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Best wireless headphones

Cut the cord with unrivaled wireless fidelity.
By

Published onMay 7, 2024

The Best
Sony WH-1000XM5
MSRP: $399.00
8.6
Check price
Positives
ANC performance
Outstanding microphone
App features, including custom EQ
Bluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC, LDAC, and wired connectivity options
Bluetooth multipoint
Find My Device enabled
Negatives
Price
No IP rating
Best features
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
MSRP: $350.00
8
Check price
Positives
Excellent battery life
Excellent sound quality
Connectivity options
Price
Negatives
Middling ANC
Mic noise rejection
Best active noise cancelling
Bose QuietComfort Ultra
MSRP: $429.00
8.5
Check price
Positives
Great ANC
Good passthrough mode
Snapdragon Sound
aptX Lossless
Negatives
Price
No IP rating
Immersive audio
Some channel matching issues
Best value
Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless
MSRP: $179.95
8.3
Check price
Positives
Price
Weight
Comfort
aptX, aptX HD support
USB-C audio
Negatives
Will not get LE Audio
No TRS jack
Bang for your buck
JLab JBuds Lux ANC
MSRP: $79.99
8.2
Check price
Positives
USB-C audio
Sound quality
Comfort
Value
App
Negatives
Limited options
No IP rating

Next time you get on a flight, take a look around. I’m willing to bet that one of the most common types of headphones you’ll see are wireless headphones. We still have our doubts when it comes to Bluetooth headphones (especially Chris), but it’s hard to deny that Bluetooth has come a long way from when it was first announced, particularly for wireless earbuds. Not only do some of the best wireless headphones sound great, but they also come with a number of useful features.

What's new?

  • This list was updated on May 7, 2024, to add the JLab JBuds Lux to our Top Picks.

Commuters will find a lot of value in Bluetooth headphones. If you spend a lot of time riding buses and trains, then you probably like to stay occupied with headphones. Well, cutting the cord makes blocking the world out that much easier.

Office workers will also find a pair really helpful. Let’s say you want a break from your cubicle but don’t want to engage in casual banter. Easy solution: Grab a pair of wireless headphones. They notify others that you’re not up for talking without having to explicitly say so.

Students can also get a lot out of Bluetooth headphones. Getting around campus can be a slow, monotonous process. You might as well exercise your mind and learn a thing or two from your favorite podcast while going from the quad to your English seminar.

What makes the Sony WH-1000XM5 the best noise canceling headphones?

Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones laying flat on wooden table.

For the past year, the Sony WH-1000XM4 occupied this spot, but now the WH-1000XM5 takes its place. It’s no surprise that it reigns as one of the best wireless headphones since it isn’t drastically different from its predecessor, with the same great app experience and high-tech features. The two headsets diverge when it comes to the fundamentals like sound quality, ANC, and microphone quality.

The newer model improves upon its predecessor in active noise canceling performance and passive isolation, doing an even better job at blocking out environmental noise. This makes it great for traveling or studying when you want to silence the world around you. With the XM5 headphones, you can enjoy a less treble-heavy sound compared to the XM4, which bodes well for those with eclectic music taste. Like its predecessor, the WH-1000XM5 is a bit heavy on the bass, but it won’t shake your skull.

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The WH-1000XM5 also has great features like ambient sound control options, automatic ear detection, a fantastic microphone, and speak-to-chat, which automatically pauses your music when talking. It also has Bluetooth multipoint, making it easy to switch between two devices at a time. The WH-1000XM5 retains many well-loved features of its predecessor, making it an obvious pick on this list.

Sony WH-1000XM5Sony WH-1000XM5
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Sony WH-1000XM5
ANC performance • Outstanding microphone • Useful app features
MSRP: $399.00
The king of the ANC pack extends its reign

The Sony WH-1000XM5 has an excellent microphone, and it has great noise rejection as well. You can’t even tell there’s any background noise in our wind conditions demo. Take a listen:

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

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

How does the microphone sound to you?

17119 votes
Side-on view of Sony WH-1000XM5 beside the Sony WH-1000XM4 hanging over a white horizontal pipe
The Sony WH-1000XM5 (left) looks a bit more minimal than the WH-1000XM4 (right).

While the Sony WH-1000XM5 has taken the spot on this list that the Sony WH-1000XM4 once held, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is still worth getting if you don’t want to spend as much money. Considering it still has excellent noise canceling, good sound quality, and a lot of the premium features the WH-1000XM5 has, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is still a great pick for a lot of people.

