I think a lot of us here at Speakergy are closet bassheads. Yeah, sure, we’re always talking about neutral sound, flat frequency response, and honesty in musical reproduction, just like good audiophiles should, but any of us would have to admit that there’s something insanely thrilling when our headphones drop the bass. A big, fat foundation from the bass guitar, the slam of a well-recorded kick drum, deep, throbbing pulses in IDM, even the full weight of a symphony, with timpani and contrabasses going all fast and furious.
Unfortunately, many headphones that are engineered to really pump out the bass – including lots from major brands – sound kind of awful. They may have hyper-heavy bass, but there’s no definition or detail, and it doesn’t really even sound like music anymore. And when the low end kicks in, everything else seems to check out – especially vocals and midrange instruments really get lost and distorted, the overall sound is muffled and loses all its dynamic energy, and any sense of space is gone.
But there are a few really great basshead headphones out there, and the best headphones and earbuds for bass have clear, powerful bass that goes down really low and really hits, and they still manage to have detail, dynamics, space and musicality from the low end to the highest notes.
What to Look for (and Listen for) in the Best Bass Headphones
Here’s where this buyer’s guide for the best headphones for bass is going to leave the others behind and go off in a totally different direction. You see, for all of my geekiness and love of tech, I realize that specifications, and even complex explanations of engineering and design, will never tell you how a pair of headphones will actually sound, whether good or bad, sweet or harsh, pumping or anemic.
For example, frequency response is said to be an indicator of how much bass a set of ‘phones will have, but every single manufacturer – with the exception of a handful of very conscientious (usually smaller) companies – is going to claim frequency response down to 20 hertz or lower, and believe me many of those headphones or earbuds don’t come close. Also touted as a sure way to great bass is the driver size, the bigger the better, but really I’ve heard 50mm drivers that sound like squeaky mice, and drivers less than half that size that are awesome on the low end.
Too much bass in a headphone cup, or an earbud case, will often disable the driver with sonic pressure, and muddy everything including the bass, and if the ‘phones are not well engineered, the bigger the driver the bigger the potential problems. Bass that’s been boosted incorrectly will make the midrange frequencies dark and heavy and lacking in detail, and can cause all kinds of other problems in every aspect of the sound.
So, what’s a poor basshead to do? The only thing for it is to listen, and listen, and listen. Don’t be either over-impressed by good first impressions or put off by bad ones, listen to different kinds of music (even stuff you don’t normally play), compare different headphones in one listening session rather than relying on your memory.
In short, it takes a long time, and a lo-ot of listening. But fortunately for you, we’ve done the groundwork, or the earwork, or the basswork. Well, we’ve done the work. I myself have heard more headphones than I can possibly count, and listened to as many of them as possible for an extended time and with lots of different music, so I can really recommend the best bass headphones on the market today.
What Makes the Best Bass Headphones?
Well, bass, I guess. Good bass. But not the kind that blurs and overwhelms everything and always sounds like an enormous dog thumping his tail on the hardwood floors of your ears. Clear, defined and weighty bass that is fast, controlled and really deep, and that neither overwhelms or messes with the rest of the sound.
Don’t get me wrong – bass can be incredibly strong and intense, and by far the most powerful part of the sonic picture, and a proper basshead would want nothing less, but you still want to hear the whole picture.
So I’ve assembled a list of a few really great headphones for bass, with awesome deep bass energy and quality. They will all have heavy and strong bass, but they will also all have very high material and construction quality, and the correct engineering, so that you can equalize the heck out of them and have even more bass, without losing any quality anywhere else. And, if your eardrums ever need a break, you can equalize the other direction and make them more flat and neutral, less bass heavy, and still have beautifully sweet and musical sound. Equalized or not, thought, they will all sound amazing from the bottom to the top. And especially on the bottom.
How Can You Choose the Best Headphones and Earbuds for Bass?
You are already on the right path. If you love bass, any ‘phones or buds on this list will give you awesome low end – strong, powerful, and exciting, and with real definition and quality.
