Headphones are something we can’t live without nowadays. I wouldn’t be able to stand my day job, make the music I product or workout without wanting to give up due to being bored out of my mind. With that being said, and as technology continues to advance, headphones are becoming higher in quality, particularly with a relatively new concept: wireless. We don’t like to give much acredit to Beats by Dre (yes, we do have one of their models in here), but they were pretty responsible for popularizing and capitalizing the wireless headphone market. However, they’re not the only ones out there, and although our top pick ended up being the Bose SoundLink, we’ve found the top 10 best models for you to consider for your wireless audio listening endeavors.
The benefits (and critiques) of wireless headphones
Well, we’ll state the obvious first — you don’t have to hassle with wires. There used to be an argument to this, as some people said “but with wireless headphones comes lag!” Yes, there is some truth to this, but nowadays, it really isn’t noticeable — the latency is quite minuscule. The only time we’d recommend steering away from wireless headphones due to latency is if you’re mixing and mastering or producing in the studio. Gaming may also be a problem because instantaneous listening is sometimes what distinguishes who will get who first (mostly professional, I remember playing Counter-Strike and needing to hear the footsteps immediately in my league).
Aside from that, you could probably figure out the benefits of going wireless yourself. They’re great for traveling since you have less fuss to worry about (because that baby behind you on the plane isn’t helping), perfect for exercise (has anyone else gotten their phone jammed on the treadmill because of a wire tangling like me?), and any other activity that need you mobility for. I mean, listening to your TV or computer while watching a movie or show is perfect since you can merely lay back in your bed and enjoy.
You’re simply more…free.
How to choose your wireless headphones
As the benefits of having headphones without a wire begin to settle in for us, choosing them can be quite the daunting task — there are a lot of models out there to choose from, and we decided to drink a bunch of coffee and find the best…both from research and personal experience. Here’s how to choose yours:
- Your budget. There is quite a broad range here…with some budget-friendly models (we tell you our pick for this) hitting under $50 while others range into the $300 price point. It all depends on the amount of cash you have waiting to be spent. However, just remember that you get what you pay for. The more you spend, the better sound quality, comfort, and overall features a pair of wireless headphones will have.
- Your intended use? There are two main ways of being wireless: transmitters and Bluetooth. Bluetooth typically come in more expensive packages, while the cheaper models need a transmitter that you can’t walk too far away from. If you’re sitting your home watching TV and movies or do conference calls, you can get away with having a transmitter. Otherwise, we recommend sticking to the beloved Bluetooth method.
- Importance of aesthetics. We’re big believers in headphones that make you slick. Do you have a color in mind? Particular way it looks in general? Most of these come in merely black, white or the typical grey; however, there are others with major color choices. Whether that’s important to you may matter with your choice.
- Headphone design. We went mostly with over-ear, closed-back headphones as they’re the most popular make in terms of design. Open-ear are for mixing and mastering in general. If you’re interested in other popular designs, be sure to read our best wireless earbuds article.
- Connectivity? We definitely love the Bluetooth technology most come with, but there are other low-cost models that come with a transmitter for wireless connectivity. As stated previously, there are obvious pros and cons to it, such as having a limit of how far away you can be from the transmitter.
The top 10 best wireless headphones
The following is our list of the 10 best wireless headphones on the planet. Be sure to keep our checklist in mind when making your decision. The wireless headphone game is still a bit fresh, If you came over here from our best studio headphones article, or are at least familiar with them, just know that they can’t be replaced if you’re planning on mixing or mastering with your headphones professionally. We recommend wireless headphones for more leisurely activities, such as watching TV or movies, exercising, or travel.
Bose Electronics has a reputation for high-quality products (they made a few appearances in our best noise cancellation headphones post), especially their SoundLink series which we saw their version of the wireless speaker make an appearance in our previous article. This is their headphones version and although it’s a bit up there in terms of price, it’s extremely top notch in terms of sound quality and additive features. This on-ear pair of wireless headphones are comfortable and easy on the ears, gives 15 hours of playtime with a rechargeable battery, and has a built-in microphone system for taking calls. Comes in two colors (black and white), so relatively standard in terms of aesthetics, but adjustable headband and rotating earcups make us happy since it helps fit the form of your head flawlessly.
