The 6 Best Wireless Headphones of 2019

Taking your music on the go just got easier with these top wireless headphones

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones

4.7

What We Like

  • Extremely comfortable

  • Amazing audio quality

  • Great noise-cancelation

  • Come with a carrying case

What We Don't Like

  • Not as stylish as some other models

  • Short charging cable

Bose's QC35 headphones are best in class for their extreme comfort, excellent audio quality, and top-of-the-line noise-canceling capabilities. Our reviewer even went so far as to say that she wouldn’t travel without them ever again. Their battery life clocks in at an impressive 20 hours—do note, however, that Bose has moved away from AAAs to a rechargeable battery mechanism, which makes it impossible to swap in new batteries should yours die in the middle of a listening session. The QC35 can also be used with a wire so it’s easy to just plug in and continue listening, though our tester noted that because it was only 10 inches long, it was tough to charge the headphones and wear them at the same time.

Best In-Ear: Jabra Elite 65t

4.3

What We Like

  • Very durable

  • Great sound

  • Clear phone calls

What We Don't Like

  • Short battery life

  • Very snug fit won't please everyone

Apple might have much of the public's attention when it comes to in-ear wireless headphones, but this pair from Jabra is equally deserving of it. They’re truly wireless and have noise cancelation circuitry (they also feature an adjustable slider to let some ambient noise through, if you prefer). Plus, they're sweatproof and dustproof: “These will withstand workouts and outdoor adventures longer than much of the competition,” raved our reviewer. They also come with different-sized ear covers, but the overall fit was very snug: "If you don’t like the feel of eartips pressed very closely into your ears," our tester noted, "this could be uncomfortable." These headphones work with both iOS and Android devices, plus your Mac or PC. Our tester did, however, wish that their battery life were slightly longer.

Best Noise-Canceling: Sony WH1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headphones

4.7

What We Like

  • Sleek design

  • Amazing sound quality

  • Impressive noise cancellation

What We Don't Like

  • Unintuitive touch controls

  • Expensive

These Sony headphones deliver 30 hours of playback on a single charge. They also have quick-charge capabilities—even 10 minutes can provide up to five hours of use—plus superior sound quality, effective noise cancelation, and an ergonomic design that fits securely and comfortably for all-day wear. The over-ear speakers contain 40mm Hi-Res Audio drivers that are capable of reproducing a frequency range of up to 40kHz. They also feature 32bit audio signal processing and a low signal-to-noise ratio, which translates into exceptional audio quality. While one of our reviewers noted their high price tag, he also thought it would be difficult to have any buyer’s remorse with this "exceptional" product.

Best for Exercise: Jaybird X4 Wireless Sport Headphones

4.3

What We Like

  • Premium design

  • Cool color options

  • Super functional accompanying app

What We Don't Like

  • Extremely snug fit

  • Can’t charge via USB

If you want wireless headphones that can withstand your toughest workouts, you won’t find anything better than the Jaybird X4. The earbuds are IXP7 waterproof and sweatproof (though it's important to note that they’re not meant for swimming). They also have eight hours of listening per charge—plus, if you plug them in for just 10 minutes, you can get an hour of playback time. There are several ways to customize fit, including different-sized silicone and foam tips and fins along with a “Speed Cinch” that lets you tighten or loosen the cable hanging around your neck. Our tester felt strongly that “runners will love their build quality, bass response, and snug fit.”

Best Sound Quality: Bose 700

4.7

What We Like

  • Excellent audio quality

  • Impressive noise cancelling

  • Very comfortable for extended listening

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive

  • Touch controls are easily triggered

  • Battery life needs work

The gold standard for sound quality, the Bose 700 are the company’s response to increased competition, once again demonstrating its refusal to relinquish the throne. They’re a bit on the expensive side, but with them, you can be assured that price is synonymous with quality.  

