Smartphones with a headphone jack may soon become a rarity. Even staunch defenders of the analog output like Samsung have axed it from their devices. This leaves music enthusiasts with two options: either use a flimsy dongle or go wireless. Wait, what about USB Type-C or Lightning port headphones? Well, in the over-the-ear headphone segment, those aren't really a thing. So, if you're ready to part ways with your legacy cans, then you need to get yourself a decent pair of wireless headphones
With a market full of options from brands galore, that's easier said than done. Which is why we've compiled a list of the best over-the-ear headphones, separated into categories according to their current price.
Headphones under $100
Anker Soundcore Life Q20
Anker is a company know for its good price-to-performance ratio and its wireless headphones are no exception. While this pair costs five times less than some headphones in this article, it still has some premium features. Battery life is amazing at about 40 hours and that is with active noise cancelling turned on (which is feature few cheap wireless headphones have). Of course, there are some compromises to be made and some of them are when it comes to the audio quality. It's not bad but you also wouldn't be impressed by it. Still, these will make a great companion for your commute and they look good enough to not be embarrassed wearing them in public.
These TaoTronics headphones come with active noise canceling, which is one of their defining features, but is it the most important one? Hardly. The 40 mm drivers, for example, provide clear sound in every frequency range. The earcups are relatively compact, but they can be folded when you need to carry them in your bag. Which won't be often, considering the 30-hour battery life. And if that's still not enough time to get to a charger, you can keep listening to music the old-fashioned way via the provided 3.5 mm audio cable. Speaking of the audio cable, as soon as you plug it in, the active noise canceling will turn off, no matter how much battery the headphones have.
These foldable bad boys will probably win you over with their premium build, which features minuscule amounts of plastic and mostly relies on aluminum and faux leather, giving them a luxury feel and look. With active noise canceling on deck and a foldable design, these are a perfect fit for commuters willing to shield their ears from the outside world and immerse themselves in mumble rap or 60s evergreens. Compared to the other pairs, the 16-hour battery life leaves more to be desired, with the active noise canceling gone after just 8 hours.
Avantree Audition Pro
These Avantree over-the-ear headphones set themselves apart with their exceptional battery life, which will net you up to 40 hours of your favorite tunes with a full charge. Thanks to their foldable design, you can easily tuck them away when you don't need them. Another noteworthy addition is the low-latency aptX support, which would severely limit any issues you might have with the likes of undesired audio latency. There's multi-point connectivity as well ― you can connect two devices simultaneously with these headphones. Of course, like almost all wireless earphones, you can also hook up a 3.5mm audio cable and not deplete the built-in battery.
Headphones under $200
The Skullcandy Crusher are not for everyone ― the fact that they are loaded with features to the brim is superb, don't get us wrong, but their weight might be be an issue for some. They tip the scales at 0.63 pounds. Thankfully, that's possibly the only big downside here ― battery life, overall comfort, and connectivity options are all top-notch. The audio quality is nothing spectacular, but if you like to really feel the beat, the haptic bass feature will make your head tremble. You can eke out more than 40 hours out of the internal battery and fall back to 3.5 mm audio jack connection should you deplete it.
Ghostek soDrop Pro
If you want a pair of wireless headphones that will make you stand out from the crowd, the Ghostek soDrop Pro are a great choice. Their design is unique but not too much "in your face" and they provide respectable sound quality for their affordable price. A cool feature you rarely get with headphones at this price point is the ability to have them paired to two devices. So you can listen to music on the subway and then easily switch to your laptop when you're home or at work.
Sennheiser HD 4.50
These Sennheisers are a perfect fit for those looking for active noise cancelation and great sound in a pair of headphones that won't add too much weight to your head but still cover you ears from all sides. Bluetooth 4.0, wired connection option, and low-latency apt-X support are also on board. However, the measly 19 hours of battery life when rivals offer upwards of 30 feels a bit disappointing, to say the least.
Audio-Technica is one of the big names when it comes to headphones and its wireless variant of the popular M50s is living up to expectations. One look at them makes it clear that music is your thing, and the drivers inside them can prove to anyone you're not just some show-off. The generous padding and the sturdy hinges make these an excellent companion. However, those same hinges can sometimes cause frustration because they spin and rotate in so many ways it's often impossible to put them on using one hand. Unlike other options on this list, the M50x don't have active noise cancelation, so you'll have to rely on what the earcups can provide.
Headphones under $300
Bose Soundlink II
The Bose Soundlink II are for those who want to treat their ears to an excellent experience. Starting from their super-comfortable fit and exceptional audio quality, these headphones allow you to simultaneously connect two devices wirelessly.
