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The best wireless headphones you can buy

Get the most out of your music with the best wireless headphones you can buy right now.
Written by Nina Raemont, Associate Editor and  Taylor Clemons, Staff Writer
Sony WH-1000XM5 | Best wireless headphones overall
Sony WH-1000XM5 Headphones
Sony WH-1000XM5
Best wireless headphones overall
View now View at Amazon
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones
Bose QuietComfort Ultra in White Smoke
Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones
View now View at Bose
Beats Studio Pro | Best wireless headphones for style and sound
Beats Studio Pro headphones in Deep Brown in Jada's hand
Beats Studio Pro
Best wireless headphones for style and sound
View now View at Beats
Apple AirPods Max | Best headphones for Apple users
Apple AirPods Max Wireless Over-Ear Headphones
Apple AirPods Max
Best headphones for Apple users
View now View at Apple
Shokz OpenRun Pro | Best wireless headphone for exercise
Shokz OpenRun Pro
Best wireless headphone for exercise
View now View at Amazon

Where would we be without our wireless headphones? Wireless Bluetooth headphones offer up endless portability on runs, conference calls, and study sessions, so you never feel tethered by wires to your phone or laptop. Plus, audio brands keep improving the sound quality and special features of their headphones with every new model, so that you can enjoy noise-cancellation, spatial audio, all-day battery, dual-point connection, and more. With ample options and a wide range of prices, you can find a pair that supports your listening needs and suits your budget. 

At ZDNET, researching, testing, and reviewing tons of headphones, among many other tech products, is our bread and butter -- and we have strong opinions on what makes a pair worth purchasing. We've taken conference calls and Zoom meetings, gone on walks and workouts (where severe sweating was involved), and spent entire workdays with these top five wireless headphones on our noggins. 

Also: How to choose the best over-ear headphones: ZDNET's buying guide

Our top pick went to Sony's WH-1000XM5 for its crystal clear, rich music, long battery life, and near-perfect noise cancellation that delivers surround-sound audio. But if you're not willing to cough up $400 on a pair of cans, we also included other competitive wireless headphones that offer stellar sound quality for a more inexpensive price point. Keep reading to review your options. 

The best wireless headphones of 2024

Pros & Cons
  • Adaptive noise-cancelling
  • Alexa built-in
  • Great battery life
  • Spatial audio and Dolby Atmos
  • Very expensive
More Details

Sony WH-1000XM5 tech specs: Form factor: Over-ear | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 | Battery life: 30 hours | Frequency response: 4 Hz - 40,000 Hz | Driver size: 30 mm | Noise cancellation: Yes 

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. 

When ZDNET writer Matthew Miller reviewed the headphones last year, he complimented the headphone's "stunning" audio performance and immersive ANC. "I spent the last couple of months traveling, commuting, working, and relaxing with the headphones and didn't think the XM4 could get better, but Sony found a way," Miller writes. 

Review: These Sony headphones are basically perfect

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 forget 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 & Cons
  • Competitive ANC
  • Comfortable fit
  • Balanced sound
  • Battery life could be longer
  • Carrying case is restrictive
More Details

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones tech specs: Form factor: Over-ear | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 | Battery life: 24 hours | Frequency response: NA | Driver size: 35mm | Noise cancellation: Yes 

When ZDNET's resident headphone reviewer, Jada Jones, got her hands on Bose's newest QuietComfort Ultra headphones, she was blown away by the cans' stellar noise cancellation and comfortable fit. The Quiet Comfort Ultra really lives up to its name. 

On the steeper side at $429, you're getting a premium pair of headphones with Bose's newest Immersive Audio feature. The feature, similar to spatial audio that both Sony and Apple have implemented into headphones of their own, allows music to move with you. It literally feels like your music and sounds are brought to the forefront when you turn this feature on. Along with the new feature, Bose also improves upon its active noise cancellation, which Jones says is the best she's tested yet, and delivers high-quality sound through the headphones. 

