Many of us regularly work from home and jump on daily video calls to communicate with colleagues, and headphones with built-in mics help make home working that bit easier and less intrusive for fellow household members. To get your headphones working with your laptop or portable device, it's usually a simple case of pairing the headphones to your device once. The next time you put on the headphones, you'll be connected automatically. Volume can usually be adjusted via the controls on your playback device to make voices sound louder or quieter in the earpieces.
The best headphones with a mic built in demonstrate how audio tech, often more typically associated with listening to music, can also help with two-way communications. Many of today's headphones incorporate an array of tiny microphones in the headset. Primarily, these are included as part of any built-in active noise cancellation technology but bring additional benefits with two-way voice and video calling, too.
Of course, not all models are created equal, and as our tests demonstrate even some upmarket designs can disappoint with low-quality mics that affect call quality for the person listening at the other end, or patchy connectivity.
We've literally test hundreds of headsets and headphones every year, so you can rest assured that the picks below are the best models we've reviewed when its comes to voice quality when making calls.
Check out the list below for our pick of the best models to suit all kinds of budgets.
Top 3 best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls
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Best over-ear: Bose 700
Bose has the honor of producing both the best over-ear headphones for calls and uses intelligent microphone arrays that minimize the amount of ambient noise that could interfere with call quality and mess up how you sound to anyone listening at the other end of the line.
Best in-ear: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2
A remarkable follow-up that delivers better sound, great call quality, and unrivaled ANC, these next-gen Earbuds take ANC to the next level. Proprietary technologies like ActiveSense and CustomTune balance sound and noise neutralization extremely well, and the redesigned buds feel much better than the original.
Best alternative: Sony WH-1000XM5
The Sony WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones had been wowing us for a while, but call quality wasn't among its strengths. The replacement XM5, which ranks as one of the best headphones overall makes significant voice quality advances over its predecessor, and you can be confident that you’re coming through loud and clear.
The best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls you can buy right now
Bose is the class leader when it comes to active noise cancellation (ANC) on headphones, and its mastery extends to voice calling quality as well. That’s why the Bose 700 are the best pair of headphones for making calls, and by a comfortable margin too.
The 700’s extensive microphone array picks up your voice with outstanding clarity while simultaneously blocking out loud ambient noises, allowing fewer distractions on calls even when you’re in busy places. Combine that with a comfortable fit, excellent sound quality for music and the absolute best ANC on the market, and the Bose 700s are worth paying a little extra for.
Find ways of saving on your order with our Bose coupon codes.
Read our full Bose 700 review.
After weeks of leaks, the QuietComfort Earbuds 2 are now official, and they've gone straight to the top of our buying guide for their outstanding noise canceling capabilities. They perform even better than the original Earbuds (below) that are still available. These are a remarkable follow-up that delivers better sound, great call quality, and unrivaled ANC. Proprietary technologies like ActiveSense and CustomTune balance sound and noise neutralization extremely well.
Bose’s redesign also makes these buds less of an eyesore compared to the original, and only the high price and mediocre battery life count against them. CustomTune automatically calibrates ANC and the sound frequency profile to the unique properties of your ear and optimal performance that's right for you. Sadly, there's no wireless audio codec support for aptX or LDAC.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones had been wowing us for a while, but the surprise launch of the XM5 back in May makes significant advances in a new design that we didn't bargain for. Call quality is one area where significant improvements have been made, thanks to the XM5's eight mics which help it exhibit call quality quite easily described as ‘exemplary’. Wind-noise is kept to a minimum, and both ends of a conversation prove distinct and direct. It’s difficult to know what else you can realistically ask for.
Read the full Sony WH-1000XM5 review.
While not quite on Bose’s level, Apple knows a thing or two about making headphones that can double as great calling headsets. Its best effort is also the most expensive, but the AirPods Max has a few tricks that help justify the higher price. Transparency mode is one: this lets you hear you own voice when speaking, which in turn helps you moderate your own volume and make sure you’re coming through clear.
