6 Most Durable Headphones [2021]

Man wearing Crossfade M-100 Masters (From:V-MODA).
Man wearing Crossfade M-100 Masters (From:V-MODA).

Here are some important durability factors in headphones, plus our top six picks of the most durable headphones on the market today.

NameForm FactorConnectivityStandard Warranty PeriodPrice
V-Moda Crossfade M-100 Master Best OverallOver-earWired2 yearsBUY
Jabra Steel Strong Runner-UpMono EarbudWireless5 yearsBUY
Sony MDR7506 Best BudgetOver-earWired90 daysBUY
AfterShokz Aeropex Best IP RatingBone conductionWireless2 yearsBUY
Jabra Elite Active 75t Best for Working OutTWSWireless2 yearsBUY
Bose 700 Most Durable Noise Cancelling HeadphonesOver-earWireless1 yearBUY

How to Pick the Most Durable Headphones

Durability is an important factor when choosing headphones. In theory, this is something many people have a basic awareness of since most want headphones that’ll last. But sometimes, we end up prioritizing other factors for personal reasons.

Perhaps we’re trying to save up money, so we opt for a cheaper pair, or perhaps we’re more easily swayed by sweet aesthetics. In other cases, the sound quality of some durable headphones just doesn’t meet our standards.

Whatever your reason is, it’s good to remember that durability is just as important as aesthetics and sound quality.

Without it, you’ll just end up spending more money by constantly having to replace your headphones.

That being said, there are a lot of things to consider when choosing durable headphones. In this article, we’ll tackle some of the most important durability factors, and share our top picks for sturdy headphones that look good and sound great. Let’s get to it!

Construction materials

The first important durability factor in headphones is the materials used. Headphones are made from a combination of different materials, all of which determine how well your headphones can endure everyday wear and tear.

Headphone casings and headbands, in particular, are typically made from either plastic, metal, or wood. Each of these materials has different levels of durability. So, it’s important to understand the difference to make a more informed decision.

Plastic

Plastic is the most popular material used in headphones because it’s relatively cheap to produce, easily customized, and offers a good amount of durability. There are three types of plastic commonly used in headphones:

  • PVC (Polyvinyl chloride): PVC is a low-cost flexible thermoplastic known for having very high tensile strength. It’s lightweight and strong, making it ideal for added comfort and durability in headphones. PVC also has good noise reduction qualities.
  • PC (Polycarbonate): PC is a naturally transparent thermoplastic that can be customized into different colors. Like PVC, it’s impact-resistant but more susceptible to scratches and abrasions.
  • ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene): ABS is a mix of three different shock-resistant and chemical-resistant plastics, making it more durable than PC and PVC. This opaque plastic comes in a glossy or matte finish and is more affordable and customizable. It can withstand harshly cold temperatures but can become deformed in high heat.
Despite how cheap it is, plastic is an ideal material for headphones if made well. It’s lightweight, sturdy, highly customizable, easier to repair, replace, and recycle, and doesn’t interfere with connection signals on wireless units. Some plastic headphones can feel very premium, so they shouldn’t be automatically written off as a “low quality” material.

Metal

If you’re looking for a truly durable material, nothing is better than metal. In fact, some of the most durable headphones in the market are mostly made with metal.

Metal is highly impact-resistant and its increased density helps deliver crisper audio quality, making it an ideal material for durable headphones. However, it’s important to remember that manufacturers use several types of metals, with each having its own characteristic strengths. Here are some key points to keep in mind about the more commonly used metals:

  • Aluminum: More elastic and resistant to corrosion and rusting.
  • Steel: Heavier and denser than aluminum, but won’t be deformed under heat or force.
  • Titanium: Resistant to corrosion and stronger than steel, but 45% lighter.

Wood

Wood is a unique material seen more often in top-of-the-line headphone brands. Being a natural material, wood has better acoustic properties and is known for producing a wonderfully warm sound quality that you simply can’t find anywhere else. Midrange frequencies tend to sound soft and more natural. While lower frequencies sound richer and deeper.

However, while wood is usually sturdier than plastic, it’s also porous. This means it isn’t as durable when it comes to water exposure and humid or cold climates. And yes, a coat of paint or varnish may help improve its moisture resistance, but these also degrade over time. As such, wooden headphones are usually a top choice for sound quality rather than durability.

