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The best wireless headphones

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

With sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones.

Sony WH-1000xM3

The best wireless headphones overall

Sony WH-1000xM3 headphones

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, 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 the WH-1000x in many small ways. Underneath ultrasoft 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.

Are there headphones with better noise cancellation? Yes — just scroll down! But there are no better headphones with noise cancellation, and we think you’ll agree.

Apple AirPods

The best wireless headphones for iPhone 

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.

Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II

The best premium noise-canceling wireless headphones

Why you should buy them: You won’t find better noise-canceling tech out there.

Who’s it for: Those who listen in noisy settings like offices or public transportation.

Why we picked the Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones II:

Frankly, you just won’t find better active noise canceling, period. The QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II (we’ll stick with QC35 Wireless II, for short) are at the forefront of Bose’s noise-canceling fleet.

Listening to music with the QC35 Wireless II is a pleasure. The sound quality is remarkable, and the headphones boast Bose’s lightly boosted bass signature that has defined the brand’s headphones for over a generation. It’s worth mentioning that, while Bose is clearly proud of its enhanced low-end properties, this feature has proven divisive in audiophile circles. That said, we mean it when we say these are the best noise-cancelers out there, even edging out our top pick, the Sony MDR-1000X, in this category.

While that covers the “quiet” in QuietComfort, we should mention the “comfort,” too. The QC35 wireless come in a stylish, understated black or silver finish, and feature a lightweight build with generous padding that keeps them comfortable even after long listening sessions. Got an international flight to tackle? The Bose QC35 Wireless II not only have a robust battery to last the trip, but they’ll feel great the entire time.

Samsung Galaxy Buds

The best true wireless earbuds

Samsung Galaxy Buds

Why you should buy them: Extreme comfort, six-hour battery life, sweat resistant.

Who they’re for: People who want affordable, comfortable wireless earbuds with great battery life.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Buds:

With a compact, ergonomic fit, an included wireless charging case, and six hours of listening time on the go, Samsung’s Galaxy Buds offer listeners the best on the market in terms of both technology and design.

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.

The small headphones are designed to provide go-anywhere, do-anything sound, with built-in earfins and IPX2 sweatproofing that allow them to be a companion during rainy winter walks and sweaty workouts alike.

Samsung’s app-based customizations allow you to adjust equalization, find your headphones, and even hear sounds from the outside world — which is especially useful during outdoor workouts or unfamiliar trips on public transit. Such an assortment of useful features make Samsung’s Buds your best everyday listening pal, providing you with just what you need, right when you need it.

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.

Puro PuroQuiet

The best wireless headphones for kids

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.

Master and Dynamic MW65

The best wireless headphones for sound quality

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 pricey compared to other top noise-cancelers. 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.

TaoTronics TT-BH085

The best budget over-ear wireless headphones

Taotronics TT-BH060
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They’re cheap, comfortable, and bursting with features.

Who’s it for: Those looking for the best features for their money.

Why we picked the TaoTronics TT-BH085:

With 40 hours of battery life, active noise cancelation, and a simple and understated design, TaoTronics’ TT-BH085 are the low-budget champion of the over-ear headphone universe.

The hyper-affordable over-ears come inside a woven hard case with an included 3.5mm cable for wired listening, and easy-to-use controls make it quick and painless to change songs, adjust volume, and turn the active noise cancellation off and on.

The sound is warm and balanced, with the headphones offering tight and energetic bass, but not overwhelming with muddy personality in the midrange. Plus, the active noise cancellation provides an incredible austere musical canvas over which to paint, allowing these headphones to really shine.

If you’re in the market for a great pair of over-ear headphones to pair with that jackless phone, these are just the ticket.

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.