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 July 19, 2021, to add the Edifier W860NB to Notable mentions, and update notes around pricing to reflect current costs.
The best aptX Bluetooth headphones are the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT
Any audio veteran is bound to sing the praises of the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, and the Bluetooth version runs with the same formula for success: durable design, excellent sound quality, and a comfortable fit with new on-board, tactile controls for wireless listening.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBTFull Review
This Bluetooth 5.0 headset supports both AAC and aptX for high-quality wireless streaming to iPhone and Android devices, meaning you shouldn’t notice compression in your music. The 45mm dynamic drivers amplify bass notes, making them slightly louder than even the most emphasized midrange notes. This follows what most consumer-oriented headsets reproduce as our brains are inclined to enjoy exaggerated low-frequency sounds. There’s a purposeful dip in loudness around the 4kHz mark in order to combat the ear’s natural resonances, thereby minimizing distortion. You get to enjoy a greater perceived clarity thanks to the 800Hz-3kHz bump, again a moniker of consumer-friendly audio.
Related: Best Audio-Technica headphones
Build quality is nearly identical to the original wired ATH-M50x, which may be a turnoff to those who were looking for a more modern aesthetic. The rotating ear cups and folding hinges make this a portable headset despite its bulky build. Its insanely long battery life also makes the ATH-M50xBT a great travel companion: this headset lasts for 31.2 hours on a single charge, which is more than most top-tier aptX Bluetooth headphones offer. Unfortunately, it does take a long seven hours to complete a full charge cycle, but this can easily be done overnight.
The ATH-M50xBT makes a famed headset more portable and versatile than before.
Microphone quality is fine for casual hands-free calls as it appears Audio-Technica is using some type of voice enhancer processing on top of the microphone frequency response. Be it as it may, it’s unlikely that anyone will complain that you sound “distant” or “muffled” when using the ATH-M50xBT. Ultimately, every headset has its drawbacks and minor latency is present with these headphones, depending on what codec is being used to stream media, but it’s an easy drawback to reconcile.
The biggest drawback to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT in 2021 is its limited availability.
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.
Sony WH-1000XM3Full Review
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.
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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! They only support SBC, AAC, and LDAC, but they finally have Bluetooth multipoint. The XM4 also sport more effective noise cancellation as well as features such as speak-to-chat.
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.
V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless CodexFull Review
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. These are the most rugged aptX Bluetooth headphones you can get.
Save cash and space with the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2
We understand not everyone has room for on- or over-ear headphones in their bag, which is why we’re recommending the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2. These are Anker Soundcore’s follow-up to the successful Liberty Air, and bring with them improvements to battery life, connection stability, better build quality, and more.
Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2Full Review
The earbuds last just over 7 hours on a single charge, and the USB-C case provides an additional three charge cycles (totaling 28 hours of portable playtime). Plopping the earbuds in the case for just 10 minutes supplies you with two hours of playtime. Additionally, the earbuds are IPX5-rated, making them a great workout buddy for gym rats of varying intensity.
Unlike many true wireless earbuds, this microphone array is actually pretty good. Just like the V-Moda headphones, the Bluetooth 5.0 Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 buds support aptX and AAC which makes them a superb choice for Android and iPhone fans. Ultimately, these may not be conventional headphones but they’re a great pair of buds for anyone with limited bag space and who wants to make few compromises.
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—these noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones sound amazing. Sennheiser continues putting pristine audio quality above gimmicks with the PXC 550-II.
Sennheiser PXC 550-IIFull Review
These over-ear headphones have onboard touch controls, and though there are a lot of gestures to remember, they can allow you access to 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: 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, long-lasting battery life, and decent microphone quality. They charge via MicroUSB and don’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.
Best aptX Bluetooth headphones: notable mentions
- 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. They also have an IPX5 rating and, while their 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: These no-frills open-back headphones have excellent audio quality, that perform similarly to the first-gen model. If you want to save some cash, you may want to opt for the wired version.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shure AONIC 50: This headset is for listeners who spend a lot of time traveling, be it by plane or by train; low-frequency attenuation is bar none, which is key for blocking out bassy sounds like engines and rumbles. The earpads are very comfortable, even for those with glasses, and it supports every Bluetooth codec you could want.
- Sony WH-CH700N: aptX, aptX HD, AAC, and SBC are all supported by this noise cancelling headset which is ~$150 cheaper than the flagship WH-100XM3. Bluetooth multipoint functionality is limited, whereby one source may be used as a handset only and the other as a media player.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
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.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Unfortunately, we haven't had a chance to review these headphones yet, but we'll see if we can in the near future! They don't actually support the aptX codec, though, only SBC and AAC.
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.