16+ Loudest Headphones On The Market: An Expert Review

Loudest Headphones On The Market

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We can talk all we want to about sound quality, frequency response, distortion, imaging, transparency, detail, and resolution – and a thousand other refined “audiophile” things – but sometimes all we really want is to play music as loud as humanly possible!

And not just rock, rap, electronica, hardcore, or metal – even the classical lovers among us occasionally (or all the time) want kettle drums, pipe organs, piano clashes, or canons (thank you Tchaikovsky) that seem to push the headphones away from their ears.

So let’s look at the best loud headphones on the market today – not just the loudest headphones, but the loudest headphones you’d actually want to buy, own and listen to.

Please note: I love loud music, and I love loud headphones, so this is a very extended article, with lots of information, explanations and advice, and no fewer than 16 product reviews – so if you want to skip all of that and get right to the goodies, here are my top picks:

Table of Contents

How Loud Can Headphones Play?

The answer to this question depends on what type of headphones you have:

Wired Headphones

Lots of standard wired headphones will play pretty loud with a PC or phone, but certain “high efficiency” headphones will play much louder – even much, much louder – and those are the products I’ll focus on here.

Efficiency in headphones is normally called sensitivity, and while I really wanted to clearly specify the sensitivity of each pair of headphones I recommend, I began to realize this was pretty impossible – many manufacturers don’t state this specification, and when they do they may use one of at least two quite different standards of measurement, which makes comparison moot.

At any rate, you can assume that every wired headphone I’ve included in this list of loudest headphones – regardless of type – has sensitivity well in excess of 100 DB, and will play intensely loud with nearly any gadget – and if you have an external amplifier, well, just be careful!

Wireless Headphones

All Bluetooth wireless headphones will be “volume limited,” which means that they will only play so loud – they have their own internal amplifier, which is matched to and optimized for the sound driver elements, and this combination will not let the headphones play beyond what may be considered dangerous volume levels.

This means that if you really want loud – and I mean really, really loud – any wireless headphones used in their wireless mode might not fully satisfy you. Any comments or reviews you might read about how incredibly loud a Bluetooth headphone will play, whether in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear, should be taken with a few grains of salt.

So, how can you make wireless headphones louder?

If you’re buying new Bluetooth wireless headphones, and want to make sure you get ones that will play as loud as possible, you will find that some brands and models – like the ones I’ve included here – do play significantly louder.

Loud enough? Well, that’s up to you, but yeah, some of them play pretty loud. 

We tend to see that certain factors will make a Bluetooth headphone of any type play louder, or at least seem to play louder, and can make them much more satisfying dynamically:

  • A good acoustic seal – will block out more of the background noise which can detract us and make the music seem softer. Active noise cancellation can do the same thing, especially in certain situations, but a good physical seal is pretty important.
  • A punchy, dynamic amplifier – certain Bluetooth headphones, like the ones I like and have included below, will have amplifiers that, while they won’t go beyond the prescribed volume limits all wireless headphones adhere to, will just sound louder because of their excellent dynamic energy, punch, and excitement.
  • Powerful deep bass – various methods of equalizing and optimizing the sound of Bluetooth headphones can lead to an at least apparent increase in volume, but boosting bass is especially effective, and can definitely add a lot to the overall impact, and thus to the sense that the ‘phones are actually playing louder.

If you already have a pair of wireless headphones, and they’re just not hitting it, there may be no real answer. You can try to remove any volume limiting your PC or phone may impose (see my Bonus Section at the end), but ultimately the only way to make this type of headphones play super-loud is by using them in wired mode – if they have that option.

Ok, But How Loud is Too Loud?

As you probably already know, I’m not your mother or your father for that matter, and I’m definitely in no position to talk – I once stuck my head deep into the horn of a big bass speaker at the bottom of a concert stack, for goodness sake! (I remember thinking  that it was painful, but that I could stand a bit more volume.)

But all of the people who are in a position to talk say the same thing – prolonged exposure to loud volumes, or even short exposure to very loud volumes, will cause all kinds of problems – from dizziness, nausea, and headaches to lack of balance (temporary or permanent), tinnitus and even permanent hearing loss, among other more or less serious issues.

