These affordable over-ear cans from Sony deliver comfort, good sound, and satisfactory noise-canceling for a lot less than the competition, but you're still getting Sony's durable materials and solid speaker quality.
Here's the good news: We've spent years testing oodles of wireless headphones from every category to help shoppers cut through the considerable clutter. If you just want the top-performing, no-holds-barred best wireless headphones we've ever tested, feast your ears on the Sony WH-1000XM4(available at Amazon for $348.00), which deliver great connection, awesome sound, and hours of comfort. However, if you can't afford that model, or you're looking for something different, worry not: we've got great picks in every price range and style in our list below.
These are the best wireless headphones we tested, ranked in order:
Best Overall: Sony WH-1000XM4
Best Value: Sony WH-C710N
Best Noise Cancelers: Bose QC45
Best True Wireless: Jabra Elite 85t
Best For Workouts: Jabra Elite Active 75t
JBL Tour One
Apple AirPods Pro
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Sennheiser Momentum 2
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
When it comes to wireless noise cancelling headphones, the Sony WH-1000XM4 are 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 months, and all of us absolutely loved them.
Not to toot the WH-1000XM4's horn too much, but nothing we've tested has bested them yet. They're light and comfortable enough that you might just forget they're on your head, and you can tweak their noise canceling and sound profile for elements like barometric pressure, or just to add extra bass. But even without all of the next-gen tech, the XM4 are our favorites because of their robust sound quality: they sound amazing.
Of course, all that finery does end 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-1000XM4 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've heard in 2021. If these are too rich for your blood, check out the rest of our picks below.
The Sony WH-CH710N are positioned as a more affordable set of Sony's flagship WH-1000X series. They're considerably less expensive, but still deliver a lot of the same great features and punch impressively above their weight when it comes to performance.
With the WH-CH710N, you're still getting decent noise-canceling, clear and balanced sound, simple and reliable wireless connection, and a comfortable over-ear form factor. Whether you need to work from home or you're on the go (or plan to be as soon as possible) you won't have to worry about recharging often, thanks to a whopping 35-hour battery life. That's 15 hours more than you'll get from Bose's top pairs, and even Apple's shockingly expensive (and shockingly heavy) AirPods Max.
These mid-tier cans certainly aren't as premium as the Max, nor can they go toe-to-toe with their pricier siblings, the WH-1000XM4. But for what you're paying, they deliver. They cancel enough noise to be reliable headphones for work and play, and offer a taste of luxury at a price that's much more manageable than flagship travel cans.
When Bose launched the Bose QuietComfort 35 in 2016, the masterful noise cancelers quickly became legend, especially amongst commuters and frequent flyers. With only a light update in the QC 35 II, Bose has been giving up ground in recent years, but the QuietComfort 45 finally arrived in late 2021 to refresh this storied series. While they’re not perfect, the QC45 are back on top for one very important feature: noise canceling.
During testing, the QC45 smashed through our usual noise canceling tests, besting our previous favorite noise cancelers and even managing to completely silence one very loud cat. Noise canceling is not the only feather in the QC45’s cap, of course. They’re also quite stylish, maintaining faithful design parity to the lauded QC35, and provide an intuitive, set-it-and-forget-it user experience. With only two sound modes—”Quiet” for noise canceling and “Aware” for ambient awareness—and extremely simple software via the Bose Music app, the QC45 aims to provide a seamless user experience a la Apple AirPods, but for Apple and Android users alike.
Not everyone is going to love such a tightly controlled experience, especially at this price. Compared to the Sony WH-1000XM4 and other rivals, the QC45 deliver extremely limited software. And with no adjustable EQ or EQ presets available, you’d better hope you like the occasionally sharp treble of the QC45’s sound signature. The Sony XM4 offer better overall sound, and we’re big fans of the ability to adjust EQ or noise canceling granularity, both of which are widely available even on headphones that are considerably less expensive than the QC45. If control over how your headphones sound is a deal breaker for you, you might want to consider one of our other top picks.
But if you just want the best noise canceling you can buy, in a simple and stylish design, Bose’s QC45 are the kings of quiet.
Jabra’s Elite 85t really have it all: smooth and balanced sound, impressive active noise cancellation (ANC), comprehensive controls, a compact form factor, solid battery life, and a barrel full of other top-flight features. It all adds up to the best wireless earbuds around—whether you pledge your allegiance to Android or iPhone.
