After much consideration, the Sony WH-1000XM4 are our pick for the best wireless headphones available today, despite many newer models arriving, including Sony's own WH-1000XM5 (aka, the updated version).
That's because when you balance the price, the features and the performance, we think the WH-1000XM4 remain on top – especially with the incredible deals you'll find on them between now and the end of the year. For sheer value, they're still the best option for most people.
Matt Bolton, Senior Editor – TV and Audio
The best wireless headphones you can buy today pack excellent audio and smart features into comfortable designs that connect to your devices via Bluetooth. That means you don’t need to plug in a wireless to listen to your favorite music, podcasts or TV shows anymore.
There was a time when Bluetooth headphones didn’t perform as well as wired versions. Thanks to tech advances, that’s no longer the case and plenty of the wireless headphones in this list are also our top picks in our ultimate best headphones guide. Some audiophiles may still prefer wired over-ear headphones. However, most people will get the quality and clarity they need from any one of the best wireless headphones in this guide.
All of the choices in our list have been specially selected by our reviewers after spending years putting all of the latest headphones to the test. We know what we’re looking for, how different models compare and the best brands to beat.
You’ll see that the devices we’ve chosen are all headphones. That means they have a headband that sits on the top of your head and two cups, which fit either over your ears completely (over-ear headphones) or on them (on-ear headphones).
If you’re looking for earbuds that sit inside your ear canal instead, you can also find wireless versions of those. Take a look at our best wireless earbuds guide for our top recommendations. Alternatively, if you're a swimmer or into fitness we also have a best waterproof headphones guide and a best workout headphones guide.
Here you’ll find the best wireless headphones that offer great connectivity, fantastic audio quality and stylish designs. Some models also boast useful extras, like active noise cancellation and AI assistants that you can control with your voice. Read on for our top choices and the best wireless headphones for you.
Best wireless headphones: the list
The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones deliver excellent noise-cancellation and sound quality in a wireless design that we found extremely comfortable and lightweight throughout every step of our testing.
Granted, they don’t look different from their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones. However, there are a number of significant upgrades here, including multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, conversational awareness and auto-play/pause using a built-in sensor.
These Bluetooth headphones also support Sony’s 360 Reality Audio format, which delivers spatial audio on stereo headphones, plus the LDAC codec that can send a bitrate of up to 990 kbps. However, they no longer support aptX or aptX HD, so your hi-res audio support mileage may vary.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 are our favorite wireless headphones because they deliver exactly what they promise. The standout features are exceptional noise cancellation, which we found worked incredibly well in all kinds of environments—even noisy commutes and planes— and we highly rate the cutting-edge codec support here too.
Usually you’re forced to pick between a pair of noise-cancelling headphones that do a good job of blocking outside noise, or ones that excel at audio playback. The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are great at both, meaning you don’t have to pick.
The only drawback we've found is they’re not ideal for working out. That's because they don’t stay put with lots of movement and there’s not IP rating here, which means they’re not water resistant enough for sweating or even mild rain showers.
Since the launch of the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, Sony has brought out a newer version. They're the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones, which are in the list below. They’re objectively a better pair of headphones, but if you’re looking for an affordable pair with all the same benefits, stick with the XM4s, which are cheaper and often discounted nowadays, too.
Read our full Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones review
If you like the idea of Sony wireless headphones but don't need a high-priced, high-end set like the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones above, then the Sony WH-CH510 headphones are a much more affordable option packed with all the features most people will need.
The Sony WH-CH510 offer solid audio, great battery life, and Bluetooth connectivity, meaning they're great value for money at $59 / £50 / AU$89. At this price they don't have the build quality or the frequency range of headphones costing nearly ten times as much, but they are an excellent pair of all-rounders for a very impressive price.
These are on-ear headphones rather than over-ears, and one result of that is that the soundstage isn't quite as immersive as with a pair of over-ears. You might also hear some ambient sounds, too, but for those who work in an office or need to stay alert at home this could be a plus point rather than a criticism.
