Wired headphones are so hot right now

When Apple ditched the headphone jack on its iPhones in 2016, I was bored. Make no mistake, my wireless bluetooth headphones, with their airy, tetherless release, will always have a place in my heart for jogging, working, and walking around the house. But I deeply hate the need to release that 3.5mm to Lightning adapter because I still love my wired headphones as well.

I’m not alone in my affection – wired headphones are cool again. I see the call. Wired headphones are as timeless and simple as your favorite sweater. Wired headphones don’t need to be recharged, they sound better for the money, they are more environmentally friendly, and they generally last longer. The creators of TikTok love them for their portable in-line directional microphones that require no setup. Plus, nothing says “I’m busy” like a cable hanging from your ears (which is part of why I suspect they’ve become popular on what Teen Vogue calls “hot girl walks”). The use of wired headphones is the rare trend that is both a rejection of the status quo and a (mostly) cheaper option.

But if you, like me, have painful memories of wasting money on misguided fashions that weren’t a good long-term match (I’m looking at you, velor tracksuits), you might be hesitant to commit to the wire. , ”As Shelby Hull, creator of the Wired It Girls Instagram account, said in an interview with Teen Vogue. Luckily, I’ve tested a lot of headphones, so let me reassure you that whether it’s for durability, convenience, or fashion, you can get some really great headphones that you won’t regret buying, even if the trends change.

What to look for in wired headphones

Adjustment is of the utmost importance. Not only does the fit affect the comfort of your headphones, it can also affect their sound. In our testing, we’re looking for headphones that come with a variety of tip sizes and that fit well on all of our panelists, although no single earphone is right for every person. If you find the included ear tip options uncomfortable, try out replacement ear tips before spending the money on new headphones. Sometimes a pair of ear tips with a different material or shape that better suits your anatomy can make all the difference.

A remote control with at least one button and a microphone is essential for everyday use if you want to take calls and record videos. We test our picks to make sure they perform well, without sizzling, muffling or distorting the user’s voice. If you usually hold a microphone near your mouth when recording video, make sure you point the microphone towards your face about 4 inches away and to one side. This avoids the proximity effect (that weird muffled or distorted quality) and bursts (the sound the mic makes when you say “b”, “p” and other plosive sounds blowing air over the microphone. ) while reducing ambient noise and background noise.

Headphones should sound great! The whole point of headphones is that you enjoy what you listen to. For example, the bassline shouldn’t overpower the lead guitar, and the vocals shouldn’t have painful, piercing consonants. Bass notes should have pitch and shape – they shouldn’t just sound like “whump whump whump”. Rapid succession of notes should be audible individually and should not intermingle.

Good headphones should be designed to last a few years. And the company that makes the headphones has to be reputable. In a perfect world, nothing ever goes wrong, but if it does here in the real world, you deserve solid customer service that will take care of your needs.

Your headphones should work with your primary music sources. While it might be easier to use a set of Lightning wired headphones with your iPhone or iPad, this pair of headphones won’t work with anything else. And while there are adapters that convert 3.5mm to Lightning, even some that allow both listening and charging, you won’t find any Lightning in to 3.5mm out adapters. Having a device-specific earpiece is boring if you want to switch entirely to a laptop or other operating system. The most universal connector is 3.5mm, followed by USB-C. I attach my adapter to my 3.5mm headphones with a rubber band when I’m using it, and I keep it in a small keychain with my earplugs when I’m not using it.

You can find plenty of really amazing sounding headphones (or in-ear monitors, as audiophiles call them), so like with any audio device, you definitely have ways to upgrade if you want to go all wired. life. But for a first pair, we recommend something affordable that fits your lifestyle. You can find out more in our guide to wired headphones.

Our choices

Panasonic RP-TCM125 ErgoFit

The RP-TCM125 ErgoFit wired headphones sound pretty good for their very affordable price, and they come with a one-button remote and optional microphone.

If you want to spend as little money as possible while still getting great sound, you can’t beat the Panasonic RP-TCM125 ErgoFit wired headphones. The RP-TCM125 pair has a nice balanced sound, with airy and mellow highs and bass present but not overpowering. Each sound frequency plays well with the others, so this pair sounds just as good with acoustic guitar as it does with hip-hop and rock music, which is rare among competitors in the under $ 30 price bracket. This set lacks the depth of field (the sense that music emanates from performers located at different positions in a given space, rather than a flat sound wall) or the bass quality of the Marshall Mode pair (which you can read below), but for the price, the RP-TCM125 package is still just great. The headphones have an optional one-button remote / mic on the cable, and they’re available in a variety of colors.

Marshall Mode

Marshall Mode

Marshall Mode headphones sound wonderfully rich and balanced. The fit is secure and comfortable, and the cable has a one-button universal remote control.

Purchase options

* At the time of publication, the price was $ 60.

The Marshall Mode set has a smooth sound profile that can handle any style of music, but it’s especially suited to rock and pop. The low frequencies are boosted slightly, but there is no thumping or blurring in the bass notes, and the high frequencies are clear without the harshness that plagues many headphones under $ 100. The headphones themselves are comfortable and unobtrusive, so they don’t protrude or hang awkwardly from your ear canals. The one-button universal remote control on the cable handles playback and PDA activation, and the separate microphone sits higher on the cable so you don’t have to put it to your mouth when talking .

Strauss & Wagner EM205

Strauss & Wagner EM205

The EM205 is an affordable and rare pair with volume buttons, great sound, and an option with a USB-C cable.

If you want an affordable wired pair with a three-button remote and mic, the Strauss & Wagner EM205 set is more expensive than the Panasonic RP-TCM125 ErgoFit, but has track and volume controls that work with most devices with headphone jacks. Sound and microphone quality is as good as the Panasonic pair but has slightly boosted bass and a little extra peak in the treble; this effect can give the strings a metallic edge and can make the depressions in the piano keys a bit clickable. While these headphones sound great, they don’t produce a big enough improvement to justify the extra money over the $ 15 Panasonic pair, and this set also doesn’t deliver the spacious feel that the speaker provides. Marshall pair. (For people who need a USB-C connector rather than a 3.5mm jack, Strauss & Wagner also makes the EM8C, but this pair costs around $ 10 more.) One caveat : Strauss & Wagner is a newer company, so it is not. have a history of customer service. But with headphones under $ 50, that may not be a factor for many people.