Perhaps more than any one feature, it’s the open-style design of these earbuds that make them one of our favorites. While a more bulbous design means fit isn’t quite as secure as their Elite 75t predecessors, the Elite 85t's oval ear tips provide a proper seal without plugging up your ears. This means you won’t hear yourself chewing, walking, jogging, etc. in the same way as most earbuds, and yet music and noise-canceling are intimate and effective respectively.
That also makes the Elite 85t direct competitors to Apple’s open-style AirPods Pro, but with more features for either side of the mobile aisle, and a more active-ready design to boot. Since they’re device agnostic, you can choose any of the major voice assistants (or none), and they offer all the controls you need (including volume control by default) for whichever mobile device you prefer.
Speaking of controls, they’re customizable through Jabra’s excellent Sound+ app, allowing you to configure the buds’ two easy-push buttons how you see fit. Also customizable are noise cancelation and transparency mode, the latter of which is among the most natural-sounding you’ll hear on the market to keep you aware of your environment in style—again, a direct shot across the AirPods Pro bow.
The word "natural" keeps coming up when using the Elite 85t, and it's a big key to their success. You can wear them for hours, even when you’re not listening to audio, and never miss a beat thanks to how seamlessly they transition between noise canceling and transparency mode; a few taps of the keys (even while wearing gloves) lets you slide between jamming out in solitude and striking up a conversation. Multi-point connection also makes it easy to switch between fun and work modes.
As for downsides, the Elite 85t’s IPX4 water resistance rating means you can splash them, and though that meets or beats nearly all direct competitors outside Jabra, they’re not as weather-ready as their cousins, the Elite and Elite Active 75t earbuds. As referenced above, the fit is also less stable than what you’ll get in purpose-built workout buds.
There’s not much else to complain about, though, as these buds are about as well-rounded as they come. If you can afford their not insignificant cost, you’ll be rewarded with impressive sound, great features, and the best usability on the market.
The Jabra Elite Active 75t are a great set of wireless earphones for just about anyone. But they're particularly suitable for folks who spend a lot of time running or working out, thanks to their nimble design and their hearty, IP57-rated water and dust resistance, allowing you to safely rinse them off after a workout.
The Elite Active 75t offer nearly every bell and whistle you might be hoping for. You'll get everything from a finder function to transparency mode, which allows you to stay aware in nearly any situation. Jabra even released a firmware update that adds digital active noise cancellation to the impressive passive noise isolation, which helps make these already versatile buds all the more valuable.
The Elite Active 75t sound good, though their heavy, bass-forward sound signature won't be for everyone, and it might take some tinkering in the accompanying app to find an equalization setting that fits your playlist. Still, their sound performance will satisfy most casual listeners and power users alike, and it's bolstered by around 7 hours of battery life per charge (or around 5.5 hours with ANC).
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 rarely get pressed accidentally. As we noted with the Elite 85t, Jabra’s intuitive controls and customization (thanks to the loaded Jabra Sound+ app) make for one of the best user experiences in the true wireless game.
One small point of caution: Their small size and rigid plastic design isn't a perfect fit for everyone, and they also may wear on those with smaller ears after a few hours—though that's the case with the majority of true wireless earbuds to some degree.
All in all, the Jabra Elite Active 75t are a great pick for folks looking for superb performance, durability, and a well-rounded experience. In addition, if you don't see the need for your earbuds to be fully submerged in water—and you want to save a few bucks—the Elite 75t earbuds are nearly identical to their cousins, only with a less-rugged IP55 dust/water-resistance rating.
And if you really want to save some cash, the less reliable but still-impressive Jabra Elite Active 65t can now be had at impressive savings, making them a great budget pick while they last.
If you can pony up for either flavor of the 75t, though, you'll be getting a great pair of durable earbuds with noise canceling and much more, armed for virtually any scenario you can throw at them.
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.
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.
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.
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 mastering 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
Sony waited two years to upgrade its flagship noise-canceling earbuds, but it was worth our patience. While the WF-1000XM3 is still a fantastic pair of earbuds for the money, the WF-1000XM4 (not to be confused with the WH-1000XM4 over-ears) take things up to a whole new level. With a brilliant mix of incredible sound quality, innovative design, IPX4 waterproofing (finally), and noise-canceling that puts them at the very top of the marketplace, these are an expensive, but excellent choice.
Speaking of noise-canceling, there’s only one pair of earbuds you’ll find that compares to the XM4 in this arena at time of publication: Bose’s well-regarded Quietcomfort Buds. Both pairs have their pros and cons, but the XM4 make for a more natural inclusion in most collections thanks to their smaller profile, next-gen battery life of up to 8 hours with active noise canceling (ANC) and a whopping 12 hours without it, and of course, their lovely, luscious sound.