Harvard University, for example, says that exposure to sounds over 85 decibels – about the sound of heavy city traffic – for extended periods can cause hearing damage – even though many PCs, phones or MP3 players can, with normal headphones, can produce sounds well in excess of 100 decibels. 

Many other institutions, universities, and the like say very similar things, and they all not only specify maximum safe volumes, but recommended length of time for listening to loud music – 85 decibels no more than 8 hours, but if you are at or above 100 decibels – about the sound of speakers in a loud club from a yard or so away – you are advised to listen for no more than ten minutes. These guidelines are for adults, the times and volumes for children being much, much lower.

Put another way, many experts recommend that you never listen to music or any audio with your volume controls turned beyond 50 or 60 percent, and definitely not for longer than a few minutes at a time.

I know that this advice may fall on deaf ears – figuratively, at least – since you are looking for the loudest headphones made, but I would be remiss to not mention these things. Because extended listening in excess of 100 decibels really can, and sooner or later will, cause permanent hearing loss at any age and, to be absolutely clear, most of the picks on my list will get loud enough to do that, and sometimes quite a bit louder.

How Can You Find the Loudest Headphones for You and Your Budget?

Ok, now that we’ve gotten all the important safety and health considerations out of the way, let’s look at the loudest headphones you can get – both wireless and wired.

I am a huge fan of loud, loud headphones, and have tried tons of products – in each case pushing them as hard as I could – to determine just how loud they will play (and, of course, how good they sound at those extreme levels).

I have found lots and lots of really excellent, really loud headphones, and as a result, this is a bit of a lengthy buyer’s guide. 

My choices are not arranged by preference, but simply by price – from most to least expensive.  So if the first couple of picks is a bit intimidatingly pricey, don’t despair – just scroll down, and they will get easier and easier on the wallet – though even the spendiest of these are great values.

At the end of the article, in the Bonus Section,  I will talk a little about how to make your can play even louder, but now let’s get into the picks!

The Loudest Headphones on the Market in 2024

The Loudest Audiophile Dream

AKG Pro Audio K812 PRO Over-Ear, Open-Back, Flat-Wire, Superior Reference Headphones

I might as well start out this list of loudest headphones with a bang!

The hyper-expensive AKG Pro Audio K812 are absolute beasts in terms of volume – with rated sensitivity of 110DB/V, these will play super loud with any source – really, really loud.

Of course, the notion of “any source” is completely off the table here, since the AKG K812 headphones are so accurate and revealing, so staggeringly detailed and analytical, that they will make the average smartphone’s or PC’s built in amplifier – or any low-res MP3 files – sound awful.

But with a good external amplifier these are among the finest high end audiophile headphones on the planet (and, even at just shy of two grand, a considerable bargain), with incredible resolution, almost unbelievable dynamic energy and a pure, bright, musical sound that is indescribably beautiful.

Just proceed with caution – headphones that play this loud, coupled with an external amplifier and such low distortion, are seriously a very dangerous thing – I don’t care how loud you like your music; these will play way too loud!

But at those volumes, nothing I know will sound as good as the AKG Pro K812.

The Loudest Audiophile Bargain

SENNHEISER HD 660 S – HiRes Audiophile Open Back Headphone,

Ok, I am going back on what I just said. Even though the Sennheiser HD 660s are around a quarter the price of the AKG above, they do sound as good – in fact, they have a warm musicality which so many audiophiles actually prefer over the sometimes starkly revealing (if ultra-accurate) brightness of the AKGs.

And, with the same level of sensitivity – 110DB/V – these Senns will still blow your ears off. Ok, being less bright and a bit warmer, they may not sound quite as loud as the K812a, but it’s like saying the Bugatti Chiron doesn’t feel as fast after driving a Hennessey Venom.

What I mean, for anybody who isn’t a supercar fan, is that these Sennheiser HD 660s will also play incredibly loud – way louder than anybody should ever experience.

They too will reveal all of the inadequacies and sound problems in any average source, including pretty much any smartphone or PC, but with even a basic external amplifier, the sound you will get is absolutely ravishing.

That’s why the Sennheiser HD 660s open-backed headphones are my very favorite – yes, they have unparalleled accuracy, detail and dynamics in their price range, the lowest distortion, the biggest soundstage and the best imaging, on and on. But for all that they are also, and foremost, the most gorgeous sounding headphones I’ve ever used – well, at least until you get to the Hennessey Venom price level…

And they will play louder than even I can handle!

