• Sony WH-1000XM3

  • Jabra Elite Active 65t

  • How We Tested

  • What You Should Know About Headphones

  • Other Wireless Headphones We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Our Favorite Wireless Headphones of 2020

  1. Best Overall

    Sony WH-1000XM3

    Pros

    • Great sound

    • Very comfortable

    • Excellent ANC

    Cons

    • Expensive

    • Complicated UX

    • Finicky controls

    Skip to the full review below
  2. Best Value

    Jabra Elite Active 65t

    Pros

    • Excellent sound

    • Workout ready

    Cons

    • Bluetooth issues

    • Some sound artifacts

    Skip to the full review below
Best-Over-ear-wireless
Credit: Reviewed

Sony's WH-1000XM3 are our favorite wireless headphones for their comfort, great sound, and excellent noise-canceling

Best Overall
Sony WH-1000XM3

When it comes to wireless noise cancelling headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM3 is our top choice. You're not just getting freedom from wires here, but amazing noise cancelation, sound, comfort, and features too. Multiple Reviewed staff used these over a period of month, and all of us absolutely loved them.

Of course, all that quality ends up reflected in the price, and as is usually the case with our Best Overall products. However, if you'll settle for nothing but the best in a new pair of wireless headphones, the WH-1000XM3 are the ones to set your sights on. Given their blue-ribbon marks in every aspect of performance, comfort, and features, we think they're well worth it.

That said, if you just want to be free of wires, there's a lot of extra tech here you might not want to pay for: class-leading noise cancelation, for one, and some of the best sound we heard back in 2019. If these are too rich for your blood, check out the rest of our picks below.

Pros

  • Great sound

  • Very comfortable

  • Excellent ANC

Cons

  • Expensive

  • Complicated UX

  • Finicky controls

Jabra Elite 65t
Credit: Reviewed.com / TJ Donegan

The Jabra Elite Active 65t are our pick for Best Value wireless headphones.

Best Value
Jabra Elite Active 65t

The Jabra Elite Active 65t are nearly identical to their predecessor, the Jabra Elite 65t, except that they're much better equipped to deal with sweat, rain, and dust. In our testing, the Elite Active 65t performed similarly to the standard Elite 65t: mostly distortion-free sound with great isolation and a fair amount of “oomph” on the low end, all for a great price.

They're not perfect, of course: wee had some mild connectivity issues. We sometimes found ourselves needing to remove the Elite Active 65t from our phone or computer’s saved devices list and re-establish a connection, which can be difficult since a long press on the earbud’s play button controls both the earbuds’ Bluetooth signal and the power.

That said, if you're just looking for a solid pair of wireless headphones that won't break the bank, the Jabra Elite Active 65t sound great, stand up to the elements, and offer desirable features. As such, we think they’re a great value, especially if you’re planning on running or working out at the gym.

Pros

  • Excellent sound

  • Workout ready

Cons

  • Bluetooth issues

  • Some sound artifacts

Related content

How We Tested

head_and_torso_simulator
Credit: Reviewed.com / Julia MacDougall

We test all of our headphones on a head and torso simulator (HATS), a model of a human being from the waist upwards that reproduces how we experience music when we listen to headphones.

The Testers

Reviewed has been testing and reviewing personal and home audio products for over a decade, and our staff is peopled with passionate music-lovers, musicians, and (reasonable) audiophiles.

Our staff and freelancers—whether based in Cambridge, Mass., or remotely—evaluate each set of headphones on the same merits that anyone would at home: comfort, usability, design, sound quality, and so on. We also bring them into our headphone lab, where we use a head-and-torso simulator to test them scientifically. All in all, we take a holistic objective and subjective look at a pair of headphones backed by ample experience.

The Tests

On our head and torso simulator (HATS), we put these headphones through our usual battery of headphone tests: frequency response, distortion, tracking, leakage, and isolation.

