What happens when you hear the bass line on a great song?
Your head starts bobbing, your foot starts tapping, your booty starts shaking, and you can’t help but want to dance, that’s what.
Bass is fantastic and there’s never been a better time to buy a pair of the best bass headphones and enjoy a whole lot of musical styles that emphasize the best component of any song.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Bass Headphones 2017
- 2 Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus with 4 Bass Settings
- 3 Skullcandy Crusher with Built-in Amplifier
- 4 Sony MDR-XB950BT/B Extra Bass
- 5 Sennheiser HD 650 Professional
- 6 JVC Z Series HA-SZ2000 Real Sound System
- 7 Beats Solo2 Wired
- 8 Sony MDR-1R Premium
- 9 Sennheiser HD 201 Lightweight
- 10 Sony MDR-XB800 Extra Bass
- 11 Harman Kardon CL Precision with Extended Bass
- 12 Bass Headphones Buyer’s Guide
- 13 Wrapping Up
Best Bass Headphones 2017
Modern music takes full advantage of bass like nothing ever has and here you’ll find reviews of the top 10 bass headphones on the market to help guide your buying decision.
|Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro|
(Editor's Choice #1)
|Skullcandy Crusher||Over-Ear||No||$||Check Price|
(Editor's Choice #2)
|Sennheiser HD 650||Over-Ear||No||$$$||Check Price|
|JVC Z Series HA-SZ2000||Over-Ear||No||$$||Check Price|
|Beats Solo2||On-Ear||No||$$||Check Price|
|Sony MDR-1R||Over-Ear||No||$$$||Check Price|
|Sennheiser HD 201||Over-Ear||No||$||Check Price|
|Sony MDRXB800||On-Ear||No||$||Check Price|
|Harman Kardon CL Precision||On-Ear||No||$$||Check Price|
Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus with 4 Bass Settings
As the name implies, the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus headphones are built specifically to allow you to customize your experience, both in the look and the sound coming through them.
They want to be the best headphones you’ll ever own, or at least the best in their price range.
Lots of Headphone Customization Options
I know the ability to customize the look of your headphones won’t be important to everyone, but for some of us it’s a nice bonus.
I wear mine out all the time and I like being able to change from the simple black or grey design to something full of personality. They go beyond customizing the look, too.
- Customize your look with 16 different ear cup designs. Because there’s a different design on each side of the 16 choices you actually get to pick from 32 different looks and you can mix and match as you see fit, though that would end up costing a lot of money since you have to buy each one. Still, you get a chance to imprint your personality on your headphones.
- Replaceable parts make the headphones last longer. Most of the parts of the Custom One Pro Plus are replaceable, including the ear pads and cable. If any part gets damaged you can simply order a new one and keep enjoying your headphones.
- You can customize your bass experience too. You can change the bass setting in each ear, which is an interesting choice, to get the perfect listening experience for you. With a touch of a button it will change until you’ve found your ideal.
Custom Bass Settings
There are four bass settings on the Custom One Pro Plus headphones from Beyerdynamic:
- Setting one is a minimum bass experience. This is a fairly typical bass experience, like when you’re in your car and listening to the radio with the basic bass settings. It’s not going to make your speakers thump.
- Setting two turns it up a little bit. There’s not a huge difference between the first two settings, but you’ll hear a little more when you’re on this one.
- Setting three is just right for most music. I mostly used the third setting and found the bass to be strong and solid.
- Setting four is ideal for EDM and other bass-heavy music. It’s probably also terrific if you’re a basshead looking for that thumping experience. It did improve certain types of songs and I love that they offer all four choices on these headphones.
Comfortable and Well-Built Headphones
For me, any pair of headphones I’m going to stick with for a long time needs to be comfortable. I wear them for upwards of 10 hours a day, so I’m glad to report that the Custom One Pro Plus feel great.
- The fit is just tight enough and the over-ear design is terrific. You can customize the size of the ear pads, not surprisingly, to ensure they’re over-ear and thus more comfortable. The ear pads are soft too and though they were a little tight when I first started wearing them that didn’t last long as they loosened a little to conform to the size of my head.
- The build quality is almost entirely excellent. Adjusting the fit is easy and it doesn’t slide unless I purposefully change it. The headstrap is soft and comfortable over long periods of time. The only major downside is the covering on the ear pads is going to wear away at some point, necessitating a $20 purchase to replace them.
With the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus Headphones this German company has responded to a growing desire for customization options to go along with great sound and the results are excellent. For a good price you get a wide range of design choices, replaceable parts that ensure longevity for your headphones, terrific bass with four customization options so you always have the sound experience you desire, and exceptional comfort.
