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The best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls in 2021

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Best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls show how tech you'd normally associate with sound output alone can have a secret talent for two-way communications. It’s extremely common nowadays for headphones, especially the best wireless headphones and the best wireless earbuds, to have microphones built into the headset.

As such, they’re incredibly easy to use for calls on whatever device — phone or computer — you have them connected to. However, not all headphones are created equal, and even some high-end models can disappoint with low mic clarity of spotty connectivity. Save yourself some trouble and just consult our list below, where we’ve gathered the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls that we’ve tested.

Latest headphones news and releases (updated November 14)

  • The Apple AirPods 3 has made its way onto the market. See where it ranks on this list.
  • Bose launched the newest entry in the QuietComfort noise-cancelling headphones series, the QuietComfort 45. See where it ranks on this list.
  • The Sony WF-1000XM4 is a mostly fantastic pair of true wireless earbuds, but despite some mic improvements it's not great for voice and video calls.
  • Another new release, the OnePlus Buds Pro makes for an adequate calling headset, though its greater strengths are sound quality and noise cancellation.

What are the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls?

Not every single pair of headphones has a mic — audiophile models like the Focal Clear might not see the need — but there are lots of great options to choose from. Bose has the honor of producing both the best over-ear headphones for calls and an extremely capable pair of wireless earbuds: the Bose 700 and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds  respectively. These both use intelligent microphone arrays that minimize the amount of ambient noise that could interfere with how you sound on the other end of the line.

Our third pick is the AirPods Max. This ranks highly on our rankings of the best headphones overall, and its crisp call quality is one of the reasons why. The AirPods Max cuts out more background noise than other AirPods models, and can even help you hear yourself, so you can be sure that you’re coming through loud and clear.

The best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls

The Bose 700 placed on a carpet

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

1. Bose 700

The absolute best headphones for voice and video calls

Specifications
Size and weight: 8 x 6.5 x 2 inches, 8.8 ounces
Battery life (rated): 20 hours (ANC on)
Bluetooth range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Special features: Adjustable active noise cancellation, customizable EQ, charging case (optional)
Reasons to buy
+Adjustable ANC levels+Slick, attractive design+Excellent noise cancelling on calls and music+Smart, intuitive buttons and touch controls
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

Bose is a class leader on active noise cancellation (ANC) on headphones, and that microphone mastery extends to voice calling capability as well. That’s why the Bose 700 is the best pair of headphones for making calls, and by a comfortable margin too.

The 700’s extensive mic array picks up your vice with outstanding clarity while simultaneously blocking out loud ambient noises, allowing fewer distractions in you 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 700 is worth paying a little extra for.

Read our full Bose 700 review.

The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds on a yellow backdrop

(Image credit: Brian Coule/Tom's Guide)

2. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

The best earbuds for voice and video calls

Specifications
Size and weight: 1.5 x 1 x 1.1 inches, 0.3 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): 6 hours, 18 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Special features: Adjustable ANC, Bluetooth 5.1, Self Voice mode for enhanced calling
Reasons to buy
+Category-leading ANC+Well-balanced sound+Excellent call quality+Bluetooth 5.1
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life could be better

In a similar vein to the Bose 700, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds is a pair of largely music-focused headphones that nonetheless manages to deliver outstanding overall quality in voice and video calls. Only this time, everything is squeezed into a much smaller pair of truly wireless earbuds.

Again, the integrated microphones are brilliant at cancelling out ambient sounds, so during calls you won’t have to worry about being drowned out or interrupted by nearby noises. And, while recording clarity can take a nosedive on lesser in-ear buds, it’s the opposite on the QuietComfort Earbuds — in testing, we were complimented on how clear we sounded. A new software update introduces new ANC modes engineered for specific activities and places, along with Aware Mode, which automatically reduces “loud distractions as they happen,” returning to full transparency mode when they pass.

Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review.

Comfort being tested on the AirPods Max

(Image credit: Future)

3. Apple AirPods Max

The best Apple headphones for voice and video calls

Specifications
Size and weight: 7.4 x 6.6 x 3.3 inches, 13.6 ounces
Battery life (rated): 20 hours (ANC on)
Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters)
Special features: ANC, spatial audio, audio sharing, Siri
Reasons to buy
+Luxury design+Excellent noise cancellation+Spatial Audio sounds great
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

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 high 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. Apple’s pair of ANC headphones also feels a lot lighter than it actually is, which might help for long meetings — or just if you have particularly talkative friends.

Read our full Apple AirPods Max review.

