Finding a good headphone can be hard. Especially something with crystal clear audio, good noise isolation and a great price. Given how hard that can be, we are here to help.
The last time we reviewed headphones, we tested six of the most popular headphones for over a week. We did our testing by partnering with Rontek’s CEO Jacob Abraham. Jacob Abraham has been in the audio technology field for over 20 years. He helped us to conduct our tests to find the best headphone under Rs. 2000.
Given that it’s been around a year now we wanted to make sure our best picks are still relevant and to also add any new products that might have launched in the market over the year. After spending over 24 hours in research of the best headphones in this space. Here are our best picks.
The Best Headphone under Rs. 2000 (Wireless)
Boat Rockerz 510 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones
The Boat Rockerz 510 is a feature-rich headphone, boasting wired and wireless connection, on-headphone buttons and large 50mm drivers for improved bass. Being an over-ear headphone the noise isolation was very good and it almost matched the performance of the Sony XB550AP (Best pick under Rs.3000) in this regard. With the padded ear cups and a flexible headband, this headset ensured a comfortable fit leaving no strain on our ears for close to two and a half hours. It comes with an inbuilt mic which can be used for phone calls.
The Best Headphone under Rs. 2000 (Wired)
Sony Extra Bass MDR-XB450AP On-Ear with Mic
The Sony XB450AP with Extra Bass in its name leaves no doubt about the fact that they are designed for bass lovers. And they are superb at bass reproduction, with the bass not overpowering the mids and highs. The headphones also have quite the punch at the high end. Despite being an on-ear headphone the noise isolation was, well, isolating, in fact, one of the best here. The padding too was comfortable without giving any strain on the ears.
The Best Headphone under Rs. 2000 (Budget Wired)
Motorola Pulse Max Headset with Mic
The Motorola Pulse Max surprisingly matches the sound quality of the Sony XB450AP. It too has a good sprinkle of bass without a strain on the mids and highs and delivers a clear and crisp sound quality. It, however, falls back in terms of the build quality and noise isolation, but with its recent price cut its value for money has increased even more.
This is a really long post! Use these links to jump around.
Why Trust Us?
To find the best headphones under Rs.2000 for you we had spent over a week testing six of the most popular headphones at the time. We had partnered with Rontek to measure the sound quality of each headphone subjectively & objectively. But given that it's been almost a year since we reviewed this space, we decided to update the article with new picks. However there weren't any headphones on the market that were better than our picks, so we decided to stick to our best picks. There was, however, a reduction in prices of a few products so we do have a refreshed best picks list.
When we tested the headphones we knew that good sound quality isn't all that makes a headphone good, so we used each headphone for at least two and a half hours to test its comfort. Similarly, a noise isolation test was carried out to understand if external noise can seep through. Lastly, we called up all headphone manufacturers to understand their warranty and service policies.
How did we select?
To find the best headphone we analyzed all the headphones available on Flipkart and Amazon and chose the most popular ones. To get some more picks from the vast collections of headphones in the market we also looked for suggestions from reputed audio and technology websites
How we tested?
When buying a headphone, sound quality alone is not enough. You must also make sure the ear cups of the headphone are comfortable enough to at least watch a movie.
When we last tested headphones we wanted to make sure the headphone you buy has great sound quality and delivers on other features as well. Here are all the parameters we tested:
Sound Quality: Jacob conducted the LARSA test to assess the sound quality. He built a listening chamber out of a cardboard box, inside which a calibrated microphone was mounted. The headphone was placed around the cardboard box as shown in the image below. We then ran test sounds through the headphones which were collected by the microphone and plotted into a frequency curve.
We also conducted a blind listening test with Mr Jacob, with a set playlist of songs. After listening to each headphone he gave a rating based on the quality of sound, bass, mids, treble and the noise isolation and comfort.
Comfort: As we said before, we don’t want you to be stuck with headphones that hurt your ears. So, to test the comfort of each headphone we wore each one for almost two and a half hours.
Durability: Next we wanted to check the durability of the headphone padding. So we checked the sponge quality, softness, thickness of padding on each of the headphone. We also checked verified reviews on Amazon and Flipkart to assess whether people had problems with the padding.
Next, we checked the cable quality to see if they were actually tangle-free. We tried tangling the cable and then tried removing the tangles.
Noise Isolation: To test the noise isolation, we sat down next to a TV and put the headphones on. We kept increasing the volume on the TV until the sound from the TV was louder than the sound from the headphone. We noted the exact point at which this occurred.
