In the modern world, we use headphones as a courtesy to not disturb others when we listen to music, catch up with podcasts or stream content, which can be for hours at a time. It’s no surprise that most people want comfortable headphones that don’t hurt their ears. Headphones aren’t typically a product people try on before buying, so choosing the most 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 the 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), we chose each selection based on its overall comfort and stellar performance in a specific category.
The Most Comfortable Headphones At a Glance
1. Best Overall: Bose QuietForm 45 — $279.00 at Amazon
2. Runner Up: Sony WH-1000XM5 — $398.00 at Amazon
3. Best For Apple Users: Apple AirPods Max — $479.69 at Amazon
4. Best For Gaming: SteelSeries Arctis 7+ — $159.99 at Amazon
5. Best Wired Headphones: Sennheiser HD599 — $144.35 at Amazon
6. Most Comfortable Earbuds: JLab Epic Sport Air Earbuds — $51.23 at Amazon
7. Best Bose ANC: Bose 700 — $299.00 at Amazon
8. Best For Work: Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC — $180.38 at Amazon
9. Best For Audiophiles: Beyerdynamic T1 (3rd Generation) — $829.00 at Amazon
10. Best Under $150: Sony WHCH710N — $148.00 at Amazon
11. Also Consider: Apple AirPods Pro — $179.99 at Amazon
12. Honorable Mention: Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II — $292.49 at Amazon
13. Most Stylish: V-Moda Crossfade 3 Wireless — $299.99 at Adorama
1. Bose QuietComfort 45
Who’s It For: Jet-setters who frequently travel. Commuters stuck on trains who need to pass the time. Anyone who puts comfort above everything else.
Why We Chose It: Because they are without a doubt the most comfortable pair of headphones we’ve tried, thanks to their plush ear cups and flexible headband.
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.
2. Sony WH-1000XM5
Who’s It For: Audiophiles who love their music and don’t want distractions. Vacationers relaxing it up in a hammock.
Why We Chose It: Quite simply, it sounds awesome, and we love how the headband is also cushioned to not feel tight over the head.
Sony’s newest flagship headphones, the WH-1000XM5 Headphones, are the gold standard in active noise-cancellation. And before the XM5’s 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 significant improvement in overall comfort.
In our review of the XM5 headphones, we praised the new design, and they barely lost out to Bose for the title of most comfortable headphones. You can wear these headphones all day without worrying about ear fatigue or irritation.
3. Apple AirPods Max
BEST FOR APPLE USERS
Who’s It For: Apple users who want a comfortable pair of headphones that seamlessly works with all their Apple devices.
Why We Chose It: No other pair of comfortable headphones can match its intuitiveness and ease of work with Apple’s ecosystem of devices.
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 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.
These are the most comfortable headphones for Apple users, but that comfort comes at a cost. Even 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.
4. SteelSeries Arctis 7+
BEST GAMING HEADPHONES
Who’s It For: Gamers who play for endless hours on gaming PCs or consoles.
Why We Chose It: It’s wireless, features a retractable microphone, and has enough padding to play continuously for a fair amount of time.
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 that 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 also impressive, 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.
5. Sennheiser HD599
BEST WIRED HEADPHONES
Who’s It For: Anyone who prefers wired over wireless, especially when there’s no wireless connection and must rely on a standard headphone jack.
Why We Chose It: You’ll easily connect this comfortable pair to existing audio systems, such as mixing boards, airplane entertainment systems and old-school stereo systems.
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 compatible 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.
6. JLab Epic Sport Air Earbuds
MOST COMFORTABLE EARBUDS
Who’s It For: Athletes who need comfortable earbuds that won’t come off. Long-distance runners who can’t afford earbuds to become loose fitting over time.
Why We Chose It: With its silicone ear tips and soft ear hooks, these earbuds feel comfortable and stay snug through any physical activities.
Read More: Best Waterproof 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. Even after hours of continuous use, you won’t experience any ear fatigue.
7. Bose 700
BEST BOSE ANC
Who’s It For: Bose fans who need the best noise cancellation to block out the ambient noise around them, so they can relax and listen to music.
Why We Chose It: Out of all the Bose headphones, this one is by far the most comfortable with its extremely flexible band and plush cushioning around the ears. You’ll barely feel it!
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 detect 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 a gel-like foam cushions the stainless steel headband. The result is a headset that you’ll forget you’re even wearing.
8. Plantronics Voyager 8200 UC
BEST FOR WORK
Who’s It For: Office workers who are constantly on a conference call or chatting with others over the phone.
Why We Chose It: We love how it adheres to the office worker’s needs with built-in physical controls.
Having a reliable and comfortable headset is an absolute must if you’re working all day in an office, a call center, or even from home. 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) and has soft coating materials and plentiful cushioning for a comfortable feel.
9. Beyerdynamic T1 (3rd Generation)
BEST FOR AUDIOPHILES
Who’s It For: Musicians and sound mixers who need to listen to realistic-sounding audio.
Why We Chose It: You get less interference and have the best audio source for true-to-life sound. The wide headband also has ample flex to be worn comfortably.
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 has an impressive frequency response of 5 to 50,000 Hz so that you can hear low, mid and high tones. These powerful headphones are 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.
10. Sony WHCH710N
BEST UNDER $150
Who’s It For: Budget-conscious consumers who need a pair of comfortable, noise-canceling headphones that won’t break the bank.
Why We Chose It: Owning a comfy pair of over-the-ear headphones shouldn’t cost a fortune.
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.
11. Apple AirPods Pro
Who’s It For: Commuters, workers, music lovers and just about anyone who wants to listen to music while on the go without worrying about them coming off.
Why We Chose It: They’re a step up over the other versions of the AirPods, thanks to the snug fit from the silicone ear tips.
Full Review: Apple AirPods Pro Still Impress
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 feels 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.
12. Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II
Who’s It For: Students who need to focus on their homework and studies. Anyone who prefers lightweight headphones.
Why We Chose It: You’ll barely feel the Bose Quiet Comfort 45 headphones while wearing them because they’re so lightweight.
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 coated in soft synthetic leather. The cushioned headband is coated in a soft leather-like material that makes for a comfortable feel, while the swivel ear cups make the headphones fit just right.
13. V-Moda Crossfade 3 Wireless
Who’s It For: Fashionistas who need to make a statement. Anyone who loves customizing the look of their headphones.
Why We Chose It: It’s travel-friendly thanks to its collapsible design, but it’s the most stylish pair of comfortable headphones because you can custom design just about every part of it.
In addition to its soft and cushioned ear cups, the V-Moda Crossfade 3 Wireless headphones are one of the most unique because they can be custom designed. There are several ways it can be designed, from the outer shields to the color of the band. You won’t find any other pair that offers this degree of customization in a pair of headphones. Plus, it takes pride in its sound performance so that you can listen to your music in style.
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 we’re seeing oval on many of the highest-rated models.
- Durable headband: Headbands come in many 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 and 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. Often, 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.
Why Trust SPY When Shopping for Comfortable Headphones
SPY is always on the lookout for the latest and best tech products, and this year we have tested dozens of headphones. We’ve reviewed the best wireless headphones, the best DJ headphones and even the best bone conduction headphones, including the Shokz Openrun bone conducting headphones. When testing products, we’re always honest about both the pros and cons. Our sole mission is to help you find the most comfortable headphones, or any product, for any budget. We never recommend a product we wouldn’t buy ourselves, so trust that what you read about here has already been rigorously tested by the SPY team.