Portable Headphone Review List

ljokerl’s headphone review list features dozens of portable and semi-portable headphones.

Color coding:
Red = denotes discontinued models (select “Show discontinued products” checkbox on left to display)

i column (denotes headset functionality)
blank = no headset functionality
1 = mic + single button remote
3 = mic + 3 button remote with Apple iOS volume control
v= mic + analog volume control (compatible with all devices)

[wpdatatable id=31]


  1. I am looking for a pair of over ear Bluetooth headphones $150 max.
    Comfort is a big on for me what do you recommend?

  2. Robin Landseadel on

    Have you tried the Skullcandy “Grind”? I’ve been through many sets of headphones, have a pair of Sony MDR V-6’s I’m still using, find the Grind to be similarly good. The response is accentuated on top and bottom, the deep bass is fully present, lower mids are sweet, efficiency is greater than the V-6’s. They’re going for around $20 these days, worth checking out.

    • I have this unit and the sound is globally warm, pretty good bass but I think they lack presence in treble. They’re extremely comfy and easy to listen to.
      I got them for 15 euros last year and for this price it’s a great headphone in terms of audio quality and construction.
      I compare them to other more expensive headphones : the only issue for me was the resolution in treble : here you can hear the difference betwenn these models and more pricier ones. But for outdoor use instead of critical listening, they’re just perfect for me.

      • Odd, because I found them to have too much treble!

        I’m still looking for the perfect KSC75 replacement and I haven’t found one.

  3. Are the sound ratings at all relative with the sound ratings in the IEM list?

    I’m curious if the sound quality to price point is better with headphones than IEMs? I’ve actually heard IEMs produce better sound per dollar up to a certain point around $150, is this true?

    • Not directly relative, but within a +/- 0.5 or so range.

      I tend to prefer IEMs, especially in the lower price tiers. I’m a fan of neutral sound and prioritize clarity and detail, which budget IEMs can actually deliver very well (though as always there’s diamonds and turds in both categories). If I were looking for bass impact or soundstaging instead, maybe I’d choose headphones.

  4. Hey Joker,

    Are microphonics usually a non-issue with headphones? I was looking at the HD25-1 II, but I heard that on-ear headphones tend to have really bad microphonics and there’s no rating for microphonics in this list unlike with the IEM list.

    Also, just a small error I noticed, at the top of the list, you have the categories listed as Manufacturer, Model, Type, i, Build, Isolation, Comfort, Sound, Average, and Price, but at the bottom they’re Model, i, Accessories, Build, Isolation, Microphonics, Comfort, Sound, Average, and Price; it looks like this was copied over from the IEM list and was only changed at the top.

    Thanks for the list, really helped me narrow down my potential selections!

    • Wow, hard to believe that noone has ever noticed the table being mislabeled before – thanks! It’s buried deep in the code somewhere, I’ll do my best to find it.

      As for headphone microphonics, they’re generally not enough of an issue with headphones to be worth mentioning, never mind comparing between different sets. The HD25-1 is a bit of a special case because the cable material and cable attachment are both unusual, so there is a little bit of noise carried by the cord, but it would still be a very good score on the IEM microphonics scale if compared directly.

  5. Hi,
    Have you come across the Beoplay H2 and if so what are your thoughts? Had them since August and for such a portable set the sound is very nice, good detail and well balanced across all ranges. That said I borrowed some M50s today and have fallen in love with them, not as portable but gorgeous, particularly on anything with brass.

    • I’ve actually seen a couple of Beoplay sets in the wild – they’re quite distinctive and I dig the design and materials. Haven’t had a chance to listen to one yet, though.

  6. What about a on-ear behind the neck category?

    I am looking for something similar to Arctic P311 Bluetooth headphones. Needs BT 4 and Aptx-LL and Aptx?

    • Those aren’t great-sounding headphones. Arctic Sound generally doesn’t do Hi-Fi – I’ve tried maybe 5-6 of their headphones and earphones and they’re all just middle of the road consumer stuff. If you need a wireless headset with that form factor they’ll do fine, but don’t expect them to keep up with a good wired set in the same price range, or even a good traditional on-ear wireless.