Sony WH-1000XM4Sony WH-1000XM4
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Sony WH-1000XM4
Great ANC • Sound quality • Connectivity options • Auto-wear detection
MSRP: $348.00
An exceptional pair of noise canceling headphones.
High-quality Bluetooth codecs, great sound, improved noise-canceling, good battery life, and smart features like auto-pause and Bluetooth multipoint make the Sony WH-1000XM4 a great all-round pair of headphones.

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless is a sensible choice

A man wears the Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless around his neck while outside.
The touch controls work effortlessly on the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless.

If your goal is a solid set of wireless headphones with good codec support, the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless might be the right choice. For one thing, Sennheiser gave the headphones SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, and aptX Adaptive codecs, which basically means it connects to anything and supplies high-quality audio. In addition, you also get a 3.5mm connection and USB-C listening. Plus, it supports Bluetooth multipoint.

That the headphones get quite close to our house frequency response curve means you needn’t do much equalizing, but you can use the Smart Control app if you want to alter it. The ANC onboard is not quite as strong as the Sony WH-1000XM5, although it should still help out on your commute.

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Lastly, you don’t get any spatial audio as with the WH-1000XM5, but the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless does outperform nearly all headphones we’ve tested with its 56 hours and 21 minutes of battery life. For the price, the form and functionality of the MOMENTUM 4 Wireless deserve your consideration.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 WirelessSennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless
App for EQ changes • Simple, elegant design • USB-C charging
MSRP: $350.00
High-end ANC over-ear headphones focus on style and comfort
If you need total immersion in your music, you need some ANC over-ears. The Sennheiser Momentum 4 focus on style and comfort while delivering the core features high-end shoppers need with their headphones.
See price at Amazon
Save $60.72
Sennheiser Momentum 4
See price at Best Buy
Save $49.99
Sennheiser Momentum 4

While not all microphones are created equal, Sennheiser is one of a handful of companies that generally hits a certain level of quality here, though it does seem to have some issues with noise rejection. Take a listen to the following demo recordings from our standardized test setup for microphones.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Wind conditions):

Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless microphone demo (Street conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

8530 votes

The best features go to the Bose QuietComfort Ultra

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones lying atop a wood slab.
Austin Kwok / SoundGuys
At 253g, the PRODUCT are quite a bit lighter than headphones with an all-metal construction, and more portable as a result.

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones represent a significant advancement in the Bose ANC lineup, even compared to the Bose QuietComfort headset.  These headphones are ideal for discerning users who prioritize both performance and longevity in their audio devices. The lack of waterproofing might be a minor drawback, but their technical capabilities, including the leading active noise canceling (ANC) technology, more than compensate.

Notably, the QuietComfort Ultra sets itself apart with its Bluetooth 5.3 connectivity and support for aptX Lossless and Snapdragon Sound, ensuring superior wireless audio quality. These features, combined with a robust 27-hour battery life and efficient fast charging, make the headphones a top choice for both casual listeners and audiophiles. The straightforward control scheme, involving a multifunction button and a touch-sensitive volume strip, adds to the user-friendly experience.

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Overall, the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are a compelling choice for those seeking the latest in audio technology and comfort. With their advanced noise canceling capabilities, lightweight design, and future-proof wireless features, they stand out in a crowded market of high-end headphones. While the price point is on the higher side, these headphones justify their cost with a blend of performance, durability, and cutting-edge technology, making them a worthy successor to the previous Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

Bose QuietComfort UltraBose QuietComfort Ultra
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Bose QuietComfort Ultra
Great battery life • Advanced audio experience
MSRP: $429.00
Quality and comfort noise canceling headphones
Going ultra with their ANC headphone experience, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra noise cancelling headphones offer up to 24 hours of battery life, a comfortable fit, Spatial Audio support, and powerful ANC.

Additionally, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra excels in microphone quality, making it versatile for a range of scenarios, from phone calls to virtual meetings.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

1761 votes

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones microphone demo (Office conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones microphone demo (Street conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones microphone demo (Windy conditions):

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones microphone demo (Reverberant space):

 

The Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless is one of the best value buys

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 stands out in the bustling market of ANC headphones, offering a compelling balance of price and performance. At a fraction of the cost of high-end competitors, these headphones don’t skimp on audio quality, supporting aptX and aptX HD for superior sound transmission. They’re crafted for long listening sessions, boasting a lightweight design with comfortable padding.