- 16 headphone cover options to customize your look.
- Four customization options for your bass experience.
- Very comfortable.
- Clear and excellent sound.
- Ear pads will wear away with prolonged use.
- Customizing can also mean spending more money.
Skullcandy Crusher with Built-in Amplifier
Founded in 2003, Skullcandy smartly targeted their products at action sports-loving guys and girls, designing them with that demographic in mind and catering to their sound needs. When you’re looking to break into a crowded market it’s smart to specialize, and their Skullcandy Crusher headphones with built-in amplifier are competing for the best cheap bass headphones and have been carefully designed to outclass their competitors.
Headphones Designed to Maximize the Bass
Numerous headphone manufacturers boast about the top quality bass they offer but few cater their design features so specifically to that need. Skullcandy, proving their intelligence as a company, has gone above and beyond to give you great bass for a great price.
- Closed back design for great bass. To deliver truly great bass a pair of headphones needs to have a closed back design and the Crushers from Skullcandy achieve that. The over-ear headphones form a tight seal around your head to deliver astonishing bass.
- They developed the Sensation55 driver specifically for bass headphones. In the Skullcandy R&D lab they created this driver that’s made particularly to increase the bass and leave you with a head pounding experience that is pure listening pleasure.
- Included a built-in amplifier for better sound and bass. Most audiophiles would recommend adding an amplifier to any headphone purchase for truly perfect sound, so Skullcandy has included one with their Crusher headphones. It’s obviously not of the same quality if you were buying one on your own (you can spend up to $1,500 on an amplifier, which is craziness), but it does make the bass experience better and that’s what counts.
- Adjustable bass control included so you can customize your experience. We all like different levels of bass with our headphones, so Skullcandy has included a sensation slider on the left ear cup that lets you adjust the bass until you’ve found the level that’s just right for you.
Great Design and Tons of Customization Options
I mentioned above that Skullcandy’s target market is outdoor action and extreme sports aficionados (and those that aspire to the lifestyle), so it should come as no surprise that they offer a more adventurous, sleek-looking design than most headphone manufacturers.
I like the huge variety of color and style options even more. There are at least a dozen to choose from, including bright solid colors so you stand out in a crowd and loud patterns that look amazing and would no doubt draw appreciative comments from passersby.
You Can Actually Feel the Bass
If you’ve never listened to music with bass-heavy headphones before you’re in for a real treat with the Skullcandy Crushers. They get their name for a reason and when you put them on and turn up the bass you can actually feel it.
Outside Noise will be Cancelled
It’s worth mentioning that with a closed-back, over-ear design the Skullcandy Crusher headphones are remarkably good at cancelling out noise without needing active technology that eats your batteries and increases the cost. Having that wonderfully loud bass is really all you need, so you can expect most distracting noise to disappear when you’re using these.
It’s a victory for bassheads around the world that the Skullcandy Crusher headphones are affordable by most because they’re a terrific option if you’re looking for that booming bass you can feel. They largely cancel outside noise, they feel good, and they come with a huge variety of color and pattern options so you can pick the style that feels like you and have fun with your headphones.
- Incredible bass.
- Great price.
- Adjustable bass means you can customize your experience.
- Sleek design with tons of ways to customize it.
- Over the ear and closed back design means better bass.
- Sound is good for the price but is lacking in certain ranges.
- Built-in amplifier requires a battery.
Sony MDR-XB950BT/B Extra Bass
Sony wants a chance to capture the bassheads out there with their MDR-XB950BT/B headphones and they’ve thrown in the ability to go wireless to make them more appealing.
Let’s find out if these deserve to be considered among the best bass headphones on the market.
How Sony Offers Better Bass
Sony has taken steps to really improve the bass offerings in these headphones in hopes of improving your listening experience.
Let’s go over how they’ve managed it.
- Electronic bass boost with the touch of a button. You’ll find the bass boost button on the headphones and with a simple press you’ll experience enhanced low frequencies that make it feel like you’re in the club. Some headphones lack that low frequency bass response so it’s a smart move on their part.
- Closed back on-ear design delivers impressive bass. A bass-focused pair of headphones needs a closed back design because otherwise there’s too much leakage. Sony has delivered with the MDR-XB950BT/B headphones and the snug but comfortable fit around your head ensures a good listening experience.
Go Wireless and Still Achieve Good Sound
Wireless headphones have become increasingly common and it’s nice to see Sony offering them with extra bass. These utilize Bluetooth to connect you and the sound quality is good, though as always you can expect slight degradation from a wired connection.
