These affordable headphones can be used both wired and wirelessly—the latter yielding 15 hours of battery life. However, some users will be disappointed to find that they can't be folded up while not in use.
While some people might prefer the more traditional experience offered by wired on- or over-ear headphones, there's a reason why wireless (and true wireless) headphones are so popular: being able to walk away from your device while listening to music is incredibly convenient.
If you just want some of the best wireless over-ear headphones we've tested, check out the Sony WH-1000XM3(available at Amazon). Not only do these comfortable, great-sounding over-ears from Sony give you the freedom of a zero wires experience, but they offer awesome noise-canceling, too.
Of course, you might not want to spend big bucks just to get a solid pair of wireless over- or on-ear headphones—no worries. We've tested wireless cans in just about every price range, and have some great recommendations for you.
These are the best wireless headphones we tested ranked, in order:
JLab Audio Omni
Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless
Plantronics Backbeat Sense
Jlab Audio Flex Bluetooth Active Noise Canceling
Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless
Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
V-Moda Crossfade II Wireless
Master & Dynamic MW50
Beats Studio3 Wireless
Focal Listen Wireless
Urbanears Plattan 2 Bluetooth
Debuting in 2019, Sony's WH-1000XM3 isn't just our top-rated Noise-Canceling Headphone—it's our favorite headphone, period. Combining excellent sound quality, all-day comfort, great noise reduction, efficacious noise-canceling, and stylish design details, the XM3 is an outright win.
If you want a ton of details on the WH-1000XM3, check out our full product review, but what you need to know about it is that it doesn't cut any corners—and that's reflected in the price. There's also a bit of a learning curve here, as Sony's headphone software is stuffed with impressive tech like the ability to detect barometric pressure or save custom EQ curves that are reflected in the way your music sounds.
Those additions are certainly welcome, but they're a sort of icing on the cake, too. At the end of the day, even if you don't dive into the deep level of customization these headphones deliver, you're getting Sony's best-in-class adaptive noise-canceling and stellar sound quality and frequency reproduction. It's all backed up by over-ear headphones that manage to be well-padded and comfortable while also surprisingly light in weight, so much so that you might forget they're even on your head.
Pound for pound, the Sony WH-1000XM3 are stellar over-ear headphones, and they're versatile enough to satisfy staunch audiophiles, commuters fed up with all the noise, or everyday listeners simply sick of dealing with wires.
JLab Audio has a history of bringing premium features down into a more affordable price range, and that's exactly what they've done with the Omni Bluetooth headphones. These over-ear headphones can be used both wired and wirelessly; for the latter case, they have a battery life of about ~15 hours, which is nothing to sneeze at. They sound like most consumer headphones do (rather than studio headphones); they emphasize the bass notes so that they're not totally overtaken by vocals or instrumentals with higher tones.
While the Omni do fold up, they're not especially portable. Whether they're in or out of the included travel case, they're pretty bulky. It's probably best that you leave these in one place, rather than dragging them all around town with you, as they'll take up valuable real estate in your suitcase or your laptop bag. For the price, though, the JLab Omni gives you both wireless and wired functionality that makes them a real steal.
Howdy, I'm Lee Neikirk, Home Theater Editor for Reviewed and casual video/audiophile. I've been elbows-deep in professional reviews of video and audio products for the last 7 years, but before that, I was earning a degree in music performance, so it's safe to say that audio quality and presentation are passions of mine.
I personally own more headphones than I can generally find time to use, so getting in swaths of the priciest and most unique or beloved headphones to check out and recommend here is something I both enjoy and take seriously. I take them on flights, during commutes around the city, use them while I'm working, and try to generally wring every likely use case out of each headphone during evaluation. I often end up writing full, standalone reviews of the ones that stand out.
Headphone manufacturers are typically aiming for either a flat or a curved sound profile. A curved profile is most common, and most curved profiles are trying to replicate the Equal Loudness Curve (ELC). The human ear hears higher tones more easily than it hears the bass tones, so for a human to perceive highs and lows at a similar volume, the headphones boost the volume of the lows, and moderate the volume of the highs.
A flat profile is usually found in "studio" headphones; the highs, mids, and bass tones have the same volume. However, as I just mentioned, we don't hear all tones at the same volume, so the bass notes sound softer, and the highs sound louder. Some people prefer studio headphones because of their audio fidelity—they are hearing the music exactly as the producers intended them to hear it. Also, as implied by the name, studio headphones are used in studio recordings to help mixers figure out what, if any frequencies, they should boost or reduce.