  7. Hi Joker,
    Thank you for fantastic work on comparison list.

    I wanted to buy IEM around 50$.
    Currently I’ve had JBL T150A and soundmagic ES18S.(I know they’re not so good :P)
    I loved my Soundmagic. Now I want to upgrade to better one.
    I’ve shortlisted Meelec M6pro, Vsonic Vsd3s or Vsd5, Rha ma450i and soundmagic e50.
    Can you please suggest which earphone will be good?

    I like Bass (not too much) and it would be better to have good clarity.
    Can you also tell whether to go for BA or dynamic?

    • In that price range I’d go dynamic but I can’t really comment on the M6 PRO as I haven’t tried those. I also have only tried the E50 briefly so I don’t have a very thorough understanding of its sound.

      I’d say go for the Soundmagic E10 (or E50 if it’s getting positive reviews) since you liked the ES18 and are looking for a balance of bass and clarity slightly skewed towards clarity – this is what Soundmagic products do really well. The RHA will sound bassier but gives up some of the clarity, and the VSonics (and in my limited understanding the M6 PRO) err more on the side of brightness/clarity than bass. They’re more of a gamble – you might like this type of balance better, but there’s no way to know until you try it. A higher-end soundmagic is more of a safe bet.

      • Thank you for reply.
        I will look for reviews of Soundmagic E50 and E80.
        I also got some good reviews about Ostry KC06. Are they worth it?

        • KC06s are very good earphone but different than the ones you listed above – they have much more emphasis on the mids. Clarity is very good and bass is quite decent, but they’re really more for fans of strong mids/vocals.

  8. Hi
    Have been a big fan of your reviews. Got my first headphone, creative aurvana live! after goin thru all your reviews. Its been a year now and i wud like to upgrade to a new one that has a similair or better sound signature and fun.
    Please suggest a good one as there are too many options its very confusing.
    Thank you

    • The Creative Aurvana LIve! is a pretty unique headphone, I haven’t reviewed anything that I would consider a true upgrade over it. My knowledge of non in-ear headphones is also somewhat outdated – there’s hundreds of new ones on the market I haven’t try.

      I want to say something like Sennheiser Momentum (over-ear) would be a good pick here – the little time I’ve spent with it I thought it was a remarkably capable headphone, not boring but smooth and warm and lush – much like the CAL!.

      Another option would be the Beyer Custom One Pro. These sound less like the Creative and more like a studio headphone with a ton of bass, but they’re definitely fun in their own way. Plus the sound is (somewhat) adjustable and they’re built like a tank.

  9. Hey Joker, your list is awesome!!! I love my new piston 3’s for a toss around portable earbud for when I’m away from my over ear cans, but I’m super interested in the Mee audio m6 pro. That replaceable cable really has me excited. Could you do a review? or is there a review on the way? Thanks so much.

  10. Hey Thank you very much for this list!
    I’ve read that the Samson sr850 has the same driver as the Superlux HD6678B that you seem to love.
    What do you think about this samson headphone?

  11. Hey joker!

    Firstly thank for the huge work from you, that helped me a lot.
    Secondly I would like to ask your opinion about the V-Moda M100, You didnt even put them in your list, that mean you think they not as good as the M-80 at least?

    • Nothing against them, I just never got a pair for review. V-Moda promised to send one out but didn’t follow through, and I got distracted by other projects.

  12. Just got my ht21 got to say its bang for your buck really good for the price but why do cheaper headphones sound kinda dark?

    also have you tried the bose sound true if so how does it compare to ht21

    • Generally speaking, treble is one of the hardest aspects of a headphone to get right, and going “dark” can be a safer option. If we’re talking about sub-$30 mass-market consumer cans, 99.9% of listeners won’t notice or care about diminished treble presence. Shrill treble, on the other hand…

      And no, no experience with the Bose Soundtrue. I’ve recently tried the QC15 (again) and the Soundlink II (the wireless ones). The latter were especially poor, but I really wouldn’t buy either for sound quality. For ANC the QC15 is amazing, but I fly with IEMs.