Warranty and Service: We called each headphone company to find out the warranty and service policy and process for getting a headphone replaced or fixed for each headphone.
What makes a good headphone - inputs from our audio expert
After testing was completed we sat down with our expert to discuss what makes a headphone good and what you must look for when you are buying a new headphone.
The main thing about any audio product is how subjective the sound can be, each person has a different liking for music. So when you do decide to buy a headphone for yourself make sure you read through multiple reviews before putting down your money or even better try out the headphone yourself so you know exactly what you are getting.
One tip that our audio expert shared is especially in this price point of Rs.2000 there will be a lot of players, some well known, some rather new and hence there is intense competition. Brands boast about noise cancelling, extra bass and booming bass so don't be swayed by these marketing tricks. So what you have to understand is most of the headphones will have bass, you do not need to add any extra. Also when you do add extra bass if not done properly it will often bleed into other frequencies and give you a pretty bad sound.
Another pointer we will give is not to blindly trust customer reviews on Amazon and Flipkart. Because as we said an earlier sound is subjective and what some people love may not be preferred by everyone. To give you an example when we last reviewed Bluetooth speakers we had shortlisted a speaker that had excellent reviews because of its sound quality, build quality and lighting effects but when we heard it the sound was terrible, while something like a Bose Soundlink had poor reviews but sounded fantastic and eventually was declared as our best pick.
Our expert also emphasised on not being swayed away by technical data which may not always translate into quality audio in the real world. One common mistake people do is equate headphone impedance with higher audio quality. This stems from the fact that usually more expensive headphones have larger drivers and tend to have higher impedance rating but that is not true now as most headphone manufacturers are making devices that can run just fine with smartphones and thus have fewer than 32 Ohms of impedance.
To sum up the advice from our expert, don't make purchase decisions based on just specifications and features rather read expert reviews to get to know what are the merits and flaws in the products. Also, try to home audition or try out the products you want to buy.
The Best Headphone under Rs. 2000 (Wireless) in detail
Good Bass on a Wireless headphone
Supports Audio via Bluetooth and 3.5mm cable too
Soft foams cushion
Biggest ear cups diameter in this category
Decent battery life
A bit on a bulkier side due to a built-in battery
The buttons don't work over a wired connection
Cheap plasticky build quality
Quality of Sound: Surprisingly Good Audio!
While BoAt has a huge lineup of audio products ranging from earphones and headphones to speakers, most that we have reviewed weren't that great when it came to sound quality. But the BoAt Rockerz 510 were superb in their sound, comfort and battery life.
Given their large size due to the over the head design boAt surely had a lot of space for large drivers and they surely have not skimped on this front. The 50mm drivers give excellent sound quality that really helps it with not just better low end but also a more balanced treble and soundstage.
The Boat Rockerz 510 sounds loud, well balanced and frankly quite pleasant to listen too. While the 50mm drivers to boost the sound and low end significantly, but we found a significant sound leakage at high volume which was also discovered by a few users.
As far as noise isolation goes this headphone managed to suppress external noises as good as the Sony MDR-XB550AP. Our expert felt the BoAt sounded much better than the Sony XB450AP and was slightly behind the much more expensive Sony XB550AP.
Build and Comfort: an Extremely Comfortable pair of cans with a slightly plasticky build quality
With a design that seems to mimic V-Moda’s Crossfade headphone, this headphone surely tries to look different than the other headphones in its class. However the glossy red and black body is very plasticky and feels cheap, the buttons also don't have a nice feel to them. The Sony MDR-XB550AP despite being marginally more expensive feels much better in terms of build.
The quality of padding on the ear cups, however, are very good in quality and give a good isolation from external noise. The quality of the ear cups was so good we felt more comfortable with the BoAt headphones than that of the Sony. The BoAt headphones also have the largest diameter of ear cups which can be great if you have big ears.
All the controls are on the right ear cup side and work flawlessly. The controls sadly do not work on wired connections. There is an inbuilt mic, micro USB port for charging and 3.5mm AUX input for wired music playback.
They have extra flat cables and it doesn't get tangled and can also be used as a wired headphone. There were almost no complaints about the cable quality or durability from online reviews.
Note: While the headphone supports phone calls over Bluetooth with a mic, the same is not possible with a wired connection.
Battery life: Decent battery life
While BoAt quotes a battery life of 10 hours over a Bluetooth connection we found the headphone to last for about 9 hours. Charging the headphones takes approximately an hour. The headphones turn themselves off if left idle, thus saving battery.