Loudest Wireless Over-Ear Headphones – Best Overall

V-Moda Crossfade Wireless 2 Over Ear Headphones

The first wireless headphones on my list of loud headphones are the uber-popular V-Moda Crossfade Wireless 2.

If ever a pair of headphones could be said to be built like a tank, it’s these Crossfade 2, which are seriously overbuilt and meant for many years of reliable service. At the same time, they are almost absurdly comfortable, and great for extended listening sessions.

While these V-Moda, or any Bluetooth wireless headphones, won’t play as loud as wired headphones, these in particular sound significantly louder to me than others I’ve tried. I attribute this to the intensely dynamic built-in amplifier and all the musical energy that comes through, as well as to the strong noise isolation you get from the well designed cups and pads.

But I still wonder if V-Moda cheated a bit and raised the maximum volume a bit higher than it should be… I’m not really serious, and I know this is a very reputable and responsible company that would never do something like that, but these really do play inexplicably loud for wireless over-ear headphones!

And they sound great! They have a rich, warm, dynamic sound signature that is incredibly fun and engaging, with plenty of bass, incredible detail and, again, so much musical energy – an ideal balance between a powerful and popular sound signature and an essentially audiophile level of accuracy and resolution.

The V-Moda Crossfade Wireless 2 aren’t the cheapest headphones, I realize, but considering their build quality, comfort and great design, and especially their amazing, award-winning sound, they are one of the biggest bargains I know – and they are the loudest wireless over-ear headphones I’ve ever heard.

Best Loud Wireless Over-Ear Headphones for Bassheads

Skullcandy Crusher Evo Wireless Over-Ear Headphone

With a name like Crusher, it’s got to be loud.

And the Skullcandy Crusher Evo are startlingly loud for wireless over-ear headphones. Maybe not quite as loud as the V-Moda above (maybe), but very close – and a hundred bucks cheaper.

Still, these are premium headphones – not super-expensive, maybe, but with the fit and finish, style, build quality and design you would expect from a top-end product.

And they play loud! In this case, I suspect the strong volume you get from the Evo is down to the normal causes – a very dynamic internal amplifier with real musical energy and excitement, and a great acoustic seal which keeps background noise out and the music in. 

But I also think that the Skullcandy Crusher Evo sound so very loud at anywhere near maximum volume because of that signature Crusher bass – really intense, pounding bass that adds so much power and excitement to listening, and somehow manages to not swamp or overwhelm the rest of the music.

A brilliantly designed pair of headphones, the Crusher Evo are well made and durable, foldable and super comfortable to wear. They have nice finding technology, amazing battery life, a super-cool bass tuning dial that works perfectly and an excellent free downloadable app for even more sound-tuning options.

Even with the bass turned way down to mere mortal levels, the Skullcandy Crusher Evo over-ear wireless headphones play surprisingly loud, and with the bass all the way up they will be frankly overwhelming for most people – but still sound fantastic.

Loudest Wired In-Ear Headphones – Best Overall

Etymotic Research ER4SR Studio Reference Precision Matched In-Ear Earphones

Right from the start let me say that these Etymotic Research in-ear headphones are some of the best sounding ‘buds on the planet – not the most expensive (ok, they’re not cheap either) and not the best known, but with accuracy, detail, warmth and presence, clarity, openness and imaging, and astoundingly deep and powerful bass that make them truly special.

And did I mention that they will play really, really loud?

As you move down in the list you’ll find more and more affordable choices, but with the Etymotic Research ER4SR we’re still at that rarified level where you can play music so loud it is literally very dangerous, and still have incredible sound – so low in distortion, so musical and so clear that there is absolutely no fatigue.

This is actually an important factor, and one I have looked for especially in all of my choices, but here we see it at the very highest level.

I’m honestly a little surprised that these puppies will play so very loud – freakishly loud, in fact – since their sensitivity is not that high – it’s high, sure, but not like others on my list. But much of this has to do with the energy, detail and dynamics of that superb Etymotic sound.

The deep-seating triple-flange eartips of the ER4SR also have a lot to do with their ability to play really loud (and their incredible bass response as well), since sound pressure is most effectively delivered to your ears and background noise is almost completely eliminated.