Not that the latter takes much effort, as the AirPods Max do fine work in reducing the impact of ambient sound on the microphones. These ANC headphones also feel a lot lighter on the head than their weight might suggests, which is useful for longer listening sessions or meetings — or just if you have particularly talkative friends.
Read our full Apple AirPods Max review.
A worthy addition to the list, Samsung’s three-mic array produces loud, clear-sounding calls with minimal background interference. Whisking effects were reduced heavily when chatting with the missus outside. There was mention of minor muffle, which occurred in all settings, but nothing too worrisome. The buds were also reliable for video conferencing, with several clients complimenting the loudness and clarity on my end.
Samsung’s ANC holds its own against the best ANC models and blocks out close to 90% of ambient noise although it’s disappointing to see such a short ANC playtime. Sound alone makes the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro worth the investment, though, giving you a high quality audio experience and compelling 3D sound with precise head tracking. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are a versatile option with excellent mic quality for calls.
Read our full Samsung Buds 2 Pro review.
The Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro offers great sound quality with music. Anker’s ANC circuitry doesn’t reduce ambient noise at the level that Apple, Bose, and Sony’s technologies do, but it can handle enough to make for peaceful listens in specific environments.
Call quality is surprisingly good. Indoors calls sounded loud and clear, while outdoor conversations produced similar results when there was no wind around but even in gusty conditions, calls were still clear enough to make out other’s words.
Overall, there a few feature foibles, but the Liberty 3 Pro stands proud for it's call quality performance that undercuts many of the market’s high-end models.
Available exclusively from Best Buy (opens in new tab), these are Jabra’s best buds for call quality and a great productivity companion to have, be it working from home or in the office. Sound is vibrant, battery life is lengthy, and cool features like multipoint technology allow for seamless switching between devices. Had noise cancellation and comfort been better, these would have earned a higher rating, but a 4-star review still makes them worth checking out.
These are a well-featured set of buds and come packaged with a wireless charger. Call Experience enhances call quality, and you can adjust how loud you sound on calls and turn on functions like auto-answer or mute through wear detection, while soundscapes acts as a meditative tool that plays different ambient sounds to mask distractions around you, which could be useful at the end of the working day.
Read the full Jabra Connect 5T review.
As with Jabra's Connect 5T (above), these offer impressive call quality handling that goes back to the company's roots. They're a great productivity companion to have around when you're working from home or in the office and offer plenty of useful features, and good comfort levels. Sound quality for music listening is satisfactory but doesn't manage to set itself apart from its predecessors.
The mediocre noise cancelling is the only thing that really counts against them and doesn't challenge the top ANC performers and more costly models from the likes of Bose or Sony. Hear-through transparency is good though, and battery life is better than AirPods Pro 2. If ANC isn't a priority for you, these remain a worthwhile investment where call quality is a priority and cost less than the similarly specified Connect 5T.
Read the full Jabra Elite 5 review.
Another entry for Jabra, although this time its for the new Elite 4 Active, which is another impressively good mid-range model that comes with adequate ANC, rich sound, strong connectivity and waterproof protection. But the thing that makes the Elite 4 Active worthy of inclusion to the list is its excellent call quality.
The four built-in mics come with mesh covering to suppress wind noise, so those on the other end of a call can hear you clearly. And during our tests, speech came through loud and was easy to distinguish for those at the other end of the call, and the ANC handles gusty conditions and suppresses ambient sounds well.
Read our full Jabra Elite 4 Active review.
The Bose QuietComfort 45 are an excellent upgrade to the QuietComfort 35 II, with better ANC, sound quality and battery life. Proprietary TriPort acoustic architecture and a volume-optimized Active EQ combine to produce a rich sound with nice levels of detail. Bose’s mic array is powerful, not only blocking out large amounts of ambient noise across the frequency spectrum, but also demonstrating great intelligibility with voice commands when using your native assistant. The mics work well for voice and video calls too. We like the way that the QC45 produces loud and clear results in most environments, though resistance to wind noise isn’t its strongest suit.
