Holiday Buying Guide Under $500

Holiday Buying Guide Under $500

If there’s one thing we know at MajorHiFi, it’s headphones.  And, whether you’re looking for impressive value or impressive sound, we’ve got you covered this Holiday Season.  Folks who want great sound on a budget will love our rundown of headphones in this Holiday Buying Guide Under $500.  So grab some cocoa, put on some Bing Crosby, and read on.

Holiday Buying Guide Under $500

While this list may not be truly all-encompassing, I think we’ve done a good job of narrowing down some of the best deals and best headphones to take advantage of this holiday season.

Holiday Buying Guide Under $500

Audio-Technica SR30BT and M50xBT – $99 and $199

This holiday season, no wireless headphones are better poised than these to delight your friends and family.  Rocking a whopping 70 hours of battery life and a great sound to boot, the Audio-Technica ATH-SR30BT is a headphone anyone can enjoy.  For folks who want better sound quality, though, the Audio Technica ATH-M50XBT may offer more value, albeit at a higher price.  Based on their ever-popular wired M50X, this new Bluetooth version ditches the wire and keeps that impressive audio performance.  Whether you’ve got a DJ, commuter, or diehard music fan on your holiday list, they’ll dig this headphone with good isolation and impeccable sound.  These Audio Technica headphones are great with most genres, but really excel with rock, jazz, pop, hip-hop, and electronica.

Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Over-Ear – $399 $249

The perfect headphone for people who love fashion and music, the Sennheiser HD1 Wireless Over-Ear offers great value for money.  Its comfortable design, strong active noise cancellation, and detailed sound make this headphone shine.  Equally at home on your daily commute or, well, at your actual home, the HD1 offers up to 30 hours of battery life and an audio cable for wired listening.  Fans of this headphone will rave about the comfortable fit, premium feel, and the luscious sound quality that works wonders on vocal-heavy tracks.  The HD1 sounds phenomenal, but is particularly well-tuned for acoustic, pop, and classical music.

Holiday Buying Guide Under $500

Sennhieser PXC 550 – $349 $249

If the HD1 Wireless looks a little too flashy, the Sennheiser PXC 550 may offer a more button-down appearance.  This businesslike appearance belies an impressive and fun sound, though.  Like the HD1, this Sennheiser offers Active Noise Cancellation and an aux cable for wired listening.  But the PXC 550 can also be powered on and off by swiveling the earcups.  With a rich, balanced sound, this wireless headphone is a great option for people who want to hear their music the way it was intended to sound.  The PXC 550’s impressive sound will benefit any music tastes.

RHA True Connect – $169

Better than AirPods in every way, the $169 RHA True Connect offers a truly amazing true wireless experience.  Sporting tons of detail and impressive bass, this earphone also utilizes interchangeable eartips for the perfect fit, ensuring you always get the best sound and never lose an earpiece.  Battery life also ranks as top-of-the-line, with 5 hours and an additional 20 hours via the charging case.  Also, with USB-C charging, the earphones can be charged to 50% battery life in just 15 minutes.  A good option for any genre of music.

Holiday Buying Guide Under $500

Final Audio E2000, E3000, and E4000 – $45-$149

Japanese audio giant Final Audio has been steadily delivering a string of slam-dunk earphones, from the E2000 and E3000, to the higher-quality E4000.  Highly affordable, the E2000 and E3000 also come in mic-and-remote variants (the E2000c and E3000c, respectively).  Both models range in price from $45-$65, depending on the version in question.  However, these babies pack a PUNCH, routinely beating out earphones that cost almost twice as much.  If you want a more premium earphone, the Final Audio E4000 offers solid value as well.  This model is an improved version of the E2000 and sports removable cables utilizing the universal MMCX connection.  As such, the E4000 can provide a respite from broken cables and poor sound for the 2018 holiday season.  Final Audio earphones can be paired with any genre of music for maximum enjoyment.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless – $299

The most expensive ‘phone on our list, this one barely makes the cutoff at $299.  But the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless earphone definitely gives you some festive bang for your buck.  Sound quality is some of the best we’ve heard in a true wireless earphone, and the ergonomic fit wears like a dream.  Touch-sensitive controls also facilitate playback and volume adjustment.  Fashionable yet sensible, this all-star earphone also comes with a two year warranty from Sennheiser, ensuring this is one gift that will keep on giving.  This in-ear headphone works especially well with pop, acoustic, and classical music.

Holiday Buying Guide Under $500

Beyerdynamic DT770/880/990 – $145-$219

Talk about deals!  The Beyerdynamic DT 770/880/990 family has been around forever.  And yet, they still provide an impressive option for the beginning audiophile or professional on a budget.  Featuring a closed-back design, the DT 770 offers impressive isolation and a tight, accurate bass response.  In comparison, the semi-open DT 880 uses a semi-open construction for a greater sense of space between notes.  Meanwhile, the fully-open DT 990 waxes a little bright and offers an impressive high end made for strings and vocals.  All of these models offer a robust build quality and a solid 2-year warranty, too.

Our recommendations:
For rock, heavy metal, and hip-hop, choose the DT 770.
Those who like pop, jazz, and electronica will probably benefit most from the DT 880
If you’re a fan of classical, the DT 990 is your new best friend.

Jaybird FREEDOM 2 In-Ear Wireless $99 $65

For exercise fans and people who just need a good ol’ wireless workout earphone, the Jaybird Freedom 2 offers an enticing proposition.  Waterproof, sweatproof, and now wallet-proof, this baby is on sale right now for a measly $65.  What’s more, the Freedom 2 has a solid 8 hour battery life, and offers customized sound via a Jaybird App.  The Jaybird Freedom 2 works well with rock, pop, electronica, and hip-hop.