- Broad frequency response via Bluetooth. You’ll get 20 – 20,000 Hz frequency response when listening over Bluetooth and 3 – 28,000 Hz when you’re plugged in. Both are good and the sound experience should be satisfying to most listeners.
- With Near Field Communications connecting to a device is as simple as hitting a button (usually, at least). Sony relies on two powerful codecs to deliver top notch signal quality when listening without a wired connection.
Well Designed Bass Headphones
Sony has made a series of excellent design choices with the MDR-XB950BT/B that make them a pleasure to use.
- Comfortable ear cushions. They’re soft and feel exceptionally good on your ears, even for long term use. The only caveat is that they’re not great for warm environments, leading to sweating.
- Long battery life. I’ve had no trouble getting through 10 hour listening days while working and charging them at night leads to another day of listening.
- Controls on the headphones are intuitive. Like most wireless headphones Sony has added volume, track, and call answering controls on the headphones. The difference here is that they’re well-placed, spoiling you for the sometimes silly decisions other headphone manufacturers make in this regard.
- Construction is high quality. Many headphone manufacturers choose to cut corners with the materials they use for construction. Sony has not done so, leading to far greater durability and a better chance you’ll still have these five years from now.
- Mic for phone calls works well. I haven’t tested it much outside or in a really noisy environment, but making calls with the headset on has been a success so far.
Sony has achieved success on many fronts with the MDR-XB950BT/B Extra Bass headphones. Their primary focus was to offer exceptional bass for a good price and they’ve done that without question and I particularly like the electronic bass boost to improve certain songs. The headphones are comfortable, the wireless feature works well, and the sound is terrific even outside of the bass.
- Bass is terrific and the electronic bass boost is a nice feature.
- Comfortable and durable.
- On ear controls are intuitive and simple.
- Effectively cancel all outside noise.
- Terrific sound quality.
- Included cord is a little short.
- Can get sweaty if it’s warm out.
- Carrying case not included.
Sennheiser HD 650 Professional
Can a pair of headphones first released in 2001 hope to compete for the title of best pair of bass headphones? It’s certainly possible, and now that the Sennheiser HD 650 have dropped from the lofty price of a few hundred bucks to more reasonable one you might actually be getting a bargain if you purchase.
An Audiophile’s Headphones at a Better Price
What’s absolutely true about the Sennheiser HD 650 is that they’ve long been known as being excellent for audiophiles that are looking for the most incredible, natural sound experience imaginable. You’re getting that with these, and they also present the best bass Sennheiser has ever had in a pair of headphones.
Sennheiser Knows How to Make Comfortable Headphones
Anyone that’s owned a pair of Sennheiser headphones knows they’re great at designing for comfort, even if you’re buying at the lower end. When you’re spending this much money you’re getting an excellent experience.
Most over-ear headphones go with a faux-leather material for their pads, but the HD-650s feature a soft cloth material that feels heavenly when you place it over your ears. The headphones are light and loose enough that they’ll fit even a large head (which I happen to have).
Spectacular Sound Like You’ve Never Heard Before
If you’ve owned a great pair of high-end audiophile-style headphones before it’s possible you have experienced sound like this, but chances are good you haven’t, which means you’re in for a special treat. The music is clearer and more beautiful, the voices of your favorite singers are stunning, and the bass is fantastic.
Great Bass Despite the Open Back Design
Open back headphones have a harder time delivering great bass, which is part of what makes the Sennheiser HD 650 headphones so impressive. Despite that design choice (it’s not a flaw, it just means that they’re not exclusively focused on bass) they still offer terrific bass that’s far better than other high-end Sennheiser models and offers an improved listening experience, especially for bass-heavy modern music.
Good Warranty but Challenging Support
Sennheiser is confident enough in their product to offer a 2-year international warranty that will cover any issues with the headphones (many users have reported issues with the standard cables and have had to upgrade to a higher quality version).
It’s rare to see a pair of exceptionally high quality, audiophile-style headphones for such a reasonable price, which is reason enough to jump at the chance to purchase these. If you’re exclusively looking for great bass the open back design is probably enough to deter you, but if you want a top notch all-around listening experience you almost literally cannot do better in this price range.
- Incredible pair of headphones for the price.
- Exceptionally comfortable.
- Best bass a pair of Sennheiser headphones offers.
- 2-year warranty.
- Standard cords sometimes have to be replaced.
