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The best wireless headphones 2020: our pick of the best ways to cut the cord

best wireless headphones
(Image credit: Grado)

Finding the best wireless headphones for your needs can be tricky, but we're here to help.

Now sure, a few short years ago, we may have tried to dissuade you from buying a pair of wireless headphones (the technology had issues with wireless connectivity over Bluetooth and sound quality took a dive as a result) but these days, you can't go wrong by buying a wireless pair of headphones. 

Thanks to advancements in Bluetooth (thanks, aptX), the best wireless headphones not only stay connected to any phone, but they sound just as good as their wired counterparts, too. 

Yes, a wireless pair of headphones might cost a bit more than a similar wired model, but wireless headphones offer greater freedom of movement and, because they don't use an aux cable, make great companions for jack-less phones like the iPhone 11 and Pixel 3 that simply lack a 3.5mm aux port to connect with.

Whatever your reason for upgrading, we're here to help you pick out the best wireless headphones, regardless of your budget. What you'll find below are the top headphones we've reviewed – some of which come with neat features like noise-cancelation – all vetted by our staff so you can shop with confidence.

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The best over-ear wireless headphones

Sony WH-1000XM3

(Image credit: TechRadar)

1. Sony WH-1000XM3

Wireless noise-cancelling headphones that sound better than Bose

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 275 grams | Frequency response: 4Hz - 40kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 103dB | Impedance: 46 Ohms | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: 30 feet | NFC: Yes

Superb noise-cancelling 
 Great-sounding audio 
 30-hour battery life 
 Hinges are fragile 

For the last three years, the Sony 1000X series of headphones have been our favorite wireless headphones on the market. They sound great thanks to a combination of superb wireless codecs - aptX and Sony's proprietary LDAC tech - and keep outside noise at bay thanks to Sony's ever-improving noise-cancellation algorithms. 

While the Sony WH-1000XM3 might not be a massive improvement over last year's WH-1000XM2, they're still a cut above their rivals, the Bose QC35 II, in nearly every way: they sound better, they block out noise better and have better features like Quick Attention mode that lets in all outside noise without taking off the headphones. (The latter is perfect when giving a drink order on a plane or speaking to a coworker for a brief moment before diving back into your work.) 

Great-sounding and feature-packed, these impressive Sony headphones are great travel companions and all-around excellent wireless headphones.

Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM3 review

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

(Image credit: Bose)

2. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Bose's new wireless noise-cancelling headphones are easily its best yet

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

Outstanding noise cancellation
Fun, lively sound
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 the sophistication of the noise cancellation they offer.

As an alternative to the Sony WH-1000XM3, these headphones sound fantastic, with a vibrant, lively character and well-balanced soundstage and offer the same great noise-cancellation you'd expect from Bose.

They don't have the same dexterity as the WH-1000XM3 and the battery life is also 10 hours less than Sony headphones despite costing more, but they're still well-worth considering when looking for a pair of wireless headphones.

Read the full review: Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 review

(Image credit: Future)

Jabra Elite 85H

(Image credit: Jabra)

3. Jabra Elite 85H

Giving Sony and Bose a run for their money

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 296 grams | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 10-20kHz | Drivers: 40mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 36 hours | Wireless range: 10m (33ft.) | NFC: N/A

Class-leading battery life
Excellent ANC performance
Stylish and comfortable
Lacks support for high-end codecs

Offering class-leading battery life, terrific style and plenty of personalization when it comes to sound profiles, the Elite 85h is easy to recommend. That said, purists will bemoan the lack of high-end codec support and there are punchier headphones on the market at this price point. When you consider that Jabra’s Elite 85h headphones are the company’s first attempt at premium wireless ANC headphones, the result is quite commendable. We can’t wait to see what the company’s next premium ANC headphones will accomplish.  

If you want an alternative to Sony's WH-1000XM3, this is it.

Read the full review: Jabra Elite 85H review

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

(Image credit: Bose)

4. Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Premium wireless headphones that include Google Assistant

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.68 pounds | Cable length: 3.94 feet | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 20+ hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes

Broad and clear soundstage
Amazing noise cancellation
Active EQ an acquired taste
Boring looks

Bose took the already-excellent QC35 and updated with Google Assistant. The headphone is identical in every way save for the new Google Assistant button. This means you still get the class-leading noise cancellation Bose is known for, good sound quality, and incredible comfort. Said simply, they sound great and their battery life is long enough for all but the longest of flights.

If you're looking to save some money, however, consider the original Bose QuietComfort 35. They can also be found for far cheaper these days, and if you're not fussed about having Google Assistant built into your headphones then you can save yourself some money while you save up for QC35 II. 

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 35 II review

Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless

(Image credit: TechRadar)

5. Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless

The best-sounding (and most expensive) wireless headphones you can buy

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 380g | Cable length: 1.2 m, detachable | Frequency response: 5 - 40,000 Hz | Drivers: 50mm | Driver type: Dynamic, Tesla | Sensitivity: 100dB At 1KHz | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: 30 hours | Wireless range: 10 meters (30+ feet) | NFC: N/A

Excellent build quality and comfort
Detailed, dynamic, spacious sound
Sounds just as good wired
Not ideal for travel

The Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless are the best-sounding wireless headphones you can buy, period. Sound is spacious, detailed, and makes you want to rediscover your music library. Their bulky design and average noise isolation make them terrible for travel but if you’re looking for the best sound from a wireless headphone, this is it.

Just be prepared to shell out for them.