Warranty

A good warranty is another important factor to look out for when buying headphones. Warranties not only keep you covered for accidents and repairs, but they’re also indicative of how durable your headphones are.

Longer warranties are a great indication of a manufacturer’s confidence in the sturdiness of their products.

Most headphones come with a standard 12-month warranty, which is nice if you end up with a defective pair. However, more established brands offer warranties that last two years or more for headphones advertised for durability. Jabra, for instance, offers 5-year warranties for certain models.

Most headphone brands also come with extended warranties or protection plans, such as Apple’s AppleCare+, Razer’s RazerCare, or Sony’s Protect Plus plans. These are separate plans that can be purchased alongside your headphones, or within the standard 12-month warranty, to give you prolonged repair and replacement coverage.

When choosing a warranty plan, it’s important to pay attention to the type of coverage and not just the length of coverage. Some plans may cover mechanical or electrical failures, but not accidental damages, so it’s good to take note.

You can also purchase extended warranties from third-party services like Consumer Priority Service, Upsie, and SquareTrade.

IP rating

Many headphones are advertised as being dust or water-resistant, but the best way to check this is by looking at their IP rating.

An IP (International or Ingress Protection) rating is a set of two numbers that tell you how protected a device is against dust or water intrusion. The first number indicates protection from foreign bodies, and the second number indicates protection from moisture.

Many headphones come with only one number rating, like IPX7 or IPX5. This means that they’re waterproof but aren’t specifically tested for dust resistance. As such, it’s best to assume the headphones aren’t dust-proof at all.

Water protection is significantly more important when it comes to headphone durability because we’re more likely to use them outdoors. If you tend to use your headphones while working out, hiking, or jogging, go for headphones with a minimum IP rating of IPX4. But naturally, the higher the rating, the better.

Some headphones are also tested in extremely cold weather, so those living in cold climates with long winters should keep an eye out for that as well.

Accessories

When it comes to durability, you’ll want to make sure your headphone accessories have what it takes to stand the test of time without constantly needing to replace them. These accessories include things like ear pads or ear tips, cables, and protective cases, all of which play a big role in letting you use your headphones longer.

Earpads/ear tips

A good pair of durable earpads or ear tips should provide comfortable cushioning, secure grip, and be able to preserve sound quality by preventing some sound leakage. Some of the best materials for headphone earpads include protein leather, real leather, and velour, as these are generally soft and comfortable to wear.

Leathers tend to lack breathability so things can get sweaty underneath the earpads. Real leather and velour, in particular, are more porous. As such, they can absorb sweat and oil, making them prone to unwanted odors. But with proper care and maintenance, all three types are durable and can last from 2-5 years.

When it comes to earbuds or in-ear monitors (IEMs), some popular durable material choices include silicone and memory foam. Both materials have generally good durability, but silicone lasts much longer because it’s non-porous, chemically inert, and easier to clean. Memory foam, on the other hand, will absorb dirt and oils and eventually degrade.

Ultimately, the durability of your earpads and ear tips isn’t just about what type of material they are, but also about how you care for them. If you’d like to learn more about this, you can check out our article on the proper maintenance and care of headphone earpads.

Cables

Cables are often under the most stress. They can get twisted, folded, tugged, stretched, and whatnot. And it doesn’t help that most headphone cables are seemingly more notorious for having durability issues.

To avoid this, try choosing headphones with braided, fabric, or flat cables. These can handle rubbing much better and are less prone to tangling. And if they do get tangled, they can be easily worked out.

You can also opt for detachable cables, which put less strain on the connecting parts. An advantage is that, if your cable does wear out, you can simply replace it without needing to replace the whole unit.

Read more on the different types of cables and their durability factors in our article: The Great Headphone Cable Debate: Do Expensive Cables Really Matter.

Protective case

Significant damage to your headphones or earphones can happen when they’re stored improperly, so it’s a huge plus if your headphones come with a hard protective case. That way, even if you toss the case into a bag, it’ll ensure that everything stays safe and in its proper place.

