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Best aptX Bluetooth headphones
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Read full review...
Read full review...
Read full review...
Read full review...
Audiophiles lament wireless headsets for their poor sound quality, and while there is some validity to that complaint, aptX Bluetooth headphones stand as a great middle-ground for consumers who want untethered listening without compromising audio quality. We’ve scoured the shelves for the best aptX headsets around, and feel there’s something for everyone here.
Editor’s note: this list of the best aptX Bluetooth headphones was updated on November 30, 2021, to add the Shure AONIC Free to the Best list, include frequency response charts in each gallery, and to include the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2, Jabra Elite 3, Monoprice BT-600ANC, and Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless to Notable mentions.
For the best aptX Bluetooth headphones, get the Shure AONIC 50
For a deluxe aptX experience choose the AONIC 50. Shure makes sure you get everything with its flagship Bluetooth headset. On tap, you get not just aptX, but its relatives aptX HD and aptx Low Latency, so you can watch videos without losing sync. Seamless integration with your devices via Bluetooth multipoint, makes switching easy. And while the sturdy build does not fold up like some of the competition, it feels robust and sure to last. You can swap out the ear cups on this glasses-friendly headset, prolonging your investment’s lifespan.
In its bag of tricks, the AONIC 50 sports good active noise cancelling (ANC). At this point it does not rank as the very best available ANC, however, it’s not terribly far behind the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose QuietComfort 45. Neither of those headsets has aptX, by the way. At 100Hz and higher, the AONIC 50 attenuates at least 20dB and upwards of 40dB in the highs. That’s more than enough for most of us taking flights and working from home to increase relaxation, or alternately, productivity.
You’ll want to use the ShurePlus PLAY app to unlock the potential of the AONIC 50. Besides updates, you can control Environment mode (audio passthrough) and tweak your EQ. The PLAY app possesses a great equalizer with basic presets, or alternately, a customizable equalizer. If you don’t want to mess with it, however, the frequency response of the AONIC 50 is already pretty neutral sounding with somewhat under-emphasized highs coming out of those large 50mm dynamic drivers. As evidence that Shure continues to support (a key feature these days with ever-evolving audio technology), it improved the microphone via an update, so it’s worth it just for updates alone.
The AONIC 50 supports nearly every method of listening you can think of: wired, USB-C, and the majority of codecs currently available.
The Shure AONIC 50 yields 19 hours and 46 minutes as per our standardized testing. That’s a figure that’ll get you through quite a lot of Netflix binging using that aptX Low Latency codec. Not only does the AONIC 50 charge via USB-C, you can also listen hardwired with it. Yes, that makes the AONIC 50 one of the best USB-C headphones available. Quick charge for 15 minutes to gain an impressive four hours of audio. In looking for cons, be aware that it does not fold down and can run a bit pricey for the budget-conscious buyer.
What you should know about aptX Bluetooth headphones
Wired audio is still quality king
Even though aptX Bluetooth headphones facilitate some of the best, most stable wireless streaming around, the fact remains that wired audio is still king especially for anyone who listens to lossless audio files like FLAC or subscribes to the likes of Amazon Music HD, Deezer, and Qobuz. Although aptX is excellent for Android devices, it isn’t supported by iOS devices; iPhone users need to pick an AAC-supported headset for high-quality streaming.
To optimize audio quality, get a proper fit
Even if you’re using aptX Bluetooth headphones, the fundamentals are still necessary: a proper fit and cogent seal are imperative for optimal audio reproduction.
If external noise permeates your headphones’ seal, then auditory masking will degrade perceived sound quality. This phenomenon occurs because our brains have limited bandwidth for processing stimuli, audio included, and loud sounds get prioritized over relatively quieter ones. You’ve likely noticed this when walking and a train passes: the train’s roar makes it hard to hear your music, but the volume on your media player did not happen to jump down at that moment, rather your brain focused on processing the loud, threatening sound of the train.
When you use over-ear headphones, your ears are well within the perimeter of the ear cups. For those who wear glasses, you may want to swap those spectacles out for contacts or continue your search for a headset with velour earpads, like the Philips Fidelio X2 which happen to be the open-back cans that I use.