  13. I have the amperior that I really like they are good sounding headphones but are very uncomfortable and the ue6000 they are just to big. I just recently purchased the ht21 because they were cheap and need a smaller and comfortable headphones for traveling. How does the ht21 compare to the bose on ear and the Amazon lightweight headphones because the ht21 and the Amazon basic were the same price terms of comfortable isolation and sound and would you still recommend the ht21 for one of the best cheapest portable headphones?

    • I mean how does the bose on ear and the Amazonbasic compare to the ht21 terms to comfort isolation and sound and would you recommend the Bose on ear for traveling for the price range of $100 or 60ish dollars used

        • I don’t know how the Amazonbasic headphones and Bose on-ears compare but among the cheap (<$30) closed portables I've tried the HT-21 still has the best combination of comfort and sound quality. Next best thing as you go up in price is probably the Audio-Technica SQ505 (the newer version of the SQ5 model in the list above). Assuming the new version is not worse than the old one, it'll give you a slightly warmer and more natural sound than the HT-21.

          • I’ve tried a few of Sony’s entry-level ZX models but I can’t remember which ones. The latest ones were red/burgundy with a metal plate on the outside. Anyway, they were nice and smooth but too muddy for my liking. I’ll take the less smooth but clearer/tighter-sounding HT-21.

  14. have you listen to any of the philips fidelio if so do you know what the difference between the m1 L1 x1 and x2. i really like how they sound. expect i never listen to the x2 because at the local store didnt have a converter. do you know any other headphones or iem that sound like them

    • I’m not sure, I’ve only tried the Momentums, and only briefly (I preferred the sound of the over-ear ones but the on-ears sure are nice-looking and compact)

    • i used to have a momentum on ear, i traded that for a beyerdynamic t51p… im trying out the t51p now.. i dont really like the momentum on ear because of the clamping force but it is a durable headphones for sure.. t51p is so much smaller in size and theres more metal to it… t51p looks very very german, functional and somewhat brutalist..

    • Tried them once and didn’t think they sounded that great for the (at the time) $400 price tag so I didn’t bother reviewing them. If ever have the time to focus on wireless sets they’ll be more of a contender because there’s less truly hi-fi wireless cans.

      • Were you ever able to try out the zik again. The original zik can now be found under 100, and two more iterations came out since, aptly named 2.0 and 3.0.

        Im considering getting the originals since I spent about 2hours of each day on a train and could use a nice pair of anc headphones, but not sure if the zik are worth it. Ur options are always spot on do was hoping u gave them another chance recently

  15. Hello,

    My 3 year old Beyerdynamic dt1350’s were recently stolen and I’m in the market for some new portable on/over-ear headphones. I originally was going to just go with some more dt1350s or Sennheiser HD-25’s, but after looking around I found that now there’s also Beyerdynamic t51p’s, t50i’s, and Sennheiser Momenum’s et al. Consequently, I’m not stuck between those two brands/models anymore. If it’s not too much trouble, could you recommend something I might want to look into?

    I most often listen to Pop, Jazz, Classical, Rock, and Rap. While comfort doesn’t matter too much to me, good isolation would be preferred. Sound quality wise, I have no preferences on strong bass, warmth, etc, though I do like strong mids and a good amount of clarity. I would prefer to keep it under $300-400

    Thanks a lot, and if it’s not worth your time I understand.


    • Unfortunately I haven’t tried any of the new models in that price range. The DT1350 and HD25 remain the two best on-ears I’ve tried with isolation as the main priority besides sound quality – the momentum on-ear doesn’t isolate as much, for example. For strong mids, the DT1350 still wins over the HD25 in my book.

  16. Hi Joker, I’ve just recently lost my beloved Klipsch x10i and would like to find a new replacement. I’ve done plenty of research and narrowed it down between Vsonic GR07 Classic, Hifi RE-400, Shure and V-Moda M80’s (I’ve heard V-Moda XS were much better?) but couldn’t decide which to pick.

    I would say I’m in favour of a more balanced sound but then I wished that my Klipsch x10i were less “dental” but more “funner” if that makes sense? As in fuller and having more of a visceral impact instead of this flatness. Although I did find the bass of my Klipsch x10i just a tad bit much as well. So overall I’m looking for a clear and precise sounding iem but with a charming soul to it?