But to make your selection easier I’ll organize this list by type, and then by price level, as follows:
Best Wireless Headphones for Bass
- Best Budget Wireless Bass Headphones
- Best Mid-Priced Wireless Bass Headphones
- Best Premium Wireless Bass Headphones
Best Wireless Earbuds for Bass
- Best Budget Wireless Bass Earbuds
- Best Mid-Priced Wireless Bass Earbuds
- Best Premium Wireless Bass Earbuds
Best Wired Headphones for Bass
- Best Budget Wired Bass Headphones
- Best Mid-Priced Wired Bass Headphones
- Best Premium Wired Bass Headphones
Best Wired Earbuds for Bass
- Best Budget Wired Bass Earbuds
- Best Mid-Priced Wired Bass Earbuds
- Best Premium Wired Bass Earbuds
So if you know your budget, whether you want standard banded headphones or in-ear headphones, wired or wireless, the rest is easy. Just go to the corresponding recommendation in this buyer’s guide and you will find the best headphones there are for bass, and headphones that are also bassline in every other way.
Best Headphones and Earbuds for Bass in 2021
Best Wireless Headphones for Bass
For speakers, headphones and professional audio equipment JBL is, and always has been, all about the bass. The JBL Tune 500BT wireless headphones definitely reflect this, with a strongly pronounced low end that really kicks.
But the 500BT also reflect JBL’s commitment to quality and advanced engineering, with trouble-free Bluetooth, multi-point connections, voice assistant compatibility, a great folding design and – most important in our books – sound engineering that allows intense bass levels without distorting or drowning out the rest of the music.
A well built, fun sounding and technologically advanced pair of headphones, the JBL 500BT Wireless Headphones are our choice for best budget wireless headphones for bass in 2021.
With a name like Crusher, it’s got to be good. Or, at least, deliver the deep bass. And the Skullcandy Crusher wireless headphones do just that, with an incredible amount of energy on the bottom – not just loud and strong, but very deep and very tight as well. The bass is adjustable on the headphones, and they can withstand even extreme equalization and pound even harder.
With great controls, extremely long battery life and super-fast quick charge, a brilliant folding design and really premium look and feel, the Crusher are recommendable in every way that matters. But their bass is really amazing and, for the true bassheads among us, enough in itself to make these the best mid-priced wireless headphones for bass in 2021.
For the best premium wireless basshead headphones we go right back to Skullcandy, who is becoming a bit of a favorite and an assumed leader in the basshead market.
The Crusher Evo have just as much bass as the less expensive standard Crusher above, but the bass is even a bit more refined and accurate, with greater speed and definition, than their already excellent little brothers. In fact, I’ve heard much more expensive wireless headphones, from “audiophile” companies and from major brands, which don’t have the exquisite musicality and accuracy – in the bass and all throughout the audio frequency – that these Evo have. Don’t get me wrong – the bass still slams, but it slams so beautifully!
The Skullcandy Crusher Evo also has an extremely strong and durable build, Bluetooth 5.0, 40+ hours (!) of battery life, and they look stunning. If you are a confirmed basshead, and love it loud and strong, but you still want the finest sound possible, the Evo is a perfect choice and is our choice for the best premium wireless headphones for bass in 2021.
Best Wireless Earbuds for Bass
The amount of bass you hear, and feel, from the Sony MDR-XB50 headphones is just awesome, but just as impressive is the quality of the bass, and how, for their low price, they never sound overwhelmed by the big, fat low end, and still manage clear, musical mids and highs and exciting musical energy throughout.
The Bluetooth and battery life, while not best in class, are both adequate, and the overall quality is quite high, but most importantly these Sony Extra-Bass buds stay in place. Nothing is more frustrating to a basshead than having your buds slip out of your ears – even a little – and losing all of that sweet low end until you push them back into place, but with the MDR-XB50 in-ears and their cleverly designed ear wings you can count on a secure fit even when you’re working out or dancing.
With their fun and exciting sound, great design, high overall quality and deep, strong bass, the Sony MDR-XB50 Extra Bass are our choice for best budget wireless earbuds for bass in 2021.
While really still in the budget price range, at just over fifty dollars, the Symphonized SNRGY true wireless earbuds have a fit and finish that is not just premium, but downright luxurious, and feel as if they would last forever. And neither budget or even premium quite do justice to the sound, which is rich and musical, extremely accurate and open (incredibly open, in fact, for in-ear buds) and dynamically exciting.
And the bass? Fast, fat and full, with plenty of slam and a warm, rich quality. And it goes deep, and gets more and more defined as these buds break in over time. And except for a little too much warmth and darkness in the low midrange – like male vocals – the beautifully heavy bass has little or no negative impact on the overall sound, which remains crystal clear and sweet, with lots of energy and no harshness, even with the most bass-heavy of tracks.