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.

different_headphone_types
Credit: Reviewed

Three popular types of headphones: 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.

How To Choose The Best Wireless Headphones

  • 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.
headphone-ear-pads
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

Selecting a style of headphone comes down to many factors, including comfort, portability, and stylishness.

  • 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 Wireless Headphones We Tested

Apple AirPods Pro

Apple's AirPods Pro are the meaningful upgrade of the original AirPods we've all been waiting for. New features include better sound, good noise cancellation, moderate water-resistance and easily swappable silicone tips, meaning they should fit better for more people.

At just 4.5 to 5 hours per charge, battery life is middling, but the tiny portable charging case offers 4-5 full recharges and can give you an hour of listening time in just five minutes. Noise cancellation matched up well with pricier noise-canceling headphones in lab testing, with only a half-hour lost in battery life when engaged.

At their original $250 price point, they're not exactly cheap, but they offer enough of a meaningful difference that we think it's worth it. That's especially true since their intuitive and comfortable design means they are extremely versatile; these can be your primary headphones for hitting the gym, work, or travel.

Along with their noise cancellation, their transparency mode—which filters in exterior audio—allows you to hear listen just as easily indoors our out. In addition, thanks to noise-canceling signal processing for the microphones, call quality is among the best you'll find. The AirPods Pro are a massive win for Apple, standing as some of the best wireless earbuds on the market, period.

Check out the full review here.

Pros

  • Active noise cancellation

  • Silicon tips ensure a more comfortable fit

  • Easy setup and syncing

Cons

  • Sub-par audio quality, given their price

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose's QuietComfort 35s were one of the first superstar sets of noise-canceling headphones on the market, so it makes sense that the follow-up, the QuietComfort 35 Series II, is equally renowned. Their active noise cancellation (ANC) reduces a huge range of noises, making them ideal for anyone dealing with particularly noise situations. Naturally, they're also wireless—sporting an excellent 20 hours of battery life—but the reason most people buy these headphones is for their noise canceling.

There's still a lot to love about the QC 35 IIs, however. They're lightweight and comfortable enough for all-day use, and the Series II edition also adds Google Assistant integration. While we prefer Sony's WH-1000XM3 in general, there's no denying that the QC 35 IIs are a serious runner-up where noise canceling, sound quality, and overall comfort are concerned. And as it stands, we still prefer these to Bose's newer NC 700 model.

However, like the Sony WH-1000XM3, you're paying a good bit more here for all the fancy, extra features, so if you're just looking for a great wireless option and don't want/need to pay for everything the QC 35 IIs offer, check out some of the more affordable options further down the list.

Pros

  • Light & comfortable

  • Outstanding noise cancellation

  • Works with Google Assistant

Cons

  • Expensive

Sony WF-1000XM3

The WF-1000XM3 are meant to be the true wireless version of our top-rated WH-1000XM3 headphones, and they live up to the name. While their price is high, they deliver the goods when it comes to their two biggest features: sound quality and noise cancellation. If those are the features you care about most instead of, say, a pair you can use to sweat to the oldies at the gym, these could be your best 'buds (apologies for the pun).

While their lack of water resistance and bulbous design aren't for rugged excursions, the WF-1000XM3 make up for it with a truckload of features, including transparency mode (so you can hear the world around you), adjustable EQ, and other add-ons that are adjustable via Sony's Headphones Connect app.

They also offer solid battery life that outdoes Apple's AirPods Pro, including 6 hours with noise canceling and 8 hours without it, along with multiple recharges in the case. Pair that with some of the best sound in the genre and travel-ready noise canceling and you can see why we keep recommending the WF-1000XM3 to those looking for a sophisticated take on true wireless.

Check out our full review here.

Pros

  • Great sound quality

  • Solid battery life

  • Excellent noise canceling

Cons

  • Not water-resistant

  • Finicky controls

Jabra Elite Active 75t

The Jabra Elite Active 75t are a fantastic set of wireless ’buds for just about anyone, but particularly suitable for folks who spend time running or working out, thanks to IP57-rated water and dust resistance.

