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The 5 best wireless headphones: Great sound untethered

What are the best wireless headphones? Our expert pick is the Sony WH-1000XM5, with its 30-hour playback time, 3-minute quick-charge feature, and 8-microphone noise cancellation array. Wireless headsets give you greater freedom when listening to music and podcasts or streaming videos. They also can give you impressive sound quality and noise cancellation so you get the most out of your new headphones.
taylor-clemons
Written by Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer on
Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

Wireless headphones are a great way to give yourself more freedom of movement when working, gaming, or streaming movies and music. While you do give up the almost unlimited power supply that comes with wired headphones, you can still find models with very impressive battery lives, like the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless with its 300-hour playback time. If you're an audiophile, you'll want to spring for a premium-grade model like the Bose Professional Headphones 700 or Sony WH-1000XM5 for crystal clear and rich music and near-perfect noise cancellation so all you hear is your music or video. To help you decide which wireless headphones are best for you, in this list I've gathered five of the best models you can buy. I've broken down their price tags and features so you can get the wireless headphones of your dreams.

A woman wearing Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones and sitting on a couch
Sony

Form factor: Over-ear | Battery life: 30 hours | Noise canceling: Yes | Voice assistant: Alexa | Connectivity: Bluetooth/3.5mm AUX

If you're looking to get the best of the best when it comes to wireless headphones, you'll be hard pressed to find anything better than the Sony WH-1000XM5s. These headphones have been designed from the ground up for superior audio quality and comfort. The headband and ear cups are padded and finished in faux leather for all-day comfort as well as a sleek, elegant look. An eight-microphone array not only ensures that your voice will be heard loud and clear during phone calls but also helps with the adaptive noise-canceling technology, so your music, podcasts, and calls are the only thing you hear in almost any environment. But if you need to hear background noise like travel announcements or traffic sounds for safety reasons, you can turn on the Quick Attention Mode so you don't miss your subway stop or in-flight announcements. 

On a full charge, you'll get about 30 hours of playback time with the noise-canceling turned on, and just three minutes of charging gives you up to three hours of use; which is perfect for when you forgot to charge overnight and want to listen to music on your morning commute or a podcast on your flight. You can connect the headphones to up to two devices at once with Bluetooth so you can switch between virtual meetings on your laptop and business calls on your smartphone. They even have Alexa built in and work with OK Google for hands-free controls over your devices, but if you prefer manual controls, you can touch the left or right ear cups to pause and skip songs as well as answer and end calls.

Pros:

  • Adaptive noise canceling
  • Alexa built in
  • Great battery life
  • Spatial audio and Dolby Atmos

Cons:

  • Very expensive
A young man wearing a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-S220BTWH headphones
Audio-Technica

Form factor: Over-ear | Battery life: 60 hours | Noise canceling: No | Voice assistant: No | Connectivity: Bluetooth/3.5mm AUX

For customers looking to buy a great pair of wireless headphones but don't want to spend a fortune to get great audio, the Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT is a great choice. At about $60, you get studio-quality audio while listening to music, podcasts, and videos as well as while making calls or attending virtual meetings and classes. The built-in microphone lets you take calls on your smartphone or give presentations in video meetings, and the included 3.5mm AUX cable has an in-line microphone if you prefer to use it. The microphones also allow you to use virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa for hands-free control. 

With Bluetooth connectivity, you can pair the headphones with up to two devices at once and switch between them for easier multitasking; and if you prefer a wired connection, you can use the included 3.5mm AUX cable. The battery gives you up to 60 hours of playback on a full charge, while just 10 minutes of charge time gives you up to 3.5 hours of use; which is great for when you forget to charge them overnight. The headphones weigh just 180 grams (about 6 ounces), making them lightweight enough to be comfortable for all-day use.

