Best Wireless Headphones: The 14 Best Headsets to Buy for $27 to $399

The ultimate wireless headphone buying guide that will suit all budgets.

Best Wireless Headphones
No comments Twitter Flipboard E-mail

Eva Rodríguez de Luis

Wireless headphones are becoming more and more popular due to their convenience, even though some audiophiles still prefer the acoustic quality of wired headphones. In fact, the market for wireless headphones is growing rapidly, and there are now many high-quality options available in all price ranges.

Table of Contents (18)

In our wireless headphone buying guide, you’ll find a carefully selected list to suit all budgets.

At a Glance: Best Wireless Headphones

How to Choose the Best Wireless Headphones

Comfortable and Functional Design

Headphone designs can be broadly divided into four types, each of which is better suited to certain usage scenarios. Although, as they say, there’s no accounting for taste.

Best Wireless Headphones
  • Over-ear or circumaural headphones are the largest type, completely covering the ear with ear cushions. They are usually very comfortable, particularly if worn for long periods. This design is common among wireless headphones with higher sound quality, as it allows for larger drivers to be integrated.
  • Circumaural headphones come in two types: open-back and closed-back. Open-back headphones communicate with the outside environment, resulting in a cleaner, clearer and sharper sound in mid-high frequencies and more controlled bass. Closed-back headphones, on the other hand, insulate you from ambient noise, resulting in more musical information being retrieved thanks to the ability to protect it from noise, preventing part of the musical content from being masked.
Best Wireless Headphones
  • Supra-aural or on-ear headphones are smaller and lighter than circumaural headphones, and they rest on the ear instead of wrapping around it. As a result, they offer less isolation from the surrounding noise and have less space to accommodate larger drivers. These models are recommended for portable use and are often designed to be foldable.
Best Wireless Headphones
  • In-ear or intra-aural headphones are inserted into the ear canal, which provides better isolation from external sounds. They are extremely lightweight and designed for outdoor use or sports. This headphone type is very common among TWS or true wireless stereo headphones.
Best Wireless Headphones
  • Earbuds don’t go inside the ear canal but instead rest on the outside, sometimes using buds or a string to keep them in place. As they are generally less secure than the previous models, they offer less isolation from the surrounding noise. This is the case with wired headsets that are (or used to be) provided with phones. This format is popular among the most affordable wireless headsets.

Which Sound Quality Do You Need?

The sound quality of wireless headphones is determined by several factors such as the quality of the drivers, internal amplifier, DAC and connectivity. Although some of these may not be common to found in the tech spec manuals, other parameters can help in evaluating sound quality.

  • Drivers are the speakers used in each earpiece and their quality depends on their design and construction. Generally, larger headsets have room for larger drivers, which results in richer and more nuanced sound. Headphones with drivers larger than 40 mm usually offer good sound quality.
  • Wireless connectivity can be radio frequency, NFC, or Bluetooth, which is the most common. It’s best to choose the most recent Bluetooth version for better range and stability in the connection, faster link speed with the device, and energy efficiency. Look for versions 5.2 or 5.3, the latest ones.

When it comes to quality, audio codecs matter. These are coding algorithms used to transmit audio wirelessly over Bluetooth. They have different functions such as streaming audio for hands-free use, streaming audio files, or controlling volume/music. It’s recommended to use aptX codec (96 KHz and 24 bits) for better quality. SBC codec is sufficient for streaming music (320 kbps bitrate in stereo).

  • Wireless headphones come with their own DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter), which is responsible for converting the digital signal to analog, and its performance has a significant impact on the sound quality. To evaluate its performance, we measure the total harmonic distortion and the signal-to-noise ratio. A lower total harmonic distortion is desirable, and in the most advanced models, the signal-to-noise ratio exceeds 130 dB in stereo. Manufacturers usually don’t disclose this figure, but it’s a good sign if they do.
  • Headphones should have a frequency range that covers the entire spectrum of sounds audible to humans, typically ranging from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. If they exceed this range, it’s even better as bass and treble tones will feel sharper.
  • Touch control and voice control are additional features that not all headphones have, especially the cheaper models. With these features, control of music playback or calls is fairly independent of the device the headphones are connected to. Some advanced models come with support for controlling playback via voice assistants.
  • Sensitivity, measured in decibels of sound pressure per milliwatt, is a measure of the headphones’ ability to convert an electrical signal into acoustics. Typically, the sensitivity of these devices ranges from 80 to 125 dB.

When choosing headphones based on sensitivity, it’s essential to consider the device with which they will be paired. If it’s a cell phone with low sound output, headphones with a minimum sensitivity of 90 dB are recommended. However, if the sensitivity is higher, it’s even better.

Types of Noise Cancellation

Best Wireless Headphones

Noise cancellation is an important aspect that affects the sound quality of Bluetooth headsets. Although not all headsets use this technology, it can be found in relatively inexpensive models. It’s important to note that there are different types of noise cancellations available, and each type has a different effect.

