Perhaps you still think that wireless headphones are not your thing. You might fear that the battery would drain too quickly (and right as you listen to your favorite song), or that the sound would have that vintage walkie-talkie effect. I get it. I used to think this way myself, but I'd like to invite you to rethink these assumptions.
Picture this: you're on an overcrowded bus or train on your way to work. You feel sleepy, tired, perhaps already wishing for the day to be over... Until you put your headphones on, start a music playlist and are struck by a sharp change of mood. It may even feel like the world is moving to the sound of your favorite tunes. We've all been there, and these vibes could be disrupted by the sudden death of a worn-out cord, or by tangled headphones being detached from your smartphone. Guess what? You don't need to go through this pain. After all, it's 2020, and you may want to consider getting one of the 5 best wireless headphones on the market, with solid audio and long-lasting battery life. They'll keep the world moving to your chosen soundtrack, and you'll be free from cord drama.
Although this article will focus on on-ear and over-the-ear wireless headphones (still our users' favorites), we're all for progress, so stay tuned for our upcoming list of prime wireless earbuds.
Picking headphones can be an excruciating task, given the number of options and the fact that key decision-making factors can seem impalpable, but we've got your back. We've handpicked top Bluetooth headphones by taking into account battery life, Bluetooth range, frequency range, as well as impedance, noise-canceling, and other features that make these products stand out.
While examining battery life is a no-brainer (the more, the merrier), properties like impedance can be puzzling, but they're nothing to fear. Impedance stands for a device's resistance to the electric current passing through it. The reason why this matters for wireless headphones is that the lower the impedance, the less battery power is required to listen to music and podcasts at high audio levels on on-the-go devices. This is not to say that high-impedance headphones are of no value. In essence, they're better suited for wired use with impedance-demanding equipment.
The maximum Bluetooth range is another crucial factor for your cordless audio experience, as it determines how far your headphones can reach for a device to connect to. We also advise you to keep the lowest and highest frequencies in mind; the first indicates the device's ability to reproduce low-frequency audio, and the latter specifies its capacity to play high-pitched tones. The broader the range between the lowest and highest frequencies, the more bass and treble sounds can be delivered by your headphones. Finally, headphones equipped with noise cancellation (also known as active noise control and active noise reduction) filter background noise, allowing you to focus your hearing on what you want without distractions.
We've considered our user's favorite products, and of course, the technical specs we've just discussed:
Let's move on to the 5 best on-ear and over-the-ear wireless headphones selected by Versus.
1. Sony WH-1000XM4
The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones offer more than just wireless listening. Premium sound and personalized controls offer higher-level listening alongside cutting-edge noise-canceling technology, which adjusts to external noise levels and adjusts acoustics at over 700 times per second.
And sure, we previously ranked the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones as the best wireless headphones of 2020. The ranking held true until Sony released the improved XM4s. Currently, they’re easily the best active noise-canceling headphones as well (yes, even beating the Bose 700s). Namely, these headphones are consistently ranked at the top of any “best of” list due to Sony’s dynamic sound design. Wearers note an obvious increase in sound quality compared to other headphones, due to the dynamic inclusion of a wide range of frequencies; bass beats are deep and juicy and you can hear shrill treble sounds as if they’re resonating in 3D audio around your ears.
Bluetooth 5.0 allows you to seamlessly enjoy instant connectivity and the headphones feature smooth touch controls that make it easy to configure the sound and settings to suit your style. In terms of battery life and range, these wireless headphones also impress. The headphones have the same battery life as the WH-1000XM3 (30 hours of continuous playback with noise cancellation; 38 hours without the feature) but yet slightly lighter than the two previous models. Driver units are an impressive 40mm and the Bluetooth range has been extended to a whopping 40 feet (12 meters).
2. Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT
What’s not to love about these wireless headphones? Let’s start with the term wireless. While these headphones are fully wireless, there’s also an option to enjoy wired listening if, for whatever reason, the Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX HD support aren’t working. Clarity, depth, and connectivity are all listening features you can expect to enjoy when you slip these headphones over your ears.
