The best wireless headphones for 2019

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

Over the years, we’ve reviewed hundreds of headphones and, after factoring in several aspects like comfort, audio quality, battery life, and noise-canceling, we’ve concluded that Sony’s WH-1000XM3 are simply the best wireless headphones you can buy — despite their hefty price tag.

If the Sony WH-1000xM3 isn’t right for you, either because you’re looking for a set of earbuds or something a little more affordable, don’t fret. We’ve rounded up nine of the best wireless headphones money can buy, at a variety of price points and styles for multiple use cases to make sure you can take beautiful music along no matter where you go.

The best wireless headphones at a glance

The Best Wireless Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM3

Sony WH-1000XM3 Best headphones 2018

Why you should buy them: Top-tier sound, excellent comfort, and (of course) impressive noise canceling make Sony’s WH-1000xM3 the headphones to beat.

Who they’re for: Those who are looking for total sonic isolation and wireless convenience, but don’t want to give up high-fidelity sound to get it.

Why we picked the Sony WH-1000XM3:

Sony makes some absolutely incredible wireless noise-canceling headphones. In fact, in the last iteration of this article, Sony’s WH-1000XM2 earned the top spot (and a 5/5 rating in our official review), thanks to an unbeatable blend of comfort, control, and audio quality — not to mention the fact that they isolate sound as well as any cans we’ve used. They weren’t just our favorite noise-canceling headphones — they were our favorite headphones — period.

This time around, we’ve decided to elevate another pair of Sony phones to the apex of our list — the WH-1000XM3, which actually improve upon their predecessors in many small ways. Underneath ultra-soft leatherette earcups, the WH-1000xM3 pack in dual 40mm dynamic drivers that bring both movies and music to life with stunning, warm detail. The headphones offer excellent instrumental separation, with powerful bass response matched by precise performance in the mid and upper registers.

The Sony Headphones Connect app allows for lots of personalization and fine-tuning, letting you adjust ambient sound reduction and optimize audio based on atmospheric pressure (an awesome feature for frequent flyers). Sony’s DSEE HX processing engine also automatically upscales compressed audio from sources like YouTube to ensure the best possible listening experience. They also offer plenty of other cool features, including the ability to pause when you pull off an earpad, which is great for ordering a drink on a long flight, and as for battery life? Their 30 hours is among the best in the business.

Simply put, there are no better headphones with noise cancellation (wireless or otherwise) on the market right now.

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM3 review

Best noise-canceling earbuds: Sony WF-1000XM3

sony wf 1000xm3 review 9
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: The convenience of no wires at all, plus active noise cancellation is a unique combo we think you’ll love.

Who they’re for: Anyone who wants noise cancellation but doesn’t want to tote around or wear a full-size set of headphones.

Why we picked the Sony WF-1000XM3:

There are now a ludicrous number of truly-wireless earbuds on the market, but at the moment, there is only one model that provides the same active noise-canceling technology found in high-end headphones like the Sony WH-1000xM3. That model is the Sony WF-1000xM3, and as the name suggests, they’re the truly-wireless earbud equivalents of Sony’s incredible best-of-the-best headphones. These earbuds manage to combine superb sound quality, awesome noise cancellation, and astonishing battery life into a single, convenient package.

Sony brings all of its technical know-how to these earbuds: They feature the company’s DSEE HX sound processing, which has an uncanny ability to make almost any audio source sound deliciously Hi-Fi, and they pair it with Sony’s active noise-canceling circuitry, for whisper-quiet backgrounds on airplanes, public transit, or even noisy offices. Battery life is impressive at six hours per charge, but if you switch off noise-cancellation, that jumps to a killer eight hours. The Duracell-like charging case stores three full charges, giving you up to 32 hours of playtime — or 24 if you like your environment ultra-quiet.