Active Noise Cancellation

Active noise cancellation (ANC) is the most common and popular type. It actively works to eliminate outside noise completely. Sound is represented as a series of low-frequency waves, and noise cancellation uses the superposition principle of wave theory. This means that when two or more waves coincide at a point, they create a total wave. An artificial wave is then created through destructive interference, which develops a phase opposite to the signal we perceive. This opposite wave cancels out the sound.

In practice, the total wave that originates from this opposite signal is not completely zero. However, it manages to significantly reduce the external noise that reaches our ears.

Best Wireless Headphones

Did you know that noise cancellation headphones don’t usually require a specific component for noise cancellation, except for the most expensive models which have a processor integrated? Instead, they use microphones to process all the outside sounds and generate a wave that cancels them out. The more microphones the headphones have, the better they are at eliminating unwanted sound. Generally, having two or three microphones per earphone is considered good.

These headphones are particularly effective at cancelling out low and constant frequencies, such as the noise of an airplane, car or train engine. They can reduce the noise level by more than 25 to 30 dB. By combining this system with passive noise cancellation techniques, such as good ear cushions, a high level of sound isolation can be achieved.

Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation

This technology is a variation of active noise cancellation, but with slight differences. Instead of using microphones only on the outside or inside of the headphones, the hybrid format uses microphones both on the outside and inside of the headphones to seek out ambient noise and cancel it out.

This technology is more expensive than the others, but it offers the best noise cancellation performance. For this reason, it’s typically only found in high-end or premium headphone models.

Passive Noise Isolation

The simplest technology of all, it’s usually found in the most affordable headphone models or, to a greater extent, in the headband sector. In fact, there’s no technology as such in it since it consists of acoustically isolating external noise, preventing noise from entering our auditory system.

This is a simpler and more economical method that will be useful in situations or environments with little noise, but it may not be as effective when the decibel level rises. Although ambient sound will continue to leak inside the earphone to some extent, it’s better if you want to still be aware of sounds around you like car engines while running outside or for taking phone calls.

Battery Life

Smaller headsets come with a compromise, as they have less space to house a large battery. As a result, lighter models tend to have a shorter battery life. The range of autonomy also varies between in-ear and over-ear headsets.

Compact wireless headphones have a benefit - they can extend their battery life with a charging case. This means that when you put them away, they can also be charged.

However, the battery life of a headset can vary depending on how it’s used, the volume, and whether noise cancellation technology is enabled.

It’s always better for headphones to have a short charging time and be convenient. USB-C models are better than more affordable ones with micro USB. Additionally, wireless headphones with fast charging are very popular since they only need a few minutes of charging to be used for hours.

All in all, when choosing a headset or in-ear headphones, it’s essential to consider the battery life. The models that offer 24-30 hours of playback are considered to have good battery life. If available, this includes the battery capacity of the case, that is to say until you need to reach a charger.

Sony WH-CH510

Best Wireless Headphones

The Sony WH-CH510 ($59.99), with a closed supra-aural design, is a great option for those who prefer simple headband Bluetooth headphones from a well-known brand.

They are lightweight and foldable, with up to 35 hours of battery life and fast charging. In just 10 minutes, the headphones provide up to an hour and a half of playback, and they offer hands-free calling and voice assistant commands thanks to their microphone.

Sony WH-CH510 Stamina Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones (Black) Bundle with Protective Headphone Case

Bose QuietComfort Ultra

Bose Quietcomfort Ultra

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra ($249) offers top-of-the-line features. With impressive noise cancellation, they deliver an immersive audio experience and a punchy sound that's difficult to find somewhere else.

They are also waterproof, with IPX4 protection, offer Bluetooth 5.3, and can last up to 18 hours when used with the charging case.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds, Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Earbuds with Spatial Audio and World-Class Noise Cancellation, Black

Anker Soundcore Life Q30

Best Wireless Headphones

Our experts recommend the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 headphones ($79.90) and praise them for their excellent sound quality and volume, as well as their comfort during extended use. They also have an integrated microphone for answering calls and decent noise cancellation.

Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones with Multiple Modes, Hi-Res Sound, Custom EQ via App, 40H Playtime, Comfortable Fit, Bluetooth, Multipoint Connection

Sennheiser HD 350BT

Best Wireless Headphones

Sennheiser is a well-known audio brand, and their Q30 headphones boast a battery life of up to 30 hours. They provide good comfort and a great sound experience due to their equalization and Bluetooth 5.0 with high-quality wireless codecs such as AAC, AptX, and AptX Low Latency, which ensures good audio synchronization with video.

The Sennheiser HD 350BT ($86.92) are closed over-ear headphones that provide great comfort but, despite this, they are foldable and can be carried anywhere.

