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Best aptX Adaptive headphones and earbuds

Listen freely without noticeable compromises to audio quality.
By

Published onJuly 3, 2024

The Best
Shure AONIC 50 (2nd gen)
MSRP: $349.00
8.2
Positives
Battery life
Excellent App
Price
Build quality
Negatives
Sound needs tuning
Weight
Doesn't fold
Best bass
Bose QuietComfort Ultra
MSRP: $429.00
8.5
Positives
Great ANC
Good passthrough mode
Snapdragon Sound
aptX Lossless
Negatives
Price
No IP rating
Immersive audio
Some channel matching issues
Best features
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4
MSRP: $299.95
8.5
Positives
IP54
Auracast and LE Audio support
Sound quality
ANC performance
aptX Lossless
Wireless charging
Negatives
Mic performance is sub-par
Price
Best value
Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless
MSRP: $179.95
8.3
Positives
Price
Weight
Comfort
aptX, aptX HD support
USB-C audio
Negatives
Will not get LE Audio
No TRS jack
Bang for your buck
EarFun Free Pro 3
MSRP: $79.99
7.9
Positives
Sound quality
Price
Ear tip options
Small case
App
Negatives
Transparency mode
Weak ANC
Battery life

Audiophiles have long been skeptical of wireless headphones due to concerns about audio quality. However, aptX Bluetooth headphones offer a compelling middle ground for consumers who want untethered listening without significant compromises in sound quality. As Bluetooth technology has evolved, so too have the aptX codecs, providing increasingly better audio experiences for wireless listeners.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on July 3, 2024, to add all new top picks and notable mentions. We also answered additional FAQs.

Shure AONIC 50 (Gen 2): Best overall aptX headphones

The Shure AONIC 50 (Gen 2) stands out with its exceptional versatility and robust build quality. These over-ear headphones offer a comfortable fit with large, deep ear cups ideal for extended listening sessions. While the default sound signature may need adjustment, the Shure PLAY app provides a powerful parametric EQ for precise audio customization.

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Noise cancelation performance is solid, particularly effective against low-frequency sounds, making these headphones suitable for commutes or air travel. The microphone array delivers decent call quality, though it may struggle in windy conditions. At $349, the AONIC 50 (Gen 2) presents excellent value in the high-end Bluetooth headphone market.

Shure AONIC 50 (2nd gen)Shure AONIC 50 (2nd gen)
SG recommended
Shure AONIC 50 (2nd gen)
Battery life • Excellent App • Price
MSRP: $349.00
The Shure AONIC 50 (Gen 2) can connect to anything are decent do-anything headphones. The sound needs a little tweaking, but since the app allows you to add parametric EQ filters, it's a gem.

  • Battery life: 41 hours, 29 minutes (with ANC)
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth (aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, aptX Voice, SBC, AAC, LDAC), 3.5mm analog, USB-C audio
  • Protected against: Not specified
  • Weight: 334g

Bose QuietComfort Ultra: Best for bass and comfort

Bose’s QuietComfort Ultra line offers exceptional comfort and powerful bass response in both headphone and earbud form factors. These devices stand out with their cutting-edge features and impressive noise cancelation.

QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones have soft padding that is very glasses-friendly.
Austin Kwok / SoundGuys
The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones have soft padding that is very glasses-friendly.

The QuietComfort Ultra Headphones provide a comfortable fit with soft padding and wide ear cups, ideal for extended listening sessions. They offer excellent active noise cancelation, reducing low-frequency sounds by about 87%. The sound signature leans towards a bass-heavy profile, which can be adjusted using the Bose Music app’s EQ settings.

QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds

The capacitive touchpads of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are the main control interface.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The capacitive touchpads of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds allow you to control your earphones without worrying about a compromised seal.

The QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds feature a unique ovoid-shaped nozzle that provides a secure and comfortable fit. They offer top-tier active noise cancelation, reducing perceived loudness by up to 90% for frequencies under 400Hz. The earbuds also have a bass-forward sound profile that may appeal to bass enthusiasts.

Both models support Snapdragon Sound with aptX Lossless, offering high-quality wireless audio for compatible devices. They also feature Bose’s Immersive Audio mode, though its effectiveness may vary depending on personal preference.

See price at Amazon
Bose QuietComfort Headphones
42%off
Bose QuietComfort Headphones
Great battery life
Comfortable materials
Great ANC
Save $150.00
Prime Day Deal!
See price at Amazon
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds
23%off
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds
Excellent sound quality
Immersive audio
Customizable fit
Save $70.00
Prime Day Deal!