In addition to the more scientific testing, we also wear each pair of headphones around town to get a sense for their features (like extra amps or noise cancellation) and short- and long-term comfort.
What You Should Know about Headphones
You've probably seen a bunch of different headphones in your everyday life, but what you may not realize is that headphones, while they have a number of different selling points, are primarily categorized into three types: in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear.
Knowing the basic terminology of modern headphones is the best way to estimate what you need (or want) in a pair of headphones, which will guide you towards deciding how much to spend. Usually, if you have an idea of what style you're looking for, what features you want or need, and how you'll be using your new headphones, you can start to estimate how much you want to spend. For example, Sony's super-popular WH-1000XM3 headphones are Bluetooth (wireless) over-ears with Adaptive Noise Canceling. If you're not sure what all that means, read on to see which pair is right for you.
Style: Deciding on one of the three common form factors—in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear—should be your first step. Generally, in-ear headphones are the most portable and convenient, over-ear headphones are the most comfortable, while on-ear headphones are somewhere in between. Check out our guide to the pros and cons of each form factor.
Bluetooth/wireless: Do you want wireless headphones? A pair of Bluetooth headphones will let you go completely without wires, while a set of "true wireless" earbuds are even more minimalist. If you're looking for an experience that won't tether you to your phone, tablet, or laptop, Bluetooth headphones are what you need—and fortunately, they're ubiquitous enough these days that you can find them in every style and price range.
Noise-canceling: Noise-canceling headphones, originally designed for pilots, aren't just for frequent flyers anymore. These headphones reduce the volume of ambient noise around you, and over the last several years they've become a mainstay for travelers, public transit commuters, gym-goers, and even people in extra-chatty offices. If you already know you're looking for noise-canceling headphones, check out the best ones we've tested.
Open-backed: Last but not least, this niche kind of over-ear headphone is a style that's especially preferred by people mixing and matstering audio. Unlike traditional "closed-back" headphones, open-backed headphones have, literally, open backs, allowing some of the sound to escape into the room around you. While these headphones are primarily meant for audio professionals and audiophiles, it's worth knowing about them even if it's so you can decide if they're something you want or not.
Other Headphones We Tested
Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones
If you're looking for the best volume-limited headphones for kids, the Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones are the best that we've tested. These are a bit pricier than our previous favorite—the Puro BT2200—but they offer a killer new feature: noise cancellation. Though it may seem like a luxury feature for many children, it's an awesome addition for kids who have sensory issues.
For other children, the noise-cancellation helps reduce the urge to crank the volume to the absolute max. Though volume-limiting headphones are critical for protecting your child's hearing, the recommended max of 85dB(a) simply isn't very loud. These headphones help solve for that by further cutting down ambient noise.
In our lab tests, the PuroQuiets were some of the best noise-canceling headphones we've tested, cutting down a significant amount of ambient noise with no major technical issues. Though our tests showed they could get up to around 87dB(a), that's still near the recommended level experts deem safe for up to 8 hours.
The main drawback here is the price, but Puro frequently discounts these. Headphones like these ones can be pricey for younger kids who are likely to forget them somewhere (or simply break them), but for an older kid wanting nicer headphones, they're worth the investment.
The wireless capability ensures that your kid can't easily circumvent the volume protections, and they will work with a wider range of modern devices including newer smartphones that don't have built-in headphone jacks. Just note that if the battery dies you can use the included cable, but the volume limiter on the cable only works when plugged in the right way.
When headphones are able to balance form and function, we stand up and take notice. Audio-Technica’s ATH-MSR7 do just that by combining thick memory foam padding, an aluminum/magnesium housing, and rich, consumer-friendly sound to create a fantastic overall value. They’re cans that'll please audiophiles and average consumers alike—so long as they don’t mind spending a little to get that high quality.
At this price point, consumers expect to be wowed by the headphones' comfort, sound, and features; the Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7 headphones check all of the right boxes.