JVC Z Series HA-SZ2000 Real Sound System
Have you ever had the pleasure (or displeasure, I suppose) of standing next to a massive speaker at a night club when a bass-heavy song is playing? If so, you might have some idea of what it’s like to use the JVC Z Series HA-SZ2000 headphones, a strong competitor in the race for best in our list.
They’re All About That Bass
JVC was clearly not messing around when they designed these headphones. They knew precisely the market they were going after and that market demands bass like most people have never experienced. They inspire phrases like “bass monsters” and “bass beasts” because they do this one thing incredibly well.
Truly, if you’re looking for a whole lotta bass in your ears then these are a terrific choice. If your ears aren’t up to the task you might actually want to skip out on these because they could do some damage if you turn them up too loud (that’s a good thing when it comes to bass headphones though).
Three Suggestions to Make These Even Better Bass Headphones
The JVC HA-SZ2000 headphones have received almost universal praise for delivering the best bass in the business, but most users, myself included, have improved them.
- Buy new ear pads. Unfortunately, the pads that come standard with these aren’t good enough. Because the headphones are heavy and they form such a tight seal around your ears you need extra comfort and JVC has skimped a bit in that department.
- Adding a headphone amp will up your bass quality. This small, simple addition improves the quality of the bass and the music, taking what was already an excellent set of headphones and making them into something transcendent.
- Use an equalizer to maximize your sound quality. There are apps for your phone and programs for Windows and Mac computers that will let you customize your EQ and get the best sound possible out of these headphones.
Issues to be Aware Of
No set of headphones is perfect and these come with a few issues that you’ll want to be aware of.
- The cord is way too short. At just under 4 feet long, the cord they shipped with the headphones is ridiculously short. It’s basically long enough to keep your phone/mp3 player in your pocket, but even then it can feel too short at times and it needs to be replaced.
- They’re not great with music that isn’t bass-centric. This isn’t surprising, but you need to be aware when you’re making your purchase decision. If you listen to a wide range of music, including some that isn’t particularly heavy on bass, you might be disappointed in the sound quality.
If bass is your number one concern and everything else is a distant second, you can’t go wrong with the JVC Z Series HA-SZ2000 headphones because they absolutely nail that element. They were clearly designed with bassheads in mind and if you’re not one you might very well become one when you’ve listened to music with these. They’re pretty pricey, but they’re built to last and they will have your head shaking with incredible bass at all times.
- Offers booming bass.
- Little to no sound leakage so you can listen as loud as you want.
- Good sound quality.
- Add an amp and they become out of this world bass headphones.
- Cord is too short.
- Ear pads should be more comfortable.
- Not ideal for music with little to no bass.
Beats Solo2 Wired
It’s a scientific fact that your brain loves bass, and while it’s not likely that Dr. Dre and the team behind Beats and the Solo2 headphones studied that before coming up with their basic philosophy of emphasizing bass, it’s a big part of why these have become so popular.
Not only did the company help establish a huge market for high-end headphones, they also sold to Apple for $3 billion, which is a tidy sum. So, can they be considered the best pair of bass headphones out there?
These are the Coolest Looking Headphones on the Market
We’ll get to the bass shortly, but let’s all acknowledge that the Beats Solo2 headphones look great on anyone. You might be thinking that’s shallow and silly and that’s fine, but it’s genuinely important to some people and I’d be included in that list.
These simply look better than most over or on-ear headphones and they’ve clearly put a great deal of effort into the style. They come in a wide variety of solid colors (I went with blue) and they make for a better picture than you might think. You have to try them on and check yourself out in the mirror to truly understand how awesome they look.
Great Sound and Emphasis on Bass
Beats purposefully designed their headphones to emphasize the bass, in part because they were going after a younger market that listens to more bass heavy music. It turned out to be a smart business decision and since you’re here reading about the best bass headphones chances are good you’re interested in them for that reason.
Exceptionally Comfortable Headphones
Beats has significantly improved the comfort of the Solo2 when compared to the previous version. The fit is simply better thanks to an emphasis on ergonomic design and they’re lightweight too.
My head is fairly large so for the first few days they felt just a little tight, but that’s almost always been my experience and they loosened up quickly, so it’s not worth being concerned over. The ear pads are durable, soft, and comfortable and are showing no signs of wear and tear.
Complaints About Sound in One Ear Going Out
Beats headphones have achieved mass market status thanks to their exceptional design and their emphasis on bass and high quality sound and they deserve the praise that’s been heaped on them. If you’re a fan of bass-heavy music you’ll be pleased with your listening experience. They’ve recently dropped in price as well, so you’re getting a comfortable, high quality pair of headphones for a bargain now.
