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The best wireless headphones under $400

Whether you're looking for something with style or something that will last, odds are there's a premium option perfect for you—if you're willing to pay.
By
October 26, 2022
Sony WH-1000XM5
By Sony
Product shot of the Sony WH-1000XM5 in black on a white background.
8.7
Check price
Positives
Superb noise cancelling
SBC, AAC, LDAC, and wired with multipoint connectivity
USB-C charging
360 Reality Audio optimization
Comfortable
Great mic quality
Negatives
Price
The Bottom Line.
The best Bluetooth headphones under $400 are also some of the best headphones, period. With best-in-class ANC, audio, and Bluetooth 5.2, it's hard to go wrong with Sony.Read full review...
Bose QuietComfort 45
By Bose
The Bose QuietComfort 45 in black against a white background.
7.9
Check price
Positives
Great ANC
USB-C port
Comfortable
Wired and wireless
In-app EQ
Negatives
Loud treble response
SBC and AAC only, no aptX
Only way to turn off ANC is to turn on Aware mode; no true
The Bottom Line.
Comfort is literally in the name of the Bose QuietComfort 45. When you need headphones for hours at a time, grab these.Read full review...
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
By Bose
The Bose NCH 700.
8.1
Check price
Positives
Sound quality
Great ANC
Style
Bluetooth multipoint
Battery life
Negatives
Cost
Lacks folding hinges
The Bottom Line.
They're not as comfortable as the QuietComfort 45, but the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 have a great design and great sound to match.Read full review...
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
By Sennheiser
8.5
Check price
Positives
Style and construction quality
Sound quality
Connection options
Battery life
Negatives
Middling ANC for high-end headphones
So-so mic
The Bottom Line.
The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless doesn't quite top tier ANC, but it's very good. Paired with the excellent sound, battery life, and Bluetooth codec options this is a shoe-in for $350.Read full review...
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
By Audio-Technica
Product shot of Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
7.8
Check price
Positives
Sound quality
Fast pairing and Bluetooth multipoint
Wired and Bluetooth connection; SBC, AAC, LDAC
Portable
Battery life
In-app EQ
Negatives
Heat bulid up
LDAC doesn't always work
Tight fit for some
The Bottom Line.
All the headphones on this list are expensive, but the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 brings a great value to the list.Read full review...

Whether money’s no object or you just subscribe to the idea that spending big on headphones will pay off, there are a ton of different options in the high-end part of the audio market. Yes, many of them will be good, but not every pair of Bluetooth headphones under $400 is created equal. Some of these options will do better for specific needs than others (gasp).

Here’s how the best of the best stack up.

Editor’s note: this article was updated on October 26, 2022, to include the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless.

For our top five picks, you can find the isolation and frequency response charts at the end of each image gallery. You can learn more about how to read our charts here.

Why is the Sony WH-1000XM5 the best set of wireless headphones under $400?

Was it ever going to be something else? The WH-1000XM5 follows up the WH-1000XM4 with better looks, sound, and standout active noise cancelling (ANC). These wireless headphones are expensive, sure, but they bring other premium features like LDAC support, great microphone quality for all environments, and plenty of software features, all wrapped up in a comfortable build.

Sony WH-1000XM5
8.7
A top down view of the Sony WH-1000XM5 resting on a dark grey graph patterned surface.Top-down view of the Sony-WH1000XM5 with the ear cups folded flat and upwardsThe Sony WH-1000XM5's ANC unit does a good job of canceling noise, but it also isolates very well.The Sony WH-1000XM5 boosts sounds up to 300Hz by about 5dB.

These updated WH-1000XM4 delivers improved ANC and sound quality over the previous model. The frequency response is a bit more pleasant compared to the WH-1000XM4 which has an even bassier sound than the XM5. The Sony Headphones Connect app allows you to fine-tune your sound profile via in-app EQ, and make adjustments to the noise cancellation.

