Best headphones in Australia: over-ear, in-ear, wireless and more

Best headphones 2024
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Headphones are important, personal gadgets that let you tune into meetings, tune out with music, or do any number of things that require listening to audio without irritating everyone around you. But there are so many different types of headphones it can be difficult to choose the right ones for you. Here are our picks of the best headphones available now, including from big brands like Sony, Sennheiser, Bose and Apple.

Not sure what you need? Our explainer on how to choose headphones details what to expect at every price, with some recommendations along the way.

Best headphones of 2024

Best mid-range all-round headphones: Sennheiser Accentum ($299.95)

It’s wild that $300 headphones are considered mid-range now, but it’s really the sweet spot where you get better sound quality than the cheap and cheerful headphones (that are really only decent for podcasts), without paying for bells and whistles you might not need. The audio quality isn’t going to blow your socks off, but it’s solid enough that most music lovers will have a good time.

Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless Over Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones – Black
  • Unrivalled 50-hour battery playtime – Enjoy exceptional battery life that lasts up to 50 hours on a single charge.
  • Sennheiser Sound – Discover high-quality Sennheiser audio, thanks to our own engineered and manufactured in-house transducer system.
  • Blocks out all distractions with ANC – Stay focused and immerse yourself in your music with effective hybrid noise-cancelling headphones.

Honourable mention: Skullcandy Rail

If you prefer a true-wireless form factor, then the Skullcandy Rail buds are quite good for $169.95. They’re not going to set your world on fire, but they sound pretty darn good.

Best over-ear headphones for travel: Bose QuietComfort Ultra ($649)

This is such a difficult category to have a pick in, because the main front runners are pretty close together in quality, but each emphasises a different skill. For me, the QuietComfort Ultra wins due to the comfort and the noise cancelling chops. The downsides are that it’s a bit expensive, and the audio quality is ever so slightly less good than the Sony XM5 over ears. Sadly, you can’t get all sides of the triangle, I guess. But these are one of the pairs of headphones I, an extremely picky headphone nerd, travel with, so how could I not put them on the list?

Runner-up: Sony WH1000XM5 ($549)

I say runner-up, but it’s practically neck and neck. The noise cancelling is ever so slightly less impressive than the Bose, and I find the Bose ever so slightly more comfortable. But the Sony WH1000XM5 is less expensive, and I find that they’re better at conveying emotion within music.

I travelled with the Sonys for years and loved them, so if you see them on sale, they might be the better pick depending on your priorities.

Best in-ear headphones for travel: Apple AirPods Pro 2nd Generation ($399)

It’s been over a year now, and I still can’t get over how good the 2nd Gen AirPods Pro sound, they have no business sounding this good while being this small. The transparency mode is also the best I’ve heard on any headphones, not just in-ear ones. The noise cancelling is good enough that they work well on a plane, too.

You can also get a USB-C version of them now to go with the iPhone 15 range.

Best kids headphones: Belkin SoundForm Inspire ($69.95)

These have really everything you want in a pair of kids’ headphones: a microphone so they can use them in games and video calls, volume limiting to 85dB so they don’t damage their ears, a small size so they fit, a long battery life, and the ability to share audio with a friend or sibling.

They’re priced right, the quality is better than you’d expect for the price, and it comes in two options of colour so there’s something to suit most kids.

Runner-up: LeapPods Max ($69)

These are great for younger kids. They’re volume-limited, have a bunch of fun features built in, and they’re super cute.

Best premium gaming headset: SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless ($735)

Steelseries Arctis Nova Pro wireless
SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. Image: supplied.

This category is really hard-fought, because there are so many great options out there, but it’s impossible to go past the SteelSeries Arctis Nova Pro Wireless. They sound incredible, they can be used as regular headphones if you don’t mind the look, the microphone is clear, the DAC is easy to use to get the best experience possible, and the PC software takes it to the next level of personalisation. I’ve been using mine for hundreds of hours, and I still love them.

There’s also a wired version that is also excellent.

Runner-up: Astro A50 X ($749.95)

For people with multiple consoles and not a lot of HDMI ports left on their TV, then the Astro A50 X is absolutely the way to go. While they don’t have all the features of the Arctis Nova Pro Wireless, they do have features you can’t find anywhere else, and they sound better. The only thing holding them back from being my main pick is the microphone – the default gain is up way too high which makes it sub-optimal for comms.

Best mid-range gaming headset: Rig 800 Pro ($299)

The Rig 800 Pro sounds amazing. I am shocked it’s not selling for $500. It has all of the important features you want in a gaming headset, like a good microphone, excellent audio quality, premium comfort, and a decent charging cradle.