It’s worth saying a bit more about that sound, as it’s among the best you’ll find in the genre. It’s sweet, smooth, accessible, and yet riddled with detail. And thanks to the stark canvas provided by the powerful noise-canceling, it’s all the easier to enjoy. You’ll find tranquility with these earbuds on a level that’s hard to find with any headphones, let alone tiny earbuds.
The headphones also have plenty of features, thanks in no small part to Sony’s Headphones Connect app, which lets you tweak the EQ to your heart’s content (from ramping up the bass to cycling through a dozen presets), and you can even set the earbuds to rotate between noise canceling and ambient audio based on your routines and locations. Unlike the XM3, they’re also splash-resistant with an IPX4 rating.
Their design includes comfy foam tips for a stable seal alongside intuitive touch controls, though it’s there where we’ll raise our primary complaint: the XM4 don’t allow you to use volume controls without giving up other integral functionality. In addition, they miss a few extras like Find My Earbuds and multi-point pairing, both features we’d like to see in this price range.
But if you’re looking for the best all-around noise-canceling earbuds, look no further. Sony’s WF-1000XM4 set a new bar. If you’re after a more affordable pair of Sony noise cancelers (and you don’t need water resistance), Sony’s WF-1000XM3 are still a great buy as well.
JBL’s Tour One wireless over-ear headphones aim for the moon—and certainly land among the stars. The Tour One are rather similar to their top competition, the beloved Sony WH-1000XM4. Like Sony’s top dog, these JBL cans deliver a light and comfortable design, effective noise canceling, a massive range of features, and great sound.
We found controlling the Tour One with their mix of on-set buttons and a single-use tap control to be plenty intuitive, and were especially impressed with their subtle but impactful soundstage. Best of all, it was easy to wear them for hours without complaints. While a few finicky software functions marred the almost perfect presentation, that’s something that could easily be fixed with a firmware update. You’re also getting a great set of accessories, including a zip-up carrying case, USB-C and 3.5mm cables, and an airplane adapter.
At the end of the day, the Tour One don’t surpass the Sony WH-1000XM4—but it’s a close comparison. And the Tour One could easily become the better value if their price drops well below their MSRP. Even at full price, you should keep an eye on them if you’ve been hoping to get an excellent set of wireless over-ears.
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.
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.
With the Yamaha YH-E700A, Yamaha has worked to capture its storied studio sound via comfortable, noise-canceling over-ear headphones, and the end result is an overall awesome pair of cans. While the E700A don't cancel noise with quite the same efficacy as some of the Sony and Bose models on the list, they do a great job for something that's so focused on magnificent audio.
The E700A's real claim to fame is their spacious, luxuriant soundstage. There's a quality of aural warmth and well-balanced frequency emphasis here—meaty bass, full mids, and sparkling trebles—that is sometimes lost behind the active canceling quality of ANC headphones in this price range. What they're primarily missing is customizability: while there's a Yamaha app you can use to make small adjustments, the software integration here pales in comparison to our top pick (the Sony WH-1000XM4), which allows you to adjust the extremity of noise-canceling via presets for whether you're sitting in an office, walking somewhere, commuting, and so on. In general, we found that the E700A's noise-canceling efficacy was closer to average than spectacular.
However, if you're much more concerned with warm, powerful audio quality than super-effective canceling, the E700A might be the perfect pick. They boast all-day battery life (around 35 hours) and are comfortable enough to wear for that whole stretch, too. Audiophiles might miss the ability to adjust their EQ or use sound mode presets—you don't get any of that here, either—but where the basics of comfort, canceling, and crystal-clear music are concerned, the E700A are worth the somewhat high price tag.
Panasonic's RZ-S500W won our favor with a brilliant combination of great sound and top-notch noise canceling at a price that easily undercuts major competitors. Honestly, we utilize noise-canceling more than any other true wireless feature as we're often wearing them for tasks like vacuuming or lawn mowing, which is why we're so taken with these relatively affordable buds.
Whereas many wireless earbuds offer noise-canceling as something of an afterthought, the RZ-S500W serve up powerful cancellation across frequencies for a comforting realm of sanctity from barking dogs, yelling kids, and much more.