Folding earcups make the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT some of the most portable headphones around and combined with the fact that they feature a 40-hour battery life, ensuring that you’ll be able to tote them around for a long-haul trip or out for an entire day of exploring while enjoying noise-canceling features whether you’re listening or talking. Need to make a note while out and about? Or, did you just finish a call and need to make a note? Simply activate the voice assistant for help.
Perhaps one of the most interesting, and user-friendly features, though, are the proprietary 45 mm, large-aperture drivers. They’re responsible for the extended frequency range and deep bass response. Pair that with the physical design of the headphones (closed-back) that creates enhanced passive noise isolation and it’s easy to see why users love these headphones. The sound truly is superior.
3. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Whereas the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are consistently ranked as one of the best wireless headphones (they made this list, too), the recently-released Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones come out on top when comparing the two Bose models. They’re incredibly light, boast faster-charging capabilities, and are even compatible with PlayStation (for all of you gamers out there looking for the best gaming headphones!).
Optimized with Amazon Alexa Assistant (there’s even a special button for that), you can enjoy noise-canceling features on top of premium audio and 20-hour battery life with this top-tier pair of Bose headphones. The best part? You’re able to enjoy these impressive ANC features for much, much less than most other models.
On top of it all, these headphones also include dual-mic capabilities for crystal-clear audio recognition which, again for all of you gamers, is a premium feature that truly sets these headphones apart from their competition. Plus, they're super comfy, too.
4. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
With the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, Bose introduces a new premium headphones series and a next-generation active noise-cancellation system (currently, the best on the market). Featuring an eight-microphone system, the all-new ANC technology allows the user to choose among 11 levels of noise cancellation (in comparison to Bose QuietComfort 35 II's three options). The progressive ANC modes can be switched via the Bose Music app, and three levels may be selected as presets to be activated with the touch of an earcup button.
The brand also elevated its product design. Available in black and silver versions, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 feature a stainless steel headband with a sliding earcup integration – meaning that the earcups can be moved up and down. Although more visually appealing, the new hinge-free design doesn't allow for inward folding (which facilitates storage and transportation); still, the earcups can be folded flat, and come with a carrying case.
Many of the product's functions can be accessed via earcup touch controls: for instance, playing and pausing songs, answering and declining calls, skipping tracks, and controlling the volume. However, users have pointed out that the touch controls may be overly sensitive, with slight accidental touches activating functions.
At up to 20 hours of music play per charge, the premium headphones underwhelm in comparison with other products, but should still be satisfactory for most users' needs. Lastly, the product has smart assistant integration, and its adaptive microphone design provides superior call quality.
5. Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless
The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 headphones are a reliable option deep and detailed sound (unless you're vegan, that is, as its strap is made of leather). The polished design with sliding arms incorporates three buttons that allow the user to switch between calls and music or podcasts, control the volume, and activate their voice assistant of choice. Playback can be paused and resumed automatically by removing the headphones and wearing them again.
The headphones feature three levels of superior Active Noise Cancelation: anti-pressure, anti-wind, and maximum. Unfortunately, it's only possible to switch between modes via the Sennheiser Smart Control app. While this is a downside, the companion app includes EQ control and TILE integration to track the headphones' location – an essential feature if you consider the product's price tag. Another highlight is the Transparent Hearing mode, which allows you to hear external sounds at a level that can also be adjusted via the app.
The Momentum Wireless 3 can be connected to two other devices simultaneously; one can, for instance, stream music from a computer and receive alerts from a smartphone or take calls. As for battery life, we wish these headphones could do better; at approximately 13 hours with ANC on, this is less than half of what some of its competitors offer. Still, 10 minutes of charging can give you an extra hour and a half. Finally, the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 can be paired via NFC or Bluetooth, with three codes for high stability (AAC, Bluetooth aptX, and aptX Low-Latency).