Sony WH-1000XM4Source: Sony

Best Wireless Headphones Android Central 2020

At this point, Bluetooth wireless headphones have become ubiquitous, coming in a variety of styles and feature sets to support great sound. There are a lot of great options, and chief among them are the Sony WH-1000XM4 as our best overall pick. Their sound quality is great, they have industry-leading active noise cancelation (ANC), long battery life, and fit comfortably well for long-term use.

Best Overall: Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony WH-1000XM4Source: Sony

There aren't many flaws to point out with the WH-1000XM4, and its place at the top of this list isn't surprising since its predecessor, the WH-1000XM3, was in the same spot before. One of the biggest reasons why is the ANC performance, which gets an upgrade here courtesy of Sony's QN1 processor and a dual noise sensor that do the work of blocking out the background. Commuting on a bus, train, or plane won't be a problem while wearing these. Sony's pedigree in this area shows itself with true wireless earbuds, too.

Sony chose not to change anything about the sound signature, preserving the same bass-heavy balance that sometimes drowns out the mids and highs, which you could remedy through the equalizer in Sony's Connect app. Within that is a "clear bass" slider that can adjust the potency of the bass itself. It's worth using those available tools to get a more personalized sound out of these excellent headphones.

Sony also included the ability to pair with two devices simultaneously, so you can listen to music on one device and take calls on another. Phone calls also sound better because of Sony's Precise Voice Pickup and Speak to Chat features that optimize sound and volume during conversations.

The fit and finish of these headphones is almost unchanged from their predecessors. They look and should feel the same. That's not necessarily a knock against them, but you'd think Sony could've managed even better comfort for something this premium. Even so, you should feel comfortable wearing them for longer periods.

The excellent battery life will let you listen for longer, too. The WH-1000XM4 don't have a bigger battery, nor any sort of improved efficiency, yet maintain the same 32 hours per charge (depending on volume level and ANC use). Fast charging is convenient when you need some juice in a pinch. The only bummer is that you can't plug in to listen and charge at the same time.

Pros:

  • Class-leading ANC performance
  • Long battery life
  • Customizable sound
  • Fast charging capable
  • Great phone call quality
  • Pair with two devices at once

Cons:

  • No simultaneous charging and listening
  • No difference in design
  • No improvement in overall audio quality
  • Pricey

Best Overall

Sony WH-1000XM4

More than just top-class ANC

Apart from its outstanding ANC performance, the XM4 are a total package of excellent sound quality, comfort, and battery.

Value Pick: Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2

Coffee shop lifestyle image of Backbeat Pro 2 from PlantronicsSource: Plantronics

Most, if not all, modern over-ear headphones nowadays come with ANC in the box; especially if you're looking for wireless over-ear headphones, but you might think that makes options more expensive. Well, the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 are an excellent pair of affordable headphones. Plantronics has been selling the BackBeat Pro 2 since 2017, and they've done a tremendous job maintaining them as a real value option for over-ear headphones. The company didn't get enough credit at the time for what are a solid piece of kit.

First things first: the sound quality on hand is exceptional, and bass heads will be happy. They feature an overemphasized bass that gives the Backbeat Pro 2 an overall bass-heavy sound signature. However, the bass isn't too boosted where everything else is drowned out. The neutrality also benefits others, making them easy to like for their versatility.

The Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 are also super comfortable and shouldn't give you much trouble. This is important as they feature up to 24 hours of battery on a single charge. When the battery is dead, you can charge them with the included (yet outdated) Micro-USB cable. Bigger heads might not feel the same way over time, which may force some break time during long listening sessions.

Despite the excellent battery life, they do charge with Micro-USB cable lying around. Plantronics never updated these with a USB-C port, nor with fast charging capability, so they can take a good three hours to fully charge from empty to full. If you need these in a pinch, you'll need to make sure they've got some juice left.

Pros:

  • Great comfort
  • Long battery life
  • Excellent, bass-boosted sound
  • Tactile and responsive media controls

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • No fast charging

Value Pick

Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2

Playing nice for everyone

The BackBeat Pro 2 have a solid sound signature that works with most musical genres, and you can get them affordably.

Best Budget Headphones: Tribit XFree Tune

Tribit XFree Tune around the neckSource: Tribit Audio

When a pair of over-ear headphones come this cheap, skepticism is totally understandable. Somehow, the Tribit XFree Tune defy expectations and it starts with the ridiculously long battery life. At up to 40 hours per charge, they can play longer than most headphones do, regardless of price or status. The only downside is they still charge over Micro-USB instead of the far more capable USB-C. That not only means you have to keep an extra cable handy, but there's also no chance of fast charging.

