Wireless headphones have come a long way in the last decade. The wireless revolution means ever-more advanced Bluetooth codecs, longer-lasting batteries and better-sounding performance – greats news for those of us who value both quality sound and the convenience of no wires.
It’s always worth investing in some of the best wireless headphones. Not only do they free you from the burden of tangled cables getting in the way, they also come with richer sound and features you just wouldn’t find on their wired counterparts. On top of that, with more and more devices scrapping the headphone jack in favour of Bluetooth, the best time to buy a pair of wireless headphones was last year. The next best time is right now.
Picking out a pair of the best wireless headphones can be daunting, but we here at Tom’s Guide are here to help. We’ve compiled a list of the best wireless headphones out there, to help you find the right fit for your own budget and style. We’ve tested the top headphones from all the major brands, including Bose, Sony, Apple, as well as some of the lesser-known rising stars like Jabra and JLab Audio. So let’s take a look and see what’s what.
How do wireless headphones work?
The answer is Bluetooth, but how it works is hugely complicated and boring, so allow me to explain as simply as I can.
Imagine two people standing on either side of a river waving at each other – that’s your headphones and your music player. Music Player has some heavy boxes that won’t float across the river. So it breaks them down into teeny tiny units that do float.
When they get to the other side, Headphones rebuilds them exactly as they were. That’s basically what’s happening with Bluetooth except it’s basically instantaneous.
How to choose the best wireless headphones?
There are three things to look out for when buying headphones: sound quality, battery life, and comfort. You won’t enjoy your purchase if you can’t hear what you want to listen to for as long as you want.
- Sound Quality: Sound quality should be your top priority for potential headphone buyers. It doesn’t matter if they’re super comfortable or look pretty if they sound terrible.
- Comfort: Comfort can sometimes be overlooked by some headphone manufacturers. Some manufacturers have a better track record for comfort than others.
- Battery Life: Battery life is super important when it comes to wireless headphones, especially when certain manufacturers restrict you from listening to your headphones while charging. You’ll want to look for USB-C to make sure you futureproof your device, and for truly wireless earbuds, wireless charging is a bonus.
How we tested wireless headphones
To help you separate the wheat from the chaff when shopping for headphones, Tom’s Guide evaluates the following criteria: design, comfort, features, performance and value. We employ a rigorous review process, comparing products with similar fit, features and pricing.
Each pair is worn over the course of a week for 2 hours at a time. During this testing period, the staff is evaluating comfort, ease of use and, of course, audio quality. We listen to several predetermined sample tracks that span a number of genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical and R&B, and we evaluate the volume, clarity and fullness.
In terms of features, we test the effectiveness of active noise cancelling, Bluetooth range and battery life. For the fitness-focused models, we test to see how they stand up to vigorous workouts, evaluating both how securely they fit while we exercise and how well they handle ambient noise from things like falling weights and gym machines. We test every feature for app-enabled headphones along with ease of setup.
Wireless Earphones vs. Headphones
Earphones (or earbuds, or in-ear headphones) offer a slightly different sound profile compared with conventional headphones.
Generally, you’ll get better sound from a full set of “cans” around your head than from buds in your ears, but in-ear sound quality has improved a great deal.
More importantly, in-ear headphones are much more likely to be water resistant, and much better suited for use when working out. Get a good sweat going, and you’ll turn your headphone earpads into a nasty mess.
If you aren’t primarily looking for a set of wireless earphones for the gym, conventional headphones can offer a very good listening experience.
You’ll still have to choose between on-ear and over-ear models, however. On-ear headphones rest the earcups against your ears, but don’t surround them. Over-ear headphones block out the most outside noise and usually provide a more powerful, rich sound, but on-ear headphones are less bulky and distracting to wear when you’re out and about.
10 Best Wireless Headphones of 2021:
|Sony WH-1000XM2||7.3 x 2.9 x 10.4 in||0.56 lb|
|Bose QuietComfort 35 II||3.2 x 6.7 x 7.1 in||0.52 lb|
|V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless||8.5 x 11 x 3 in||1 lb|
|Beats Studio 3||6.3 x 4.7 x 8.9 in||2.72 ounces|
|Bowers & Wilkins PX||6.9 x 3 x 7.9 in||0.73 lb|
|Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2||8.1 x 7.8 x 9 in||0.62 lb|
|B&O Play Beoplay H4||8 x 3 x 8 in||7.52 ounces|
|Plantronics BackBeat Fit 500||8 x 8 x 2 in||5.47 ounces|
|Creative Sound Blaster Jam||7.2 x 3.1 x 7.5 in||0.52 lb|
|Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless||5.9 x 3.1 x 7.9 in||7.8 ounces|
The latest WH-1000XM2 is an enhanced version of the MDR-1000X. It looks very similar to the old one. It is also available in beige and black, but the headphone structure is slightly different. Sony has reduced the number of buttons to simplify operation.
Like its predecessor, this model has a touch control on the right earcup for adjusting volume, controlling playback, and answering and ending calls.
We think it is the best noise canceling earphone. Just put your hand on the right ear cup where the touch control is located, you can eliminate the noise and prevent the outside sound from entering.
As for the difference in sound, Sony is slightly better than Bose. The WH-1000XM2 has strong bass and excellent detail performance, but the mid-range sound is not outstanding enough.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II has almost the same look, sound and performance as the old one, except for one key feature: there is now a new trigger button on the left earcup that gives you direct access to the Google Assistant without having to touch the phone.
In addition, it has the same comfort as the QC35, the same top-level noise reduction, the same control on the right earcup, and up to 20 hours of battery life in the wireless mode of noise cancellation.