Having longer battery life (24 hours on a full charge) than its predecessors is a huge deal, but so is not being able to turn off ANC mode for power preservation. Some of the absent features from previous Bose designs are missed as well.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort 45 review.
Apple gave us more than we expected with the AirPods 3, which takes several impressive features from its noise-canceling AirPods Pro sibling and incorporates them into an updated design. A new low-distortion driver combined with Adaptive EQ delivers well-rounded audio output, while spatial audio creates an immersive listening experience by bringing 3D effects to music and movies. These buds also come with the longest battery life of any AirPods model.
This is all great, but what you really want to know about is call quality. Thankfully, it’s on par with past models. Apple added acoustic mesh on the mics to reduce wind noise, and AAC-ELD codec support delivers full HD voice quality when jumping on FaceTime calls.
Read our full AirPods 3 review.
The Surface Headphones 2 is an amazing upgrade for those seeking solid overall performance from their wireless headphones. Sound and noise cancellation practically remain untouched, rewarding your ears with deep sonics and interruption-free listening, thanks to Microsoft’s powerful eight-mic system that helps filter out up to 75% of ambient noise.
Adjusting ANC and volume levels is seamless via the dial controls on the side of each earcup. Where these headphones really shine are in the productivity features, such as voice dictation with Microsoft 365 to verbally jot down notes in Office programs (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, Outlook), and multipoint technology, which lets you connect to up to ten devices simultaneously. Business users who want to ramp up productivity should look at the Surface Headphones 2 Plus (opens in new tab), an updated version certified for Microsoft Teams calls and offers “super reliable connectivity” when using the Surface USB Link (opens in new tab).
Read our full Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review.
How to choose the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls for you
First, consider whether you’d prefer over-ear headphones or a pair of in-ear buds. There’s no rule of thumb that suggests one style is inherently better than the other for calling quality, though both have their pros and cons.
Wireless earbuds, for example, are more portable but don’t create a seal around your ear; as a result, over-ear headphones might be better if you expect to take calls where there’s a lot of ambient noise that could make it harder to hear what other call participants are saying.
Over-ear headphones also tend to have longer battery life, though most true wireless earbuds will last upwards of 4.5 hours between charges. That’s enough for all but the longest voice and video calls.
Don’t forget, also, that the main benefit of buying a pair of headphones over a headset or standalone microphone is that you can use it for music and podcasts too. So think about whether you want to pay extra for ANC, which enhances your listening experience in busy areas or on transport, as well as how important sound quality is for you more generally.
How we test the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls
We test the calling capabilities of mic-equipped headphones exactly as you’d expect: by making calls. This lets us make sure each pair delivers the sound quality needed to ensure other callers are clearly audible, and we ask whoever we call for their feedback on how we sound. This helps us identify any problems with microphone volume or clarity — or, conversely, if we sound clear to others.
This is one of many tests to which we subject each pair of headphones. We also judge overall audio performance by how well each pair handles a variety of music genres, and will measure how long we get out of the battery before it runs empty.
To test comfort, we make sure to use the headphones over several days, including sessions wearing them for 2-3 hours at a time. This gives a good indication of how comfy each pair is, and whether that comfort is maintained in extended use.
Finally, we score each pair of headphones on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is the lowest, 5 is the highest, and the most impressive headphones might get an Editor’s Choice badge as well.
Contributions from: Alex Bracetti
Next: If you're looking to upgrade your desktop communications, don't forget to check out our other buying guides based on our comprehensive product test for everything you need to know about the best headsets and headphones for working from home, best microphones or the best desktop speakers, and bring your home workspace up to date for less.
Plus: Save without compromising on sound quality with our pick of the best wireless earbuds under $100.