Bose has a devoted following, and with a pair of headphones like the QuietComfort 35 Series II, that's not surprising. The active noise cancellation (ANC), for which Bose is well-renowned, cuts out a wide range of noises from deep train rumbling to higher-pitched A/C humming. The headphones are light and comfortable enough that they can be worn for hours at a time, although you may notice some heat or sweat build-up from where the cushy leather pads meet the sides of your head. The 20-hour battery life is also a huge selling point. We tested the Bose QC35 Series I; really the only difference between the series I and series II is that with the series II, you can also activate and command the Google Assistant.
One tricky point is that, should you decide you don't want to use the ANC (for safety reasons or otherwise), you'll have to plug in and use them as wired headphones, since the Bluetooth switch doubles as the ANC on/off switch. The price is steep; if you have a little bit more disposable income and want an outstanding pair of headphones, this is the pair for you.
The Sennheiser PXC 550 are a very solid set of over-ears, simply put. The wireless version gives you Bluetooth functionality and active noise-canceling in a lightweight and very comfortable package, and as you might expect from a pair of Sennheiser headphones, they sound excellent.
During my time with the PXC 550s, I was very impressed with how they managed to pack such robust and bass-forward sound into headphones that also deliver a snug, lightweight fit and plushy materials. While they're not cheap, I was surprised to find out how relatively affordable they were compared to some of their direct competitors.
However, getting to that point took some doing. These are some of the only headphones where we've had to investigate an online manual in order to get them into pairing mode, for example. Likewise, the on-set controls (which live on the lower portion of the right ear cup) through me off a bit, as they're usually on the left cup for Bluetooth over-ear headphones. But it's easy enough to play/pause, skip tracks, and access phone functions once you get the hang of it.
The major takeaway, though, is that the PXC 550 Wireless headphones give you great sound, plenty of comfort, a minimalist form factor, and good-enough noise-canceling for basic purposes. At their price, they're a bundle of positive traits, and you should check them out if you're looking for a more affordable take on wireless ANC over-ears.
These are Audio-Technica's latest take on fully featured Bluetooth over-ears. With every product being a bit of a balancing act, I can see plenty of reasons why people might go for the simpler and slightly more affordable ANC900BT's over something like Sony's WH-1000XM3's.
With less tech overall, the 900BT's battery lasts at least 10-12 hours longer than most of the competition on average, and some buyers may even prefer the marked lack of filigree here (there's no app to download, no EQ to mess around with, no AR features or anything like that). The 900BT's aren't the most premium choice out there, but they should be on your radar if you want frills-free ANC headphones.
If you love the portability of in-ear headphones, but want something a little heftier that can stand up to every-day use, the Plantronics Backbeat Sense Wireless on-ear headphones are a great way to dip your toe into the on- and over-ear headphone pool. These wireless headphones are lightweight, cushy on your ears, and come with a sound profile that nicely balances both the bass tones and the higher notes.
With a battery life of 15-20 hours, and a recharge time of only ~2 hours, these are perfect to take on a long train or bus ride; you can spend quality time relaxing and enjoying the trip, rather than hunting around for a wall outlet. While we had some trouble consistently operating the touch controls, the rest of the experience is good enough that we'd still recommend these headphones to friends and family.
JLab Audio is a relatively new player in the headphones game, but they really impressed us with the JLab Audio Flex ANC Wireless. The flat sound profile will please audiophiles who want true music fidelity. The active noise cancellation on these headphones is unreal. When turned on, it sounds like all of the noise has been sucked out of the room. Walking on a quiet street with the ANC on feels like floating in outer space, for the amount of ambient noise that reaches your ears. A 30-hour battery life is great for both long days of travel and shorter, more casual use throughout the week.
The headphones themselves are very comfortable, but are a bit heavier than the Bose QC35, and have an angled cushion at the top of the headband that tends to dig into the top of your skull after a few hours. Additionally, there have been reports of design flaws in the ear pads, which tear and break off easily. When they unfold, the cups snap out crisply, so be sure to watch your fingers so they don't get pinched. The Flex ANC Wireless are relatively inexpensive for a quality pair of noise-canceling wireless headphones; at this price, you're getting a lot of bang for your buck.
The Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless headphones are the wireless version of the much-loved Bowers & Wilkins P5 Series 2. They have the same magnetic ear cups and enviable audio performance that emphasizes the bass notes without overwhelming any higher notes, like vocals or strings. The battery life is a respectable 15-20 hours, and it has a sleek design that wouldn't look out of place on the streets of Silicon Valley.
