The Best Wireless Headphones of 2019By Michael Desjardin, TJ Donegan, and Julia MacDougall, December 27, 2018, Updated January 02, 2019
If you’re shopping for wireless headphones these days, you have a ton of options to choose from: earbuds, truly wireless earbuds, and even larger on- and over-ear models—it’s enough to make your head spin.
We have spent years testing the best of the best from each category, so no matter what your preference is, we’ve got something that should work well for you. Prefer a pair that’s small and water-resistant for working out? Try our pick for the best wireless earbuds, the JLab Audio Epic Sport (available at Amazon).
Want something small with absolutely no wires at all? Our pick for the best “truly” wireless earbuds—the Apple AirPods (available at Best Buy)—should do the trick. And if you’re after the best sound quality and don’t mind a little bulk, our picks for the best on- and over-ear wireless headphones are ideal.
We’ve also gone ahead and included all our top picks if you scroll down. Otherwise, head to each individual roundup to see how we tested, how we picked, and all of our other wireless headphone reviews.
Updated January 02, 2019
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Bose QuietComfort 35 IIBest Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
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. Read the full review of the QC35 Series I.
JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless
JLab Audio Epic Sport WirelessBest Wireless Earbuds
The JLab Audio Epic Sport earbuds are billed as an "upgrade" to the popular JLab Audio Epic2 Bluetooth Wireless headphones, despite typically selling for about the same price.
The Epic Sport comes with JLab's signature bendable earhooks, multiple eartip sizes, and three types of cush fins to help the buds stay in place. The inline controls consist of a streamlined remote with three buttons.
The audio can still sound a bit tinny and lacking in bass, especially if the fit isn't perfect, but JLab Audio has really gone the extra mile by building in three "sound profiles": one that augments vocals and bass, one that has a flat profile with no extra enhancements (best for those looking for studio-like audio), and one that boosts the bass notes.
With an IP66 rating (able to withstand both dust and "powerful water jets"), the Epic Sport should be able to withstand rigorous workouts. Another high point is the satisfyingly long battery life which, in our experience, clocks in at over 12 hours. The skinny wires may make it easy to break the headphones, so be sure to pack up these earbuds in their case when not in use.
Overall, we were impressed by the JLab Audio Epic Sport earbuds-especially their ability to connect from the first floor to a phone on the second floor. A few customers didn't appreciate the proprietary charging cable (which cradles the remote and isn't merely a micro USB to USB cable), but we think that the Epic Sport is a solid choice whether you're walking in the woods or cranking through reps at the gym.
Apple AirPodsBest Truly Wireless Earbuds
If you’ve ever bought an iPod or an iPhone and used the iconic white earbuds that were included, you pretty much know what to expect when it comes to look, feel, and fit of Apple's AirPods.
What might surprise you, however, is just how much better the AirPods sound than their wired counterparts. The low-end is better represented (so bass-heavy tracks finally have a chance to shine on a pair of Apple headphones) and the stereo field sounds far more expansive than with Apple’s standard wired in-ears.
What we like most about the AirPods is how simple it is to manage them. Just pop open the dental floss-sized charging case and they automatically connect to your iPhone or MacBook (if you're running the latest update). When you’re done listening, slot them back into the case and they’ll magnetically slot into place and disconnect automatically—you don’t have to hold down any buttons. The pairing process is the standard Bluetooth headache on non-Apple devices, but you'll still benefit from great range and killer battery life.
They’re not perfect, however: The fit itself isn’t as tight and comfortable as some of the other earbuds we tested, the 'buds are not rated to be sweat-proof (though they have survived our workout tests just fine), and the tap controls and microphone quality are mostly hot garbage. (The fact that you still have to use Siri to control the volume when you can't reach your phone is insane.)
But if you’re used to the fit of Apple’s standard, wired earbuds, you’ll be happy with AirPods. They sound great, they're super convenient, and they run rings around the other true wireless earbuds we tested despite being relatively affordable. Add it up and these are the best true wireless earbuds you can buy right now.
How We Test
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.
In-ear vs. On-ear vs. Over-ear
You've probably seen a bunch of different headphones in your every day 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.
Some of Our Other Favorite Wireless Headphones
Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids Headphones
Where To Buy$109.99 Amazon Buy
Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids HeadphonesBest Wireless for Kids
If you're looking for a high-quality pair of volume-limited headphones, the Puro BT2200 is the way to go. Though they're the priciest of the pairs we looked at, that's because they have the best combination of comfort, build quality, and sound quality. They are a bit too big for a toddler, but they should fit school-age children and up quite well.
In our tests, the BT2200s played at about 82-84.6dB(a) when used wirelessly at full volume, with about 12 hours of battery life. And because they run off their own internal power when in Bluetooth mode, there's no risk of them being overpowered. When used wired with our standard source (an iPhone 7 Plus with the Lightning-to-3.5mm adapter), they topped out right at the 85dB(a) threshold—as long as you plug the volume-limiting cable in the right way.
Our one issue is that the cable can easily be plugged in the wrong way. This pushed the max volume to 96-100dB(a) in our tests, which could cause damage. The cable does have "Headphones→" written on it so you know which end is which, but these should really be designed so the cable only plugs in the correct way.