We included one pair of true wireless in-ears on this list, and if you happen to roll with those or any other set of earbuds, take the time to find the best-fitting ear tips. Most people are able to do this with some of the included sleeves. If you require a more custom fit, try third-party ear tips.
Avoid noise-induced hearing loss
Many adults experience what the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) refers to as a normal degree of hearing loss. This comes with age and exposure to loud sounds over time, however more specific varieties of hearing loss like sensorineural and conductive hearing loss are preventable. With regards to headsets, the easiest way to prevent auditory damage is by keeping volume levels below a dangerous output.
We test our headsets at 75dB(SPL), which between the loudness of a dishwasher and city traffic, and most people won’t listen to volumes that loud for prolonged periods of time. Circling back to finding a proper fit, doing so also helps prevent noise-induced hearing loss because you’re less likely to increase volume to drown out surrounding noises.
The best noise cancelling option is the Sony WH-1000XM3
We write about Sony’s flagship headphones a lot, and they’ve merited the press: these noise cancelling headphones are among the best around and polyamorously marry form, function, comfort, and sound quality into one package. The headset is expensive but well worth it for anyone who regularly commutes or takes to the air.
The Sony WH-1000XM3 supports the greatest number of high-quality Bluetooth codecs of all other listed aptX Bluetooth headphones. However, codec support aside, the default sound quality is excellent especially for those in search of a viable Beats alternative. With bass notes reproduced louder than any midrange frequencies, you get a more engaging oomph in songs. For those who want a more neutral sound signature, granular adjustments can be made in the Sony Headphones Connect app.
Microphone quality is about as good as it gets with the Sony WH-1000XM3, making it a great option for listeners whose days are filled with conference calls and video chats. The mics do a great job of clearly transmitting the speaker’s voice while simultaneously reducing background noise, too.
Sony includes other useful features such as passthrough audio, which amplifies external noise through the headset, allowing you to engage in a quick conversation with a flight attendant or hear potential hazards when crossing the street. It also includes a nifty carrying case and portable design: the ear cups rotate and fold, so they take up less space during travel.
What about the Sony WH-1000XM4?
The Sony WH-1000XM4 doesn’t actually support aptX, unlike its predecessor! It only supports SBC, AAC, and LDAC, but it finally has Bluetooth multipoint. The XM4 also sports more effective noise cancellation as well as features such as speak-to-chat.
Related: Apple AirPods Max vs Sony WH-1000XM4
The V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex can endure anything
Whether you’re a DJ or someone who’s just particularly rough with their equipment, V-Moda’s products are made for you. The Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex supports both aptX and AAC, which reduces latency across devices.
These headphones are MIL-STD 810G certified, which means they’ve survived a series of 29 US military tests against things like shock, heat, gunfire, and more. The headband can be bent and twisted in a multitude of directions without compromising structural integrity. Proprietary CliqFold hinges emit a satisfying click when engaged, and also decrease the headphones’ footprint for storage.
One of the best things about V-Moda and its products is the Immortal Life Program. The company stands by its products and gives listeners a V-Moda stands by its product by providing listeners with a one-year warranty and the opportunity to trade in their current headset for a 20% discount on a newer V-Moda headset model. This is the most rugged pair of aptX Bluetooth headphones you can get.
Save space with the Shure AONIC Free
So you want to free up room in your bag without compromising audio quality? Good news because Shure has you covered with the AONIC Free. With aptX onboard alongside a stable Bluetooth 5.0 connection, you don’t need to concede anything.
The buds do not have an IPX4 rating and a two-year warranty protects against sweat damage. Battery life in our testing is about 5 hours, 31 minutes with an extra two charges in the case. Compared to over-ear headsets, there just isn’t as much space to fit a big battery in earbuds. Fortunately, most people average about two hours of listening per day anyhow. Meanwhile, the mic performs competently enough for most people’s needs.
Really, the standout feature of the AONIC Free has to do with its exceptional isolation performance. With three sets of Comply foam ear tips, you can get ANC-grade performance from just foam and a good fit. It helps that the default frequency response sounds quite nice, but the ShurePlus PLAY app offers comprehensive EQ if it’s not to your taste.
