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The way your headphones sound should, obviously, be of the utmost importance. But it’s easy to forget that even the most audiophile-friendly wireless buds with the hardest kicking bass can eventually drop or break. The build of your headphones is something you should be paying attention to.
Luckily enough, the best durable headphones ensure that you don’t need to be so precious about your tech (this is for you, anyone who’s ever fished a stray AirPod out of the washing machine). You don’t have to neglect durability in search of the biggest drivers, or Hi-Fi capabilities. Even the biggest audiophiles can find a pair of headphones that will not only sound great, but won’t become obsolete in the next few years, forcing you to switch out your buds before you even break them in.
It’s all about balance, and these days you don’t have to sacrifice amazing sound for build quality and longevity. Durable doesn’t always mean hard-as-a-rock either — the most durable headphones can actually be some of the most comfortable, keeping in mind that you’re going to be rocking them for a long time to come.
Aesthetics and unique headphone designs aside, searching for durable headphones can be difficult if you’re not even sure which materials are the sturdiest, or what you should even be looking for. But we’ve got everything you need to know about how to choose long-lasting headphones, and our top picks for strong headphones that can take a couple hits.
What Are the Most Durable Headphones?
There’s a lot to consider when picking the most durable headphones, especially since you want them to be an investment that will last for years to come. Here are some of the most important factors when it comes to the durability and build of your headphones.
Materials: Headphone casings and headbands are made from different combinations of materials, all of which will impact your level of durability. Headphones are usually made from either plastic (lightweight and sturdy, but cheap), metal (most impact-resistant and better for quality audio, but heavier), or wood (sturdier than plastic with a warm soundscape, but not so water-resistant). They all have their pros and cons, so consider how often you’ll be using your headphones, and in what kind of conditions.
IPX Rating: A headphones IP rating is a set of two numbers that tell you how well the device will hold up to dust or water. If you’re wearing your headphones outdoors frequently (like for longer hikes), the higher the number the better. But in general, for everyday workouts or jogging, spring for headphones with a minimum IPX4 rating.
Comfortability: Durability doesn’t have to equal bulky, heavy, or uncomfortable. Try to choose durable headphones that also come with a padded headband, or ear cups made from memory foam padding or silicone as opposed to regular foam.
Cables: If your headphones are wired, often the least durable part will be the cables that get twisted, pulled and frayed. Pick cables that are less prone to tangling or rubbing together, such as braided, flat, or cables made from fabric materials.
1. V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Master Headphones
V-MODA, the audio technician’s choice for years, not only craft headphones that look cool, but are the some of the toughest-built designs out there. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more durable pair than their Crossfade M-100 Master headphones.
Their Bluetooth headphones feature V-MODA’s unique hexagonal-shaped ear pads, which is where the real engineering shines. The brand’s sturdy metal “SteelFlex” headband can be bent over 10 times, making it as rugged as it gets. They’re meant for pure analog wired listening, and come with two cables that are beefed up with aramid fibers. Aramid is a synthetic material used to make car armor, so they’re virtually indestructible to twists and tears.
Besides the steel flex frame, the V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Master shows up when it comes to audio features, too. They’re Hi-Res Audio certified by the Japan Audio Society (JAS), with upgraded drivers for enhanced clarity and accuracy. Memory foam ear pads also provide comfort so you can listen all day long. It’s no wonder why professional musicians love the Crossfade M-100 Masters.
2. Jabra Elite Active 75t True Wireless Earbuds
Every runner who listens to music or a podcasts knows that your headphones need to be able to withstand anything — and there’s no better earbuds to go up against the elements with than the Jabara’s Elite Active 75ts.
If you’re looking for the best wireless running or workout earbuds, you can’t go wrong with the Elite Active 75t’s sturdy ABS plastic build, which can still keep going after a few drops. Their comfortable fit allows them to stay in place even while you’re moving, with a layer of silicone rubber that also protects against dust and sweat.
Speaking of sweat, these bad boys have some of the highest IP rating of any fitness earbuds, and at IP57, you can take these buds for a quick dip in 1m of water for 30 minutes with no problem. They’re also super light, weighing in at only 1.62 ounces. With active noise cancellation, you can take them jogging around to block or workout out at home in peace and quiet.
3. SENNHEISER Momentum 3 Wireless Headphones
From premium sound, to lush comfortability, Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Headphones are the most durable headphones that do it all.
These are wireless headphones built to last, with ear cups and a headband crafted from premium leather and memory foam. The stainless matte steel arms and covers of the headband are actually pretty tough, and can be bent and folded with a little give without breaking. The ear cups are also a little larger than on average-sized headphones, and at 10.8 ounces, they feel hefty. But that’s also how you can guarantee the Momentum 3s won’t be flimsy (or easily replaceable).
One big benefit is that you can also switch from wireless to wired listening with the Momentum 3s, and the detachable cable is sturdy and quite unlikely to fray. Either way though, the audio quality is just fantastic, from the “NoiseGard” Hybrid Noise Cancelation with 4 noise-cancelling microphones, to channels that separate each frequency, so you hear the bass, mid-range and treble together in perfect harmony.
4. Bose 700 Noise-Cancelling Headphones
While Sony is lauded as the gold standard of noise-cancellation, Bose’s 700s aren’t just worthy competitors, these are noise-cancelling headphones that are also crazy durable.
The Bose 700 headphones also do a great job at feeling premium, even with all the support under the hood. The backbone of these headphones is a stainless steel headband padded with a soft gel foam with silicone for added support. Not only do the memory foam and protein leather earpads look luxurious, they’re super soft to wear for hours on end (also thanks to smart ergonomic positioning).
They also feature a new and improved thermal touch control pad, so you don’t have to worry about these headphones not responding to your swipes and taps in freezing cold temps. In fact, they hold up pretty well in most climates, and have an IPX4 rating, which means they can handle a couple splashes or a sudden downpour.
Noise-cancellation is also, of course, the standout feature of the 700s, with 11 levels of noise-cancellation, ranging from total sound transparency to pin-drop quiet. In short, the Bose 700s offer not just peace and quiet, but the build security that comes with knowing you’ll have your headphones by your side for years to come.