Despite some trade-offs, like the absence of a TRS jack and LE Audio support, the ACCENTUM Wireless shines with its 46-hour battery life and USB-C audio option for lossless listening. The inclusion of a 5-band equalizer through the Sennheiser Smart Control app allows for personalized sound tuning.

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In terms of ANC, while not industry-leading, the headphones efficiently reduce noise by up to 75%, courtesy of a well-designed cup and band. This makes them suitable for moderately noisy environments, ensuring a focus on what’s playing. The sound signature is pleasantly robust, especially after some EQ adjustments, and while the ANC might not match that of Bose or Sony, the Sennheiser ACCENTUM Wireless delivers where it counts.

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.

The JLab JBuds Lux is the best bang for your buck

The JLab JBuds Lux ANC sitting atop a wooden desk.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The JLab JBuds Lux is a compelling buy under $80.

For under $100, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC punches well above their weight class. These affordable over-ear headphones provide decent active noise cancelation to muffle ambient noise during commutes. While the ANC can’t match premium models, it does a serviceable job of reducing lower-frequency sounds.

The sound quality is bass-boosted but remains balanced overall, with an app equalizer to tweak the sound signature. Call quality is good as well, with the microphones capably reducing reverb. Battery life is strong at over 44 hours per charge.

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Build quality exceeds expectations for the price, with thick padding on the headband and ear cups. The plastic construction allows the headphones to fold up compactly for travel. While lacking extras like wireless charging or wear sensors, the fundamentals like USB-C audio, multipoint Bluetooth, and a companion app are covered.

Ultimately, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC focuses on nailing the basics at an unbeatable value, making them an excellent budget wireless headphone pick. You’d be hard-pressed to find better noise cancelation and sound quality in this ultra-affordable range.

JLab JBuds Lux ANCJLab JBuds Lux ANC
SG recommended
JLab JBuds Lux ANC
USB-C audio • Sound quality • Comfort
MSRP: $79.99
For under $100, these are crazy good value.
As far as inexpensive ANC headphones go, the JLab JBuds Lux ANC are one of the best of 2024. They focus on the fundamentals, and not fighting the spec wars.

Should you save up for the Apple AirPods Max?

The Apple AirPods Max costs $429 at Amazon, which means plenty of us would need to take out a small loan just to afford Apple’s noise canceling headphones. Since we’re not financial advisors here, it’s a bit unwise to recommend you purchase something so pricey when other products of similar quality go for much less. However, the AirPods Max performed better than any other headphones we’ve tested for active noise canceling, and it also sounds really good. The AirPods Max may be right up your alley if money isn’t an object and you’re happy to pay a premium for absolute convenience (assuming you’re deep into the Apple ecosystem).

White Apple AirPods Max on top of a green book on a coffee table.
The Apple AirPods Max looks great, though it did take a while for the overall look to grow on me.

Apple integrated its H1 chip into each AirPods Max ear cup, so it has plenty of processing power for things like Adaptive EQ, Transparency mode, active noise canceling, hands-free Siri access, automatic device switching, and more. These features require basic operating system requirements depending on your Apple hardware, so that’s something to keep an eye on.

Battery life is on par with the Sony WH-1000XM4 at around 20 hours, and you need a Lightning cable to charge the AirPods Max. It supports passthrough audio if you purchase a Lightning to USB-C cable, which may be useful for audiophiles.

Apple AirPods MaxApple AirPods Max
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Apple AirPods Max
One of the best ANC • 20-hour battery life • Well-built pads
MSRP: $424.99
A spectacular pair of headphones with best-in-class ANC
The AirPods Max wireless headphones offer best-in-class noise canceling with twenty hours of battery life. They provide excellent frequency response and great audio features.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 is a well-rounded pick for most people

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 on a bench with leaves showing the cushions of the ear cups.
The ear cups can articulate in multiple directions.

Audiophiles and audio enthusiasts know Audio-Technica: it’s a prolific premium audio company that’s proven itself time and time again in the professional industry. Audio-Technica hits it out of the park with its wireless headphone debut.

If you liked the wired ATH-M50x, you’ll love the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2. It may be cliché to say, but this headset takes everything we love about the wired version and features it in the wireless version. Save for the newly added playback controls, the headset is nearly identical to its wired brethren. For better or worse, this means it features the same synthetic padding, which remains a bit thin. That said, the headband is reinforced by its metal frame. Folding the ear cups in and up results in a compact, travel-friendly form, too.

Audio-Technica stays true to its roots, ensuring that audio quality takes precedence over headline-grabbing gimmicks. While it’s not a flashy set of headphones, it includes the necessities to keep pace with the best of them, including Bluetooth 5 and LDAC support.