The headphones can last 31 hours, 53 minutes with noise cancelling on, which is long enough for any commute or flight. The touch controls do a solid job handling volume and playback, though finding them can be a little finicky. Like the WH-1000XM4, the WH-1000XM5 features automatic ear detection, Speak-to-Chat when you’re talking, and multipoint connectivity.

Something this expensive should offer a fantastic experience in almost every scenario and this almost certainly achieves that—just don’t take it out in the rain.

Sony WH-1000XM5
Sony WH-1000XM5
Better ANC • Outstanding microphone • EQ customizable
One of the best ANC headphones on the market.
Improving upon the success of its predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM5 delivers improved noise cancellation and sound quality, along with Bluetooth multipoint support.

Improved ANC means that sounds like air conditioner hums and jet engine rumbles are less intrusive during your listening sessions. You can hear the difference in our WH-1000XM5 ANC test and simulation video above.

For those working at home or taking calls on the go, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is a standout companion. The headset handles sub-optimal conditions like wind extremely well and it’s hard to hear a difference between the two samples below.

Sony WH-1000XM5 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sony WH-1000XM5 microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

13373 votes

The Bose QuietComfort 45 is the most comfortable pair of wireless headphones

The Bose QuietComfort 45 is a great noise cancelling headset for listeners who want the absolute best ANC and comfort in the business. This looks nearly identical to the older QuietComfort 35 II and compares well against it. The biggest difference is the USB-C input on the QC 45, and the Bose Music app equalizer.

Bose QuietComfort 45
7.9
A man uses the control cluster on the back of the Bose QuietComfort 45.A photo of the USB-C port of the Bose QuietComfort 45.The Bose QuietComfort 45 sits on a easter island head-style headphone stand.A chart showing the frequency response of the Bose QuietComfort 45 (cyan), compared to the SoundGuys house curve (pink)A chart showing the Bose QuietComfort 45's isolation and active noise cancelling performance. The moderately high isolation and very high ANC performance holds well through all frequencies.
Bose QuietComfort 45
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Noise cancelling is excellent on the QC 45, and it effectively renders sub-bass sounds up to one-quarter as loud as their original perceived loudness. Mids are nearly one-eighth as loud as they’d sound without the headphones, and passive isolation takes care of sounds above 2kHz. While the overall ANC effect is only marginally better than the QC 35 II, Bose releases very useful firmware updates during its products’ lifespans. Don’t be surprised if a few years into the QC 45’s life, Bose does something to improve its performance.

Regarding sound quality, well, the bass and midrange frequencies sound great, but this isn’t tuned to perfection. The treble response is quite a bit louder than most people enjoy. We recommend listeners equalize the treble down about 5dB for a more pleasing sound.

We really like the button controls on the QC 45, which make it much easier to operate the headset if you wear gloves half of the year. The biggest downside to the QC 45 is that you can’t disable ANC without automatically enabling transparency audio. This is a nuisance for many and something that may drive buyers to the older QC 35 II or to the sleeker Bose NCH 700.

Bose QuietComfort 45
Bose QuietComfort 45
Excellent ANC • EQ adjustable • Comfortable ear pads
An ANC headset that provides comfort and ease of use.
The Bose QuietComfort 45 does an excellent job cancelling outside noise, and it sounds great for podcast listening. It has a decent battery life, and the fast-charging USB-C adds another 180 minutes with only a 15-minute charge.

The microphone is pretty good here with decent noise suppression, but people on the other end of the call will still recognize when you’re not in a quiet space.

Bose QuietComfort 45 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Bose QuietComfort 45 microphone demo (Street conditions):

Bose QuietComfort 45 microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the sample sound to you?

3882 votes

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 sounds great right out of the box

While it’s not quite at the level of the Sony WH-1000XM5, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 still brings great noise cancelling and audio output for a competitive price. If you don’t want to tinker with in-app equalizers, the Bose NCH 700 is right up your alley with an excellent frequency response to boot. You can, however, EQ the sound to your liking from the Bose Music app (iOS/Android.)