Considering the price, the XFree Tune do perform well. Tribit elevated both the bass and treble, though with an extra tilt for the latter, which is why some tracks sound brighter. There's a level of sibilance that comes in for higher-pitched sounds, particularly with "P" and "S" sounds in female vocals or cymbals on drums. The overall sound naturally won't have the depth of more expensive models, but it does just fine as is.

The XFree Tune will be comfortable to wear for longer periods. They are smartly designed relative to what they cost and it shows in how well they fit. The headband and ear cups were snug without feeling like a squeeze. For tight budgets, these headphones do check the right boxes.

Pros:

  • Good bass and treble-heavy sound
  • Great comfort
  • Ridiculously long battery life
  • Budget price

Cons:

  • Sibilance with high-pitched sounds
  • Micro-USB for charging
  • No fast charging

Best Budget Headphones

Tribit XFree Tune

Long life, lower price

You don't have to break the bank to get excellent sound and comfort when putting these headphones on.

Best Budget Earbuds: Anker SoundBuds Slim

Anker SoundBuds Slim laying on tableSource: Anker

Budget earbuds are not super hard to find, but the true gems don't always reveal themselves. The Anker SoundBuds Slim are one such pair. With IPX7 water resistance, they come with a decent level of durability that won't ruin them if they happen to make some limited contact with water. Pools and showers should be off-limits, but a little rain won't hurt. Nor should an intense workout, where sweat is a factor. Just wipe them down and clean them, and they should be fine.

There is decent sound quality to enjoy, with bass that is fairly detailed while lacking that extra thump. Anker also gave the treble something extra, which is why there is a tack of sharpness to the sound. It doesn't happen all the time, and it may depend on genre, but in any case, the muddiest of the spectrum are the mids. For sporty earbuds, that's not terribly surprising.

Fortunately, they're comfortable to wear, which is critical for headphones that need to stay put during workouts. Fatigue really shouldn't set in over longer periods, regardless of whether you're exercising or not. Anker includes a number of ear tip sizes in the box to customize comfort further.

You can expect the SoundBuds Slim to play for up to 10 hours per charge, give or take time based on what volume you listen at. They do charge via Micro-USB, so you will need to keep that cable handy and make do without fast charging.

Pros:

  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • IPX7 water-resistant
  • Comfortable to wear
  • Good battery life
  • Affordable price

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • Treble can be piercing and sharp at times

Best Budget Earbuds

Anker SoundBuds Slim

Cost-effective in-ear buds

The Anker SoundBuds Slim are perfectly fine staying on and keeping the tunes going through a workout or exercise.

Best Over-Ear: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless ReviewSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

Sennheiser's heritage in great sound quality is apparent in the Momentum 3 Wireless, thanks to a rich soundstage that delivers the smooth definition the brand is known for. A slightly boosted bass meshes well with clear midrange and smooth treble for an appreciably balanced sound signature. It's wide enough to suit almost every musical genre. Musical elements, like instruments and electronic sounds, never feel lost or muffled.

The Momentum 3 Wireless come with ANC built-in, and it works well to block out a decent amount of low-end noise, only to struggle with higher-pitched sounds. It's far from the only pair of ANC headphones to be like that, but it would've been nice to see Sennheiser push the envelope a little more there. You can mitigate that a bit by playing music a little louder, though within reason so you don't damage your ears.

They are very comfortable to wear for long periods. You won't feel much of a squeeze because the headband and ear cups feel soft enough to enjoy no matter where or when you listening with them.

It's just a shame that battery life isn't up to par with similar models. The Momentum 3 Wireless can only muster up to 17 hours per charge, which is on the lower end for ANC headphones in this price range. At least you can use the USB-C port for simultaneous listening and charging when connected to an Android phone or tablet.

Pros:

  • Great, slightly bass-boosted sound
  • USB-C for charging
  • Simultaneous listening & charging
  • Excellent comfort
  • Decent ANC performance

Cons:

  • ANC isn't always the best
  • Battery life should be better

Best Over-Ear

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3

High-quality wireless sound

Sennheiser maintains its pedigree for superb sound with the Momentum 3 Wireless, made for any pair of ears.

Best On-Ear: Beats Solo Pro

Beats Solo Pro headphonesSource: Lory Gil / iMore

On-ear headphones aren't for everyone, but for those that want a pair, the Beats Solo Pro are a real standout to consider. True to Beats' reputation, there's plenty of bass to listen to here, though it's surprisingly subdued compared to what you would typically find in anything the brand does. The mid-range and treble pipe up well for a more balanced sound. It's still more weighted toward the bass, but not as much as expected.

The Solo Pro will manage decent ANC performance. Part of it is lacking, but simply because of the limitations of passively blocking out noise with on-ear headphones. The results aren't bad, blocking out much of the consistent low-end noise, but not as much of everything else. Overall, it gets the job done, so long as you recognize the challenges in doing it well with on-ear cans.