      • The RE-400 and GR07 Classic are pretty well-balanced earphones while the X10 is warm and bassy. Most people would say the X10 is more fun while the HiFiMan/VSonic are more analytical. The SE215, likewise, is like a “milder” X10 sound signature. If you want something even more fun than the X10, perhaps a more v-shaped set that brings up the treble energy in addition to the bass would be a good fit. Maybe an RHA MA750 or even a JVC HA-FXT90. These are bassy earphones, but I find their bass more tolerable than that of the X10 because the rest of the spectrum balances it out in a way.

  17. Have you tried the Momentum 2.0 on ear and over ear models? They are sort of portable with their foldable designs. Thanks for the reviews!

  18. marwan rizik on

    what do you think about the Rock-it-Sound R-Lite, have anyone tried them, and how they are compared to her sisters?!

    • I tried the R-Lite as well but though the R-DJ was more deserving of a review due to its better all-around performance. The R-Lite is okay for being cheaper, but not as impressive.

      • marwan rizik on

        I see, thanks for for reply, can you suggest a good pair of headphones around 50-60$, i usually listen to rock, metal music, pop, and sometimes dubstep. I prefer portables, not so heavy bass. I came across R-Lite, akg k420, HD668b and HD428(thought its not foldable) , which i should chose? According to you’re experience?

        • I’d go with the HD428 if you can handle the form factor. It doesn’t fold but it’s smaller than the HD668 and has a portable-length cable. For a nicely versatile, non-bassy sound in this price range it’s up there with the best.

          • marwan rizik on

            Sadly couldn’t find a place to buy the HD428, i find the 429, what’s the difference between both of them?

          • marwan rizik on

            you know something, i thought a little bit more and i guess i can spend few more $$ on a better headphone that suits my needs, and i’ve been looking at the CAL 1 and CAL2 now and i found both with a 25$ difference between CAL1 and CAL2 which one do you think will suit me more CAL1 or CAL2? i like the fact that CAL2 has a detachable cable which is good for porting it. still confused, i’ve been reading your review about it, and i understood that there’s not much difference in the sound between both, thou i cant decide which one will be good for the kind of music i like. and i want to feel the bass when listing to other music than rock/metal and keep the “fun” sound.

          • The CAL1, definitely. The CAL2 is a very bassy headphone. The CAL1 is moderately balanced, though still a little on the warm side, and very versatile. I am guessing the $25 difference is for the CAL1 being cheaper, too, which doesn’t hurt.

  19. surpriserose on

    Hi Joker!

    I don’t know where to start because I’m just new to this stuff. I don’t consider myself as an audiophile but I’ve been loving music for more than a decade.
    Anyways, I used to have a NuForce 600M, my first premium earbuds that introduced me to the hifi community, but I got tired of getting replacements due to its weak headphone jack so I got a JBL-33. I was unimpressed because of it’s robotic highs and sibilance even after burn-in. So I got myself another one, the a-jays three but what other people say, the highs, though not piercing, are tiring to the ears. Then saw another deal for Shure SE-115, very warm, however you have to equalize in order for you to get the most out of the sound. Now, I got a great deal with RHA MA450i. I am currently using it on my Android smartphone for daily commute since windows phones can’t play flac files . Also got a chance to listen to RHA-MA750i, sounds refined, just can’t afford it right now haha. As you notice, all of the IEMs I currently own are entry-level.

    I wanted to move on to mid-grade IEMs, even high-end ones. I’m not really particular when it comes to sound signature because I believe that it depends on the type of music that you’re listening to and I think that an IEM with a balanced sound can handle most of the genre, especially pop. I have lot of IEMs in mind, Brainwavz (especially the B2 BA), Havi, Rock Jaw (just heard it recently), Etymotic Research (not available in the Philippines but still I would love to try them!), NuForce 770M or 770X, Shure (SE215 or SE315). I also even think of getting the Grados cans (SR60e, SR80e or the SR225e). I am willing to spend more than $100 – $200 as what appears on the web pricing however if you are going to buy these IEMs or cans here in the Philippines, you’ll end up paying more.

    I’m also thinking of getting a headphone amp. I guess my ultimate question is, which one should I get first? An amp (amp or amp+DAC) or an IEM? I’ve been through different websites like headfi and whathifi but I guess It’d more helpful if it’s coming from an expert. Thank you!