- Best looking headphones on the market.
- Emphasis on bass is great.
- Good sound.
- Comfortable and durable.
- Good price.
- Cord is sometimes faulty and leads to one ear no longer producing sound.
- Can be tight when you first get them.
Sony MDR-1R Premium
Though Sony’s headphones rarely command the sort of worshipful press of other brands, there’s no denying they’ve long produced some of the highest quality products on the market.
They garner excellent customer reviews and audio lovers are fans too, which is why it’s worth considering the Sony MDR-1R Premium headphones for the best bass pair on the market.
Premium Headphones for a Good Price
They call them premium headphones because Sony has put in a great deal of effort to provide the best sound, excellent bass, and top notch comfort.
Their effort has resulted in a worthy product.
- Exceptionally comfortable over-ear design means great sound and little leakage. Because of the emphasis on bass Sony went with an over-ear style for these headphones, which helps form a tight seal to ensure the best audio experience. They use a soft leather for the ear pads that makes them comfortable to wear, even if the fit can be a little tight upon first use.
- Ear cups pivot for flexibility in storage. They designed the pivot feature so you could store the headphones easier and get the most comfortable wearing experience.
- Angled drivers change the sound experience. The idea behind the angled drivers is to make it feel like the sound is coming from slightly in front of you instead of behind. It’s something Sony has done for decades now and it’s exceptional.
- Liquid Crystal polymer diaphragms offer a wider frequency range. This is a little deeper into audiophile stuff, but they claim the range is up to 80kHz, which is much higher than most people can even detect. They want the best accuracy possible though.
High End Bass Headphones
The Sony MDR-1R Premium are designed with an eye towards delivering high quality sound across all types of music, so they may not be perfect for those of you that listen to only bass-driven stuff. However, if you want better bass in everything you’re listening to they’re an excellent choice.
The low frequency bass is top notch in the MDR-1R headphones, exceeding much of what’s offered by other headphones in the same price range. I was pleased with the midrange bass as well and came away from my listening experience feeling like these were a fantastic option for an all-around headphone.
Does the Bluetooth Feature Work Well?
Sadly, there’s not been a headphone manufacturer that has been able to deliver the same sound quality over Bluetooth as they do over a wired connection, but that’s to be expected. Thankfully, the Sony MDR-1R headphones offer high quality sound when you’re wirelessly connected to your device.
In truth, the difference in sound quality is hard to detect most of the time. If you’re a serious audiophile or you’re listening carefully and at high volumes you’ll likely notice, but it wasn’t enough for me to religiously use them while wired.
Other Impressive Features
- Noise isolation is excellent. Thanks to the over-ear design and the tight seal around your head these offer top notch noise isolation to the point that I was often unable to hear people next to me at the gym, on the train, etc.
- Controls on the right ear cup work very well. They’re simple, but the buttons to control the volume and skip/pause tracks are easy to find and responsive. You’d be surprised at how some manufacturers mess this up.
- Excellent battery life. I got around 30 hours of listening time before the battery went out (I was testing) and recharging it is quick. The only downside is that if the battery dies the whole headset has to be replaced if you want to keep using the wireless feature.
With their Sony MDR-1R Premium headphones the Japanese company offers an exceptional product aimed at producing high quality sound for a wide range of music and emphasizing the bass in particular. The headphones are comfortable, the battery life is genuinely impressive, they’re effectively noise cancelling with the isolation features, and the price has come down in recent years because they’re an older model.
- Very comfortable and well-built.
- Great bass across a wide range of music types.
- More affordable than when they were first released.
- Battery life is really impressive.
- Wider frequency range than any other headphones.
- If the battery dies it cannot be replaced.
- Style is very basic.
Sennheiser HD 201 Lightweight
Though it would be nice if everyone had hundreds of dollars to spend on the bass headphones, Sennheiser knows that’s not the case, which is why they offer their HD 201 headphones for a really low price. They offer a bass-driven sound for far less than you’d typically pay. The proper question is whether the sound is good enough.
High Quality Brand for a Low Cost
When it comes to buying low cost headphones it’s always smart to go with a brand known for producing high quality sound and putting lots of money into research and development. That way you get the benefit of all the resources they’ve spent developing their higher end headphones without paying the exorbitant prices.
