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Best headphones for grads 2017

What freshly minted grad wouldn't appreciate a good headphone as a graduation gift. Here's a wide selection of top wireless -- and a few wired -- headphones to choose from.

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David Carnoy
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1 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose QuietComfort 35

The Bose QuietComfort 35 is a full-size, around-ear wireless Bluetooth headphone that also includes active noise-cancellation and doubles as an advanced headset for making cell phone calls. It earned an Editors' Choice award from CNET.

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2 of 41 David Carnoy/CNET

Sony MDR-1000

Sony's MDR-1000 is Sony's answer to Bose's QuietComfort 35. It's an impressive sounding wireless Bluetooth headphone that also features active noise-cancelation technology that's on par with Bose's, as well as some nifty extra features geared toward frequent travelers.

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3 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless

V-Moda's latest Bluetooth headphone is its best model yet, with improved sound, battery life and comfort. Featuring excellent build quality, it's one of the best premium over-ear wireless headphones, although it doesn't feature active noise-cancelling.

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4 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose SoundSport Wireless

The BoseSound Sport Wireless is a great wireless sports headphone; the company has just updated it in September to account for a small flaw that impacted a small percentage of units.

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5 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless

Sennheiser's PXC 550 Wireless is a worthy competitor to Bose's QuietComfort 35. Like that model, it's very comfortable and features impressive noise cancellation and works very well as a headset for making calls.

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6 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony MDR-1A

Sony's MDR-1A is one of CNET's top-rated over-ear wired headphones and delivers excellent sound in a very comfortable design.

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7 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Jaybird Freedom

While I had some quibbles with a few of Jaybird's design choices and this headphone's high pricetag, the Freedom Wireless is the company's smallest and most advanced wireless sports earbuds to date.

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8 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat Fit

Plantronics BackBeat Fit has been out almost two years, but it remains a top wireless sports headphone and has proven to be durable. It started out at $130 but can now be had for around $80 online in the US.

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9 of 41 James Martin/CNET

Apple AirPods

Apple's totally wireless AirPods may look a little strange, but they're designed to automatically pair with the iPhone 7, 7 Plus, and other Apple devices running iOS 10, WatchOS 3 or MacOS Sierra (they're Bluetooth headphones, but Apple devices get access to special features).

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10 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

BeatsX

If you're looking for a more traditional wireless alternative to the AirPods, the BeatsX is a fresh take on the neckband-style Bluetooth headphone.

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11 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless

Sennheiser's Momentum Wireless is arguably the best sounding wireless Bluetooth headphone. It also features active noise-canceling, though it's not up to the level of Bose's noise-canceling. This headphone started out at $500, but has come down to a bit less in some places.

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12 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II

If you can live with out the QuietComfort 35's active noise-cancelation, Bose's SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II are a very comfortable full-size headphone with very good sound quality for Bluetooth.

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13 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

B&O Play by Bang and Olufsen Beoplay H4

The Beoplay H4, B&O Play's entry-level over-ear Bluetooth headphone doesn't have much in the way of bells and whistles, but it sounds very good, and it's comfortable.

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14 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose QuietControl 30

Bose QuietControl 30 is essentially the wireless version of the company's QuietComfort 20 headphone -- an in-ear model that also features active noise-cancellation.

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15 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats by Dre Solo 3 Wireless

Thanks to being updated with Apple's new low-energy W1 custom Bluetooth chip, Beats' Solo 3 Wireless has much better battery life than its predecessor. Its impressive 40 hours of battery life is tops for a Bluetooth headphone.

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16 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose SoundSport

Bose's SoundSport is one of the most popular in-ear headphones. While it sounds good, its biggest selling point is how comfortable it is to wear.

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17 of 41 Bowers and Wilkins

Bowers and Wilkins P7 Wireless

Bowers and Wilkins' best sounding headphone is now available in a wireless version, the P7 Wireless for $400. It's a swanky-looking, well-built wireless headphone that delivers clean, well-balanced sound.

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18 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Jaybird X3

With the X3, Jaybird fixed some of the small issues that bothered owners of the X2. A slightly smaller design and better battery have made this one of the top Bluetooth sports headphones. Jaybird sometimes discounts it 25 percent, which makes it an even better value.