There's a built-in microphone for calls, which we found perfectly fine during our testing. Sony says you can expect up to 35 hours of playback and that time was accurate when we reviewed them. Handily, a full charge takes about four hours but you can get about 90 minutes of listening from just 10 minutes charging them from flat. Annoyingly, there's no 3.5mm audio jack for listening if you run out of charge, though.
During our testing, we found the Bluetooth connection of these headphones to be rock solid, and while they're not the toughest-feeling headphones we've ever tried they were light, comfortable and enormously agreeable for all day wear. So if you're looking for a good all-rounder without paying a lot of money we'd highly recommend these Sonys.
Read our full Sony WH-CH510 review
Final Audio's wireless, noise-cancelling, over-ear headphones may not look or feel particularly special. But their specification, which includes aptX Low Latency Bluetooth, long battery life, and active noise cancellation make up for it.
That’s why the Final Audio UX3000 headphones are in a prime position in our best wireless headphones guide, because we believe that their relatively modest size and weight makes them a solid choice for anyone who wants to listen in comfort for long periods without spending a small fortune.
During our testing, we really enjoyed listening to the Final Audio UX3000 headphones. This is thanks to their dynamism, detail retrieval and musicality. Whatever music genre you prefer, you'll be happy with the performance on offer from these headphones.
We found the active noise cancellation to be good and effective enough at dealing with the majority of external distractions. Granted, you're not getting Bose or Sony levels of noise negation, but then you're not spending Bose or Sony level money either. Take a look at the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones below if high-end audio immersion is your top priority.
We found the battery life here to be excellent. The UX3000 lasted for 35 hours from a single charge when we had ANC switched off, and 25 hours when it was switched on. During our testing we found that, from flat, they can be fully charged in around two-and-a-half hours.
There’s no accompanying app or touch controls on the UX3000 headphones, which makes them a fairly minimal pair of over-ears. But specs-wise, they’ve got everything you could want and more. Especially considering you can find them at a very decent price compared to many eye-wateringly expensive rivals—they’re more than half the price of the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones.
Read our full Final Audio UX3000 review
The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones are, without a doubt, the best wireless headphones we've ever tested—given we've got our hands over hundreds of audio products over the years, this is really saying something.
Their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, are at the top of our list because we think the specs and the price will suit anyone looking for a high-end pair of headphones. But the XM5s do offer a more lightweight wireless 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 good and is now great. If you’re looking for the best noise-cancelling headphones money can buy, you won’t be disappointed.
During our testing, we were pleasantly surprised that the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones deliver exactly what they promise and then some thanks to their exceptional noise cancellation and cutting-edge codec support, which delivers even higher quality audio in compatible apps.
The drivers in these models are smaller than before at 30mm, but the soundstage remains spacious and gives all elements of a mix room to breathe and shine. We were happy to find that there’s very little sound leakage, too, even when you’re listening to loud music. We sat next to a colleague in the office with the volume at full, and they didn't hear anything—that's a big improvement over the previous model.
On top of the adjustments listed above, the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones 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 our full Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones review
The Apple AirPods Max were the most hotly-anticipated headphones for years and, when they finally arrived, they didn't disappoint us.
There's a lot to love about the Apple AirPods Max. The things we rated highest during our testing were: the standout active noise cancellation, superb audio quality, and a design that sets them apart from most noise-cancelling headphones on the market.
However, while their exceptional audio performance and class-leading ANC seriously impressed us during out time with these headphones, they're let down by their eye-watering price and their lack of support for Hi-Res Audio codecs.
What's confusing here is that, despite their high price, the AirPods Max aren’t exactly aimed at the audiophile crowd. If they were, they'd have a 3.5mm audio port. So instead, we believe that these headphones are squarely targeted at people already bought into the Apple ecosystem, as they're packed with nifty features for iOS users and come in an unmistakably ‘Apple’ design.
For Android users, however, the AirPods Max don't have the same features as on iOS, so we can't justify the high price of these headphones if you won't be connecting them to Apple hardware.
But if you love Apple products and already use them daily, have a lot of money to spend on a new pair of Bluetooth headphones and don't care about the lack of hi-res audio, we don't think you'll find headphones that sound better or are easier to use than the AirPods Max.