Review: Bose's QuietComfort Ultra headphones are some of the most comfortable, best-sounding headphones I've tested 

 "I recommend the Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones to anyone seeking a high-end pair of headphones that they can wear daily. With the QC Ultra, Bose fused together the best features of its premium Bose 700 headphones and iconic QuietComfort line, and the years of maturation paid off," Jones writes in her review. 

Pros & Cons
  • Noise-cancelling and transparency mode
  • Sleek look
  • Comfortable wear
  • Some features are incompatible with iPhone
  • Pricey
More Details

Beats Studio Pro tech specs: Form factor: Over-ear | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Battery life: 40 hours | Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz | Driver size: 40mm | Noise cancellation: Yes

Is appearance everything when it comes to good-quality wireless headphones? Obviously not. But who can deny the gorgeous deep brown color of these Beats Studio Pros? Look and confirmed (by our headphone expert Jones) comfort aside, these headphones improve upon a few features from past over-ear Beats headphones. 

Review: The Beats Studio Pro are so close to being my dream headphones

Jones called the Studio Pros the "perfect middle-ground headphones for Android and Apple users" but stopped short of calling them a winning pick for audiophiles. Beats added noise canceling and transparency modes to these headphones, as well as lossless audio playback. The only catch is that lossless audio playback, headphone charging, and Entertainment and Conversation modes via USB-C are incompatible with iPhones. 

Pros & Cons
  • Excellent ANC
  • A dream for Apple ecosystem owners
  • Strong battery life
  • Carrying case isn't functional
  • Very expensive
More Details

Apple AirPods Max tech specs: Form factor: Over-ear, closed-back | Connectivity Bluetooth 5.0 | Battery life: 20 hours (1.5 hours on a 5-minute charge) | Frequency response: 10Hz - 20,000Hz (estimated) | Driver size: 40mm | Noise cancellation: Yes

If you are an iPhone owner or an Apple ecosystem devotee, you can't go wrong with Apple AirPods Max for the headphones' suite of features that include instant connectivity to Apple ecosystem devices, multi-device switching, built-in voice assistant, and ANC. 

Review: Apple AirPods Max 

But even if you don't own Apple products, you will nevertheless fall in love with the headphones' comfortable fit and futuristically sleek appearance. The AirPods Max has progressed past mere headphone status; they're now a fashion piece, too. And, with a 20-hour battery life, you can use these headphones for a few workdays before you even have to think about recharging. 

The AirPods Max cost over $500, a hefty price to stomach. When ZDNET contributor Jason Cipriani reviewed the headphones in 2020, he acknowledged the high price tag but ultimately decided that the headphones were worth it in the end when you factor in the sound, style, features, and fit. 

Pros & Cons
  • Great sound for bone conduction headphones
  • Lightweight
  • Voice assistant supported
  • Waterproof rating could be better
  • Not the best sound out of all picks on this list
More Details

Shokz OpenRun Pro tech specs: Type: Open ear | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1 | Battery life: 10 hours | Waterproof rating: IP55 | Weight: 1.02 oz 

Bone conduction headphones are a bit different than a pair of conventional wireless headphones. While they may not have the same immersive features as a pair of ANC headphones, sometimes you don't want that -- I don't know about you, but if I'm running in a park or on city streets, I want to be aware of my surroundings while I listen to music. Not only that, who wants two heavy cans around their ears on their sweaty, sunny runs? 

Review: Shokz OpenRun Pro

These Shokz OpenRun Pro bone conduction headphones deliver great sound, water resistance, and a lightweight, comfortable fit. That's an impressive feat for a type of headphone that traditionally sacrifices sound for fit and function. The prime headphones for outdoor exercise, you can run, bike, jog, and, most importantly, sweat with these on. They are so good that when ZDNET contributor Matthew Miller reviewed the OpenRun Pros, the headphones caused him to change his mind about bone-conduction headphones at large.

