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When making the switch to a new pair of headphones or upgrading to a new one, you don’t necessarily have to compromise on the bass performance. Sure, you may not get a full headroom bass performance on a headphone like the way you get with your stereo music system. But it is possible to get your hands on a model that delivers just the right amount of bass needed to make the overall sound fuller and richer.
The importance of bass in sound and music
While many people pay attention to the melodies in the mid-range and high frequencies when listening to music and soundtracks, it’s the bass that lays the harmonic and rhythmic foundation. Almost all types of music arrangements cover the main three audio frequency spectrums, the low end, the mid-range, and the high range. The low end, or the bass, lays down a solid foundation for frequencies in the upper register.
In many cases, especially in advanced equalization, the low-end, mid-range, and high-end frequencies are sub-categorized.
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Bass also plays a critical role in making the beats of any style of music more significant and enjoyable. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, bass instruments are reserved for musical rhythms as the human brain is better at detecting rhythms at lower sonic registers.
Whether you are listening to western classical music, 60’s and 70’s era R&B and soul music, or modern techno/EDM music, you’ll learn that the bass parts and rhythm parts have similar arrangements.
What types of headphones are the best for good bass?
If you are thinking bass performance in the context of home audio systems, such as the Sony Bluetooth Home Audio System, it’s not possible to find a headphone that delivers the same thumping bass performance as there are no dedicated woofers or sub-woofers.
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In terms of choosing the types of headphones that have a good bass performance, on-ear and over-the-ear headphones are the best options. This mainly has got to do with the fact that on-ear and over-the-ear headphones are large in size and therefore house larger-sized sound drivers as compared to earbuds and in-ear earphones. And the larger the sound driver size, the better the bass performance.
Also, the large-sized ear cups of on-ear and over-the-ear headphones entirely cover the ears and isolate external noise.
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To further narrow down your options, choose an on-ear or over-the-ear headphone that has a closed back. In other words, make sure that the headphone doesn’t have any type of opening on the outer section of each ear cup. Headphones that have outer openings are called open-back headphones. While open-back headphones are great, they do not deliver punchy bass as compared to closed-back headphones.
6 best bass over-the-ear headphones
Over-the-ear headphones are the best choice for good bass. Here is a carefully selected list of some of the best bass headphones in 2021 in the over-the-ear fitting category:
1. Sennheiser HD 450BT – check it out here
Sennheiser HD 450BT delivers just the right amount of punchy bass to make your music listening experience highly enjoyable. Apart from offering a good bass performance, this model raises the bar high for other wireless headphones with its low latency wireless connection, highly-responsive active noise cancellation, and 30-hour battery life.
2. Shure SRH240A – check it out here
If you are someone who is willing to compromise on wireless connectivity in order to enjoy a good studio-grade bass performance, you cannot go wrong with Shure SRH240A. This headphone uses 40 mm neodymium dynamic drivers to deliver a punchy bass while maintaining clarity on the mids and highs. The ear cups of this headphone are ergonomically designed to maintain a higher level of comfort for long hours of use.
3. Pioneer SE-Monitor 5 – check it out here
Pioneer SE-Monitor 5 delivers the bass performance of the likes of professional studio monitors. With 5 mm wide-spectrum sound drivers, this model does not fail to deliver thumping bass performance that’s perfectly dialed in with balanced mids and highs. This headphone is also one of the most comfortable models to wear as it includes 3D sculpted ear cups.
4. Bose 700 – check it out here
Bose 700 is one of the trending and best bass headphones in 2021. It offers one of the most detailed bass performances in the wireless headphone category, all credit goes to its ear cups that are acoustically chambered to deliver punchy bass, tight mids, and bell-like highs. This wireless bass-heavy headphone also excels at low latency wireless connectivity, active noise cancellation, and touch controls.
5. Skullcandy Crusher – check it out here
Skullcandy Crusher is fine-tuned for bass. It features a dedicated button that you can use to choose mellow bass or punchy bass. Also, you can use the Skullcandy App to personalize the sound of the headphones for your specific requirements. This deep bass headphone also includes 40 hours of charge retention, reliable wireless connectivity, and folding design for portability.
6. Audiotechnica ATH-AWKT – check it out here
If you prefer bass-rich audio and want the bass to sound as natural as possible, Audiotechnica ATH-AWKT comes as an unmistakable choice for you. Although this headphone has a premium price tag, it’s justified by the use of Japanese hardwood which works wonders in delivering natural bass reproduction with clear mids and refined highs. Apart from music listening, this headphone can also work great for gaming and home studio music production.
6 best on-ear headphones for good bass
On-ear headphones can come almost on par with some of the best bass over-the-ear headphones when it comes to delivering full-sounding bass performance. Although they do not fully encompass the ears just like the way over-the-ear headphones do, they certainly cover a large section of the ears and house large-sized sound drivers.