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
8.1
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 outsideThe Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 onboard button controls.A photo showing the microphone array of the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.Bose Noise Cancelling headphones 700 pictured from above on a Huawei Matebook X ProThe frequency response chart for the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 which follows our house curve, though some bass emphasis is apparent.Chart of ANC performance of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
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These Bose headphones have a brand new design making the Bose QC35 II seem ancient. The new design isn’t just for looks either. The playback control buttons have been replaced by a touch-sensitive gesture pad on the right ear cup for controlling your music. There are no longer any folding hinges but you can still rotate the ear cups to lay flat, and the new metal headband is much more durable. Interestingly, the headset merits an IPX4 rating so you can exercise with it, though there are much better Bluetooth workout headphones out there.

Then there’s the active noise cancelling, which is still one of the best around as is expected with a pair of Bose headphones. You can see how it compares to the newer Bose QuietComfort 45 and Sony WH-1000XM5 headsets, but if you want great ANC and sound quality from a product that often goes on sale, we recommend the NCH 700.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Excellent ANC • Lightweight design • Rotable ear pads
The modern design and feature set make this one of the best ANC headphones available.
If you want some of the best ANC you can get, Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 have you covered.

The microphone here does a good job with voices in ideal conditions but you can hear background noise come through a bit in our sub-optimal environment simulations.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 microphone demo (Street conditions):

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

5789 votes

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless offers a solid alternative to the top dogs on the market

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless can’t quite keep up with some of.the Sony and Bose entries on this list, but it has a lot going for it. These noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones bring a bassy sound, a new stylish design, and a slew of convenient features.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
8.5
The Sennheiser momentum 4 wireless sits on a headphone standA person uses the capacitive touch controls to control media playback.The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless sits on a headphone stand in background with a phone displaying the Sennheiser Smart Control app displayed.The cloth-wrapped band of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless.A chart showing the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless' frequency response closely matching the SoundGuys Consumer Curve, with only minor deviations.A chart showing the attenuation performance of the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, able to block out anywhere between 75 and 93% of outside noise depending on frequency.
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
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The MOMENTUM 4 Wireless comes packed with Bluetooth 5.2, multipoint connection options, a nifty Smart Control app, and USB-C charging. The active noise cancelling is a big step up from the MOMENTUM 3 Wireless, though it doesn’t have quite the same level of low-end attenuation as competitors from Sony or Bose. The headphones offer support for high-quality codecs like AAC, aptX, aptX HD, and aptX Adaptive.

With its stylish build and comfortable leather ear pads, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless is great for everyday commuters and people looking to complete their look. The exceptional battery life (over 56 hours) means you’ll get a lot of commutes in before needing a charge, too. It may not be the absolute best wireless headphones under $400, but it’s pretty close.

Sennheiser Momentum 4
Sennheiser Momentum 4
Excellent battery life • Excellent sound quality • Connectivity
Sennheiser re-enters the high-end ANC conversation.
If you're looking for a slightly more affordable set of ANC headphones in comparison to the Bose or Sony offerings: the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless is not a bad way to go. While its ANC is technically behind the other top-tier headphones, its sound quality is ahead of the pack—as is its battery life. Not bad for $350.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Office conditions):

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

1883 votes

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 works just as well in the studio as it does on the street

Coming in at $199 USD, the Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT2 isn’t cheap but it is compared to the rest of the picks on this list. This pair of closed-back cans is loved by professionals and casual listeners alike for its great sound quality and portable design. The ATH-M50xBT2 uses the same technologies as the original Audio Technica ATH-M50x, but features Bluetooth for a cable-free listening experience when you’re not busy producing the next summer hit.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
7.8
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 with one ear cup rotated laying flat on leaves.A man wears the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 pressing the buttons on the left ear cup.Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 with headphone cable plugged in, held in a hand.Close up of the buttons and connections on Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 ear cup.Frequency response of Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 set against the ideal studio curve.Isolation measurement chart for Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
Buy now
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With Audio-Technica’s second-generation Bluetooth M50x headset, you get SBC, AAC, and LDAC codec options. Heck, the company even retains the headphone jack here, which we don’t always see with premium offers (see: Apple AirPods Max review). No matter your device you can enjoy high-quality digital or analog audio somehow, though we found that LDAC doesn’t always work as it should.