Additionally, battery life is excellent; it lasts well over 64 hours on a single charge. If you’re looking for the best wireless headphones that can do it all, the ATH-M50xBT2 is all you need.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
High-quality sound • Fast pairing • Long-life battery
MSRP: $199.00
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.

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The microphone on the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 is great for phone and Zoom calls, and it does a good job rejecting household noise so your voice comes through loud and clear. Take a listen for yourself:

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

How does the microphone sound to you?

5705 votes

The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 is a great pair of headphones for less than $150

A view of the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 sitting on a wooden tabletop.
The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 finds the middle ground between premium features and affordable price.

The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 stands out as an exceptional choice for those seeking high-quality noise cancelation without the hefty price tag. They retail at $150, but you can often find them on sale for around $100, and they compete admirably with more expensive models. While its sound profile might not be every audiophile’s dream, it serves the needs of the general listener. The microphone’s capability to effectively reject background noise makes it perfect for work calls. Moreover, the promise of a staggering 55-hour battery life with ANC, coupled with a quick 5-minute charge yielding 4 hours of playback, sets it apart from many rivals.

The adjustable, swiveling ear cups and foldable design make for easy storage, and the metal-reinforced headband provides a robust feel while adapting to different head sizes. To elevate the user experience, the Soundcore app, compatible with both iOS and Android, allows various customizations, from EQ presets to Bluetooth codec selections.

In short, for those prioritizing a balance between cost and performance, the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 emerges as a compelling pick in the mid-tier wireless headphone market. With its emphasis on comfort, robust ANC, and extensive battery life, it delivers exceptional value. Those in search of a different sonic profile might need to make some tweaks, but overall, the Q45 promises a solid listening experience.

Anker Soundcore Space Q45Anker Soundcore Space Q45
Anker Soundcore Space Q45
Full-bodied audio • Good ANC • Customizable EQ
MSRP: $149.00
Have it all on a low budget.

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Soundwise, the Q45 has certain idiosyncrasies. The sub-bass is somewhat pronounced, and the highs can fluctuate, but the app offers equalization options to cater to individual preferences. When it comes to noise cancelation in real-world settings, the Q45 excels, easily muting daily commute noises like train rumbles or traffic. However, the key to optimum noise cancelation lies in achieving a snug fit.

The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 microphone system is surprisingly good, although it doesn’t stand out under ideal conditions. Instead, the dual microphone array shines under sub-optimal conditions. It effectively rejects background noise, particularly on city streets and in windy environments. Listen to our demonstrations, and let us know your thoughts by voting on the poll below!

Anker Soundcore Space Q45 microphone demo (Ideal conditions):

Anker Soundcore Space Q45 microphone demo (Office conditions):

Anker Soundcore Space Q45 microphone demo (Street conditions):

Anker Soundcore Space Q45 microphone demo (Windy conditions):

How does the microphone sound to you?