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19 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose SoundLink On-Ear Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

Bose's more compact on-ear wireless headphone, the SoundLink On-Ear Wireless, is arguably the most comfortable on-ear Bluetooth headphone (the Plantronics BackBeat Sense is also very comfortable).

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20 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose SoundTrue Ultra

Bose's SoundTrue Ultra may be the most comfortable in-ear noise-isolating headphone ever made. It also sounds excellent.

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21 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat 500

If you're looking for an affordable on-ear headphone not named Beats that's attractively designed and sounds very good, Plantronics' BackBeat 500 fits the bill.

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22 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Skullcandy Grind Wireless

The Skullcandy Grind Wireless is an on-ear model and one of the better values in Bluetooth headphones.

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23 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is one of the best values in noise-canceling wireless headphones.

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24 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats Studio WIreless

Beats Studio Wireless has been around for a couple of years (and is due for an update), but it's still one of the best Bluetooth headphone and also features light active noise-cancellation. It started out at $379 but is now down significantly online.

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25 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats by Dre Powerbeats 3 Wireless

Beats' Powerbeats Wireless 3 improves slightly on the design of the popular Powerbeats 2 Wireless sports headphone and adds Apple's energy-efficient W1 custom Bluetooth chip, which makes connecting the headphones very easy (for Apple users) and significantly boosts battery life.

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26 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Doppler Labs Here One

While they're pricey, Doppler Labs' Here One totally wireless earphones offer more features and deliver better sound than Apple's AirPods.

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27 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

B&O Play BeoPlay H7

B&O Play's BeoPlay H7, an around-ear model, is stylish, comfortable and sounds very good.

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28 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Urbanears Hellas

Urbanears Hellas are sporty headphones with touch controls at a reasonable price tag.

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29 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Jabra Halo Smart

Jabra's Halo Smart is a neckband-style wireless headphone that performs very well as a headset for making cell phone calls, has good battery life, and delivers decent sound quality for music so long as you can get a tight seal from the included ear buds.

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30 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Focal Listen

Focal's Listen headphone is an audiophile-grade over-ear wired headphone that's well priced for the sound it delivers.

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31 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Audeze Sine

Audeze's Sine is the company's most affordable full-size planar-magnetic headphone. This type of driver technology is known for delivering impressively clean, distortion-free sound and the Sine's sound is superb for the price, although some people might wish the comfortable were a little more comfortable. It comes come with two wired options: one with a traditional miniplug, and one with Apple's Lightning connector.

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32 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony H.ear On Wireless

Sony's new H.ear On Wireless NC comes in several eye-catching colors and features wireless Bluetooth streaming, as well as active noise-cancellation. It's not quite as impressive as Sony's MDR-1000, which costs $50 more, but it does deliver excellent performance for Bluetooth.

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33 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat Sense

Plantronics' BackBeat Sense is one of our favorite on-ear wireless headphones, and it also performs very well as a wireless headset.

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34 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beyerdynamic T51i

The Beyerdynamic T51i remains one of our favorite on-ear wired headphones.

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35 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless

We're fans of Bowers & Wilkins wired P5 (now on its second generation) and the P5 Wireless is a very good wireless headphone, just a tad pricey.

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36 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Jabra's Elite Sport

Jabra's Elite Sport headphones are totally wireless earphones with an integrated heart-rate sensor.

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37 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Skullcandy Ink'd Wireless

Skullcandy's Ink'd Wireless is an affordable, lightweight neckband-style headphone that sounds surprisingly good.

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38 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

While Sennheiser Momentum Wireless is a more versatile headphone, the wired Momentum 2.0 is significantly more affordable and sounds great.

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39 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Parrot Zik 3

The feature-packed Parrot Zik 3 improves on the company's earlier Zik 2 and offers both Bluetooth streaming and active-noise cancellation.

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40 of 41 Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung Level U

It may seem weird to use a Samsung headphone with an iPhone, but the Level U is a likable neckband-style Bluetooth headphone that doesn't costs too much. The step-up Level U Pro sounds better, but it has a noise-isolating design and isn't as comfortable as this model.

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JBL E55BT

JBL's E55BT isn't a total bargain, but it's a midpriced over-ear model that delivers solid performance and decent comfort.

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