It also comes with a carrying case, which is important for those who are traveling. Most importantly, it connects via Bluetooth, so you’re getting the most convenient wireless experience as possible. There really isn’t anything bad to say about the SoundLink, besides the price being up there when comparing them to other models. However, you’re getting what you pay for — one of the best wireless headphones in the market as of today. To us it’s worth every penny if you’re already investing some cash. CNet’s Bose SoundLink review rated the very highly as well. If it’s too high in price, continue down our list for some alternatives.
What can we say about Jabra? They’re pretty big innovators when it comes to wireless products in our opinion, as they also made an appearance in our best wireless speakers article. The REVO headphones are their best model, giving us touch controls on the headphones to mess with volume or answer calls (yes there’s a built-in mic), a wired 3.5mm jack if you want the option, and a pretty durable build that won’t break on you easily. The sound quality is up there, although not as good as the SoundLink — it’s still better than most out there.
They also have this “Jabra Sound app” that apparently enhances sound, but we wouldn’t put our bets on it — you can mess with some EQ in there, but the sound quality won’t change much (not that it isn’t good quality). You’re also getting a few color options to fulfill your aesthetics needs. We recommend going with this model if you want to save a few bucks vs. the SoundLink. Both are feasible options if you’re wanting a high-quality pair of wireless cans. Here’s a cool video of the REVO.
This goes down as one of the best budget-friendly wireless headphones with Bluetooth in the market at the moment. The drivers are pretty high quality considering their price. Comes in black, pink or white, is rechargable (only 6 hours of play, but hey it’s better than nothing). The Bluetooth range is 30 feet which is more than enough for most activities unless you’re setting down your device at a desk or something. Even though they’re low cost, they won’t break on you easily if you take care of them. We could even recommend these for kids, just be careful with the volume getting too high. Just check out best headphones for kids if you need that.
What’s even better is the fact that it’s such a low cost and also has a microphone attached. It has a bit of a bass boost, but not too much to ruin the sound completely. Comfort is decent, not necessarily Sennheiser quality but they get the job done. This is our pick for those who are looking for a Bluetooth connected pair of wireless headphones with a mic and don’t want to spend a car payment’s worth of cash on a pair of cans.
You can’t not put a pair of Sony Electronics cans in a headphones article. This is one of their highest rated wireless headphones so we’d stick to popular opinion. It comes in quite a few different models. You can either go with Bluetooth 4.0, 4.1 stereo, 3.0, or an RF version. The version you want really depends on your budget and needs. We’d stick with the RF model for example if you won’t be leaving your house and merely need a pair to watch some TV or movies with. You have 40mm drivers which are a decent size for power, an adjustable headband, some noise reduction tech built-in, and overall decent sound quality for the price.
The range is stated to be around 150 feet, although we’d say it’s a bit less — recommended for less mobile activities since they’re not Bluetooth and require the transmitter. They’re closed-back and over your ear so they’ll fit snug and comfortable. The color choices are huge here. Not that it should be the overall deciding factor, but it’s still something to keep in mind if you want a certain color (as most others models are just in black and white). It’s a big competitor to the RS120’s we spoke about earlier.
Beats Studio Wireless
It breaks our heart to put a Beats By Dre pair of headphones in an article, it really does. To our avid readers, we’re sorry. However, please give us a chance here. This pair of headphones is actually pretty decent when it comes to wireless models. So let’s get down to the basics of these — first of all, the color choices are extremely broad to please your aesthetics needs. Second, there have been a ton of user reviews on these. Our favorite is the Beats Studio Wireless review by Digital Trends.
A 30 foot Bluetooth range, an “Acoustic Engine” built-in for excellent sound quality, noise cancelling tech, built-in rechargeable battery (lasts about 12 hours), and comes with a mic with a cable. These are the features without the fancy wording they use for descriptions, so the features in essence are relatively standard — still, it gives you basically all available features a human can put into a pair of wireless headphones. Albeit the price is a bit inflated, if you have the cash, we’d give it a go. They’re top notch, we just wish they were cheaper, but their marketing and branding as a whole is what jacks it up. Oh, it comes with a hard shell carrying case as well, which never hurts. Also be aware that the Beats headphones often come with a bass boost built-in. This may be the pair for you.
