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The best Bluetooth LDAC headphones

Find cans with the current king of wireless audio transmission.
By
November 4, 2021
Sony WH-1000XM4
By Sony
The Sony WH-1000XM4 noise cancelling headphones in black against a white background.
8.2
Check price
Positives
Great noise cancelling
Sound quality
SBC, AAC, and LDAC Support
Comfortable
USB-C charging
Negatives
Price
The Bottom Line.
Some of the best headphones around offers best in class noise cancelling, great sound, and support for all sorts of Bluetooth codecs, including LDAC.
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Shure AONIC 50
By Shure
A product render of the Shure AONIC 50 noise cancelling headphones in brown against a white background.
7.9
Check price
Positives
Comfortable
Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C passthrough, headphone jack
Multipoint connectivity
Noise cancelling/passthrough
Sound quality
In-app EQ
Negatives
Price
No folding hinges
The Bottom Line.
The AONIC 50 is one of the most comfortable premium headsets around with very good ANC and excellent sound quality.
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Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
By Audio-Technica
Product shot of Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
7.9
Check price
Positives
Sound quality
Fast pairing
Battery life
Equalizer
Compacts for storage
Negatives
Heat build up
Tight fit
The Bottom Line.
Audio-Technica adds Bluetooth and expanded functionality to its famed M-50x headset. If you want one pair of headphones for every application, get this.
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Sony WF-1000XM4
By Sony
The Sony WF-1000XM4 noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds in black against a white background.
8.2
Check price
Positives
True Wireless means no cables ever
Virtual assistant support
Battery life
Fantastic isolation and ANC
IPX4
Negatives
Price
No aptX
The Bottom Line.
The WF-1000XM4 is one of the pairs of true wireless earbuds on the market, with fantastic ANC, a comfortable, sweatproof fit, and great sound—albeit for a high price.
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Audeze Mobius
By Audeze
Audeze Mobius manufacturer shot
8.3
Check price
Positives
Planar magnetic drivers
Great for gaming and music listening
3D audio is unique
Negatives
Gaming features are only available on wired
Price
The Bottom Line.
It costs as much as a gaming console, but if your alternative option is buying two pairs of headphones, the Audeze Mobius may still be a reasonable buy for the gamer/audiophile.
Read full review...

In the world of Bluetooth audio, not all codecs are created equal. The default SBC works everywhere, but it doesn’t offer the audio quality of more specialized formats, like aptX, AAC (if you’re using an iPhone), and if you’re really lucky, LDAC. Marketed by Sony as a true hi-res codec, LDAC doesn’t exactly offer comparable audio to a wired connection, but you probably won’t notice the difference. Because the codec is made by Sony, support is rather scant outside of the company’s own products, but there are certainly a few Bluetooth headphones with LDAC worth looking at.

Editor’s note: this article was updated on November 4, 2021, to include the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 and Shure AONIC 50.

The best product with LDAC support is the WH-1000XM4

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the best pairs of headphones of the last year is also the best LDAC compatible option on the market. The WH-1000XM4 may be expensive, sure, but it’s worth it. An update to the similarly popular WH-1000XM3, these headphones bring best-in-class noise cancelling, LDAC support, multipoint Bluetooth connectivity, decent battery life, all wrapped up in a lightweight comfortable build.

Sony WH-1000XM4
8.2
Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones next to magazines on a wood benchSony WH-1000XM4 headphones next to iPad Pro on a marble surfaceMan holding Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones in front of green plantsA chart showing the frequency response of the Sony WH-1000XM4 compared to the SoundGuys' house curve.A chart showing that the active noise canceling performance of the Sony WH-1000XM4 is very good

When you use the app, you have access to features such as EQ controls, ambient sound controls, DSEE Extreme audio upscaling, touch control customization, and 360 Reality Audio: Sony’s approach to in-ear spatial audio technology for an immersive listening experience. However, it requires a subscription a premium streaming service such as Amazon Music HD or Deezer.

The headphones can last around 20 hours of playback on a single charge, with noise cancelling turned on. That’s plenty long enough for even the lengthiest commutes or flights. Further sweetening the pot, it charges with USB-C, too. The included touch controls do a solid job handling volume and playback, though finding them can be a little finicky, and you may feel like a bit of a dope doing it a lot in public. Regardless, 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.

Before you buy any of the best Bluetooth LDAC headphones, study up on Bluetooth codecs

A woman using the Shure PlayPlus headphone app centered in the frame with the Shure AONIC 50 noise cancelling headphones on the display.
Some headphone apps let you choose between Bluetooth codecs, while others don’t.

