You might’ve been hesitant to cut the cord before – everyone has heard a horror story of wireless headphones’ bad battery life or awful sound quality before. But you’ve got little idea of how inconvenient wired headphones are until you try out a pair of really good wireless headphones.
Forget having to run a wire down your top every time you want to listen to music on the go, or struggling with a cable to get your phone out of your pocket, wireless headphones are comparatively a convenience dream.
So what makes wireless headphones so special? And how do you determine the best wireless headphones from a whole bunch of wannabes?
Easy. You try dozens of wireless headphones and stack them against one another, mono a mono. (Well, stereo a stereo in this case.)
While these headphones are great for anyone looking to cut the cord from their music players, they’re especially practical when you consider the growing amount of phones launching without a headphone jack such as the iPhone 7, HTC U Ultra and Moto Z. Most of these phones are shipping with adaptors to use your existing headphones, but if you want to charge your phone at the same time then wireless headphones are the way to go.
Looking to finally ditch the cord? Here are the top 10 wireless headphones, ordered by their price-to-performance ratio:
8) Master & Dynamic MW50
Sitting at the top our list is the Bose QC35. Bose has finally brought its fantastic noise-cancelling technology to a pair of wireless headphones and it’s done so without any of the traditional drawbacks of wireless headphones. They sound great, and their battery life is long enough for all but the longest of flights.
At $349.95 (£289.95 / AU pricing tbc) the QC35s sit firmly at the premium end of the spectrum, but if you want the best noise-cancelling headphones available and the best wireless pair of cans, you can’t get any better than this.
Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 35
Although they’re a much better looking, and sounding, pair of headphones, the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (not to be confused with the smaller, cheaper, Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Wireless) are kept off the top spot of the list by their premium price point, which puts them out of reach of all but the most committed of music lovers.
But for those that can afford them, these are a no-holds-barred wireless headphones are oozing with positive qualities. They’re comfortable, hard-working set of headphones that will likely last for years.
Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
The Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless headphones are a great pair of Bluetooth headphones for fans of bass-heavy music genres. Their sound is both robust and weighty for all genres, but especially so when it comes to EDM and hip hop.
Besides sounding great, the physical construction of the headphones is also excellent. The signature B&W look is no less pleasing here, and we’re big fans of how the cable port is hidden from view by the magnetic earcups.
The sacrifice you’re making with these headphones is noise-cancellation, which they lack. They’re also surprisingly bulky which, though comfortable, might be offputting if you’re hoping to use them on your commute.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless
If you’re a frequent traveler you’re probably all too familiar with headphones that can’t hold a charge and can’t block out sound, let alone sound very good. Let us introduce you to the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, one of the few headphones on the market that can do all of the above and cost less than half as much as one of the bigger names like Beats, Bose and Sony.
If we had to boil it down to its core, the BackBeat Pro 2 offers an excellent travel headphone with incredible battery life, supreme comfort, the ability to pair two device as once and, most importantly, good sound quality for the cost.
Read the full review: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
The MDR-1000X are definitely the closest competitor to Bose’s QuietComfort series we’ve ever had the pleasure of testing. Some high-end codecs (LDAC, AAC and aptX) help the 1000X sound even better than the QC35s, but ultimately the noise canceling is a bit less effective in Sony’s pair of cans.
What should drive your decision on whether to buy the MDR-1000X is your music player – if you’re a Sony Xperia owner, you’d be hard-pressed to find a pair of headphones that sound as good as these with noise canceling tech built-in. Even if you’re not, Sony’s wares are still worth a listen – and maybe a purchase – if you aren’t too put out by its $400 (£330 or AU$700) price tag.
Read the full review: Sony MDR-1000X
If you’re a fan of Sennheiser’s sound, but want noise-cancellation in addition to wireless operation then the PXC 550 headphones might be exactly what you’re looking for. They might be pricey, but these headphones sound great.
The reason we haven’t put them further up the list comes down to their controls. Although controlling the headphones with a series of swipes on the outside of the earcup feels futuristic, it’s not much help when you want to quickly skip through multiple tracks, or set the volume at a specific level.
Outside of these issues, these are a great pair of headphones that tick (almost) all the boxes.
Read the full review: Sennheiser PXC 550
Continuing the trend that the original NuForce BE6 started, the Optoma Nuforce BE6i are a minor update to an already great pair of earbuds and remain one of our favorite in-ear wireless headphones for the price.
Offering good sound, build quality and battery life in its segment if you’re looking for a pair of wireless in-ear headphones that can survive a strenuous work out, the these should be on the top of your list of headphones to try.
Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE6i
If you can afford the steep price, the Master & Dynamic MW50 will not disappoint. These headphones are a simply work of art and feel every bit as expensive as their price commands. They sound great with all types of music and are one of the most comfortable on-ear headphones we’ve ever tested. Those looking for value, however, will want to look elsewhere.
Read the full review: Master & Dynamic MW50
While they don’t have all the bells and whistles of the wireless headphones above, the Jaybird X2 possesses a trifecta of fantastic sound performance, above-average battery life and ease of use, something that its competition has a hard time accomplishing. Even if you’re not necessarily looking for your next pair of gym-ready headphones, these make the X2s great for fitness use, like hearty sound performance and above average battery life, translate fluidly into a set of wireless in-ear headphones that are equally great for general use.
Read the full review: Jaybird X2
The Beats X is a bold new product for what has quickly become a traditional headphone maker. Instead of sticking to bass-heavy workout earbuds or wildly expensive over-ears, the company has crafted a new pair of musically inclined in-ears for anyone already sick of losing their brand-new Apple AirPods.
It has a few problems of its own – including poor noise isolation and a lack of fidelity – but if you’re looking for a no-fuss pair of earbuds that charge in 5 minutes and don’t mind dropping some cash on them, the Beats X are for you.
The W1 chip also makes pairing and connecting these headphones a breeze.
Read the full review: Beats X
We’re constantly reviewing new wireless headphones, but get in touch if there is a set that you’d like us to take a look at.
By Nick Pino
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