The Editor's Choice Jabra Elite 65t

(Image credit: Future)

4. Jabra Elite 65t

The best cheap headphones with a mic for voice and video calls

Specifications
Size and weight: 0.3 x 1.2 x 0.9 inches inches, 0.2 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): 5 hours; 15 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Special features: Customizable EQ, digital assistant support, transparency mode
Reasons to buy
+Low price+Excellent call quality+Good sound quality+Comfortable design
Reasons to avoid
-Middling battery life-Newer models available

The Jabra Elite 65t is a curious case: there are much newer and more advanced Jabra earbuds, like the Elite 85t and Elite Active 75t, but strangely these all represent downgrades on the Elite 65t’s fantastic call quality. If, then, you want a pair of headphones for voice and video calls specifically, it’s arguably best to go with this older pair.

A four-mic array delivers that golden combination of clear voice and minimal ambient intrusion. The Elite 65t is particularly effective at resisting wind noise, so will suit those who like to take calls while out walking. You can also use the transparency mode you hear yourself, and adjust your own loudness through the mobile app.

Read our full Jabra Elite 65t review.

The AirPods Pro worn by our reviewer

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

5. Apple AirPods Pro

Feature-packed earbuds with high call quality

Specifications
Size and weight: 2.4 x 1.7 x 0.9 inches, 0.2 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): 4.5 hours (ANC on), 24 hours (ANC on with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 800 feet
Special features: Active noise cancellation, Siri, spatial audio
Reasons to buy
+Modern, functional design+Great active noise cancelling+Comfortable semi-custom fit+Adaptive sound
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life could be longer

Another good showing for Apple, the AirPods Pro effectively cuts out background noise and provides a better seal in your year than the standard AirPods (below). This improves passive sound isolation so you can better hear our friends and colleagues on the line, and that’s not even taking into account the AirPods Pro’s ANC.

It's not much of a factor for voice and video calls specifically, but the AirPods Pro also has a few special features that only work with compatible iOS devices. If you have the right phone, then, you can take advantage of faster pairing and spatial audio, which provides a neat surround sound effect when watching certain video content on your phone.

Read our full Apple AirPods Pro review.

The Bose QuietComfort 45 being tested outside

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

6. Bose QuietComfort 45

Best Bose headphones for ANC playtime

Specifications
Size: 7.25 x 6 x 3 inches
Weight: 8.5 ounces
Battery life (rated): 24 hours (ANC on)
Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters)
Special features: Active noise cancellation, pairable with other Bose products, volume-optimized Active EQ
Reasons to buy
+Elite active noise cancellation+Refined sound signature+Increased battery life+Self-Voice mode for natural-sounding calls
Reasons to avoid
-Can’t turn off ANC-Lacks several features found on previous Bose headphones

The Bose QuietComfort 45 is an excellent upgrade to the critically acclaimed QuietComfort 35 II with better ANC, sound, and battery life. Proprietary TriPort acoustic architecture and a volume-optimized Active EQ combine to produce rich, detailed audio. Bose’s mic array is powerful, not only blocking out large amounts of ambient noise across the frequency spectrum, but also demonstrating great intelligibility to understand words and voice commands when using your native assistant. The mics work well for voice and video calls too. We like that the QC45 produces loud and clear results in most environments, though wind resistance 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 past Bose releases are missed as well.

Read our full Bose QuietComfort 45 review.

The Apple AirPods 3 wireless earbuds resting atop the wireless charging case

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

7. AirPods 3

The best standard AirPods for voice and FaceTime calls

Specifications
Size and weight: 1.21 x 0.72 x 0.76 inches, 0.15 ounces (per bud)
Battery life (rated): 6 hours, 30 hours (with charging case)
Bluetooth range: 40 feet (12 meters)
Special features: Adaptive EQ, Spatial Audio, MagSafe Charging
Reasons to buy
+Adaptive EQ with well-balanced sound+Spatial audio support+Strong wind resistance+Longer battery life
Reasons to avoid
-No ANC or Transparency mode-Loose fit

Apple knew it had to give us something fresh and functionally equivalent to the AirPods Pro. Well, they gave us more than we expected with the impressive AirPods 3, which takes several hallmark features from its noise-canceling sibling and stuffs 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 all sounds great, but what you really want to know about is call quality. Fortunately, it’s on par with past models. Apple added acoustic mesh on the mics to reduce wind resistance, and AAC-ELD codec support delivers full HD voice quality when jumping on FaceTime calls.

Read our full AirPods 3 review.

The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 resting against a seat

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

8. Microsoft Surface Headphones 2

Productivity ANC headphones with superb call quality

Specifications
Size and weight: 8.03 x 7.68 x 1.89 inches, 10.22 ounces
Battery life: 20 hours (ANC on)
Bluetooth range: 800 feet (243 meters)
Special features: Active noise cancellation, ambient listening mode, Microsoft 365 integration
Reasons to buy
+Clear call quality+Adjustable ANC and lively sound+Excellent wireless performance
Reasons to avoid
-Battery life is shorter than the competition

The Surface Headphones 2 is an amazing upgrade for both commuters and work-from-home types that want 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 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 10 devices simultaneously. Business users who want to ramp up productivity should look at the Surface Headphones 2 Plus, an updated version certified for Microsoft Teams calls and offers “super reliable connectivity” when using the Surface USB Link.