However they attain it, though, these are in-ear headphones that will play at very high volumes, and sound absolutely amazing no matter how loud they go. In this respect, the Etymotic Research ER4SR are pretty much without competition at this level, and get my highest recommendation.

Loudest Over-Ear Wired Headphones – Best Overall

V-MODA Crossfade LP2 Over-Ear Noise-Isolating Metal Headphones

I’m coming right back to V-Moda as my top choice for the loudest wired over ear headphones, in this case the V-Moda Crossfade LP2.

The Crossfade LP2 have an ultra-high sensitivity of 105DB at 1 mW of power, so even with less powerful phones, PCs or other sources they will play really loud. With a nice phone or computer, or especially with an external amp or stereo system, they will get dangerously loud – and far from your maximum volume settings.

Like so many of the best loud headphones, the Crossfade LP2 have a sound that just lends itself perfectly to really loud music – clarity and detail retrieval that lets you hear more things, and thus makes the music sound louder, low distortion that makes everything sound more musical at any volume, and really deep, really powerful bass that adds so much to the overall impact.

These are great headphones in every way – stylish, well finished and premium feeling, built incredibly well, very comfortable and easy to wear. But I think it is that V-Moda sound that really sells them – incredible bass, incredible energy, incredible detail and crystal clarity at any volume.

And, speaking of any volume, the V-Moda Crossfade LP2 will play louder than you can handle!

Loudest True Wireless Earbuds – Best Overall

1MORE EVO Adaptive ANC Dual Driver Audiophile Wireless Earbuds

There are definitely a lot of much more expensive true wireless earbuds I could have chosen for this list of loudest headphones – the Sony WF-1000XM4, beyerdynamic Free BYRD, Sennheiser Momentum 2, and KEF Mu3 are all examples of absolutely superb in-ear true wireless ‘buds that play surprisingly loud.

But for me (this is tough for me to say because I am a huge fan of especially Sennheiser and KEF products) the 1More EVO are better headphones for significantly less money.

1More is becoming one of the most widely recognized, and most beloved, manufacturers of affordable reference-level audio gear and the EVO true wireless earbuds are one of their best efforts, with incredibly rich, clear, and high-resolution sound.

At the same time, and for all of their audiophile qualities, the EVO sound much more like a pair of “street” headphones – that is, they have strong, deep and often quite intense bass, bright and detailed highs and imaging that’s so large and accurate it is at times quite trippy – and they will play amazingly loud for Bluetooth wireless headphones.

The high volume these 1More EVO earbuds are able to produce is probably mostly thanks to the quality and dynamic energy of the built-in amplifier and the clarity and detail of the sound, but also has to do with the good active noise cancellation and the great physical seal they make with your ears. And, oh yeah, that bass!

But whatever the reason, the 1More EVO Bluetooth wireless in-ear headphones are the loudest I’ve found at this level, and one of the very best sounding as well – accurate, dynamic, clear and detailed, and so much fun. A great pair of ‘buds, and an amazing value.

Best Loud Headphones for Musicians and Bands

Shure SE215 PRO Wired Professional Isolating Earphones

The Shure SE215 in-ear monitors have exceptionally high sensitivity – 107 decibels at 1 mW of power – and this in combination with their smart in-ear form and the exceptionally tight and noise-blocking seal they make with your ear canals makes them one of the loudest headphones on this list.

This tight seal and superior noise blocking make the SE215 particularly well suited to musicians and sound engineers – especially in live settings, when stacks, crowd noise and other background sounds make most headphones worthless.

As such, the Shure SE215 are designed to have a very flat frequency response, high levels of detail retrieval and clarity, excellent imaging and a very neutral overall character. They do have a slightly warm sound, and slightly boosted bass, but they are far from the “popular” sound signature you’d find with a Bose or Beats, or even many of my choices here.

This makes them perfect for accurate monitoring when a musician is performing, or a sound technician is mixing, and very popular among audiophiles as well, but honestly they may be a little too neutral for many listeners – some would say “boring,” but to me personally it is thrilling to hear the music so honestly and accurately.

The Shure SE215 do, however, have very deep and powerful bass, are very dynamic and energetic and really do sound great with lots of different music – and they will play incredibly loud.

