Comfortable fit w/swiveling ear cups. 20 hours of use in Bluetooth mode. Integrates with Google Assistant.
Bluetooth signal may cut out on an airplane. Expensive.
Hands-free calling and 6-8 hours of use time/1-2 hours of charge time. Compatible with all Bluetooth-enabled devices. Noise-cancelling.
Earbuds degrade over time, according to some owners.
Clear, balanced sound and noise cancelling in a waterproof/sweat-proof design. Offers a snug, comfortable fit ideal for active lifestyles. Reliable Bluetooth connectivity.
Has an irritating low charge warning. Mixed reviews on battery life. Charging port is in an awkward location.
Built-in mic. Charge lasts up to 8 hrs. 30-ft. Bluetooth range; connects w/more than one device at the same time. Noise- cancelling. 1-yr. warranty.
Some complaints of choppy sound quality, poor fit, and Bluetooth drops-outs after repeated use.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Wireless headphones were once a niche product. When they were first introduced, most people preferred the stability and sound quality of wired headsets. But Bluetooth wireless technology has since caught up, and on top of that, many smartphone manufacturers no longer include ports for wired headsets, thus requiring users to buy wireless headphones.
Thankfully, now is a perfect time to grab a pair of wireless headphones. The market is full of models for just about any lifestyle, whether you need a high-end pair for critical listening or a dirt-cheap set to get you through brutal workouts.
Read on for our take on today’s wireless headphones and get to know the features, styles, and must-have accessories available. Then, when you’re ready to start shopping, check out the table above to see our favorite models.
Most wireless headphones offer the same basic functionality: they connect to a device and play whatever audio is coming from it. However, there are a few additional features found on some that are invaluable – features that take a pair of wireless headphones from good to great.
An in-line microphone: If you want to use your headphones for phone calls, an in-line microphone is a must. In-line microphones are tiny mics that are part of the earphone wiring; they look like tiny circles and are typically located with the connectivity buttons. With an inline mic, taking calls with your headphones is incredibly convenient, and it helps keeps your hands free.
Earbud tips: Most, but not all, wireless earbud headphones include tips of different sizes so you can choose the ones that best fit your ears. With earbuds in particular, a good fit is crucial; a bad fit will make music sound tinny, or worse, it will make it hard to hear people on phone calls. As you shop for wireless headphones, pay special attention to which models include multiple earbud tips and which are “one size fits all.”
Headphones that redefine “private listening”
Bose practically invented noise-cancelling technology, and they’ve nearly perfected it in their QuietComfort series of wireless headphones. As usual, Bose brings warm bass and crisp highs to music, and phone calls sound like you’re talking to someone in the same room. Like all Bose products, the QuietComfort series isn’t cheap. Quality like this rarely is.
Most wireless headphones fall into one of three form factors: earbuds, over-the-ear wireless headphones, or true wireless headphones.
Earbuds are headphones with small silicon tips that nestle in your ear canal. In wireless models, they typically connect via a single cable that hangs behind the neck. Wireless earbuds are great general-purpose headphones; they’re the least expensive choice, they’re small, and in most cases, they make music sound great.
Connected by a band that goes over the head, over-the-ear wireless headphones are traditional hi-fi style headphones with larger speakers that cover the entire ear. These models deliver a premium audio experience, but their weight makes them a bad candidate for high-motion activity like working out. If you want wireless headphones strictly for music listening, or if you don’t expect to exercise while wearing them, a set of over-the-ear wireless headphones is ideal.
So-called “true wireless” headphones are usually sold as two earbuds that wirelessly communicate with an audio source and each other. They’re called “true wireless” because no wires are needed to connect the earbuds. True wireless headphones are expensive, although prices are expected to drop as their unique form factor becomes more mainstream.
Some earbud-style wireless headphones feature magnets in each earpiece, so they can automatically connect around your neck. Magnetized earbuds are ideal for people concerned about their headphones falling off or getting lost.
Some wireless headsets are built with ear hooks. The hooks keep the earbud in the ear by holding it in place behind the ear. If you plan to wear your wireless headphones while running or biking, we suggest you buy a pair with ear hooks.
Some wireless headphones have a noise-cancellation feature. Noise cancellation is a fantastic feature for busy environments or airplanes, but it will result in shorter battery life for your wireless headphones.
Earbuds are capable of producing a surprising amount of bass and high-quality audio overall – as long as they have a full seal within your ear canal.
When it comes to wireless headphones, you don’t have to spend a lot to get a lot. However, a greater expenditure may be worth it in some cases.
Between $15 and $30
Wireless headphones in this price range deliver respectable audio quality and a surprisingly long battery life. If you’re not an audiophile, or if you just need a solid set of wireless headphones that will last a few years, don’t spend more than $30.
Between $31 and $99
In this higher price range, expect to find wireless headphones with more luxury features, such as a longer battery life or a better wireless range. If you need wireless headphones for daily work or want a pair that delivers above-average audio, you’ll need to pony up a little more cash.
Between $100 and $350
In this top tier, you’ll encounter the best wireless headphones available: models that sound incredible and include features like noise cancellation and digital assistant support. Many users find that audio quality on less-expensive models is more than sufficient, but if you love bleeding-edge tech, expect to pay top dollar for it.
Earbuds that don’t compromise
Soundpeat’s wireless earbuds have just about every feature you could ever need at a price that’s hard to believe. We love their near-audiophile-quality sound and ergonomic earbuds, but the eight-hour battery life is the killer feature on these must-have headphones.
If you’re using wireless earbuds, make sure they form a tight seal inside your ears. This helps ensure a good audio experience.
If your earbuds don’t sound as good as you think they should, try using earbud tips of a different size. Many wireless headphones include several different sizes. It could be that you need a better fit.
To avoid damaging your hearing, play audio in your wireless headphones at a reasonable volume. As a general rule, listening to any audio source above 60% of its total volume could cause problems.
When you first get your wireless headphones, practice connecting them to your phone and answering calls with them. Most wireless headphones have unique connection methods. It usually takes a few tries to learn how a given set works.
Q. How long does it usually take to charge a pair of wireless headphones?
A. Charging time varies, but it typically takes between two and four hours to completely charge a pair of wireless headphones. However, some luxury models feature “quick charging” in which the battery is able to recharge a significant amount (usually to 85% or so) within 15 minutes. If you plan to use your wireless headphones all day for work, we recommend you buy a pair that supports quick charging.
Q. Can I use wireless headphones with a desktop computer or a laptop?
A. Yes, as long as the computer or laptop supports Bluetooth. Most laptops built in the last five years include Bluetooth support as a standard functionality, although the same can’t always be said for desktop computers. Bottom line: most Bluetooth wireless headphones will work with any device that supports Bluetooth, whether it’s a tablet, smartphone, laptop, or desktop computer.
Q. Will my wireless headphone battery eventually stop holding a charge?
A. Yes, but it will take quite a while. All rechargeable batteries deteriorate over time and eventually reach a point where they can’t hold a charge. In the case of most wireless headphones, battery deterioration starts around the two-year mark – assuming they’re used frequently – and will continue to hold a charge for a few years after that.