Pros:

  • Excellent battery
  • Under $100
  • Dual Bluetooth pairing
  • Siri and Alexa compatible

Cons:

  • No noise canceling capabilities
  • No support for Google Assistant
A man wearing a pair of Bose 700 headphones as he walks around a city
Bose

Form factor: Over-ear | Battery life: 20 hours | Noise canceling: Yes | Voice assistant: Alexa/Hey Google [Should this be Hey Google or OK Google?] | Connectivity: Bluetooth/3.5mm AUX

Bose has been one of the top names in home audio for almost 60 years, and its Noise Canceling 700 headphones continue to prove why the company deserves that honor. These headphones use an array of eight microphones for adaptive, active noise cancellation (ANC), so your music, calls, and podcasts sound their best while keeping distracting background noise at bay. Though if you need to hear things like travel announcements, you can tone down the ANC to stay informed and aware of your surroundings. You can pair the headphones with up to two devices at once with Bluetooth so you can quickly and easily switch between streaming movies and music on your laptop to taking calls on your smartphone or video chatting with friends and family on your tablet. 

You can use the Bose Music app to quickly and easily stream music from your favorite services like Apple Music and Spotify as well as create custom equalizer settings so every song sounds crystal clear. The headphones work with virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and OK Google for hands-free control while the Conversation Mode automatically pauses your videos and music when you get a phone call and restarts when you hang up. On a full charge, you'll get about 20 hours of playback, and just 15 minutes of charging gives you about 2 hours of use. You can also use the included 3.5mm AUX cable when you need a wired connection.

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Lightweight
  • Dual Bluetooth pairing
  • Voice controls

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Somewhat short battery life
A woman wearing a pair of Ugreen HiTune X6 earbuds to video chat on her smartphone
Ugreen

Form factor: Earbud | Battery life: 26 hours with charging case | Noise canceling: Yes | Voice assistant: No | Connectivity: Bluetooth

I have a pair of Ugreen's HiTune X6 wireless earbuds, and they are some of the best I've ever used as well as some of the most affordable. With their price tag just under $50, you'll still get premium-grade features like active noise canceling, hands-free calling, and rich, clear audio. The earbuds also feature touch controls for your music, podcasts, and videos, and a clear, automated voice lets you know when the earbuds are paired, they're powered on and off, ANC is turned on, and you need to recharge. The earbuds give you up to six hours of playback time on a full charge, which is about 90 minutes more than Apple's AirPods Pro, and the charging case gives you another 20 hours of play time. Just 10 minutes of charging gives you around an hour or so of play time, which is perfect for when you forget to charge overnight for your morning commute. 

The ANC feature is incredible, as well. I live very close to a major, busy highway, and I use the HiTune X6s to block out traffic noise when I want to enjoy my backyard. While they don't completely drown out passing cars, they do make a huge difference, allowing me to listen to music while I have dinner on the deck or soak up some sun after work. My biggest complaint is that even with the smallest tips, the earbuds feel a bit big for my ears, and if you like to listen to white noise or ASMR videos while you sleep, the HiTune X6s aren't the most comfortable to sleep in. But if you're looking for an affordable pair of true wireless earbuds with excellent sound quality, these are your best bet. 

Pros:

  • Great battery life
  • Excellent noise canceling 
  • Great price

Cons:

  • May not be comfortable for smaller ears
  • Not comfortable for sleeping
A from-behind view of a man wearing HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless headphones while playing a PC game.
HyperX

Form factor: Over-ear | Battery life: 300 hours | Noise canceling: No | Voice assistant: [Need an answer here] | Connectivity: USB adapter

If you've read my review for the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless headset, you already know that it's an excellent choice for gamers looking for clear, clean audio and a reliable microphone for voice chat. With a truly impressive 300-hour battery life, you can game and stream for eight hours a day for almost 38 consecutive days before you need to recharge. And that's even with the DTS Headphone: X audio drivers enabled. The microphone is detachable, so you can remove it if you want to use the Cloud Alpha Wireless as just a pair of headphones or prefer a separate microphone for game chat and streaming; it's also adjustable so you don't peak your audio or sound muffled. 