Here are 6 on-ear headphones that deliver a tight and punchy bass reproduction to give the overall sound a much-needed oomph.
1. Sony MDR-XB650BT EXTRA BASS – check it out here
Sony MDR-XB650BT EXTRA BASS, as the name itself suggests, is specially designed to deliver punchy bass. The ear cups of the headphones are acoustically sealed in order to improve the tightness and definition of the bass performance. The sealed ear cups also ensure superior external noise insulation. If you enjoy listening to electronic dance music, there is no reason why you shouldn’t go for this model.
2. JBL Live 400 BT – check it out here
JBL Live 400 BT is large enough for an on-ear headphone to deliver punchy bass and compact enough to become your go-to headphone. This model uses 40 mm sound drivers to deliver uncompromised bass-rich audio. It also comes equipped with several top-tier technology features, including ambient awareness feature, talk-through feature, and voice assistant compatibility.
3. Sennheiser Momentum – check it out here
Sennheiser Momentum delivers a full-sounding bass and offers modern features in a vintage-style form factor. Similar to high-end wireless headphones, this model ensures crystal clear audio clarity with a fine-tuned microphone. You also get the option to choose wired connectivity for this model.
4. Audiotechnica ATH-ANC20 – check it out here
Audiotechnica ATH-ANC20 delivers bass that is carefully balanced with mids and highs in order to add more definition to the overall sonic picture. This headphone eliminates up to 80% of ambient noise with its responsive active noise cancellation technology. The 40 mm sound drivers of this headphone adapt to every music genre.
5. Beyerdynamic Aventho – check it out here
Beyerdynamic Aventho takes audio personalization to a whole new level. This headphone includes the option of tweaking the bass performance, as well as the mids and highs to suit your personal preference. The design is a seamless amalgamation of vintage and modern style elements. This headphone also excels at other functionalities, including reliable wireless connectivity, 30 hours of battery life, and a voice clarity microphone.
6. Pioneer SE MHR5 – check it out here
Pioneer SE MHR5 is simply one of the best bass wireless headphones from Pioneer in the on-ear fitting category. This headphone offers a detailed bass response with the combination of 40 mm sound drivers and internal ear cup chambers specifically designed to improve bass resonance. It also offers versatility in terms of usage with the option for wired as well as wireless connectivity.
In-ear earphones are good for bass as well
Although in-ear earphones do not come on par with over-the-ear and on-ear headphones in terms of delivering highly defined and punchy bass, there are several models that do let you enjoy balanced bass and not leave you at the dissatisfaction of poor bass.
Here are several wired and wireless in-ear earphones and earbuds that deliver good bass for their form factor size and price:
1. JBL Tune 205 – check it out here
JBL Tune 205 is undoubtedly one of the best wired earbuds for balanced bass performance. This model uses 12.5 mm sound drivers to shape high-quality audio with just the right amount of bass. It also stands out in terms of ease of use with its tangle-free flat cable.
2. Shure Aonic 5 – check it out here
If you prefer professional-grade bass-rich audio performance in a compact form factor, Shure Aonic 5 comes as one of the best choices for you. This in-ear earphone combines two dedicated woofers and three balanced armature drivers to enrich the audio with a natural base, organic mids, and clean highs.
3. Sony WF-XB700 – check it out here
Sony WF-XB700 is one of the best bass-heavy headphones in the affordable true wireless earbuds category. Although compact in size, this pair of earbuds supports a frequency response that ranges from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Dedicated button controls make it easy for you to skip, repeat, or play the next track.
4. Bose QuietComfort – check it out here
Bose QuietComfort is simply one of the top-tier wireless earbuds from Bose in terms of good bass performance. Apart from high-performance audio, this model also excels at passive and active noise cancellation and a comfortable fit. This model also scores a spot in several lists of trending and best bass headphones in 2021.
How to test and check if the headphone you choose has good bass?
The features and numbers on paper don’t mean anything if the headphone you choose cannot practically live up to your expectation of good bass performance. How do you ensure that the headphones have just bought or had for quite some time can actually deliver good bass performance when and if needed?
The answer is simple, listen to bass-heavy music and soundtracks on them. Here’s a list of songs and soundtracks that you can listen to test your headphones’ bass performance:
EDM bass mix – listen here
Gangnam style bass boosted – listen here
Uptown Funk bass boosted remix – listen here
Funk backing track – listen here
Marcus Miller: Blast – listen here
Mark Lettieri: Slug Bug – listen here
PINK PANTHER Theme double bass quintet – listen here
Bob Acri: Sleep Away – listen here
And lastly, check out this page for performing a complete audio test for your headphones, including the bass response test.