Best Headphones with Amazon Alexa Support Android Central 2020
Smart assistants like Amazon Alexa are becoming more popular than ever, and headphone makers are jumping onboard to offer it as a signature built-in feature. They're growing in number and variance, but the Sony WH1000XM3 stand out because of the combination of comfort, sound quality and versatility in bringing Alexa into the fold.
- Best Overall: Sony WH1000XM3
- Best Value Over-Ear: Jabra Elite 85h
- Best In-Ear: Sony WF-1000XM3
- Best In-Ear Value: Amazon Echo Buds
- Best Sport: Jabra Elite Active 75t
- Best for Audiophiles: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3
Best Overall: Sony WH1000XM3
Sony really should look into different nomenclature for its headphones, but this collection of letters and numbers has etched itself into audio circles as a force to be reckoned with. That it can make a good pair of headphones isn't surprising, considering Sony's pedigree for sound, but they're also effective in a variety of ways.
The excellent active noise-canceling (ANC) performance is augmented further by the custom sound options via Sony's Connect app. These headphones aren't a one-size-fits-all from a sonic perspective, even if their lightweight frame and comfy earpads make wearing them feel like they are, but they come with an equalizer and sound profiles so you can customize.
Despite only adding Alexa support with an update after launching the headphones, the integration often works seamlessly. It's easy enough to make general inquiries, request tunes from Amazon Music, or control smart home devices. However, it does have its limits — for example, it won't play music on Spotify through voice commands. That you can already use Google Assistant and Siri on these is a bonus, but even late to the party, Alexa still stands out.
Another irony is that, while talking to Alexa is simple enough, the WH1000XM3 do need a boost for phone calls, which are too muddy for something in this price range. Still, none of that would matter if the headphones didn't sound as good as they do. Battery life hits up to 30 hours per charge, and in using USB-C, offers five hours of use on just a five-minute quick charge.
- Comfortable and sturdy design
- Active noise-canceling and ambient modes
- Vibrant soundstage and audio quality
- Customization through Sony Connect app
- Excellent battery life
- Phone call quality needs improvement
- Alexa doesn't work with Spotify
Sounding off in all the right tones.
These feature-packed headphones are equipped with an array of sound options that get a boost with excellent app support.
Best Value Over-Ear: Jabra Elite 85h
Spec sheets often lack context with any product, but the litany of features Jabra put into these headphones makes them a compelling option, especially for the price. For a company that has staked a claim as one of the industry's best for true wireless earbuds, it's impressive how that transfers over to over-ear headphones.
The Elite 85h aren't so much a crossover from the company's true wireless earbuds, but the consistency is certainly there. These sound great with most music genres, and it always helps that the Jabra Sound+ app offers some customization through an onboard EQ. However, it's the little things that help the cause, whether it's minimal water-resistance, connecting to two devices at once, and effective physical controls. Take the headphones off and audio the pauses. Put them back on, and it resumes. Again, these little things add up.
A voice assistant is only as good as how well it hears what you want it to do, and the Elite 85h excel in that regard. With eight microphones onboard, the headphones have the kind of redundancy that can keep commands coming in loud and clear. This is crucial for Alexa, which can interpret commands in more varied settings. You won't be able to tell Spotify what to play, but that seems to be a problem no matter who makes headphones.
All that said, the ANC quality isn't as effective as it is on other models, especially compared to Sony and Bose. SmartSound, which is supposed to adapt the sound based on your environment, does OK, and HearThrough, the ambient mode, is suitable. One major detail to offset any flaws though is that the headphones last over 30 hours per charge, with USB-C for faster charging.
- Comfortable design
- Solid for music and phone calls
- EQ and settings in Sound+ app
- Auto-pause and resume
- Excellent battery life
- Good price
- ANC could be better
- SmartSound isn't always smart
- Heavier than competing models
- Can't use Spotify with Alexa
Best Value Over-Ear
Comfort and convenience in a solid package.
When a lot of smaller features come together with key primary ones, the result is headphones like this.
Best In-Ear: Sony WF-1000XM3
If there was a true wireless earbud iteration of Sony's over-ear WH1000XM3, these would be it. Much of what makes those headphones so effective finds its way over here. While smaller real estate limits how much of a boom the low-end of the sound spectrum will have, audio performance is excellent in spite of it. ANC makes its way over, too, and that works splendidly in most environments, especially when they're tightly nestled into your ears.
A firmware update brought Alexa into the mix, and it should function as if it's been there the whole time. It's not going to be radically different than on Sony's over-ear model, or competing brands, but it's nice to have. You can control smart home devices, ask general queries, set reminders, play songs from Amazon Music, and more. As for Spotify, well, you already know the answer to that by this point.
There are some caveats to all this tech. The earbuds' size don't make them ideal for a jog or run, unless you're alright with constant adjustments. The lack of water-resistance may also be problematic in situations where you're either outside in the rain, or drenching them in sweat during a run on a hot day. This has a lot to do with their construction, which emphasizes perfect placement, but only when situated just right. Since ears are so subjective in size and shape, it's hard to be sure if you will feel the right fit without experimenting with the various tips included in the box.
That goes for the case as well, which is larger than most other models. It makes up for it in battery life that lasts up to six hours per charge, with another 18 hours (three extra charges) coming from the case's own battery. It also uses USB-C, with a full charge from zero to full taking 90 minutes.
- Punches above weight on sound
- Effective noise-cancelation
- Comfortable when they fit right
- Excellent battery life
- USB-C for charging
- Not ideal for anything involving sweat
- Fit and comfort aren't for all ears
- Large battery case
- No Spotify integreation with Alexa
Small, yet still packs an audio punch for your ears.
Sony shrinks some of its tech to nestle into your ears, and the audio quality will reward you.
