Over-ear or full-size around-ear headphones deliver the best sound, there’s no doubt about it. And now, thanks to Bluetooth, you can listen to your music virtually anywhere you want minus the inconvenience of a cord. The best wireless headphones also offer active noise cancellation or at least noise isolation, so you can enjoy your music devoid of ambient sound. Three of the best wireless headphones available today are the JBL Live 650BTNC, Master & Dynamic MH40, and Bowers & Wilkins PX. Save up to $61 when you get them today.
Thanks to a range of technical advances, you no longer have to spend close to $400 for a great pair of noise-canceling headphones. Take JBL’s Live 650BTNC for example. At just $150, it’s half the price of the Sony WH-1000xM3 (our choice for the best noise-canceling headphones for 2020) but is pretty good in all essential departments. Noise-canceling prowess? Extremely solid. Sound quality? No qualms there. Battery life? Terrific! A couple of things that we didn’t like though: Its cloth headband easily takes on dirt, and there’s no song-skip control on the earcup.
The JBL Live 650BTNC looks like any other over-ear set of headphones but is still positively eye-catching. With a clean and understated design with JBL’s logo adorning the earcups’ exterior, you get plush leather padding running along the earcups and the headband’s interior that provides a secure yet comfortable fit. What’s more, these headphones are impressively light, so you’ll never feel them crushing your skull even with long listening sessions. The JBL Live 650BTNC comes in an assortment of colors, including black, blue, and white, but we recommend not getting the latter as our white review unit quickly appeared dirty after just a short span of time.
On the right earcup you’ll find buttons for power, volume, play/pause, Bluetooth pairing, and noise-canceling, as well as a 3.5mm jack for wired listening, while the left earcup houses the Micro USB charging port. To access a voice assistant (either Google Assistant or Alexa) or skip songs, you can tap the outside of the left earcup, although a designated touch control for song skipping would have been more convenient.
We were able to listen to a variety of music using the JBL Live 650BTNC, and we’re happy to report that everything sounded superb. For some reason, listening with these headphones seemed like we were in an open musical space with none of the usual hollow and echoey quality you come to expect with over-ear headphones. Moreover, the noise-canceling lends a certain level of clarity and nuance to the music. Speaking of noise-canceling, the JBL Live 650BTNC was able to eliminate most if not all of the usual ambient sounds, including people talking, traffic noises, and the roar of a plane’s engines. Finally, battery life is fantastic at 20 hours with ANC on and 30 hours with it off.
For the very affordable price of $150 on Amazon, the JBL Live 650BTNC proves that you don’t have to spend too much money to achieve audio nirvana.
– $188, was $249
As a relative newcomer to the headphone game, we were pleasantly surprised by the undeniable style and quality that Master & Dynamic has brought to the table. Combining premium materials, vintage aesthetics, and good sound quality, the company broke into the audio scene with its flagship wired MH40 headphones five years ago. Enter the wireless era and M&D cut the cords of the MH40 while still retaining the retro-cool elegance that it has been known for. Right now, you can purchase these vintage-looking yet thoroughly modern wireless cans for a cool $61 less on Amazon. Get them for $188 instead of their normal retail price of $249.
We simply cannot start discussing the Master & Dynamic MH40 wireless headphones without first mentioning their incredible design. With a market that’s dominated by black and gray blandness, the MH40’s unique combination of leather, metal, aluminum, and lambskin makes for an astonishingly luxurious and sophisticated piece of audio tech. Considering it’s almost devoid of plastic, it’s quite surprising how light these headphones are at just 267 grams. Even though they aren’t big, we kind of wish that M&D had found a way to make the earcups fold in so they wouldn’t take up too much room in a bag. The earcups attach via magnets to memory foam earpads, which is very convenient in case you need to replace them. They’re also very comfortable and do a good job of keeping out unwanted noise.
The MH40 are tuned for precision, not power, so if you’re a fan of deep powerful bass that can make your innards vibrate, look someplace else. These headphones render a wonderfully detailed, rich, and crystal-clear sound that highlights the mids and highs without giving much low-frequency love. What do we mean, exactly? Well, when we listened to David Guetta’s Titanium, the beginning with Sia’s vocals almost brought tears to our eyes.
Connectivity will never be an issue with the MH40. Even when we were several floors away from our phone, they were still able to maintain a strong connection with zero dropouts, something other Bluetooth headphones struggle to do. The MH40 come with two cables: a USB-C for charging, and a USB-C-to-analog for wired listening. Always keep both in your bag because these headphones only last for 18 hours in between charges. While far from being a bad number, that doesn’t really measure up to the monster lifespan of most wireless headphones at the same price range.
The Master & Dynamic MH40 wireless headphones bring a touch of class to your listening sessions. Get them on Amazon today for $188.
– $347, was $400
The Bowers and Wilkins PX looks astonishingly good. The exterior is covered in leather (either in space gray or soft gold) with a matte finish that gives it a cool vintage look. Its elliptical earpads are narrower compared to most over-ear headphones though. We were initially skeptical over whether this design choice would compromise comfort, but upon wearing them they actually do an excellent job in surrounding the ear and blocking out noise.
Unfortunately, the headband squeezes a bit, and we wished for more cushioning as we found ourselves adjusting it to remove pressure off the top of our head during extended listening sessions. A little more padding would have gone a long way. It’s also worth noting that these headphones don’t fold up, but the cups do rotate to lay almost flat, and the headband is flexible, making them easy to store. The control buttons are found on the right earcup, including pause/play, and volume control.
We’re pleased to report that in terms of features and performance, the PX proved excellent. The active noise canceling is courtesy of B&W’s proprietary algorithm, which is adept at eliminating crowd hubbub, air conditioning buzz, the sound of the daily commute, and even a plane engine’s roar. On the PX’s app, there are modes that you can activate in order to fine-tune the PX’s noise-canceling capability.
Music sounded immaculate when listened to through the PX. Unlike other active noise-canceling headphones where the frequency played to combat the background noise ruins the quality of the music, these headphones managed to retain the subtle nuances. The PX is outfitted with aptX HD, an enhanced codec engineered to improve the signal-to-noise ratio resulting in lower background noise, so every genre of music we played on them sounded great, with superb bass to boot.
Bowers and Wilkins claims that the PX’s lithium polymer battery can provide up to 22 hours of playback, and the brand isn’t wrong. In fact, under normal use conditions where they’re paused and removed repeatedly, the headphones’ battery life can be extended to as much as 50 hours.
With excellent build quality, superb sound, terrific noise canceling, tremendous battery life, the Bowers and Wilkins PX headphones are only slightly marred by their uncomfortably tight fit. Get them for $347 instead of $400 on Amazon today – a huge $53 worth of savings.
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