Sony’s app for iOS and Android gives you control over EQ, noise -cancellation levels, and other customizations. Our only gripes? There’s no ability to control volume levels without reaching for your phone or asking your voice assistant, and these earbuds don’t want to be anywhere near moisture. These small issues notwithstanding, Sony has officially taken the lead when it comes to what we can expect from truly wireless earbuds.

Our hands-on review of the Sony WF-1000xM3

Best budget wireless headphones: Shure SE112 Wireless

best wireless headphones earbuds shure se112

Why you should buy them: You want a simple pair of in-ear headphones that are both streamlined and more affordable than other models of similar quality.

Who’s it for: The discerning shopper looking for a pair of quality in-ears.

Why we picked the Shure SE112 Wireless:

In an age where earbuds have largely replaced over-ear and on-ear headphones as the average commuter’s listening device of choice, it’s scarily easy to find some really bad in-ear headphones. Scores of models line store shelves and cost anywhere from $10 to $20. Unfortunately, as with most material things in life, you get what you pay for. The reality is that while their price might not immediately read as “budget,” in the world of high-quality in-ears, the Shure SE112 Wireless are a steal.

When we reviewed the SE112’s wired version, we were pleased to find them to be an affordable pair of in-ears with high-performance quality — this is Shure after all, and the company has been a top name in audio for decades for a reason. We were also impressed with several other aspects of the Shure SE112, including the excellent passive sound isolation and great design and construction.

The wireless model, naturally, adds the benefit of unfettered connection via Bluetooth to the already stellar sound and build quality. But there’s more. The wired version of the Shure SE112 lacked an inline mic for phone calls, but this has been rectified with the SE112 Wireless. An inline mic and remote sit on the right-hand side, making them even more of an upgrade over their wired predecessors. Their eight hours of battery life isn’t a ton, but it’s enough for a full day of listening, and that’s good enough at this price.

While you could buy wireless in-ears for less, these are the best budget in-ears you should buy.

Read our full Shure SE112 review.

The best wireless headphone for running: JLab Epic Air Sport

JLab Epic Air Sport Review
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They’re durable, and have some of the best battery life you’ll find.

Who they’re for: People who want the best water protection, battery life, and fit.

Why we picked the JLab Epic Air Sport:

There are no better workout companions than the JLab Epic Air Sport. The bulky pair of headphones isn’t winning any design awards, but you’re not in the gym looking to win beauty pageants. All their other features, however, make them perfect for sweaty sessions, and at a considerably lower price point than their closest competitors.

The ear hooks are killer, helping them stay on your ears during intense bursts of jogging or perhaps a round of CrossFit. Helping the comfortability and security, JLab throws in a glutton of eartip options, including four sizes of silicon tips, foam ones for added noise reduction, and multi-layered tips for less cooperative ear canals.

With ten hours of battery life, the Epic Air Sport last long enough for any workout session and offer some of the best battery life in wireless earbuds, period. You’ll get another 60 hours on the go thanks to the 2,600mAh battery inside the charging case, which can also charge your smartphone.

The cost of all these features is size. They’re not at all petite, but if you’re buying these primarily for workout sessions, who really cares? The Epic Air Sport push the bar on durability, too, offering an IP66 rating for water and dust resistance. They’ll withstand any amount of sweat and rain you can throw at them.

An ambient audio mode keeps you safe on the street by piping in surrounding noise so you can listen out for important cues in the world around you. To top all that off, JLab took care to ensure they sound excellent. In our review, we found the Epic Air Sport to be well-balanced, and with three preset EQ modes shaping the soundstage to fit a variety of genres — easily adjustable with capacitive touch controls — they could very well serve as your daily drivers.

Read our full JLab Epic Air Sport review.

The best wireless headphones for calls: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: The Bose Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 shine in voice performance, making them the go-to companion for frequent callers and flyers.