Best open-ear exercise headphones: Shokz OpenFit ($289)

I will sing the praises of the Shokz Open Fit until the cows come home. They’re comfortable, the music sounds better than it has any right to, they fit comfortably under a helmet for cycling, and the microphone is one of the best I’ve tried for taking calls, both just at my desk, and when riding under 18kmph. I cannot recommend these enough.

Shokz OpenFit Open-Ear Ture Wireless Blutooth Headphones with Microphone, Sweat Resistant, Beige
  • 【DirectPitch Air Conduction Technology】Instead of using the bone conduction technology that Shokz is popularly known for, OpenFit wireless headphones are powered by DirectPitch technology, another technical method to open-ear listening, which addresses vibration and neckband issues, making OpenFit ideal for everyday scenarios.
  • 【Open-Ear Comfort】Enjoy extreme comfort with the open ear design of the OpenFit true wireless earbuds, which allows for a secure, but non-invasive fit. Weighing only 8.3g per earbud, you’ll hardly notice they’re there. Ultra-thin earhooks ensure a comfortable fit, even when worn together with glasses.
  • 【High-quality Audio】The 18×11mm customized driver ensures acoustic excellence. Exclusive DirectPitch and OpenBass technology for live concert-like listening anytime, anywhere.

Best waterproof multi-sport headphones: H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport ($280)

On the bone conduction side of things, the H2O Audio Tri Pro Multi-Sport is really great. They’re waterproof and, as the name suggests, designed for triathlons. I am not a triathlete, so I haven’t tested them for their true purpose, but I have used them for a few hours on my bike and they’re really good.

H2O Audio TRI PRO Multi-Sport Headphones – Offline & Underwater Streaming Music (Playlist+) Waterproof Bone Conduction Bluetooth Open Ear Headset with Built-in MP3 Player – Swimming, Running, Cycling
  • Multi-Sport Waterproof Headphones – Enjoy your STREAMING music, like Spotify offline without a phone, underwater, anywhere with H2O Audio Patent Pending PLAYLIST+ feature. Bluetooth bone conduction headphones with a built-in MP3 player. It securely fits around your head for a wireless experience as you run or swim.
  • Bone Conduction Technology – These open-ear headphones direct sound vibrations to the head and jaw bones, letting you enjoy music without blocking sounds from your surroundings. The battery offers up to 5 hours of playtime – ideal for triathletes. NOTE: Battery Life varies based on volume level and mode.
  • 100% Waterproof and Sweatproof – These headphones can withstand submersion to 12 feet (3.6 meters) under water. Our waterproof rating is IPX8, the highest in the industry. Feel inspired by your favorite music as you work out, rain or shine.

Full sounding bass, controls that are easy to use, and you can download music directly to it from Spotify if you want to go without your phone. But it can also use Bluetooth if you do have your phone. I don’t love that it uses a proprietary charger, but aside from that they’re really great.

Best audiophile headphones: Sennheiser IE 600 ($1,199.95)

I could write love songs about the Sennheiser IE 600. No headphones make me feel more like I’m sitting at the feet of my favourite artists in the recording studio. They have an intimate, detailed sound. Every breath, every touch of fingers to the frets, every drop of emotion comes out on these headphones. Songs that are merely “meh” on other headphones make me cry on the IE 600.

Sennheiser Consumer Audio IE 600 Audiophile in-Ear Monitors – TrueResponse Transducers for Balanced Sound, Dual-Resonator Chamber Technology, Detachable Cable with Flexible Ear Hooks
  • An audiophile’s dream: Larger-than-life sound from 7mm TrueResponse transducers, designed and engineered in Germany specifically for in-ear listening using the entire frequency spectrum, for an incredible tonally neutral, intimate, true-to-life voicing and impactful bass response.
  • ZR01 amorphous zirconium housings, 3D printed in Germany, provide triple the hardness and bend resistance of steel. The unique glass-like atomic structure of the amorphous metal is ultra-resistance to corrosion and scratches, ensuring incredible resilience and long-lasting aesthetic beauty.
  • Exquisitely Neutral Sound: Unique dual-chamber absorber system to remove masking resonances for a refined and extended treble. Specially developed membrane foil provides minimized natural resonances and distortion.

Believe it or not, $1,200 is actually quite cheap for audiophile headphones, with the prices running into the tens of thousands of dollars, but beyond these, you’re paying for hand-crafting, brand names, and extra features. The IE 600 is just purely about the music, and they’re incredible.

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