Holiday Gift Guide: How to Shop for Headphones

Headphones are predicted to be the most popular tech gifts this season.

ByABC News
December 14, 2015, 7:19 AM

— -- Headphones are predicted to be the most popular tech gifts given this holiday season, so to find the best, "Good Morning America" turned to an expert.

Brian Tong, tech editor at CNET, gave his insight on the best headphones to buy for your budget and recipient.

For the tweens and 20-somethings, Tong said the priority was "design and bass."

"I think a lot of teens love that deep, booming sound and also the style of it," he said.

In this category, he recommended the following:

Beats Solo 2, a wireless headset with bright colors and a clean design. $199.95
Monster 24K. For people who don’t care what anyone else thinks, these flashy, wired headphones are gold colored. $299.95
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X. At $150, Tong said these were his “best deal, best budget, overall great headphones.”

Over-ear vs. On-Ear
What’s the difference?

It ultimately comes down to the wearer’s preference, Tong said.

"Some people don’t like the idea of an over-ear headphone that cuts your entire ear off, but you typically get better sound that way. Where on-ear rests on your ear, these are going to rest on your ear like little pillows," he said.
Noise-Cancelling Top Pick
If you’re buying headphones as a gift for someone who commutes, it’s all about noise cancelling. In this category, Tong’s top pick is the Bose QuietComfort 25 ($269.95).

"These are noise cancelling headsets. What that means is, it hears the outside noise around you, it sends reverse frequency in here and what it does is deaden that sound, it kind of creates a chamber inside like your own isolated room," he said.
Earbuds on a Budget
Can shoppers get a good pair on a budget? Tong said that while there are some earbuds that can run between $120 and $150, you can find "everything you need" for $40 to $50.

Within that price range, he recommended that shoppers choose a well-known brand, such as Sennheiser, Monster, Sol and Panasonic.

"I think the number one thing is sound quality. These aren’t going to match your big headphones, but find some that have a fuller bass. Some sound really tinny," Tong said.