5196 votes

The best wireless headphones: Notable mentions

The Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones on a statue head.
The QuietComfort 45 looks nearly indistinguishable from the QC 35 II.
  • Anker Soundcore Life Q35 ($99 at Amazon): This headset might not have a premium design or be as well-built as some of the other options on this list, but it does offer a bunch of great features that allow it to hold its own against the big dogs for much less.
  • Audio-Technica ATH-M20xBT ($79 at Amazon): This budget-friendly set of headphones is designed to go with you to and from the studio. It sports a fairly steep volume roll-off in the sub-bass, but otherwise, it should please all but the bass heads.
  • Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless ($599 at Amazon): If you want to enjoy your music without being bothered by the sounds of the people you’re living with, these studio-style cans are for you. The Amiron Wireless supports AAC, aptX, and aptX HD.
  • Bose QuietComfort 45 ($279 at Amazon): If you want the best active noise canceling and comfort around, look no further. This one builds upon the QC 35 II with improved ANC.
  • Edifier Stax Spirit S3 ($209 at Amazon): These headphones stand out for having electrostatic drivers rather than the conventional dynamic drivers found on the vast majority of wireless headphones. Oh yeah, they also sound great.
  • Focal Bathys ($699 at Amazon): Look, Apple started it. The prices of wireless headphones have been increasing. At least with the Focal Bathys, you’re getting a superb-sounding pair of headphones with ANC, but that doesn’t come cheaply.
  • Jabra Elite 45h ($99 at Amazon): If you want affordable, on-ear headphones with an insane battery life, the Elite 45h is for you. The portable design and two-year warranty make this headset great for taking anywhere, and its battery lasts 54 hours on a single charge, so it’s an excellent adventure companion.
  • Jabra Evolve2 85 ($372 at Amazon): For the individual who demands a set of headphones capable of handling professional calls, PC gaming, noise canceling, and commuting, this one has both a removable boom mic and built-in mic to suit your needs. Plus, 15 minutes of charge equals a full workday’s battery.
  • JBL Live 660NC ($149 at Amazon): Striking a reasonable balance between form, function, and cost, these noise canceling headphones do a good job of quieting noise, working as expected, and throwing in a bit of extra bass.
  • Marshall Major IV ($116 at Amazon): If you’ve worn a lot of on-ear headphones, you know that they can feel uncomfortable pretty quickly. However, the Marshall Major IV is a notable exception, with memory foam ear pads and a lightweight build with a foldable design.
  • Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 ($249.99 at Amazon): Microsoft’s noise canceling headphones sound great and look even better. These modern cans can go anywhere and have the best Bluetooth multipoint functionality around. If you want something that can keep pace with your workflow, get the Surface Headphones 2.
  • Monoprice BT-600ANC ($84.99 at Amazon): If you want to keep a pretty low budget and get premium features like very good ANC, aptX HD, and solid battery life, you’ll like Monoprice’s headset. It isn’t perfect, though, as the sound quality favors bass and treble much more than most people would like.
  • Sennheiser HD 350BT ($86 at Amazon): This pair of over-ear headphones sounds excellent and gives more expensive headsets a run for their money, at least when it comes to audio quality. You get a host of Bluetooth codec support: SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX Low Latency are all available.
  • Shure AONIC 50 ($298 at Amazon): For some pretty good noise cancelation and a premium build, pony up for the AONIC 50. These headphones are extremely comfortable to wear (yes, even with glasses), and they support all the high-quality Bluetooth codecs you could ever want.
  • Sony WH-XB910N ($148 at Amazon): If you want a bass-heavy headset with very good ANC and plenty of software features, including 360 Reality Audio, this is a good pick.
  • Sony WH-1000XM4 ($278 at Amazon): This is one of the best active noise canceling headphones available, even though the newer Sony WH-1000XM5 outperforms it. If you’re looking to save some cash, though, this is generally cheaper than the newer model.

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

The Monoprice-BT-600 ANC noise canceling Bluetooth headphones in front of a house plant.
The Monoprice BT-600ANC supports aptX HD, AAC, and wired playback.

In the early days of Bluetooth, stable connectivity was an issue. Fortunately, it rarely crops up these days due to the incremental improvements over the generations of Bluetooth. Now, the main concerns you’ll encounter with wireless headphones are whether they have active noise canceling (ANC) or not, the Bluetooth codec selection (see below), and battery life. All else consists of added luxuries, which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care, but if there’s a specific feature you want, it might not be available on all headphones.

Starting with a good-sounding set of cans is usually a must, regardless of whether you look at wired or wireless headphones. Otherwise, unique to Bluetooth is the inclusion of companion apps on the go with your phone to adjust EQ, ANC ambient modes, touch controls, spatial audio, and more.

What is active noise canceling, and how does it work?

The Jabra Evolve2 75 headset being held firmly with two hands, with the pads of the earcups facing the viewer.
The active noise canceling (ANC) here is surprisingly good, considering that it’s an on-ear design.

You can dive deeper if you’re really curious to learn the science behind active noise canceling, but if you don’t feel like dusting off your old textbook and want the TL;DR version, here it is.

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 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 sound of your blissful music. See? That wasn’t so bad. Science can be cool.

How do Bluetooth codecs work?

So you think you’re ready to understand what makes LDAC or aptX HD good? Get ready; There’s a ton of technical jargon and numbers we’re about to go over, but we’ll try and keep it relatively short.

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.

LDAC is supposed to be better because it can carry more audible information than the standard SBC codec, but our testing revealed that LDAC isn’t completely able to replace a wire. Luckily any performance issues are increasingly hard to hear as we age because, sorry to break it to you, but our ears aren’t that great when we’re old.

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 in the near future, and assuming your headphones last longer than your smartphone does: your headphones will only sound better as the tech in your phone catches up.