Those in the market for noise cancellation will struggle to find headphones that do it better than the 700. Noise cancellation is adjustable, with the highest levels blocking out all sound, and the lowest level letting in clear ambient noises to evoke the sense that you’re not wearing headphones at all. For music lovers, the audio is crisp, tight and balanced — the bass is not overwhelming and the quality is rich and provides depth, supporting many different types of music. They’re also great for making calls: A four-mic system picks up voices so you can hold conversations on busy streets or use your voice assistant without background noise interfering. 

Best for Android: Bose SoundSport Free

What We Like

  • Excellent sound quality

  • Comfortable fit

  • Sweat-resistant

What We Don't Like

  • Connection drops sometimes

Bose knows how to make headphones sound great, and the SoundSport Free is no exception. They’ve got a fantastic, comfortable fit and they’re sweat-resistant, making them great for working out. Plus, if they get lost, you’ll be able to locate them using the Bose Connect app—which also makes pairing a bit easier than standard ways of connecting Bluetooth devices. The earbuds themselves also have volume, pause, and skip controls built-in. Although online reviewers were satisfied with these headphones' sound quality and fit, some online reviewers reported a spotty Bluetooth connection, particularly in the left earbud.

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best Bose headphones

FAQs

What are the main types of wireless headphones?

There are three major types: in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear. In-ear wireless headphones rest in your ear; some rest specifically on a section of the outer ear called the antitragus, while others are pushed slightly deeper into the ear canal, which helps them stay in place. On-ear models have padding that rests on the outer ear, while the padding in over-ear headphones clamps around the ears.

What wireless headphones offer the best sound quality?

Over-ear wireless headphones offer the best sound quality. Because they're slightly larger, they have more room for larger, higher-quality drivers that require more space to work properly. Also, because they don't put touch your ears at all, they're very comfortable. One downside, however, is that they tend to be the least portable.

What's considered good battery life for wireless headphones?

Good battery life for true wireless headphones is anything more than four hours of continuous playback. Non-true wireless earbuds should have at least 8-10 hours of playback on a single charge. On-ear headphones should be able to offer 15 hours or more, and over-ear headphones should offer at least 16 or 17 hours—though it can range up to around 25 hours.

The Ultimate Wireless Headphones Buying Guide

2:01

Our 3 Favorite Wireless Headphones Compared

A great pair of wireless headphones can transform anyone’s listening experience. However, because there are so many different options out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. Read on for our guide to finding the best pair of wireless headphones for you.

Why Go Wireless?

Although wired headphones tend to offer better sound quality, if you’re not an audiophile with a love of high-fidelity music, the best wireless options on the market should more than satisfy you. Plus, going wireless is infinitely more convenient and portable—especially if you love to listen to music while you travel or exercise.

Wireless headphones generally have a listening distance of around 10 meters, or 33 feet, but that’s likely to change as Bluetooth 5.0, which supports a distance of up to 800 feet, continues to roll out.

Samsung Galaxy Buds
Lifewire / Jason Schneider

Form Factor: What's Your Style?

The first thing to think about when buying a new pair of wireless headphones is the form factor. In general, there are three major form factors to consider: in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear.

In-Ear Headphones Are Very Portable

In-ear headphones can get a bad rep, but they're also the most portable headphones on the market. Some in-ear headphones rest in your ear, while others rest on a section of your outer ear called the antitragus. Other models are pushed slightly deeper into the ear canal, which helps them stay in place.

Comfort is less of a given. Some pairs can even do damage to your ear cartilage, though those instances are very rare. Most people get used to the feel of in-ear headphones, but if you buy a new pair of wireless earbuds, it may take a few days of use for that to happen.

Some in-ear headphones have a small wire that wraps around the back of your head. Recently, however, “true wireless” headphones, like Apple’s AirPods, have become more popular. These earbuds connect wirelessly to your listening device and often come with a charging case when not in use. This technology is still in its infancy but has improved immensely over the past few years—and will definitely continue to do so.