Bluetooth range is as expected, and maintains good quality sound within a reasonable distance of 10 feet.
Given the pricing the BoAt headphone packs in Bluetooth and Aux support while still maintaining a very good sound quality and decent battery life. With the competition lacking in this key criteria makes the BoAt Rockerz 510, the best sounding wireless headphone in this range.
The Best Headphone under Rs. 2000 (Wired) in detail
Best sound quality with a good focus on bass
Good build quality
Quality padding makes headphone comfortable to use for long hours
Flat tangle-free cables
Good noise isolation for this budget
No Volume Control Buttons
Headphones can't be folded for added portability
Quality of Sound: Excellent Audio Quality with great bass
The Sony Extra Bass MDR-XB450AP had aced our objective and subjective sound tests giving great and clear sound quality. Jacob stated that this headphone had superior audio quality compared to most others in this range. The headphones are focused around the low ends, but that doesn't mean they aren't good elsewhere. The bass is never overpowering and the headphone has a very good quality of mids and highs. The warm sound of these headphones makes them great for music listening as well as for watching movies.
This headphone was the most effective in our noise isolation tests (Along with the BoAt Rockerz 510). It managed to suppress the noises from the TV significantly. This is mainly due to the thickness of the ear cups’ padding.
Build and Comfort: Premium design and build quality
The Sony Extra Bass MDR-XB450AP being an on-ear headphone had ear cups that completely covered your ear and were comfortable for extended periods of listening. Listening to the XB450AP for more than 2 hours did not give us any strain on the ear.
Sony has used quality materials on this headphones. Be it the padding, the tangle-free cables or the outer body of the headphone, all of them felt much better than the other headphones we tested. The better build quality does add some weight to the product but you don't feel uncomfortable with the weight. Having flat cables completely prevents it from getting tangled. Despite actively trying to tangle the cable, we couldn't do it. This was further confirmed by lack of complaints about the cable quality or durability from online reviews.
The ear pads are made of good quality faux leather which is semi-sweet resistant. So this may not the best bet for gymming.
Coming to the portability of these headphones. The ear cups can be rotated to make the headphones flat while carrying. However, the ear cups do not fold inwards to further improve portability.
This headphone has an inline mic and can be used on phone calls. However, we found the quality of calls was muffled. The mic was not the best part of this headphone. In fact, most headphones which we tested in this budget did not have a good mic.
Based on our extensive testing and with inputs of our sound expert, we can say the Sony XB450AP offers the best-wired audio experience if you are looking for something that sounds very good, looks and feels premium and is comfortable to listen to for long hours.
Note: The Sony MDR-XB450 is a headphone that's priced less than the XB450AP, that has the exact same specs and performance but loses out on the microphone. You can try that if it makes more sense for you.
The Best Headphone under Rs. 2000 (Budget Wired) in detail
Clear sound quality with decent bass
Super comfortable ear cups
Detachable aux cable
Feels bulky courtesy of the large ear cups
It can't be folded for added portability
Plasticky build quality
Quality of Sound: Matches our best pick in sound quality
The Motorola Pulse Max matched the Sony MDR-XB450AP in terms of sound quality, producing a clear sound which was very well balanced. The Moto Pulse Max has just the right amount of bass that gives it a good sound for the price. The reproduction of the mids and highs were also clear without any overlay of bass seeping through.
Despite the over-the-ear setup, the headphone doesn't even come close to isolating sound as well as the Sony XB450AP. In fact, it was the worst of all the headphones we tested. However, it more than makes up for it on the comfort it offers.
Build and Comfort: Decently built but feels plasticky
The Motorola Pulse Max is an over-the-ear type of headphone. It completely engulfs your ear and gives a nice cosy fit. Being made of plastic the headphones are very light. We used it for more than two hours without experiencing any discomfort or pressure in our ears. The angle of the ear cups can be tilted to a required angle which adds on to the extra comfort and proper fit.
The ear cups come with thick foam padding covered with faux leather that looked good and gave us a very comfortable listening experience. One minor flaw is that the ear padding is not fully sweat resistant and this limits their use as a gym headphone.
This model has a round detachable cable with a sturdy looking connector. The cable is not fully tangle-free like the flat cable on the Sony XB450AP. However, we found it relatively easier to untangle thanks to the thicker size of the cable. We found no complaints about the cable quality, ear padding or the headphones durability from online reviews.
The Pulse Max has a sturdy and bulky looking design. While the build quality was decent it felt too plasticky. It lacked the premium feel of the Sony. The headbands too did not exude the same quality as the other Sony headphones.