The Sennheiser PXC 550-II sounds great and has ANC for a fair price
Don’t let the sub-$200 price of the Sennheiser PXC 550-II fool you—this pair of noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones sounds amazing. Sennheiser continues putting pristine audio quality above gimmicks with the PXC 550-II.
The right headphone houses all the onboard touch controls, and though there are a lot of gestures to remember, you can access your smart assistant of choice. If you download the Sennheiser Smart Control app, you can select from four EQ presets and toggle auto-pause and auto-resume functionality.
Related: The best Sennheiser headphones
Sennheiser’s neutral-leaning audio reproduction bodes well for all genres of music. Listeners with an eclectic music library will enjoy their tunes as intended. These headphones have great noise cancelling, a solid battery life, and decent microphone quality. It charges via microUSB and doesn’t support fast charging, but these are the only major downsides.
How we chose our favorite aptX Bluetooth headphones
We make sure to test every audio product that comes out way, subjecting each set of headphones to a battery of objective tests for battery life, isolation, microphone quality, and frequency response. At SoundGuys we lay the facts out in order to make your buying decision easier, and if we make a mistake, we own up to it. We don’t just rely on data to inform our recommendations, though; we also take audio products into the real world to see how they perform on a day-to-day basis. This means we exercise with workout earbuds and commute with noise cancelling headphones, to give readers a holistic illustration of how a given product performs.
The best aptX Bluetooth headphones: notable mentions
- Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2: This wallet-friendly choice supplies an IPX5 rating, aptX, and app support for under $80.
- Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC: Anyone who takes plenty of calls should consider this headset for its great microphone quality. It supports aptX LL, aptX, and AAC for high-quality low-latency streaming from Android devices. The ear cups are comfortable and the overall weight is hardly noticeable.
- Edifier TWS1: For only $39, aptX inclusion is quite a luxury feature on these true wireless earbuds. It also has an IPX5 rating and, while the sound quality isn’t perfect, it’s pretty darn good for coming in such a cheap vessel.
- Edifier W860NB: At $120 you get ANC, touch controls, a relatively neutral frequency response, and 40mm drivers. We tested the W860NB at 31.6 hours of playtime.
- Grado GW100 v2: This set of no-frills open-back headphones has excellent audio quality, that performs similarly to the first-gen model. If you want to save some cash, you may want to opt for the wired version.
- Jabra Elite 3: For a straightforward pair of buds with a good fit and sound, this Elite 3 is a hit. It supports aptX and has an IP55 rating to protect against dust and water.
- Master & Dynamic MW65: This stylish pair of noise cancelling cans supports aptX HD and boasts a premium, lightweight build. The replaceable earpads are a great touch, ensuring the headset will last years to come.
- Monoprice BT-600ANC: For some of the very best ANC performance at any price point this is the pair to nab. That it sells for under $100 is incredible. The only real knock against it is the lack of EQ for a kind of wonky frequency response.
- Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: Cheaper than the MOMENTUM series, and arguably with better ANC, there’s good reason to consider this good sounding set of earbuds. Consider saving $50 and buy the non-noise cancelling version.
- Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2: These are premium true wireless earbuds from Sennheiser that have the company’s signature high-quality audio. They also have an IPX4 rating, voice assistant support, and, perhaps most importantly, decent active noise cancelling. If you’re willing to spend a pretty penny, these may be your next pair of earbuds.
- Sennheiser MOMENTUM Wireless 3: Connection quality is excellent in part due to the Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and an array of high-quality Bluetooth codec support. If you want a snazzy pair of noise cancelling headphones and don’t mind the high cost, the Momentum Wireless 3 could be your next travel buddy.
- Sony WH-CH700N: This noise cancelling headset supports aptX, aptX HD, AAC, and SBC and is way cheaper than Sony’s flagship. Bluetooth multipoint functionality is limited, whereby one source may be used as a handset only and the other as a media player. But if you can find the WH-CH700N, you’ll be happy with it.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, aptX headphones are a great option for video chats and conference calls because, when used with an aptX-compatible device, they reduce audio-visual lag which is a necessity when in video chats or conference calls. Each of our picks listed above has above-average microphone quality, too, which will benefit you when using apps like Zoom, Skype, or Twitch.