Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
The new king of noise cancelling headphones is here with a slick new design and clean, precise audio.
Jabra Elite Active 65T
Jabra's sweat-resistant Elite Active 65t is a practically perfect, completely cord-free headset.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Headphones
The 2nd Gen Airpods bring wireless charging and hands-free Siri into the mix with clearer audio.
Wireless headphones free you from the cords that tether you to your audio devices. They are portable, deliver high-quality sound and sometimes boast smart features to enhance the listening experience. And now that smartphones are ditching the headphone jack, the demand for wireless headphones continues to grow.
But with a plethora of models available, which are worth a spot on your ears? Should you get the Jabra Elite 65t, our current pick for best wireless earbuds? Smart, comfortable and durable, with just the right touch of feature customization, they easily stand out as the best AirPods alternative money can buy.
If over-ear wireless headphones are more your style, you might want to consider our top pick in that category: the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. We're talking clean, balanced sound and stellar noise cancellation whether you're listening to music or taking a phone call, all wrapped in a deluxe package. Then there's our pick for best sport headphones, the Jaybird Tarah Pro, premium wireless in-ear headphones that grant fitness junkies the personalized sound and fit they desire for workouts.
Tom's Guide has tested the most popular and well-known Bluetooth headphones, across several categories and prices, to find the ones that are best for you.
If your eyes are set on specific headphone categories, take a look at our best active-noise-cancelling headphones roundup. And if you're looking for a particular brand, check out our Bose and Sony headphone pages.
Latest News and Updates (September 2019)
- The Jabra Elite 75t ($230) wireless buds launched at IFA 2019 in Berlin as the next iteration of the Jabra Elite 65t, our favorite wireless earbuds overall. The Elite 75ts will have an improved battery life and better fit, and will be available in October 2019.
Best overall headphones
These aren't your daddy's Bose. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 have raised the bar for active noise-cancelling headphones. The headphones effectively silence outside noise while simultaneously allowing you to clearly be heard, whether you're talking to someone on the phone or cueing up a digital assistant. The 700s don't skimp on audio quality either, offering clean, balanced sound with some impressive, intuitive tech flourishes. The adjustable noise cancellation keeps things quiet without adding distortion to your music, and the Full Transparency mode is similarly impressive.
Read our full Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review.
Best truly wireless earbuds
If you're looking for a pair of truly wireless earbuds that offer the right balance of personalized comfort and sound, place the Jabra Elite Active 65t at the top of your list. The buds are sleek and unassuming, deliver impressive sound, and last up to 5 hours on a charge. Thanks to Bluetooth 5.0 technology, the earbuds consume less power so that you get longer battery life, can pair with two separate devices simultaneously and have a signal range of up to 800 feet. While the Elite Active 65t is designed for fitness use, it's also a great everyday pair for enjoying music and taking calls on the go, much like the standard Elite 65t.
Read our full Jabra Elite Active 65t review.
Truly wireless earbuds for Apple fans
Faster, smarter, longer-lasting, the AirPods 2 are still at the top of the heap for iPhone owners. Apple has given people what they want with wireless charging and a hands-free approach to Siri. And the fact that the buds offer longer talk time and faster pairing are icing on the cake, especially since the old AirPods' pairing was near instantaneous. For iOS fans, there are some of the best wireless earbuds you can buy.
Read our full Apple Airpods 2 review.
Best active noise cancelling earbuds
The Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds successfully combines stellar sonics with impressive noise cancellation. A plethora of features and solid battery life also elevate its status among the elite. Deep, rich bass and tonal balance give the buds an edge over the competition. And with an estimated 6 hours of battery life (ANC on), you'll have a lot of time to enjoy your music, movies or podcasts.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM3 earbuds review.
Best battery life
Sony definitely upped its game with the WH-1000XM3. The improvements in audio fidelity alone place these headphones on a par with the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They deliver a powerful low-end punch suited for their target demographic, bass lovers, and grant listeners a suite of sound-optimizing options accessible through the Connect app. Most music genres are well-represented, with live recordings shining in Ambient mode. The WH-1000XM3 also supports five codecs for music playback — aptX, aptX HD, AAC, LDAC and SBC — each engineered to maximize sound quality over Bluetooth.