Read our full Apple AirPods Max review
The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are an exceptional pair of headphones that we thoroughly enjoyed testing.
There are lots of standout features to shout about here, but the best has to be their sophisticated noise cancellation, which is applied when you’re listening to music and during calls. When we trailed this feature, we found the call quality to be remarkably clear, even when walking on a busy London street. There are 11 different noise cancellation modes on offer too, so there's something for every potential scenario.
With such fantastic sound on offer here, the Bose headphones are a serious alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones and the XM4s at the top of our list. We highly rate their vibrant, lively character and well-balanced soundstage. We tested them out on tracks including Mark Ronson’s latest album, Late Night Feelings. In Truth (feat. Alicia Keys and The Last Artful, Dodgr) forcefully conveyed the bubbling sub bass as smoky vocals soared above the clattering industrial drum beats.
These headphones don't have the same dexterity as the Sony WH-1000XM5 and the battery life is also 10 hours less despite costing more, which is disappointing. But they're the best wireless headphones for making calls with, when working in a busy (and loud) office and for fans of Bose’s exceptional quality and design.
Read our full Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 review
The Jabra Elite 45h headphones are our top recommendation if you’re looking for a pair of on-ear headphones. As the name suggests, this design of headphones sit on your ear rather than over them. What this means is you won’t get the noise cancellation or fully immersive sound of the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones or the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700. But the 45h aren’t competing with those styles, offering fantastic battery life and good sound in a lightweight design instead.
The Jabra Elite 45h are an upgrade on the company’s Move Style on-ears and for under $100 / £100 Jabra has wrapped Bluetooth 5 connectivity, 40mm full-range dynamic drivers and a smattering of physical push-button controls in a wireless on-ear frame.
There’s voice control available from Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri. Jabra’s Sound+ control app even walks you through a brief hearing test to establish exactly how the EQs should be set to best suit your ears.
They also boast an extremely impressive 50 hours of battery life from a single charge. There are very few headphones around, at any price, that can challenge that figure—and we found that the Jabras will go for another 10 hours after just 15 minutes of USB-C charging.
During our testing, we found that the faux leather and memory foam on the cups made for a comfortable fit. But with the plastic and thin padding on the headband, the Elite 45h don’t feel special. They are well constructed, however, fold fairly flat and feel like they’ll stand up to quite a lot of careless handling.
Best of all, the Elite 45h headphones sound more expensive than they are. The highest frequencies are never far from sibilance, admittedly, and bass can occasionally sound slightly estranged—but for the price, this didn't put us off. The Jabras don’t emphasize any part of the frequency range, they uncover plenty of detail, they’re punchily controlled and an all-around fully enthusiastic listen.
Read our full Jabra Elite 45h review
If you’re looking for a pair of wireless headphones that look and feel as good as they sound, then check out the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95, which are beautifully made noise-cancelling headphones.
These wireless headphones offer a level of luxury we’ve come to expect from the Danish audio brand and can’t be beaten by the more minimal and functional designs of other headphones on this list, especially the Sony WH-1000XM4s, which are fantastic but, admittedly, boring to look at.
During our testing, we found that the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95 headphones offer expansive sound and come with an excellent control app that was easy to use. We found noise cancellation to be very good, blocking out nearly all ambient sound. Like the H95’s audio settings, noise cancellation is also fully adjustable to your liking.
As you might expect with a high-end pair of headphones from B&O, they’re extremely expensive. As much as we enjoyed reviewing them, their price can't be ignored. They’re also not a good choice for vegans given their use of genuine leather and there’s strangely no auto-pause function when you take them off, which sounds small but felt awkward when we were using them throughout the day.
But they are gorgeous looking and feel great. So if you want excellent quality and have the budget to match, then it's worth considering this excellent pair of headphones.
Read our full Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95 review
The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 wireless headphones are made to sound as premium as they feel. We found them super stylish to look at, liked that they feature a range of modern tech, and during out testing rated them highly for delivering very good audio quality—though it’s worth mentioning we don’t think they’re suited to some music styles.