Loudest Gaming Headset

HyperX Cloud II Wired Gaming Headset 7.1 Surround Sound

I’m a little worried about calling the HyperX Cloud II wired over-ear headphones the “loudest gaming headset” since I’m not really sure that is true – at least in a verifiable, research and specifications backed kind of way.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that something like the wonderful EPOS Sennheiser GSX 1000 Amplifier, in combination with their Game One Headphones will play louder, and maybe even sound better, but that’s kind of apples vs oranges since the Sennheiser combo includes a separate amp (and is a lot more expensive).

But for this modest price – just under a hundred dollars – the HyperX Cloud II wired gaming headset will give you wonderfully high volume, really intensely loud, and with sound quality, imaging and placement, and wearing comfort other gaming sets anywhere near this price just can’t match.

These Cloud II are so brilliant sounding that they work fantastically just as music headphones, and will play especially popular genres, like electronica and EDM, rap and hip-hop, pop and rock, with incredible volume and power and a really fun and involving sound.

But with games especially, the sometimes intense dynamic power of the HyperX Cloud II makes everything not just more exciting and engaging, it can raise your game to the next level – because at such high volumes not only are loud sounds more clear and identifiable, even the most subtle and quiet sounds come through with amazing presence and clarity.

Considered by so many gamers as the best value in gaming headsets today, and as their favorite headphones ever, the HyperX Cloud II is my top pick for gaming headphones that will play really loud

Loudest Audiophile Headphones – Best Value

Sennheiser Professional HD 280 PRO Over-Ear Monitoring Headphones

The Sennheiser HD 280 Pro wired over-ear headphones are quite possibly the most accurate and neutral headphones available for under one hundred dollars. 

They are also possibly the loudest – with an amazing 113 decibels of sound pressure at 1 milliwatt (some testing labs measure an even higher 116 decibels), the HD280 Pro will play incredibly loud with any gadget, and with nicer PCs, phones, stereo systems or separate headphone amplifiers they will go nuts.

Designed to be used by audio engineers and studio sound technicians, the HD 280 Pro has an exceptionally flat frequency response. They go as deep into bass, deep bass, and sub-bass as any more “popular” sounding headphones – in fact, a lot deeper than most – but without any of the artificial bass boost more popular headphones employ.

Even if you’re into huge bass, though, these super-high quality headphones can be equalized like crazy, and they will still have their wonderfully clear, detailed, and dynamic sound – just a lot more bass. And you can always instantly return them to their ideally neutral original audiophile sound.

But, regardless of your sound preferences, there is no denying that they will play loud – frighteningly loud, even – and sound clean, clear, and sweet at even those extreme volumes.

Incredibly comfortable to wear, seriously overbuilt and exceptionally accurate, and with an enormously likable sound, the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro wired headphones are a truly legendary value among audiophiles and music producers alike and can make a great choice for anybody who loves their music really, really loud.

Loudest True Wireless In-Ear Headphones – Best Value

JBL Tune 230NC TWS True Wireless in-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones

It’s just crazy how many TWS (true wireless stereo) Bluetooth earbuds there are available on the market today – especially at this ultra-competitive mid-priced level. 

But somehow, with all of those choices, the JBL Tune 230NC really catch my attention and stand out as a superior product in many ways.

Most importantly – for our purposes here, at least – they play really loud, especially for in-ear wireless earbuds (manufacturers seem to be even more cautious and conservative about maximum volume levels with in-ear wireless headphones, which can put the most pressure on eardrums).

No, they will never be as loud as wired in-ears, which can get stupidly loud, but the 230NC play louder than anything else I’ve tried at this price level, and as loud as pretty much any TWS I’ve heard at any level.

But the JBL Tune is great in lots of other ways too, with long battery life, clear, high-quality microphones, great active noise canceling technology, effective two-level hear-through listening and a lot more.

Plus they have that wonderful JBL sound – fat, warm, excitingly dynamic and crystal clear, with  deep, powerful bass, sparkling highs and remarkably present and lifelike vocals.

I think one of the reasons loud-heads like me love the JBL Tune 230NC true wireless earbuds so much is their dynamic sound, their sheer musical energy, which makes even soft or normal volumes sound louder – or at least more engaging. And if you want to crank them, they’ll respond beautifully!

