Working from home is a reality for many people now, and whether it's full-time or part-time, having a pair of the best headphones for Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, and other video calls is even more important. These come in a variety of different types — and for different devices — which is why the Bose NCH 700 lead the way at the head of the pack through their great balance of sound quality, active noise cancelation (ANC), and microphone performance. Here are some of the best headphones to consider for your home office.
Best overall: Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700
Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 - Built-In Microphone
While not technically headphones made for office productivity and communication, nothing gets in the way of the Bose NCH 700. Their sound quality is already excellent, with a balanced soundstage that delivers a nice mix of highs, mids and lows that will make listening to music during work hours more than enjoyable. That sound signature pays off for talking to people through video, too.
If your home is about as loud as an office would be, the solid ANC performance could step in nicely to block out that noise. While they don't quite hit Sony's level, they will do a good job holding off most persistent noises, like people talking nearby. You may have a more challenging time doing the same with higher-pitched sounds, like screaming kids, but with 11 steps of ANC included here, you do have some versatility to work with.
The NCH 700 are also really comfortable to wear, thanks to a softer headband and ear cups that don't feel too constricting. That helps if you're listening to music and doing video calls often. The trade-off is that these headphones are bigger than Bose's previous QC35 II, so that they may stand out a little more. If you're heading out anywhere, they don't fold. So they will also take up more space in your bag.
At up to 20 hours per charge, battery life is above average, although not quite top tier. A quick 15-minute fast charge through USB-C will deliver up to two hours of playback, ensuring you can listen to some tunes in a pinch.
Best noise canceling headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Canceling Overhead Headphones
Best in class
Sony has been the one to beat on ANC performance for some time, and the WH-1000XM4 are the measuring stick for the whole industry. The unique QN1 processor and dual noise sensor work well together to block out ambient sound. That's great for a daily commute on public transit or while traveling somewhere, but it also comes in real handy when you need to shut the world out to get something done at work.
It's also great that you can pair with two devices simultaneously — listen to music on one device and take calls on another. Phone and video calls get a boost through Sony's Precise Voice Pickup and Speak to Chat features that optimize sound and volume during conversations.
There's not much to bicker about when it comes to how they sound. Sony didn't change much with these headphones from the previous WH-1000XM3, so the same bass-heavy sound comes through. If it's too much, Sony's Connect app has an equalizer you can use to tweak things your way. It also has a "clear bass" slider to affect the overall thump of the bass itself.
You get up to 32 hours of battery per charge, and fast charging is always an option when they're dead. Just consider that you can't listen to the WH-1000XM4 when they're charging, be it wired or wireless.
Best value: Logitech H540 USB Computer Headset
Logitech H540 USB Computer Headset
When money is an object, or you just want value for what you get, Logitech's H540 Headset make every dollar count. While you could just as easily use a pair of these on a PC or Mac, their plug-and-play design fits right in with Chromebooks. So if you, or someone you know, is taking a school course online, there's a good chance they will perform well throughout every lesson. Likewise, teachers performing distance lessons might find the same results wearing them.
Given they've been out now for years, the H540 aren't about bells and whistles, but rather just do the fundamentals right. You will need to plug them in, as they have no wireless function, either via Bluetooth or a dedicated signal. That does mean you won't deal with latency and ensures voices are clear all the way through. You get controls on the ear cups themselves instead of the cord, though a trusty light on it will tell you if you're muted or not.
Even if you're listening to music with them, you should find they sound pretty good for an aging pair. They should also fit comfortably, but every head is different.
Best value mono wireless headset: Willful M91 Bluetooth Headset
Willful M91 Bluetooth Headset
Mono a mano
Mono headsets are probably a little old school, but if you prefer to keep one ear peeled for whatever might be happening around you, the Willful M91 are made for just that. Willful clearly has office and support workers in mind when it made these, but they're hardly a one-trick pony. You can use them just the same for video calls, too.
There's plenty to like for the price you pay. ANC support cuts off a good amount of background noise, despite your other ear being fully exposed. You naturally won't get all the features more expensive models have, but the controls and layout here do make the M91 a solid value proposition. They sound good, the boom mic is reliable, and they're comfortable to wear for more extended periods.
They also use Bluetooth to connect to two devices at once, so your phone isn't left out of the loop. Switching between them is easy — listen to music on one, and then move over to a call on another with a simple button. Battery life is decent at up to 17 hours per charge, though it is unfortunate you have to charge it back up via Micro-USB.
Best true wireless earbuds: Jabra Elite Active 75t
Jabra Elite Active 75t - True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds
Hearing them talk
The Jabra Elite Active 75t are among the best wireless earbuds for a few reasons, but what puts them on this list, specifically, is how well they can help you communicate. So while other true wireless earbuds could certainly compete with — and possibly beat — the Elite Active 75t in some areas, it's the whole package that wins out here.
Their call quality is already top-class, with a consistent clarity that you would want when talking to someone. Physical controls are one of those nuances that also help because they take the guesswork out of using them. For instance, the "transparency" mode is available at the tap of a button, bringing in sound from the outside world through one of the three included microphones. That makes it easier to talk to someone without removing the earbuds, especially at home.
One unfortunate performance issue is that you can only use the right earbud if you want to listen in mono mode, and there's no way around that. The Elite Active 75t also don't have ANC support, which is a shame when other models have it, but it's uncommon to see on wireless earbuds, to begin with. At least there's excellent passive noise isolation to help out. They already sound great, and Jabra's excellent Sound+ app has some useful tools to adjust it how you like.