On-Ear Headphones: Compact Yet Comfortable

On-ear headphones offer a happy medium between in-ear and over-ear models. While they keep the same general shape as over-ear headphones, they tend to be a little smaller. The trade-off is that most people find on-ear headphones to be more comfortable than in-ears, and they often have better sound quality.

When it comes to comfort, on-ear headphones offer a compromise between the two other types, with padding that rests on the outer ear. Their comfort level is more defined by how hard the clamp is. If it's too hard, the headphones can’t be worn for long without getting uncomfortable; if it's too soft, they'll fall off.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H4 Wireless Headphones
 Lifewire / Claire Cohen

Over-Ear Headphones Offer The Best Sound Quality

Over-ear headphones are the ultimate in comfort and sound quality but are by far the least portable. As the name suggests, these headphones often don’t touch your ears at all. Instead, they have padding that clamps around your ears, which is how they’re able to stay comfortable for so long. Part of the reason over-ear headphones sound better is that they have more room for larger drivers, or different types of drivers, that require more space to work properly.

Design: Closed or Open Back?

While the look of the headphones may be important to you, their design refers to whether they’re closed-back or open-back. The vast majority of consumer headphones are closed-back, but some audiophile-focused headphones are open-back. The difference in sound quality can be enormous.

Closed-Back Headphones Keep Outside Noise Out

Most headphones you see in a store will be closed-back. What that means is that the outside of the headphones is designed to keep your music inside while rebuffing outside sounds. There are some advantages and some disadvantages to this. Closed-back headphones are better for those who want to take their headphones on the go or listen to music with others in the room. The main drawback is sound quality—most audiophiles argue that open-back headphones sound more natural. Read on to find out why.

Open-Back Headphones: The Choice for a More Natural Sound

While closed-back headphones are designed to keep your music at least somewhat isolated, open-back headphones are designed to do the opposite. Here's why: if sound can escape your headphones, it won't reverberate inside them. While largely imperceivable, those echoes do create a tighter soundstage. Open-back headphones sound a little wider and more open.

There are some cons, though. Just as sound inside the headphones can get out, outside sound can also creep in. Also, because there's a lack of a physical barrier between the outside world and the electronics inside your headphones, they're more easily damaged by the elements.

If you plan on listening in a quiet environment and simply want the best listening experience, then open-back headphones could well be the way to go.

Semi-Open-Back Headphones: Should You Consider A Pair?

There are also semi-open-back headphones. These cover most of the outside of your ear but leave a little space. These headphones have a slightly more natural sound but with all of the disadvantages of open-back headphones. We really only recommend semi-open-back headphones to users who plan on listening at home and are willing to compromise on some of that openness for a slightly more isolated listening experience.

Microsoft Surface Headphones
Lifewire / Jason Schneider

Audio Quality: What Should Be Your Biggest Considerations?

When purchasing new wireless headphones, there are a number of other audio-related qualities to evaluate. Many are only worth considering if you're looking for the best possible sound quality, but even if you’re not, it can be helpful to know a little more about how your headphones work.

Frequency Range: Low or High Frequency?

Frequency response refers to the different frequencies that headphones are able to reproduce, ultimately resulting in a full sound.

Instruments like bass guitars, bass synths, and kick drums largely live in the lower frequencies, while the sizzle of cymbals and sibilance on a vocal lives in the higher frequencies. Guitars, other drums, the body of a vocal, and so on, all live in between.

The frequency range of human hearing is 20Hz to 20kHz, though most adults can’t hear much past 17kHz. Most headphones have an advertised frequency range of 20Hz - 20kHz—so, while you shouldn’t consider headphones that have a frequency response of less than this, don’t simply assume that this range means they’ll sound good.

Driver Type: What You Should Know

Just like speakers, headphones have drivers—at least one on each side. The driver is what vibrates the air, creating sound. There are a few main kinds of drivers.