Who they’re for: Those who need excellent and reliable call quality without sacrificing musical fidelity

Why we picked the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700:

While the Sony WH-1000XM3 are our favorite pair of full-sized wireless cans for music, Bose steps in for calls with its Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 — which we’ll just call the Bose 700 from here on out. These are ideal for the individual who switches between tunes and talk often. In testing, we found that the microphone on Bose 700 consistently matched, and sometimes outclassed, the one built into the phone. Get ready for productive calls as those on the other end won’t have to devote precious brainpower deciphering garbled dialog.

Perfect for business users, the Bose 700 boast excellent noise cancelation, which helps those noisy rides in a car or airplane. They don’t measure up to the aforementioned Sony pair in that regard, but they come very close, and the rich audio performance helps drown out anything that might otherwise penetrate the soundstage. Although its overall design offers less ergonomic flexibility compared to the company’s highly refined QuietComfort II model, Bose’s signature comfort is in full force here thanks to soft padding for the cups and headband, and good weight distribution.

The Bose 700’s controls are convenient, with three tactile buttons combining with a touch interface to give you one-touch access to volume and playback functions. One of those buttons allows you to adjust noise canceling intensity on a scale from zero to ten, or outright disable the feature altogether. There’s also a button dedicated to calling up a virtual assistant. You can choose between Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or Cortana depending on which device you’re using.

You’ll be able to go as long as 20 hours when noise cancelation is engaged, and that runtime doubles to 40 hours with it off. Even if you’re an unusually heavy listener, a 15-minute charge with the included USB-C cable can get you two extra hours, so you should never feel the need to stay tethered.

Read our full Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review.

The best wireless headphones for iPhone: AirPods

best airpod accessories earbuddyz cover

Why you should buy them: As long as they’re synced to an iPhone, the AirPods have features few other devices can match

Who they’re for: Apple faithful who want a simple fully-wireless option and easy-peasy setup.

Why we picked the Apple AirPods:

The truth is, there are much better-sounding earbuds out there that (of course) can work with iPhones, but even so, we still think the AirPods are the best iOS-specific choice thanks to how, well, Apple they are.

For better or for worse, the AirPod’s have all the hallmarks of an Apple product: Sleek, compact design, simple controls, and no-fuss compatibility with other Apple products. That last point is probably the most important reason why the AirPods are our pick for the best wireless headphones to use with iPhones. Unlike other Bluetooth devices, AirPods are designed to automatically sync with your device.

The lack of any physical buttons might otherwise sound like the genesis of a pairing mode nightmare, but things couldn’t be easier: Just open the case, hold the new AirPods next to your iPhone, and you’re ready to rock. Once paired, they’ll show up automatically on any of your iCloud-connected Apple devices.

Pairing to non-Apple devices is a bit less streamlined, but still easy. There’s actually a lot the AirPods can only do when connected to an Apple device, such as customizing the intuitive double-tap touch controls with a number of options — including calling up Siri, playing/pausing audio, or skipping between tracked — from within the iOS Bluetooth settings.

It’s that sort of seamless connectivity with Apple’s products that makes the AirPods a no-brainer for iPhone. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for using them with other, non-Apple devices, in which case they simply become a pair of decent fully wireless ‘buds.

Read our full AirPods review.

The best wireless headphones for Android: Samsung Galaxy Buds

samsung galaxy buds review full 6
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: The Galaxy Buds are currently among the most compelling true wireless earbuds out there.

Who they’re for: Those who want the freedom of affordable truly-wireless earbuds, regardless of platform.

Why we picked the Galaxy Buds:

The Galaxy Buds are more than just Samsung’s Android-focused response to Apple’s AirPods — they’re also among the best fully-wireless earbuds around at their price point.

The Galaxy Buds feature soft silicone eartips to seal in your ears, keeping them snug and helping you better enjoy their audio performance. These little earbuds produce warm bass and low-mid response, while avoiding the sharp, tin-like quality that sometimes plagues similar products. They have a six hours of battery life per charge that can be stretched out with additional charges stored in their wireless charging case.

