Admit it: you need to get some wireless headphones. With the technology getting so good and with headphone jacks disappearing, it just makes sense to invest in a future without wires if like listening to music or watching videos or just making the outside world less loud. How you use your headphones ought to inform which ones you get, of course. And that’s what this guide is for.
Whether you’re an aspiring audiophile, a long distance runner, or just someone with a sense of style, there’s a set of wireless headphones for you. If you’re looking for earbuds, ear muffs, or something in between, we’ve got you covered.
The best not-quite-wireless wireless headphones
Who are you?
Even though truly wireless earbuds are all the rage, you might be worried about losing one of the buds or you could just want better battery life. You might also like the idea of dangling earbuds around your neck.
These necklace-style wireless earbuds aren’t exactly wireless, but they’re remarkably well designed. You won’t even notice the necklace bit, beyond the fact that you’ll enjoy great battery life and better call quality thanks to the inline mic. They’re also durable and tight-fitting enough to wear during workouts. You can buy them from Amazon for $180, which is a bit cheaper than most other retailers in Australia.
If you’re thinking about getting wireless earbuds that are connected by a wire, your options are virtually limitless. Jaybird makes some great buds that are tailored to runners, and the $150 Tarah model is the best budget option. Jabra offers a similar set called the Sport Coach for $121) and a bulkier model called the Sport Pace for just $91.
The best budget headband
Who are you?
You like the idea of better-sounding and sort of cool-looking headband-style headphones. But you also don’t want to spend a ton of money, and you’re not terribly worried about getting tons of features.
Our pick: Jabra Move Wireless ($99.95)
The Jabra Move Wireless are the best cheap way to get into the wireless headphones game. They connect seamlessly with any device. They sound pretty dang good. They’re comfortable and lightweight without feeling flimsy. Although they normally retail for $160, you’ll see them floating around the $100 mark now. That might be a sign that a new model is on the way, but $100 is still a steal.
That $100 price tag on the Jabra is pretty exceptional. Other good quality wireless headphones for folks on a budget will cost between $150 and $300. The $150 Sony Extra Bass Wireless headphones are a solid option, even if you’re not a bass lover (You can turn off the bass boost).You can also get them for $100 here.
V-Moda’s $250 are extremely durable, dependable, and they sound great too!
The JBL Everest line is also fantastic. The JBL Everest 700 model retails for $350+, but you can find refurbished models for as little as $US45 in the U.S. if you want them that badly.
The best noise-cancelling headphones
Who are you?
You spend time on aeroplanes or in coffee shops or on the subway or in an open-plan office or literally anywhere that’s too noisy.
Our pick: Sony WH-1000XM3 ($499.95)
This is the third generation of some Sony noise-cancelling headphones we’ve loved for years. The latest model is extra comfortable and lightweight. And since you’re looking for noise-cancelling headphones, you’ll be pleased to know that they cancel more noise as well. Great performance doesn’t come cheap. These bad boys retail for $499.95 (or $398 for the gold version over on Amazon), but that may be a small price to pay for your sanity.
Meanwhile, the $549 Bowers & Wilkins PX don’t offer the very best noise-cancelling, but the terrific sound quality will appeal to the audiophile set. They’re also gorgeous. If you’re looking to spend slightly less, check out the $400 JBL Everest Elite 750NC. They’re less gorgeous but work just fine.
The best truly wireless earbuds
Who are you?
You want in on this tiny wireless earbud craze, but you don’t want to have to charge them every ten minutes. Also, you want something that’s just as dependable as much larger wireless headphones.
Our pick: Jabra Elite 65t ($299)
These earbuds blow everything else out of the water. With five-hours of battery life, rock solid Bluetooth connectivity, and a decent microphone for making phone calls, with some prices coming down to $248 and even $209 over on Catch.
The $500 Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless are the best-sounding earbuds we’ve tried so far. (More on that in a second.) And the $500 Master & Dynamic MW07 earbuds are comparable, although slightly less mind-blowing. If you’re just after decent sound and good connectivity, the $229 Apple AirPods are a popular option, too.
The best athletic earbuds
Who are you?
You like going to the gym, where you tend to sweat—and sweat tends not to agree with electronics. What to do?
Our pick: Jabra Elite Active 65t ($329)
This feels a little bit like cheating, but our favourite truly wireless earbuds are a very close sibling to our favourite athletic earbuds. The Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds are just like the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds, except they have an IP56 rating, which means they’re dustproof and sweat proof. They’re also a little more expensive at $329, but seriously, they’re good.
Although you’ll find a lot of sport-focused Bluetooth earbuds with a wire between them, you should strongly consider going truly wireless for your activities. (Nothing worse than getting a wire snagged on a dumbbell.) The Bose SoundSport Free earbuds are remarkably comfortable, if a little pricey at $300 (though Amazon have them for $220). Sony’s $300 water-resistant truly wireless earbuds also offer a great fit and good sound quality, though the battery life leaves something to be desired. You can also get them for $180 here.
The most superb sound
Who are you?
Audiophile might be a strong word, but you want the best sound quality out of your wireless headphones. Full stop.
Our pick: Sennheiser Momentum ($500 – $700)
Let’s make this easy for you. If you’re after the best sound quality and you’re not sure if you want the bigger over-ear headphones or the ultra minimal truly wireless headphones or something in between, look no further than the Sennheiser Momentum family. The $700 HD1 Wireless headphones are some of the best ear muffs we’ve tested (you can find some versions cheaper here), and the new $500 Momentum True Wireless earbuds sound simply phenomenal. Yes, both options are expensive, but you said you wanted the best so…
If you’re looking for pure sound, the $400+ Bowers and Wilkins P7 models are delightful options that don’t have noise cancelling or any other fancy features—just great sound. The $600+ Beoplay H9i are also a luxurious treat, especially if you like that Bang & Olufsen signature design.
And since we’re feeling speedy, also consider the $625 Master & Dynamic MW60. It’s also safe to say that you don’t need to spend any more than that on a pair of wireless headphones, because remember: you can also just spend $100.