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Graduation gift guide: Best headphones for grads in 2024

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Graduation is coming up, and there's no better way to celebrate the grads in your life than with gifts they'll love. That includes tech they can actually use, like top-rated headphones and earbuds they can wind down with after their major accomplishment. There's a great pair of headphones for every grad, no matter if they're completing middle school, high school or college. 

They'll need headphones to listen to their favorite music, make phone calls, watch movies and TV shows, or catch up on their favorite TikTok creators. And they'll think of you each time they use their new cans. 

But which headphones should you choose? We've done the hard part for you. Our picks for the best headphones and earbuds for graduates come from top brands like Apple, Google, and Bose. There's a choice for each price point and use case, so if you're not sure, just keep reading. You'll find options for the best headphone gifts for grads below. 

Best headphones for grads in 2024

Best overall headphones for grads: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)

Apple's slick, wireless earbuds are a great choice for any grad, thanks to their lengthy battery life, versatility and portability. With up to 30 hours of total battery life from the charging case, they last long enough for grads on the go and then some through calls, music and more.

These earbuds outshine the original AirPods Pro in every way. An improved wireless chip and enhanced noise cancellation offer rich, immersive sound. They fit snugly in the ear thanks to their solid build, and it doesn't hurt that they're attractive, too.

This version also comes with a USB-C fast-charging case with wireless charging support. And we love the touch controls built right into the stems for an easy way to pause or restart a playlist.

With all the upgrades over the previous model, these AirPods represent Apple's most advanced wireless listening experience yet. For extended playtime and top-notch audio quality, these earbuds are a stellar pick for any grad. 

Best headphones for grads using Android: Google Pixel Buds Pro 

Google Pixel Buds Pro

If your grad is an Android user, make sure they have headphones that work well with their device. You can snag the Google Pixel Buds Pro for crisp sound, clear voice calls, and comfort for short or long listening sessions.

These earbuds may be small, but they're mighty. Their active noise cancellation feature adapts to ears thanks to Google's Silent Seal text, which uses a custom processor and speakers to block the most noise possible. Transparency mode helps to let sound in when grads need to know what's going on around them.

They also feature touch controls on each bud that can make navigating, pausing, and playing music easy. Tap the surface of each bud to control media and calls, then swipe to adjust volume. There's also a touch and hold option for ANC.

With up to 31 hours of listening time with the charging case, a comfortable form factor, and crystal clear sound, these buds are perfect for grads using Android. 

Best premium headphones for grads: Apple AirPods Max

Apple via Amazon

Treat your favorite grad to a luxurious audio experience with the AirPods Max. With premium features and sleek aesthetics, they're built for audiophiles looking for more out of their headphones. They're considerably more expensive than other Apple models, but they deliver on comfort, style, and functionality.

The AirPods Max deliver booming, immersive audio. Spatial audio with dynamic head tracking serves up a theater-like surround sound effect. And the great active noise cancellation blocks out external distractions to keep the focus on the music. Plus, the plush cushioned ear cups are comfortable to wear for long listening sessions.

They're also useful for either tuning out the world or keeping the environment in mind. Transparency mode lets ambient noise in when active noise cancellation isn't needed. And with a 15 hour battery life, the music doesn't have to stop for quite some time.

Everyone around your grad will notice these bold headphones for both their crisp, pumped up sound and fashionable design. They also come in several colors, including this cool blue. 

Best budget headphones for grads: JBL Tune 510BT

JBL Tune 510BT

These wireless JBL headphones are just $50, and they offer great sound without much compromise. Your grad can enjoy their favorite music and podcasts or take calls with this affordable pair of over-the-ear cans.

With Bluetooth 5.0, these headphones can play music streamed directly form one device, then switch to another without missing a beat. Your grad can use the physical controls on the ear cups to manage calls, activate voice assistants, and more.

They also last for up to 40 hours and can recharge in minutes for a few hours of additional functionality thanks to USB-C charger support. Charging for just five minutes means 2 more hours of listening time.

For the money, you could do much worse than these excellent headphones. If you want to give the gift of great sound without biting into your own savings too much, you can rely on JBL to offer an affordable solution. 

Best gym headphones for grads: Bose QuietComfort Ultra wireless earbuds

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Wireless Earbuds

With excellent sound and top-tier noise cancellation, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Wireless Earbuds are a grad's perfect gym companion. They'll love having a pair of premium headphones to listen to while working out. These comfortable in-ear buds are an especially good option, especially since they excel in just about every category.

They offer fantastic noise cancellation that does exactly what you'd expect. Whether your grad listens to their favorite band or checks out a TV show during their downtime, the outside world doesn't get in unless they want it. Aware Mode (transparency) opens things up a bit if they need to hear what's going on, though. That's part of what makes them a prime pick for gym time, where concentration is super important - don't want to lose count of reps or squats, or worse, drop a weight.

Of course, they're also sweat-resistant, so these buds work even for particularly challenging or grueling workouts. They won't slip out of your grad's ears, either. Plus, you can count on these small but mighty headphones to provide 6 hours of playtime per charge, with just a 20-minute charge serving up an additional two hours in a pinch. 

With excellent sound and a sweat-resistant design, these buds let grads to focus on their workout, not distractions. 

Best noise-canceling headphones for grads: Bose QuietComfort Ultra

Bose QuietComfort Ultra

If your grad just wants to tune out distractions and get lost in the music, Bose's newest update to their best-selling headphones brings an immersive spatial audio feature that surrounds them in 360-degree sound, all with the addition of absolutely stellar noise-cancelling abilities. 

The noise canceling tech lets your grad block out the world completely to focus solely on what they're listening to. Or they can can selectively allow in only the sounds you want to hear with the cans' transparency mode – a super useful way to prevent accidents or other mishaps where hearing what's going on would have helped. 

They're great for making and answering calls, too. The built-in mics mean grads' calls come through with crystal clarity on calls, even in windy conditions or in areas with subpar connectivity. 

These premium headphones may be pricey, but you'll be giving the grad in your life some of the best features you'll find in headphones on the market. If crystal clear audio and smart noise management are your grad's priorities, these Bose headphones deliver and then some. 

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