18 Best Wired Headphones (2023): In-Ear, Over-Ear, Studio

“I’ve got no strings to hold me down, to make me fret or make me frown …” You’d think, wouldn’t you, that if it was good enough for Pinocchio then it should be good enough for the rest of us? And it’s true, there’s a lot to be said for basic convenience (in general) and losing the strings (in particular). If you’re using wireless earbuds when you’re out and about, or wire-free headphones for focused listening at home, the flexibility of movement and lack of trip-or-twang hazards makes plenty of sense.

Wireless headphones, though, come with a few key compromises: a range in which they can operate, the risk of interference from external factors, and potential downscaling of hi-res files. So if you’re interested in sound quality, then good, old-fashioned wired headphones begin to look very appealing. We’ve selected 16 pairs of corded headphones that back us up—a mixture of in-ear and on-ear, and ranging from very to not even remotely affordable. Because let’s face it: The sound is the most important thing, right?

Check out WIRED’s other audio guides, including our Best Noise Canceling Headphones, Best Wireless Headphones, Best Cheap Headphones, Best Earbuds, and Best Phones With a Headphone Jack.

Updated November 2023: We’ve added the FiiO FT3 and Campfire Audio Andromeda Emerald Sea.

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