Best Wireless (Bluetooth) Headphones: Welcome to TechRadar’s guide to the best wireless and Bluetooth headphones you can buy in 2018.
Technology innovates upon itself nearly every single day. A technology that you grew up with two, three, four or more decades ago probably either doesn’t exist anymore or has been improved upon drastically.
Take headphones for example.
Years ago, the only option was traditional wired on- or over-ear cans. But as technology improved, earbuds hit the market and soon the biggest names in audio weaved wireless Bluetooth tech into their most popular products.
These days Bluetooth wireless technology has improved to allow audio to be transmitted in Hi-Res, and batteries have improved to allow you to get several days of use out of a pair of headphones without needing to charge them.
We’ve entered the golden era of wireless technology.
Love them or hate them, wireless headphones are here to stay, and the removal of the headphone jack from high-profile handsets like the iPhone X and Pixel 2 pes and sizes – from sleek, workout-ready in-ear headphones to cushion-y noise-cancelling over-ear headphones – and each offer more features and better connectivity options than your old wired headphones ever could.
Can’t decide which headphones to buy? Check out our guide video below!
Headphones, no strings attached
So what makes wireless headphones so special anyways? 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.)
We’ve done this countless times over the years and have since built up a bit of an ear for picking out certain tonal characteristics. With these particular set of skills and a keen eye for value we set about trying to pick out the best headphones money could buy.
So, looking to finally ditch the cord? Here are the top 10 wireless headphones, ordered by their price-to-performance ratio.
1. Optoma NuForce BE Sports3
The best wireless earphones you can buy
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 18 grams | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20kHz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 102dB +/-3dB at 1kHz | Impedance: 16 Ohm | Battery life: 10 hours | Wireless range: 10m (30ft.) | NFC: N/A
Great battery life
Remote weighs cable down
NuForce knocked it out of the park with the BE Sport3 headphones. They’re an incredible value for a pair of wireless headphones that sound good, last all day, have a bulletproof build and incredible noise isolation. While they’re not the most dynamic or resolving headphones, NuForce shows us that the future of wireless headphones is a bright one.
Read the full review: Optoma NuForce BE Sport3
2. Sony WH-1000XM2
Wireless noise-cancelling headphones that sound better than Bose
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 275 grams | Frequency response: 4Hz – 40kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 103dB | Impedance: 46 Ohms | Battery life: 20 hours | Wireless range: 30 feet | NFC: Yes
30-hour battery life
Hinges are fragile
The Sony WH-1000XM2 are an excellent revision of an already great pair of wireless headphones: They sound great, deftly wield noise cancellation technology and cost just as much as a pair of Bose QC35s. They might have a slightly shorter battery life than some other headphones on our list, but Sony’s WH-1000XM2 outclass them all in terms of performance and feature-set.
Not only do they provide awesome noise-cancellation, but they have three neat tricks that few other wireless headphones have: One is an ambient noise mode that only lets in mid-to-high frequency tones (announcements over a loudspeaker, for instance) and another being Quick Attention mode that allows you to let in all outside noise without taking off the headphones. (The latter is perfect when giving a drink order on a plane or speaking to a coworker for a brief moment before diving back into your work.) The last trick Sony has up its sleeve is the LDAC codec. Alongside the widely adopted aptX HD standard, LDAC enables Hi-Res Audio playback using the 1000XM2.
Great-sounding and feature-packed, the Sony WH-1000XM2 are great travel companions and all-around excellent wireless headphones.
Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM2
3. Jabra Move Wireless
Sporty wireless headphones that will completely surprise you
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 150 grams (5.59 oz) | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 29 Ohm | Battery life: 8 hours | Wireless range: 10m (33ft.) | NFC: N/A
If you want a pair of wireless headphones without breaking the bank, and you don’t fancy the in ear Optoma’s above, your next best bet is the Jabra Move Wireless.
These headphones may look like a budget buy, but don’t let that fool you: this set of on ear Bluetooth headphones is nothing but an all-around stellar product. From the fun and edgy design to excellent performance, these cans come recommended for anyone interested in wireless on the cheap.