Comfort is going to be highly subjective. It's equally possible that you will get accustomed to wearing them, or find them too much of a squeeze. There's a good amount of adjustment, though the ear cups do have a strong clamping force that applies itself onto your head more than other models might. It's not conducive to longer listening periods, however smaller heads and ears should have fewer issues.

The Solo Pro are solid on battery life, getting you up to 22 hours of playback with ANC enabled. Turn ANC off and it almost doubles to 40 hours. It's unfortunate they use Lightning to charge rather than USB-C. Not a problem if you have an iPhone or iPad, but a little annoying if you're using an Android device.

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Great sound quality
  • Good ANC performance
  • On-ear design great for portability

Cons:

  • Lightning for charging
  • Not the best ANC on the market
  • Comfort could be better, especially for larger heads

Best On-Ear

Beats Solo Pro

On-ears sound good on your ears

The Solo Pro give on-ear headphones a good name with great sound, long battery life, and good ANC.

Best True Wireless Earbuds: Jabra Elite 75t

Jabra Elite 75t in the sunSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

The Jabra Elite 75t are the best wireless earbuds right now, and there are a number of reasons for that. As one of the most experienced hearing aid companies in the world, the company put together a truly impressive product. They did a great job improving the fit and comfort over previous models, vastly reducing any discomfort or fatigue over long periods.

There's no ANC support, a feature you'll find on other high-end true wireless earbuds. It's a good thing the passive noise isolation is great, at least. The IP55 water and dust resistance is decent at handling some sweat, rain, or snow, although for a little extra protection you could always go with the Elite Active 75t.

It helps that the sound matches the level of comfort. The sound signature is a bit bass-heavy at first, and you can easily adjust that in the excellent Sound+ app. It's a soundstage, made up of a smooth mid-range and treble that are pleasing to the ears. Call quality is great, too, and with a "HearThrough" mode, ambient noise can filter in so you can talk to people or hear the outside world without removing the earbuds. Unfortunately, you can only use the right earbud if you want to go mono and listen through one side.

Battery life is also much better at about seven hours per charge, and the included case gives you an extra two and a half additional charges for an overall total of around 28 hours. The case itself has a USB-C port and charges up fairly quickly. It's a shame there's no wireless charging, though Jabra says it plans to offer an optional wireless charging case in the future.

Pros:

  • Customizable sound
  • Long battery life
  • USB-C for charging
  • Water and dust resistance
  • Excellent comfort

Cons

  • Lacks wireless charging case
  • No ANC support

Best True Wireless Earbuds

Jabra Elite 75t

Truly wireless, truly good sound

The Jabra Elite 75t check a lot of the right boxes, and that's why they are the best true wireless earbuds available.

Best Neckbuds: Bose QC30

Bose QC30 Wireless Headphones on the busSource: Bose

Neckbuds aren't as common as regular wireless earbuds are, but the Bose QC30 are not only the best available, they're also versatile enough to offer ANC support. These do borrow a lot from the company's popular QC35 II, so there's some good stuff carried over.

They don't disappoint in how they sound, either. Bose gave the bass a small boost for a slightly warmer sound signature, and keeps it all very balanced, otherwise. ANC performance is solid, without it being overbearing and muffling the sound. Theoretically, you do have some control over it through Bose's companion app, except it only applies to the level of isolation you want while the built-in microphone is active. Beyond that, the app isn't all that appealing.

What is appealing is the level of comfort in wearing these. When the thicker portion rests on the neck, it takes much of the weight off of the cables going to the earbuds. It's much easier to wear them for longer periods, and when you're done listening, just let them dangle around your neck.

Battery life is decent for a pair of neckbuds. The QC30 will last up to 10 hours on a single charge, albeit without fast charging, since these use MIcro-USB to charge.

Pros:

  • Solid ANC performance
  • Superb sound quality
  • Comfortable design
  • Good battery life

Cons:

  • Micro-USB charging
  • Smartphone app could be better
  • Pricey

Best Neckbud

Bose QC30

Comfy fit with ANC

They rest nicely on your neck and are able to cut off most background noise for some leisure listening at your pace.

Best Noise-Canceling True Wireless: Sony WF-1000XM3

Sony WF-1000XM3Source: Daniel Bader / Android Central

More true wireless earbuds are now coming with ANC as a feature, but the Sony WF-1000XM3 are the measuring stick for this category. Sony took the excellent ANC tech it uses in the over-ear WH-1000XM3 and applied it to these superb earbuds. Their ability to block out ambient noise isn't held back by their size — a big reason why they are so good.

The sound quality is mostly neutral, and you can tailor it more to your liking by using the equalizer settings in the Headphones Connect app. Bass is subdued from the start, giving you an incentive to tinker with the settings, whereas the mids and highs come through with greater detail. One strike against Sony in this area is the Adaptive Sound Control mode, which just isn't very effective. On the bright side, the WF-1000XM3 do have an ambient mode to bring in ambient sound via the onboard mics to hear sounds around you without taking them off.

