The 8 Best Beats Alternative Headphones of 2020 – Reviews and Comparison

By | April 17, 2020

Beats headphones have a cult following for a reason. They are made with high-quality materials, produce a fantastic and punchy bass, and have cool designs that are comfy to match. With a familiar brand, it’s easier to know what to expect in terms of the overall quality. While headphones that are alternatives to Beats don’t provide this kind of familiarity, there are still many reliable options.

Why do people look for substitute models to Beats, anyway? Most of the time, it's about wanting to discover a pair of headphones without caring about the name of the brand. Beats can also be known for being too bass-heavy, which can distract from the overall sound experience.

With such an immense range of different brands out there, where do you even begin when looking for the best Beats alternative headphones ?

Whether you’re looking for a replacement model because you want to try something different, or because you simply don’t like the brand, we’ve created a list of the 8 best Beats alternative headphones.

With a variety of brands to choose from, you’ve opened yourself to a whole new world of options, to explore a diverse range of sound quality, features, and designs.

1. Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM2

A super classic model from Sony with a simple design, this is built for high-resolution audio with industry-leading noise-canceling technology. With a completely rechargeable battery and 30 hours run time, listening to your favorite songs or watching films never has to end.

Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM2

Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM2

Features

  • Fast Bluetooth and NFC connection
  • Long 30-hour battery life
  • Soft-touch control center on earcups
  • Built-in Alexa control

Review

The Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM2 is a top pair that ranks in the premium range of over-ear models. An alternative to the Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones, they offer advanced ANC with longer battery life. Smart Listening is activated using the Sony I Headphones Connect App. The headphone adjusts to several different levels.

From full background noise elimination to a combination of ambient sounds and your music, these headphones automatically adapt to your exterior environment. It’s safer than using full noise cancellation at all times because you can be aware of your surroundings.

For airplane travel, there is an Atmospheric Pressure Optimization setting that provides ideal sounds at high altitudes. This gives you the best experience possible, as your listening isn’t affected. Plus, the Quick Attention button is handy for instant conversations, like when a flight attendant is speaking, you don’t even need to take the headphones off.

All other controls are located on the right earcup. By swiping up and down on the pad, you can instantly change the volume. It’s much easier than buttons because you don’t have to feel around, and you can use it with a light touch. Changing and pausing songs, answering calls, and voice assistant control are all regulated with a simple touch.

Hi-res audio is achieved through the S-Master HX that minimizes distortion and lets you hear every detail in the music. The Digital Sound Enhancement Engine (DSEE HX) feature restores any high-range sound that is otherwise lost in compression. This creates a much purer and more vibrant output.

2. AKG Noise Cancelling Headphones N60NC

With a slight open-back design, the AKG Noise Cancelling Headphones N60NC is a compact pair that suit those who are always on the go. Lightweight and comfortable on the ears and head, a long-lasting battery life lets you listen for 30 hours when wired.

AKG Noise Cancelling Headphones N60NC

AKG Noise Cancelling Headphones N60NC

Features

  • Fully foldable earcups
  • ANC technology
  • Fast connecting Bluetooth 4.0
  • Compact drawstring bag included

Review

The AKG Noise Cancelling Headphones N60NC offers functionality at its best. With the swiveling earcups that fold into a compact shape, you can bring them for traveling without the fear of damage. All-black with some silver metal accents, the rounded headband and plush ear pads make for a comfy fit for all-day wear.

The headband is also adjustable to fit different sized heads with a height indicator to keep things even. In terms of the open-back design, it’s not as fully open as some other models, but it still means that you’re given excellent noise cancellation. Some sound may leak out for others to hear but nothing as major as studio dedicated headphones.

To preserve the sound quality with the use of Bluetooth, innovative AptX and AAC technology always keep sound range at an optimal level. The AKG signature sound delivers a well-rounded listening experience. Rather than an overwhelming bass, these headphones produce multidimensional tones that focus on high levels of detail.

With a strong battery, you can listen to 15 hours of music with the activation of both Bluetooth and ANC. When using ANC only, you get 30 hours of constant playback. Provided with a 1.2-meter cable in the package, it’s easy to change between wireless and wired in an instant. You also receive a double jack accessory, letting you listen to the same sounds on two devices.

3. V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition

One for the gamers, or those who love the hi-tech modern look, the V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition headphones come with a highly durable hard case for safe transportation. With a 30-minute fast charge feature, you can listen to 14 hours of playback, even in wireless mode.

V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition

V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition

Features

  • Powerful lithium-ion long-lasting battery
  • Innovative CliqFold Hinge for compact storage
  • Patent-pending 50mm large drivers
  • Comfy memory-foam ear cushions

Review

The ultimate gaming headphones, the V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition model is versatile enough to also be used for everything else. With a highly stylish exterior design, featuring aluminum shields, various color options can suit many different lifestyles. As well as the adaptable design, the premium audio technology makes it ideal for music producing, gaming, traveling and even exercising.