Read the full review: Jabra Move Wireless
4. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
Incredible audio fidelity backed by a serious price
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: 4.6 feet | Frequency response: 16-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 28 ohms | Battery life: 25+ hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | NFC: Yes
Everlasting battery life
Noise-cancelling for good measure
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
5. Bose QuietComfort 35 Mk. 2
Premium headphones that include industry-leading noise-cancellation
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.68 pounds | Cable length: 3.94 feet | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 20+ hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes
Broad and clear soundstage
Amazing noise cancellation
Active EQ an acquired taste
Bose took the already-excellent QC35 and updated with Google Assistant. The headphone is identical in every way save for the new Google Assistant button. This means you still get the class-leading noise cancellation Bose is known for, good sound quality, and incredible comfort. Said simply, they sound great and their battery life is long enough for all but the longest of flights.
If you’re looking to save some money, however, consider the original Bose QuietComfort 35. They can also be found for far cheaper these days, and if you’re not fussed about having Google Assistant built into your headphones then you can save yourself some money while you save up for QC35 II.
Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 35 II
6. Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
These wireless noise-cancelling headphones are a traveler’s best friend
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.64 lbs (289g) | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 24 hours | Wireless range: 100 meters (330 feet) | NFC: No
Incredible 24 hour battery life
Noise-canceling at a great price
Bass overwhelming at times
Styling not for everyone
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.
They also include a neat little feature that allows them to automatically turn off when you’re not wearing them, meaning you’re able to easily maximise their battery life without much effort.
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
7. Jaybird X3
Bluetooth wireless headphones for the workout crowd
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .5 pounds | Cable length: 19.29″ (490 mm) | Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 96 +-3dB At 1KHz | Impedance: Active 16 ohms | Battery life: 8 hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | NFC: N/A
Excellent adaptable sound
Durable and compact design
Proprietary charging dock
When Jaybird released the Jaybird X2 wireless headphones, they quickly became a favorite for athletes and casual listeners alike. Their reputation grew thanks to rugged construction, impressive sound quality and, above all else a respectable price that just kept dropping.
The appropriately named X3s carry the Jaybird torch onwards, improving on almost every feature of their predecessor and managing to hit the market at a lower cost while doing so. That said, we would comfortably recommend these to gym junkies, audio purists and average Joe’s alike (don’t worry, you’re special in your own way), and while waiting for Bluetooth connections to improve their reliability is an option, at this price it isn’t worth missing out.
Read the full review: Jaybird X3 Wireless In-Ear Headphones
8. AKG N60NC Wireless
Wireless noise-cancellation from the mid-range master
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 199.4g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 10-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 111dB SPL/V@1kHz | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: 15 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No
Not the most comfortable
Initially confusing controls
The AKG N60NC Wireless sound like a pair of headphones that should be much more expensive than they are.
At their mid-range price point the headphones offer fantastic value for money, with great sound quality and a level of noise-cancellation performance that’s on a level with the much more premium entries on this list.
Our biggest issue with these headphones is the fact that they’re on-ear rather than over-ear, meaning that we found that they got uncomfortable over longer periods.
Regardless, the benefit of this is that this is a fantastically compact pair of headphones, and if you’re willing to make the trade-off then these are great for the price.
Read the full review: AKG N60NC Wireless
9. Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbuds
A near-perfect pair of true wireless earphones
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .71 pounds | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 22 hours | Wireless range: 30+ feet | NFC: No
Long enough battery life
Uncomfortable fit over time
Heart rate data not perfect
You might have expected to see the Apple AirPods on the list. While Apple’s true wireless earbuds are fine for certain folks – cough, iPhone users exclusively – they’re not the best for everyone. If you’re looking for an egalitarian pair of true wireless earbuds, you can do no better than the Jabra Elite Sport.
Not only are these competent Bluetooth buds for use around town, with a long-enough battery life and good sound quality, but they are easily some of the best fitness wireless earbuds on the market, offering training for spinning, running, cross-training and even hiking. If you’re in the market for the ‘ultimate’ set of fitness headphones and don’t mind paying for them, then they are a strong choice.
Read the full review: Jabra Elite Sport
10. Beats X
Good-sounding earbuds that can charge in five minutes
Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 8 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No
Quick Charge feature
Balanced sound signature
Lacking in clarity
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