"With early bone conduction headphones, I accepted the tradeoff in audio quality to have a safer running experience. However, Shokz keeps improving its technology so that the volume level is great, audio is crisp and clear, bass is solid, voice assistant support works flawlessly, and even call quality is good," Miller writes. 

What are the best wireless headphones?

Our pick for the best wireless headphones is 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.
We've included the list price here, but these products may be on sale, so make sure you check the different retailer links above.

Wireless headphonesPriceBattery lifeConnectivity
Sony WH-1000XM5$40030 hoursBluetooth 5.2
Bose QuietComfort Ultra $42924 hoursBluetooth 5.3
Beats Studio Pro$35040 hoursBluetooth
Apple AirPods Max$52920 hoursBluetooth 5.0
Shokz OpenRun Pro$17010 hoursBluetooth 5.1

 *Lowest price at the time of writing. Please note that prices may vary based on retailer and available promotions, sales, or discounts.

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 plus your commute (about eight to 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 headphones...If you want...
Sony WH-1000XM5A well rounded wireless headset with excellent audio quality and noise canceling technology.
Bose QuietComfort UltraA great high-end headphone for Android users. They offer an Immersive Audio feature for music that moves with you, competitive noise cancellation, a 24-hour battery life, and impeccably comfortable fit for all-day wear. 
Beats Studio ProStrong battery life and excellent sound for Android or Apple users. 
Apple AirPods MaxThe cherry on top of your Apple ecosystem with an expensive-but-worth-it price tag. 
Shokz OpenRun ProA great exercise bone conduction headphone that doesn't sacrifice audio quality for environmental awareness. 

How did we choose these wireless headphones?

A variety of factors impact the quality of wireless headphones. Here are some we considered carefully. 

  • Audio quality: There are a few ways to determine whether the headphones you are looking at have decent audio quality, simply by paying attention to a few key specs. Those include driver size (the larger the driver, the better), frequency response (generally from 20Hz to 20,000Hz), and noise-canceling capabilities (the less you hear of the outside world when you're listening to your favorite songs, the better the ANC). 
  • Price: The headphones on this list range from mid-$100s to upwards of $500. With a more expensive price tag comes added features and stronger battery life, but even headphones on the lower end of the price spectrum deliver impeccable sound and comfort (we wouldn't include them if they didn't). 
  • Battery life: Good sound only goes so far. Your headphones shouldn't unexpectedly die on you mid-conference call or workout session. We included headphones with battery lives that range from 10 hours to 40 hours. 
  • Form factor and fit: We have tested every product on this list to ensure that these headphones sound good, yes, but also feel comfortable to wear. 
  • Special features: Some headphones have built-in virtual assistants, noise-canceling capabilities, and thoughtful features that make switching from song to song, turning up or down the volume, pausing and playing, or answering calls feel seamless. Another essential quality of wireless headphones is their connectivity level. Headphones that feature Bluetooth 5.2, a more recent Bluetooth version, let you switch between devices with zero hassle. 

Are wireless headphones worth it over earbuds?

The choice between headphones and earbuds is subjective, but there are a few key factors. Earbuds are more compact, affordable, and workout-friendly than their over-ear counterparts. On the other side, headphones offer the best possible audio quality and noise cancellation -- and sometimes better battery life -- if you're willing to pay up. Better still, wireless headphones provide freedom of movement, whether working at a desk or using your phone to catch up with the news or stream music while commuting.

What are the disadvantages of wireless headphones?

Wireless headphones don't have the best sound quality compared to wired headphones with analog signals. That's due to their digital signal, which can't handle as much data as an analog signal. This is particularly important if you're using headphones to produce, mix, or master music- any critical listening task. If you are a casual listener, you probably wouldn't notice too much of a difference. Another disadvantage is that you need to occasionally recharge them to get the most playback time from your wireless headphones. If your wireless headset also uses a 2.4GHz USB wireless dongle rather than Bluetooth to connect to devices, you may be unable to use it with smartphones and tablets. 

How long do wireless headphone's 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.

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:

View at AmazonView at AmazonView at AmazonView at Amazon
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