Professional-grade audio is produced with AAC technology, ensuring high sound performance even on smaller mobile devices. The 50mm dual-diaphragm driver is specially designed with inner and outer rings. This prevents any bleeding of the bass sounds between the mids and highs.

The inner section of the headband has breathable mesh-like material, preventing sweat or heat build-up. What’s more, the bouncy memory foam earcups and “mind the gap” design ensure a conform, yet comfortable fit around the head and ears.

Durability is also the main focus here. As well as the robust exoskeleton carry case, the entire frame of the headphones is made from steel. Reinforced ARAMID cables with a 45° plug prevent any breakage when bending, which ensures a much longer lifespan. This model is also UV, salt, and humidity resistant.

4. Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7BK SonicPro Headphones

Perfect for the true audiophiles out there, the Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7BK SonicPro Headphones produce highly accurate sounds for detailed and rich experience. Memory foam earpads and headband provide comfort from all angles.

Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7BK SonicPro Headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7BK SonicPro Headphones

Features

  • 45mm True Motion drivers
  • Lightweight 0.64 lbs
  • Swiveling earcups
  • 3 detachable cables with in-line controls provided

Review

Known as an alternative to the Beats Solo models, these headphones from Audio-Technica feature simple matte black earcups with several brushed chrome accents. Even though the cups sit over the ears, they don’t appear bulky. The three cables that are included with this set add versatility, as you can switch between them depending on your needs.

Impressive clarity is achieved through the 45mm True Motion drivers. Consisting of a custom circuit board, specially designed diaphragm, and lightweight coils, the drivers are able to reduce sound distortions for a more detailed audio experience. Multi-layer damping technology creates a more extended response between low and mid frequencies.

Combined with the lightweight aluminum and magnesium housings, undesirable resonance is reduced. Thanks to all this advanced technology and construction, the soundstage is vast, reaching a tight bass and moving between mids and treble with ease.

These are available in a noise-canceling version but the regular ones work well at simply isolating some exterior noises. There is quite a bit of sound leakage, so they would work best in a studio setting.

5. Jaybird Vista True Wireless Earbuds

If you’ve been looking for an alternative to the Powerbeats Pro by Beats, the Jaybird Vista True Wireless Earbuds are hard to beat. Sitting in-ear, these are ideal for sports and other high-intensity activities, like hiking and kayaking.

Jaybird Vista True Wireless Earbuds

Jaybird Vista True Wireless Earbuds

Features

  • Waterproof, drop-proof, sweatproof
  • Long 16-hour playback time
  • Ultralightweight 0.71 ounces
  • 3 interchangeable ear tip sizes

Review

Packed into one of the most compact cases you’ll find on the market, the Jaybird Vista True Wireless Earbuds are highly portable and are basically made for travel. With the incredibly small carry case, you can hook them right onto your bag when you go camping or hiking. In terms of the design, they sit very comfortably inside the ears. Rather than a strap sitting over the ear as the Powerbeats Pro set, these feature a small protruding part that is meant to sit just inside the folds of the ears.

To withstand the elements, these are completely waterproof and sweatproof with the IPX7 construction. They are also crushproof and earth-proof. This means that dirt or sand can’t get inside or damage the technology. Using a USB-C port, you can effortlessly charge them through the case. On just a quick 5-minute charge, you get one hour of playtime. A full charge gets you a long 16 hours of playback, or if you’re using one lone earbud, a vast 32 hours.

Although these don’t have any ANC technology, the tight fit with the correctly sized eartip blocks out most exterior sounds. There is virtually no passthrough, so only use one earbud if you need to hear your surrounding environment.

Using the iOS or Android app, you get plenty of EQ control over the efficient 6mm drivers. For such a small set, it’s highly convenient that you can still customize your audio experience. This app also lets you set the controls. For example, you can set it up so that tapping the outside of each bud will either turn up or down the volume.

6. Master & Dynamic MH40 Over-Ear Headphones

Made for the studio pros, the Master & Dynamic MH40 Over-Ear Headphones consist of an open-back design for a highly accurate sound experience. These produce natural and clear audio that isn’t affected by pressure build-up from a closed-back.

Master & Dynamic MH40 Over-Ear Headphones

Master & Dynamic MH40 Over-Ear Headphones

Features

  • Strong aluminum body with stainless steel stress points
  • Dual-input jack
  • High-performing 45mm Neodymium drivers
  • Removable earpads

Review

Arguably another alternative to the Beats Studio Wireless collection, this model from Master & Dynamic has a vintage look that would complement any studio setting. Built for a long lifespan, these utilize premium leather, stainless steel, and aluminum to create a durable construction with a timeless design. For unparalleled comfort, the earpads are made from lambskin, plus the cables are woven to increase their longevity.