Sennheiser Consumer AudioHD 350BT Black Bluetooth 5.0 Wireless Headphone - 30-Hour Battery Life, USB-C Fast Charging, Virtual Assistant Button, Foldable - Black

Nothing Ear (2)

Best Wireless Headphones

The Nothing Ear (2) headphones, the latest model from Carl Pei’s brand, feature a unique design similar to the one we find on their phones. They come with 11.6-millimeter dynamic drivers made of graphene and polyurethane, active noise cancellation technology that can block up to 40 dB of noise, and 24-bit high-resolution audio certification.

Moreover, they are water and dust-resistant with IP54 protection, have a low latency mode, and offer 22.5 hours of playback time when used with the charging case.

Nothing Ear 2 Wireless Earbuds Active Noise Cancellation to 40 db, Bluetooth 5.3 in-Ear Headphones with Wireless Charging,36H Playtime IP54 Waterproof Earphones for iPhone & Android, White

Google Pixel Buds A

Best Wireless Headphones

The Google Pixel Buds A ($99) are a good option for those who want great sound quality at a reasonable price. Their integration with Google Assistant is fantastic, and they offer a nice, minimalist design.

Google Pixel Buds A-Series - Wireless Earbuds - Headphones with Bluetooth - Compatible with Android - Dark Olive

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 2

Best Wireless Headphones

As the first generation, these Samsung headphones come with IPX7 water resistance and Bluetooth 5.3. With ANC activated, their battery lasts up to 18 hours when used with the charging case. They are priced at $229.99.

These buds have three microphones with active noise cancellation, a two-way coaxial adapted speaker with HiFi sound, and 360 audio. They also include multi-channel connection so you can connect them on more than one device at a time.

SAMSUNG Galaxy Buds Pro 2 [2022] (SM-R510) - (Gray)

Panasonic RZ-S500W

Best Wireless Headphones

The Panasonic RZ-S500W ($127) is also an attractive TWS model with noise cancellation, especially for the sound quality they offer at a reasonable price.

Although their finishes and materials are on the modest side, they are true sound all-rounders. Their noise cancellation is reliable, and their 6-hour battery life with noise cancellation enabled is outstanding.

Panasonic Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds, True Wireless Earbud & In-Ear Headphones with Charging Case, IPX4 Water Resistant and Compatible with Alexa – RZ-S500W (Light Grey)

Jabra Elite 85t

Best Wireless Headphones

The Jabra Elite 65t ($57.99) is an attractive option due to its lower price. However, if you’re looking for the most advanced TWS version of the brand, the Jabra Elite 85t ($170.57) is the one to go for thanks to the great sound quality and noise cancellation they offer.

Comfort, functionality, and effectiveness in neutralizing noise go hand in hand, although the absence of aptX compatibility is a big miss on its otherwise complete tech specs list.

Jabra Elite 85t True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds, Grey – Advanced Noise-Cancelling Earbuds for Calls & Music with Charging Case and 2 Wireless Charging Pads

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3

Best Wireless Headphones

Sennheiser offers wireless models, including the Momentum True Wireless 3 with TrueResponse and aptX Adaptive transducers. These headphones boast an integrated equalizer for customized sound and adaptive noise cancellation.

They also have IPX4 splash protection, multipoint Bluetooth, and three built-in microphones. With the included charging case, the battery can last up to 28 hours.

Sennheiser Consumer Audio MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 Earbuds Bluetooth In-Ear Headphones for Music and Calls with ANC, Multipoint connectivity, IPX4, Qi charging, 28-hour Battery Life Compact Design, Black

Boise QuietComfort

Best Wireless Headphones

The Bose QuietComfort headphones, priced at $349, have fabulous ergonomics, one of the best in the market, and efficient ambient noise attenuation. They also have impressive battery life.

Bose QuietComfort Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones, Bluetooth Over Ear Headphones with Up To 24 Hours of Battery Life, Cypress Green

AirPods Pro 2

Best Wireless Headphones

The AirPods Pro are a good choice for Apple users seeking TWS headphones with quality sound and noise cancellation technology. However, for those looking for the latest technology, the Pro 2 ($249) is a better choice.

With improved noise cancellation and autonomy, the AirPods Pro 2 include a new H2 chip, new touch controls, charging via Magsafe, and a new speaker in the case.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) Wireless Ear Buds with USB-C Charging, Up to 2X More Active Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones, Transparency Mode, Adaptive Audio, Personalized Spatial Audio

Sony WH-1000XM5

Best Wireless Headphones

The Sony WH-1000XM5 ($399.99) are the latest model of the leading noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphone series. These buds keep the ANC effectiveness and Hi-Res sound quality thanks to the 40 mm drivers. This version has a slimmer design, improved ergonomics, and a more accurate touch interface than previous models.

Sony WH-1000XM5 Noise Canceling Wireless Headphones - 30hr Battery Life - Over-Ear Style - Optimized for Alexa and Google Assistant - Built-in mic for Calls Limited Edition - Charcoal

Note: Some of the links published in this article are affiliate links, which means Xataka On may earn a commission for purchases made using those links. Despite this, no brand or store has paid to have their products featured in this piece. All products are chosen independently by our writers and editors.

Home o Index