Outstanding Bass-Driven Headphone Quality for the Price
The bottom line is that the Sennheiser HD 201 offer exceptional value for the price and they’re worth purchasing if this is your budget range or if you’re looking for something simple and the better quality headphones simply don’t offer value for what you’re shelling out. Here’s what I like about these:
- They’re really comfortable. Comfort is one of those things that a lot of headphone manufacturers fail to get right and it’s nice to see that Sennheiser has nailed it. The leatherette ear pads feel soft against my ears and the over-ear design ensures a good fit.
- Despite the low price the bass is actually really good. Part of this comes down to design. They went with over-ear and the headphones fit tight enough to form a good seal against my head, which is half the battle when it comes to creating great bass.
- Ambient noise isolation is good. I was surprised that these were able to muffle so much outside noise. They’re ideal if you want to cancel out the noise of your coworkers while enjoying a decent music experience.
- Surprisingly durable headphones. It was accidental, but I ended up dropping and kicking these around a few times and they showed no wear and tear. Most headphones in this price range, especially of the over-ear variety, would have broken.
- I love the long cord. So many sets of headphones come with a really short cord, but these bad boys provide nearly 10 feet.
- Two year warranty is generous. Sennheiser has always been good about offering long warranties, so this is no surprise. If you have any manufacturer-driven problems in that time they’ll make sure you get a replacement (if you beat them with a hammer and break them you’re out of luck, of course).
- Sound production is surprisingly accurate. If you want a head shaking bass sound these aren’t the headphones for you, but if you want good bass and accurate sound you’re going to love what Sennheiser has done.
It doesn’t get much better than the Sennheiser HD 201 for a low cost bass-driven headphone option. These will run you less than you might think, leaving your wallet just a tiny bit lighter in exchange for comfortable, long-lasting headphones that offer accurate sound production and excellent bass. With a two year warranty and the benefit of Sennheiser’s years of experience making some of the best headphones in the world you can’t go wrong if your budget is at this level or you want a simple pair of over-ear headphones.
- Great price for over-ear headphones.
- Sound is accurate and crisp.
- Bass is great for the price.
- Really comfortable.
- Really long cord.
- Bass is not going to shake your head.
- If you like a short cord this one will annoy you.
- Not great for workouts.
Sony MDR-XB800 Extra Bass
Extra bass is right in the name of these headphones from Sony, just in case you didn’t know they were competing to be the best and to gobble up the business of the guys and girls out there that love some crazy thumping in their music.
The important question to answer is whether the Sony MDR-XB800 headphones are worthy of your hard-earned money or if you’re better off spending it elsewhere.
Sleek and Simple Design Looks Good
Because Sony is competing at a lower price bracket with the MDR-XB800 headphones they’ve cut away some of the frills, leaving a minimalist design that ends up looking quite good.
They’re not the most stylish headphones you’ll ever see, but the slightly inset backs of the ear cups look good and the shiny black plastic material is attractive from afar and close up.
The on-ear pads are soft with leatherette covering outside and a gray foam circle in the middle that looks a lot like a small version of a subwoofer, which is fitting since these bad boys crank out some serious bass. The headband has just a thin layer of padding, but in my experience it was more than enough to keep the headphones comfortable over long periods of wear.
Blow Your Mind with Thumping Bass
We’re looking into bass headphones today, so that’s really the most important feature of the Sony MDR-XB800 headphones and they have most definitely gotten it right. If you’re not craving crazy bass you might put these on and immediately pull them off because the strength of it will catch you off guard, but if you’re a basshead looking for that pumping thump then you’re in the right place.
Look around and you might read reviews that talk about the level of bass as detrimental; those people clearly weren’t meant to be reviewing or testing bass heavy headphones (I read someone call it too much of a good thing, which is nuts when it comes to amazing bass). I wouldn’t recommend listening to classical music with these because you’re going to miss out on what makes that soundscape so beautiful, but if you’re into modern music, EDM, hip hop, etc, you will appreciate what the MDR-XB800s provide.
A Few Other Points Worth Noting
- The on-ear design means there will be some sound leakage. If you like your music really loud then it’s likely the people next to you on the bus or your cubicle mates will hear it when you’ve got it turned up, though it won’t be overpowering to them.
- 24 ohm means they get nice and loud. Most headphones these days are 32 ohm and the lower the ohm the higher the volume. That means these bass-heavy headphones get nice and loud, though you shouldn’t overdo it because you’ll destroy your hearing.
- Sony made them foldable, which is super handy. With three hinge points these headphones fold up quite nicely, making it easy to transport them.
- They might have done that because they don’t give a bag or case. There is nothing to store these in, which is unusual for a pair of higher end headphones.
