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

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 don’t need to be dedicated calling headsets with a boom arm mic. Shop wisely, and you can end up with both a fantastic pair of everyday headphones (or earbuds) that enable crystal-clear calls through their integrated microphones.

Indeed, all of the best wireless headphones and best wireless earbuds feature onboard mics, though sadly, great sound quality from the earcups doesn’t always mean voice chat quality will be of the same standard. Don’t fret, though. We’ve gathered together this list of the over-ear and in-ear models that really do have great microphones — and we’d know, because we tested them ourselves. Read on, then, to find out the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls.

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

Bose has the honor of producing both the best over-ear headphones for calls and the best wireless earbuds for calls. First up is the Bose 700, a plush pair of over-ear headphones with an intelligent microphone array that blocks ambient noises from interfering with your voice and video chats.

In-ear buds can often struggle with microphone recording quality, but the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds shows the rest how it’s done. Your voice will come though loud and clear, unlike ambient noise, which the QuietComfort Earbuds – just like the Bose 700 – do a fine job of keeping quiet.

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

Best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls: Bose 700

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

1. Bose 700

The absolute best headphones for voice and video calls

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)

Adjustable ANC levels
Slick, attractive design
Excellent noise cancelling on calls and music
Smart, intuitive buttons and touch controls
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.

Best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

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

2. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

The best earbuds for voice and video calls

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

Category-leading ANC
Well-balanced sound
Excellent call quality
Bluetooth 5.1
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 true 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 actually complimented on how clear we sounded.

Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review.

Best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls: AirPods Max

(Image credit: Future)

3. Apple AirPods Max

The best Apple headphones for voice and video calls

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

Luxury design
Excellent noise cancellation
Spatial Audio sounds great
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.

Best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls: Jabra Elite 65t

(Image credit: Future)

4. Jabra Elite 65t

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

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

Low price
Excellent call quality
Good sound quality
Comfortable design
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.

Best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls: AirPods Pro

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

5. Apple AirPods Pro

Feature-packed earbuds with high call quality

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

Modern, functional design
Great active noise cancelling
Comfortable semi-custom fit
Adaptive sound
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.

Best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Future)

6. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose-quality voice and video calls, for less

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

Stellar noise cancellation
Crisp, wide sound
Can listen in wired mode with ANC on
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.

Best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls: Urbanista Miami

(Image credit: Future)

7. Urbanista Miami

Great-value ANC headphones that can easily handle calls

Size and weight: 8.1 x 6.6 x 3.5 inches, 10.9 ounces | Battery life: 40 hours (ANC on); 50 hours (ANC off) | Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Digital assistant support

Outstanding battery life
ANC and transparency modes
High audio quality
Tight fit
Weak wind resistance

Admittedly, most of what makes the Urbanista Miami worth buying isn’t related to call quality — it’s mainly down to monster battery life, and the fact that you can get a great-sounding pair of ANC headphones for less than half the price of rivals like the Bose 700 and AirPods Max.

Even so, good ANC often means good microphones, and the Miami is more than adequate for voice and video calls. It picks up voice cleanly and clearly, and can keep down even the loudest of ambient noises, like trains passing nearby. As a low-cost alternative to pricier over-ear models, it certainly deserves a look.

See our full Urbanista Miami review.

Best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls: Apple AirPods

8. Apple AirPods

Mic-equipped Apple earbuds without the AirPods Pro pricing

Size and weight: 2.1 x 1.7 x 0.8 inches, 0.1 ounces (per bud) | Battery life (rated): 5 hours (24 hours with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (9 meters) | Special features: Siri, audio sharing, announced messages

Lightweight, comfortable design
Faster connection on iOS devices
Hands-free Siri integration
Limited controls
No transparency mode

Until the rumored AirPods 3, this is the most affordable pair of Apple AirPods you can get. But the 2nd-gen model is no slouch, including for call quality: the dual microphones and Apple H1 chip in each earbud help to minimize background noise and keep your own voice as intelligible as possible.

There’s no ANC here, nor any replaceable in-ear tips; if you want these features you’ll need to pay more for the AirPods Pro. But the regular AirPods handle voice and video calls well enough to earn a spot on this list, especially with other benefits like a long Bluetooth range and fast pairing with iOS devices.

Read our full Apple AirPods review.

Best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls: Beats Powerbeats 4

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9. Beats Powerbeats 4

The best sport headphones to use for calls

Size and weight: 2.2 inches tall, 0.9 ounces | Battery life (rated): 15 hours | Bluetooth range: 100 feet (30 meters) | Special features: Water resistance, Siri

Highly secure fit
Impressive sound and call quality
Best battery life on a single charge
Interfering wire
Feel uncomfortable after a while

Sporty earbuds might not scream “great for calls,” even a pair that ranks among the best running headphones. Yet the Powerbeats 4 achieves the level of microphone quality you’d want for serious meetings, or lengthy chats with long-unseen friends.

A little bit of background noise can seep in, but only in loud environment, and even then our testing suggests you’ll still be perfectly audible over it. And the Powerbeats 4 is even better for making voice and video calls in quiet settings, taking advantage of a solid Bluetooth connection. The Beats Powerbeats Pro is equally as good for calls, but costs more than the Powerbeats 4.

Read our full Beats Powerbeats 4 review.

Best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls: Sony WH-1000XM4

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10. Sony WH-1000XM4

The best Sony headphones for voice and video calls

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

Excellent sound and noise cancellation
Plenty of features via Sony Connect Headphones app
Stellar touch controls
Multiple ways to connect the headphones
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.