    • Quite a few options there for IEMs and headphones. With your preference for smoother treble I would maybe skip the B2, which is a touch on the bright side, but the rest are all good options (MA750 included – I tend to prefer it to the higher-end Nuforces and to the Shure SE215).

      Regarding amping, that’s a tough question to answer. The short answer is that it’s probably not worth it to invest in an amp with most mid- and even higher-end IEMs if your current sources are at least decent. However, if they are not designed to drive IEMs and have high noise floor, high output impedance, or some other fault, it might be worth looking into an Amp or even Amp/DAC combo to get the full potential out of them. I wrote a little more on this topic here: https://theheadphonelist.com/headphone_review/vsonic-vc1000/#comment-27328 in relation to a more source-dependent balanced armature IEM.

      My personal suggestion is always to upgrade IEMs/headphones first, then source (to a reasonable level), then your audio files, then apply any potential mods/upgrades to your headphones (EQ, different tips, vent mods, impedance adapters), and only then pay attention to additional stuff like cables, etc.

      • surpriserose on

        Hi joker!

        I only got the chance today to respond to your message and I would like to thank you again for that!

        Regarding Vsonics, they are not locally available here and I’ve been looking for pre-owned quality but to no avail.

        Btw, there’s a sale here on local store for Sennheisers and I was told IE-80 and IE-800 are high fidelity mid levels but the asking price is too much. I was offered a in-ear Momentum? What do you think of it?

          • It appears like the RHA MA750 is the one to pick. I saw another store here selling discounted Sennheiser CX 880, Accutone Pisces and Klipsch S4 (as well as Image and Reference) however the S4 and the CX 880 are discontinued models and I don’t wanna feel being left behind. I also saw your review about the S4, with a neutral rating. Thanks again joker!

          • Not sure about the Pisces but I wouldn’t pick the CX880 or S4 over the MA750i. These are quite old and while the S4 was a pretty good value when it came out (2009 or 2010), you can get similar performance for less these days. The Xiaomi Piston 2.0, for instance, is a better performer for <$25.

          • surpriserose on

            Hi Joker! I’m still waiting funds for the RHA MA750 and while waiting, I purchased the NuForce 770X. Mi gawd, what polycarbonate haha! And the initial sound testing? Sounds muffled but of course it requires a burn-in then changed tips from stock to the RHA MA450i earbuds and everything that says on their website is true! It has a natural and warm acoustic signature, lightweight and comfortable like I can hear Britney Spears’ “From the bottom of my broken heart” backing vocals. The build quality is meh, though.

  20. Akbar Nur Pribadi on

    hi joker,
    can you give me an advice and head2head between meelec HT-21, Senn HD238, and Beyer dtx501p. Which one I should buy for these portable headphone ? Thanks !

  21. Hello, I’d like to ask few a questions. I don’t have any experience with headphones at all. I’m currently looking at the blue ath-m50x that are priced at $189 and the shure srh840 which is $199. I have owned a variety of In-ear monitors like the sennheiser cx300, klipsh s4i, and thanks to you, the RHA-750i. I don’t even know if the headphones will sound better or worse than my current IEMs. I don’t think you have reviewed the Shure srh840 yet but iv’e been looking around online and everyone says that the srh840 are better than the m50x especially the mids. Are the mids on the m50x really that recessed?

    so basically…
    1. Should I upgrade to headphones if I already own a pair of RHA-750i? just in terms of sound quality alone.
    2. Ath-m50x vs Shure srh840 (Don’t have to answer if you don’t know)?
    3. Are the mids recessed on the m50x like everyone says? are the mids better than the RHA-750i specifically? I usually listen to female vocals so it’s kinda important.

    Thank you,
    Masta C

    • IEMs and headphones generally present music a little differently – I personally think it’s good to have both if you have occasion to use them. The M50x will sound better than the MA750 in some days but may not have that visceral in-your-face detail presentation that IEMs tend to have. And you won’t find the midrange lacking coming from the MA750, which is not exactly king of mids (not sure how the SRH840 compares, though). The M50x is not THAT mid-recessed. I think much of the negative feedback on it is just a knee-jerk reaction to its popularity (which might be a little excessive, but it’s still a solid headphone).

