Product Use case Rating
Sol Republic Shadow Wireless Best Wireless Earbuds 8
SoundPeats Q16 True Wireless Earbuds Best Truly Wireless Earphones Under $60 8
Apple Airpods Best Truly Wireless Earbuds 8
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Best Wireless Headphones 9
Jabra Sport Coach Best Sport Wireless Headphones 8
Plantronics BackBeat Go 2 Best Inexpensive Wireless Earbuds 7

Best Wireless (Bluetooth) Headphones and Earbuds

Wireless headphones free you from the cords that tether you to your music. And now that smartphones are ditching the headphone jack, they're more useful than ever. But with a plethora of wireless headphones available, which are worth a spot on your ears? We tested the most popular and well-known wireless headphones to find the ones that are best for you.

What to Look For

  • The most important thing to look for in a pair of wireless headphones is battery life. Most devices have an expected battery life, or the number of hours the company says the device can last on a charge. Most wireless earbuds are rated for 6 to 8 hours, while wireless headphones can last about 25 hours.
  • Another important factor is design — depending on how you like to wear them, you may want to go with on-ear, over-ear or in-ear wireless headphones.
  • If you're interested in a pair of truly wireless buds, makes sure they come with a charging case. Since they have shorter battery life, there's a great likelihood you'll have to charge them on the go. 

News and Updates (November 2017)

  • Google's new Pixel Buds feature gesture controls, near-instantaneous pairing with a Pixel phone and let you summon the Google Assistant. The Pixel Buds can also do real-time translations in up to 40 languages. Battery life is estimated at 24 hours and comes with a charging case to keep the music playing.
  • Bragi is the latest headphone maker to jump on the A.I. bandwagon. The company claims the its new Dash Pro earphones can translate over 40 languages in real time. The buds will also track your heart rate and steps, store up 1,000 songs and last five hours of battery life.

How We Tested

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.

Once we complete our testing, we rate headphones based on our ten-point system (1 = worst, 10 = best). If a product is truly exemplary, it's awarded an Editors' Choice.

And now that more streaming music services are offering high-resolution resolution audio, be sure to read our audio codec FAQ for everything you need to know about FLAC files, MP3s and everything in between.

Related Buying Guides:
Best Cheap Headphones
Best Cheap Earbuds
Best Lightning Headphones
Best Gaming Headsets

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  • Sammy_2
    What about Jaybird X2?
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  • Eric_31
    So essentially this article can be summed up with "all the headphones listed have great noise cancelling and great sound." I would have appreciated at least a bit of effort in comparison. The only point of comparison is the price and the seemingly arbitrary and unexplained rating. This article was absolutely no help at all.
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  • LizzyHarris
    Great, thanks! :)
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  • Peter_133
    How bout Audio Technical MTH 50X or Sennheiser 598SE or Jaybird X1 or X2 or Grado SR 60E and maybe NoiseHush nx80 for $12.00 on Amazon.com. I know music is subjective but the equipment listed here is mostly crap.
    1
  • neuronet
    Eric I agree this seems to have none of the usual standards they would use to evaluate, say, a motherboard.
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  • neuronet
    Peter also great points they mostly included mainstream brands that the audiophiles would agree are not very high quality. For instance, Sennheiser is sort of a "go to" brand for people that really want great sound. They really need to do a much more thorough product test. This is sort of like doing an evaluation of laptops and only including Dell and Lenovo.
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  • Royharper
    Great article, I'm surprised to not see the JBL Everest Elite 700 on here. I saw a review on Audio46 where they compared it to The QC 35 and said the Everest was better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn18BkBnZ5U When I a&b tested the two I felt the same way that they did, and was actually underwhelmed by the sound quality on the QC35. While it has great noise cancelling It didn't sound as good as I would expect.
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  • Geoff_11
    looks to me like maybe this review was done on paper without actually testing all the products? Otherwise, you'd know that that the SMS biosport is no longer supported by any apps (i.e. the HR monitor is useless because you can't get anything to read it). This has been the case for about 6 months!
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  • hydrangea
    The Sentey earbuds are no longer available. Do you have a new suggestion?
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  • jumavictor49
    great article, but terming this list as the 'best headphones' I would disagree. Can you please update the list and also feature planar magnetic headphones, they are one of the best technology headphones in the market.
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  • SkyBill40
    Given your relatively sample size and the exclusion of brands seen as audiophile grade or higher than average, I find difficulty in accepting the results here. That's not to say that what is shown here are poor choices or anything, but the testing could have and should have been a lot more robust given the"best" tag thrown into it.
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