Codec support aside, the ATH-M50xBT2 just sounds good. Its frequency response pretty closely follows our studio curve with acceptable under-emphasis from 125-600Hz and in the treble response. Still, the ATH-M50xBT2 responds well to equalization so you can customize the sound to your heart’s content through the mobile app.

You may not get an IP rating with this headset but trust us: it’s durable. We’ve lugged the ATH-M50x and its Bluetooth iterations from event to event, showing that this build can survive plenty of flights, hotel stays, show floors, and then some. If you want a headset for studio and daily use, get this.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 microphone demo (Non-standardized):

How does the microphone sound to you?

2532 votes
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
High-quality sound • Fast pairing • Long-life battery
An excellent-sounding and straightforward headset.
The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 headset offers excellent sound and the long battery life with an optional headphone jack promotes an uncomplicated music experience.

Is the Shure AONIC 50 worth buying?

An picture of the Shure Aonic 50 noise cancelling headphones in brown leaning against a coffee carafe.
The Shure Aonic 50 is available in black, white, and brown.

Yes, the Shure AONIC 50 has made its way onto many of our best lists, including the best USB-C headphones because of its USB-C passthrough audio capabilities. It also offers a host of Bluetooth codecs to choose from along with a standard 3.5mm input too. The sound quality is very good and you can customize the sound to your liking through Shure’s mobile app which works well on iOS and Android. The app also offers firmware updates and a way for you to adjust the ANC and transparency mode intensities.

If you want a comfortable, luxurious headset and don’t mind sacrificing some portability, we recommend the AONIC 50. Those who like Shure headphones but want to save some money should look into the AONIC 40 instead.

Shure AONIC 50
Shure AONIC 50
Bluetooth 5.0 and wired listening • SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, LDAC • Multipoint connectivity
This is the headset to get if you value build and sound quality over all else.
The Shure AONIC 50 noise cancelling headset is a premium solution to your work from home and commuting woes. Large removable earpads lengthen the lifespan of the headphones and are easy to clean. Noise cancelling is excellent as is functionality and comfort. The biggest drawback of these headphones is the price.

The best wireless headphones under $400: Notable mentions

A picture of the Sennheiser PXC 550-II worn by a woman reading on a porch.
You can connect the PXC 550-II to two devices at once, and it remembers eight connections for quick re-connecting.
  • Jabra Elite 85h: Jabra’s headphones cost the same as the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2, and bring a different feature set to the table. It also has noise cancelling capabilities, but this is the only headset treated with a water-repellent coating.
  • Sennheiser PXC 550-II: For audiophiles who don’t want to break the bank, these cans sport a pleasant sound profile, superb ANC, an easily foldable design, and support for high quality codecs such as aptX and aptX Low Latency.
  • Sony WH-XB910N: If you want a lot of bass with a comfortable fit and plenty of software features, get this headset.
  • Sony WH-1000XM4: While these cans are technically last gen, they’re a great alternative to the pricier WH-1000XM5. The sound quality is a bit odd but you can EQ it from the Headphones Connect app, and you get some great features like automatic wear detection and 360 Reality Audio optimization.
  • UA Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL: This headset’s name is a mouthful but we promise you’ll like it if you’re an athlete. It has an IPX4 rating and large buttons that make it easy to control the headset blindly and without too much thought. The over-ear design fits well around most ears and the washable ear cushions are a nice touch. The bass-heavy sound may not be for everyone but you can quickly EQ this in the app.
  • V-MODA Crossfade 2 Wireless Codex Edition: This headset comes with a military-level MIL-STD-810G certification, so it’s as durable as headphones get. On top of that durability, the Crossfade 2 Codex is also versatile, with support for AAC and aptX codecs and wired listening.