A Bluetooth codec is like a language devices and headphones use to exchange audio information. By default, Bluetooth just isn’t great at transmitting high-quality audio, so different standards have been developed to improve things. The default SBC codec is available on every Bluetooth device, and it gets the job done, but compressing audio for limited bitrates is extremely difficult. The better codecs for audiophiles are aptX and LDAC, which offer much higher quality audio, and respectively make claims at offering “CD quality” and true “hi-res” sound.

Though LDAC falls short of hi-res claims, it’s still the best-performing Bluetooth codec currently available. We’re still waiting to see if aptX Adaptive is going to be as good as it seems, but luckily any issues are increasingly hard to hear as we age because. Sorry to break it to you: our ears aren’t that great when we’re old.

LDAC Modes Frequency Response Compared
Data collected by Robert Triggs

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, and 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.

The Shure AONIC 50 is built to last and sounds great right out of the box

The Shure AONIC 50 doesn’t try to compete with more software-heavy headsets like the Bose QuietComfort 45 and QuietComfort 35 II, instead, it relies on great sound and build quality to stand out from the crowd. Not only does the AONIC 50 support LDAC, it also supports SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, and aptX Low Latency. Suffice it to say, you get high-quality low-latency playback no matter your device, making the AONIC 50 a great choice for listeners with multiple operating systems.

Shure AONIC 50
7.9
An picture of the Shure Aonic 50 noise cancelling headphones in brown leaning against a coffee carafe.A chart depicting the Shure AONIC 50 noise cancelling performance (firmware 0.4.9), and low frequencies are heavily attenuated making them four times quieter with ANC enabled than when it's disabled.A chart depicting the Shure AONIC 50 frequency response (firmware 0.4.9); sub-bass and treble notes have been amplified with the first firmware update.A woman using the Shure PlayPlus headphone app centered in the frame with the Shure AONIC 50 noise cancelling headphones on the display.A woman wearing the Shure AONIC 50 noise cancelling headphones and using the Shure PlayPlus headphone app.The Shure AONIC 50 noise cancelling headphones surrounded by film cameras in a green and brown cabinet.The Shure AONIC 50 noise cancelling headphones' onboard controls used by a woman wearing the headset.

The Shure AONIC 50 has very good ANC, though it can’t outperform the WH-1000XM4 or Bose QC 35 II. It will quite the hum of an airplane cabin and can help protect your ears from noise-induced hearing loss as you travel around town.

By default, the AONIC 50 has a consumer-friendly frequency response with gently boosted upper-bass and treble notes. Pretty much all music will sound good with this headset, and if you want, you can go the extra mile to EQ the sound from the ShurePlay PLUS app (iOS and Android).

Frankly, if you’re looking for a durable headset with premium materials, a headphone jack, and USB-C audio passthrough port, then you’re in luck and can end your search here.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 is a versatile, yet simple pair of LDAC Bluetooth headphones

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 takes everything about the beloved ATH-M50x and adds Bluetooth functionality, onboard controls, and a solid microphone system. Whether you’re a professional audio engineer or audio enthusiast, the ATH-M50xBT2 has something to offer you with its timeless design and great sound.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
7.9
A man wears the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 pressing the buttons on the left ear cup.Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 with pouch, USB cable, and headphone jack cable on a bench.Birdseye view of Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 with pouch, headphone jack, and USB cable on bench of leaves.Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 getting stowed away in a black bag.Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 slung over the back rest of a bench.Close up of the buttons and connections on Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 ear cup.Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 on a bench with leaves showing the cushions of the ear cups.Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 with one ear cup rotated laying flat on leaves.Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 packed away in included vinyl bag.Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 with headphone cable plugged in, held in a hand.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2
Buy now
See review
See review

With the ATH-M50xBT2, you get the same famed, decades-old design chock full of new internal hardware. The onboard controls are easy to operate, though the smart assistant button is uncomfortably close to the volume up control, making it easy to misfire one or the other.

Sound quality is very good and follows our studio curve closely enough, with some under-emphasized deviation in the midrange and treble. Isolation performance is standard for vinyl ear pads, and will block out some high-pitched incidental sounds, but this isn’t the headset to take on an intercontinental flight.

See: Audio-Technica ATH-M40x review

You get software support through the OS-agnostic Audio-Technica Connect app where you can update the firmware, EQ the sound, and choose your preferred Bluetooth codec. There’s not much else to these Audio-Technica headphones, which is a big part of the appeal.

