Whether we want to embrace it or not, the world is going fully wireless. As phone manufacturers forcibly remove headphone jacks from our phones, consumers are being forced to seek out new headphones to match this wireless world. And while there is certainly no shortage of Bluetooth headphones on the market, it can be hard to suss out which ones are worth investing a few hundred dollars into. The key to finding the best wireless headphones? You want to make sure you can get a pair that provides a quality audio experience without giving up comfort or battery life — especially since you’re likely to wear them from home to the office and back again, or even on a long cross-country flight.
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up 12 of the best available wireless headphones on the market. A majority of these come with strong active noise-canceling abilities, so you’ll be able to focus on what really matters: whatever podcast, tune, or audiobook that you just can’t seem to get enough of. Below, our top picks for 2021.
1. Sony WH1000XM4 Wireless Headphones
BEST OVERALL PICK
With Sony’s WH1000XM series, the brand has become the new gold standard for noise-canceling over-the-ear headphones, boasting ease of use and premium quality features over all else. Thanks to the superior noise-canceling, you can wear these on a plane and hardly be able to hear that annoying plane drone. That feature alone is enough to warrant the higher price tag, but there are plenty of other features that make them the best pick overall. Side-panel touch controls, a fast-charging battery with a long lifespan, and quick noise-canceling optimization help the Sony WH1000XM4 headphones stand apart from the competition.
2. Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones
Bose has been the standard for noise-canceling for a while now for good reason. The brand has always been known for its all-around quality, comfort and long-lasting battery life. The QuietComfort 35s have new additions (easy pairing to multiple devices and Amazon Alexa compatibility to name a few) that keep them in the race with other pairs on this list. We recommend these for those that are looking for a pair of headphones that will be reliable, durable and long-lasting. Once you buy a pair of these headphones, you won’t need to replace them for several years.
3. Marshall Monitor II Headphones
When we wrote about Marshall’s Monitor II headphones last year, we stated that the noise-canceling cans “immediately [stood] out” thanks to their retro-inspired look and feel. There’s more than just good looks at play here, as the audio company has ensured they deliver on premium audio quality to match their good looks as well. If you want great performance without having to forgo a sharp-looking set of headphones, consider your search complete.
4. Jabra Elite 85H Wireless Headphones
BEST WATER-RESISTANT MODEL
The Jabra Elite model has many of the same features you’re used to seeing in high-end headphones (noise-canceling, long battery life, etc.) but we think the real steal here is the call quality and the water-resistant nature. The former makes it great for wearing in the office or at home, while the latter makes it so if you want a quiet commute, you won’t need to fret about getting caught in the open if Mother Nature decides she’s got some alternative plans for the day’s weather. That water resistance will come in handy too if you decide you really want to make sure people know not to bother you while you’re lifting at the gym.
5. Audio-Technica ATH-M50XBT Wireless Headphones
BEST FOR AUDIOPHILES
Often the go-to brand for music producers and mixers, Audio-Technica has long catered to hardcore audio enthusiasts, which means that if you’re looking for something that’s going to make your favorite song sound like the best version of itself, this is the pair of wireless headphones for you. Modeled from the same DNA as the brand’s infamous in-studio monitors, the M50xBT offers great clarity and deep, rich bass. Additionally, the cans have quick access controls for music and sound navigation.
6. AKG N60NC Wireless Headphones
BEST ON-EAR PAIR
If you’re looking for a pair of headphones that’s a little on the cheaper side while also having a variety of features, look no further than the AKG N60NCs model. They’re on-ear headphones as opposed to being over-ear, but if you’re willing to forgo that detail, you’ll still find plenty of quality playback and noise-canceling abilities at about half the price of some of these other models. They’re a great solution for those looking to upgrade from a standard pair of headphones without having to break your bank account.
7. Master and Dynamic MW65 Active Noise-Cancelling Wireless Headphones
BEST LUXURY DESIGN
In addition to just being a really attractive pair of headphones (there are some serious retro-yet-modern vibes happening here), the Master and Dynamic MW65 Active noise-canceling wireless headphones are a perfect solution for those looking to have a luxury home listening experience. We’re thinking gaming, high-quality vinyl setups, or even as a cheaper home theater system replacement. Additionally, they have Google’s assistant built right in, which means that you can make calls or change a song without ever needing to pick up your device.
8. Beats Solo Pro Headphones
BEST FOR APPLE USERS
Outside of making Dr. Dre a boatload of cash, Apple’s high profile purchase of Beats in 2014 ensured that the brand would get easy access to Apple’s quality products. While it’s taken a few years for Beats to catch up to the high-end audio quality of some of its competitors, it’s safe to say that the Solo Pro is the best version so far. Much like Meghan Trainor, Beats headphones are all about that bass, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find another pair of headphones that tops their performance in that regard. And Apple has made sure that these headphones are stupid easy to pair with each one of their products.
9. Cleer Flow II Wireless Headphones
Cleer’s wireless headphones also happen to have built-in noise-cancellation, side panel control, and long-lasting battery life — but our favorite feature is really subtle. When you remove the headphones from your ears, the Flow II can tell they’ve been shifted and will actively pause your audio, which means you won’t miss a second of whatever you’re in the middle of jamming out to. The headphones themselves are also very sturdy, while also remaining very comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. With clear audio playback (no pun intended) the Flow II makes for a superlative pair of headphones that are absolutely worth their price — and then some.
10. Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 Wireless Headphones
BEST FEATURE YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED
Comfortably priced right in the mid-range, these headphones from Plantronics have plenty of high-end features (active noise canceling, high audio quality, long battery life) at a price point that’s decidedly not. The other factor that makes these notable is a nice bit of added versatility: you can connect and pair two devices to the headphones and switch between them at any point in time, which is great for pivoting back and forth between, say, your iPhone and iPad when you’re on a plane ride. It’s a nifty little feature that can come in extremely handy and makes this headphone set all the better because of it.
11. Sony WH1000XM3 Wireless Headphones
Release in late 2019, the Sony WH1000XM3s are likely better than whatever existing over-the-ear headphones you may currently own (unless you happen to have the XM4s). You can get a great deal on them right now if you’re in the market. The sounds quality of the headphones themselves still remains really fantastic (there’s just a subtle difference between the XM3s and the XM4s) but the microphone on the XM4s is better. But if you don’t plan on taking a lot of calls and just want to focus on audio, we can’t recommend them enough.
12. Microsoft Surface 2 Headphones
BEST FOR PC USERS
If you’re the kind of person that spends their 9-5 huddle over a Windows-based computer and would love some music to power you through the day, the Microsoft Surface 2 Headphones are the perfect companion for your PC. The headphones easily pair with any Microsoft Surface device thanks to their Swift Pair tech, but they’ll also hook up to your regular PC with ease as well. Designed to be worn for long periods of time, the Surface 2s rest comfortably and cozily on your ears to help the productivity going all day long.