The need to work from home or have an additional side-income is at an all time high during 2020.

As a result, online transcription jobs are picking up steam, and with it the need to have good transcription hardware to make the process a little bit easier.

The best transcription headphones featured in this guide will help you to improve your transcription accuracy and as a result save time.

Why do good transcription headphones matter?

The best transcription headphones or headsets or earbuds can cut your transcription time in half, because you’re not struggling with difficult audio having to constantly rewind and forward.

Furthermore, in these tough times it’s important that the best transcription headphones are also cost effective to ease the initial investment if you’re just starting up, getting back to transcription, or even if you’ve been transcribing for years.  An upgrade in equipment always yields great results.

Is there such a thing as transcription headphones?

Not really.  Any headphone or earbud that provides good sound quality and noise cancellation features, is well built, and is good value for money, we would count as the best transcription headphones.

Therefore, I don’t understand why when you search for transcription headphones online, for ex. on Amazon, it suggests these horrible, stethoscope looking ancient headphones.

I’m not kidding, this is currently “Amazon’s Choice” when you search for transcription headphones.

What?!?  It’s 2020.  Who even uses these ear-canal bruising earphones anymore?  Even if you can’t wear headphones for whatever reason, better buy modern “in-ear” headphones or earbuds.

And it would make sense if these “transcription headphones” were dirt cheap, but they aren’t.  They cost $27 and there is no emphasis on sound quality, or on noise cancellation.

You can get much better quality, value for money, and long-term work out of the headphones we’ve recommended in this guide.

Best Transcription Headphones 2020

While there are plenty of cheap headphones you can find on Amazon for under $50 or even $20, we’ve found the ones listed below to be the best compromise between sound quality, comfort and longevity.

So, let’s take a look at some of the best transcription headphones in 2020 which don’t break the bank.

1. Sennheiser HD 280 PRO

Cost: $98.99 (USD) or £99.99 (GBP) on Amazon

best transcription headphones, Sennheiser HD 280 PRO

Whether you’re listening to music or transcribing interviews, or gaming, you cannot go wrong with a pair of Sennheiser headphones or earbuds.


  • Solid noise cancellation
  • Great sound quality
  • High ambient noise attenuation
  • Accurate, linear sound reproduction
  • Soft earpads for a comfortable fit
  • Folding and rotating earcups for space-saving transport
  • Tough, single-sided cable


  • Some complaints of bad build quality
  • Complaints of one side not working after a few months, but very few

2. Sony MDR7506

Cost: $97.99 (USD) or £93.00 (GBP) on Amazon

best transcription headphones, Sony MDR7506

I’ve been fond of the Sony MDR range of headphones or earbuds for as long as I can remember.  Trustworthy, reliable and great sound.

Sony have been producing high quality headphones for so long in the business, you can’t go wrong with a pair of these for audio transcription.


  • Neodymium magnets and 40 millimeter drivers for powerful, detailed sound
  • Closed ear design provides comfort and outstanding reduction of external noises
  • 9.8 foot cord ends in gold plated plug and it is not detachable; 1/4 inch adapter included
  • Folds up for storage or travel in provided soft case
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hertz to 20 kilohertz
  • These large diaphragm, foldable headphones feature a rugged construction, a secure, highly effective closed ear design
  • Connectivity technology : Wired


  • With small cups, they may not really be “over-the-ear” for some people

3. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

Cost: $99 (USD) or £77 (GBP) on Amazon

best transcription headphones, Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

Often compared to the overpriced “Beats” headphones, Audio-Technica have been consistently beating “Beats” in the areas of sound quality, fidelity, noise cancellation and value for money.

And they’ve done it again with the ATH-M40X coming in at almost $200 cheaper than Beats.

As we’ve mentioned earlier in this post, any headphone that can deliver crystal clear sound quality is always great for audio or video transcription, because all you need is to understand speech without interruptions or background noise.


  • Excellent sound quality
  • Aimed at professionals
  • Robust construction.
  • 40 mm drivers with rare earth magnets and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils.


  • Build quality complaints
  • Known ear pad and headband shedding issues
  • Unknown brand, lack of marketing

4. Shure SRH240A

Cost: $59 (USD) or £58 (GBP) on Amazon

best transcription headphones, Shure SRH240A

Not a mainstream brand, but Shure are known for making great noise-canceling earbuds mostly, but also headphones.  And due to effective noise cancellation and great sound quality, they are a great fit for transcribers.


  • Sound isolating design.
  • Effective noise cancellation.
  • Lightweight, rest comfortably in the ear.


  • Some build quality complaints

5. Grado SR80e

Cost: $99 (USD) or £79.77 (GBP) on Amazon

Best transcription headphones, Grado sr80e

Known for making audiophile headphones , this is a surprisingly affordable option from Grado.  You can at least be assured of great sound quality due to their pedigree.


  • Excellent treble and midrange
  • Lively sound
  • Tight bass


  • Complaints of build quality issues and fragility

Best Transcription Earbuds

I personally cannot choose between a good pair of transcription headphones (over-the-ear) or earbuds (in-ear).

