Now that Bluetooth audio has had plenty of time to develop, the breadth and width of wireless headphones on the market is truly staggering. With wildly differing prices, sizes, features and promises, it can be hard to know what to pick.
A lot of attention is given to the best true wireless earbuds on offer these – their ultra-compact design and surprisingly solid audio truly is a feat of engineering – but the classic over-ear headphone design still has plenty to offer, and even wireless neckband in-ears have their place.
Whether you're seeking something small to chuck in your pocket as you leave the house, or the ultimate audio experience to immerse yourself in from the comfort of your couch, there'll certainly be wireless headphones with the perfect feature set for you.
The prices of wireless headphones ranges widely, so it's a good idea to have a budget in mind before checking out the options. If something really does seem perfect for you, it could be worth stretching that budget, but otherwise there'll likely be something that fits your needs perfectly.
Our number one choice is the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones, overtaking the previous generation (WH-1000XM4) thanks to improvements on a number of fronts on an already-magical pair of cans. They're comfortable, have a solid battery life, offer some of the best-sounding audio of any over-ear headphones, and also have extra features like active noise-cancellation and spatial audio to boot.
The best over-ear wireless headphones
Are over-ear headphones the right choice for you? As you'd expect, over-ear cans offer better audio quality than their smaller counterparts, thanks largely to their bigger drivers. Generally, they won't be as convenient for workouts, and obviously aren't as compact, but if you want the best sound quality, great spatial detailing, and the option to plug in via a 3.5mm cable in a pinch (in most cases), Bluetooth over-ears are ideal.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 are the best wireless headphones we've ever tested. With improved noise-cancellation, supreme sound quality, and an even more lightweight wireless design, Sony has surpassed our previous favourite, last year's WH-1000XM4.
Although they aren't a massive departure from their predecessors there's a new design, new drivers, a whole array of microphones for better call quality and super-fast charging. There's also beefier processing for the noise cancellation, which was already among the best in the industry and is now somehow better.
The Sony WH-1000XM5 are a wonderful pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones. They deliver exactly what they promise and then some thanks to their exceptional noise cancellation and cutting-edge codec support, but their pricep places them firmly in premium territory.
Despite the drivers in this model being smaller than before, the soundstage remains spacious and gives all elements of a mix room to breathe and shine. There’s very little sound leakage, too: we sat next to a colleague in the office with the volume at full, and they didn't hear anything.
On top of the adjustments listed above, the Sony WH-1000XM5 support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format that enables spatial audio on stereo headphones plus the LDAC codec that can send a bitrate of up to 990 kbps. Unfortunately these headphones don't support aptX or aptX HD, so your hi-res audio support mileage may vary; if you need aptX HD you'd be better with last year's version instead.
Read more: Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones review
While they now have to share the limelight with the M5 (above), the WH-1000XM4 are still an exceptional product. Despite the newer model being released, Sony is still manufacturing and selling the M4 alongside it. Given the brand's pricing history, we expect this iteration to see frequent and hefty discounts and will probably present better overall value than the XM5 when reduced, firmly keeping them in our list of the best wireless headphones available.
Like their successors, they offer tremendous noise-cancellation, supreme sound quality, a lightweight and comfortable build, and an ease of use that delivers everything you could want from a wireless set of cans.
On top of the basics, they offer multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, conversational awareness and auto-play/pause using a built-in sensor. They also support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format that enables spatial audio on stereo headphones plus the LDAC codec that can send a bitrate of up to 990 kbps, but don't support aptX or aptX HD. By every possible metric, the Sony WH-1000XM4 are still a wonderful pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones.
Read more: Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones review
Bose has really outdone itself with the Headphones 700 – and a big part of these cans’ appeal, is their sophisticated noise cancellation, which is applied to your voice during phone calls, as well as your surroundings. Impressively, you get the choice of 11 different noise cancellation modes so there's something for every potential scenario here.
As an alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM4, these Bose headphones sound fantastic, with a vibrant, lively character and well-balanced soundstage and offer the same great noise-cancellation you'd expect from Bose. We tested them out on Mark Ronson’s latest album, Late Night Feelings. In Truth (feat. Alicia Keys and The Last Artful, Dodgr), they forcefully conveyed the bubbling sub bass as smoky vocals soared above the clattering industrial drum beats.
When we used the headphones during phone calls, we found the call quality to be remarkably clear, even when walking on a busy London street.