Sennheiser MM 550-X
Now these are comfortable. The ear pads are like leather suction cups. It also has some great noise cancellation tech for some privacy and isolation. It’ll connect to any device that supports Bluetooth, so the use in these is pretty much whatever you’d like. There’s also volume and playlist controls on the ear cup so it’s super convenient for traveling. The audio quality is high-end with an apt-X codec, it has a built-in microphone, and are collapsible too. Pretty much has it all here, wouldn’t necessarily complain about the price because you’re getting what you pay for.
They’re around the same price point as the SoundLink. If you’re concerned with comfort we’d go with these instead. It comes with a case, so we’d say it’s ideal for those who are travelling as well. You can never go wrong with grabbing a pair Sennys. The aesthetics are cool in our opinion as well.
This pair of headphones is super affordable and is just over the price of the Transit. Not available in too many colors; however, they’re quite high in quality when it comes to sound and overall comfort. The ear pads are soft and can be rotated, the frequency range is broad (20 to 20k Hz), and the battery is pretty long at 18 hours per use. What’s also convenient is they can be used as wired if you’re in the mood for it (stereo audio). A pretty complete package here for an affordable price.
Yes, they’re Bluetooth! The reviews are highly positive despite the brand being pretty unknown (at least to us). We found out about them on Amazon and the user reviews rave about the dedicated buttons on each ear cup (volume, track skip, play, stop, etc). The sound quality has been criticized but really, are people going to be nitpicky about a low-cost pair of headphones in terms of bass and treble nagging? It will sound fine. Grab these if you want a step above our budet-friendly pick previously spoken about.
These have been around for quite some time now, and enough time at that to give us some longevity confidence with our purchase. Sennheiser headphones is one of our favorite brands out there when it comes to cans. Ask audiophiles their preferred brand and most will quickly reply with “Senny’s!”. The RS120 On-Ear Headphones are very budget-friendly, use radio-frequency wireless technology, can be used with TV’s and other devices, and can be used in combination with other headphones (think watching movies with somebody). They’re quite comfortable and the sound quality isn’t cheap at all. It also has an auto on\off feature in case you accidentally leave it on, which is great for battery saving. They made it into our best wireless headphones for TV post.
The battery life is pretty long as well, for about 19 to 20 hours of operation (AAA). You get volume, on\off and tuning control on the side of the ear. It unfortunately does not use Bluetooth technology, so to use it with your phone or other music playing device you’ll have to use the adapter. Plus, you can’t move too far away from your transmitter (it charges the headphones and also gives you about 300 feet to work with — which is pretty far in our opinion, especially if you’re in a building). This is why it is such a low cost pair of headphones, but it may also be exactly what you need — a simple solution for a wireless experience at home. They have a few other models with this type of connectivity worth looking at with some better sound quality and features, such as the Sennheiser RS170 (albeit quite a bit more expensive). Also note that these aren’t Bluetooth.
Another relatively unknown brand, but again highly rated so it’s worth checking out. A relatively standard Bluetooth headphone here, but standard isn’t necessarily bad. You have a noticably cool look, a decent sound quality (their tech is labeled as ‘Turbine 2 Shooting’ aka T2S. It’s stated to have a big speaker around 2″ big for clear frequencies), and comfortable with padded ear cups and headband. You do have a microphone attached (45 hours of talk time), and music time reportedly up to 40 hours (but that sounds a bit inflated, however more than enough even if it’s 24 hours).
You charge the headphone with the right ear cup, and the left has a 1/8″ connection if you want to use them with a wire. There’s also some song and volume control with a wheel clicker for skipping tracks. Pretty affordable too, check it out if you want a cheaper Bluetooth headphone. Comes in quite a few different color styles as well.
This had way too many reviews to not include it in here. It firstly has a transmitter, so keep that in mind; however, it goes up to 150 (through walls, floors and what not), have 40mm drivers for a beefy sound, and has some pretty good comfort. Nothing else that’s too crazy or eye-popping, but they’re very affordable and give the essentials for a transmitter pair.
We’d recommend going with this if you want an RF wireless headphones and save money as opposed to the Sennhesier’s previously spoken about. Read the reviews for yourself, they have over a thousand positives.