It is truly all about the bass with the Sony MDR-XB800 headphones and you should jump in and have some fun if that’s what you’re looking for. They’re especially good for hip hop, R&B, and EDM, so if you’re an aficionado and you want it to feel like you’re in the club wherever you go this might be the best choice at this price level.
- Fantastic bass that will blow your mind.
- Great price.
- Comfortable and stylish.
- They get loud.
- Fold up nicely.
- No carrying case included.
- Can feel tight on your head if you’re wearing glasses.
- Construction could be better.
Harman Kardon CL Precision with Extended Bass
Founded way back in 1953, Harman Kardon has been involved in the production of high fidelity audio equipment for more than 65 years and the company is still going strong and would like you to consider their Harman Kardon CL Precision headphones in your search.
They don’t cost a lot and they’re among the more unique looking on-ear headphones you’ll ever see.
An Elegant and Uniquely Designed Pair of Headphones
Have you ever seen a pair of headphones with rectangular ear cups? I hadn’t until I got my hands on the Harman Kardon CL Precision so they’re unique to me.
I’ve had them with me for a week and I’m honestly still not entirely sure if I really like the look or if I feel awkward in them. I can report that people definitely give me a second look when I’m taking a stroll down the street or working in a coffee shop. They don’t look bad though, so perhaps you’d like people finding them interesting and unique.
Good Sound Quality and Enhanced Bass
Harman Kardon has worked hard to develop high quality sound for their customers and I like what I’ve heard when testing these with a wide variety of music types. The bass is not nearly as loud and pumping as some of the headphones we’ve reviewed, but that does end up making these more preferable if you want to listen to a wider range of music types, not just the bass-heavy styles like EDM and hip hop.
The 40mm drivers provide a frequency response of 16Hz to 20kHz, which is fairly standard these days and offers a wide dynamic range. Thanks to the on-ear design I found the sound to be natural and realistic, which I really enjoyed. They added a bass tube that acts as a tuned bass port and provides the enhanced bass they mention right in the name of the headphones.
Extras Make It Feel Like a Better Purchase
I already mentioned the two interchangeable headbands that are included, which I haven’t seen in other headphones, but they throw in a few other extras that I liked.
- Very nice carrying case. Some manufacturers, including in this price range, skimp on the carrying case or don’t include one at all. Harman Kardon has you covered.
- Three button remote and microphone for Apple devices. The remote lets you skip a track, pause and take phone calls, though it’s obviously disappointing that it’s tuned for Apple devices and not universal like many headphone controls are.
The Harman Kardon CL Precision headphones are best suited for someone with a broad taste in music that wants better bass than is typically offered. They’re stylish, well-constructed, and provide terrific sound. The price is excellent too.
- Great price.
- Stylish and unique design.
- Ships with interchangeable headbands to expand the size.
- Good sound.
- Not ideal for bassheads.
- The design might be too different for some people.
Bass Headphones Buyer’s Guide
If you’ve ever owned a great stereo system you know that the subwoofer, which produces the bass, is big and is often much larger than the other speakers. That’s because bass is best produced by a large speaker. You can see why that would make it difficult to produce great bass in a pair of headphones.
You won’t find any ear buds in our list because it’s basically impossible to produce great bass with them.
However, you’ll be heartened to know that it’s now entirely possible for it to feel like you’re wearing a pair of subwoofers on your head as some of the headphones we’ve reviewed are veritable bass cannons that will have your head vibrating.
What to Look for When Buying Bass Headphones
As with any purchasing decision, it’s important to know what you’re looking for, especially when you’re shopping online. In this case, what I mean is:
Do you want a pair of bass cannons? There are headphones that are stunningly bass heavy and that are aimed at bassheads, a shorthand for people that emphasize bass over everything else in their music.
Or do you want a more well-rounded listening experience? You can also shop for a pair of bass headphones that offer excellent bass but don’t go over the top with it. Instead, they produce a rich soundscape that includes bass but also addresses the other components of a song.
Closed Back Versus Open Back
Over and on-ear headphones come in closed back and open back designs and you’ll find that most bass-heavy headphones are closed back. This is mostly because it’s very difficult to produce great, head thumping bass when any sound is escaping.
- Closed back bass headphones. They are designed to form a tight seal around your ears so no sound slips out and nothing from the outside gets in. That seal is necessary to provide you with the best bass experience possible, which is why the real bass lovers should look for an over-ear design.
- Open back bass headphones. Those are uncommon but a few manufacturers produce them. You’ll notice that these tend to be the headphones offering a more well-rounded listening experience, and while that’s definitely not a bad thing it’s not a great choice for the real bass aficionados or those that care about little else other than the bass.
