Are you looking for the best retro headphones of all time? Not only do these models look vintages and classic, but they can also compete with the latest performance technology in the headphones space.
We will always have a soft spot for these old-school headphones and we’re sure you do too. After all, the timeless design of retro headphones is their hallmark.
In this guide, we’ll discuss retro headphones in detail. We’ve compiled a list of the 10 best retro headphones on the market but first, we need to tell you other things about retro headphones, such as factors you should look at while buying them.
Roundup of the Best Retro Headphones
|Overall Best Retro Headphones||Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones|
|Most Durable Retro Headphones||Koss Pro-4AA Studio Quality Headphones|
|Best Budget Retro Headphones||Monoprice – 116150 Modern Retro Over Ear Headphones|
|Best Retro Headphones for Kids||HamiltonBuhl SchoolMate Deluxe Stereo Headphones|
|Most Stylish Retro Headphones||Koss Porta Pro Limited Edition Rhythm Beige On-Ear Headphones|
|Retro Headphones With Best Bass||Panasonic Retro Bluetooth Wireless Headphones|
|Most Comfortable Retro Headphones||House of Marley Positive Vibration 2: Over-Ear Headphones|
|Best Portable Retro Headphones||JLab Rewind Wireless Retro Headphones|
|Retro Headphones With Best Battery Life||Marshall Major IV On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones|
|Best Noise-Reducing Retro Headphones||Koss QZ-99 Noise Reduction Stereophone|
Things to Consider When Buying Retro Headphones
Retro headphones are timeless, but you should still be sure you obtain the most value for your money. Furthermore, not every pair of retro headphones is created equal. When choosing the finest retro headphones, there are a few factors to keep in mind:
1. Sound Quality
Although design is the most critical factor when buying retro headphones, acoustic performance is as important. While some individuals prefer a more natural tone, others wants full sound and bass. Regardless, your retro headphones should be able to produce a clear, crisp and high-resolution sound.
Most retro headphones have an old school look and are composed of plastic, leather, wood, and metal. Moreover, they don’t have sharp angles you can see in most contemporary versions. Instead, these headphones often have a distinctive appearance that gives the impression that they were made decades ago, yet on the inside, they’re everything but old-school.
3. On-Ear vs. Over-the-Ear
Retro headphones come in two main styles: on-ear and over-ear. On-ear headphones rest entirely on the ear or their outer portion. As with ear muffs, over-ear headphones provide full protection for your ears. Both may provide varying degrees of comfort, depending on you, even though over-ear headphones are generally more comfortable for continuous use.
Selecting retro headphones constructed from durable materials can guarantee years of use. Therefore, ensure the vintage headphones you’re planning to buy are not only comfortable but durable and sturdy too.
5. Wired vs. Wireless
You may choose between wired headphones, wireless headphones, or a combination of wired and wireless. Wireless may be more convenient for some, while others prefer wired ones.
Top 10 Retro Headphones on the Market
Now that we have everything out of the way let’s get to the top 10 greatest retro headphones.
1. Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones
Overall Best Retro Headphones
- Stylish and unique look
- Easy to carry
- Provides a crisp and clear sound
- Very flexible and easy to adjust
- Great for gaming
- Bass could be a little clearer without distortion
Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones stand out from the crowd for their great retro look owing to their aluminum honeycomb housing and 3D wing support that adjusts to your head’s shape.
While the retro oversized design may raise eyebrows, it serves its function by accommodating a wide range of head circumferences. The double-hooped headband is adjustable to fit any size or shape of the head.,and the small flaps (what Audio Technica calls self-adjusting 3D wing support’) below it are also flexible, although we found them too flimsy for our taste.
We found out that the frequency range of their 53mm drivers is from 5Hz to 30kHz, and their impedance is 38 ohms. The excellent directional audio is a regular compliment to these headphones, making them a top pick among gamers. So it’s incredible how the sounds strike the headphones.
In conclusion, aside from some minor fit issues, the Audio Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Open-air Headphones are a solid choice for listening at home. The fascinating aspect of these headphones is their vintage look and spacious and open sound that very few headphones in this price range can compete.