  • Battery life: 
    • Headphones: 27 hours, 37 minutes
    • Earbuds: 6 hours, 11 minutes
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3, SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive, aptX Lossless (Snapdragon Sound)
  • Protected against:
    • Headphones: Not specified
    • Earbuds: IPX4
  • Weight:
    • Headphones: 253g
    • Earbuds: 7.1g per earbud

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra line excels in comfort and noise cancelation, making them excellent choices for frequent travelers or those seeking immersive listening experiences in noisy environments.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4: Style and future-proof performance

Sennheiser’s MOMENTUM line offers a compelling blend of style, sound quality, and forward-looking features in both over-ear and true wireless formats.

MOMENTUM 4 Wireless headphones

A person uses the capacitive touch controls to control media playback.
Capacitive touch controls allow quick inputs like call controls and music playback options.

The MOMENTUM 4 Wireless headphones deliver exceptional sound quality with a relatively neutral frequency response. They offer solid ANC performance, though not class-leading. Key features include an impressive 56-hour battery life, comprehensive codec support, and a comfortable design. The Smart Control app provides useful customization options.

MOMENTUM True Wireless 4 earbuds

A photo of the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 4 on a wooden table, outside of their charging case.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 4 is definitely made for fashion-forward folks.

The MOMENTUM True Wireless 4 earbuds offer excellent sound quality with high scores for immersiveness. They feature effective ANC and a stylish design with metallic accents. These earbuds support cutting-edge technologies like aptX Lossless, Auracast, and LE Audio, making them highly future-proof.

See price at Amazon
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
17%off
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
App for EQ changes
Simple, elegant design
USB-C charging
Save $60.72
Sennheiser Momentum 4
Save $49.99
Sennheiser Momentum 4
See price at Amazon
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4
10%off
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4
IP54
Auracast and LE Audio support
Sound quality

  • Battery life:
    • Headphones: 56 hours, 21 minutes (with ANC)
    • Earbuds: 7 hours, 45 minutes
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 (headphones) / 5.4 (earbuds), SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX Adaptive, aptX Lossless (earbuds only)
  • Protected against:
    • Headphones: Not specified
    • Earbuds: IP54
  • Weight:
    • Headphones: Not specified in the review
    • Earbuds: 6.2g per earbud

Both models excel in sound quality and offer a range of premium features. While they come with a higher price tag, they provide excellent value for audio enthusiasts looking for stylish, high-performance audio devices with longevity.

Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless: Best budget ANC headphones

The Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless held above wood.
The Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless is one of the best values in the ANC headphone world.

The Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless offers impressive value for those seeking quality ANC headphones at a more accessible price point. These headphones strike a balance between performance and affordability.

Key features include excellent sound quality, comfortable design, and impressive battery life. The ACCENTUM Wireless supports high-quality codecs like aptX and aptX HD, as well as USB-C audio for lossless listening. While the ANC performance is not class-leading, it still effectively reduces noise in most environments.

The lightweight design and adequate padding make these headphones suitable for extended listening sessions. The Sennheiser Smart Control app offers useful customization options, including a 5-band equalizer for fine-tuning the audio to your preferences.

Sennheiser ACCENTUM WirelessSennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless
SG recommended
Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless
Comfortable • Impressive battery life • Effective ANC
MSRP: $179.95
An affordable set of ANC headphones with excellent sound quality.
The Sennheiser Accentum Wireless headphones are a great choice for immersive, comfortable, and extended listening experiences. With up to 50 hours of battery life, they offer high-definition sound and effective ANC. These headphones deliver comfort and audio quality, making them a fantastic choice for both at-home enjoyment and on-the-go use.

  • Battery life: 46 hours, 40 minutes
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth (SBC, mSBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD), USB-C audio
  • Protected against: Not specified (no ingress protection rating)
  • Weight: 222g

EarFun Free Pro 3: Best budget true wireless earbuds

The EarFun Free Pro 3 sitting atop a wooden table.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The inexpensive yet dependable EarFun Free Pro 3 are a good buy for most.

The EarFun Free Pro 3 offers impressive value for budget-conscious consumers seeking feature-rich true wireless earbuds. These earbuds pack a surprising punch for their sub-$80 price point.

Key features include good sound quality with high immersiveness, decent active noise cancelation, and a robust app with customization options. The earbuds support advanced codecs like aptX Adaptive and Snapdragon Sound, future-proofing them for newer devices. They also offer IPX5 water resistance, making them suitable for workouts.

The compact design and multiple ear tip options (including memory foam) ensure a comfortable fit for most users. While the ANC performance and battery life aren’t top-tier, they’re respectable for the price range.