The Pulse Max has an inline mic with remote control and can be used for phone calls. But as mentioned earlier, the clarity of calls through the mic is not good
Our Tests showed that the Motorola Pulse Max matches the Sony MDR-XB450AP in terms of sound quality and surpasses it in terms of comfort to the ear. Sadly the headphone lacks the build quality and feels of the Sony, especially the headband and cable. Also, many people will prefer the Sony because of its better and more appealing design.
Who are our best picks for?
The Boat Rockerz 510 is much larger than the Sony and has a key differentiator- wireless connectivity. Not just that, the battery life too is very good and charging is fast as well. The music quality too is great with emphasis on the sub bass and bass region. The Boat makes sense for people who want a hassle-free music experience for music as well as movies.
The Sony XB450AP gives you excellent sound quality with foot thumping bass at a superb price. It makes great sense for bass lovers who prefer EDM, Rock and other such types of music.
The Motorola Pulse Max offer sound quality that is quite close to the Sony's but at a much cheaper price. It makes great sense for people who want a wired headphone and don't want to spend on the Sony. The lower cost is down to the slightly cheaper feeling plastics used, while the Sony is far superior in build quality.
A note on Warranty and Service
To analyze the warranty and service policy of each product, we called up all the given helpline numbers.
BoAt headphones have 1 year of warranty from date of purchase for headphones. Initial registration of the product is required. They have only one office in Mumbai. Customer needs to log the complaint on their website. The headphone is picked by the company person from client location and a unique code is assigned. Once it’s found faulty, the replaced product will be sent to the customer. The products are only replaced and cannot be repaired. No technical assistance or service is provided post warranty.
Sony has a 1-year warranty on all their headphones. For any issues with the product you drop off the product at the service centre or ring up the customer care for assistance. Headphone replacement under warranty is valid only if the product is purchased from the following authorized sellers listed here. Make sure you check this list before you buy. If the product is brought from a different seller, the warranty will not be respected.
Motorola headphones have a 1-year warranty. The invoice or bill copy is the warranty card. They have only one office in Delhi. You can ship the product to their service centre along with the invoice copy and the reference address. If the product is found to be faulty, the replaced product will be sent to the customer. We found that they do not offer any services post warranty.
We faced some difficulties in reaching the Motorola helpline. We had to call them five to six times before we finally got through to their customer care rep. We were informed to reach a different helpline number or to write to firstname.lastname@example.org for service or warranty related queries. Our email was replied promptly with the proper contact details. The confusion is created as the Motorola headphones are not made by Motorola but, Binatone to whom the Motorola name is licensed for accessories.
If you are buying a Moto headphone, then you should contact this company - Shyam telecom Ltd, Naraina, Delhi. When we spoke to them last we found that the number you must call is 9136008800. If the number doesn't go through email the above-mentioned address.
Those that didn’t make the cut
Sony Extra Bass MDR-XB250 On-Ear Headphones - The MDR-XB250 had a decent design and build quality, but there was nothing great about the sound. While it was clear at most frequencies we felt the sound quality could have been better.
boAt Rockerz 400 Wireless Bluetooth Headphone - The sound quality was not on par with our winners. Listening fatigue crept in after 15 mins of usage. The only good thing about this boAt headphone was the convenience of Bluetooth support.
Sony MDR-ZX310APL Headset with Mic - The sound quality of this headphone was decent in terms of clarity, however, it couldn't match the superior sound quality of our best picks. The reason for this we feel is the thin padding that leaks sounds and also doesn't give you the isolated feel one gets on wearing headphones. Then there were online reviews suggesting the ear cups we not that durable and got soiled quickly.
If you in the market for a pair of headphones that don't break the bank we have three different suggestions across the wired and wireless categories.
The Boat Rockerz 510 was one of the best picks under Rs.3000, but with this price now dropping below Rs.2000 we feel it's the best in this budget. The sound quality is much better than what is found on the Sony XB450AP and the BoAt also offers wireless and wired connectivity, a far superior mic quality and long battery life.
The Sony XB450AP despite being launched a long time ago still stays as one of our best picks primarily because of its good sound quality and great build. But the lack of wireless connectivity and slightly inferior mic quality means it loses its top position but is still on the podium.
The Motorola Pulse Max meanwhile offers sound quality that is reminiscent of Sony’s Extra Bass signature but at a much more affordable price point albeit with not the same great build and noise isolation as on the Sony.