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Best wireless neckband earbuds
Neckband earbuds serve as a comfortable wireless option for listeners not yet ready to make the leap to true wireless earbuds or feel that conventional wireless earbuds are too unwieldy. There are plenty of options out there but we’ve highlighted the absolute best for athletes, iPhone users, general consumers, and more, so you can spend more time listening and less time researching.
Editor’s note: this list of the best wireless neckband earbuds was updated on December 21, 2022, to include the Beats Flex, Sony WI-1000XM2, JBL Tune 215BT, and Jabra Evolve 65e.
For the best neckband earbuds, go with the Beyerdynamic Blue BYRD (2nd generation)
The Beyerdynamic Blue BYRD (2nd generation) is a great headset for listeners who want typically good sound quality in a premium package. This Bluetooth 5.2 headset supports SBC, AAC, and aptX streaming for high-quality audio on any device. Heck, you even get Bluetooth multipoint connectivity so you can keep an ear on two devices at once. You can’t plug in for a wired connection like you can with the later-mentioned 1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro, but the Blue BYRD (2nd generation) is more comfortable.
The neckband is much sturdier than the first-gen Blue BYRD, and evenly distributes weight across the base of your neck and collarbone. You can coil the neckband and earbuds up into the zippered carrying case to take it with you, but it can’t compact as much as a pair of true wireless earbuds might. Since this is a fairly new release, the neckband houses a USB-C (rather than microUSB) charging port.
You can customize the sound to some degree through the MIY Beyerdynamic app, but there’s no custom EQ. Still, the default frequency response closely follows our consumer curve, and should please most people. You get pleasantly amplified bass and treble notes with a slightly quieter midrange response.
We recorded nearly 12 hours of constant playback from the Blue BYRD (2nd generation), which falls short of the 14-hour battery life but outperforms that of any true wireless competitors. If you want a great pair of neckbuds and don’t mind paying for it, the Blue BYRD (2nd gen) is it.
iPhone users should grab the Beats Flex
The Beats Flex is one of the cheapest entries into the Apple eco system with the W1 chip for solid integration with iOS devices such as hands-free access to Siri, improved battery life, and seamless device switching. You can also use the Audio Sharing function with other Beats and AirPods products.
You get 10 hours, 24 minutes according to our tests of battery life. If you’re low on juice, 10 minutes of charging yields 90 minutes of playback. The Beats Flex uses a USB-C cable for charging keeping it up to date. Those looking at exercising, might want to exercise caution with this set, because it lacks sweatproofing. The whole set weighs merely 18.6g which is lightweight indeed. Its onboard sound under-emphasizes treble notes, leaving you with a more bass focused sound, which might be your preference if you’re a Beats fan.
The JBL Tune 215BT covers all your basics at a nice price
For the person looking for an inexpensive set of neckband earbuds, the JBL Tune 215BT checks off budget constraints, while supplying a remote, mic, and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity. Unusually, the Tune 215BT has Bluetooth multipoint for switching devices easily. The sound favors a more bass friendly tuning, which may be your cup of tea, or you can try a third party EQ app.
With 16 hours of battery life on tap (taking 2 hours to charge fully) and a quick charge function, yielding an hour on a 10 minute charge, you won’t get caught with a dead battery. You may not gain any extras like active noise cancelling, but for a straight forward listening experience the Tune 215BT works.
The Sony WI-1000XM2 is a premium pick for ANC needs
The upper tiers of Sony products frequently top our best lists, like the Sony WH-1000XM5 and Sony WF-1000XM4. So, it comes as no surprise that the Sony WI-1000XM2 ranks as one of the best wireless neckband earbuds. It features ANC, and the better LDAC codec or otherwise standard AAC and SBC (with DSEE HX to improve your lossy audio).
You can use the Sony Connect app and its equalizer to alter the sound, during the 10 hours of battery life. In addition, a 10 minute charge lends you 80 minutes of playback. You can also take advantage of Dolby Atmos compatible media, and Sony 360 Reality Audio which works with services like Tidal and Deezer. It might not be the one you want to take on a jog with you, but for everything else it does more than the average set of buds.
The Jabra Evolve 65e will suit most people’s work needs
Equipped with Jabra’s renowned mic system the Jabra Evolve 65e works well for calls, but with the Jabra Sound+ app it also supplies some EQ presets for music needs too. An IP54 rating means the Evolve 65e can double as your gym companion, as well as your office solution, even if your office is a workshop full of sawdust.
The battery lasts 13 hours, which ought to get you through a few days of use. For productivity focused individuals, the Evolve 65e additionally has versions that are Unified Communications (UC) and Microsoft (MS) certified, meaning it plays extra nice with platforms like Skype and your PC. Finally, the Jabra Evolve 65e has noise cancelling, and although it’s not going to filter out those low frequencies as well as the Sony WI-1000XM2, it will go a long way in quieting those high and mid frequency sounds.
The Poly (Plantronics) BackBeat Go 410 is affordable
The Plantronics BackBeat Go 410 serves as an economical pair of noise cancelling neckband earbuds. For around $100 or less, listeners are afforded noise cancelling technology, a comfortable fit, and a sweat-resistant build.