Maybe the single most beautiful product on our list of best headphones for bass, the Symphonized SNRGY buds look like they could cost hundreds of dollars, and sound like it too, and for big, high quality bass they’re priceless – an easy choice for best mid-priced wireless earbuds for bass in 2021.
If you want a more sophisticated earbud that still delivers the best bass, the Jabra Elite Active 75t could be the answer, with its excellent active noise cancellation, best-in-class microphone, voice assistant compatibility including Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa, great battery life and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless.
The bass is not, admittedly, as in your face as with some wireless earbuds – even some on our list – and yet it extends incredibly deep, is fast and well controlled and has real detail and tonal character – and, to be fair, it is pretty strong and intense right out of the box. The Elite Active are so well made, though, with such high quality materials, that you can strongly equalize them if you really want to kick it, and get enough bass to satisfy any basshead out there, and maybe even scare a few.
A brilliant, high tech set of wireless in ear headphones, the Jabra Elite Active 75t have everything you would want and need in high end Bluetooth buds, and are our choice for best premium wireless earbuds for bass in 2021.
Best Wired Headphones for Bass
We’ve never found a ten buck headphone that really delivers – they all pretty much have bloated bass, thick and undetailed sound overall and often a lot of harshness and distortion. Even the ones that sound pretty impressive initially will, in an alarmingly short time, totally bug.
On the other hand, we simply cannot believe what less than thirty bucks will bring – especially in the case of the JVC HA-RX500 full sized headphones. Deep, clean and tight bass from their oversized drivers, and well engineered ear cups that never vibrate, buzz or resonate even with the most bass-heavy music. The engineering goes beyond strong bass sound, with mids clear and sweet and a nice, laid back high end that still has plenty of detail.
The quality of the materials and construction, the premium look and nice design, these are all also way more than you would expect from a cheap pair of headphones, but the bass is what really sells them – strong, exciting bass that is always musical – and makes them the best budget wired headphones for bass in 2021.
Some would say that Beats is perhaps the most influential brand on the market today, and particularly among bassheads. The signature Beats sound, with laid back mids, sharp and detailed high frequencies, really exciting dynamic energy and tons and tons of bass, has given birth to a whole mess of imitators.
But Beats themselves seem unwilling to rest on their laurels, and have gone beyond the typical “popular” or “street” sound signature – especially with these excellent Beats EP wired headphones – with sweeter and more musical highs, more detail in the midrange frequencies, a more musical sound and less distortion overall and, well, still tons and tons of bass – but even there more definition, tonal accuracy and real dynamic power.
The EP still have that famous Beats rock-solid construction and long term durability, making them perfect take-alongs wherever you go, and they still have the beautiful Beats style and undeniable cool factor. And, in case I haven’t made this clear, tons and tons of bass. Definitely the best mid-priced wired headphones for bass in 2021.
If we judge the remarkable V-Moda Crossfade M-100 wired headphones based on their premium materials and superb build quality, their super-advanced technology and engineering, their sweet and musical high resolution sound, their countless awards, their insanely positive customer and press reviews, or even their unique and beautiful look, they would be easily one of the best headphones on the market, and well worth the money.
But we’re here for the bass, and the new Crossfade have not just lots and lots of bass, but easily the best sounding bass available for the price – deep, fast and accurate, and almost overwhelmingly energized. And even with all that foundation the rest of the sonic picture never gets overwhelmed or overpowered, remaining liquidly sweet, detailed and wide open.
This is exactly what a premium basshead headphone should sound like, and these V-Moda Crossfade M-100 ‘phones are our choice for best premium wired headphones for bass in 2021, and a superb, top-level product in every way.
Best Wired Earbuds for Bass
When you hear the “pure bass” bit of these JBL Tune 210’s name, you might either think that they have tons of bass, or that the bass is pure and accurate, and in either case you’d be right on.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – these are, after all, really inexpensive buds, and they do not have the real sweetness or tonal quality of lots of the often much more expensive basshead buds and ‘phones on our list of best headphones for bass. But for just south of 25 bucks they are amazing, and the only cheap headphones I have ever heard that don’t sacrifice everything else just for that sweet, deep bass.