You will get about seven hours per charge, so battery life will hold up well for you. The included case nets another two-and-a-half charges for a total of 28 hours. You'll need to charge it via USB-C since there's no wireless charging, but at least it charges quickly. The case is also small, so it's easy to take with you. It doesn't hurt that these earbuds feature extra water and dust resistance, too.
Best wireless headset: Jabra Evolve2 65
Jabra Evolve2 65
Speak clearly on cue
Jabra tried to skirt two lines with the Evolve2 65 by addressing a need to communicate for work with audio performance for listening to music. Headsets are often mixed on the latter point, but not so much here, where the two outcomes are part of the same sonic story.
You're not limited to listening through one ear only, so listen in stereo. Take away the boom mic, and they kind of resemble Jabra's on-ear consumer headphones. You can use these in either a wireless or wired configuration and have some usability elements that make sense. For instance, raising the boom mic mutes it, whereas lowering it unmutes it and automatically answers an incoming call. If you like Microsoft Teams, there are dedicated controls for it on here, though you can also use the Evolve2 65 with any other application.
They pair with two devices simultaneously, which is great if you want easy access on your computer and phone. The included dongle, which you can get in USB-C or USB-A, makes computer pairing really easy and reduces latency. It's just unfortunate they only support the standard SBC Bluetooth codec. They do still sound great despite that, not to mention that mic clarity, which is outstanding.
Jabra estimates battery life to go up to 37 hours per charge, but your mileage will vary based on how much talking and music playback you do. Also, the charging dock is a bit finicky if you place the headset on top, and it takes a few tries to get it just right.
Best wired headset: Poly Blackwire 8225
Poly Blackwire 8225
Hearing voices clearly
When you don't need a wireless connection while doing your business on a computer, Poly's (formerly Plantronics) Blackwire 8225 should fit the bill. It comes in either USB-A or USB-C variants, so you will need to know what ports your machine has before you go forth. Either way, these won't disappoint.
There are three ANC settings to help block out background noise, one of the primary features available here. Poly's Acoustic Fence technology is designed to keep voices clear despite any noise going on in the background. The boom mic is responsive and helps deliver crisp incoming audio for clearer calls. While not necessarily built for music playback, you can listen to tunes through your PC or Mac with a wired connection. Unfortunately, there's no Bluetooth, so there's no way to pair your phone wirelessly.
As for Microsoft Teams, one of the Blackwire 8225 variants is specifically geared for that program through onboard controls. The other two don't have them, so you're not stuck with those controls. Not to worry, though, because these work perfectly fine with other popular virtual conferencing desktop programs. Poly's software also has some extra controls and customizations should you want to take things a little further.
Best neckbuds: Poly Voyager 6200 UC
Poly Voyager 6200 UC
Fit for any neck
Neckbuds aren't as ubiquitous out in the wild, but they can prove to be supremely comfortable when parked in front of a desk for hours at a time. Poly's Voyager 6200 UC are a great example of that for the simple fact they cover the essential bases you would want in any headphones you're using to talk to people.
These used to cost $300, but are now $200, a price chop more in line with where these headphones are ranked. They come in either black or tan models, which may be vital if you're going to wear them often in front of others on video and want them to blend in well. The red cabling is standard for both, adding some flair to the design. However, they are fragile, so best not use them outside of work and leisurely confines.
They do a solid job of maintaining clarity for voices, while also sounding suitable for music playback. ANC does its best to tamp down background noise through the four-mic array. They're at their best in quieter environments, but hold up really well when noises pop up around you. They work seamlessly with a computer through the included USB wireless dongle, and you can also pair them with two phones simultaneously. If your office situation is a busy one, there's enough connectivity to go around here.
Battery life is quite good at up to 16 hours for music, yet only nine hours for talk time. So if you're doing both, you will end up somewhere in between those numbers. The downside is you will need to charge them via Micro-USB, which you can do through the included desktop charging cradle these come with.
Best for Apple users: AirPods Pro
AirPods Pro with Wireless Charging Case
By Apple, for Apple users
The AirPods Pro are already among the best noise-canceling true wireless earbuds available, doing a solid job blocking out most of the low-end background noises that are common. They do struggle with higher-pitched tones, but that's typical of ANC headphones and earbuds.
They're a natural fit with Macs, iPhones, and iPads, given the super-easy pairing process, but also the way you can manage them as you use them. Unlike the regular AirPods, the Pro have a better fit, better microphone array, and better performance. That can translate well to any situation where you have to be involved in meetings and interviews. The proprietary ear tips are a big factor because they can mold themselves to the shape of your ear for a proper fit.
They also sound pretty good for music, with noticeably better bass and mids than the regular AirPods 2 can deliver, and that bump in performance pays off during calls as well. It's just unfortunate Apple hasn't bothered to include an EQ to tweak the sound further, but you could try third-party ones.
The big problem is battery life. Only going up to 4.5 hours with ANC on — or five hours with ANC off — means you will have to feel secure they've got enough power before going into any video call. At least the charging case has another 20 hours of listening time. Either way, keep that Lightning cable or wireless charger nearby.
Wireless Bluetooth headphones have been getting better and better at handling more than just music, which is why some are on this list. It's the same reason wireless earbuds have made the cut, too. You don't necessarily have to get a dedicated office headset to get great results. Still, there are plenty of good ones if voice clarity and multi-device functionality are important to your workflow.
It's for that reason that the Bose NCH 700 are at the top of this list. Not only are they among the best noise-canceling headphones you can find, but they're also comfortable to wear and pack good battery life. They sound great on both ends of a conversation. You get the kind of voice clarity you'd want in any pair of headphones where talking to people is common practice, plus benefitting from how good music will sound when you're getting down to business.
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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