Investing in a solid — maybe even the best — pair of headphones may not be at the top of your to-do list when it comes to mental health, but perhaps it should be. Widespread research indicates that listening to music can help with everything from calming the nervous system and improving sleep quality, to enhancing brain productivity.
One recent study from Ryerson University suggests that treatments integrating music and auditory beat stimulation are particularly effective in reducing anxiety, perhaps even more effectively than some anti-anxiety medications. Another study out of the University of Tsukuba reports that “music with a groove” can significantly increase measures of executive function and associated brain activity. The research applied exclusively to music that the person was familiar with, encouraging us all to hit that replay button one more time.
Impressively, research even shows that listening to certain songs can reduce mental illness. When it comes to hearing our favorite and most memorable songs, research suggests that Alzheimer’s disease patients and those suffering from mild cognitive impairment see improvements in their brain function and memory.
Taking music with you wherever you go is simple, as long as you have the right tools (hey, nobody wants to be that person playing music on a loudspeaker in public spaces). Having the very best headphones on the market helps too.
To that end, StudyFinds set out to put together a list of the best headphones for 2022. For our findings, we visited 10 of the leading expert websites to see which headphones were rated the highest. Our list is ranked based on the most-recommended headphones across these sites.
The List: Best Headphones For 2022
1. Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are no doubt considered one the best and most revered headphones on the market, topping nearly every expert list we reviewed. The luxury headphones have a sleek design, excellent sound quality, and a 20-hour battery life.
“The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 is the best pair of headphones that Bose has ever released,” The New York Times writes. “These headphones are expensive, but we think they’re worth the cost if you put a high premium on performance and comfort. They offer the superior noise cancellation that Bose is known for, plus more adjustability than on any noise-canceling headphones we’ve tested.”
Music lovers also like these headphones for their intuitive controls, using swipes and double taps for volume control, track selection and voice assistance.
“Sound wise, the 700s are great. They deliver heart-pumping bass and twinkly trebles. We can’t fault them, plus you can always adjust the settings to your liking with the Bose Music equalizer app,” The Independent writes.
2. Apple AirPods Max
Apple Airpods Max have their signature plush look with excellent quality. These wireless headphones topped the list time and time again thanks to their noise-canceling performance, comfort, design, and easy pairing due to its H1 chip.
“The AirPods Max have an understated yet stylish design distinguished by a ventilated headband and plush over-ear earpads,” Forbes writes. “These touches make the headphones very comfortable for long listening sessions.”
Another favorite feature is spatial audio, meaning your favorite music comes at you at 360 from all around your head, making for an unbelievable auditory experience.
“Yes, they’re expensive, but the AirPods Max deliver richer, more detailed sound than lower-priced competitors from Bose and Sony,” CNET writes. “They also feature arguably the best noise canceling on the market along with premium build quality and Apple’s virtual surround spatial audio feature for video watching.”
3. Sony WH-1000XM5
Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are a top pick for those looking for versatile headphones with top-notch features including superior sound, noise-cancellation, smart features, and an impressive 32-hour battery life.
“Now that Sony has released the Sony WH-1000XM5, it takes the crown as the best active noise canceling (ANC) headphones,” The Sound Guys writes. “This new model outperforms its closest competitors in noise attenuation and microphone quality. The default frequency response is a bit bassier than what we typically recommend, but you can easily equalize this from the Sony Headphones Connect app (iOS/Android) or your preferred third-party equalizer.”
The headphones are also well-loved for their design and lightweight features, making them easy to travel with.
“Active noise cancellation is incredible, and works brilliantly on low-frequency sounds and also higher frequencies,” The Independent notes. “But, more importantly, these sound absolutely divine. Whether it’s orchestral music, rap, podcasts or your favorite pop tracks, the WH-1000XM5 handles it all with poise and elegance, and it never misses a beat.”
4. AKG K371
Many consider the AKG K371 headphones to be the best mid-range budget headphones money can buy thanks to their performance, sound quality, and convenient packaging. “Expect to hear well-balanced beats, solid bass, and clearly defined midranges. Whatever music you listen to, you’ll hear good performance, even when dealing with quieter instrumental pieces that show up frequency buzzing in cheaper noise-canceling headphones,” Mashable writes.
While there are many luxury headphones on the market, many buyers like the AKG 371s because they’re not flashy or bass-heavy, rather more focused on the simple and blissful experience of listening to music.
“Though people have been picking the Sony MDR-7506 for decades, a true successor in the ‘budget monitor headphone’ category has finally taken center stage,” Sound Guys notes. “The AKG K371 offers a really good baseline for what constitutes good sound in the consumer market.”
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.