Beyond battery life and performance,  the Galaxy buds come with a number of cool features that help secure their hold as the top choice for Android users. Their customizable touch controls can be set to change volume or skip tracks from within the Samsung Wear app. The app also allows you to pick between five different equalization settings, letting you tailor the sound of the headphones for your ears and musical tastes.

Perhaps the most useful feature of the app, however, is “Find my earbuds” which does exactly what it says, and will save you plenty of time in case one of these tiny devices goes AWOL — though, between their snug fit, lightweight design, and sweat-proof design, you’d have to go out of your way to get these to fall out of your ears.

As a way to listen to your favorite music in all styles on the go, the Galaxy Buds absolutely serve their purpose, and the lightweight design really accentuates the luxury of having no strings attached. Frankly, there aren’t a pair of true wireless earbuds we’ve tested that feel so freeing.

Read our full Galaxy Buds review.

The best headphones for gaming: Astro A50 headset

Why you should buy them: The Astro A50 headset lives up to its audiophile-grade promise, and then some.

Who they’re for: Gamers after the best wireless headset available.

Why we picked the Astro A50:

We take our gaming recommendations seriously around here, and we’re happy to confirm that the A50 nails all the feature points you’d expect from a high-quality headset: Powerful audio performance, excellent battery life, and a great mic with clear voice capture. Plus, it’s stocked with a handful of other features that complement its powerful specs, and help it stand out from its numerous competitors.

Starting with the audio quality, the Astro A50 is a wireless upgrade from A40, but with all the audiophile grade sound of its corded sibling preserved thanks to 5.8GHz wireless connectivity for low-latency sonic delivery.

The A50 makes every game we’ve played with this headset on our ears more engrossing and entertaining. Not only does it live up to Astro’s claims of audiophile-grade sound, the A50 is also a powerful headset that pushes some seriously big sound. The only aspect of the sound quality that we didn’t like was a bit too much brightness in the high-end. Theoretically, the included EQ switcher should have helped this, but we found the feature lacking. Still, even with that minor complaint, there is no doubt the A50 is one of the best-sounding wireless headsets out there.

Other features — auto shutoff, hassle-free wireless connection, and long battery life — make this headset excellent for long hours of play time, while the A50’s mic will outperform whatever flimsy pack-in mic your console came with. We had a blast testing the Astro A50, and we have no reservations in saying this headset should be the go-to option for both serious gamers and audiophiles alike.

Read our Astro A50 review.

The best headphones for kids: Puro PuroQuiet

Puro Sound Labs BT2200 review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: The PuroQuiet are designed to keep children’s ears happy and safe.

Who they’re for: Parents who want the peace of mind knowing their children’s hearing is protected.

Why we picked the PuroQuiet:

When we say “best wireless headphones for kids,” we aren’t talking about the cutest or most colorful — though we could see a case being made for the PuroQuiet being referred to as such. Instead what we mean is the safest headphones for kids. As reviewers of audio equipment, hearing damage and loss ranks pretty high on our list of fears, so we can empathize with parents looking for the safest pair for their kids (we’re actually turning down our headphones as we write these words.) In this department, the PuroQuiet can’t be beat.

The PuroQuiet are noise-canceling headphones designed for kids that come with a hard volume limit to prevent your child’s tiny ears from getting damaged.

Despite children’s products being stereotyped as low-quality junk (rightfully so, in many cases), Puro hasn’t cut corners on the PuroQuiet, which punch well above their weight when it comes to looks and build quality. The headphones feature rectangular-shaped earcups that are made out of robust metal and come in vibrant colors like electric blue or bright pink. They’re blocky and colorful, as kid stuff often is, but don’t look or feel “childish,” if that makes sense.

They also strike a balance between comfort and design, with a plush, round headband coated in soft imitation leather. Even the adjustment section of the headband, which is also metal, feels solid and strong. Parents can feel comfortable letting their kids wear these, and the headphones are durable enough to take a beating, too.