The QC35 II is one of the best listening Bluetooth headsets, but it is slightly inferior to Sony’s WH-1000XM2 in terms of sound quality.
Although Sony has a slight advantage in some areas, this Bose Bluetooth headset is more comfortable to wear and more suitable for making calls.
Thanks to the thicker ear pads of the V-Moda, the Crossfade 2 is more comfortable than its predecessor.
Other larger changes are internal: there is now a brand new 50mm drive that provides more frequency response in wired mode and battery life is extended to 14 hours.
Like other V-Moda headphones, the Crossfade 2 is rugged and well-designed with a highly flexible headband for all shapes of head. But one thing to note: it’s a bit heavy.
Its bass sounds very comfortable, but the mid-high sound is not its advantage. However, we still have the task of being one of the best wireless headphones on the market.
The new Beats Studio 3 is a better Bluetooth headset in many ways, including sound quality, noise reduction and battery life.
Beats’ W1 chip makes the connection between Studio3 and Apple devices easier, and also helps to extend battery life. Turning on noise cancellation in wireless mode now allows you to listen for 22 hours.
This headset is also suitable for non-Apple Bluetooth audio devices, but its special pairing feature is limited to iPhones running iOS 10+, WatchOS 3+ or MacOS Sierra+.
In addition to battery life, the two major upgrades here include sound quality and noise reduction. Compared to the 2014 model, it sounds sharper, has better bass clarity, and a more natural sound.
It’s also worth mentioning that it is very suitable for making calls. You can hear your voice in the headphones while you are talking, so don’t say too much.
Its appearance is very beautiful, the quality is also very strong, the oval memory foam ear pad is comfortably attached to the ear, and the compact body is comfortable to wear.
If you want to maximize sound quality, you can turn off noise reduction completely in your application. Another option is to adjust the level of sound delivery to better hear the outside world.
Surprisingly, it has an automatic pause and resume function, which automatically starts when you wear it and automatically pauses when you remove it.
Overall, PX’s adaptive noise reduction is not as powerful as Sony and Beats, but it offers a free app for iOS and Android that lets you switch between three noise cancellation modes depending on your environment.
If you want a cheap wireless headphone, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is worth considering.
This is a low-cost, high-end headset that, like the original BackBeat Pro, sounds great, clean, active, and balanced, and rivals the more expensive competitors.
It is also very comfortable to wear, and the sensor can pause and resume music when you take it off or put on your headphones.
Although the noise cancellation effect is not as good as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, it does a good job of eliminating ambient noise.
The BackBeat Pro 2 has a battery life of approximately 24 hours. The product package comes with a cable and a beautiful storage box that you can use as a wired headset if needed.
This headphone looks very attractive and quite soft, perfect for long listening sessions. Its appearance is exquisite and not gorgeous, clear and rich in sound quality.
Available in grey and black, it is as simple as most B&O products, focusing on simplicity, comfort and materials.
The outer panel of the earmuffs is designed with a gold-tone metal ring with a B&O logo on it. The top of the ear pads and headband are lined with dark gray sheepskin leather and a layer of grey memory foam under the headband.
B&O estimates that the battery life is about 19 hours, but the actual results will vary with your volume.
As mentioned earlier, the sound of the headphones is very impressive, full of dynamics, strong in bass, detail and clarity, and the mid-range sound is very natural.
Its audio performance is quite good, with thunderous bass and high-pitched sound. The waterproof design makes you feel comfortable and safe, which enhances its overall value and is one of our preferred sports Bluetooth headsets.
Available in black and blue, the headband and earmuffs are filled with a soft memory foam that will ensure a comfortable fit during long listening sessions.
The outer panels of the earmuffs are a waterproof rubber material, which, unfortunately, is as easy to attract as dust.
It provides a strong bass depth and will be very popular for those who are motivated by heavy bass during fitness. At the highest volume level, the bass has no distortion.
If you like to hear strong bass while running and want to maintain good stereo sound, don’t miss it.
The design of the Sound Blaster Jam is quite simple, it looks a bit like the headphones that came with the 80s Walkman, but there are still some nice designs.
It is very lightweight and should be suitable for most people, even if we don’t feel the slightest discomfort during the long wearing period.
In terms of function, the headset is equipped with a pause/play button that can be used as an answer/end button for a cell phone call. In addition, you can also get a bass boost button to improve the bass.
Overall, the Creative Sound Blaster Jam is a lightweight Bluetooth headset that is comfortable to wear and sounds pretty good, most importantly at an affordable price.
The PXC 550 not only delivers outstanding sound, but also has customizable sound modes, touch controls, battery life, and powerful features for making calls.
It is very comfortable to wear and light in weight. The earmuffs have a small opening, and when the earphones are placed on the ear, it automatically opens, and when folded, it closes. Bluetooth pairing works perfectly.
In terms of noise cancellation, Bose is generally considered to be the gold standard. This Sennheiser is very close to it. Even if the noise reduction effect is adjusted to the highest level, the sound is basically not heard, and its sound quality is very good.
The PXC 550 is a highly recommended headset that is comfortable to wear, feature rich and sound quality.
Wireless headphones let you get rid of the shackles of the cable and provide an unprecedented audio experience. Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) is a common and useful feature that effectively isolates ambient noise, which is worth considering if you travel a lot.
Some people prefer the in-ear headphones to be light and convenient, but there are also a large number of people who like headphones, especially gamers. Headphones can isolate you from the noisy outside and completely immerse yourself in the game.
In this article, we recommend 10 best wireless headphones, each with its own characteristics, I believe you can find one you like after reading. If you have any questions, please contact us or leave a message.