Dynamic drivers are found on the vast majority of consumer-level headphones. They're the cheapest to produce, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they sound bad. Generally, they're great at creating a solid bass response without much power. The trade-off is that they can distort more easily at higher volumes.

Balanced armature drivers are only used in in-ear headphones, and work slightly differently in that they can be tuned to specific frequencies. Many in-ear headphones feature two sets of balanced armature drivers, tuned to different frequencies, or are also coupled with dynamic drivers for an evener frequency response.

Planar magnetic headphones are usually only found on higher end over-ear headphones because of their larger size, but they’re often able to produce a much better sound. However, they require a headphone amp to run properly, as they need a little more power than dynamic headphones.

Last but not least is the electrostatic driver, which is able to produce a largely undistorted sound and a wide, natural soundstage. They also have a very natural frequency response. However, they’re larger, much more expensive to make, and require a headphone amplifier.

Jaybird X4 Wireless Sport Headphones
 Lifewire / Jason Schneider

Impedance: How Many ohms Should Your Headphones Have?

Impedance refers to the opposition your headphones give to the flow of current from your headphone amplifier. Impedance generally varies from 8Ω (ohms) to the hundreds of ohms on high-end models.

Most consumer headphones are low-impedance and can be powered easily by a smartphone or computer. High-impedance headphones require a dedicated headphone amplifier to output enough sound.

If you plan on using your headphones with a phone or computer, any headphones with an impedance of under 25Ω should be fine. If you have a headphone amplifier, however, you could get higher-impedance headphones—though just how high depends on the amplifier.

Sensitivity: What Kind of Volume Do You Want?

Sensitivity refers to how loud headphones can get. This volume is measured in decibels. Generally, sensitivity is measured per 1mW (milliwatt). So, if headphones have a sensitivity of 90 dB / mW, that means they can produce 90 dB of volume using 1 milliwatt of power. Usually, a sensitivity of between 90dB and 120dB / 1mW will be perfectly fine for use.

Noise Cancelation Helps to Block Out Exterior Sound

In recent years, noise cancelation tech has improved greatly. Active noise cancelation uses a microphone to detect outside sounds, then plays back an opposite version, effectively canceling it out to your ears. Generally, Bose and Audio Technica are known for their excellent noise cancelation.

There is a downside to this technology: it usually affects audio quality in small ways. For example, noise-canceling headphones can sometimes produce a faint hiss, and the frequency response might be slightly different depending on the frequencies being filtered out.

There are also noise-isolating headphones, which are also known as passive noise-canceling headphones. These models physically cut out any outside noise by creating a seal around your ears with sound-proof materials. This is both lower-tech and less effective, but can still help prevent unwanted sound from distracting you.

Samsung Galaxy Buds
Lifewire / Jason Schneider

Battery Life: What's Considered Good?

There’s one more thing to keep in mind when it comes to buying wireless headphones, and that’s battery life. Battery life varies widely depending on the type of headphones you have. A good battery life for true wireless headphones is anything more than four hours of continuous playback—though the charging case will extend that if you don’t listen for four hours straight. Non-true wireless earbuds should have at least 8-10 hours of playback on a charge. On-ear headphones should be able to offer 15 hours or more, and over-ear headphones should offer at least 16 or 17 hours—though it can range up to around 25 hours.

Other Features and Considerations When Buying Headphones

Wireless headphones are often full of extra features. Many have controls built right into the ear cup. Certain pairs also offer support for a digital assistant like Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa, while others go even further, with sensors that can track your heart rate through a workout. Some have features to limit the volume, preventing you from doing too much damage to your ears (which are especially great for kids).

Conclusion: Here's the Gist

No two pairs of wireless headphones are the same. But for the average consumer, the most important things to consider are form factor, design, general sound quality, and battery life. Ultimately, the perfect pair of headphones doesn’t exist—it'll depend on your needs, budget, and taste. Hopefully, armed with this new information, you'll have a better idea of what to look for.