The best headphones and headphones of 2020 reflect some of the changes in the landscape. Until recently, wired headphones and headphones were still a serious consideration in personal audio quality for consumers, but 2020 has changed that trend significantly. Although wired headphones and earphones are still widely used, these options usually occupy the two extremes of the product segment – either high-end audiophile headphones or very affordable entry-level headphones for budget smartphones. Everything in between has gone wireless, and the true wireless form factor has grown in importance.
Because of this, our list of the top headphones and headphones this year is mostly made up of wireless products. For most listeners, this is the way to go, and the new options introduced this year have shown just how far Bluetooth has come as a connectivity method in terms of sound quality, battery life, and stability.
Keep in mind that our top deals aren’t necessarily, objectively, the best to buy, or even premium options. We used value for money and the total package for price as strong factors in our selection. Here are our top headphones and headphones tips for 2020.
Overall best: Sony WH-1000XM4
The highly anticipated Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless active noise canceling headphones were exactly what we expected. Although the headphones look largely the same as the WH-1000XM3, they differ from its predecessor in terms of significant changes under the hood. With top-notch active noise cancellation, LDAC bluetooth codec support, a proven design, and useful features like speak-to-chat, these are the most technologically advanced and capable headphones you can buy today.
Though expensive at Rs. 29,990, the Sony WH-1000XM4 offers the kind of experience that its premium prices fully justify. There is no Qualcomm aptX Bluetooth codec support which is the only real weakness. However, the LDAC support, a working app, and very effective active noise cancellation largely make up for this. So this will be our number one headphone and earphone pick for 2020.
Best wireless headphones: OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z.
This year there weren’t too many new releases in the budget wireless earbud segment, but the OnePlus Bullets Wireless Z stood out. At Rs. 1,999, this is currently one of the best value for money in this segment. It offers top-notch build quality, great battery life, very fast charging, and decent sound. If you’re not too excited about the idea of the true wireless form factor, this is the best wireless headset you can buy right now for less than Rs. 2,000.
The support of the Bluetooth codec Qualcomm aptX may have made the difference to the sound quality here, as the AAC Bluetooth codec meant that the headphones had a little too little detail in the sound. However, the overall package makes this a great choice for the price and our number one wireless headphone pick this year.
Best True Wireless Headphones: Lypertek Tevi
Our number one choice among true wireless headphones is from a brand you may not even have heard of, and that’s what makes them so special. The Lypertek Tevi is an impressive true wireless headset that offers a lot for Rs. 6,999, including support for the Qualcomm aptX Bluetooth codec, world-class battery life, IPX7 water resistance, and sound quality that is twice as expensive as many headphones.
We found that the sound quality was not perfect at high volumes with a bit of audible shrillness and the earbuds didn’t always sit securely in the case. Aside from these things, however, there isn’t much to complain about. This is a very good pair of true wireless headphones that focus on musicality and natural sound quality just as it should be.
Best for battery life: Jabra Elite 45h
Although true wireless earbuds can get good battery life if you consider the charging case, you will need to charge the earbuds from time to time. For completely uninterrupted wireless listening, you need full-size headphones, and the Jabra Elite 45h goes above and beyond that in this department. With a battery life of around 50 hours per charge in our test, the Jabra Elite 45h just doesn’t need to be charged very often.
This can be especially useful when you forget to charge your headphones or when you need them to keep you going for hours. There’s a Type C USB charging port for added convenience. The sound quality and design are decent for the price too. Though officially priced at Rs. 9,999, the Jabra Elite 45h is often available online for much less, which also makes this offer great value for money.
Best price-performance ratio: Oppo Enco W51
Until recently, it may have been difficult to expect too much from an inexpensive pair of true wireless headphones, but the Oppo Enco W51 proved us wrong. This pair of true wireless earbuds has a proper fit in the canal, active noise cancellation, Type-C wireless and USB charging, and decent sound quality – all for the price of Rs. 4,999. These are the best-featured headphones that we tested this year at this price point.
These are by no means a perfect pair of true wireless earbuds, even for the price, given that average battery life and unreliable controls hold this back a bit. The detailed sound alone is worth the money. The additional features are a welcome addition to the overall quality of the Oppo Enco W51.
Best wired headphones: Mi dual driver headphones
The wireless revolution has made mainstream wired earbuds usually very affordable options, and one pair of headphones have excelled in this segment – the Mi Dual Driver earbuds. Priced at Rs. 799, this 3.5mm wired headset features a microphone and inline remote control, a unique dual dynamic driver setup and very good sound quality. For those shopping on a tight budget and happy with 3.5mm connectivity, there is currently no better option.
When you have two dynamic drivers in each earbud, the bass can be a little high at times, which can be either good or bad depending on how you like your music. However, the Mi Dual Driver headphones are technically and physically the best you can buy for the price and cannot be ignored if you are on a budget less than Rs. 1,000.