View on Amazon: Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones
2. Koss Pro-4AA Studio Quality Headphones
Most Durable Retro Headphones
- Very stylish and ideal for the vintage genre
- Affordable price
- Solid build quality
- Excellent sound isolation, making them ideal for usage in public areas
- Very comfortable and simple to adjust
- Exceptional sound isolation
- Can feel a little tight for users with larger heads
You should check out the Koss Pro-4AA Studio Quality Headphones if you’re on the market for a new set of retro headphones since they’re wonderfully fashionable, affordable, and flexible. Owing to their sturdy construction, we have chosen them as the most durable ones on our list.
The quality of the sound is wonderful straight out of the box. We agree they are quite big and perhaps too heavy for “on-the-go” listening, but they’re completely worth buying because of their sturdiness and construction quality. In fact, they are not built or intended for portable usage. Instead, they are traditional-style headphones useful for frequent usage.
We found that the sound isolation that they provide keeps out undesirable sounds while keeping your music from escaping. Moreover, you can adjust the headphones to the right fit for your head. Another great thing is that the Koss Pro-4AA Headphones are professional-grade stereo headphones designed to use in recording studios, and radio and television broadcasting facilities.
In conclusion, your search for durable retro headphones can end with Koss Pro-4AA Studio Quality Headphones. They’re comfortable too. We really liked the clear and crisp sound delivered by these headphones. They may feel somewhat heavy, but they’re durability and sturdiness overshadows everything else.
View on Amazon: Koss Pro-4AA Studio Quality Headphones
3. Monoprice – 116150 Modern Retro Over Ear Headphones
Best Budget Retro Headphones
- Excellent value for money
- Decent sound quality
- Cool retro style and punchy bass
- Extra long cable
- Ultra-comfortable ear pads with a good amount of isolation
- Non-detachable cable
The robust and eye-catching retro design of the Monoprice – 116150 Modern Retro Over Ear Headphones may startle you when you use them for the first time. The construction quality of these headphones is fantastic considering their price.
We found that the material used in the self-adjusting headband mechanism adds no weight to the headphones and does not compromise their longevity or wearability. Therefore, if you hold both ear cups and rotate them in opposite directions, you won’t hear much creaking or rattling from them.
Whether you’re listening to any genre of music like EDM, hip-hop, or pop, the bass is rock solid and distortion-free. It’s never too much or too little. These headphones are great for listening across genres because of their consistent and dependable presence. The protein leather pads are as simple as they come and have about as much cushioning as you’d want to find in cans of this price range.
In conclusion, Monoprice – 116150 Modern Retro Over Ear Headphones are our pick for best budget retro headphones because of their spacious over-ear design, interchangeable ear cushions, ultra-soft headband, and expansive soundstage at a pocket-friendly price.
View on Amazon: Monoprice – 116150 Modern Retro Over Ear Headphones
4. HamiltonBuhl SchoolMate Deluxe Stereo Headphones
Best Retro Headphones for Kids
- Lengthy and robust cord
- Left earphone has a built-in volume control that is prominent and simple to find
- Excellent sound quality
- Strong and well-made
- Provides a relaxed fit
- Mostly blocks out extraneous noise
- Large and somewhat cumbersome to wear for extended durations
The HamiltonBuhl SchoolMate Deluxe Stereo Headphones can be a great option for kids who want to experience the feel of retro headphones. Moreover, these headphones’ closed-back, noise-isolating design creates conducive testing and studying environment for kids.
We found that the SchoolMate Deluxe Stereo Headphones are soft and cushioned. They have a braided nylon cable that is six-feet long, leatherette ear cushions, and an adjustable headband. Each set of headphones comes with a sturdy carrying case. They are easy for the kids to use and fit well on small heads, and kids can place the soft leatherette ear cushions over the ears to cut out ambient noise.
Kids can use these durable and retro headphones to work with various electronic devices, including iPads, iPods, Android smartphones, MP3 players, CD players, listening centers, and more. The long, flexible wire accompanying it is plastic coated so that it won’t fray.
In conclusion, the HamiltonBuhl SchoolMate Deluxe Stereo Headphones have the best of both worlds; a retro look and amazing sound quality. Moreover, these headphones fit securely over the ear, and you can adjust them to comfortably fit your kid’s head.