The Best Options on the Market
Below you’ll find a quick guide to the bass headphones reviewed on our site. You have a slew of choices and your task is to find the one that meets your needs for the price you’re willing to spend. Hopefully our reviews will make that easier for you.
Bargain Bass Headphones
- Sennheiser HD 201 – If you’re at all familiar with Sennheiser you’ll know they typically offer a low-priced option for almost all headphone types. They also sell some of the most expensive headphones on the market, which is why they’re such a successful company. These are meant not for bass aficionados but for people that want a bass heavy experience and decent sound while not spending much. In buying them you benefit from the brand name and the relentless work they do to constantly improve their products.
- Skullcandy Crusher – Every pair of headphones performs better with an amplifier, but they’re usually impossibly bulky and annoying, limiting portability. The Skullcandy Crusher headphones include the amplifier in the ear cup, and while it’s not nearly as good as an expensive one you’d buy on your own, it does enhance the bass experience. Everything about these headphones has been tuned for optimal bass, so they represent a good bargain at the price if you’re looking for some good thump.
- Sony MDR-1R Premium – These might not be considered a bargain but considering what they used to cost they’re definitely a deal. They’re built for bass, too, so you can expect them to deliver on their promise. They’re comfortable and the over-ear design ensures nothing leaks out and the sound is full and fantastic.
Midrange Bass Headphones
- Harman Kardon CL Precision – In addition to offering the most unique design of the headphones we’ve reviewed, the CL Precision model from Harman Kardon comes with two headbands so you can choose the size you prefer, terrific sound, and a good bass that’s ideal for listening to a wide spectrum of music. They don’t fall into the “subwoofers on your ears” category, but they’re not designed for that.
- Sony MDR-XB800 – Sony would like to blow your mind with the MDR-XB800 and they’ve designed it to produce over the top bass, which is a good thing. If you want a full musical experience these might not be for you, but if you’re crazy for bass and you want to feel it when you’re wearing these on-ear headphones, these are fantastic. It’s loud, it’s thumping, and they’re not nearly as expensive as you might think, making them a terrific choice.
Upgrade Your Budget for Higher End Headphones
- Beats Solo2 Wired – Beats has captured an impressive market share with their headphones that were designed from the ground up to emphasize bass in music. That makes them an easy leader in this field and the price has dropped enough that they’re now pretty reasonable, all things considered. These are undeniably great looking headphones too, and there’s a significant portion of the market that wants something that looks fantastic in addition to sounding fantastic. If you’re in that group you should give these a look.
- JVC HA-SZ2000 – How does the idea of wearing a pair of bass cannons on your ears sound to you? If that’s your thing then consider the Z Series HA-SZ2000 headphones from JVC because they are about as bass heavy as it gets. They have definitely emphasized the bass over everything else and you’ll notice is while you’re blessing out to your favorite EDM, hip hop, or R&B track because they’re not great for most other types of music.
- Sony MDR-XB950BT/B – One of the few pairs of headphones we’ve reviewed that are wireless, these over-ear delights provide terrific sound, the freedom to roam, hands-free calling with the built in microphone, and a rechargeable battery with an impressive life. They’ve tuned them for extra bass and included an electronic bass boost feature that lets you push a button to up the thump.
- Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus – They call them the Custom One headphones because Beyerdynamic offers the option of 16 different design options, letting you customize your experience and find something that speaks to your personality. You can also customize the level of bass you want to hear by choosing from multiple preset options. The build is strong and flexible and can withstand a fair amount of abuse and the sound that comes through is terrific, with the bass being the most impressive part.
A Whole Different Level of Expense
- Sennheiser HD 650 – These headphones from Sennheiser get their own category because they’re typically priced at a few hundred dollars. They’ve been offered on sale recently and the price might be dropping, so they become an incredible bargain. The bass is somewhat subdued because of the open back design, but the sound produced by these headphones is out of this world. It’s a whole different thing, which is why they feel free to charge so much for them.
What I like best about the collection of bass headphones I’ve reviewed is that there’s a little something for everyone. If you want it to feel like you’ve got a pair of subwoofers strapped to your ears you have that option, but if you prefer something a little more even and able to provide great sound across a wide range of music you’ve got that too.
What’s clear is that you can get great bass headphones at a wide range of prices so no matter what your budget is you should be able to find what you’re looking for. If you’re in the market for the best bass headphones it’s a great time to be buying as some of the finest models have recently dropped in price and can provide you with great sound for a much smaller ding to your budget.