Loudest True Wireless Headphones – Insider’s Tip

Back Bay Audio Tempo 30 Wireless Earbuds IPX7 Water Resistant

Back Bay Audio is not a very well known brand, and yet their Tempo true wireless earbuds have become one of the most popular and highly rated products on the market today.

There are lots of reasons for this – for one thing, they are exceptionally well-made in-ear headphones, with strong materials, a tough build, and a full IPX-7 waterproof rating. They have great battery life, clear microphones, and a zero-delay “movie mode” for frustration-free cinema.

And they have really beautiful – and really loud – sound.

These are not, perhaps, the ideal audiophile choice, since they do have a pronounced bass boost and quite prominent and detailed highs. In this way they are more tuned more like so many of the most popular headphones on the market today – not as bass-heavy as Beats, or some of the Sony extra bass models, but perfect for most popular genres and really fun to listen to.

That said, these Back Bay Tempo TWS ‘buds are in fact quite accurate and honest in their sound, and will work great with classical, jazz, acoustic music and the like. And yeah, even for die-hard audiophiles they would make a better back-up or commuter headphone than most big-brand choices I’ve heard.

Just be careful on the bus or subway, because these will play really loud, They make a great seal in your ears (part of the reason they attain such high volume), and don’t have much sound leakage, but if you really crank them your fellow commuters may well hear what you’re playing – and, if you’re listening to Olivia Newton John again, they may point and laugh.

For the low price, these Back Bay Audio Tempo true wireless earbuds are a great buy, and the loudest I’ve heard in their range. Even without that extreme sound pressure, though, they are a fantastic and easily recommendable product on every level.

Loudest Wireless On-Ear Headphones – Best Value

JBL Tune 510BT: Wireless On-Ear Headphones with Purebass Sound

It’s no surprise that JBL appears twice on this list of the loudest earbuds and headphones on the market today – their products are, after all, pretty well known for their big, bold, loud sound.

JBL is also becoming better and better known for Bluetooth technology, innovations and implementation, and especially in lower priced products, and for sure these JBL Tune 510BT on-ear wireless headphones are pretty amazing for the price.

For being relatively small, and very light and comfortable, the Tune 510BTs have a lot of volume – in this case, they are not relying on strong acoustic seal and superior noise blockage (they’re over-ear headphones, after all), and my impression on listening to them was that JBL simply pushed the power and the volume to the absolute acceptable limit and then enhanced things with a very lively, dynamic amplifier, clarity and enormous detail, special equalization and, especially, intense bass.

But that’s just conjecture on my part. Whatever the reason, of all the Bluetooth on-ear or over-ear headphones I’ve tried at around fifty bucks, the JBL Tune 510BT are the loudest, and have the enormous advantage of that beautiful signature JBL sound – clean, clear, beautiful and so much fun even at full volume.

If there’s a drawback, it’s that they don’t have a plug or cord for attaching them via wire to your device – that is, they are Bluetooth wireless only – so you cannot experience the even higher volume you would get by using them wired.

But for a great wireless headphone at a surprisingly low price, and one that plays loud beautifully, the JBL Tune 510BT is my top pick.

Loudest Wireless In-Ear Headphones – Budget

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Bluetooth 5 Wireless Earbuds

I have to think that each and every one of my picks for loudest headphones is, at its own level, an amazing value, but I’m not sure any of them are a better value than these cheap Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 TWS earbuds.

The secret to the Liberty Air 2’s ability to play so loud is, apparently, the very tight seal you can get thanks to their smart design and shape and excellent ear tips – not only do they deliver the music as directly and powerfully as possible into the ear canal, they have much less sound leakage than other in-ear buds – even some that are much more expensive – and very effectively block out background noise.

All of this, in combination with the punchy, energized sound of these ‘buds and their clear, clean built-in amplifier, make for a noticeably louder playback than I’ve heard from any other TWS phones anywhere near this price.

These Anker Soundcore wireless earbuds tend toward a more neutral sound – that is, they do have a nice, strong low end, with optimally boosted bass, but it is not overwhelming, and it will not drown out the rest of the frequency range. Mids are warm and very present, and vocals come through with real palpability and life. The very extended high frequencies are silky smooth but highly detailed, and without a hint of harshness.