View on Amazon: HamiltonBuhl SchoolMate Deluxe Stereo Headphones
5. Koss Porta Pro Limited Edition Rhythm Beige On-Ear Headphones
Most Stylish Retro Headphones
- Attractive design
- Decent sound quality
- Inline microphone
- Lightweight and portable
- Most comfortable on-ear vintage headphones
- Fantastic battery life
- If the battery dies, you cannot use it with cable
Incredibly innovative, that’s how we can describe Koss Porta Pro Limited Edition Rhythm Beige On-Ear Headphones for their design. In contrast to the standard round or oval cups, the earpieces and headbands of these headphones have a unique design. Instead, they take the form of a musical note, with the tiny spherical transducers installed below on a rotating ball and socket, and an adjustable temple pad.
The quality of the construction is excellent. We found that these headphones are well made and will last a long time. The plastic and metal components are made to be lightweight and portable. Besides being very convenient, their featherweight construction makes them a delight to wear.
Additionally, the sound quality is out of this world. Again, you may not think much of these when you first pull these headphones out of the package but rest assured they pack a significant punch. Speaking of punch, the bass on these instruments is quite powerful. The sound is rich and smooth, with highs and mids that are wonderfully balanced.
In conclusion, Koss Porta Pro Limited Edition Rhythm Beige On-Ear Headphones can be a great alternative to the classic Porta Pro Headphones for those who love the stylish design but need more current features for their conference calls.
View on Amazon: Koss Porta Pro Limited Edition Rhythm Beige On-Ear Headphones
6. Panasonic Retro Bluetooth Wireless Headphones
Retro Headphones With Best Bass
- Outstanding construction
- Resounding and punchy bass
- Amazing retro-style design
- Affordable sound that is easy on the ears
- Excellent battery life
- We did not experience any issues
The Panasonic Panasonic Retro Bluetooth Wireless Headphones RP-HTX80B are mid-range wireless headphones with a design so retro it wouldn’t be out of place if the company gave the accompanying handbook pressed on vinyl. These headphones are comfortable and durable, have amazing bass, and are reliable in terms of wireless connection.
They are comfortable, light, and have standard-sized cups. It guarantees you won’t experience any of the typical discomfort associated with using headphones. They don’t press too hard on your head or harm your ears. However, because of how bouncy the headband is, they are secure enough to wear when using a treadmill.
The 40 mm dynamic drivers used in the RP-HTX80B are the same ones found in most other over-ear headphone models. The majority of the time, the sound is crisp, clear, and detailed. The bass is balanced and clear, and the treble is silky.
In conclusion, the Panasonic Retro Bluetooth Wireless Headphones have a sleek design and most of the features you may desire. These headphones provide a strong and reliable Bluetooth connection, long-lasting batteries, and come with a pleasant vintage design.
View on Amazon: Panasonic Retro Bluetooth Wireless Headphones
7. House of Marley Positive Vibration 2: Over-Ear Headphones
Most Comfortable Retro Headphones
- Excellent quality of sound
- Comfortable to wear
- Produced with environment-friendly components
- Refined and individualistic vintage design
- Lack of noise-canceling technology
If you want headphones with a classic, retro look and some Marley-Esque touches, the House of Marley Positive Vibration 2: Over-Ear Headphones can be a great alternative. You can’t match the value of these headphones with other similar-range retro headphones, which include a sleek design, high-quality sound, and reliable performance.
The headphones’ cups are made of aluminum instead of plastic, and the headband cushioning comes in fabric instead of synthetic leather. Using textured materials is a tried-and-true Marley strategy. These headphones weigh next to nothing thanks to their lightweight aluminum frame and foldable plastic earcup hinge.
Unrivaled in comfort, these headphones were a clear winner in our book. We loved that headband had a medium amount of firmness, and the cushioning is comprised of a couple of inches of leatherette-topped foam to ensure the headphones remain securely on your head.
In conclusion, the House of Marley Positive Vibration 2: Over-Ear Headphones can be a good option to purchase if comfort is a priority for you, along with the retro look. Not only do they have a pleasant sound, but they are made from eco-friendly materials.
View on Amazon: House of Marley Positive Vibration 2: Over-Ear Headphones
8. JLab Rewind Wireless Retro Headphones
Best Portable Retro Headphones
- Virtual assistant access
- Lightweight and portable
- Design with a fun, retro vibe
- Easy to carry
- Absence of volume controls
JLab Rewind Wireless Retro Headphones are the perfect throwback headphones if you have a weakness for all things retro. These headphones have carved out a certain submarket for themselves and are sure to win the affection of anybody prone to experiencing sensations of nostalgia. Moreover, they use Bluetooth 4.2 technology and connect to your digital assistant.