      • why not showing up 🙂 is it still good heaphone for u ?

        i am thinking of buy m50x , i generally listen electronic musics , do you recommend it ?

        if you recommend it to me also i need dac and amp , i have 150$ budget , i use it them only desktop pc

        • Trying to figure out why it went away…

          M50X should be more than fine for electronic music. You might not get Beats by Dre-like heavy bass quantity but the overall quality of the sound should more than make up for that.

          I’m not very well-versed when it comes to bugdet desktop amps. I have a couple of cheaper portable ones but the only desktop DAC I use is a higher-end OPPO unit.

  22. Hey Joker,

    I too would love to hear your opinion on the new Aurisonics Rockets. I already own a pair and would like to see how you’d rate their sound quality on your iem list 🙂 I just found this site today and I’m quite impressed! Keep up the good work and many thanks!

  23. Hello Joker! Will you be reviewing a Thinksound On1 anytime soon? I heard it one time and I can’t forget how it sounds. It’s a really good portable headphone, IMO. Though I don’t trust my ears that much. LOL!

    • I have seen mentions of the ON1 here and there but it’s never really gotten on my radar. Unfortunately it’s not among the few portables that I have queued up for review right now.

  24. Koss ProDj 100 vs ATH m20x! Im on a really tight budget (under 50$) and i want to buy my first pair of headphones, so far my collection is only composed of IEM’s (XBA1, M1, Ety MC5) im looking for a neutral sound with a tad of bass, and i have large ears and have glasses, so im kinda worried that the ProDj 100 won’t fit me or end up being extremely uncomfortable, i really hope you can help me! Thanks lJokerl!

    • DJ100 should be alright – I haven’t tried the M20 but I prefer it to the M30. If you’ll be using them at home you may also consider the Panasonic RP-HTF600. They have much larger cups and are very comfortable, and also sound excellent for the price.

  25. Have you heard the Monoprice Premium Hi-Fi DJ Style Over-the-Ear Pro Headphone 8323 or might be able to make an educated guess on how they might compare to other options? Worth considering as an alternative to something like Superlux HD668B or Sony MDR-7506 or just spend the extra ~$20 and go that route?

    Thank you so much for these lists and reviews.

    • Yes, I have the Monoprice. It’s definitely good for the price, but somewhat forgettable next to higher-end headphones. It’s tuned not too different from the MDR-7506, just less refined. It still has robust bass with good depth, but is a little dark overall and not very spacious.. The brighter, airier HD668B sounds very different from both the Sony and the Monoprice.

      • Thanks.

        What would your recommendation be for the following criteria? I came up with the Superlux HD668B or Sony MDR-7506 options using your above list and reviews weighted heavily on the sound rating and overall value but want to make sure I am on the right track.

        For non-portable use exclusively at home for mostly movie/TV watching via Blu-ray, DVD, cable and streaming from Netflix/Hulu and also for music listening (various genres but mostly rock and oldies). This would be my first legitimate pair of headphones for this purpose so nothing to compare it to. I imagine I would like something in the neutral/accurate range – since movies and TV tend to be mixed with a desired goal in mind versus accuracy already so perhaps pairing that with a headphone that exaggerates some frequencies is counterproductive. Price range would ideally be ~$50 or so and under. If there were a dramatic jump in quality just above that then I would consider it but I would prefer that to be along the lines of a substantial improvement rather than paying more for something I may only appreciate in the abstract or being able to A/B them.

        Thanks again for your time and knowledge.

        • Yeah, $50 and under it’s really hard to do better than one of those. I would also strongly recommend the Panasonic RP-HTF600. It just has such a comfortable form factor and really versatile sound, especially if you’ll be using it for more than just music. The HD668B tends to be lighter on bass and more analytical, and the Sonys a little darker.

  26. Hello,

    I was wondering if someone could review the Bowers & Wilkins P7. I know it’s a highly priced headphone, but many people give it positive feedback. Therefore, I think it would do the public well to know more about the headphone before considering purchasing it. Personally, I would like to know more about it, as I’ve been thinking about diving into the $400 range of headphones for a while now. It would be great if I could get some professional, audiophile-level feedback on these headphones. Thanks!


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