The headset also has excellent audio quality, giving you rich, clean sound even at lower volumes; which means you don't have to crank the sound to get the most out of your headset. With the Ngenuity desktop app, you can enable or disable the spatial audio and DTS Headphone: X settings to squeeze the most play time out of the headset as well as monitor the battery levels, adjust volume, and create custom equalizer settings so everything from YouTube and Spotify to your favorite games sound their best. My biggest complaint is that it doesn't use Bluetooth for connectivity, opting for a 2.4GHz USB dongle instead. Which means you won't be able to connect to your tablet or smartphone for mobile gaming.

Pros:

  • Unparalleled battery life
  • Exceptionally comfortable
  • Great sound quality

Cons:

  • No Bluetooth connectivity
  • Not compatible with any Xbox console
  • On the expensive side

What are the best wireless headphones?

My pick for the best wireless headphones are the Sony WH-1000XM5s. They use an eight-microphone array for adaptive noise cancellation as well as crystal clear calls on your tablet, PC, or smartphone. It even has Alexa built in for hands-free control over your connected devices. You can use Bluetooth to connect to two devices at once for easier multitasking, and you'll get about 30 hours of playback on a full charge.

Wireless headphones

Price

Battery life

Connectivity

Sony WH-1000XM5

$398

30 hours

Bluetooth/3.5mm AUX

Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT

$59

60 hours

Bluetooth/3.5mm AUX

Bose Professional Headphones 700

$379

20 hours

Bluetooth/3.5mm AUX

UGREEN HiTune X6

$50

26 hours

Bluetooth

HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless

$200

300 hours

2.4GHz USB dongle

Which are the right wireless headphones for you?

The biggest thing to take into consideration when shopping for a new pair of wireless headphones, other than price, is battery life. You want your new headphones to at least last an entire work shift (about 10 hours) before you need to recharge. You'll also want to consider things like built-in voice controls via Alexa or OK Google, active noise cancellation technology to block out background noise, and the ability to use a 3.5mm AUX cable for when you need a hardwired connection.

Choose these wireless headphones…

If you need…

Sony WH-1000XM5

A well rounded wireless headset with excellent audio quality and noise canceling technology

Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT

An affordable pair of over-ear, wireless headphones with great audio quality

Bose Professional Headphones 700

Top-tier noise cancellation and audio quality

UGREEN HiTune X6

Affordable earbuds with great noise cancellation and battery life

HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless

A wireless gaming headset with a truly impressive battery life and audio quality

How did we choose these wireless headphones?

I chose a variety of wireless headsets at different price ranges and with different form factors like over-ear and earbuds to suit different personal preferences as well as price points to fit different budgets. I also considered things like battery life, noise cancellation technology, on-board controls, built-in virtual assistants (or at least the ability to work with Siri, Alexa, and OK Google), and comfort. 

Are wireless headphones worth it?

They can be! Wireless headphones give you more freedom of movement while working at a desk or using your smartphone to catch up with news recaps or stream music while on your morning commute. The downside is that you give up the almost unlimited power supply that comes with wired headphones, needing to recharge every so often. But you can find headphones like the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless with truly impressive battery lives so you can spend more time enjoying media and less time charging your headphones.

What are the disadvantages of wireless headphones?

The biggest disadvantage is that you need to recharge them every so often to get the most playback time out of your wireless headphones. If your wireless headset also uses a 2.4GHz USB wireless dongle rather than Bluetooth to connect to devices, you may not be able to use it with things like smartphones and tablets. 

How long does wireless headphone battery power last?

A reasonable expectation for a wireless headphone battery is at least 10 hours: enough to get through a full workday, including commutes. But most headsets, even true wireless earbuds, can give you much more than that. The average battery life is between 20 and 30 hours of play time, though you can find models like the Audio-Technica ATH-S220BT which give you up to 60 hours of use or the HyperX Cloud Alpha Wireless with its bonkers 300 hour battery life.

Are there alternative wireless headphones worth considering?

There are about as many different types of wireless headphones as there are people who shop for them. Here's a short list of additional models that I thought were great options:

Editorial standards

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