Read our full Sony WH-1000XM3 review.
Great active noise cancelling for less
Bose has once again raised the bar for headphones, this time by combining the company's best-in-class active-noise-cancellation technology with Google Assistant. The Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones feature a liberating and comfy wireless design and a dedicated button to summon Google's AI, without skimping on the powerful active-noise-cancelling technology. The volume-optimized EQ feature makes your tunes sound great even when you crank your phone to 11, and with the 20 hours of battery life, you'll have plenty of juice for a couple of cross-country flights.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort 35 II review.
Best sports wireless buds
The $249 Powerbeats Pro combines water- and sweat resistance, a low-profile design and signature Apple-y integration, making them a no-brainer for workout buffs with iPhones. In addition, they offer well-balanced audio and a secure, comfortable fit.
Read our full Powerbeats Pro Review.
You get what you pay for. And in the case of the Bowers & Wilkins PX wireless headphones, you're paying for quality. They're pricey, at $399, but these headphones offer a gorgeous, sturdy design with great audio quality, solid active-noise-cancelling technology and long battery life. When the headphones are paired with the free app, listeners have the ability to tweak what they hear and how much, so they can control how much of the outside world gets in.
Read our full Bowers & Wilkins PX review.
Best truly wireless earphones under $60
It's common to question the quality of any pair of cheap truly wireless earbuds. However, the JLab JBuds Air headphones supersede expectations due to their powerful bass response and IP55 durability, which provides water-resistant protection. The buds are an ideal investment for exercisers who want energetic sound and sturdy aesthetics, as well as for budget shoppers who want an AirPods alternative for $100 less. The carry case is portable as well and won't weigh down your pockets.
Best hearing protection
The Beyerdynamic Aventho wireless headphones deliver warm, rich audio while keeping the volume at safe levels. Thanks to the companion app, the headphones can adjust the sound profile based on your age or provide an in-depth hearing test for a more personalized listening experience. Outfitted with capacitive touch controls, the cans provide smooth command inputs and last 30 hours on a charge.
Read our full Beyerdynamic Aventho wireless headphones review.
Best digital-assistant integration
First impressions are everything, and the Microsoft Surface headphones offer more than enough bells and whistles to capture your interest. One of the most prominent features is the digital-assistant integration with Cortana, Siri and Google Assistant. All three operate similarly, though Cortana extends functionality to additional services and skills. Having the ability to get LinkedIn updates, monitor stocks and create voice shortcuts is sweet. In addition, you get adjustable active noise cancelling, fast charging, intuitive touch controls and a wide soundstage.
Read our full Microsoft Surface headphones review.
Best wireless earphones
The Sennheiser Momentum Free features a well-balanced soundstage, highlighted by amazing clarity and responsive bass. Using the Sennheiser CapTune app creates an opening to fine-tune the sound profile to one's liking, though the default profile is engineered to reproduce all frequencies equally. The earphones also do a surprisingly good job of stabilizing connections, ensuring little-to-no dropout when you're standing several feet away from an audio source.
Read our full Sennheiser Momentum review.
Best on-ear wireless headphones
On-ear headphones may be a niche category, but the Grado GW100 remains one of the best-sounding sets of cans we've tested. It's one of the few models that balances the portability of in-ear headphones with the sound quality of an over-ear set. Audio is clean and neutral, so you can hear recordings as they were intended. Comfort and responsive controls are two of the headphones' other biggest selling points. Then there's the retro design, which exudes charm and has throwback appeal.
Read our full Grado GW100 review.
What to Look For
- The most important thing to look for in a pair of Bluetooth 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 Bluetooth 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.
How We Test Wireless Headphones and Earbuds
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. We test every feature for app-enabled headphones along with ease of setup.
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.
Credit: Tom's Guide