Comfort

Durability doesn’t mean comfort should be sacrificed. Unfortunately, many headphones touted as durable are often bulky, heavy, and simply uncomfortable when worn for long periods due to the way they’re constructed. To ensure you’ll always have a comfortable listening experience, consider the following:

  • Padding: If you prefer the durability of heavier or bulkier headphones, try to choose ones that come with a padded headband. But rather than just going for regular foam padding, opt for memory foam or silicone instead. This will absorb and distribute the weight more evenly, making the headphones comfortable even after long hours of use.
  • Form Factor: Headphones and earphones come in different forms. Some are meant to be used at home, while others can be used on the go.
    For instance, over-ears are best for stationary work, as they tend to be big and bulky. On-ears and in-ears are better for outdoor activities because they’re lightweight and portable. Lastly, bone conduction headphones are great for those who need good situational awareness, such as commuters or those playing sports.

    So, it’s important to choose the appropriate type if you want maximum comfort, especially if you’re looking to use them for a specific activity.

Check out our article on the different types of headphones to learn more about this.
  • Weight: Weight influences overall comfort since heavier headphones may dig into the top of your head. Keep in mind that lighter headphones typically weigh no more than 0.55lbs, whereas those weighing 0.75lbs and up are already considered heavy. For more comfortable listening, try to go for headphones on the lower end of that range.

6 Most Durable Headphones [2021]

V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Master

Best Overall
Close look at V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Master (From: Amazon)
Close look at V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Master (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Dominant Materials: 100% vegan leather and SteelFlex headband
  • Earpads/Ear Tips: Memory foam
  • Cable: 2x detachable ARAMID fiber-reinforced cables
  • Carrying Case: Exoskeleton carry case
  • Weight: 283g (0.62lbs)
  • Warranty: 2 years standard + Immortal Life Replacement Program
  • IP Rating: N/A

The V-MODA Crossfade M-100 Master headphones have great durability, thanks to the SteelFlex technology used throughout the unit. They come with fiber-reinforced cables and a tough Exoskeleton Carry Case to keep them safe while you’re on the go. All these, plus, you can enjoy a decent 2-year warranty, making these headphones our best overall pick.

The M-100 Master’s SteelFlex headband can be bent flat 10+ times, making them virtually indestructible. They come with two cables – the SpeakEasy™ Microphone Cable and SharePlay™ Audio Cable. Both are strengthened with aramid fibers, a synthetic material commonly used in body and vehicle armor, making them tough against folding and twisting.

Moreover, despite the robust steel frame, the M-100 Masters are pretty lightweight at 0.62lbs. They’re also very portable, thanks to the CliqFold hinge that collapses the headphones into a smaller size.

Comfort and sound quality don’t take a back seat with these headphones either. The M-100 Masters are Hi-Res Audio certified by the Japan Audio Society (JAS). They’re also outfitted with plush memory foam and vegan leather earpads for longer and comfier listening sessions.

The M-100 Masters are the newer version of the M-100, the first-ever crowdsourced headphones. Some notable improvements from the older model include:
  • Drivers upgraded with Japanese CCAW coils for enhanced balance and accuracy.
  • A wider frequency range of up to 40kHz versus 30kHz.
  • Better speaker sensitivity of 107dB from 103dB.
  • A new SteelFlex headband for improved durability.
  • Bigger memory foam earpad cushions for comfort.

Despite their sturdiness, the M-100 Masters are not waterproof, so you’ll have to think twice about using them outdoors. Moreover, the earpads, despite getting a size upgrade, are still small for some folks. Those who wear glasses, in particular, may feel some discomfort after prolonged listening.

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Jabra Steel

Strong Runner-Up
Close look at Jabra Steel (From: Amazon)
Close look at Jabra Steel (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Dominant Materials: PC/ABS plastic
  • Earpads/Ear Tips: Silicone
  • Cable: N/A
  • Carrying Case: N/A
  • Weight: 10g (0.02lbs)
  • Warranty: 5 years
  • IP Rating: IP54

The Jabra Steel is an industrial-grade mono headset, built towards US Military standards. It’s resistant to dust, dirt, water, and is shock-proof. On top of that, it comes with a 5-year warranty. Though its plastic build keeps this headset from claiming the top spot, the Jabra Steel is still a strong runner-up on our most durable headphones list.