The JLab Rewing Wireless Retro Headphones have a metal headband, while the remainder of the headphones is rigid black plastic.
One thing we loved about JLab Rewinds is that it weighed relatively lighter than the other retro headphones on our list, which is why we’ve categorized them as the most portable headphones.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a portable retro look, the JLab Audio Rewind Wireless Retro Headphones are the ones to buy. They are retro in style yet modern in comfort. We assure you guys will remark that they had a pair of these for their Walkman or Discman “back in the day;” that is how well they capture the aesthetic of the 1980s.
View on Amazon: JLab Rewind Wireless Retro Headphones
9. Marshall Major IV On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones
Retro Headphones With Best Battery Life
- Audio performance is heavy on the bass and very bright
- On-ear controls are simple to use
- Includes an audio cord for listening via a passive wired connection
- Long battery life
- Provide clear sound
- We did not experience any issues
The Marshall Major IV On-Ear Headphones deliver powerful bass, and crisp highs. However, the best feature of these headphones is their battery life. The on-ear form factor is convenient, the retro rock-amp aesthetic is stylish, and the controls are intuitive.
These headphones’ on-ear cups, or supra-aurals, are spherical cubes padded liberally for comfort. Moreover, unlike many other wireless headphones, we found that they don’t have the common issues of having either too few buttons or too many or a bewildering array that requires memorizing. On the other hand, the single knob on these headphones allows for simple and quick adjustment of any settings.
In an era when our power-hungry electronics want to be recharged now and then, these headphones merely require charging once in a while and they can last for week. You can charge these headphones completely in around three hours, and a quick 15-minute charge will give them enough energy to play for up to 15 hours.
In conclusion, the Marshall Major IV On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones wowed us with their battery life, allowing up to 80 hours of playtime, and you can charge them wirelessly. This feature was one of the reasons we were so delighted with these headphones. With the plush padding, wearing them for extended periods was much more enjoyable.
View on Amazon: Marshall Major IV On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones
10. Koss QZ-99 Noise Reduction Stereophone
Best Noise-Reducing Retro Headphones
- Clear and crisp sound
- Well padded
- Value for money
- Great sound isolation
- Somewhat bulky
If you’re looking for stereo headphones with noise cancellation, give the Koss QZ-99 a look. Their technology helps keep the outside noise away so the listener can concentrate on the music. In addition, they have a retro look, are pleasant to use, and are a high-quality set of headphones that you can purchase at a low price.
After thorough evaluation, we believe these headphones are better suited to persons rigging or operating bigger sound systems. Even though the soft leather around the ears makes them more comfortable and acts as a tight seal, the weight may become too much, particularly for prolonged periods. We like the earcup-mounted volume controls that make it simple to customize the sound.
We loved that these headphones allow the user to block all background noise and focus only on the music. Moreover, you may adjust the Koss QZ-99 headphones so that each ear hears a separate mix of the music, or you can have the same mix in both ears. Depending on the kind of music you’re listening to, you may toggle this between tracks.
In conclusion, if you want headphones that have a retro look and active noise cancelation, then Koss QZ-99 Noise Reduction Stereophone is the one you should buy! These headphones are comfortable and durable. We loved how they isolated ambient noises, even in the busiest surroundings, while providing stellar sound performance and clarity.
View on Amazon: Koss QZ-99 Noise Reduction Stereophone
Frequently Asked Questions About Retro Headphones
Yes, headphones existed in the 80s and were used all during the ’60s and ’70s.
Yes, headphones existed in the 70s. Sennheiser introduced open-back headphones in 1968 after Koss made them popular for cranking up the audio and shutting out the world. The 1979 release of the Walkman, the first super-light portable cassette stereo, changed the existential function of headphones from quiet concentration to wall-less privacy in public spaces.
At his home in 1910, engineer Nathaniel Baldwin created the first set of audio headphones that resembled modern-day pairs.
Yes, wired headphones are retro. With so many wireless headphones on the market today, few people want to buy wired headphones and deal with the hassle of wires.
We hope this buying guide will help you find the best retro headphones to suit your requirements.
If you want our recommendation, go for the Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Audiophile Open-Air Headphones. The metal honeycomb casing and 3D Wing Support that contours to your head design set these retro-styled headphones out from the rest.