In a lot of ways, the best headphones for iPads are the best pairs, period — no matter what device you're using them with. Still, when they're primarily intended for use alongside your Apple products, compatibility is key. Yes, you'll need to make sure they're comfortable, high-quality, and maybe even capable of blocking out distractions, but first, ensure that they can actually connect to your iPad of choice.
The first (and potentially most important) piece of information is what kind of input your iPad has. Many older models, as well as newer iPads and iPad Minis, have a traditional headphone jack, also known as a 3.5-millimeter aux. If that's your iPad, any standard headphones should work. If not (some of the latest models don't have a headphone jack at all), you'll either need compatible Bluetooth headphones or a pair that plugs into the port where you typically input your charging cable. Note that, when it comes to charging, some iPads use Lightning connectors while others use USB-C.
Once you've narrowed down the best input source, consider the factors that would be important in any pair of headphones: Are you looking for in-ear buds or over-ear headphones, and do they need to be comfortable to wear for hours at a time? Are you looking to invest in active noise-canceling technology so you can block out distractions when using your iPad in noisy environments?
These six pairs come in different designs and connect to various iPads, but they all have one thing in common: They're highly rated because of their sound quality, practicality, and comfort.
1. The Best Budget Earbuds
For those whose iPads have a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, these are some of the best wired earbuds you can get for less than $20. These Sephia headphones have over 12,000 reviews (nearly 70% of which are perfect five stars) because, according to past buyers, the "sound quality is amazing" thanks to the 10-millimeter neodymium magnets, the "wires are nearly twice as [durable] as other brands" as well as tangle-resistant, and the buds "fit very comfortably" and are "ridiculously effective for noise cancellation." A few other features to love? They're lightweight, portable, sleek, and come with a three sizes of ear inserts so you can find your ideal fit. However, they don't have a microphone.
- Input connection: 3.5 millimeter
One reviewer wrote: "These headphones give you a really great sound for a reasonable price. I use them when I am watching something on my iPad. They are also comfortable to wear."
2. The Best Budget Over-Ear Headphones
Don't be fooled by the price tag, these PowerLocus Bluetooth headphones have earned themselves a 4.5-star overall rating and more than 19,000 reviews. They cushion your ears with super-comfortable foam padding, which also helps to physically block out noise distractions — but when it's time to get moving, they fold up and fit in the included travel case. They can be used wirelessly (with up to 15 hours on a single charge) or with a 3.5-millimeter wire (so you don't have to worry about battery life), and reviewers rave about how easily they pair with their Bluetooth-friendly devices. There's also a built-in mic. Last but not least, they come in nearly a dozen different color combinations.
- Input connection: 3.5 millimeter and Bluetooth
One reviewer wrote: "I bought these Bluetooth headphones to use with my Ipad and iPhone when I fly so I can listen to music or audiobooks. But they are so nice I want to use them at home all the time. I am tired of earbuds that don't fit or fall out, and these really take my listening up a notch. The carrying case is a great asset for travel."
3. The Best Lightning Earbuds
If your iPad doesn't have a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack, this one's for you: These PALOVUE Lightning headphones are MFi certified, meaning they're designed for compatibility with Apple products. Rather than a 3.5-millimeter headphone plug, however, they use a Lightning input to plug directly into an iPad's Lightning charging port. They also have a built-in mic, inline controls, high-quality sound drivers, and soft in-ear pads (in three sizes) for comfortable wear. Choose between black or white.
- Input connection: Lightning
One reviewer wrote: "These work perfectly with my iPad. The sound quality is great. There are options included for adjusting these to obtain the best fit for your ears."
4. The Best Wireless Earbuds For iPads
Looking to stay in the Apple family? AirPods Pro ensure the utmost in compatibility for your Apple devices — and even though they're super portable, these tiny buds are fully wireless, sweat-proof, and travel easily in their charging case which gives you a total of 24 hours of battery life. Still, they offer active noise cancellation when you want to block out noise as well as a transparency mode for when you need to stay tuned into your environment. The Adaptive EQ technology adjusts to your ear shape to give you the best possible sound and a comfortable fit. And with the built-in mic, you can even use hands-free commands simply by saying "Hey, Siri."
- Input connection: Bluetooth
One reviewer wrote: "Sound quality is great, cancels noise out fairly well. I use them a lot in noisy environments [...] Totally worth the money. So seamless with my iPhone and iPad."
5. The Best Over-Ear Headphones
When it comes to over-ear headphones that are worth the investment, COWIN's E7s are really hard to ignore — especially considering their 60,000-plus ratings. Active noise-canceling technology neutralizes external soundwaves to give you clear, distraction-free sound. A built-in mic lets you conduct hands-free calls. Swiveling earcups offer all-day comfort, and the long-lasting battery provides up to 30 hours of listening time. Since they come in seven colors, you can customize your style or match your iPad case.
- Input connection: Bluetooth
One reviewer wrote: "They connect no problem with my android phone, my ipad, my laptop, and my desktop. Watching a movie with them is like being in the theater. The sound is perfect, they are robust. I will be sticking with Cowin whether it comes time to replace these or just get second pair."
6. The Best Wireless Earphones For Movement
Because they're powered by the Apple H1 chip, these Powerbeats are designed to be effortlessly compatible with your iPad — as well as other Apple devices. One reviewer notes they got "faster and more stable Bluetooth connections with connections with my MacBook Air M1, my iPad Pro 11", and iPhone 11 Pro." And when it comes to a workout or just a vigorous walk, even though they're sleek and lightweight, they're designed to stay put in your ears because of the secure-fit hooks and ergonomic bud shapes. They're also sweat-resistant and last up to 15 hours on a single charge, so if you use your iPad while working out, these are your best option. There's also a built-in mic.
- Input connection: Bluetooth
One reviewer wrote: "They fit nicely over my ears and the earbuds themselves are very comfortable. I hardly even notice I’m wearing them, even after an hour of working out. So far, the battery life is great, not one issue. Totally happy with this purchase."
Also Great: A Headphone Adapter For Newer iPad Models
This adapter made by Apple lets you use any standard 3.5-millimeter pair of headphones with your newer-model iPads with a USB-C charging port. It's flexible, reinforced in the right sports, and has more than 11,000 reviews giving it a solid 4.4-star overall rating so far.
- Input connection: USB-C
One reviewer wrote: "Works perfectly with the 2020 iPad Pro. Works right out of the box and allows you to use any of your headphones with Apple devices that don’t have a headphone jack."