If earbuds are more your speed, check out the Sony WF-1000XM4

The Sony WF-1000XM4 is the next iteration of flagship true wireless earbuds from Sony, and it’s among the best products on the market for a number of reasons, including LDAC support. This offers pretty much the best active noise cancelling you can find in a pair of earbuds, with fantastic isolation to match.

Sony WF-1000XM4
8.2
The Sony WF-1000XM4 on a wet, red bench, also with moisture on the earphones.A photo showing someone using the touch controls of the Sony WF-1000XM4.A photo of the Sony WF-1000XM4's case open, revealing the earphones sitting within.The memory foam tips of the Sony WF-1000XM4.A chart shows the exceptional ANC and isolation performance of the Sony WF-1000XM4 true wireless earphones.A chart showing the frequency response of the Sony WF-1000XM4 true wireless earphones compared to the SoundGuys house curve.

The earphones use DSEE Extreme to upscale compressed music files, restoring data that may have been lost during compression. On top of LDAC, these also support AAC and SBC, so Apple users will have access to high-quality streaming, too. In our testing, the WF-1000XM4 lasted 7 hours, 43 minutes on a single charge, and the included charging case (which supports wireless charging) stores enough for two full charges, moving overall battery life to over 24 hours.

Using Sony’s Headphones Connect app, you get access to all sorts of goodies, like changing your control scheme, updating your virtual assistant, changing the WF-1000XM4 EQ, and more. The app even offers a fit test for its ear tips, to help with maximizing your isolation performance.

The Audeze Mobius makes the case for gaming headphones being your main headphones too

If any headphones on this list can compete with the WH-1000XM4 in terms of raw audio quality, it’s the Audeze Mobius. The first attempt at a gaming headset from luxury audio company Audeze, the Mobius sports 100mm planar magnetic audio drivers, and it sounds fantastic. However, don’t rush out just yet if you’re looking for an obvious alternative to a typical pair of wireless headphones.

Audeze Mobius
8.3
The Audeze Mobius has a USB-C port, mic jack, and headphone jack.Audeze Mobius with microphone.An isolation chart for the audeze mobius gaming headset, which shows pretty average attenuationA chart comparing the frequency response of the Audeze Mobius gaming headset to the SoundGuys in-house curve, which shows very accurate audio across the audible spectrum

This is a gaming headset, and its primary use is over a wired connection on PC, so a lot of its best features aren’t available over a Bluetooth connection to a mobile device. However, if you’re a gamer who doesn’t necessarily want to own a bunch of different headphones for different activities, it’s worth a look. When it’s connected via USB (or Bluetooth to a laptop) this gaming headset features 3D audio and head tracking via WavesNx tech for simulated directional audio pretty cool. In game, it means surround sound is accurate and responsive. Out of game, it simulates a stereo home theatre, so audio sounds like it’s coming in from in front of you, and it maintains a set point of origin regardless of how you turn your head. Those who own the Apple AirPods (3rd generation), AirPods Pro, or both, will be familiar with this kind of spatial audio effect.

While this all probably sounds pretty neat, the flip side of this is that it jettisons the typical niceties you’d expect of a $400 pair of Bluetooth headphones. The headset can’t last as long, with only 10 hours of battery life. It’s heavier, due to the planar magnetic drivers. On top of all that, there’s no ANC—the included memory foam ear pads do a fine job with isolation, but not out of the ordinary.

The best LDAC headphones: Notable mentions

The Sony WH-1000XM4 and Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones sit on a canvas bag next to eachother.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 (left) may look identical to the WH-1000XM3 (right), though it lacks some features from its predecessor.
  • Panasonic RP-HD805N-KThis has an all-plastic design which keeps both the cost and weight down. It has very good active noise cancelling that compares well against the Sony WH-1000XM3. It’s technically discontinued, so you’ll find this renewed or through third-party sellers for well under $100 USD.
  • Sony WH-H910N h.ear on 3These headphones are a little more expensive that the XB900n, but they’re newer, with support for Bluetooth 5.0 and up to 35 hours of battery life on a single charge.
  • Sony WH-1000XM3: The previous model of Sony’s flagship headphones is still one of the best on the market, and it supports LDAC just like the WH-1000XM4. The WH-1000XM3 doesn’t offer as good ANC, but it’s otherwise almost identical to this year’s model—it’s often discounted too.
  • Sony WH-XB910NThis pair of headphones has solid ANC and great battery life. If you want to feel the bass rattle your skull, get this headset.

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