If you’re going to be transcribing or editing for hours on end, earbuds with their soft eartips fit snugly into your ear canal and don’t cause pain to your earlobes in the same way that some headphones do for some people.

You also get more effective noise cancellation with them pretty much blocking your ear canal.

Below are the best transcription “in-ear” headphones or earbuds, in our opinion:

1. Sony MDRXB50AP

Cost: $29.99 (USD) or £24.95 (GBP) on Amazon

best transcription earbuds, Sony MDRXB50AP

If you need an affordable pair of noise canceling earbuds to get you started in transcription, these will get the job done.  Soft eartips in an earbud also means your ears won’t be painful after extended use.


  • Good bass.
  • Lightweight and comfortable for hours of transcription.
  • 0.47 in neodymium drivers for powerful, balanced sound.


  • Much like other earbuds, they may stop working if you’re rough with them.

2. SoundMAGIC E11

Cost: $42.99 (USD) or £39.95 (GBP) on Amazon

best transcription earbuds, SoundMAGIC E11

The reason why this unknown brand has made the list is because these are the earbuds I’m currently using for audio/video transcription and quality analysis, and I’m getting great results!


  • Balanced, accurate sound with clarity
  • Machined aluminium housing with minimalist design
  • Silver-plated copper cable provides high-resolution audio
  • Comfortable and secure fit with isolating design


  • Some complaints of too much or ear-piercing treble
  • Complaints of bad build quality

3. Sennheiser CX 100

Cost: $29.39 (USD) or £24.99 (GBP) on Amazon

best transcription earbuds, Sennheiser CX 100

I’ve used a lot of Sennheiser headphones and earbuds over the years, including the CX100 with great results.  Sennheiser headphones have always been dependable with great sound quality.


  • Small design provides ideal comfort
  • Choice of four ear adapter sizes ensure ideal fit for effective noise blocking
  • Ergonomic in-ear design for ambient noise isolation and undisturbed
  • Great value for money


  • Fragile. Prone to malfunction if the wire is yanked.

Are Earbuds Fragile?

Yes, more so than headphones.  However, these are designed to be compact and convenient, so you can’t have everything.

Furthermore, the longevity of any electronic device depends on you, the user, and how gentle you are with them.

Best Transcription Headphones Money can Buy

Below is a list of the highest quality, audiophile approved, absolute best transcription headphones money can buy.

While you don’t need these for audio transcription, but hey, if you’re swimming in money and would like to splurge some of that cash on tools for “eargasm”, have at it.

Now keep in mind, the price of some of these may make your eyes bleed, but probably not your ears.  Ba dum tss!

There are some headsets that cost above $1,000 or close to $2,000 but we’ve kept this list to below $500 because we don’t see the point of spending any more than that for a pair of headphones, especially for audio transcription.

But if you also enjoy experiencing high fidelity music, movies or gaming on a good pair of headphones, along with transcribing, these may be the perfect fit.

You can always work harder to pay it back. ;)

1. Sennheiser HD 660 S

Cost: $485.49 (USD) or £429 (GBP) on Amazon

Sennheiser HD 660 S


  • Reference-class open dynamic headphones
  • New improved transducer design for very low harmonic distortion
  • Hand-selected headphone drivers with precise left and right matching tolerances ( 1 dB) for accuracy
  • 150 ohms Nominal Impedance to allow direct connection to both stationary and mobile HiRes players
  • Para-aramid reinforced, detachable cables made from highly conductive OFC copper, with very low handling noise


  • Too expensive?

2. Grado SR325e

Cost: $295 (USD) or £269 (GBP) on Amazon

Grado SR325e


  • Aluminum air chamber
  • UHPLC copper voice coil wire
  • UHPLC copper connecting cord


  • Too expensive? :D

3. Sony WH-1000XM3

Cost: $249 (USD) or £238.79 (GBP) on Amazon

Sony WH-1000XM3


  • Industry leading noise cancellation
  • Battery life of 30 hours and quick charging
  • Improved design, comfortable and lightweight
  • High resolution audio
  • Optimized for Google Assistant and Alexa


  • Too expensive?
  • Touch controls don’t have the best feeling
  • Can expose weaker recordings

Are Wireless Headphones good for Audio Transcription?

We’ve used both wireless headphones (i.e. over-the-ear) and wireless earbuds (i.e. in-ear) for transcription purposes, and due to the wireless/Bluetooth connection, there is a noticeable delay when you pause audio or video using a transcription software like Express Scribe, which can be annoying when doing transcription, because you will be pausing, rewinding, forwarding a LOT.

So, in our opinion, stick to wired headphones or earbuds.


  1. Try both headphones and earbuds to see what suits you better for audio transcription.
  2. Buy something that delivers great sound quality, noise cancellation and is good value for money.
  3. Wireless headphons and earbuds are much more expensive, cause a delay, and make no difference for the purposes of audio transcription.
  4. Use your brain instead of going for gimmicks.

If you liked this guide and it helped you to choose you the perfect transcription headphone, share it with your friends or colleagues, and leave a comment below.  Also let us know if it can be improved in any way, or if we forgot to include something.

If you would like to try our audio & video transcription services, see below: