By: Alexandra Berry
The right pair of wireless headphones can improve your life in a number of ways. Not only can they provide crystal clear music, but thanks to the best Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones they can help you stay focused when there are a million things going on around you. And since they’re wireless, you won’t have to worry about untangling a knot of cables every time you take them out of your bag.
Imagine using the active noise cancellation (ANC) in your home office, answering an important call straight from your headphones, and then taking a walk on your lunch break, listening to music with Transparency Mode activated to maintain situational awareness of the world around you. We’ve rounded up the best Bluetooth headphones that let you stay actively engaged with your jams and your jobs.
- Best headphones for back-to-back-to-back meetings: SONY WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones
- Best headphones for Android users: Jabra Elite 85h Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
- Best headphones for the work commute: BOSE Noise-Canceling Headphones 700
- Best headphones for tuning out home office distractions: Apple AirPods Max
- Best cheap Bluetooth headphones: Cowin E7 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones
What to look for when shopping for the best Bluetooth headphones
When shopping around for the best Bluetooth headphones, consider what features will actually affect your overall experience. For example, you may want to choose something with Bluetooth 5.0 over Bluetooth 4.0 for a more stable connection with a longer range and better battery life. Some brands offer wired connectivity and brand-agnostic features, while others play nicer with Android or iOS. Do you want your headphones to pause when you take them off? They’ll need built-in sensors. Once you’re clear on what you want and/or need, you’ll be able to narrow down your search and find the pair that will work best for you and your current devices.
How important is call quality?
If you plan to use your wireless Bluetooth headphones for calls, whether work or personal, you’ll want a pair that has a robust set of built-in microphones. Various microphones can serve different purposes. Some specifically pick up your voice as you speak. Others help with noise-canceling or adaptive EQ algorithms. The latter is a newer feature that offers better sound quality by shaping the low and mid frequencies of music to your ear to create a more immersive sound.
The right combination of mics will improve the quality of your calls by isolating the sound of your voice, while blocking out all background noise. Additionally, headphones that offer the ability to answer phone calls with either voice activation or touch-sensitive controls allow you to truly be hands-free.
Will you want to connect to multiple devices?
Switching up the device you plan to connect your Bluetooth headphones to can be a necessity for some workflows. However, with Multipoint, you won’t actually have to constantly select—or sometimes totally forget and (re)sync devices—as it allows your Bluetooth headphones to be connected to two separate devices at once—phone, laptop, or Apple TV. Besides not having to worry about unpairing and pairing, when one device rings or plays music, the headphones will know which it is and will automatically connect to the correct device.
Do you care how they look?
Gone are the bulking headphones that barely fit your ears. Today you’ll find slim models with exceptionally crafted earcups that won’t wear on your ears and head during long listening sessions. With multiple color offerings, you’re bound to find something you love. Furthermore, some headphones such as the Apple Airpods Max are designed with a knit-mesh canopy and memory foam so they form to your ear shape for a more comfortable fit.
Where will you wear your Bluetooth headphones?
Ideally, the Bluetooth headphones you choose will work in multiple environments. The best Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones can be handy in a busy office environment, but may be overkill if you’re in a home office most of the time. Some ANC-equipped models offer transparency mode, which blends external sounds with your music to be able to stay aware of your surroundings. Additionally, some headphones offer Adaptive ANC that can automatically adapt, detecting changes in the frequency of sound the listener is hearing and adapting in real-time to offer the best possible performance.
Do you want to talk to a digital assistant?
Should you want to easily access voice ecosystems like Alexa, Google Assistant, and/or Siri, you’ll want headphones that can listen. Some Bluetooth headphones are voice ecosystem-enabled so you can access music, information, change the volume, add to your grocery list, turn on the lights, and more with just the push of a button. Some models work with a variety of platforms, while others will only work with specific assistants.
Are you on a budget?
If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of great Bluetooth headphones under $100 so you don’t have to break the bank to get a great pair. Headphones in the $100 and under range offer many of the features the more expensive sets offer—noise cancellation, long battery life, the ability to take calls, etc. One feature often missing is transparency mode so if that’s something you need, you may have to spend a bit more.
The best Bluetooth headphones
The Bluetooth headphone market can be overwhelming to navigate, so it’s crucial to understand what features matter most to you. From noise cancellation to using Alexa/Siri/Google Assistant to Transparency Mode, pay for what you’ll use. Once you know what you want, you’ll have a much easier time narrowing down your options.
The best headphones for back-to-back-to-back meetings: SONY WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones
Five built-in microphones and advanced digital signal processing combine for great call quality. Sony
At roughly 9 ounces, with a sturdy, if nondescript plastic-and-pleather build, the WH-1000XM4 is a headphone that’s light in weight and aesthetics but a heavyweight when it comes to features. Low clamping force, plus some of the smartest controls on a headphone, make the WH-1000XM4 a work-from-anywhere star. The 40mm drivers and digital signal enhancement technology on the Sony Bluetooth headphones deliver a warm, relatively balanced sound with plenty of bass. The SoC (System on a Chip) uses Bluetooth 5.0 and digital signal processing to receive and process SBC, AAC, LDAC, and 360 Reality Audio. With advanced speak-to-chat technology, plus best-in-class ANC that adapts to ambient settings, the WH-1000XM4 may be the best Bluetooth headphones for calls and successfully tuning out your surroundings anywhere. It even pauses/restarts play when you take them off/put them on.
Sony claims the WH-1000XM4 gets 30 hours of use off a full charge, but the headphones also have a 3.5mm auxiliary input that works (minus noise cancellation) even without power—assuming you still have a device with a headphone jack. You’ll be able to get through days of business flights and long hours without missing a meeting, virtual or in-person. But at least you’ll have a great soundtrack to accompany you. Unlike some competitors, these Sony Bluetooth headphones fold to fit in a convenient travel case.
The best headphones for rushing around: Jabra Elite 85h Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
SmartSound technology analyzes your surroundings and automatically adapts sound experience, ANC, and hear-through settings. Jabra
With a sleek design and five color options, the Jabra Elite 85h Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones look good enough for the trek back into the real world. Most importantly, they’re a rare pair of wireless headphones that have a water-resistant (though not waterproof) coating. When linked to the Sound+ app, you can personalize your sound, choose your voice assistant (Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant), create music profiles, and customize how much background noise you want to eliminate. Once settings have been customized in the App, the ANC responds to your surroundings, switching on automatically to block out unwanted background noise.
Four of the eight microphones are used by the ANC to filter out noises around you. Six of the eight (with some overlap) are used for the advanced call technology to block out wind and surrounding distractions for making and receiving clear calls no matter where you are. With on-ear detection, the Elite 85H knows when you remove them from your ears and pauses audio so you don’t miss a beat. To enjoy your headphones all day long, you have up to 41 hours of battery charge (with ANC switched off) and 36 hours (with ANC switched on) with fast charging ability—5 hours for 15 minutes of charge with a 500mA USB wall charger. The Elite 85H can be paired to up to eight devices with the ability to pair two devices at the same time.
The best headphones for tuning out home office distractions: BOSE Noise-Canceling Headphones 700
Upgrade for Brand Loyalists
With 11 settings of sound control, you can choose what you hear and when. Bose
With a headband made from lightweight stainless steel and soft gel-like cushioning, and ear cups made from soft foam covered in pleather, the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are comfortable enough for a cross-continental flight.
The Bose Bluetooth headphones’ noise-canceling is some of the strongest on the market—at maximum level, it may even be overkill for some people. A smartphone app allows listeners to tweak its strength, as well as other sound performance stats. For clear calls for both you and the other person on the line, six of the eight microphones work together to cancel any background noise while four (two are shared with ANC) work to improve voice clarity by isolating your speech and limiting the additional disruptive sound around you.
The right ear cup has touch sensors that manage volume, calls, and music while discreet buttons control the power, noise-canceling presets, and voice assistant access. With built-in voice control, you can get to your music, messages, and information by utilizing Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. With a Bluetooth range of 30 feet and the ability to connect to two devices at once, you can leave your laptop and phone in another room yet still stay connected.
If you’re the only one binge-watching a new show in your home, you can connect the Bose Bluetooth headphones to either a Bose Soundbar 500 or Smart Soundbar 700 so you don’t disturb anyone else. Battery life is up to 20 hours of wireless play plus 15 minutes of charge will give you an additional two hours. Included in purchase are the headphones, USB-C charging cable, audio cable, and carrying case for easy transport.
