- Sony WH-1000XM4
The best wireless headphones overall
Size and Weight: 9.94 x 3.03 x 7.27 inches, 8.95 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 30 hours (ANC
on), 38 hours (ANC off) | Bluetooth Range: 40 feet (12 meters) | Digital Assistant
Best sound in multiple categories
Powerful ANC and ambient listening modes
Loaded with features
Amazing wireless performance
Call quality needs work
The Sony WH-1000XM4 stands as the best wireless headphones available. Sony’s
boomy and spacious soundstage is at the forefront, reproducing a full range of
frequencies, so you can feel every low, mid, and high that blasts out of the 40mm
drivers. You have the luxury of fine-tuning sound to your hearing by adjusting the EQ or
selecting from a variety of presets in the Sony Headphones app, which has more cool
features that extended functionality. If noise cancellation is what you really seek, the
WH-1000XM4 is the closest you’ll get to elite ANC next to the Bose 700. Also, the
connectivity options (Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, multipoint technology) and touch controls all
Not much has changed regarding design, and that’s fine since the headphones still look
sharp, though we wish the call quality would have been fixed.
2. Bose 700
Class-leading ANC in a striking design
Size and Weight: 8 x 6.5 x 2 inches, 8.8 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 20 hours (NC on) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Slick, attractive design
Adjustable ANC levels
Precise, balanced audio
Smart, intuitive buttons and touch controls
These aren’t your daddy’s Bose. The Bose 700 headphones have raised the bar for active noise cancelling headphones, effectively silencing outside noise while simultaneously allowing you to clearly be heard when talking to someone on the phone or cueing up a digital assistant. The 700s don’t skimp on audio quality either, offering clean, balanced sound with some impressive, intuitive tech flourishes.
Right now, it’s the only model engineered with 11 levels of noise cancellation to keep things quiet without adding distortion to your music, and the Full Transparency mode is similarly impressive. Battery life is standard at 20 hours, though you can spend extra on the travel charging case that holds 40 extra hours of playtime and protects the cans in style. Anyone looking to upgrade their work-from-home headphones may also want to look at the Bose 700 UC, a new version that maintains the excellent mic performance of the original and is programmed to work with third-party cloud services like Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Meet, and Zoom to enhance virtual collaborations.
3. Apple AirPods Pro
The best Air Pods you can buy
Size and Weight: 2.4 x 1.7 x 0.9 inches, 8.8 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 4.5 hours (NC on) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Modern, functional design
Effective active noise cancellation
Expanded, easy to use controls
Seamless iOS connectivity
Battery life could be longer
Apple’s noise-cancelling wireless earbuds have definitely lived up to their hype. Headlining its feature set is active noise cancellation, which is surprisingly effective for hushing rowdy commuters and minimizing background noises during phone calls. The addition of ear tips makes a world of difference for both in-ear stability and sound quality; the tips produce a safe, tight seal that allows music to sound fuller. Apple also developed an adaptive EQ that automatically tunes the low and mid frequencies to your ear shape. Adding to its audio capabilities, Apple released the iOS 14 update that introduces two new features: auto-switching between Apple devices and spatial audio to create a 3D-dimension soundscape.
Hands? That’s so passé. Thanks to Apple’s H1 chip, the AirPods Pro are packing even more hands-free Siri integration. Plus, you get the near-instant pairing and stable connections we’ve come to expect from an Apple audio product. And with the new Force Sensors embedded in the redesigned stems, you may never need to touch your smartphone ever again.
4. Apple AirPods Max
The best over-ear wireless headphones for iOS users
Size and weight: 7.4 x 6.6 x 3.3 inches, 13.6 ounces | Battery life (rated): 20 hours (ANC on) | Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Special features: ANC, Spatial Audio, audio sharing, Siri
Excellent noise cancellation
Spatial Audio sounds great
The dinky AirPods Pro are a much more cost-effective route into Apple headphones, considering the AirPods Max cost a widow making $549. Still, you get what you pay for, and on a purely technical level, Apple’s first over-ear cans are absolute fantastic.
There’s active noise cancelling, which works about as well as the best on the market. There’s Spatial Audio, which creates a striking surround sound effect as you move your head. There’s an impeccable build quality, the comfy memory foam earcup padding, the healthy battery life – the list goes on. It’s worth noting that if you ever want to switch to wired listening, you’ll need to buy a separate $35 Lightning cable, but on Bluetooth alone these headphones are an excellent iOS companion.
5. Sennheiser CX 400BT
Affordable wireless buds with top-tier sound quality
Size: 1.05 x 0.92 x 0.87 inches | Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud) | Battery Life (Rated): 7 hours, 20 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 35 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Bluetooth 5.1, customizable touch controls, source switching, EQ controls, replaceable tips, voice assistant support, customizable EQ
Decent battery life
No water resistance or sweat-proofing
The Sennheiser CX 400BT occupy an enticing space between low-quality budget headphones and scarily expensive premium earbuds. They take the best of both: affordable yet capable of some wonderfully fine-tuned audio output, these are earbuds you won’t want to take out. Especially as they’re so comfortable. It’s worth noting that you don’t get ANC, or any kind of water resistance or sweat proofing, so they’re not absolutely perfect for long-distance travelling or wearing to gym. But as general purpose earbuds, they’re great value.
6. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
The best wireless headphones for Galaxy fans
Size: 0.8 x 0.7 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 0.22 ounces (per bud) | Battery Life (Rated): 5 hours (ANC on), 8 hours (ANC off), 18 hours (with charging case and ANC on), 28 hours (with charging case and ANC off) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (9 meters) | Special features: Adjustable ANC, Ambient mode, Voice Detect, 360 Audio, quick source switching, IPX7 waterproofing
High call quality
Lots of features
Some features only work with Samsung Galaxy smartphones
ANC improved, but still not the best
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro partly exist to tempt you into buying a Galaxy smartphone: only recent Samsung handsets running OneUI 3.1 can access the Galaxy Buds Pro’s most interesting features, like its 360 Audio surround sound.
That said, there’s plenty to enjoy here even if you haven’t bought into the Galaxy ecosystem. Sound quality and ANC are both noticeably better than on the previous Galaxy Buds Live, and this is the first pair of Samsung earbuds to come with full, IPX7-certified waterproofing. Battery life could be better, but is no worse than that of the AirPods Pro, and this cost less unless you catch Apple’s buds on sale.
7. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro
Size: 1.5 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches | Weight: 0.4 ounces (per bud) | Battery Life (Rated): 5 hours (ANC on), 7 hours (ANC off), 18 hours (with charging case and ANC on), 26 hours (with charging case and ANC off) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (9 meters) | Special features: Adjustable ANC, transparency mode, IPX4 water resistance, customizable EQ
Competitive battery life
Can become uncomfortable after a while
Sound quality starts off a little boomy but you can either use the handy custom EQ controls to balance out the bass, or employ the clever HearID feature. This gives you a short hearing test and tailors the output to your results, another surprisingly high-end feature to find on such affordable earbuds
The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro might look drab, but as a low-cost route in active noise-cancelling earbuds, they’re hard to beat. For one, unlike with a lot of other cheap ANC buds, the cancellation effect works quite well — and you can swap between Indoor, Outdoor and Transport modes to best suit your surroundings.
8. Jabra Elite Active 75t
Size and Weight: 0.8 x 0.7 x 0.6 inches, 0.19 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 7.5 hours; 28 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Sleek, sturdy, and waterproof design
Longer battery life than all AirPods models
Active and passive noise cancellation
Can get extremely loud at max volume
If you’re looking for a pair of truly wireless earbuds that offers the right balance of personalized comfort, sound, and sporty features, then add the Jabra Elite Active 75t to your shopping cart. Design-wise, they’re 22% smaller than their predecessor, the critically acclaimed Elite Active 65t, and more rugged. Jabra also added IP57 certification to make them fully waterproof in up to 1 meter of water.
Audio is another hallmark of the Elite Active 75t, delivering detailed and vibrant sound that gives music a lively presence. With the buds operating on Bluetooth 5.0 technology, they consume less power, so that you get more use out of them when fully charged. Users can also pair to two devices simultaneously and hear music wirelessly from a lengthy distance (est. 35 feet). And just when you thought it wasn’t possible, Jabra released an over-the-air ANC update for free that brings active noise cancellation to both the Elite Active 75t and Elite 75t. The results are silently impressive.
9. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Size and Weight: 1.54 x 1.02 x 1.06 inches, 0.3 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 6 hours, 18 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Excellent call quality
Battery life could be better
A new true wireless ANC king has emerged in the form of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. The brand’s latest flagship earbuds boast the best noise cancellation in the category, nearly matching the performance of its over-ear counterpart, the Bose 700, and minimizing ambient sound at an extremely high level. You can adjust ANC on the Bose Connect app, as well as enable the Transparency mode, which blends with noise cancellation to offer the best of both worlds, while keeping music on in the background. Sound is dynamic and rich, giving listeners a full sonic taste of recordings. The only thing more impressive than the noise cancellation is the call quality, as the buds produce loud and crisp conversations, even in the loudest settings.
If only battery life was better managed, as there is no way to disable both ANC and transparency modes at the same time, which strongly affects the QuietComfort Earbuds’ middling playtime. The charging case also doesn’t get you much compared to AirPods Pro’s case.
10. Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
Size: 8.03 x 7.68 x 1.89 inches | Weight: 10.22 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 20 hours (NC on) | Bluetooth range: 800 feet (243 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Adjustable ANC levels
Pairs with 10 devices simultaneously
Lower battery life than competitors
Surface Audio app needs more features
At a time when working from home now seems conventional, the Surface Headphones 2 proves its worth, backed by intelligible controls and features that make listening to music and working from home equally pleasant. Despite ditching Cortana, the headphones offer plenty of digital assistant support in Siri and Google Assistant to carry out practical tasks, along with Microsoft 365 integration to use voice dictation in real-time with popular Office programs (e.g. Word, Outlook). Another compelling feature that improves ease of use is the dial control found on both earcups, which allow you to seamlessly adjust the volume and noise-cancelling levels.
Speaking of which, ANC is impressive and blocks out about 75% of ambient noise. Music also sounds great on the Surface Headphones 2, feeding your ears with strong bass response and clean vocals. Our only issues with the sequel are its lack of lengthy battery life and extended features via companion app.