However, the standout feature here is the PuroQuiet headphones’ custom, built-in software limiter. It’s designed to keep music below 85 decibels, while maintaining a balanced sound signature. This means that your budding audiophile can crank them all the way up, and you’ll still never have to worry about them blasting their ears out. And thanks to 16 hours of battery life, your kids can listen for as long as they (by which we mean you) want.

Read our PuroQuiet review.

The best wireless headphones for sound quality: Master and Dynamic MW65

master and dynamic mw65 review

Why you should buy them: There are no better-sounding wireless headphones out there.

Who they’re for: Staunch audiophiles who want to go wireless.

Why we picked the Master and Dynamic MW65:

There’s much to love about Master and Dynamic’s MW65. They look incredible, built with high-class materials and shipping with some of the most luxurious packaging we’ve seen for a pair of headphones. But the best thing about the MW65 is their absolutely stellar wireless sound performance. We aren’t exaggerating when we say they’re perhaps the best-sounding wireless headphones we’ve ever had the pleasure of testing.

We can’t help but get almost poetic when describing how the MW65s sound. The upper register is utterly pristine, while the bass is balanced and well articulated. Their unique noise-cancellation style doesn’t so much block out the world around you as it creates a sonic space in which every aspect of its mix can be observed. Nothing is getting lost in the mix, here.

What’s even more impressive is that we’re talking about listening in wireless mode. The MW65 can be used either wired or wirelessly, but we never felt the need to plug in for better sound delivery — an impressive turn of events made possible their aptX-imbued Bluetooth antenna. The MW65 outclass all other wireless headphones we’ve tested to become, as we said in our original review, the arbiters of pure, sonic joy.

Okay, okay, so now you’re likely wondering why we didn’t give this our top recommendation if they sound so good. Well, apart from the less-than-amazing noise cancellation, and a quirky seal with cancellation on, they’re just very pricey compared to other top noise-cancelers like the Sony 1000XM3 and Bose’s QC35II. But if you don’t mind spending more for top-tier sound — and you’re not in the air more than you’re on the ground — we emphatically recommend Master and Dynamic’s MW65.

Read our full Master and Dynamic MW65 review.

Research and buying tips

Are Airpods the best wireless headphones?

While this is obviously subjective, our answer is no. The latest AirPods have middling battery life, mediocre sound, and are missing features we expect to see in top wireless earbuds, including waterproofing and features like ambient awareness mode. That said, especially for iPhone users, AirPods are a simple, intuitive, no-fuss option.

Do wireless headphones work well for TV?

Generally, only with TVs that output Bluetooth audio, many of which do not. Otherwise, you’ll usually need an adapter or select soundbars with Bluetooth transmission.

Can I make calls with wireless headphones?

As long as they have a built-in microphone, which the vast majority do, you can make calls with your wireless headphones.

Are any wireless headphones sweatproof?

Yes, if they have an IP rating for water or sweat resistance.

How durable are wireless headphones?

This depends heavily upon the make and model.

How long do wireless headphone batteries last?

This depends on many factors, but batteries last anywhere from 3 to 36 hours or more per charge. Expect battery life on the lower end of that scale for wireless earbuds, while full-sized over-ear headphones typically last much longer.

Are wireless or wired headphones better?

Wired headphones will almost always offer better fidelity, longevity, and durability. For most use cases, though, wireless headphones offer significantly more convenience.

How we test

We test headphones and earbuds the way normal people live.

We run every pair of headphones through a rigorous process over the course of several days. That includes playing them in all sorts of scenarios — be it on a bus, in the listening room, or at the office — and playing back from a wide array of sources. We know most people use their headphones with a smartphone, often with lower quality MP3 resolution tracks, so we do, too.

However, we also move up to high-resolution audio files, as well as a wide variety of sources, including plugging in directly to a PC or Mac, using USB DACs (digital-to-analog converters), and employing high-quality dedicated portable players and amplifiers. Finally, we compare the headphones to some of our go-to models, both in their class and price point, as well as a level or two above to find out if they can punch above their weight.

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