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Best Bluetooth headphones under $300
There are tons of Bluetooth headphones to choose from and it can be more stressful than choosing your first starter Pokemon. We’ve looked at some budget Bluetooth headphones, but today we will focus on the best Bluetooth headphones under $300. Each option is worth your consideration before you spend your hard-earned money.
Editor’s note: this article was updated on June 6, 2023, to update picks to include the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2, AirPods Pro, and to fix minor errors.
Most people should get the Bose QuietComfort 35 II
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is one of the best pairs of Bluetooth headphones you can get for under $300 — assuming you can find it new somewhere. The Bose QuietComfort 45 has been around for quite some time now, but it only seldom peeks under the $300 price point (making it ineligible for this list).
What makes this product stand out are its high-quality active noise canceling (ANC) and noise isolation. The latter will not only block out noise, but it will also make music sound better. You won’t get tired of wearing the QC 35 II all day long, as it remains one of the most comfortable headsets on the market. And when your day is done, it folds up and stores easily.
Avid users of Google Assistant will appreciate the Action Button, which accepts commands with no delay. Alternatively, you can program this button to toggle the ANC levels. The Bose Connect app (iOS and Android) will guide you through the setup of the headphones and these additional features.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II also provides a strong Bluetooth connection, something important if you care for call quality or move around a lot while using your headphones. What’s more, the microphone provides decent sound quality, too.
There isn’t much of a downside to the QC 35 II, though it only supports the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. Most people will still enjoy the sound and iOS users will benefit from the consistent streaming quality and low latency. If you’re looking for LDAC or aptX support, consider the Sony or Sennheiser headphones in this list, instead. The Sony also features USB-C charging, in case you want to avoid microUSB.
What should you know about the best Bluetooth headphones under $300
No matter your budget, when you’re buying a set of wireless headphones there are a few features to consider, one of the most obvious of which is battery life. If your headset doesn’t last more than a few hours, it’s not very useful as a wireless option. Most Bluetooth headphones last at least 15 hours on a single charge, so that shouldn’t be an issue, but be aware that battery life degrades over time. Other things to consider are wireless audio and quality and general frequency response.
Who should buy Bluetooth headphones?
While Bluetooth audio has improved greatly in the last few years, wired audio is still the best option for lossless playback. Even still, Bluetooth headsets have their place and are extremely convenient during a morning commute or at the gym.
Bluetooth headphones have their drawbacks: they need to be charged every now and then. If you forget to charge them, you might be in for an annoying commute. That said, many headphones have adopted quick-charging technology so that plugging them in to charge for just a few minutes before you go out the door can give you enough juice for the day.
Bluetooth codecs determine wireless audio quality
One thing that’s important for all Bluetooth headphones is Bluetooth codec support. Your smartphone needs a way to communicate with your headset, and Bluetooth is the solution. Audio transfer rates need to be high in order to preserve the most amount of data, which is taxing; Bluetooth wasn’t developed with enough bandwidth to transfer lossless audio, so the codecs are an efficient way of packing data to send from your phone to the headset.
This is just a method of compressing and decompressing a file. Ideally, a great amount of data can transfer quickly, which yields better audio quality and connection stability. A good visual analogy for this is when you’re watching YouTube videos: when you have great service from your provider, the video appears crystal clear in 1080p. However, when you’re in a dead zone with a terrible signal your video is downgraded to a low-quality setting (480p). You can still watch the video, but it’s blurry.
Every Bluetooth device supports SBC, and some high-end products support high-quality Bluetooth codecs that are capable of sending and receiving more data (AAC, aptX, and LDAC). As long as both your headphones and your source device are compatible, you’ll be able to use a higher quality codec.
Some companies have even gone to great lengths to develop their own Bluetooth streaming codecs. Samsung’s Scalable Codec is the company’s proprietary technology that varies its data transfer rate in order to balance sound quality and connection performance. Unfortunately, the codec is only supported by Samsung Galaxy devices and is available in the company’s own line of audio products—including the Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus and Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro.
What is frequency response?
One of the most popular specifications that marketers and reviews reference is a headset’s frequency response. This refers to how accurately that pair of headphones can reproduce a signal. This doesn’t always tell you exactly how something sounds, it just gives you a rough idea of what frequencies the headphones tend to make louder than others. If you wanted the headphones to playback music exactly as it is in the original source file, then you’d want a pair of headphones with a neutral-leaning frequency response (one that closely follows the pink line on our studio headphones curve).
For earbuds, the conversation begins and ends with AirPods Pro (2nd Gen.)
As tempting as it is to list a bunch of other models in this slot, it’s very difficult to deny that the reason people like the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen.) isn’t because they’re the “best” but because they fit the needs and lifestyles of more people. The buds aren’t really the best at any one thing outside of software features, but the whole package is greater than the sum of its parts.
For iOS users, the AirPods Pro are arguably the best audio product you can get for an iPhone simply by virtue of the automatic equalization, software features, and the removal of common pain points for Bluetooth headphones. Conventional wisdom has more or less decided this to be the case anyways, but if you are going to get AirPods, please get the Pro version so you don’t get too frustrated with fit and feature issues. Apple seems to like giving all the cool features to the AirPods Pro over the original AirPods, so it’s entirely possible that picking up these particular earphones will get you features as time goes on.
Drown out the world with the Sennheiser PXC 550-II
With the PXC 550-II, Sennheiser proves that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a great pair of active noise canceling headphones. This headset builds off the success of its predecessor with improved isolation, sound quality, active noise canceling, and expanded codec support.