Read the full review: Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless review

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT

(Image credit: Audio-Technica)

6. Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT

Technically brilliant on nearly every level

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 310g | Cable length: 1.2 m, detachable | Frequency response: 15 - 28,000 Hz | Drivers: 45mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99dB At 1KHz | Impedance: 38 ohms | Battery life: 40 hours | Wireless range: 10 meters (30+ feet) | NFC: N/A

Great sound quality
Comfortable
Great price
Clunky design

Audio-Technica has a long history of producing high-quality headphones, microphones, and turntable accessories, and with the release of the ATH-M50xBT, it delivers studio-quality audio without the cord.  

The ATH-M50xBTs are designed for really high-end audio performance, with 45mm drivers and a frequency response range of 15-28,00 Hz, and it shows - we were very impressed with the warm, well-rounded sound.

The ATH-M50xBT headphones also performed well in terms of battery life and Bluetooth connectivity, however the microphone isn’t particularly strong, and you may struggle to make phone calls using them - still, that’s probably not the reason you would purchase a pair of studio grade headphones in the first place. 

Read our full review: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT review  

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (2019)

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

7. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (2019)

Over-ear headphones that don't skimp on the smart features

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 6Hz to 22kHz | Drivers: 42mm | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 17 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes

Brilliant audio quality
Cool design
Customizable settings
Battery life isn’t great
More expensive than rivals

In terms of audio quality, these Sennheiser over-ear headphones sound fantastic, with high levels of detail, warm bass, and natural-sounding highs.

Customizable noise cancelation is a great touch, but it doesn't quite reach the class-leading standards set by Sony and Bose. Battery life also doesn't compete with the Sony WH-1000XM3s, and they're more expensive to boot. 

So, why buy the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (2019)? Well, if built-in Tile tracking appeals to you, and you like the industrial design and premium materials of the Momentum Wireless, that could be reason enough – and if you do opt for them over the Sony model, you won’t be missing out on any audio quality. In that respect, they’re truly matched. 

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless (2019) review

AKG N60NC Wireless

(Image credit: AKG)

8. AKG N60NC Wireless

Wireless noise-cancellation from another mid-range master

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 199.4g | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 10-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 111dB SPL/V@1kHz | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: 15 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No

Great sound
Compact design
Not the most comfortable
Initially confusing controls

The AKG N60NC Wireless sound like a pair of headphones that should be much more expensive than they are. 

At their mid-range price point the headphones offer fantastic value for money, with great sound quality and a level of noise-cancellation performance that's on a level with the much more premium entries on this list. 

Our biggest issue with these headphones is the fact that they're on-ear rather than over-ear, meaning that we found that they got uncomfortable over longer periods. 

Regardless, the benefit of this is that this is a fantastically compact pair of headphones, and if you're willing to make the trade-off then these are great for the price. 

Read the full review: AKG N60NC Wireless review

Grado GW100 Wireless headphones

(Image credit: Grado)

9. Grado GW100 Wireless headphones

Grado makes the grade (again)

Acoustic design: Open | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 15 hours | Wireless range: 10m | NFC: Yes

Fantastic audio quality
Cool retro design
Heavy sound leakage
Slightly flimsy build

The Grado GW100s sound great with a wide soundstage, clear highs, smooth mids, and extended bass frequencies. They also sport a kitsch, retro design that recalls Grado’s humble beginnings in 50’s Brooklyn.

Although the Bluetooth connection works very well, the need for a wireless pair of open-back headphones can be unclear; particularly if the design makes them unsuitable for commuting or  listening in communal areas. 

Saying that, having the option to listen wirelessly is undeniably convenient when you’re pottering around the house, and you can use these cans with an AUX cable if you're something of an audiophile who prefers a wired connection.

Overall, we feel the Grado GW100s are designed for a fairly niche market of audiophiles who crave a wide, natural sound, and who do the majority of their music listening at home. If that sounds like you, you will probably love the Grado GW100s. If not, you may want to look at closed-back models instead. 

Read the full review: Grado GW100 Wireless headphones review

Microsoft Surface headphones

(Image credit: Microsoft)

10. Microsoft Surface headphones

Warm sound and great noise cancellation

Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 0.64Ibs | Cable length: 3.94 ft | Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz | Drivers: 40mm Free Edge Driver | Driver type: Free Edge | Sensitivity: 115 dB | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 15 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: Yes

Brilliant sound quality
Effective noise cancellation
Intuitive controls
Sound may be too warm for some

Overall, Microsoft’s Surface headphones are surprisingly good, with a stunningly warm sound, and generous bass frequencies, which means your music will sound great whether you’re listening to subby hip-hop or acoustic singer-songwriters.

One criticism of this warm sound is that it can take some of the attack away from lower-mid frequencies, which some users may find a bit underwhelming. However, if sharp trebles and mids tend to give you listening fatigue, these could be the perfect headphones for you.

The calling card of these headphones is the active noise cancellation, which we felt worked really well, and we loved how easy it was to control this using the inbuilt dials on each housing. 

Although we were initially unconvinced by the high price (particularly when you can buy quality cans from heritage audio brands for less), the features work so seamlessly that it feels justified.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface headphones review

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.

Check out TechRadar's exhaustive guides to the best headphones to buy today including the best on-ear headphones and the best in-ear headphones.

For some more specialist pairs, take a look at our guides to the best wireless headphones, best true wireless earbuds, best wireless earbuds, and the best noise-cancelling headphones.

Need a specific brand? We have guides to the best Sony headphones, the best Bose headphones, and the best Audio-Technica headphones.

Looking for some headphones you can work out with? Check out our guide to the best swimming headphones and the best running headphones