The best wireless headphones can take your listening experience to a whole new level. Here are the highest-rated wireless headphones that will let you hear every note.
Due to the growing usage of handheld devices, the headphones market is expected to reach over $15 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research, Inc. Right now, there is a high demand for affordable products with advanced features such as wireless technology and noise-cancellation.
Although wireless headphones are not for everyone, the convenience of not having a cable that tangles and breaks is glaring. And as the curtain falls on the headphone jacks, there’s no sense resisting the world of wireless music. We made this guide for those who are ready to take the leap.
Some years ago, devout audiophiles downright rejected wireless headphones; after all, connections are unreliable and Bluetooth codecs have quality issues. But thanks to aptX, LDAC, and other codec supports, you can now enjoy a new generation of wireless tech without your high-res music being downgraded to AM radio quality.
Are you still on the fence if wireless headphones are right for you? We round up the advantages and disadvantages of ditching the wires.
Wireless headphones are extremely convenient.
One of the main advantages of wireless cans over their wired cousins is that they give users the freedom to do almost anything. With wired headphones, you are always tethered to your device. Latest Bluetooth headphones now allow considerable distance between your headphones and smartphones before the signal becomes degraded
The latest models have better sound quality.
The wireless technology has come a long way since Apple’s unceremonious removal of headphone jacks in their iPhone 7. Two years ago, we would have forbidden you in going down the wireless rabbit hole. Until recently wired headphones were simply unmatched in terms of sound quality. But then Sony introduced LDAC, the high-end solution to Bluetooth’s long-standing sound quality issues. Then came aptX and aptX HD—our ticket to “near lossless” audio experience. There has never been a better time to fall down the rabbit hole.
They connect to just about anything.
Despite the low-speed transmission and short range, Bluetooth technology can be found on almost all devices that offer wireless communication. This means you can pair Bluetooth headphones to almost any phone, tablet, and other handheld devices–even to your laptop and Bluetooth-enabled TV.
Wireless headphones rely on battery power.
Fans of wireless technology have accepted the fact that wireless audio will always be inferior to its wired counterpart, but having another battery to charge is the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. There are people who would rather be strangled by their headphone cables than go through the hassle of tracking their headphones’ battery level.
Connectivity issues persist in some models.
After 25 years since its inception, Bluetooth (the connection that the majority of wireless headphones use) is still invariably unreliable. Your music skips, connection disconnects randomly, the device fails to pair—it seems like a lot of things can go wrong with a wireless connection. But, although the technology is flawed, the market giants continue to offer a workaround so you won’t miss the headphone jacks on your phones, like Apple’s W1 chip pairing and Android’s Fast Pair feature.
Once you experience the convenience of hands-free technology, it would be difficult to go back to “how things were.” As you make the transition, you will definitely appreciate the freedom to move around without the tangled mess around your neck.
But, how you plan to use your headphones should dictate the type of device you need. Are they strictly for home use? Do you plan to use them to get through the banality of your daily commute? For instance, bulky wireless headphones may not be good for frequent travels. And if you are a father of four, you need a pair of cans with kid-proof durability.
Design and Comfort
Before you ponder on the list of nifty features you want to splurge on, you need to identify your preferred headphone type first. While comfort is a matter of personal preference, some headphone styles could bring discomfort in an otherwise fun experience.
Headphones come in all shapes and sizes, and they are basically categorized based on four distinct designs. You can find high-end models in each category.
On-ear headphones – also known as supra-aural headphones, these babies have smaller ear cups but the pads are pressed directly on your ears rather than around them. They strike a balance between blocking outside noise and letting some sound in. They are ideal for office and home use if you can stand the pressure on your ears.
Popular models: Sony Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones, Bose Wireless 35, Sennheiser Momentum II, AKG Y50BT
Over-ear headphones – the large cups of circumaural headphones are big enough to cover your ears and stay put via light pressure on your head. They sound fantastic and provide good noise isolation, hence they are the preferred cans of musicians, sound engineers, club DJ, and music producers.
Popular models: Beats Solo3, Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 On-Ear Wireless, Plantronics BackBeat Sense, Skullcandy Grind Wireless
In-ear headphones – they are more popularly known as earbuds, but the proper name for this form is in-ear monitors. True wireless earbuds are on a rage these days. For their size, they provide excellent sound quality and offers privacy through passive noise isolation.
Popular models: Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbuds, Sony WF-SP700N Noise-Cancelling Earbuds, Apple Airpods
Bone conduction headphones – this new breed of wireless headphones is the opposite of noise-canceling headphones. They are designed to push music to your inner ear through the bones of your skull instead of your eardrums. If you are after sound quality, save your money and don’t fall for the hype. But If you want to hear your surroundings while using your cans or you have a type of conductive hearing loss, then grab one of these and let us know what you think.
Popular models: Aftershockz Trekz Titanium
It’s hard to discuss sound quality without delving into Bluetooth codecs first. Let’s just say they play a major role in determining the sound output of your headphones. Codecs are small data packets of compressed audio. The type of compression used determines the sound quality of the codec.
SBC – a simple and fast codec supported by all devices
AAC – supported by iOS and macOS, one of the most widely supported audio on the internet
LDAC – transmits high-resolution audio content at three times the speed of SBC, according to Sony
aptX – provides “near lossless” audio quality, according to Qualcomm
Why are they important? Simply put, your headphones and your device must support the same codec in order to hear the promised sound quality. You will most likely see aptX when you search for Bluetooth codecs, but there are other widely used codecs such as AAC and SBC.
The aptX promises “CD-like” quality or better audio quality than standard Bluetooth. Its beefed-up version, the aptX HD or aptX Lossless can provide “better-than-CD” sound quality, according to Qualcomm.
In a nutshell, your aptX HD headphones will not work on smartphones and tablets that don’t support the codec (we are looking at you, Apple iPhones and iPads).
The best pair of wireless headphones don’t come cheap. So why invest in something with mediocre battery life, right? A pair that offers 30 hours of battery life on a single charge is more than ideal. Some of the models in this range include Sony WH-1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headphones and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, but you’ll spend upwards of $300.
Q: What is the usual range of wireless headphones?
A: Most wireless headphones have a range of 33 feet or 10 meters. Some models have an operating range of up to 300+ feet like the Plantronics Backbeat Pro and Jabra Evolve 65.
Q: How long does the battery last on wireless earphones?
A: Bluetooth headphones can last an average of 20 hours. Most wireless earbuds have a battery life of 6 to 8 hours.
Q: Can I use my wireless headphones while charging?
A: Most headphones do not allow that, either you need to turn off the headphones before charging or it shuts off on its own. If you just bought a new headset, you need to charge it for at least 30 minutes (may be different for other models) before using it for the first time.
Q: Do wireless headsets only use Bluetooth?
A: Some models use other wireless signals such as infrared (IR) and radiofrequency (RF). IR is often used in vehicles with video screens. RF headphones are popular as home theatre headphones because they don’t have latency issues like most Bluetooth headsets.
Q: How can I change the Bluetooth codec on my phone?
Some android phones will allow you to choose from a list of supported codecs to improve the audio quality of your Bluetooth headphones. You can do it by activating the Developer options on your smartphone before pairing your headphones. Go to Settings > About Phone and tap the build number of your phone 7 times. Pair your headphones and go to the Developer options under Settings, tap Bluetooth audio codec and select one of the codecs from the list. Make sure your headphones support the codec that you wish to use.