You can use Bluetooth headphones to watch TV, but typically this demands some kind of Bluetooth base transmitter, such as the Sennheiser BT T100 Bluetooth Audio Transmitter () in order to act as a go-between for the TV and headphones. Some TVs have Bluetooth, but ordinarily, wireless headphones for TV use radio frequencies (RF) instead, such as in the Sennheiser RS 195 RF ($2999.99 at Amazon) to transmit audio to your headphones.

When considering Bluetooth headphones to pair with a TV, make sure your headphones have compatible low-latency Bluetooth codecs like aptX Adaptive or aptX Low Latency to ensure your audio synchronizes with the video. A good match would be the aforementioned Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless, which uses aptX Adaptive with the Sennheiser BT T100 (if your TV doesn’t have Bluetooth).

If you don’t want to shell out for a dedicated Bluetooth base or RF wireless headphones, consider grabbing a set of wireless gaming headphones if your TV has a USB port. These cost much less than TV headphones that use RF and do not require an additional base. Something like the Razer Barracuda X (2022) even has a removable mic alongside its 2.4GHz dongle that you can plug into your TV’s USB port and sells for only $99 at Amazon. However, you wouldn’t want to use the Barracuda X (2022) for its Bluetooth utility with your TV because it only supports the SBC codec, which most likely will encounter noticeable latency.

How we choose the best wireless headphones

Choosing which product is best changes depending on what the category is. If you’re searching for the best headphones, we might focus more of our efforts on sound quality instead of cool extra features. On the flip side, if you’re looking for the best waterproof speakers, chances are we’re going to prioritize a strong, durable build over something like sound quality.

For this particular list, there were a few things that took priority. First was the Bluetooth connection. In order to be in the running for the best wireless headphones, a strong connection was a must. After that came sound quality. At the end of the day, these are still headphones, and you’re going to be using them to listen to music.

Additionally, we took user feedback on battery life into account when weeding out products from our list. When we were writing our list of the best Bluetooth earbuds, our readers made it very clear that battery life was the most important quality to assess after sound quality and comfort.

Bluetooth by itself has a bad rep when it comes to sound quality, but it’s come a long way over the years, so anything on this list had to, at the very least, sound good. Lastly, some of our decisions were made based on internal objective testing of the best wireless headphones with special software and microphones.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

Each writer at SoundGuys has accumulated years of experience reporting on the consumer audio market, and our staff adheres to a strict ethics policy. We don’t use sponsored content on the website at a time when doing so is the norm. SoundGuys’ survival depends almost exclusively on readers enjoying their purchases. We pride ourselves on transparently outlining objective facts while accounting for the subjective experience to contextualize an audio product’s performance. When we do misspeak, we correct and own up to it.


Frequently asked questions about the best wireless headphones

The Sony WH-1000XM4 actually does come with a 3.5mm cable. While their microphone isn’t perfect, it’s good enough to relay your voice clearly. If you need the headphones for professional calls at your desk and the mic quality isn’t meeting your requirements, we’d recommend looking into a separate standalone microphone.

The Grado GW100 are a high-quality pair of open-back Bluetooth headphones. It is quite an expensive headset, though, and you could definitely save money by getting one of Grado’s wired options, like the Grado SR60x, without sacrificing sound quality.

While Beats are definitely an attractive brand of headphones, their sound quality just isn’t worth their price. Beats overemphasize bass frequencies to the point of loss of detail in the mid and high frequencies, and they cost the same as some of the best Bluetooth headphones around. We don’t typically recommend Beats, but if your heart is set on the brand, we recommend the Beats Solo Pro.

Whether you’re looking for wireless or wired earbuds, the best will depend on the OS you have, what use case you want the earbuds for and how much you are willing to spend. If you’re willing to spend a bit more for noise cancelation, the Sony WF-1000XM4 and AirPods Pro are great options, but Apple’s AirPods work best on iPhones. Want an immediate pairing process on Android? Get the Google Pixel Buds A-Series, or check out our list of the best Android earbuds.

If you’re looking to use your Bluetooth headphones for working out, you might want to find a pair with an official IP rating or waterproof rating. None of the Bluetooth headphones in this list have waterproofing of any kind. It’s much more common to find that on earbuds.

Yes, It should!

Just because we didn’t select a certain pair of headphones for this list doesn’t mean they’re not good; it simply means they don’t satisfy some set of criteria to make them one of the five headphones we highlight. Maybe they don’t test as well as the ones on the list, or they don’t offer certain features that make them less appropriate for it. I know that might not be a satisfying answer, but five headphones are a pretty narrow selection for any category. Be sure to check out our reviews if you want to learn more about any set of headphones you’re looking for.

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