They don't have the same dexterity as the WH-1000XM4 and the battery life is also 10 hours less than the Sony headphones despite costing more, but they're perhaps the best wireless headphones for making calls with or for when working in a busy (and loud) office.
Read more: Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 review
In-ear wireless headphones
The best in-ear wireless headphones
While over-ear and true wireless options seem to dominate the market, this style of 'neckband' wireless headphone still has its place. With two smaller buds connected by a cable running behind your neck, this form factor is a boon for those wanting to exercise or commute without the fear of losing one of the buds. They also tend to be cheaper than their true wireless counterparts, so if the connecting cable isn't much of an issue for you, there's a saving to be had.
NuraLoop boils down the essence of the company's first product, the Nuraphone, into a much more compact, rugged, and affordable package, and doesn't lose much in the process.
The star of the show is its adaptive audio technology, which automatically determines a listening profile for the user and feeds them well-balanced, lush sound as a result. In our tests, we were impressed by the great sense of clarity and space, even at higher volumes.
On top of this, features like active noise-cancelling, social mode, an IPX3 rating, Immersion mode, a great battery life, and the ability to attach an analog cable for 3.5mm headphone jacks makes this pair of Bluetooth earbuds truly shine.
They may be a little bulky compared to competitors and we found the neckband is a tad stiff - but that just means you're getting a robust fit ideal for extra active users. Their rugged sweat proof design certainly ties into that concept well.
Read more: NuraLoop headphones review
The Jaybird Tarah Pro are robustly designed with endurance runners in mind that don't want to deal with any hassle. They're not quite true wireless earbuds due to their rope cabling but that's what keeps them so snug and secure. An IPX7 rating means you won't have to worry about rain or snow, or even a brief swim. They sound good too and reassuringly natural so there are no compromises made here.
Read more: Jaybird Tarah Pro review
The Sennheiser CX Sport are fairly bass heavy but that works for the gym or when hitting the track. Using a neckband-style design means you won't have to worry about losing an earbud and they feel suitably snug in your ears. Being so bright, they're good for visibility in dim conditions too and their splash proof rating is fine for sweaty days but not so much the shower. A battery life of six hours isn't great, but it's not terrible either.
Read more: Sennheiser CX Sport review
- For more top picks, check out our dedicated guide to the best wireless earbuds
True wireless earbuds
The best true wireless headphones
True wireless earbuds have no cord whatsoever. While wireless allows us to wear headphones a few feet away from our music players, True Wireless cuts the cord between the earbuds, giving us true freedom. If you're looking to go full wireless, we also have a round-up of the best true wireless headphones, but you'll find our top picks here, too:
With the WF-1000XM4, Sony has combined performance, ergonomics, and build quality more effectively than ever before.
Compared to their predecessors, the Sony WF-1000XM3, the newer wireless earbuds offer enough quality-of-life features to make them worth upgrading to, even if they are more expensive. Whether it's listening to music or taking calls, these are some very useful earbuds, thanks to great balanced sound and a convenient to use app to refine what you need from them.
In our tests, we were impressed by the XM4's rhythmic certainty, natural presentation, and detailed sound.
While other true wireless earbuds surpass the Sony WF-1000XM4 in particular areas – noise cancellation, for example – no other model comes close to offering such excellent quality across the board. That’s why the Sony WF-1000XM4 are hands-down the best true wireless earbuds you can buy today, even when you consider their fairly unremarkable battery life and lack of aptX support.
It's worth noting that you can find insane deals on the WF-1000XM3 at the moment in Australia, so much so that the predecessors might sometimes be a better choice for those looking to get that quality Sony sound and ANC prowess on a tighter budget.
Read more: Sony WF-1000XM4 review
The NuraTrue are perhaps the most personalized wireless earbuds you can buy today – and they’re among the best-sounding, too.
They’re the first true wireless earbuds from Australian audio brand Nura, following in the footsteps of its NuraLoop earphones – which, incidentally, are our pick for the best wireless earbuds of 2022.
The NuraTrue are another success for the company, offering unbeaten levels of customization that allow the earbuds to be tuned to your ears exactly. The accompanying app even analyzes how well the buds fit into your ears - and we found this process to be really easy, even if it does take five minutes out of your day.
The end result is outstanding audio performance that reveals superb levels of detail in your music, and a wide soundstage that enables every instrument to sing.