Indeed, the overall sonic picture, for the money, is just as amazing as the amount, depth and quality of the bass, and while you will get better performance from a few of our other recommendations, the JBL Tune 210 Pure Bass will easily outperform lots of buds out there that are way more expensive – and not just in bass. Our choice for best budget wired earbuds for bass, the Tune 210 are one of the best values on the market today.
I’m afraid I’ve gone all annoyingly “audiophiley” on you again with my next recommendation for best bass earbuds – the Shure SE215 Special Edition. But don’t worry too much – I haven’t forgotten why we’re here. See, Shure in ear headphones are known and loved for lots of different things, including premium material and build quality, beautiful and intelligent design, absolutely best-in-class audiophile sound quality and, wait for it, intense bass.
Deep, strong, fast and incredibly alive, the Shure SE215 Special Edition earbuds have the kind of bass that makes IDM, rap and hip hop, rock and pop tracks absolutely move, and also provides a perfectly organic and accurate foundation for any kind of music, including acoustic jazz and classical. There is, perhaps, way too much bass for a symphony, but these incredibly Special Edition buds can be equalized in any way you can think without losing the sonic qualities that make them so special.
The Shure SE215 Special Edition, while not the most expensive, or even the best, wired earbuds in Shure’s incredible lineup, are maybe the most known and loved of them all, and in my book they are the best value and the best choice. They are definitely my choice for best mid-priced wired earbuds for bass in 2021.
A superb product in every way, the Klipsch XR8i in ear headphones are becoming a bit of a legend among audiophiles, and a first choice for affordable high resolution headphone listening. Extraordinarily wide and precise stereo imaging – almost unheard of in in-ear buds – and neutral tonality combine with a wide and flat frequency response and incredibly sweet and detailed sound all the way up and down the audio spectrum to make these some of the most beautiful sounding and exciting buds I have ever heard, and currently my own personal favorite and earbud of choice.
Klipsch is especially well known for the thunderous bass of their loudspeakers – including the legendary Klipschorn – and they are proud of how they’ve been able to bring that amazingly moving bass to a tiny in-ear monitor. How did they do it? With a subwoofer! Yes, there are both a full-range balanced armature driver and a subwoofer in each little bud, and the bass is just awesome. To be clear, though I did say “flat frequency response” in the first paragraph (and it is insanely, stupendously flat over most of the spectrum), there is a wonderful accent to the bass, and this can be brought out and made absolutely as strong and loud as you want and your eardrums can stand.
It is not just strong bass, but beautiful, detailed and accurate, incredibly fast and incredibly well controlled and almost overwhelmingly powerful. And the strong presence doesn’t stop somewhere in the lower mid-bass, as with some even quite expensive buds and headphones, but goes all the way down.
The Klipsch XR8i in-ear headphones are not inexpensive, but they are without question among the best sounding earbuds made today, and considering the levels on which they compete they are an absolute steal. They are not only our choice for the best premium wired headphones for bass in 2021, but my choice as one of the very best earbuds made.
Final Thoughts: Are Bass Headphones just for Bassheads?
A lot of people seem to be attracted to bass-heavy headphones, and love listening to them, but are afraid they will be too much over the long term. Many of our readers, and my own friends, ask if they should consider a bass headphone even if they aren’t real bassheads, or if it’s better to play it safe with something more neutral and flat.
Well, this depends – if you are looking at most of the typical basshead ‘phones out there, with their bloated low end, loss of definition or control, muddy and overwhelmed overall sonic picture and high frequencies that are often either too harsh or missing, then yes, a good neutral headphone is best.
On the other hand, if you can find a good bass headphone that hasn’t sacrificed everything else just for boomingly intense bass, and still has a nice, detailed, sweet, and musical sound all around, bass-heavy phones can be immensely exciting to listen to. The good news is that if the bass ever gets too much you can easily turn it down – the best basshead headphones have good enough engineering and material quality that they can withstand pretty strong equalization – either less bass, for instance, or if you are not at all a “play it safe” kind of person, even more bass. Just please play it safe with your eardrums and your hearing.
Anyway, these days the vast majority of headphones have a distinctly basshead profile anyway, and lots of them are not really anywhere close to presenting a beautiful and listenable musical picture overall – and this is exactly why I have been so keen to write this article, to make sure that whether you are specifically looking for the best headphones for bass response or just looking for the best headphones period, any one of our recommendations will satisfy and delight you.
And they are all really, really exciting to listen to!