Best In-Ear Value: Amazon Echo Buds
Amazon's cupboard of hardware products continues to grow, and in this first attempt at true wireless earbuds, the tech giant managed an impressive debut. The Alexa app figures prominently in both the setup and functionality for the Echo Buds, as the lack of a dedicated operating system leaves Amazon no other option to make things feel seamless.
Through a partnership with Bose, the earbuds have active noise reduction (ANR). This isn't quite canceling, more a muffler to ward off too much background noise from seeping in. PassThrough is the opposite in that it lets ambient noise come in. These features, along with the touch controls available, are all there to change or adjust in the app. That includes the ability to turn off the onboard microphones entirely, in case you're feeling anxious about what Alexa might hear. Unfortunately, it's not an either-or situation, so if you turn off the mics, you can't do phone calls hands-free.
With Alexa so integral to these earbuds, performance is really based on how well the assistant hears you. You won't be able to do any more or less than other headphones embedding the assistant, but it is willing to play nice. Google Assistant and Siri are both accessible should you want to go that route. Plus, audio quality is good for a first attempt, and is probably going to be a (cheaper) step up for AirPods users.
Battery life isn't going to be spectacular at a max of five hours per charge (usually less), but you do get three extra charges from the case. Quick charging — unfortunately via Micro-USB — can get you two hours after 15-20 minutes of charging, but USB-C really would've been better for that.
- Alexa is baked in
- Active noise reduction (ANR) with Bose
- Solid audio quality
- Also works with Google Assistant and Siri
- Good price
- Battery life is average at best
- Micro-USB instead of USB-C
- No color options
- Can't turn off mics and continue hands-free calls
Best In-Ear Value
Alexa sits in shotgun
Amazon's debut in crafting true wireless earbuds with built-in Alexa comes through without falling flat.
Best Sport: Jabra Elite Active 75t
The pickings are slim for Alexa-enabled earbuds that can take a bit of a beating. Jabra has become an elite option in its own right with what it's done the last three years in that arena, and the Elite Active 75t are easily one of the best for active users. To be clear, this model is pretty much a clone of the regular Elite 75t that came out in 2019. The only differences here are the improved IP57 rating for water and sweat-resistance and the slightly higher cost. Other than that, they are the same.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. It just means that you're paying a little extra for added insurance they won't crap out when you sweat profusely during a run or workout. Plus, these earbuds were already building on a solid foundation, given how awesome the Elite 75t are in different aspects. Sound quality trounces the AirPods and is on par with the biggest names in the business. A smaller form factor (compared to the Elite 65t) and solid support in Jabra's Sound+ app round out a stellar package.
Alexa is an elective option should you want the voice assistant at your disposal. It works well most of the time, though it may have trouble interpreting every word if the background noise gets too busy. The same limitations apply, otherwise, which is too bad for Spotify users. There's also no ANC, so blocking out noise isn't possible, though passive noise isolation is some of the best you'll find for true wireless earbuds.
Battery life got a huge upgrade from the previous Elite 65t, almost doubled to 7.5 hours, depending on your average volume. The case is smaller, with a better fit for the earbuds, though wireless charging would've been nice. At least you do get USB-C with a reasonably fast rate of charge.
- Excellent fit and finish
- Great sound quality
- Efficient app support
- Superb battery life
- Better sweat-resistance
- No ANC
- No wireless charging
- No audio upgrade from regular Elite 75t
- No Spotify with Alexa
Break a sweat with added insurance.
Any anxiety over sweaty conditions shouldn't be a problem with the extra-resistant Jabra Elite Active 75t.
Best for Audiophiles: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3
Sennheiser holds a steady reputation for producing quality headphones with great sound, often competing with top brands through impressive audio fidelity. That remains the case with the Momentum Wireless 3, which admittedly aren't engineered for self-respecting audiophiles who are sticklers, but rather consumers who care about listening to headphones that offer better overall sound.
These do skew more heavily towards the low-end for bigger bass, but Sennheiser's Sound Control app can moderate that through its EQ settings. The beauty of these headphones is that they can sound more to your liking by using that kind of tool. The built-in ANC offers three different settings to block out ambient noise, while Transparent mode does the opposite by piping in that noise for greater spatial awareness.
Auto-play and pause when putting on or removing the headphones is convenient, as is connecting to two devices at once via Bluetooth. Fold the earcups in and the headphones turn off. They also come with a carrying case out of the box, including pouches for the USB-C and 3.5mm line-in cables.
Alexa is available as voice assistant option, and as you might expect, the integration is much like it is in other headphones. Battery life won't match what other brands can do, hitting a max of 17 hours per charge. There is no fast charging option, either, forcing you to wait longer to get them back up and playing again.
- Excellent sound quality
- Comfortable and stylish design
- Customization through Sound Control app
- ANC support
- Portable with foldable design and case
- May be too much bass for some
- Battery life could be better
- No Spotify
Best for Audiophiles
Tweak the sound the way you like most.
Sennheiser shows its chops for audio engineering with a crowd-pleasing pair of headphones that leave plenty of room open for customization.
Alexa is a ubiquitous voice assistant that people have parked in almost every corner of their home. Taking it with you offers a good measure of the same experience when out and about, even if some key integrations are missing. More headphones will be joining the group listed here, you can count on that. However, right now you'll have to pay a premium to get it built-in. As more headphones hit the market with Alexa onboard, the price should go down. For now, you'll be paying three figures for the privilege.
The Sony WH1000XM3 delivers the best combination of what you would expect a feature-laden pair of headphones to have. It's up against stiff competition, yet it covers the right bases by improving upon previous models and pushing other brands to raise their game as well. You won't be disappointed with the sum of its parts.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.
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