Fan-favourite headsets can do a lot - they cancel ambient noise, offer an exceptional soundscape to the listener and look fantastic on the head or around the neck. If you've been eyeing the likes of Sony WH-1000XM5, Apple AirPods Max and Bose QuietComfort 45, then you're also familiar with the hefty price tag on these. There's no reason you shouldn't be able to enjoy content with a more budget-friendly pair.
Audiophiles can find jaw-dropping value on headphones by the same trusted brands. Pairs priced as low as Dh200 come with wireless capabilities, a built-in mic for calls and a long battery life. Plus, they're stylish enough to accessorise with your outfit of the day.
At the lower end of the price range, expect to lose out in certain areas. Just as is the case with affordable earbuds, our audio expert previously told us that listeners should be prepared to sacrifice active noise cancellation (ANC), touch controls and other advanced features.
Except, noise cancellation is one of the more coveted qualities of headphones, and missing out on this can be a deal breaker for some. Blocking out environmental chatter is instrumental in enhancing focus, whether you're a student or an office employee. If you're able to stretch your budget to Dh500, which is as high as our selection goes, then you'll be pleased to find decent ANC in this range, as well.
Over-ear headphones without ANC also somewhat muffle your surroundings passively, thanks to their ear-cupping design. Many listeners will find them a treat to wear, too, since the cans don't squeeze the ear shell. Models with an on-ear form factor, though, could make for an uncomfortable experience when worn for hours on end.
Revisit your purpose, feature priorities and available budget to arrive at the best shopping decision. Here are some of the best-rated headphones on Amazon under Dh500, where we've taken apart each by pros and cons based on user reviews. Some are currently discounted, so you might find our picks at an even better value.
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1. Best Overall: Sony WH-CH720N Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones
- Excellent sound quality
- Four-mic noise cancellation with adjustable transparency mode
- Has voice assistance
- Pairs with two Bluetooth devices at the same time
- Extremely lightweight
- Doesn't come in a case, nor does the headband fold for storage
According to reviews, Sony's WH-CH720N sounds indistinguishable from the popular WH-1000XM5 pair. These over-ear headphones actively cancel noise using the Integrated Processor V1 and two mics in each cup, but they also let you adjust how much of the outside world you want to hear. As with most Sony pairs, the clever Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE) eliminates audio compression for a lossless sound. The pair's weight (192 grams) belies its chunky construction, padded to the max with synthetic leather to see you through 35 hours of music playback. Switch off the ANC, and you're getting a whopping 50 hours on a single charge! Skip through tracks or summon your voice assistant with the on-body buttons, which are a welcome change from slippery touch controls, say reviews. Others wish the WH-CH720N arrived with a storage case, though for the sound quality, it's a flaw that can be easily overlooked.
Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh23 and two years for Dh33.
2. Best On-Ear Headphones: Marshall Major IV Bluetooth Headphones
- 80 hours of playback
- Delivers a punchy bass - great for metal and rock music
- Easy control knob to answer calls, adjust volume, pause and more
- Collapsible design
- No ANC
- On-ear cups may feel uncomfortable on big ears after a few hours
Arguably one of the hottest pairs on social media, the Marshall Major IV headphones are instant crowd-pleasers. Unique cubic ear cans and an all-leather construction indicate premium quality in every way. They also offer versatility like no other – you can power these up on a charging pad, share music with friends using a cable, answer or reject calls using a control knob and use them wired, when on low battery. Speaking of battery, with just three hours to a full charge, you get to listen to music for 80 hours nonstop. Unlike our best overall, the pair fortunately folds down to a compact ball, ready to be tucked away. Let's not forget the audio quality of these. Reviewers marvel at how the headphones stay true to Marshall's legacy sound, meaning it's best suited for heavier genres like rock and metal. The only deal breaker is that they’re not equipped to actively cancel noise since these are on-ear headsets. Our colour pick is a rare chocolate brown shade but you can always opt for the classic black, too.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh29 and two years for Dh41.
3. Best Value: Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Bluetooth Headphones
- Hybrid noise cancellation
- Three noise cancellation modes
- Up to 60 hours of battery life
- Transparency mode is easily activated with the ear cup
- Comfortable cushion pads
- Preset equaliser falls short of sound quality
The Soundcore Life Q30 headphones by Anker have always been well-regarded by budget-conscious users. At this price point, they perform some active noise cancelling and guarantee Hi-Res Audio filtering through 40mm drivers. Dual mics on each cup filter out up to 95 per cent of low-frequency sounds, and, depending on where you are, the pair optimises ANC for travel, outdoor and indoor use. Need to place a coffee order? Just press the right ear cup to activate the transparency mode. You can expect to wear them for long listening sessions, thanks to the ultra-soft protein leather ear cups that have memory foam padding. The battery life is just as exceptional, lasting for up to 60 hours without the noise cancelling feature and 40 hours with it. Reviews do say the equaliser on the app needs a bit of tweaking to maximise the soundscape's potential.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh12 and two years for Dh17.
4. Best for Exercise: JBL Tune 720BT Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
- JBL Pure Bass Sound
- Up to 76 hours of battery life
- Lightweight construction
- Stay put through exercise
- Voice Aware feature allows listener to hear their own voice
- No ANC
If you're a fan of the JBL sound, then these all-new Tune 720BT headphones are exactly what you'd envision them to be. The drivers reproduce JBL's Pure Bass Sound, the same kind found in big venues around the world. While you're all set on the punchy bass front, other attractive features include 76 hours of listening time on a single charge and a convenient Voice Aware integration. This is where you can hear your own voice during hands-free calls and conversations. Like our other options, the headphones effortlessly switch from one paired device to another without any manual tinkering. Buyers find these to fit better over the ears compared to the Tune 710BT, and use them on their runs and during workouts. They also love the sound clarity despite the absence of ANC.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh18 and two years for Dh25.
5. Best Studio Headphones: Sennheiser HD 280 PRO
- Jack plug accepts 3.5 and 6.3mm adapters
- Excellent noise isolation
- Comfortable ear pads for long hours
- Long three-metre cable
- Only wired
Do you host a podcast or pull long hours in the studio, mixing tracks? These Sennheiser headphones won't break the bank. Trusted by sound engineers and professionals, the HD 280 PRO are wired studio monitoring headphones, promising an accurate sound reproduction, from distinct midranges to clear highs. The closed-back design prevents audio leaks and the over-ear cups ensure near-perfect noise isolation from the outside world. Reviewers with podcasts attest to working for hours with these on and report back no discomfort. Pros use it to monitor live feeds, record and mix - they also appreciate the three-metre-long cable for hooking up to equipment.
Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh23 and two years for Dh33.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.