As noted, sound is also impressive, with a clear and mostly even sound signature that offers quality listening across musical genres, podcasts, and more. Panasonic’s app adds to the fun, letting you adjust everything from EQ to noise cancellation and transparency mode (AKA ambient sound mode, hear through mode, etc.) so you can choose exactly how much environmental sound you let in or keep out. With around 6 hours of playback per charge, the RZ-S500W sit directly in the middle of their biggest competitors in the ANC earbuds space, but at a lower price.
That said, they do have a few drawbacks. For one thing, their charging case only holds two charges, meaning you’ll have to top it off more frequently than most rivals. On top of that, while we found the RZ-S500W quite comfortable, fit can be tricky due to their somewhat bulky design. Even when they're properly sealed, they tend to jostle during rigorous activities, making them a much better fit for your office (home or otherwise) than your daily jog.
On the other hand, unlike Sony’s WF-1000XM3, the RZ-S500W offer IPX4 water resistance, allowing you to easily combat the elements. Add in their other generous features and the Panasonic RZ-S500W earbuds sit among our favorite earbuds to come out in 2020. We'll add that they're often on sale for far below their already low price point which, if you can snag it, makes them among the best value propositions in the space.
If judged by sound alone, Sennheiser’s second-gen Momentum, the Momentum 2 True Wireless would be our top pick. They offer the best sound in the category, and though their amazing performance comes with a hefty price tag, they can often be found on sale for a more reasonable price point.
First, the good stuff: The Momentum True Wireless 2 serve up a rich, dynamic listening experience regardless of genre, thanks in part to their mid-level (but relatively effective) active noise cancellation.
In fact, they sound so good that you might find yourself discovering sonic details in songs you thought you knew like the back of your hand. Listening to music with the Momentum 2 is an altogether inviting experience, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-sounding pair of wireless earbuds of any kind in 2020. They also offer desirable features like transparency mode for environmental awareness alongside their basic active noise cancellation.
Compared to the original Sennheiser Momentum, the Momentum 2 offer a vastly improved selection of touch controls on the outside of each earbud. And as a bonus, Sennheiser’s Smart Control app has also improved, making the customization experience painless and surprisingly granular, allowing you to change up the controls in any configuration. With Bluetooth 5.0, they also offer a better wireless connection overall. They also offer respectable IPX4 water resistance.
There are a few drawbacks should you decide to shell out the dough for a pair. For one thing, while the Momentum 2 True Wireless offer better battery life than their predecessor, they top out at around seven hours (or a little over five with noise cancellation enabled), which is better than Apple's AirPods Pro, but less than we'd like for their price point.
In addition, the Momentum 2 aren’t quite as durable as some of the more affordable true wireless earbuds we’ve tested, and while they're relatively easy to use, the interface isn't as dead-simple as some of our top picks. Finally, their transparency mode is a bit less natural sounding than what you'll get in the Elite 85t and AirPods Pro.
Still, if you value high-quality sound first and foremost, and you've got the means, Sennheiser's Momentum 2 are a fantastic pick. They’re better than their predecessor and stand toe-to-toe with our top picks in a wide range of categories. Additionally, if you want that fantastic Momentum 2 sound on a tighter budget, Sennheiser has essentially ported it into the CX 400BT earbuds, which sell for a lower price than the flagship pair by cutting active noise cancellation as well as any form of water resistance. Either way, you'll be getting unmatched sound, and that's worth serious consideration.
It will come as no surprise to Bose fans that the QuietComfort Earbuds were designed from the ground up for one thing: brilliant active noise cancellation. On that front they succeed immensely, instantly offering best-in-class canceling alongside a premium design, clear sound, and a comfy and secure fit that keeps them in place under duress.
In order to get those features, however, you’ll have to deal with a hefty price tag and some compromises elsewhere in the design, which is why these buds slip down in our overall ranking. Those compromises include extra-large earbuds that weigh around 50% more than the AirPods Pro and a chunky charging case that offers only two recharges for a relatively low 18 hours of total battery between buds and case, making them tougher to take along.
On the other hand, we applaud Bose for adding onboard volume control to the earbuds about a month after release via swipes up and down on the right bud. In addition, the versatile Bose Music app allows you to adjust noise cancellation levels in multiple ways, the loudness of your own voice during phone calls, and other parameters (though we would have liked some form of EQ).
While we wish Bose would have thrown in a bit more for your money, what you're really paying for is world-class noise cancellation, and that's exactly what you get. Simply put, if you want the best noise cancellation in the true wireless genre, it’s Bose or bust.
Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2012. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more.
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.
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.