You're getting all the great true wireless features you might want, save for noise cancelation. They also sound good, though their bass-forward sound emphasis isn't for everyone. Fortunately, you can mess around in the Jabra app to find an EQ setting you like best. We expect this performance—which includes up to 7 hours of battery life—will satisfy both casual listeners and power users alike.

We also love the Elite Active 75t’s playback controls: their buttons are easy enough to press without needing much force, yet firm enough that they won’t get pressed accidentally. Jabra’s easy-to-use controls and customization thanks to the loaded Jabra Sound+ app make for one of the best user experiences in the true wireless game.

Pros

  • Durable, dunkable design

  • Sleek and small

  • Loaded with features

Cons

  • Sound lacks balance

  • Fit can be tricky

Samsung Galaxy Buds+

The new-and-improved follow-up to Samsung's original Galaxy Buds, the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ debuted in 2020, and they're a solid pick where wireless headphones are concerned.

While they don't cancel noise or sound as great as the priciest options on the list, the Galaxy Buds+ still sound really solid, and offer a heap of great features, including their own credible version of transparency mode called "Ambient sound," basic water resistance, and a whopping 11 hours of max playback per charge (and up to 22 hours total with the case).

When it comes down to it, we feel the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ may be a better choice for many folks than the classic AirPods, especially if you use them alongside the minimalist and intuitive Samsung Wearables app. The only major drawback is that they don't work with some older phones (in both Apple and Android varieties), so check those requirements before you pull the trigger.

Pros

  • Great price

  • Very flexible

  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Occasionally tinny treble

  • May not work with older phones

Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids Headphones

The Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Kids headphones are—you guessed it—made specifically with young ears in mind. We loved the previous iteration (the Puro BT2200), and the PuroQuiet Kids may up the price a little, but it justifies it by adding one very key feature: noise cancellation. While these might seem a bit luxurious to buy for a lot of kids, they're an especially good choice for children who might struggle with sensory filtering.

On the plus side, no matter the child, the noise cancelation here can help stymie the desire to crank the volume up. And that's good, because these are already volume limited—a critical element of protecting your child's hearing, but we can understand wanting it to seem louder, too. Rather than needing to turn them up to drown out outside noise, they can simply use the noise canceling feature.

The only real drawback with these wireless, specialized noise canceling headphones is their price, but if you want to make sure your kid's hearing is protected while they jam out, they're well worth it. Puro also frequently puts these on sale, making it a slightly more friendly investment for ear-conscious parents.

Pros

  • Cuts ambient noise with no technical issues

  • Safe for up to 8 hours

  • Tangle-free

Cons

  • Very expensive

Powerbeats Pro

Available in a stylish range of colors—ivory, black, navy, or moss—the Powerbeats Pro are a solid true wireless option that fulfill a lot of what we want in these kinds of headphones. Their specific angle is to be great for use during workouts (or at least better than the average true wireless fare), and they pull it off via adjustable earhooks, comfortable materials, and sweat/water resistance.

Of course, as you'd hopefully expect for the price you're paying, the Powerbeats Pro also sound great, offering the same strong bass and midtone presence that Beats by Dre headphones have worked to encapsulate over the years. Like other true wireless options, you're getting tiny, compact ear buds and a pocketable charging case, which all together offers respectable battery life.

However, there are some drawbacks here. For this price, you're not getting noise canceling like you are with the Apple AirPods Pro, but you're paying considerably more than you would for the regular AirPods, or even something like the Samsung Galaxy Buds+. While we think the Powerbeats Pro are worth the price, we also think they'll appeal to a specific subset of buyers looking for a particular combination of use during exercise and stylish design details.