The PXC 550-II features some of the best noise canceling performance for headphones under $200. While it may not rival more expensive options like the Sony WH-1000XM4, the ANC on the PXC 550-II is impressive and it significantly attenuates low-frequency noises like jet engine rumbles.
The sound quality on the PXC 550-II is also quite good: frequencies are accurately reproduced until the 1.5kHz mark. This means that the PXC 550-II reproduces the most important sounds of your music accurately. The PXC 550-II also supports a slew of Bluetooth codecs, including SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Low Latency. This extensive codec support, coupled with the neutral-leaning sound signature, delivers a listening experience that will suit all listeners—from general consumers to audiophiles.
Exercise with the Jabra Elite 85h
The Jabra Elite 85h has a water-repellent nano-coating that protects it from sweat droplets and moisture buildup. This headset checks all the boxes: it has a water-resistant coating, multipoint connection for switching between devices, quick charging, and even has decent active noise canceling. Not to mention the Elite 85h has a sleek design and folds at the hinges to help save space in your bag.
Plus, you get 35 hours of constant playback with ANC enabled, which is super impressive. And if the battery does give out, you can always just plug in an audio cable. Of course, nothing is perfect, and these support just two Bluetooth codecs: AAC and SBC. The AAC codec isn’t consistent across Android devices but it works extremely well with iPhones.
The noise canceling leaves plenty to be desired, but midrange frequencies sound half to one-quarter as loud with ANC enabled compared to no ANC at all. Passive isolation is very good, so unpredictable background noises like sharp fits of laughter and the clang of dishware are rendered nearly imperceptible. These thick ear pads make it comfortable to wear the Elite 85h even with glasses.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 is an updated classic
Though it’s not one of the more well-known options in this day and age, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 updates the classic ATH-M50 design to accommodate Bluetooth users and throw in a few added perks. For example: LDAC connectivity, USB-C charging, and headphones that fold down quite far.
Some may find the fit is a little tight, but the band fatigues a bit over time. Additionally, if you find the ear pads to be bothersome in any way, you can get aftermarket options that will alleviate your issues if you’re willing to shell out a few extra bucks. Anything that fits the Sony MDR-7506 will fit the ATH-M50xBT2.
Best Bluetooth headphones under $300: Notable mentions
- AKG N700NC M2: While the build quality isn’t great, the ANC performance, which adapts to your surrounding, is quite impressive.
- Beats Solo Pro: This isn’t the most comfortable headset you’ll wear, but the noise canceling is uniquely good for a pair of on-ear headphones. While Beats may have discontinued the Solo Pro, you can still find it secondhand.
- Denon AH-GC25W: Denon’s wireless headset includes aptX suupport, wired listening, 30 hours of playtime, and great sound. It charges via microUSB though, so that’s a bummer here.
- Monoprice BT-600ANC: This headset costs well under $300 and boasts great sound and a host of premium features like aptX HD and very good noise cancellation.
- Phiaton 900 Legacy: Phiaton doesn’t carry the same clout as brands like Apple and Sennheiser, but the 900 Legacy is an excellent headset with SBC, AAC, and aptX HD support, Bluetooth multipoint, ANC, and solid battery life. It often goes on promotion for $199 USD, too.
- Shure AONIC 40: The Shure AONIC 40 costs less than the AONIC 50, which more directly competes with Sony and Bose. Still, for about $250 USD, you get a well-built headset with the AONIC 40, with high-quality codec support, wired listening, and a great companion app.
- Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL: This set of workout headphones is perfect for listeners who want a rugged design and easy access to a bass-heavy sound. JBL also includes its noise canceling here, so you can take this headset on the train to the gym.
- V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition: If you’re rough with your gear, this headset is for you. It merits an MIL-STD-810 G rating, and has a flexible steel headband that can withstand just about anything.
What can you get at other price points?
If you’re okay with spending a little more than $300 USD, then you’ll find yourself looking at headphones like the IPX4 rated Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 or the Sony WH-1000XM4. Both flagship headsets cost about $349 USD and are two of the best Bluetooth headphones you can get. They both have amazing battery life, top-of-class noise canceling, and sound great.
If you have a bottomless pocket, then another pair of Bluetooth headphones you should check out is the Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless. For Apple device owners looking to burn some cash, the AirPods Max won’t disappoint—complete with great noise canceling performance, great sound quality, and seamless connectivity via the company’s H1 chip.
If you’re on a slightly thinner budget, you can still get some truly great options. We recommend checking out our lists for the best Bluetooth headphones in the $100 and $200 ranges as well. They’re all still great headphones, and with the money, you save you can go get a nice dinner with a loved one and gush over your new headphones. For example, the Monoprice BT-600 ANC features impressive noise cancellation, sound quality, and a comfortable design, all for under $100 USD.
Frequently asked questions about Bluetooth headphones under $300
Although it works best with iOS, the Beats Solo Pro acts like any other pair of Bluetooth headphones on Android. In fact, Beats has an app for Android that allows you to manage and control your product. Unfortunately, using Beats on Android comes with a few limitations: such as the lack of instant pairing and variable AAC performance.
The Shure AONIC 50 is a bit beyond this list’s $300 USD budget, though it occasionally goes on sale for $299 USD. Still, we highly recommend this headset to listeners who are willing to save up a bit more. Its comfortable design, great app, excellent sound quality, and USB-C passthrough audio make for a solid Bluetooth headset.