding a good pair of sports & fitness earphones is just as important! The Skullcandy Push Ultra takes out our top spot for this category. The Push Ultras have premium sports-focused features which really put them at the top of the game in terms of sports and fitness, and only at a fraction of the price of competitors.
They have moldable memory wire ear hooks that can be bent to fit onto almost all ears with an ultra-secure fit - no ear discrimination here! It has a half-in ear design that blocks out excess noise but still lets you hear surrounding noise, which is ideal for people who like to workout outdoors and need to be aware of their surroundings (such as cars approaching as you run).
They’re not sacrificing any of the bass so you can keep amped as you work out. And if all that amp has you dripping in sweat, the Push Ultra’s can handle it! These earbuds have an IP67 rating meaning it’s water-resistant and dust resistant.
The Push Ultras last up to six hours but when combined with a fully charged case, have up to 40 hours of playtime. They also have wireless charging built-in, full controls for individual earbuds, and the official Tile brand tracking software built-in so you can track them down if they’ve been misplaced! We’re really impressed with these earbuds. With so many products to compete against, these have really pushed their way to the front to take out our top position.
Powerbeats Pro (Runner Up)
The Powerbeats Pro is already distinguished as a frontrunner in the sports and fitness scene, so you’re probably not surprised to see it here. These earphones are built for performance with a reinforced design for sweat and water resistance; a powerful, balanced sound that’ll keep you amped and motivated; and up to 9 hours of battery life to keep up with even the longest training sessions.
The Powerbeats are made for movement - that’s why they have adjustable secure-fit ear hooks to help them stay in place, no matter what you’re doing. If you have small ears, however, we’d suggest looking at the Skullcandy Push Ultras instead, or at least trying these on first to make sure these won’t just fall right off your ear.
Best Home & Office Headphones
Bose NC700 Headphones (Winner)
The Bose NC700 Headphones are our winner for the home and office! They have a super slick design, premium noise-cancelling, and amazing sound; but what makes them our top pick for the home and office is the killer microphone array.
The NC700s are perfect for phone calls - even in noisy environments - thanks to the revolutionary microphone system that’s unlike any of its competitors. Six mics work together to cancel the noise around you so you can hear the call better, while four mics combine to improve the clarity of your voice so the caller can hear you better. It all happens in real-time and adapts as you - or the source of the noise - moves!
It also has a brand new feature which makes it even better for video calls! The new USB link dongle now provides UC certification for software like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meets which rules out the potential for sketchy performance issues from Bluetooth chips in your PC or laptop.
The NC700s also have multi-point Bluetooth connectivity so you can connect with more than one device at once. This means you can quickly go from listening to a playlist on your phone to taking a conference call on your laptop.
Sennheiser PXC550-II (Runner Up)
The runner up for the home and office is the Sennheiser PXC550-II. These headphones have the superb Sennheiser audio quality you know and love. However, we docked a few marks because of the outdated micro-USB charging port, and the microphone quality just isn’t up to the same standard as the NC700s, which is pretty important in this category.
One advantage, however, is the Active Noise Pass-through so you can choose to hear what’s going on around you without taking your headphones off. This can be useful if you’re working in a collaborative work environment and want to check in on your co-workers or have a chat. To turn this on, simply double tap on the right ear cup.
Best Bass Headphones
Skullcandy Crusher Evo (Winner)
If you’re all about the bass, check out the Skullcandy Crusher Evo - our skull-thumping winner for our bass category. The earcups on these actually vibrate on your head in sync with the bass of your music. You can control your immersive sensory bass experience with a slider that ranges from Bone Rattling bass to Mellow. Plus, the audio quality improvements over the original Crushers let you experience an even broader range of deeper, richer, bass.
You can also use the personalised sound feature in the Skullcandy app to adjust the audio levels for your specific hearing. They’re also rugged, durable, and have up to 40 hours of battery life to keep up with you wherever you go.
Panasonic M500 or M700 (Runner Up)
The runner up in our bass category for 2020 is the Panasonic M500 Deep Bass Headphones. These combine Panasonic’s XBS Deep and Bass Reactor technologies to deliver a thumping bass that you’ll also feel vibrating through the earcups. The Deep Bass sound profile is delivered via a huge 400mm Free Edge Driver which generates a serious bass response with maximum precision, and minimal distortion. They are less tunable than the Skullcandy crushers though which is what leaves them behind in second place. The M700’s are also worth mentioning alongside the M500s. Both are very similar, but we recommend heading into a PB Tech store to try them both on and see which vibration experience you like the most.