Wireless Bluetooth headphones have become increasingly popular over the last several years. The best wireless headphones have support for great, high-fidelity sound. In addition to excellent sound quality, battery life, comfortable during use, and noise cancelation are also important. Here are several excellent choices.
Sony WH-1000XM3 (opens in new tab)
Class-leading ANC performance
The best feature of the XM3 is the class-leading active noise canceling (ANC). Not only does it make traveling much easier by completely drowning out things such as planes and trains; they're excellent at blocking out higher-pitched sounds as well.
- Excellent battery life
- Supports most Bluetooth audio
- Great bass-boosted sound
- No charging and listening at the same time
- No aptX-LL
In terms of sound quality, bass heads will rejoice here. The sound quality of the XM3 leans heavily on the bass giving it a ton of thump and rumble. So much so that it can often sound overbearing and muddy. The mid-range is relatively neutral, and the treble region is recessed heavily giving the XM3 an overall warm and dark sound signature. Those who don't like a ton of bass should avoid these.
Bluetooth codec support here is excellent. The XM3s support everything from SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX-HD, and LDAC. The only codec that's missing is aptX-LL, which would get you ridiculously low latency over a Bluetooth connection. However, it's understandable that it isn't there because the XM3s have to do a ton of post-processing for the ANC.
Battery life is excellent with up to 30 hours of wireless listening time on a single charge. They even have fast-charging capability over USB-C that will get you five hours of listening in a 10-minute charge, which is impressive. One downside to the XM3 when it comes to charging is that you can't use them while wired or wireless. The XM3s will disable all functions until you unplug the USB-C cable.
Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 (opens in new tab)
Great sound quality
The sound quality on the Backbeat Pro 2 is exceptional. They feature an overemphasized bass that gives the Backbeat Pro 2 a bass-heavy sound signature. Both the mid-range and the treble are neutral.
- 24-hour battery life
- Support for aptX and aptX LL Bluetooth audio codecs
- Micro-USB for charging
In terms of Bluetooth audio codecs, the Backbeat Pro 2 perform excellently. While they don't support the AAC codec, they do have support for SBC, aptX, and aptX-LL. With aptX-LL, you'll get ultra-low latency for a Bluetooth headphone with latency somewhere between 30-40ms. In comparison, most other Bluetooth codecs have a latency of around 100-150ms.
Comfort-wise, the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 is super comfortable and shouldn't give you much trouble when it comes to comfort. This is important as they feature up to 24 hours of battery on a single charge. And when the battery is dead, you can charge the Backbeat Pro 2 over its Micro-USB port.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 (opens in new tab)
Crisp sound while keeping all other noise out
With 20 hours of battery life, the Bose Noice Cancelling 700 headphones does an outstanding job at canceling out noise. Not only is standard low-end noise blocked out, but mid-rand and treble sound, too.
- Best Noise Canceling
- 20-hour battery life
- 11 levels of ANC
- Support for hands-free Alexa and Google Assistant
- Non-foldable design
The Bose Noise Canceling 700s is that these now offer up to 11 different steps of ANC that can be toggled within the app. This allows you to control the amount of ANC you want on a more intricate level.
The overall sound is rather neutral, with the bass and mid-range being very natural and balanced. The treble has been significantly reduced to lower the sibilance and fatigue you hear. Unfortunately, this means that the Noise Canceling 700s also lose quite a bit of brightness and airiness.
The Noise Canceling 700s has SBC and AAC Bluetooth audio codecs support, support for hands-free Alexa and Google Assistant, and are super comfortable for long-term use.
The only real downside of the Noise Canceling 700s is that it doesn't have a folding design. This means that when you pack them away in your bag, the carrying case is quite large as it has to accommodate the entire un-folded design of the headphone. And they're expensive, so maybe wait until they get a discount.
Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 (opens in new tab)
Excellent sound quality
Sennheiser is known for its stellar sound quality and the Momentum Wireless 3 don't disappoint. The low- and mid-bass are neutral and flat, while the upper-bass and entire mid-range is a bit recessed but flat. The treble itself is neutral and flat as well.
- Great ANC performance
- Superb ambient sounds mode that sounds natural
- USB-C for charging
- Battery life could be better
- Ear cups get warm after listening for a while
The ANC performance on the Momentum Wireless 3 is superb. They are able to block out most low-end and midrange noise, struggling only in the treble region, which is typical of ANC headphones. They also feature an ambient sound mode, which allows you to hear the environment around you without taking off the headphone. Fortunately, the ambient sound mode of the Moment Wireless 3 is some of the best we've heard. It sounds very true to life, and in most cases feels like you don't have headphones on at all.
Battery life is below average for an ANC headphone coming at 17 hours of battery life. Ideally, you'd want 20+ hours of battery life on a single charge. Fortunately, they charge over USB-C and you can charge and listen at the same time. Unfortunately, the Momentum Wireless 3 does not support fast charging.
Comfort is excellent for the most part with the Momentum Wireless 3, with no issues with ear fatigue, heaviness on the crown, or pain. The ear cups and headbands are super soft and comfortable; however, the ear cups do get warm after several hours of usage.
Apple AirPods Pro (opens in new tab)
Just for Apple lovers
Apple essentially started the truly wireless revolution, and the AirPods are now the best-selling wireless earbuds on the market. Active noise cancelation (ANC) performance is excellent and consistent.
- Excellent ANC performance
- Wireless charging case
- Bud battery life is short
- Lighting for charging
Comfort is excellent and this is mostly thanks to the proprietary snapping mechanism for the ear tip. Instead of having a plastic stem that protrudes, the ear tips on AirPods Pro snap right onto the bud itself. This means the portion that gets stuffed into your ear is purely the silicone ear tip.
AirPods Pro also has decent battery life with 4.5 hours of listening time with ANC enabled, three hours when on a phone call, and five hours of listening time with ANC disabled. The included charging case gets you an additional 18-19 hours of listening time. The case itself is still impressively small and charges via Lightning (wired) and supports Qi wireless charging. Battery life is by far the "worst" thing about the AirPods Pro as many true wireless earbuds are now getting 6-10 hours of listening time before needing to recharge.
The sound signature is decent, but it's not going to blow your mind away. The bass is flat and smooth, but slightly recessed, and the midrange is also flat and smooth, but slightly enhanced and pushed forward. The treble, while neutral, will sound a bit dull and lacking in detail to most people.
Everyone deserves to have a solid pair of wireless headphones, but if you've never purchased a pair before, you may be lost on where to start your shopping. Thankfully, we have a few tips to make your buying decision a little easier. Above all else, you'll need to decide what style of headphones you want — in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear. Each one has a unique style/fit, meaning one isn't necessarily better than the other. Once you've decided which of these is right for you, there are three other features that you should be thinking about. These include sound quality, noise cancelation, and battery life. Some headphones will kick out more bass, while others are more balanced. Most headphones will block out sound to some degree with the way they rest on your head, but others have a feature called "active noise cancellation" that uses microphones to actively block out ambient sound. Lastly, battery life is pretty self-explanatory. The longer the battery life headphones have, the longer they last before needing to be charged up.
Bluetooth headphones will continue to evolve as more devices come out without a headphone jack. Smartphones were the first device to ditch the jack, and now tablets and even some computers are removing them entirely.
Great wireless headphones should be comfortable, be out of your way, have excellent battery life, and sound great. That's why you should consider the Sony WH-1000XM3 (opens in new tab) when buying a pair of wireless headphones.
They're not cheap but the additional price gets you some of the best active noise cancelations in the business, along with incredible sound quality, USB-C charging, ultra-long comfort, and unmatched battery life — all in a package that can fold down really small for traveling.
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