EarFun Free Pro 3EarFun Free Pro 3
SG recommended
EarFun Free Pro 3
Hi-Fi sound • Strong ANC • Clear calls
MSRP: $79.99
Save $20.00
Prime Day Deal!

  • Battery life: 4 hours, 58 minutes
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3, SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive, Snapdragon Sound, Multipoint
  • Protected against: IPX5 water resistance
  • Weight: 5.3g per earbud

The Bowers & Wilkins PX8 is expensive but premium

A photo of the Bowers & Wilkins Px8 sitting atop a wooden counter.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The Bowers & Wilkins Px8 is a looker.

The Bowers & Wilkins PX8 offers a luxurious listening experience for those willing to invest in high-end audio. These headphones combine premium build quality, excellent sound, and effective noise cancelation in a stylish package.

Key features include exceptional build quality with metal, leather, and cloth accents, a comfortable fit for extended listening sessions, and versatile connectivity options, including USB-C audio with an onboard DAC. The PX8 delivers impressive sound quality with high immersiveness and low distortion, though the bass-heavy tuning may not suit all listeners.

The ANC performance is among the best on the market, effectively reducing ambient noise across a wide range of frequencies. Battery life is also excellent, lasting over 40 hours on a single charge.

Bowers & Wilkins Px8Bowers & Wilkins Px8
Bowers & Wilkins Px8
Exceptional sound • Premium materials • Comfortable fit
MSRP: $699.00

  • Battery life: 40 hours, 39 minutes
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 (aptX Adaptive, AAC, SBC), USB-C audio, USB to 3.5mm TRS
  • Protected against: Not specified (no ingress protection rating)
  • Weight: 320g

Master & Dynamic MW09: Best premium true wireless earbuds

Master & Dynamic MW09 earbuds in their charging case.
Austin Kwok / SoundGuys
The Master & Dynamic MW09 have Bluetooth 5.4 with aptX Lossless.

The Master & Dynamic MW09 offers a luxurious listening experience with exceptional build quality and cutting-edge features. These earbuds stand out for their premium materials, impressive battery life, and comprehensive feature set.

Key features include a stylish design with aluminum or Kevlar options, best-in-class battery life, effective noise cancelation, and support for the latest Bluetooth technologies. The MW09 also provides excellent passive isolation and a range of ear tip options for optimal fit.

While the default sound signature is bass-heavy, the comprehensive M&D Connect app allows for easy sound customization through EQ presets or a custom 5-band equalizer.

Master & Dynamic MW09Master & Dynamic MW09
SoundGuys Editor's Choice
Master & Dynamic MW09
High-quality design and build • Bluetooth 5.4 • ANC
MSRP: $349.00
Premium wireless earbuds available in a luxurious aluminum or kevlar design.

  • Battery life: 15 hours, 54 minutes (earbuds), additional 32 hours (case)
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.4, AAC, aptX Adaptive, aptX Lossless, LC3, SBC
  • Protected against: IP54 (earbuds), IPX4 (case)
  • Weight: 8.1g per earbud, 51g-63g (case, depending on material)

The best aptX headphones and earbuds: Notable mentions

The Jabra Elite 4 sits on a wood surface with the case open showcasing the buds.
Jasper Lastoria / SoundGuys
With its interesting approach to isolation and a neat price, the Jabra Elite 4 is a good set of earbuds, even if ANC could use work.
  • Jabra Elite 4 ($79 at Amazon): The Jabra Elite 4 is a good midrange option with solid isolation and aptX codec for Android. It sounds consumer friendly from the box and the app has some EQ to adjust to taste. Some included luxuries include multipoint, sidetone, and Spotify Tap.
  • Master & Dynamic MW65: This stylish pair of noise canceling 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 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 canceling headphones and don’t mind the high cost, the Momentum Wireless 3 could be your next travel buddy.
  • Shure AONIC 50 ($298 at Amazon): For a plethora of high-quality codecs, good sound, ANC, and a luxury Bluetooth experience, try the AONIC 50.
  • Sony WH-1000XM3 ($349.99 at Best Buy): As the last Sony flagship headset to support aptX connectivity, the Sony WH-1000XM3 remains a great all-around noise canceling headset.
  • Sony WH-CH700N: This noise canceling 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.
  • 1MORE ColorBuds 2: This set of IPX5-rated buds comes with aptX and a few quirks, but if you don’t expect the best ANC, it lasts nearly 6 hours per charge.
  • Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2: This wallet-friendly choice supplies an IPX5 rating, aptX, and app support for under $80.
  • Master & Dynamic MW08: Replete with ceramic and metal accents this set of true wireless earbuds is a good choice for the bassheads out there who want a touch of noise canceling, aptX connectivity, and an upgraded look. However, the price is sort of high for the performance.
  • 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 canceling version.
  • Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3: For a premium, you can basically have everything, from pretty good ANC performance to EQ, good sound, aptX, and Bluetooth 5.2.
  • Shure AONIC Free ($199 at Amazon): These buds sound great, offer a stable connection, and have amazing isolation thanks to the Comply ear tips.

