(Pocket-lint) - Finding the right wireless headphones for your needs is much easier than it used to be, with scores of Bluetooth-ready options out there ready and waiting.
Thankfully, opting for wire-free cans no longer means suffering through inferior sound quality, either. With newer devices featuring more sophisticated audio processing and transmission, you no longer have to make the sacrifice between convenience and a premium listening experience.
With so many to pick between, however, it can be tough to actually discover which are the best for you. That's where this guide comes in. Thanks to the Pocket-lint team's continuous testing and reviewing, we're able to provide an idea of the very top picks in the wireless headphones area.
Whether you're searching for on-ear or over-ear, favour top-end features or your wallet, we've tried it all. Read on to discover which you should pick.
What are the best wireless headphones right now? Our 'Top Pick' is currently the Sony WH-1000XM4. However, these are followed closely by the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, Bowers and Wilkins PX7, Bose QuietComfort 45 and Sony WH-CH710N.
Our Top Pick: Best Wireless Headphones
- Superb listening experience
- Comfortable for hours
- Not a huge upgrade on the previous model
- No aptX or aptX HD support
Sony's noise-cancelling, over-ear headphones are an extraordinary all-rounder, providing a sound experience that we'd class as among the best we've ever tested.
The WH-1000XM4 are particularly clever with noise-cancelling, offering various modes to allow your voice to pass through (or not).
They can even assess pressure to apply the perfect profile when on a plane, making them excellent travel headphones, too.
Bluetooth support for aptX HD means the utmost quality without wires, but, when the 30-hour battery runs dead, you can still plug in and listen passively with decent results.
It may not have moved on significantly from the previous generation, the WH-1000XM3, which we would still recommend exploring, but these are an absolute treat from top to bottom.
Wireless headphones we also recommend
In truth, there are many excellent wireless headphones on the market today - and the difference between them isn't drastic. While we believe our top pick is currently the best blend of features, performance, price and design, there are four more models we'd also strongly recommend checking out.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
- Multi-level noise-cancelling technology
- Powerful sound profile
- Non-folding design
- No EQ within the app
The Bose NC 700 over-ears really step things up a gear from models that came before it, offering a really premium-feeling design.
There's superb noise-cancelling to cut out external sound, and loud and proud sound quality without the need for wires (a backup 2.5-3.5mm cable is included in the carry case, though).
The battery life lasts for about 18 hours, too, making these good over-ear headphones for travelling - providing you can manage the design, obviously.
Despite their age, these headphones still look, feel and sound better than many rivals - including alternatives from Bose itself. It's been overtaken in some regards, sure, but this is still an outstanding pair to invest in.
Bowers and Wilkins PX7
- Typically brilliant sound
- Mammoth battery life
- Awkward folding design
- Not as premium as its predecessor
Bowers and Wilkins has struck gold again. These headphones will appeal to audiophiles, definitely, but tick plenty of tech boxes, as well.
Ambient noises are easily blocked by the active noise cancellation, while there's no negative impact on the sound quality as a result.
These are supremely comfortable headphones, too. If we're honest, we would probably prefer bend-in earcups, rather than a flat-folding design, and the feel isn't quite as premium as its predecessor, but these are small gripes that barely dent an outstanding option.
Bose QuietComfort 45
- Folding design is ideal for travel
- Super sound and ANC
- No auto-off power option
- The design feels tired next to rivals
Bose's latest wireless headphones are another triumph, bringing users top-tier noise-cancelling, thumping bass and a design that's suited to life on the road.
Physical buttons return to the outer shell, while the folding design makes it ideal for throwing into bags and the likes. The 24-hour battery life, as well, while not being class-leading, is still very good.
The only real downside to the package is that it isn't quite as premium in looks or feel as the NC Headphones 700 from Bose, and, like some of Sony's options, the upgrades are relatively mild in comparison to previous generations.
That aside, though, the latest QuietComfort model is still very easy to recommend over rivals.
- Affordable price point
- Excellent sound for the price
- Not a premium build
- Better listening experience elsewhere
Not everybody wants to spend top-level cash on their wireless headphones, but that doesn't mean you can't still find yourself a premium listening experience. If you're working on a modest budget, then Sony has a great trade for you, the WH-CH710N.
Sure, you won't get aptX HD like many of the pricier alternatives, but noise-cancelling is on board and the WH-CH710N are small, portable, kick out enough bass and are well designed.
If you can stretch your wallet a bit further, we would advise checking out the Bose QuietComfort 35 or Sony WH-1000XM3, but, at this price range, it's tough to do better.
Other wireless headphones we considered
In order to decide the best wireless headphones to recommend, the Pocket-lint editorial team spent hours testing and researching options from across the market. We always consider a number of factors when putting together these buyer's guides, including our own testing and reviews, but also consumer reviews, brand quality and value for money.
In this guide, like all others, there are many devices we considered for our top recommendations that just fell short. These are still stellar options, and may be the right pick for some users, but they ultimately didn't do enough to make our picks:
- Apple AirPods Max
- Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT
- Beats Solo Pro
- Master and Dynamic MW65
- Sennheiser HD 450BT
- Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3
How to choose the right wireless headphones
There are absolutely loads of options on the market where wireless headphones are concerned.
The list above includes some of the very best, but there are also a few principles you can apply while choosing which are ideal for you.
How much to spend on wireless headphones?
The first big question for many people shopping around for quality headphones is how much they should spend. It's not one with an easy answer, although you'll see from browsing our favourites that quality does come at a price right now.
Many of the best and most fully-featured models sit between £200 and £300, but that doesn't mean you can't get excellent cans for less than £100 - you'll just need to shop around a bit more. We think setting your budget is a sensible first step, either way.
Should wireless headphones have ANC?
One of the biggest new technologies to hit headphones in recent years has been active noise cancellation (ANC). It dulls the background noise around you using microphones and feedback, to make sure that you hear your music or audio clearly.
When done well, it can be transformative and make loud journeys relaxing. However, it also tends to bump up the price of headphones, so if you want to do most of your listening at home, you could think about ditching it to save some cash. That said, the best headphones are increasingly including it as a matter of course.
How much battery life do wireless headphones need?
Another big variable when you're sizing up headphones to buy comes in the form of battery life. This can vary by quite big amounts, but we'd say you much less than 10 hours is a little disappointing.
Many of the most popular models now offer between 12 and 15 hours of playback before a charge is needed, but if battery life is a top priority there are superb options that can give you closer to 24 hours or even more - so be sure to work out how much of an issue longevity is for you.
More about this story
Every product in this list has been tested in real-life scenarios, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.
We've been using wireless headphones since they first came onto the market several years, and have been judging them against each other ever since. That means comparing their sound performance over Bluetooth in a number of different genres.
Also important for us within wireless headphones is connection stability and integration with smartphone software, as well as the design touches that make some options feel that bit more premium than others. Active noise-cancelling is also becoming much more advanced, while, as ever, battery life and price are also key factors.
In all of our buyer's guides, we tend to skip over the spec comparisons and marketing spiel; we just want to provide an easy to understand review that gives you an idea of what it's going to be like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is in the interest of brevity - rest assured all the things on this list have been fully tested.