The Jabra Steel headset is specifically built for trade workers. So, it’s perfect for tough working conditions, like factories, construction sites, road work, etc.

The headset itself is made from PC and ABS plastic and is covered in an impact-resistant layer of silicone rubber, TPU, and TPE. This makes it tough against accidental drops and scratches. It has an IP rating of IP54, making it partially protected from dust and multi-angle water exposure. This allows you to use the headset even in light to moderately wet conditions.

With Jabra Steel, you can take important calls while doing hands-on work. Large, tactile buttons on the headset make it easy to operate with heavy-duty gloves, so you can avoid the hassle of taking them off. Hands-free calls are possible with Siri or Google Assistant integration. The dual-microphone also isolates background noise for clearer calls.

While all these are great, you should know that Jabra Steel’s ear tips are quite firm and may feel uncomfortable after long use.

The audio volume for calls can also be a bit low, especially in loud environments. This can make it difficult to hear the person you’re talking to. Its noise-canceling features also only seem to work to make you sound clearer to the person you’re talking to, and not the other way around.

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Sony MDR7506

Best Budget
Close look at the Sony MDR7506 (From: Amazon)
Close look at the Sony MDR7506 (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Dominant Materials: Plastic with metal band
  • Earpads/Ear Tips: Leatherette with foam
  • Cable: Non-detachable coiled cable
  • Carrying Case: Drawstring pouch
  • Weight: 230g (0.50lbs)
  • Warranty: 90 days
  • IP Rating: N/A

The Sony MDR7506 are professional monitoring headphones that have been around since 1991. They come highly recommended for good sound reproduction and durability. As such, these headphones are a popular choice for those working in audio and video production. Despite the modest price, they’re known to last for decades, making them our best budget pick.

The Sony MDR7506 headphones are solid enough to handle serious usage. They have a stainless steel headband, dense plastic housing, and a tangle-proof non-detachable coiled cable. At 0.50lbs they’re also lightweight and can be folded into a smaller size, making them very portable. They also come with a sturdy all-metal 3.5mm jack and ¼” screw-on adaptor.

These headphones also have good audio reproduction ideal for professional audio monitoring. High-sensitivity drivers support frequencies from 10Hz to 20kHz. They have relatively flat mids and highs, but an exceptional bass that’s rich and deep without sounding overwhelming.

But one of the best things about the Sony MDR7506 headphones is that if something does break down on you, they can be easily fixed. Every box comes with a detailed diagram of all parts, designed for easy repair or replacement.

On the other hand, the earpads are made from synthetic leather, which is vulnerable to wear and tear. The headphones also come with a drawstring bag, not a hard protective case. Since there are external wires that could get snagged or pulled, you’ll just have to be extra careful when storing them or buy a third-party case.

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AfterShokz Aeropex

Best IP Rating
Close look at AfterShokz Aeropex (From: Amazon)
Close look at AfterShokz Aeropex (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Dominant Materials: Titanium wire covered in silicone
  • Earpads/Ear Tips: N/A
  • Cable: N/A
  • Carrying Case: Silicone case
  • Weight: 26g (0.05lbs)
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • IP Rating: IP67

The AfterShokz Aeropex bone conduction headphones are one of the very few headphones with both high dust and water resistance. Because of that, they’re easily our top pick for best IP rating.

With a high rating of IP67, the Aeropex have excellent protection against dust and water. They can even be used up to 1m underwater for 30 minutes max. So, they’re great for working out, running, cycling, or even in rainy weather.

They also come with a moisture detector that lets you know if water has seeped between the charging jack and headphones.

These headphones are outfitted with titanium wire, making them both very durable and lightweight at only 0.05lbs. They’re covered in a smooth silicone finish that gives the headphones a premium feel while offering some grip so they stay put when worn.

The Aeropex are the 8th generation bone conduction headphones from AfterShokz. They come with several upgrades from their predecessor the AfterShokz Air, which include:
  • Improved IP rating to IP67 from IP55.
  • Upgraded connectivity to Bluetooth 5.0 from 4.2.
  • New magnetic induction charging cable versus micro USB charger.
  • Improved battery life to 8 hours from 6 hours.
  • New built-in moisture detector in charging cable.
  • Better speaker sensitivity of 105dB from 103dB.
  • Improved PremiumPitch 2.0+ technology.