This all makes the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 wireless earbuds sound like they are a bit of a budget audiophile product, and indeed they definitely do have the refinement and accuracy hi-fi enthusiasts crave, but I listened to them extensively with lots of different music – really, lots, from polite string quartets to harsh rhythmic noise and back – and they sound equally great with electronica, rock, pop, classical, jazz, rap, and hip hop.

Still, they’re not Beats, and if you want lots and lots of bass you will have to turn it up – luckily, the Air 2 respond beautifully to equalization, and have such extended deep bass already that it sounds truly awesome when boosted.

But no matter what you’re listening to, or how you have them EQd, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 will play righteously loud – and their sweet, musical sound will make them ultra-listenable even at top volume.

Loudest Wired In-Ear Headphones – Budget

KZ ZSN PRO X Balanced Armature / Dynamic Driver In-Ear Headphones

If you haven’t yet heard of KZ, you just haven’t been spending enough time lurking and prowling around headphone chat rooms and discussion boards. Or perhaps I have been spending too much time doing same…

Either way, KZ has become an absolute legend among budget-conscious audiophiles and music lovers – I say “audiophiles” and “music lovers” separately not because they are two different things, but because this points out one of the most amazing things about KZ earbuds – and the ZSN Pro especially – that they are both exceptionally accurate and high resolution and, at the same time, incredibly musical and fun, appealing to an enormous range of people and their musical tastes.

If you prefer quantity over quality, you would love a pair of super-cheap ZSN Pro in-ear monitors, since they are capable of playing at very, very high volumes. But even if you are an avowed non-audiophile, holding stubbornly onto your low-res MP3 files, you can’t help but marvel not just at the sheer volume these little wonders will reach, but the clarity and beauty of the sound even that loud.

Widely recognized as one of the very best values going in low-priced high-quality audio, the KZ ZSN Pro are built like little tanks, make a great seal in the ear and are very comfortable, have stunning sound quality and are capable of stunning volume – who could ask for anything more?

Loudest Wired Over-Ear Headphones – Budget

Panasonic RP-HT161-K Lightweight Over the Ear Wired Headphones

For my bargain-basement choice for loudest headphones I was a bit torn, having to decide between two super-nice and super-cheap wired headphones.

The Sony MDR-ZX110 represent everything I love about cheap headphones – lightweight construction and an almost throwaway feeling in a product that somehow manages to last and work beautifully for years, big bass and a punchy, dynamic sound overall, and a low, low price.

And, with high sensitivity and basic wired connectivity, the 110s will play insanely loud.

But I finally gave the nod to the Panasonic RP-HT161-K wired over-ear headphones instead. They too are a pretty much ideal cheap wired headphone in every way, with amazing and quite surprising full-range sound, deep and punchy bass that is still quite fast and accurate, smooth upper frequencies and a truly musical sound overall.

And the Panasonic to my ears sound slightly better than the Sony when played super-loud. I’m not sure, actually, which play louder, but I do know that the Panasonic 161 have a slightly warmer sound even at the highest volumes, without the tiny bit of grain I hear with the Sonys.

Don’t get me wrong – the Sonys, even compared to more expensive cans, sound phenomenal, and their immense popularity and high esteem are definitely justified in every way.

But for general music listening, and especially for very loud volumes, the Panasonic are a tad bit better, and my choice for best ultra-budget ultra-loud headphones.

Bonus Section: How to Get Your Headphones to Play Louder

Let’s say you’ve gotten the loudest headphones from my list – which means you’ve gotten some of the loudest headphones on the planet – but they’re still not loud enough.

What do you do next?

Well, there are a couple of things you can do to squeeze out that extra ounce of volume – or to blast out a few extra tons of volume – and in closing I’d like to briefly talk about these methods – namely, using an amp and/or changing your device’s settings.

External Amplifiers – A New Level of Loudness

The second part of this section, about changing device settings, is how you squeeze out that extra ounce of volume, but an external amp will blast your listening to new levels of pain. Uhm, I mean pleasure, of course – really, if you experience pain, for heaven’s sake, turn it down!

An external amplifier – even a basic, inexpensive one – will feed so much more power into your headphones than any PC or other device can on its own, and that power – and the music itself – will sound much, much better.