When we were reviewing these headphones, we found that they have a talented sound with oodles of textured detail through vocals and mid-range. This is thanks, in part, to the all-new 40mm high-resolution drive units, which are angled within each ear cup to deliver an incredibly immersive soundstage. However, we also noted that when the bass drops it really does drop, and not in a good way. It begins to muddy and encroach upon the audio performance in its entirety.
The active noise cancelation on offer from the PX7 S2 headphones is also good, but we don't think they're at the same standard as the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 or the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones. The 30-hour battery life is good though and puts them ahead of rivals on this list, like the Apple AirPods Max.
If you listen to acoustic music or more bass-light fare, there's a huge amount to enjoy in these headphones, with class-leading detail and openness. If that’s not the kind of music you usually enjoy, look elsewhere. The Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones are a solid alternative for sound and the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H95 are a good option if you’re after the same style points.
Read our full Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review
The Bose QuietComfort 45 are a rock-solid pair of noise-cancelling headphones. After spending significant time testing them, we think they're one of the best pair of all-rounder headphones in this list. That's because they're easy-to-use and feel incredibly comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Those are traits that Bose has always been known for and they continue to live on here.
Of course, the QC45 aren’t without a few new tricks. Among them are an Ambient Aware mode that allows you to hear sounds around you at the press of a button as well as upgraded noise cancellation tech that’s more responsive than before.
Thanks to an update, they also now come with an adjustable equalizer. This means you can set the bass, mid-range, and treble levels of the headphones to your personal preferences, or choose from one of several preset options.
On top of that you’ve got a good-but-not-great battery life of 25 hours and a beam-forming microphone array that is, well, not quite as good as we had hoped. Neither of these are deal-breakers, but they do make the Bose QuietComfort 45 slightly less appealing than some of its competitors.
In fact, the Bose QuietComfort 45’s biggest issues aren’t anything that they do wrong—there are minor issues, but nothing absolutely awful—and instead they have everything to do with two other amazing headphones out there: the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 on this list. Both offer more customization options, better sound, and present a better value for just a little bit more cash.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort 45 review
How to choose the best wireless headphones for you
How to choose the best wireless headphones for you
We've tested hundreds of wireless headphones over the years, paying close attention to the key factors that make a great pair of Bluetooth headphones.
First up there's design. Comfort is a major factor when it comes to wireless headphones. They need to feel great for long periods of time. Look for padded cups and sturdy headbands to avoid breakage. You'll also need to decide whether you want the immersive sound of a pair of over-ears or the slight leakage of on-ears.
You'll also want to think about features. Is noise cancellation most important to you? Or do you want handy touch controls? Consider when and where you'll be using your wireless headphones and this should help you figure out which features matter and which don't.
Of course, price is a major factor too. Generally, the more you pay, the better the sound quality. But not everyone can (or wants to) spend hundreds on the latest headphones with the best audio experience. You'll also find that you can get good features in an affordable package. You just might need to make some compromises, like a boring design or some sound leakage.
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 that you'll appreciate the 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 our best wireless earbuds guide 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 best true wireless headphones guide.
Which brand is best for wireless headphones?
The best brand of wireless headphones totally depends on what you're looking for. If you want solid all-rounders, Sony is a great bet, while Bose often has the edge with noise-cancellation quality.
That's before you consider if you need the best wireless headphones for running, listening at work, or something different. That's why it's important to do your research and think about what is most important to you.
How much should wireless headphones cost?
This totally depends.
There's a general rule that the more you pay, the better the tech will be. But that's not always the case. It also doesn't mean you can't find an excellent pair of headphones for much cheaper than you expected with great features.
For example, the Sony WH-CH510 headphones and Jabra Elite 45h headphones in this list are cheap, costing less than £100 / $100. But they still offer great sound and features to compete with headphones like the Apple AirPods Max, which are almost five times the price. But make no mistake that the AirPods Max sound clearly and noticeably better – but the cheaper options may well sound good enough for you.
How we tested the best wireless headphones
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.
- On a budget? Read our guide to the best cheap headphones