Pros

  • Water-resistant

  • Available in a number of colors

  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Bass-forward sound not for everyone

  • Ear hooks can be uncomfortable

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT

Audio-Technica's most premium wireless headphones at present, the ATH-ANC900BT do their best to deliver the same amazing suite of features as our top-rated Sony WH-1000XM3. And while they don't quite succeed, they come pretty close, and are an awesome choice if you want great noise-canceling wireless over-ears for a little less money.

While the ATH-ANC900BT's deliver a reliable, flat audio response with decent bass preservation, their strongest foot forward might actually be their battery life. Compared to our top-rated WH-1000XM3, which gives you just shy of 24 hours on a single charge, the ANC900BT's give you closer to 40. They're not as comfortable, and the bigger battery adds heft that you'll feel on your head and neck, but if you've been hunting for a set of wireless, noise-canceling cans that will last for an entire week's worth of commuting between charges, these are the way to go.

Like many other Audio-Technica Bluetooth headphones, the drawback with these is that their connection can be a bit dodgy. Putting your phone into your pocket may result in more slight but noticeable audio skipping compared to other models in this price range. But if you can stand a less polished experience, the ATH-ANC900BT's do a pretty great job of everything else. They can't touch the WH-1000XM3's in terms of noise canceling, but all in all they've got no major flaws.

Pros

  • Great sound

  • Amazing battery life

  • Easy setup

Cons

  • A bit heavy

  • Some BT issues

  • No customization

Apple AirPods

Apple's regular AirPods may be getting a little long in the tooth (even after an "update" of sorts for the second generation), but there's a reason these headphones helped kickstart the true wireless craze. They have impressive range (for true wireless earbuds, anyway), a small and powerful charging case, and they are incredibly easy to pair and use—especially with iPhones.

Sound quality and battery life are both middling and there's also no water resistance, though that doesn't seem to hold people back from taking them to the gym. Another drawback is their lack of any ear tips or other ways to customize the fit—an issue that was handily solved by the AirPods Pro— though again, that doesn't seem to deter many people.

While they may not be the best value in today's market, Apple's regular AirPods are a stalwart option, and their mix of handy features and dead-simple convenience make them a go-to choice for many.

Pros

  • Outstanding connectivity

  • Easy to set up with other Apple products

  • Compact charging case

Cons

  • Middling audio quality

  • Not comfortable to wear for long periods

Jabra Elite 65t

The Jabra Elite 65t true wireless earbuds were new for 2018, and they were generally excellent in our testing. They offer very good sound quality, a snug fit, good battery life, superb wireless range, and even compatibility with Amazon Alexa.

The Jabra Elite 65t are a good all-around alternative to the Apple AirPods for people who don't have an iPhone, though their larger bulb-shaped design is definitely more awkward in your ear. They're very similar to the Samsung Gear IconX in terms of fit and size, but they don't get jammed uncomfortably deep in your ear canal.

The main knocks against the Elite 65t are the same ones we had with pretty much all other true wireless earbuds: They're a bit big to leave in your ears for an extended period of time, the on-ear controls are workable but cause the buds to shift around, and they're just less convenient than wired or other wireless headphones.

That said, they offer at least some protection against sweat and moisture, they're relatively affordable compared to some other true wireless models, and Jabra backs them up with a two-year guarantee against damage from dust and moisture. It's not enough for us to recommend them over the AirPods, but for Android users or those who want something with a bit more water-resistance, they're an awesome backup.

Pros

  • Great sound quality

  • Good battery life

  • Outstanding wireless range

Cons

  • Not great for smaller ears

Meet the testers

TJ Donegan

TJ Donegan

Executive Editor

@TJDonegan

TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.

See all of TJ Donegan's reviews
Lee Neikirk

Lee Neikirk

Editor

@Koanshark

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.

See all of Lee Neikirk's reviews
Julia MacDougall

Julia MacDougall

Senior Scientist

@reviewed

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.

See all of Julia MacDougall's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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