Many people are looking for quality headphones and earbuds that don’t cost too much. We’re talking about $50-$150, with some people willing to spend more on flagship models from certain brands like Apple, Bose, and Sony.

We have a lot of them lists of the best headphones and earphones at CNET, which focuses on headphones that cost under $400 — or even under $100 — if you’re looking for best cheap wireless headphones. But this list is all about high-end wireless headphones and in-ear headphones, which we’re seeing more and more of, especially after Apple released its $549 AirPods Max headphones two years ago.

I can’t tell you which (if any) of these are really worth what they cost, but they’re all great headphones and earbuds. Here’s an overview of our current high-end favorites, all of which I’ve tried and in some cases completely reviewed.

Read more: The best wireless headphones in 2022

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French audio company Focal is known for its high-end speakers and headphones. You could call it the Bowers & Wilkins of France. And now it’s finally done what many high-end audio companies have had to do in the era of wireless music on the go: create Bluetooth headphones with active noise cancellation.

Three years in the making, the Bathys was priced at $799 and features not only wireless connectivity, but a built-in DAC (digital-to-analog converter) for wired USB listening from any USB-C-enabled computer, smartphone, or tablet. They are easily some of the best sounding wireless headphones out there.

Read our Focal Bathys first time.

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The MW75 are Master & Dynamic’s best full-size headphones. Needless to say, they’re expensive at $599; most people will be perfectly happy with the $400 Sony WH-1000XM5, which is lighter and more comfortable and offers best-in-class voice calling and noise cancellation. But the MW75’s build quality is hard to beat, and they offer top-notch sound for a wireless model (I thought they sounded better than Apple’s AirPods Max), as well as strong voice calling and noise canceling performance. With support for aptX Adaptive, they have an added appeal to Android users who can get slightly better sound quality with the right setup. But I was also very happy with streaming music on my iPhone 13 Pro using the AAC codec.

Read our Master & Dynamic MW75 from the first take.

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No. The 5909s are Mark Levinson’s first premium headphones. Yes, they’re expensive at $999 and maybe a bit overpriced, but they’re great. They’re solidly built without feeling heavy on your head (read: substantial but not too heavy), and they’re comfortable to wear for long periods of time thanks to their nicely padded (and replaceable) leather earcups and headband.

Not only do they have good noise cancellation and great sound, but they also offer top notch voice calling, making them some of the best noise canceling options on the market. In addition, they have Bluetooth multipoint pairing, so you can pair them with two devices, such as a computer and a smartphone, at the same time.

No. The 5909 is Hi-Res certified with support for Sony’s LDAC and Qualcomm’s aptX adaptive codecs for near-lossless Bluetooth streaming. Apple’s iPhone and iPad do not support these codecs, while some Android devices do. Using the #5909 headphones over Bluetooth on my iPhone 13 Pro, it sounded a little more natural and refined than the AirPods Max (the #5909 had a slightly “cleaner” and more accurate sound).

I noticed a difference when I combined the no. 5909 with his LDAC-enabled Google Pixel 4 XL and used high-res streaming from audio streaming service Qobuz. All in all, the sound has a bit more depth and texture, as well as more sparkle, clarity and openness.

Read our review of Mark Levinson #5909.

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When you have a product that many people like, change can be risky. Such is the case with Sony’s WH-1000XM5, the fifth generation of the 1000X series headphones, which were first released in 2016 as the MDR-1000X Wireless and have become more popular as they improve with each generation. Sony has made some design changes over the years, but nothing as dramatic as what’s been done with the WH-1000XM5. Aside from the $400 higher price ($50 more than the WH-1000XM4), most of these changes are good, and Sony has made some significant improvements to voice call performance, along with better noise cancellation and a more refined sound.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM5 review.

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Available in three color options (grey, blue and black), the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 headphones offer some significant improvements over the first generation version. These headphones are not only more comfortable – they weigh 307 grams – but they sound better and have better noise cancellation and voice calls with improved noise cancellation. I don’t necessarily think they’re a better option than the lighter and more comfortable Sony WH-1000XM5. But the PX7 S2 certainly looks and feels luxurious thanks to its rugged construction and delivers good sound with better voice call performance thanks to an upgraded microphone setup.

Bowers & Wilkins also has an upgraded model, the PX8, that has even better sound but costs $699.

Read our Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 first take.

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Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay EX headphones are the company’s best wireless headphones. They feature a comfortable, secure fit (except perhaps for those with smaller ears), top-notch build quality, excellent sound, good noise cancellation and improved voice call performance over B&O’s EQs, with three microphones in each earcup helping reduce noise background noise while capturing your voice. ​​​​​​​Although they’re out of most people’s price range, they’re arguably the best in-ear earbuds out there and offer superior sound compared to the AirPods Pro, with better clarity, deeper, more powerful bass, and a richer and accurate sound.

Battery life is rated at 6 hours at moderate volume with noise canceling on, and an additional 14 hours in the brushed aluminum charging case (wireless charging supported). The buds have an IP57 waterproof rating, making them waterproof and dustproof. They have Bluetooth 5.2 and Bluetooth multipoint pairing so you can connect to two devices at the same time, such as a computer and a smartphone. You can use one earbud independently of the other, and the earbuds have ear-detection sensors, so your music stops when you take them off your ears.

The headphones support AptX Adaptive for devices such as Android smartphones that support Bluetooth streaming with the AptX HD audio codec (AAC is also supported). They are available in the gold tone pictured as well as graphite.

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Yes, they’re expensive, but the AirPods Max deliver richer, more detailed sound than cheaper rivals from Bose and Sony. They also have arguably the best noise cancellation on the market, along with premium build quality and Apple’s Virtual Surround Sound feature for watching videos. Despite being heavy, they’re surprisingly comfortable, although I did have to adjust the mesh headband to sit a bit forward on my head to get a comfortable, secure fit when I played with them. They should fit well on most heads, but there will be exceptions.

Read our Apple AirPods Max review.

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Terminal ears

Before it started making Bluetooth speakers, Ultimate Ears made a name for itself with custom-fit wired headphones that found a following among audiophiles and musicians. Now you can get the same custom fit (tips customized to fit your ears) with UE Drops.

While these aren’t in-ear headphones with active noise cancellation, and Ultimate Ears has been criticized for not having the latest version of Bluetooth bundled with expensive headphones (the Drops have Bluetooth 4.2 instead of Bluetooth 5.3) or support for the AptX audio codec for Android phones, they’re very good fit my ears and sounded great, with well-detailed sound and crisp bass. I found them to be great for long listening sessions and they do have a transparency mode.

To create a custom fit, UE sends you an at-home kit that will capture impressions of your ears using Lightform technology. It comes with a return label to send your impressions back to UE, and the final product – uniquely shaped for your ears – arrives within weeks. The Drops are available in onyx, sapphire and rose quartz and are sweat-resistant for workouts. They cost $449, but are now on sale for $399.

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