The best headphones for the work commute: Apple AirPods Max
Sleek Design, Exceptional Fit
Between the effortless setup, on-head detection, and adaptive ANC, these headphones are a win for those with a work commute. Apple
Designed with a knit-mesh canopy to reduce on-head pressure and acoustically engineered memory foam earcups, these headphones form to your ear shape for a comfortable fit and fully immersive sound. To easily skip songs, adjust the volume, answer phone calls and activate Siri, the twistable digital crown is seamlessly displayed on the earphones. It’s similar to what you’ll find on the Apple Watch.
The combination of innovative processing and lossless audio works to play sound with very low distortion across the audio range, meaning you’ll hear each note with unparalleled clarity. The dynamic driver, designed by Apple, produces a wide frequency range that creates details in every sound, combined with adaptive EQ, which tailors the sound to your ear, makes your music experience that much better.
In order to block out background noise, the Apple AirPods Max uses six outward-facing mics to recognize surrounding noise and two inward-facing mics to measure what you’re hearing. For clarity even in the most challenging environments, beamforming mics help to isolate your voice, making these some of the best Bluetooth headphones for calls. To move between ANC and Transparency Mode, press the low-profile noise control button. Thank the Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking for the surround sound, allowing you to totally immerse yourself in your music or call. Seamlessly switch between your iPhone, iPod Touch, or Apple TV and get messages, weather, or directions with the always-on Siri.
The best cheap Bluetooth headphones: Cowin E7 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Quality on a Budget
Adequate ANC offers significant noise reduction for air travel, work, loud city streets, and anywhere else you find yourself. cowin
If you’re looking for quality headphones on a budget, look no further. Ranging from $49.99 to $69.99, depending on color, the Cowin E7 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones are the best Bluetooth headphones under $100 that can compete with some of the expensive brands. These lightweight yet feature-packed headphones are made of solid materials and have 90-degree swivel earcups for a more durable and flexible fit.
With built-in microphones and NFC technology (short-range wireless tech that allows you to quickly connect your device to the headphones), you can make calls hands-free during or after-work hours. By using the tuning control located on the headphones, you can easily adjust the volume. With 40mm large-aperture drivers, the Cowin headphones deliver crisp, powerful sound quality, listen after listen. Even after 30 hours of Bluetooth-activated fun, these headphones won’t power off due to the built-in 750mAh battery. Included in the purchase are headphones, a micro-USB cable, and a 3.5mm audio cable. Something to note—if you need the transparency mode, these headphones won’t be the best fit for you. There are some features you’ll miss out on, however. They only promise Bluetooth 4.0, however, which is a generation older than the current Bluetooth 5.0 tech.
Best Bluetooth headphones FAQ:
Which wireless earphones are the best?
It’s hard to say which wireless earphones are best because there are so many great options. What you’re looking for will determine the best earphones for you. If you’re looking for the best cheap Bluetooth headphones and want the best Bluetooth headphones under $100, you can’t go wrong with either the Cowin E7 Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones or the Soundcore by Anker Life Q30. If you’re looking for more advanced technology—the best Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones and models that have Transparency Mode, etc., then the SONY WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones or the Apple AirPods Max would both be a great choice. Also, the type of phone you have may determine which headphones will be most compatible.
Are Bluetooth headphones safe?
The short answer is yes, Bluetooth headphones are safe to use. They emit low levels of nonionizing radiation and routine exposure to nonionizing radiation is “generally perceived as harmless to humans,” according to the Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, the CDC states, “To reduce radiofrequency radiation near your body: Get a hands-free headset that connects directly to your phone.”
How do Bluetooth headphones work?
Bluetooth headphones work by receiving wire-free signals from paired audio sources—your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. A device with Bluetooth technology has a small computer chip that has the Bluetooth radio and that makes it possible to connect the two devices.
The final word on shopping for the best Bluetooth headphones
Whether you’re looking for the best Bluetooth headphones for endless conference calls or to try and drone out background noise in your home office or to have a quiet, relaxing commute, there’s an option for you. Features like voice-activated assistants, comfort, and customizable settings are all part of the fun, so if they’re important to you, aim to purchase headphones (compatible with your devices) that have exactly what you need, especially because they can cost considerable cash. Once you sort out your priorities, you’ll be able to pair down and find your best set yet.>