You can connect your tablet in order to listen to music and also pair up your phone so that you hear the ringtone when that important call comes in. You get up to 15 hours of impeccable audio streaming with these headphones, which sounds great until you see how long some similar headphones last and do it with ANC on top, something this pair is missing. But should the battery get depleted prematurely, you can always plug in an audio jack as a backup plan.
Jabra Elite 85h
Jabra might be a name you haven't heard but that doesn't mean it's not worth considering. With the Elite 85h it's aiming to compete with the top models from Sony and Bose but at a more affordable price. For the most part, it's doing a pretty good job at that. When it comes to active noise cancelling its capabilities are not on the same level as the headphones from our next category, but they'll negate annoying machine hums well enough. Where it excels is call quality. The Elite 85h uses 6 microphones to eliminate all the unnecessary sounds around you so the person you're calling can hear you clearly. Oh, and the way they sound? They don't have a ton of bass, the mids are scooped a bit, the highs can get chimey to an uncomfortable level. On the positive side, sound is very clear and everything sounds crisp. Luckily, there's a companion app that lets you make all sorts of adjustments.
One thing that annoyed us about them is that when the battery dies you can't just plug in the AUX cable and use them as regular wired headphones, you have to charge them first.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H4
The B&O Play H4 is a spectacular pair of cans that will appeal to even the most-demanding ears out there. These check almost all the boxes (excellent audio quality for the price, sleek design, wired/wireless connectivity)... almost all except for active noise cancelation, which could be a drawback for some would-be consumers. One other sacrifice made this time in favor of cleaner design was with the earcup ergonomics. Since ears aren't exactly round, those with larger ones might find this pair a bit uncomfortable due to the space inside the otherwise generously padded cups being scarce. If the pair does fit you well, however, the Beoplay H4 are so light you'll barely notice them on your head after a while.
Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
These Plantronics headphones deliver more than acceptable sound quality at a rather stomachable price. The active noise canceling this unit has is another useful addition to the fray which would let you isolate yourself from the surrounding world and indulge into your guilty pleasure tunes. You can do that for up to 24 hours on a charge, which is in the ballpark of what other similar headphones deliver.
Another intriguing feature is the auto-pause one, which automatically pauses the playback should you remove the cans from your head - super user-friendly!
The Bose 700 are a prime example of competition working in favor of consumers. After last year Sony raised the bar for wireless headphones with the WH-1000MX3, the other brands had to quickly come up with an answer. Bose did that wonderfully with the Bose 700s. Their sound is satisfying, noise canceling is pretty much as good as that of the Sony's and the mics for calls are next level. On the down side, they're $50 more and the Bose companion app doesn't have all the features you might expect.
Beats Studio 3 Wireless
Now, we all know that if you're looking for the best price-to-performance, Beats headphones are not it. But they have other strengths such as being recognizable from a mile away. Sure, not everyone cares about that, but there are enough people that do, so this pair will send a clear message. Additionally, unlike other pairs that come in two or three colors, the Beats Studio 3 come in 19 different colors! Everyone can find a color that matches their wardrobe's color pallet. And don't worry, soundwise you're not compromising much. They sound good with a lot of meat in the bass and mids. This can be a good thing depending on the style of music you will be listening to. But the lower mids can also become a bit overbearing, muddying up harmonics in multi-instrument pieces. One unique advantage this pair has is the Apple W1 chip that improves the wireless connection with your phone and gives them more range.
Sennheiser Momentum 3
Now we're talking ― these vintage-styled Sennheiser Momentum 3 are in a league of their own when it comes to sound quality. Active noise cancelation is also on board, similar to what you can find on other high-end wireless over-the-ear cans, but it's a tad less impressive than, say, the Bose 700 we featured earlier. In situations where you're prevented from using Bluetooth on planes (at takeoff or landing), you can use the Momentum 3 wired with the provided 3.5mm audio jack adapter. Unfortunately, when it comes to battery life, the third generation of the Momentums is a step down with only 17 hours of audio playback with active noise cancelling turned on. Oh, and did we mention the cool vintage design?
Sony's 2018 refresh of their high-end wireless headphones has brought active noise cancelation to another level. Meant for people who don't want to sacrifice sound quality just because they're on the go, they'll separate you from the outside world like never before. Their design isn't making any statements, instead focusing only on functionality, making the headphones easy to carry with you and less noticeable when you're wearing them. The 30-hour battery life will get you through the longest flights and airport layovers, so you can remain in your audio cocoon until you reach your destination.