The only downside? These on-ear headphones are not great at isolation. Because they sit gently on top of your ears without compressing them, it's easy for the outside world to intrude on your music. On the other hand, we didn't experience the sweat and heat build-up that often goes hand-in-hand with over- and on-ear headphones that press against your ears. If you prefer on-ear headphones with a loose fit and don't mind playing your music at loud volumes, the Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless, while expensive, is a winning combination of portability, style, and performance.
We really liked the previous Plantronics Backbeat Pro, so it's probably not surprising that the next edition gets a big thumbs up as well. Like the QC35 and the Flex ANC, the Backbeat Pro 2 also has active noise cancellation (ANC), but it's less robust than the ANC on those headphones. It minimizes lower-pitched train rumbling, but other sounds are still audible. To some extent, this effect is intentional, since the Backbeat Pro 2 boasts an open-back setting that allows you to easily hear ambient noise, in addition to your tunes.
Another unusual feature is sensors that detect when the headphones are being worn, and when they've been taken off. In the latter case, the headphones "auto-pause", and turn back on once the headphones have been returned to your head. Some users were unlucky, however, and had defective units that would auto-pause when the headphones were still on their heads. The Backbeat Pro 2 are ridiculously comfortable; we had no issues with them after hours of use. If you like comfy headphones, a 24-hour battery life, tech-y features, and have some extra cash on hand, then these are the cans for you.
Like the older V-Moda Crossfade M-100, the Crossfade II Wireless have the same steel frame, metal ear plates, and kevlar-wrapped cord; these headphones can take a beating. With the Crossfade II Wireless, though, you have the option to ditch said kevlar-wrapped and use these wirelessly. The battery life is about 15-20 hours.
As for sound, the Crossfade II Wireless have a delicate touch and only emphasize the bass just enough so that it doesn't get overwhelmed by the tinkling higher notes, which makes for a really big, present sound. These headphones also fold up into a relatively small, extremely durable case that makes these wireless headphones even more portable. It may take a while for you to get used to the hidden controls on the side of the ear cups, but these headphones are worth the investment.
Another relative newcomer, Master & Dynamic has jumped into the headphone market with the MW50 Wireless on-ear headphones. These headphones are just gorgeous; the leather-and-metal design definitely attracts a lot of attention. Despite being on-ear headphones, which are often more uncomfortable due to their position on your ears, I was able to wear these headphones for hours without taking a break. They exert enough pressure to stay on your head without giving you ear pain.
The sound profile tends to emphasize the higher tones which ring clearly, but the bass notes sound a bit hollow.
The MW50 comes with a braided wire neatly coiled and stored in the included cable container; if the 16-hour battery dies, you can just plug in and continue listening. For those who prefer USB-C charging, the MW50 headphones are one of the few headphones on this list that have a USB-C charging port, rather than a micro USB port.
The major downside? These headphones are pretty pricey. The MW50 are ideal for those in a higher tax bracket who want to listen to music wirelessly, and look good doing it.
Beats is perhaps one of the most (in)famous headphone brands around. The Studio 3 Wireless tries (and largely succeeds) in bridging the gap between a flat, studio-like audio profile (with a slight emphasis on bass) and a portable pair of headphones you can wear around town. The active noise cancellation makes a significant dent in both train rumbling and A/C hums alike. The W1 chip also makes pairing nearly instantaneous with any Apple or iOS device.
The Studio 3 Wireless headphones are very comfortable in the short term but can squeeze your head and cause immense heat/sweat build-up in the long run.
Between the 22-hour battery life, solid noise cancellation, and sleek aesthetic, it's understandable why some people are willing to drop so much cash on these headphones, which serve a dual purpose as a pair of headphones and a fashion statement.
If you're looking for a pair of wireless on-ear headphones that suit your more active lifestyle, take a look at the Jabra Move. These lightweight headphones are extremely flexible and portable. While they have a relatively flat audio profile, the bass is slightly de-emphasized.
These headphones are pretty bare-bones and are priced accordingly. Some reviewers say that they're best used for light exercise, and may slip off due to sweat or motion during more extreme workouts. There have also been reports of the ear pads splitting open, and of the 8-hour battery life decreasing over time.
I found these headphones to be surprisingly comfortable over both short and long time periods. However, the headphones are noticeably smaller than the other ones I tried, and might not fit a person with a larger head.
