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The best wireless headphones 2022: our pick of the best ways to cut the cord

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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
The best wireless headphones in a collage including the Sony WH-1000XM4, NuraLoop headphones, and Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless headphones
(Image credit: TechRadar)

Picking out the best wireless headphones for you can be a complicated business. You need to consider what style or size you want with a wide range of options. 

Whether you're looking for the best wireless earbuds or the best over-ear headphones, we've got them here. It all depend on what you prefer to use, with both potentially offering immersive listening or music-on-the-go. 

Each of the Bluetooth headphones listed below offer great connectivity, fantastic audio quality, and stylish designs. Some headphones also offer useful extras like active noise cancellation and AI assistants that you can control with your voice. You may even need to consider the best waterproof headphones if you're a keen swimmer, or the best workout headphones aimed at fitness fans. 

Before you dive in, it's useful to know what your budget is and what your preference happens to be with how they fit. We've spent a long time trying out the best headphones on the market right now, so you can trust that we know what to look for when it comes to the perfect pair of wireless cans. 

Our number one choice is the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones. They're comfortable, offer some of the best-sounding audio of any over-ear headphones, easily making them our favorite Bluetooth headphones. They also have extra features like active noise-cancellation and spatial audio. You may prefer to try the best cheap headphones if you're on a tight budget, however. 

To help you figure out what's best for you, we've divided our guide into wireless over-ear headphones, wireless earphones, and true wireless earbuds. Each is similar in how they work compared to regular headphones with wireless over-ear and on-ear models losing the wire connecting them to your device. They still give you the same noise-isolating prowess of regular headphones. 

Wireless in-ear models, earphones, or earbuds (depending on how you like to refer to them as) have a neckband connecting each earbud, which makes them ideal for runners who want the security of a wire keeping their earbuds together but the freedom of a wireless connection.

Otherwise, you have true wireless earbuds which have no cables whatsoever. Each bud connects to your device independently, or one primary bud connects to your phone while the other connects to the primary earbud. 

Whatever your intentions, read on while we take you through the best wireless headphones, or opt to jump straight to your favorite style to find the recommendation for you.

Over-ear headphones

The best over-ear wireless headphones

Wireless over-ear headphones are the best choice if you're looking for the ultimate audio quality, thanks to their large drivers and sound-isolating earcups. They're also a good choice if you love to switch between listening with a wired connection and over Bluetooth, with most offering a 3.5mm audio port as well as wireless connectivity.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones on a plain white background.

(Image credit: Sony)
The best all-round wireless headphones

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 8.81 oz
Cable length: 3.94 ft
Frequency response: 4Hz to 40kHz
Drivers: 1.18-inch
Driver type: Dome-type
Sensitivity: 104.5 dB
Impedance: 47 ohm
Battery life: 30 hours
Wireless range: 30 meters (98ft)
NFC: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Improved noise-cancellation
+
DSEE Extreme audio upscaling
+
Multipoint pairing

Reasons to avoid

-
Not water-resistant

The Sony WH-1000XM5 are the best wireless headphones you can buy this year. Sporting improved noise-cancellation, supreme sound quality, and an even more lightweight wireless design, Sony has even surpassed last year's WH-1000XM4. 

While they aren't a massive departure from their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM4, a number of new features including a second noise cancellation processor, four beam-forming microphones for improved call quality and three-minute charging all help propel the WH-1000XM5 to the top spot on our list.

By every possible metric, 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.

Even with the driver change, the soundstage remains spacious and capable of giving all elements of a mix room to breathe and shine. There’s very little sound leakage, too. Sat in the office next to a colleague, they didn’t register any sound even with the volume ramped up to its highest setting, which is an improvement over last year’s version.

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. The unfortunate bit there, though, is that it no longer supports aptX or aptX HD, so your hi-res audio support mileage may vary.

Read more: Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones review

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The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 in silver on a white background.

(Image credit: Bose)
The best wireless headphones for noise cancellation

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 0.64 lbs (289g)
Cable length: N/A
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: 40mm
Driver type: Dynamic
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: N/A
Battery life: 20 hours
Wireless range: 100 meters (330 feet)
NFC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Outstanding noise cancellation
+
Fun, lively sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life could be better
-
More expensive than Sony

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

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(Image credit: Future)

The Bowers & Wilkins px7 wireless headphones in black on a white background.

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)
The best Bluetooth headphones for audio quality

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 310g
Cable length: 1.2m
Frequency response: 10 – 30,000 Hz
Drivers: 43.6mm
Driver type: Full range
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: 20 kOhms
Battery life: 30 hours
Wireless range: N/A
NFC: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Best-in-class sound quality
+
Competitive battery life
+
Robust Bluetooth connection

Reasons to avoid

-
Earcups don't collapse

If you’re looking for wireless headphones with active noise cancellation and you're not put off by the $399 / £349 / AU$600 price tag, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 are well worth considering. 

With sophisticated noise cancellation, much-improved sound quality, and a honed aesthetic, the PX7 could give any of the headphones on this list a run for their money. A robust Bluetooth connection along with a solid 30 hours of battery life further help here.

Plus, they're also packing aptX Adaptive for improved stability and latency between the headphones and your device, as well as high-quality (24-bit) streaming aptX HD brought to the table.

Tonally, everything is democratically represented: in our tests, we found the highs were crisp, mids were fleshed out, and bass was substantial yet supple. While they’re a little on the rich side, with the warmth and neutrality that’ll please with the majority, die-hard bass junkies may want to look elsewhere.

