Wireless Bluetooth headphones have become increasingly popular over the last several years. The best wireless headphones have support for great, high-fidelity sound. That's why the Sony WH-1000XM3 are our best overall pick. They have excellent sound quality, battery life, and are comfortable for long-term use — and their noise cancelation is second-to-none.
By far, the most significant feature of the XM3s is their 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. The ANC you get out of the XM3 is legitimate, and it sometimes feels like you're in an empty room.
In terms of sound quality, bass heads will rejoice here. The sound quality of the XM3s lean 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.
Most, if not all, modern over-ear headphones nowadays come with active noise cancelation (ANC) in the box; especially if you're looking for wireless over-ear headphones. The Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 is our pick for the best overall pair of headphones.
First things first: the sound quality on the Backbeat Pro 2 are exceptional, and bass heads will be happy. They feature an overemphasized bass that gives the Backbeat Pro 2 an overall bass-heavy sound signature. Both the mid-range and the treble are neutral with almost zero overemphasis on either region.
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 latency around 100-150ms.
Comfort-wise, the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 are 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.
If you're looking for ridiculously long battery life, the Tribit XFree Tune are the right headphones for you. They last up to 40 hours on a single charge which will get most people through the week without needing to recharge.
In terms of sound quality, the XFree Tune perform decently well. The bass is elevated but isn't too overwhelming. The mid-range is neutral and smooth, and the treble has an emphasis, making some tracks sound overly bright. On the bright side, they do support the AAC audio codec which means you'll get higher-fidelity audio and lower latency versus only having the SBC codec.
For comfort, the XFree Tune are excellent. In our testing, we're able to wear these for hours on end without any issues. Ears stayed relatively cool, the headband wasn't pushing up against the head, and it didn't feel like the ear cups were squeezing the head at all.
The Anker SoundBuds Slim are a great set of earbuds for a stupidly low price. They feature IPX7 water resistance, which means you'll be covered in most scenarios. No, you can't just go swimming or shower with them on. But, if you drop them in a puddle by accident, or are doing some intense workout, the SoundBuds Slim should survive just fine.
Battery life wise, the SoundBuds Slim are good. They last up to 10 hours on a single charge and can be recharged using the included Micro-USB cable. Unfortunately, there's no fast charging here so to charge from 0% to full battery; you're looking at around three hours.
In terms of sound, they are decent. The low-bass, which mostly handles thump and rumble is non-existent, but it gets made up with the mid- and upper-bass boost. The mid-range has a modest boost giving leading vocals and instruments a bit of space to breathe. And the treble is a bit harsh and piercing, making these slightly tricky to listen to if you have sensitive ears.
Fortunately, that's made up in the comfort department. In our testing, we've noticed zero ear fatigue or pain when having them on for long periods. They come with various tip sizes and should cover most people's ears.
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. Dynamic range is excellent, and soundstage is above average for an active noise canceling (ANC) headphone.
Speaking of, ANC performance on the Momentum Wireless 3 is superb. While it isn't as good as what you would find on the Sony WH-1000XM3, it's super close. The Momentum Wireless 3 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 are 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. If we had to rank the top three ANC headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM3 would be the top dog, with the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 in second, and the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 as a close third.
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, especially at this price. Fortunately, they charge over USB-C and you can charge and listen at the same time. Unfortunately, the Momentum Wireless 3 do 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 headband are super soft and comfortable; however, the ear cups do get warm after several hours of usage.
The Skullcandy Grind are a great set of on-ear headphones that won't break the bank. Its design is rather minimalist with only a Skullcandy logo on the outside, above the ear cup.
Battery life is excellent as well with up to 12 hours of battery life; they should last you throughout the day without issue. Unfortunately, there's no fast charging which means charging the Grind from dead will take approximately 3 hours to come to a full charge. You'll also get Micro-USB instead of USB-C when it comes to charging.
Fortunately, the sound signature is perfect. The bass is relatively neutral and smooth with no issues there. The mid-range has a slight boost in the upper-mids, which will give the Grind a slightly brighter sound. And this extends well into the treble as well, as the entire region is boosted ever so slightly.