This is not a buyer’s guide to external amplifiers, and it’s a long enough article already (!), but I do want to mention a few of my favorite amplifiers – and to encourage you, if you really and truly love it loud, to consider this high-power option. 

All of these choices except for one (the Schiit Magni) include both a powerful amplifier and a highly advanced high resolution digital to analog converter, so you are not only getting much more, and much better, power, but an even more dramatic improvement in sound quality (ironically, the digital audio circuits in even top-of-the-line laptops and phones usually sound pretty awful…).

FX-Audio DAC-X6 Mini HiFi 2.0 Amp and Digital Audio Decoder – super cheap and ridiculously powerful, this amp and digital convertor may not have the most refined sound, but it will play any headphones really, really loud

Schiit Magni Heresy 100% Op-Amp-Based Headphone Amp and Preamp – an absolutely superb and quite powerful amplifier only (no digital to analog convertor) offering the very best sound for the money

iFi Zen DAC V2 Desktop Amp and Digital Analog Converter – beautiful sound, tons of power, built like a tank, this award-winning amp and digital convertor makes even the best headphones sound much better – and much louder! My top pick in affordable headphone amps.

FiiO K5 Pro Amplifier Headphone & DAC – one of the best values in high end audio, this beloved, surprisingly affordable Fiio amplifier also includes a superb digital convertor for even better sound

HIFIMAN EF400 Desktop Balanced Headphone Amplifier with Himalaya R2R DAC – an absolutely superb, but still affordable, amp and DAC convertor, the relatively new Hifiman is taking the audiophile world by storm

iFi Pro iDSD Desktop DAC & Tube/Solid State Headphone Amplifier – back to iFi for one of the finest sounding headphone amplifiers / digital convertors in the world. Expensive, but some consider the iDSD to be the best there is.

All of the above are desktop units, but if you prefer a tiny but powerful portable headphone amplifier I cannot recommend the Audioquest Dragonfly lineup highly enough – well, me and pretty much everybody else. From cheap to cheap-premium, these are all highly advanced and beautiful sounding amps with amazing amounts of power.

Audioquest Dragonfly Portable Headphone Amplifiers

Device Settings – How To Defeat Volume Limiting on Phones and PCs

It’s a bit frustrating – we’re trying to get the loudest sound possible, and the manufacturers of our smartphones, tablets, and PCs are trying to prevent us from doing just that!

Ok, yes, they do have our best interests in mind…

But we can defeat those limits on Apple or Windows computers, Android or Apple phones quite easily, and it will definitely yield a noticeable increase in volume.

So here’s a step-by-step guide on how to defeat volume limits on the four most popular platforms:


  • In “Settings” click “About Phone”
  • Find “Build Number” and tap it several times – usually seven, but until you have reached “Developer Options”
  • Return to the main “Settings” menu and select “Advanced”
  • Select “Developer Options” and activate “Disable Absolute Volume”
  • Restart your phone and rock on!

Apple iPhone:

  • Go to “Settings” and find “Volume Limit”
  • Slide volume control to the maximum
  • Close settings and rock on!

You can also, with any smartphone, turn off all equalization or special effects – basically setting everything to flat – and this can increase volume somewhat – especially, for some reason, with iPhones.

Windows PC:

The Windows method for disabling absolute volume limits is a bit more complicated, but still simple enough if you do it step by step.

  • Go the start menu’s search box and type “registry editor”
  • Right click (or, on a mousepad, tap with two fingers) and choose “run as administrator”
  • When asked if you’d like this program to make changes, select “yes”
  • On the left pane, select (by clicking the arrow) “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE”  then “SYSTEM “ then “ControlSet001” then “Control” then “Bluetooth” then “Audio” then “AVRCP” and finally “CT” – phew!
  • On the right pane, double click on “DisableAbsoluteVolume”
  • Change “Value data” to 1
  • Restart your computer and, yes, rock on!

Apple Macintosh:

  • Close all apps that might use or access the speakers
  • Go to “system preferences”
  • Go to “Sound”
  • Click on “Output”
  • Find and choose your Bluetooth headphones (or speakers)
  • Move the volume bar to maximum
  • Close system preferences, open your music player, and rock on!