Read our full Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review.

The Bose QuietComfort 35 II outside of its charging case

(Image credit: Future)

9. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose-quality voice and video calls, for less

Specifications
Size and weight: 7.1 x 6.7 x 3.2 inches, 8.2 ounces
Battery life (rated): 20 hours (ANC on), 40 hours (ANC off)
Bluetooth range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Special features:: Active noise cancellation, dedicated digital assistant button, Music Share
Reasons to buy
+Stellar noise cancellation+Crisp, wide sound+Can listen in wired mode with ANC on
Reasons to avoid
-Google Assistant integration could be improved

A few years old but still going strong, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II could be a very smart choice. It offers Bose’s characteristically high call quality and noise-cancelling effectiveness, all at a much lower price than the newer Bose 700.

It’s worth noting that the 700’s microphones are upgraded, so you will get better performance in calls, especially if you’re outside and exposed to heavy winds. But indoors the QuietComfort 35 II still makes for a great chatting tool, and proved very capable of quietening ambient noise in our testing.

Read our full Bose QuietComfort 35 II review.

Our reviewer holding the Amazfit PowerBuds Pro charging case in hand

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Future)

10. Amazfit PowerBuds Pro

The best sport headphones to use for calls

Specifications
Size and weight: 1.3 x 0.7 x 0.9 inches, 0.2 ounces
Battery life (rated): 5.5 hours (ANC on), 9 hours (ANC off), 19 hours (with charging case and ANC on), 30 hours (with charging case and ANC off)
Bluetooth range: 30 feet (9 meters)
Special features: Active noise cancellation, activity tracking, ambient listening mode
Reasons to buy
+Energetic sound+IP55 rating+Doubles as a fitness tracker
Reasons to avoid
-Loose fit-Not all tracking is accurate

Very few sport headphones offer solid audio and call quality, and by few, we mean only the Beats Powerbeats Pro and the Amazfit Powerbuds Pro. We currently prefer the latter for how well it performs indoors, more so its strong connectivity to keep calls going strong when teetering around the max wireless range (40 feet). Active noise cancellation also comes as part of the package, which helps bring ambient noise down a few notches during video chats and listening sessions. Speaking of audio, these buds pump out vibrant sound to keep your workouts energized, while features like activity tracking and heart-rate monitoring mean you can leave your Apple Watch or Fitbit at home during runs.

Read our full Amazfit PowerBuds Pro review.

A video call being taken on the Sony WH-1000XM4

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

11. Sony WH-1000XM4

The best Sony headphones for voice and video calls

Specifications
Size and weight: 10 x 3 x 7.3 inches, 9 ounces
Battery life (rated): 30 hours (ANC on), 38 hours (ANC off)
Bluetooth range: 40 feet (12 meters)
Special features: Active noise cancellation, customizable EQ, multipoint technology
Reasons to buy
+Excellent sound and noise cancellation+Plenty of features via Sony Connect Headphones app+Stellar touch controls+Multiple ways to connect the headphones
Reasons to avoid
-Call quality could be improved

The Sony WH-1000XM4 sits atop our best headphones and our best over-ear headphones list, so it might be a surprise it’s not further up here as well. But although the WH-1000XM4 isn’t the absolute finest pair of headphones for calls, it’s still good, and you’d get its myriad of other qualities (including ANC) on the side as well.

In our testing, we apparently sounded loud and clear indoors, though going outside had something of a muffling effect. Keep that in mind, through for Zoom calls and Google Meets you’d probably be at home or in an office anyway.

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM4 review.

How to choose the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls for you

PICKING THE BEST HEADPHONES AND EARBUDS STYLES

Take a look at Tom’s Guide’s comprehensive guides for the best headphones and earbuds you can buy, per category and price point.

·      Best Wireless Earbuds

·      Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

·      Best Noise-Cancelling Earbuds

·      Best Over-Ear Headphones

·      Best Cheap Wireless Earbuds

·      Best Apple AirPods Alternatives

·      Best Fake AirPods

·      Best Running Headphones

·      Best Wireless Headphones

·      Best Cheap Running Headphones

·      Best Cheap Wireless Headphones 

·      Best Cheap Noise-Cancelling Headphones

·      Best Cheap Headphones

·      Best Cheap Earbuds

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. All of the headphones on this list sound good for their respective prices, though some — like the Bose 700 and Sony WH-1000XM4 — perform exceptionally well in playback.

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 says, 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.

James Archer

James joined Tom’s Guide in 2020, bringing years of experience in consumer tech and product testing. As Audio Editor, James covers headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also covers the occasional spot of computing and gaming news, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.