For the no-frills option that you can wear on the go, the Jabra Move is a solid pick.
These over-ear headphones are huge. If you're looking to reproduce the studio headphone experience with no wires, look no further. The Blue Satellite have both the heft and the flat audio profile (with a slight emphasis on the highs) of your favorite studio headphones. In addition to active noise cancellation (which blocks some train rumble, but not all of it), the Satellite also has an AMP setting which instantly boosts the volume and presence of your music.
The Satellite is built with high-quality materials, cushy ear pads, and a 24-hour battery life, so what's not to like? The three major issues are the long-term comfort, the controls, and the price. The headphones are so heavy and so rigid that I had a headache a few hours in, and from the looks of the Amazon reviews, I'm not alone. The controls also do not give you audio feedback, so it's tough to tell when the headphones are actively pairing. Lastly, these cans have a high price tag, which is going to hurt most peoples' wallets, even if the price is somewhat understandable based on the build quality.
Focal is a brand favored by audiophiles the world over. Their latest move brings them into the wireless over-ear headphone market with the Listen Wireless. The extremely flat sound profile will please those who favor studio-quality audio. However, while the bass is audible, the audio doesn't sound as full or well-rounded as it did in some of the other headphones I tried. On the other hand, while streaming reruns of my favorite TV show, I was able to hear both music and dialogue that I didn't know existed, which is a credit to the Listen Wireless's over-ear isolation and sound sensitivity.
However, with solid isolation comes noticeable head pain. In my experience, the ear cups and headband of the headphones tend to clamp down and can be uncomfortable to wear after a few hours. Other user reviews claimed that these headphones were easy to wear all day, so try a pair out in a store before you buy them to see if they are a good fit for your head.
The controls on the headband are large and easy to use by touch, and the 20-hour battery life is nothing to sneeze at. On the other hand, the Listen Wireless are in a price bracket where customers might expect additional features, namely active noise cancellation. With an ability to breathe new life into old favorite tunes and shows, though, the Focal Listen Wireless might be worth the steep price.
If you prefer on-ear headphones as the ultimate compromise between earbuds and large over-ear headphones, you may find yourself drawn to the Urbanears Plattan 2 Bluetooth headphones. These headphones are lightweight, have an insanely long battery life of 30 hours (to which I can personally attest) and come in a variety of neat colors.
These headphones fit snugly and comfortably on your ears, but over time, the clamping force starts to become more noticeable; my ears started to ache after six hours. The sound profile was fine, and the Plattan 2 Bluetooth headphones do a good job of making everything from dialogue to hard rock easily audible and enjoyable. As an extra feature, there's an audio output (called a "Zoundplug") into which your friends can plug their wired headphones to share your music while you're on the go. The joystick inline controller is neat, but can a bit finicky at times.
The Bluetooth connectivity is pretty good if you stay within the same room as your music device, but once you leave the room, expect to be bombarded with choppy, incomprehensible sound. With the Urbanears Plattan 2 Bluetooth, you get what you pay for—great battery life, good sound, and okay connectivity.
Insanely long battery life
Others can plug their headphones in to share music
The Cowin E7s are more affordable than many wireless, ANC-equipped over-ear headphones. However, this has pros and cons.
Don't expect to be too impressed with the sound quality, though from a design perspective these are comfortable if a bit heavy. We noticed some perceptible distortion at higher volumes, but at more moderate settings these sound fine. Likewise, Bluetooth works as it should, and the ANC (noise-canceling) settings do a decent job suppressing ambient noise.
Overall, you're getting a lot of good features, but nothing that stands out as great in terms of sound quality, design, ANC effectiveness, or battery life.
The Panasonic RP-HTX80B is a basic pair of wireless over-ear headphones. The pairing process is straightforward, the sound is a bit unbalanced (usually favoring the high tones), and the battery life is among the highest I've seen, coming in at 22 hours.
The RP-HTX80B are pretty comfortable in the short run, but like most over-ear headphones, tend to press down on the top of your head after a few hours. The major feature that helps the RP-HTX80B stand out from a crowd is the really neat retro styling, which comes in a range of eye-catching colors.
The RP-HTX80B has a small price tag, especially considering that they're wireless over-ear headphones. However, without an extra wired cord and the ability to continue listening after the battery dies, it still feels like a bit too much money to spend. At this price point, try the Jabra Move instead.
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.