Since these are intended for use in the studio to produce music, these headphones use dynamic 45mm Neodymium drivers to create highly balanced audio. These are made to capture the crisp sounds of recorded music, providing a more accurate experience. Heavy bass doesn’t mask other frequencies, allowing for a smooth midrange and treble that doesn’t pierce. This creates a more intimate sound experience.

The noise-isolating feature doesn’t eliminate heaps of background sounds, but it does a decent job. Due to the open-back, you will get quite a bit of sound leakage, so they aren’t recommended for use out on busy public transport or on planes. The noise isolation comes from the snug fit of the earcups. Also, the oxygen-free copper cables create a purer sound whilst reducing some exterior noise.

7. Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Headphones

The Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Headphones have NFC one-touch pairing for quick and easy connection to your devices. A stainless-steel frame and breathable leather parts create a comfortable fit to wear for hours on end.

Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Headphones

Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Headphones

Features

  • Premium stainless-steel
  • Foldable compact design
  • Lengthy 22-hour battery life
  • Dual integrated microphones

Review

Constructed with luxury materials, the Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Headphones present multifunctionality at its best. The design stands out from the other all-black headsets with the steel headband slider that reaches down across the outer earcups. The leather headband not only looks high-quality, but it ensures a relaxed, yet snug fit around the head to prevent it from slipping off. It collapses to a rather compact size making it effortless to transport in your bag.

With Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC technology, connecting to your phone or other device is hassle-free and fast. Voice prompts keep you updated while listening, and 3-way calling with multi-connectivity is available. You can link two devices simultaneously, even phones and computers combined, with up to 8 devices on the list ready to go. Controls are located on one of the earcups, making it easier to access your options. Volume, power, Bluetooth connectivity information, and more are all at a simple touch.

Hybrid ANC with NoiseGard blocks out most exterior ambient sounds, allowing you to better immerse in the music. The double built-in mics use VoiceMax technology. This cancels out any outside noises, so the person on the other end of the call has a much clearer quality rendition of your voice. Audio quality focuses on accuracy as the soundstage feels quite vibrant. The bass doesn’t engulf other frequencies, providing crisp and stable sounds.

8. Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

One of the most popular from Bose, the QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones offers top-quality noise cancellation with an updated Alexa-enabled feature.

Features

  • 3 levels of ANC
  • Dual-mic system
  • Enabled with Bose AR
  • Volume-optimized EQ

Review

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones have the highly innovative Bose AR feature that is exclusive to their brand. With AR-compatible apps in entertainment, activity, and travel areas, these headphones create an augmented reality for your ears, where motion sensors track your head and body movement. Paired with this is the new Alexa-enable voice access, allowing you to control music, discover information, and more.

In noisy environments, the multi-level ANC ensures you only hear what you want. The dual mic system also rejects exterior noises, accurately detecting your voice for clearer calls. Volume-optimized EQ has been embedded into the drivers, providing an ideal frequency balance no matter what you’re listening to.

To listen to your favorite tracks all day, the strong lithium-ion battery provides you with 20 hours of playtime. Using the included audio cable, you can increase this to 40 hours. Through the Bose Connect app, you’re able to adjust multiple settings, choose which level of noise cancellation you need, manage music sharing between devices, and enable to Bose AR element.

Conclusion

Sometimes consumers want to focus on the features of a pair of headphones, rather than choosing a pair to act solely as an accessory or fashion statement. While Beats headsets do offer a great range, the headphones on our list offer different designs and qualities that widely set them apart. Choosing a brand for their hype isn’t always the best way to go, especially if you’re looking for a pair of headphones that present hi-fi sounds as well as an attractive exterior style.

Even though Beats are known for their ability to create deep bass, some people find that they are missing out when it comes to a well-balanced soundstage. With the models on our list, you can find one that can keep up with a busy lifestyle, fit comfortably on the head, suit your style, and have high sound quality across all levels, that Beats can’t always offer.

Resources & References

1. Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM2
2. AKG Noise Cancelling Headphones N60NC
3. V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition
4. Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7BK SonicPro Headphones
5. Jaybird Vista True Wireless Earbuds
6. Master & Dynamic MH40 Over-Ear Headphones
7. Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Headphones
8. Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

About Silver Moon

A Tech Enthusiast, Blogger, Linux Fan and a Software Developer. Writes about Computer hardware, Linux and Open Source software and coding in Python, Php and Javascript. He can be reached at [email protected].

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