And in case you think these earbuds are made with only audio in mind, they in fact come with plenty of features that will appeal to anyone who wants a cheaper alternative to popular models such as the AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM4. These features include decent noise cancellation, an IPX4 water-resistance rating, fast charging, and support for hi-res audio too.
Read more: NuraTrue review
The Sennheiser CX True Wireless are the latest wireless earbuds from the German audio giant. Picking up where the CX 400BT before them left off, they’re cheaper than their predecessors, despite including a host of upgraded features that comprises a longer battery life and better connectivity.
Audio quality is exactly what you’d expect from Sennheiser, with a wide soundstage, clear mids, detailed trebles, and powerful bass frequencies. Nevertheless, we were still surprised by how good these earbuds sound for the price.
The controls and accompanying app are very easy to use, and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity ensures a stable connection with your device. Hi-res audio support is included, too, for those who want to eke out every last bit of detail from their music.
Our only real bugbear is the CX True Wireless’ design, which we found far too bulky for our ears. We’re hesitant to judge Sennheiser too harshly for this, since most users will probably be able to use them without issue.
Read more: Sennheiser CX True Wireless review
How to choose the best wireless headphones for you
We've tested dozens if not hundreds of wireless headphones, looking at various elements of what makes up the best wireless headphones.
First of all, we considered different styles. We appreciated the importance of some people preferring over-ear compared to in-ear, as well as looked at different ways of connecting the devices, whether that's via a truly wireless connection or with a neckband.
From there, it was important to consider price. While, generally, the more you pay, the better the sound quality, not everyone can (or wants to) spend hundreds on the latest earphones with the best audio experience. Instead, we evaluated what was best here, while ensuring all the entries offered clear and crisp sound at all times.
It's worth considering if you want any additional features too. Many people may just want great sound and a comfy fit, but others may prefer to see voice assistant integration or noise cancellation. There's not much point in spending extra on a set of features you'll never use, or seeking out voice assistant support for a service you don't use.
Audiophiles may also wish to pay attention to wireless headphones that support Hi-Res Audio codecs like LDAC and aptX HD Bluetooth too for superior connectivity.
Ultimately, it's important to find a good balance of features so that you spend the right amount for you, while also getting the style and audio performance you appreciate most.
Wireless headphones: FAQs
Wireless vs true wireless: what's the difference?
Wireless headphones are traditional over-ear or on-ear headphones without the wire – the two earcups are connected by a headband.
Wireless earbuds have existed for a while now, basically since Bluetooth was invented. Though battery-powered and not physically connected to your phone, they have a cord connecting both buds – and sometimes a band around the neck too. Check out the best wireless earbuds for more.
True wireless earbuds have no cord whatsoever. While wireless allows us to wear headphones a few feet away from our music players, True Wireless cuts the cord between the earbuds, giving us true freedom. If you're looking to go full wireless, we also have a round-up of the best true wireless headphones.
Which brand is best for wireless headphones?
There's no one perfect brand for wireless headphones as you can see above. It all depends on what you need most from your wireless headphones. If you're looking for solid all-rounders, Sony are a great bet if you can afford them, while Bose often have the edge with noise-cancellation quality. That's before you consider if you need the best wireless headphones for running, listening, or something different.
That's why it's important to do your research and think about what is most important to you.
How we tested the best wireless headphones
We've tested every pair of the best wireless headphones on this list and to include them here, we were looking for each device to tick a number of key boxes.
The first, of course, is Bluetooth connectivity. But as well as offering wireless sound, we also tested for stable and reliable connections – there's nothing worse than losing a track just as it reaches the good bit.
Next up, we wanted to ensure the headphones were designed with wearability and style in mind. We tested how comfortable they were for long periods of time and assessed their looks, too, from minimal to suitably stylish.
Audio performance was a key consideration. Gone are the days of wireless headphones lacking in sound quality, so we made sure every pair of Bluetooth headphones on this list offered clear, powerful sound.
We also considered additional features, too, like AI assistant integration and noise cancellation. Not all of the headphones in this list have extras like these, but it certainly makes some devices more appealing than others – especially if you have a big budget.
Speaking of budget, we also considered whether the wireless headphones in this list were good value for money. This didn't mean we only wanted to include budget headphones, but wanted to ensure all of the devices that we added in this guide did match up to their price tag – even if it was a big one.
Wireless headphones deals
- On a budget? Read our guide to the best cheap headphones