Holiday Buying Guide Under $500

Audio Technica ATH-WS550iS – $99 $69

An impressive alternative to Beats, the Audio-Technica ATH-WS550iS gives you plenty of bass without skimping on the details.  These headphones prove fantastic for music lovers who enjoy a pulsing, energetic bass response – but want to keep vocals and instruments crystal-clear, too.  Thick, comfortable earpads deliver hours of music enjoyment, while a universal mic and remote allows these headphones to work with any smartphone.  Despite Audio Technica’s solid reputation as a professional headphone company, this entry feels way too fun to pass up.  Perfect for hip-hop, electronica, rock, and pop music.

Advanced Wearable AWA-101 – $80 $40

Forget about gingerbread and candy canes, ’cause things just got a whole lot sweeter.  A low-key earphone with great noise-isolation and fantastic bass, the AWA-101 uses two drivers in each ear for an impressive sound at an impressive price.  Built to last, this heavy-duty earphone uses a nylon cable and weather-resistant finish to prevent damage from water and sweat.  Best of all?  It’s currently on sale for a meager $39.99.  What’s not to love?  The AWA-101 excels anywhere that bass is needed, including:  electronic, rock, hip-hop, and dance music.

Holiday Buying Guide Under $500

Campfire Comet – $199

While we’re big on saving a buck or two when the opportunity should arise, MajorHiFi still has to give props where props are due.  Campfire has been turning heads lately with their expensive in-ear headphones for audiophiles.  But the Campfire Comet offers an enticing entry-point for beginner audiophiles.  Built with an aluminum housing for lightweight audio fidelity, the Comet also boasts interchangeable MMCX cables.  Silicon and foam tips are included in the box, as is a leather-and-shearling carrying case.  Give this gift to the musician or tech-lover on your list.  They’re sure to dig the Comet’s stellar performance.  A good earphone for any kind of music taste.

Audeze Mobius – $399

The final word in gaming headphones, the Audeze Mobius has been making a splash since it’s release just a few months ago.  This impressive over-ear headphone features all the hallmarks of a good gaming headset:  a removable boom mic, great cabling, and a durable design.  But the Mobius also blazes new territory with built-in head-tracking software and truly immersive 3D sound.  Gamers who want to sink deep into an alternate reality will rejoice at this headphone, while even casual gamers will love the sound.  These gaming cans will work fine with PS4 or XBOX, but really shine with PC gaming.

Holiday Buying Guide Under $500

Sennheiser Ambeo – $299

The Sennheiser AMBEO is the coolest, most technologically-advanced earphone you’ve never heard of.  With its built in microphones, this earset records and plays sound in real-time 3D binaural sound.  Whether looking for an earphone that can play or record studio-quality sound from a iPhone, or looking to enjoy 8D music, you’re pals are going to love the Ambeo.  And with an iPhone app from Sennheiser, it’s easy to set up and use with no technical savvy.  This impressive earphone sounds incredibly lifelike no matter what you play through it, but the mic technology will be particularly interesting to audio geeks.

Powerbeats3 Wireless – $199.99 $89.99

The Powerbeats3 Wireless may not offer a ton of detail or high-quality audio, but they’re fashionable and they have bass.  Plus, right now they’re on sale for more than 50% off on Amazon.  With a robust design and a sound that will appeal to the masses, these brand-name earphones will be the perfect gift for teens and youngsters who want a more popular audio accessory.  Thanks to that powerful bass, the Powerbeats3 Wireless works well with rock, hip-hop, pop, and electronica.

Holiday Buying Guide Under $500

Grado SR80e, GW100, and RS2e – $99, $249, and $495

Handmade in Brooklyn by the Grado Family, these headphones have a story to tell – and they do it with class.  The Grado SR80e has become something of a cult favorite among audiophiles, and you cannot get a better open-back headphone for your money.  For longtime fans of Grado, we’ve also got the perfect gift:  the new Grado GW100 Wireless headphone.  Like everything Grado, the GW100 remains open-back, offering that wide Grado soundstage people know and love.  Only now, no wires to get tangled up in.  Or, if you want something higher end, our recommendation would be the Grado RS2e.  Dishing out pure audio bliss, the RS2e uses mahogany wood in the earcups to deliver beautiful tonality.  While great for most genres, Grado headphones are designed and tested to jazz music.

Beyerdynamic Custom Game – $199

Beyerdynamic has been cranking out headphones for almost a century.  But their entry-level gaming headphone, the Custom Game, is the stuff of the future.  Thanks to replaceable parts and a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty, it will last forever, too.  Comfortable for hours upon hours of zombie-blasting, monster-crushing, war-waging action, the Custom Game sports a removable gooseneck microphone, deep leatherette earpads, and a durable cable.  And, users can adjust bass response to their liking.  Out of the box, this German-made headphone is compatible with PC and PS4, but may need an adapter for Xbox use.

Whew, talk about a doozy of a list.  Folks, if you can’t find something in this menagerie that makes the perfect gift for a music-lover or audio nerd on your gift-giving list, we’re plumb out of ideas.  Stay tuned, as we may be updating this list to add new holiday deals.  And if you’ve got something to bring to our attention, leave us a comment below.

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Carroll is a headphone junkie residing in Brooklyn. He's a huge fan of Grado, UK hip hop, and the English Language in general. When not testing audio equipment or writing, you'll find him taking photographs or fiddling with circuit boards. You can contact him at