In terms of comfort, the Grind more than does its job. Since it's an on-ear solution, you don't have to worry about your ears getting warm. The headband extends well and doesn't get in your way either.
For those looking for neck earbuds, look no further than the Bose QC30. They offer the three most important things that people have come to love with neck buds. They're comfortable around your neck and stay firmly in place so that you don't have to worry about them falling from your neck. When it comes to the earbuds themselves, they're comfortable there as well. The QC30 comes with a few different bud sizes in the box so you can choose which fits you best.
In terms of phone calls, the QC30 are excellent. In our testing, we didn't have any issues with being able to hear people on the other end, nor did they have any issues hearing us. For the most part, the person on the other end says they didn't even know we were using earbuds at all. The sound quality is also excellent. The entire bass and mid-range sound is rather neutral. The treble is a little uneven and is slightly sibilant. It's not overbearing and is controlled quite well.
When it comes to controlling your earbuds, the QC30 work tremendously. They have physical controls that mimic the classic iPod controls. Single tap them to play/pause, double-tap to skip forward, triple tap to skip back, and tap and hold for your phone's assistant.
The only real downside here is that there's no support for higher quality Bluetooth codecs such as AAC or aptX. You'll only get SBC, which is fine but you'll get a considerable amount of latency when watching videos or playing games.
Apple essentially started the truly wireless revolution, and the AirPods are now the best selling wireless earbuds on the market. Now, with the introduction of AirPods Pro, Apple has made the best truly wireless earbud on the market.
Let's tackle the elephant in the room: sound quality. Just like previous AirPods, it's not going to blow your mind away. While the sound signature is vastly improved over the previous generation AirPods, it still has a long way to go. 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.
Active noise cancelation (ANC) performance on the AirPods Pro is excellent. It compares favorably to the Sony WF-1000XM3, which is the only other truly wireless ANC earbud on the market. Both are equally as good, but the AirPods Pro's ANC is more consistent.
AirPods Pro also have 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.
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.
Being the successor to the Bose QC35 IIs, the Noise Canceling 700s do an outstanding job at canceling out noise. Not only do they do the standard blocking out low-end noise, the Noise Canceling 700s make improvements in the mid-range and treble. As with most ANC headphones, they still struggle with non-consistent noises such as talking. Where Bose takes it a step further with the 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.
In terms of sound quality, Bose has once again made significant improvements in this area. The overall sound is rather neutral, with the bass and mid-range being very natural and balanced. The treble, compared to the QC35 IIs, have been significantly reduced to lower the sibilance and fatigue you would hear with the QC35 IIs. Unfortunately, this means that the Noise Canceling 700s also lose quite a bit of brightness and airiness that the QC35 IIs had.
The Noise Canceling 700s and the QC35 Iis share a lot in common. For example, they both still have the great 20 hours of battery life, SBC and AAC Bluetooth audio codecs support, support for hands-free Alexa and Google Assistant, and are both 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.
The JBL UA True Wireless Flash are fantastic for working out. First and foremost, they feature IPX7 water resistance, which means it'll be able to withstand sweat, rain, puddles, and practically anything else. Just don't swim with them in since they're not rated to take while swimming.
Sound quality is excellent as the UA True Wireless Flash have a near-neutral sound signature. The lower-treble is slightly recessed but otherwise the sound signature is rather neutral and flat. Dynamic range is excellent and soundstage isn't great but that's expected as most earbuds lack a great soundstage.
They're comfortable too and have no issues with ear fatigue or discomfort. The buds don't enter the ear canal at all, which is always a bonus as long as it doesn't compromise on sound quality. It uses a wing and bud combination, which helps with comfort and fit.
When it comes to battery life, the UA True Wireless Flash are decent. The buds get up to five hours of audio playback before you have to recharge. The charging case adds an additional 20 hours of listening, totaling 25 hours of battery life. Unfortunately, they charge over the aging Micro-USB connector instead of the more modern USB-C connector.
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 when buying a pair of wireless headphones.
They're not cheap but the additional price gets you some of the best active noise cancelation 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.