How well they fit is another story. The bulkier size has them protruding a little outside the ear, which may not feel the sturdiest, depending on the size of your ears. There's also no official water or sweat resistance, so using them for workouts or near water is somewhat risky. If you are to do that, make sure to wipe them down and clean them.

Battery life is quite good at up to six hours alone and an extra 18 hours with the charging case. The USB-C port is convenient, as is the fast charging ability. A quick 15-minute charge gives you a few hours of playback in a pinch.

Pros:

  • Class-leading ANC
  • Solid sound reproduction
  • EQ in companion app
  • Long battery life
  • USB-C for charging

Cons:

  • Buds are a bit large
  • Lacks wireless charging case
  • Adaptive Sound Control is just OK
  • No official water resistance rating

Best Noise-Canceling True Wireless

Sony WF-1000XM3

True wireless ANC

The WF-1000XM3 are the true wireless earbuds to beat when it comes to ANC performance.

Best Noise-Canceling: Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

Using Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700s outdoorsSource: Bose

Bose has a solid over-ear headphone lineup, and the NCH 700 are among the best you can find if you want effective ANC performance. These are the veritable successors to the highly-acclaimed QC35 II, improving upon them in ways that count. They sound great, and Bose fixed the sharper pitches from high treble notes and balanced the rest of the signature to make one of the best headphones for general consumers.

The ANC serves to help drive that point further, doing a solid job of blocking out most persistent noises, like engines, and some mid-range sounds like people talking. Higher-pitched sounds still pose a challenge, however, and it's when they break through that you experience one of the few hindrances in these cans. The good news is Bose was thoughtful enough to include 11 steps of ANC for some real customization.

Bose also made the NCH 700 comfortable to wear, despite being bigger than the QC35 II. There's a softness to the headband and ear cups that aren't constricting, so you may not even notice how long you've been wearing them. The larger size also means they don't fold, taking up more space in your bag whenever you're on the move.

At up to 20 hours per charge, battery life is above-average. 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.

Pros:

  • Superb ANC performance
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Very comfortable
  • Great battery life
  • Fast charging

Cons:

  • Non-foldable, bulky design
  • Competitors beat battery life
  • More expensive than top pick

Best Noise-Canceling

Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700

Escape the outside world

Bose covers a lot of good ground with the NCH 700, including excellent ANC performance, sound quality, and comfort.

Best For Sport: Jaybird Vista

Jaybird Vista earbuds with open case in backgroundSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

When it comes to working out, the Jaybird Vista are the best option. Well-made with a design that should fit most ears, they have a tight seal capable of giving you really good passive noise isolation. If you need some bass to go with your workout or run, you won't be disappointed with the audible thump these are capable of.

They sound good out of the box, but it's the companion app that takes the cake. It hosts an active community who create EQ presets that you can apply to the earbuds and alter how they sound. Browse through it and you'll find something catering to every genre of music. Use the EQ to modify or create your own. Save the ones you like most and switch between what works while working out, or what's best while working out.

The IPX7 rating gives you enough water and sweat resistance to do most active things. You can't take them swimming, but you can certainly run in the rain or not worry about some splashing. Make sure to clean and wipe them after exposure and they should feel good as new each time.

Battery life is decent at up to six hours, and the louder default volume helps keep it closer to that ceiling. The case, while small and highly pocketable, only adds an extra 10 hours, which isn't very high, but at least you can charge them pretty quickly via USB-C. No wireless charging, unfortunately.

Pros:

  • Bass-heavy sound
  • Comfortable fit
  • App-based EQ options
  • Rugged design with IPX7 resistance rating
  • Quick charge via USB-C

Cons

  • No auto-pause feature
  • No ambient sound mode
  • No wireless charging
  • Short battery life for case

Best Sport

Jaybird Vista

Made for working out

Jaybird gives the Vista powerful sound and enough durability to be an asset whenever you want to be active.

Bottom line

Good headphones aren't hard to come by. You just have to know where to look. This list is made up of a number of great options, some of which are especially good at a particular aspect. If you're looking to get the best, the Sony WH-1000XM4 are an outstanding place to start your search. Equipped with an excellent combination of industry-best noise-canceling technology, great sound, long battery life, handy controls, and a comfortable fit, it's hard to top them. There are great true wireless earbuds in the list, too, showing that great things can come in small packages.

While the XM4 don't look or sound dramatically different from their predecessors, the improved ANC and phone call quality make them even more well-rounded than the previous model already was. You can't go wrong listening to whatever you like most wearing them.

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.

We may earn a commission for purchases using our links. Learn more.