These are a stylish pair of headphones that know exactly how to keep audiophiles happy, encompassing style, great features, and fantastic reliability, along with excellent sound quality.

Read more: Bowers & Wilkins PX7 Wireless Headphones review

In-ear wireless headphones

The best in-ear wireless headphones

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.

Here are our top picks for the form factor:

The Nuraloop headphones in black on a white background.

(Image credit: NuraLoop)
The best wireless in-ear headphones you can buy

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 25g
Frequency response: 20Hz - 20 kHz
Drivers: 8.6mm
Driver type: Dynamic
Sensitivity: N/A
Impedance: N/A
Battery life: 16 hours
wireless range: N/A
NFC: No

Reasons to buy

+
Rich, adaptive audio
+
ANC and social mode
+
Rugged, sweatproof desig

Reasons to avoid

-
Stiff neckband can get in the way

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

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The OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 neckbuds on a white background.

(Image credit: OnePlus)
The best wireless earbuds for the price

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 13g
Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
Drivers: 6mm dynamic
Battery life: 8 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Magnetic on/off switch  
+
Lively sound
+
Strong wireless connection 

Reasons to avoid

-
Terrible carrying case 

OnePlus is mostly known for its “flagship killer” phones, like the OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro, but the company also makes headphones – the best example are the company’s excellent Bullets Wireless 2, which offer incredible value in the neckbud earphones category. 

In terms of audio quality, these neckband earbuds boast a lively sonic presentation and an accurate-feeling soundstage, although bass-heads may want to look elsewhere for headphones that pack a bassier punch. 

We found them comfortable to wear, too; it's just a shame that they don't have a waterproof rating and the inline remote is so fiddly, because otherwise they could make a decent pair of running headphones

They may be $30 more expensive than their predecessors, but the improved battery life and sound quality makes up for that; it also makes it worth upgrading if you have the originals and are due a new pair of wireless earbuds. 

Read more: OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2 review

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The Soundmagic e11bt wireless in-ear headphones on a white background.

(Image credit: SoundMagic)
The best neckband wireless in-ear headphones on a budget

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 24.7g
Frequency response: 20 - 20,000Hz
Drivers: 10mm dynamic neodymium
Battery life: 20 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Fantastic price
+
Elegant design
+
Comfortable with ergonomic tips

Reasons to avoid

-
Treble tones can sound harsh

The SoundMagic E11BTs are an extremely capable pair of wireless in-ear earphones, and given their low price, it really is difficult to fault them. The audio quality on offer here is fantastic and they look very elegant, too. 

We found their soundstage to be clear and well-balanced, and despite not having ANC, the sound isolation is good enough for you to listen to music and podcasts in relative piece.

They're comfortable to wear thanks to ergonomically designed eartips and they're attached to a flat neckband that won’t irritate you while running or working out. thanks to an IPX4 rating, they should withstand sweaty sessions, too, making them a solid option for an spare pair of workout buds.

They may lack some wingtips for extra security, and their treble tones may sound harsh, but other than that, the SoundMagic E11BTs are pretty great for the price. If you want a secure fit while working out, without missing out on good audio quality, these are the ones for you.

Read more: SoundMagic E11BT review

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:

The Sony wf-1000xm4 true wireless earbuds in black on a white background.

(Image credit: Sony)
The best true wireless headphones you can buy today

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 7.3g
Frequency response: 20-40,000Hz
Drivers: 6mm
Battery life : 8 hours (earbuds) 16 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Rapid, full-bodied and eloquent sound
+
Truly useful features
+
Impressive call quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Unremarkable battery life
-
No aptX support

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.

Read more: Sony WF-1000XM4 review

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The Nuratrue true wireless earbuds in black wth a white logo.

(Image credit: Nura)
The best true wireless headphones for customization

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight : 7.4g (each bud)
Frequency Response: N/A
Drivers: N/A
Battery life (onboard) : 6 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent sound
+
Highly personalized
+
Noise cancellation

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t use latest Bluetooth version
-
Battery life could be better

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

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The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus true wireless earbuds with their charging case.

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)
The best true wireless headphones for mind-blowing sound

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 9.2g
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 5.8mm
Battery life (on-board): 9 hours (earbuds) 41 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning audio performance
+
Great app
+
Easy controls

Reasons to avoid

-
No ANC

Cambridge Audio might be best known for its high-end audio equipment, but over the past few years, the British company has branched out into the world of true wireless earbuds. 

Its first offering is the Melomania 1, which are among the best wireless earbuds you can buy. However, the new Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus are a worthy upgrade, putting many other earbuds in the shade in terms of audio performance, battery life, and ease-of-use. 

While the design of the Melomania 1 Plus hasn’t deviated too far from its predecessors, there’s a clear step-up in terms of audio performance, with levels of detail and clarity that could rival some of the best over-ear headphones. In fact, they're among the most detailed true wireless earbuds we've ever tested.

A helpful app, easy controls, and excellent connectivity just makes us love them even more. The only downside is that there’s no active noise cancellation. However, when these earbuds sound this good, we doubt you’ll miss it much. 

Read more: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus 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.

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Olivia is TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in TechRadar's London offices, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine.  In her spare time Olivia likes gardening, painting, and hanging with her cat Ethel and golden retriever Dora.

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