Jabra Elite 65t
Jabra Elite 65t
The Jabra Elite 65t true wireless earbuds are 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 causes 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.
JLab Audio Flex ANC
JLab Audio Flex ANC
JLab Audio is a relatively new player in the headphones game, but they really impressed me with the JLab Audio Flex ANC Wireless. The flat sound profile will please audiophiles who want true music fidelity. Like the Bose QC35, 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 has a relatively low price for wireless headphones; you're getting a lot of bang for your buck.
Plantronics Backbeat Sense
Plantronics Backbeat Sense
If you love the portability of in-ear headphones, but want the 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. Read the full review.
Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless
Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless
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. Read the full review.
Decibullz Custom-Fit Wireless
Decibullz Custom-Fit Wireless
A relative newcomer to the audio game, Decibullz made its mark with affordable earbuds you could custom mold with just a microwave and a cup of water—a process that usually required hundreds of dollars and a trip to an audiologist. We loved the company's first model, the Decibullz Contours, when they first debuted, and it's great to see the startup tackle the burgeoning wireless game.
The Contour Wireless feature the same thermoplastic custom molds, but with a wireless 'bud. That means you’ll get a fit that’s unique to you and affords top-quality sound isolation—perfect for losing yourself to the music. However, there are some downsides. The cable was a bit too long—often getting snatched on shirts or in hair—and the battery life was an anemic 4-5 hours per charge.
The Decibullz also have an additional inline box that houses the Bluetooth hardware; some users appreciate the symmetry and balance of this box to counter the weight of the inline remote, and others prefer to just have the inline remote.
Jlab Audio Epic Executive
Jlab Audio Epic Executive
For those keen on less intense workouts or casual, around-town usage, be sure to check out the JLab Audio Epic Executive Wireless Earbuds.
The Epic Executive Wireless earbuds are proof that good things come in small packages. For the same price as the JLab Epic Sport Wireless and the Epic2 Wireless, these earbuds have plenty of eartip options, a pretty good sound profile, solid noise cancellation, a long battery life, and a wired adapter for when you run out of juice.
The active noise cancellation (ANC) on these earbuds does a great job at blocking out lower frequency sounds like air conditioners and trains. We wore these on the train, and while we could still hear the screeching of the train hitting the tracks on tight curves, the overall train hum sounded like the train was miles away, rather than just beneath our feet.
In our case, playing music and fiddling around with the ANC fully drained the battery after 9.5 hours—more than enough time to get you through a cross-country plane trip. As a bonus, a regular 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter has been included in case the battery dies unexpectedly; the cord and adapter together are long enough that the Epic Executive Wireless can basically double as a pair of wired headphones, where the battery powers the ANC.
The removable neck band is another bonus. Neck bands aren't the greatest earbud configuration for any exercises done on your back, and even without the neck band, the wires are a bit long for anything involving arm movement, but it's a comfortable way to wear them in your downtime.
Customers were very pleased with the ANC, but had some connectivity issues between the earbuds and their phone. Like the other JLab Audio earbuds, the Epic Executive Wireless have very skinny wires, so be sure to store them in the included case when they're not in use.
The Jaybird X3 Wireless earbuds are the noteworthy successor to the Jaybird X2 Wireless earbuds. There's nothing really fancy-looking about the Jaybird X3, but these earbuds boast a number of neat features and accessories, the main one being a customizable sound profile.
Like the X2, the Jaybird X3 can be worn with the wires hanging over the ear or hanging straight down. Because there are so many tip, fin, and earbud configurations, it will probably take a while for you to find the right fit. For those with small ear holes, we recommend the smallest size of Comply memory foam tips, which make for a better fit, better isolation, and better sound clarity. Once you have a good fit, the 8-hour battery life will get you through a work day of calls and music with no trouble.
One sticking point is the remote. The controls rely on the wearer holding buttons down for a certain amount of time, rather than sequential button presses. It's different from the way wireless earbuds usually operate and can be frustrating to use while running, but it's manageable with a bit of practice.
Other helpful accessories include clips that can adjust the length of the cable, a shirt clip, and an exciting new feature that allows you to customize the sound profile. After connecting the X3 earbuds to the Jaybird app (Android, iOS), you can use your fingers to boost or reduce the volume of highs, mids, and lows. You can save your profile for future use, or choose from a few preprogrammed audio settings with names like "Signature" and "Bring the Bass". (In our experience, if you really want to boost the bass, reduce the highs and increase the lows at the same time.)
Many customers agreed that finding an ideal fit for the X3 earbuds is a significant time investment, but is ultimately worth it. Gym-goers were very happy that the X3 stayed in place despite a variety of exercise types and positions, and everyone really appreciated the quality of the sound. The main complaints users had were about the proprietary charging cable, defective products that failed to hold the stated 8-hour charge, and terrifyingly sudden battery updates. We do not recommend listening to classical music or horror movies towards the end of the X3's battery life; having a lady shout "BATTERY LIFE: 20%" or "CHARGE ME" will surely scare the daylights out of you.