Hold up! Something’s different:

Some of our picks’ frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this article (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements and isolation performance plots. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white).

Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.

What you should know about the best wireless headphones under $400

When you’re on the hunt for Bluetooth headphones under $400 USD, in a lot of ways the world is your oyster. You’ll probably have no trouble finding something that nails all the features you want, but some features are more important than others.

What is noise canceling and is it better with expensive headphones?

One of the most meaningful is active noise cancelling (ANC), but what is it? You can dive deeper if you really want to learn the science behind it, but if you don’t feel like dusting off your old textbook and want the TL;DR version, here it is.

A woman wearing the Shure AONIC 50 noise cancelling headphones and using the Shure PlayPlus headphone app.
In order to adjust the Shure AONIC 50 noise cancelling and ambient mode intensity, a user must download the ShurePLUS Play app.

Tiny microphones built into the headphones pick up what’s going on around you and then play the opposite sound wave into your ear along with your music. Because the sound wave that’s produced by the headphones is basically the exact opposite of the one that’s outside of the headphones, it cancels out. Leaving you with just the blissful sound of your music. It’s hard to do ANC well on a low budget, which is why our favorites typically cost at least $200 USD.

See? That wasn’t so bad. Science can be cool.

What is a Bluetooth codec and how does it affect your music?”

The next thing to really consider is codec support. Some of this depends on the device you use with your headphones, but what makes LDAC or aptX HD good? We’ve got a bit of technical jargon to go over, but we’ll try and keep it relatively short. For a full breakdown, make sure to check out this article. LDAC is supposed to be better because it has a higher bitrate than the standard SBC codec, but our testing revealed that LDAC falls short of hi-res claims. This is a bit disappointing but issues are increasingly hard to hear as we age. Sorry to break it to you, but our ears aren’t that great when we’re old. While aptX Adaptive is hard to find, it’s a great option as it constantly calculates the delivers audio quality and connection stability.

A chart showing the AAC Bluetooth codec's performance on the Huawei P20 Pro, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, LG V30, and Apple iPhone 7.
It may be high-frequency sound, but these drop-outs will be audible to younger ears.

Even if your phone doesn’t currently support it, you should still get headphones that support these codecs anyway. Android 8.0 brings support for these wireless standards to lots of phones. Assuming your headphones last longer than your smartphone does: your headphones will only sound better as the tech in your phone catches up. Additionally, the AAC codec performs far better when paired with an iPhone than an Android phone, so if you’re in the market for headphones to use with your Samsung Galaxy phone, maybe avoid the AirPods.

A new standard is on the way with Bluetooth version 5.2 as well. The LC3 codec will eventually replace SBC as the Bluetooth codec, and it’s touted as a considerably higher-quality audio option, on top of being less energy intensive. A lot of the current top-of-the-line models don’t yet have Bluetooth 5.2, but be on the lookout for it as the next generation of options from Sony, Bose, and the like start to trickle out.

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Frequently asked questions about the best headphones under $400

Bowers and Wilkins PI7 in charging case being held in a hand.
Since battery life is weak, you’ll have to slot the earbuds into the charging case at least once throughout the day.

The Bowers & Wilkins PI7 is a great headset and the little sibling of the B&W PX7 over-ear headphones.

We like the PI7 for its beautiful design and unique audio transmitter technology, but it’s still a $400 USD pair of wireless earbuds. You don’t even get a custom EQ here. If you really want a pair of earbuds and aren’t afraid to spend money, check out the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 or the Sony WF-1000XM4.