[/faq]

What you should know about aptX headphones and earbuds

A phone displays Bluetooth codecs with the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 and Google Pixel Buds Pro.
Lil Katz / SoundGuys
You can force Bluetooth codecs through the Android Developer Settings.

First things first, wired audio still trumps any form of Bluetooth playback. 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.

What is aptX?

aptX is a family of Bluetooth audio codecs developed by Qualcomm. It includes aptX, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, and aptX Adaptive. These codecs aim to provide better audio quality over Bluetooth connections compared to the standard SBC (Sub-Band Codec) that all Bluetooth devices support.

  • aptX: The original aptX codec offers CD-like audio quality with a bitrate of 352kbps. aptX HD: This version supports 24-bit audio with a higher bitrate of 576kbps, aiming to deliver audio that’s “indistinguishable from High Res audio.”
  • aptX Low Latency: Designed to reduce audio-visual lag, making it ideal for gaming and video watching.
  • aptX Adaptive: The latest iteration combines the benefits of its predecessors with a variable bitrate (279kbps to 420kbps) that adjusts based on the audio content and RF environment.

Additionally, 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.

Benefits of aptX

  • Improved audio quality: aptX codecs generally offer better sound quality than standard SBC, especially at higher bitrates.
  • Lower latency: Particularly with aptX Low Latency and Adaptive, these codecs can significantly reduce audio lag.
  • Efficient compression: aptX codecs use more efficient compression algorithms, potentially saving battery life while maintaining audio quality.

Limitations of aptX

  • Device compatibility: For it to work, both the source device (e.g., smartphone) and the headphones need to support the same aptX codec.
  • Not supported by iOS: Apple devices do not support aptX, opting instead for AAC.
  • Still not lossless: While aptX offers improved quality, it’s still a lossy compression method and doesn’t match wired audio quality.

How to choose aptX headphones

  • Codec support: Look for headphones that support the latest aptX codecs, particularly aptX Adaptive, if possible.
  • Sound quality: Even with aptX, overall driver quality and tuning are crucial for good sound.
  • Comfort and fit: Ensure the headphones fit well to maximize audio quality and noise isolation.
  • Battery life: Consider how long the headphones last on a single charge, especially for over-ear models.
  • Additional features: Look for useful extras like active noise cancelation, multi-device pairing, or customizable EQ.

How we choose our favorite aptX Bluetooth headphones

We make sure to test every audio product that comes our 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 canceling headphones to give readers a holistic illustration of how a given product performs.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

A man faces left wearing the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x.
We test headphones in and out of the lab to give you a complete picture of how something performs.

We strive to educate our readers on the perpetually evolving world of consumer audio. When approaching any audio product, we acknowledge that assessing it requires a combination of objective testing and subjective reflection: not everyone wants a studio sound, and that’s just fine. At the end of the day, we want you to be happy with your purchase. Although SoundGuys does use referral links, none of our writers may benefit from awarding one product over another.

Frequently asked questions about the best aptX Bluetooth headphones

The highest quality aptX codec is aptX Lossless, which purportedly provides CD-quality audio over Bluetooth.

Yes, aptX can make a difference. It offers better audio quality than the standard SBC codec, with lower latency and more efficient compression. However, the difference may be subtle for casual listeners.

Neither is definitively “better.” AAC performs well on Apple devices, while aptX is generally more consistent on Android devices. The choice depends on your device and personal preference.

Apple devices use AAC. They do not support aptX.

For most listeners, the difference is subtle. aptX HD offers a lower noise floor (about 12dB lower) than regular aptX, which can result in better high-frequency detail. However, the ability to discern this difference depends on the listener’s hearing acuity and the quality of the audio equipment being used.

The discontinued JBL Synchros S400BT by Harman supports aptX and can be found refurbished from JBL’s website. But we recommend looking into some currently available alternatives from other brands.

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.

The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3Sennheiser Momentum FreeSennheiser PXC 550-IIAvantree Audition Pro WirelessBang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 (gen. 3), Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H4, and more are all aptX low latency headphones. A full list of aptX low-latency headphones is available here. You should also check out aptX Adaptive, which is the newer codec with the same idea.

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