Automatic environmental noise detection enables the earbuds to alternate between Low Noise Mode or High Noise Mode. At first, it may seem like a gimmick, but it performs well enough that I’d advise against using activating noise cancellation when exercising outdoors or walking down busy city streets.
One of the most unique features of the BackBeat Go 410 is the ability to enable wired listening if the battery has been exhausted. The earbuds do allow for a constant 7 hours, 53 minutes of playback before the battery drains, and the dual-purpose microUSB cables is great in a pinch. It sheathes a 3.5mm plug which can be plugged directly into your phone’s headphone jack or a dongle if need be.
Best wireless neckband earbuds: notable mentions
- House of Marley Uplift 2 Wireless: Environmentalists may be drawn to these earbuds constructed from recycled materials, or fans of more bassy frequency responses. Pick it up for $57.68 at Amazon.
- Huawei FreeLace Pro: These earbuds can be charged directly from your phone, assuming it has a USB-C input. You can find it for on the product’s website.
- Jabra Elite Active 45e: These workout earbuds are a good alternative to bone conduction headphones because they’re designed to allow outside noise in while still resting in the ear. It’s certainly priced nice enough to give it a shot at $98.98 at Amazon.
- Sennheiser IE 100 PRO Wireless: This set is unusual in that it can play as a standard set of wireless neckband earbuds, or you can swap out the Bluetooth module for the included cable for wired listening. Its sound quality is excellent, try it for $117 at Amazon.
What you should know about neckband earbuds
What is a Bluetooth codec, and which is best for iPhone and Android?
All wireless earbuds feature Bluetooth codec support. Bluetooth codecs inform how a file is transferred from the source to a headset. It encodes and decodes digital audio data into a specified format while balancing quality and efficiency. The bare minimum requirement is SBC compatibility. Over the years, its performance has improved immensely but Android users who value audio quality should keep an eye out for aptX or aptX HD support. If you’re an iPhone user, the AAC codec works well and reliably, which can’t be said for Android devices. To get the absolute best audio quality, you’ll have to go with wired listening.
Why does your music sounds bad?
A good fit can dramatically improve audio quality: it improves isolation which immediately affects bass response. If earbuds don’t fit well, it’s a severe detriment to audio quality because you’re not properly isolated from the environment.
When you’re able to hear external noise. your music is degraded due to auditory masking. This is when the louder outside noise makes it more difficult to perceive the quieter sounds of your music. Situations like this put you at risk for noise-induced hearing loss, because we’re more likely to pump up the volume in such instances. Getting a proper fit can serve as an easy way to help prevent auditory damage. Not all ear tips are created equally, though, which is where third-party tips can be useful.
Wireless vs true wireless earbuds: Which is better?
True wireless earbuds have no wires attached to them at all, whereas wireless and wireless neckband earbuds have a wire connecting each earbud to the other.
If you follow the changing world of consumer audio, then you’re already well aware of how pervasive true wireless technology has become. In fact, it’s advanced so much that sub-$100 and sub-$50 options are aplenty. There are even extremely premium options abound like the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Jabra Elite 85t, both of which are great alternatives to the Apple AirPods Pro.
This doesn’t automatically render standard wireless options outdated. Quite the contrary; these remain a great compromise pick for listeners who don’t want to deal with finicky truly wireless connectivity or worry about losing an earbud.
True, there’s been a noticeable decline in wireless neckband earbuds releases, but oftentimes you can find great performers on promotion to entice consumers. If you’re unsure about true wireless tech and want something reliable and with better battery life, standard wireless earbuds are the way to go.
What does IPX4 mean?
IP ratings can be confusing, and the bare minimum of what you should look out for if you plan to perform any intense exercise with any neckband earbuds is an IPX4 rating. Anything IPX7 and up can withstand complete submersion, the number determines duration and depth. Products rated IPX6 and below cannot be submerged. However, they can withstand varying degrees of water sprays.
If you want wireless earbuds for swimming, you’ll need a pair with onboard storage. Bluetooth connection strength isn’t great enough to carry a signal underwater.
How we chose the best neckband earbuds
We performed hands-on tests for each of our picks including battery life, frequency response, and isolation. Aside from objective testing, though, we contextualized the price of each product and considered that with its given features. While we understand that our picks may not please everyone, we feel they’ll please most listeners. If we missed one of your favorite earbuds, be sure to leave a comment below as this list is a living document that we regularly update.
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Frequently asked questions about
There isn’t one, really. Some people just prefer this style because it’s more secure around your neck than normal wireless earbuds and they’re a little bit harder to lose.
The Beats Powerbeats Pro and Jaybird X4 built very differently: the former uses an ear hook design to stabilize the ‘buds around the back of the ear, while the latter uses wing tips attached to the base of the nozzles to create friction along the contours of the outer ear. Jaybird uses an in-line module to house the microphone and playback/volume controls, but Beats integrates these things into and on the housings. The X4 can be fully submerged in water while the latter can withstand heavy sweaty and sprays of water. It depends on what you prioritize and what kind of fit you enjoy. If battery life is even a slight concern, go with the Powerbeats: they double the X4 battery life.