Despite the improved speaker sensitivity, some frequencies can sound muffled in noisy environments. And while the headphones do come with earplugs, they sort of defeat the whole point of the “open ear” experience.

The buttons on the headphones also feel like they’re positioned too closely. And with no distinct tactile features to tell them apart, it will take time to get used to. Lastly, the headphones don’t come with a hard protective case. So, you will need to be extra cautious about storing them.

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Jabra Elite Active 75t

Best for Working Out
Close look at Jabra Elite Active 75t (From: Amazon)
Close look at Jabra Elite Active 75t (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Dominant Materials: PC/ABS plastic and silicone rubber
  • Earpads/Ear Tips: Silicone
  • Cable: N/A
  • Carrying Case: Charging case
  • Weight: 5.5g per earbud (0.01lbs)
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • IP Rating: IP57

The Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds are engineered for an active lifestyle. They come with a good IP rating, a 2-year warranty, and are well-reviewed for durability as well. As such, these buds are our top choice for most durable headphones for working out.

The Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds are made from durable ABS plastic. They have a layer of silicone rubber that protects them against dust, sweat, and the elements. And with an IP rating of IP57, you can even take these buds for a quick dip in up to 1m of water for 30 minutes.

At only 5.5 grams, these earbuds are compact and light. Active noise cancellation provides immersive listening in noisy settings. And 4 built-in mics make sure you sound crystal clear on calls. And if you want to stay alert to your surroundings, Jabra’s HearThrough technology lets you hear ambient sounds without having to take out your earbuds.

The Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds are the successor of the Elite Active 65t. As expected, the newer model comes with several new upgrades, such as:
  • Improved IP rating to IP57 from IP55.
  • New built-in active noise cancellation.
  • Lighter earbuds to 5.5g versus 6.5g.
  • Lighter charging case to 35g versus 67g.
  • 5.5 hours of battery life versus 5 hours.
  • Up to 24 hours of use with the charging case versus 15 hours.

A couple of downsides to note with the Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds is that the touch buttons are quite sensitive. So, you may end up accidentally pressing it more than needed while changing a track or answering a call. They also don’t come with any other type of protective casing except for the charging case.

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Bose 700

Most Durable Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Close look at Bose 700 (From: Amazon)
Close look at Bose 700 (From: Amazon)

Key features

  • Dominant Materials: Stainless steel
  • Earpads/Ear Tips: Memory foam
  • Cable: N/A
  • Carrying Case: Hard case
  • Weight: 254g (0.55lbs)
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • IP Rating: IPX4

When it comes to noise cancellation, the Sony WH-1000XM4 or Bose QC 35 II are frequently mentioned favorites. But when it comes to noise cancellation and durability, the Bose 700 headphones steal the top spot. With a flexible steel headband, minimal hinges, and cold-weather resilience, the Bose 700s are our top pick for the most durable noise-canceling headphones.

Unlike its competitors, the Bose 700 headphones do pretty well in wet or cold weather. They feature an upgraded thermal touch control pad that remains responsive even in freezing temps. They also have an IP rating of IPX4, which means they’re safe from water splashes coming from any direction.

The Bose 700 headphones do a pretty good job at combining durability, luxury, and comfort. Their stainless steel headband comes wrapped in soft gel foam and silicone for support and comfort. The earpads are made with memory foam and protein leather, which gives the headphones a premium sleek look.

The headphones also come with 8 built-in mics dedicated to noise cancellation and voice calls. Thanks to this, you can fully customize what you want to hear with 11 levels of active noise cancellation. And if you need to quickly speak to someone, you can activate Conversation Mode with a single tap of a button.

Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages to the Bose 700s, too. The most obvious one is that they can’t be folded. As such, they could pose a space issue for some people, especially with the bulky carrying case.

Another issue is that the Bose Music App is a required download, especially if you want to keep your firmware updated. It can sometimes also be difficult to pair the headphones with the app, which can be inconvenient.

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