The Best Wireless Headphones For 2021

We’ve reviewed hundreds of headphones in our time, and after factoring in several aspects like comfort, audio quality, battery life, and noise cancellation, we’ve concluded that Sony’s WH-1000XM4 are simply the best wireless headphones you can buy.

The WH-1000XM4 are so good, they currently take the top spot on not just this list, but also our picks for the best noise-canceling headphones and the best headphones, period.

Despite this unprecedented high praise, if the Sony WH-1000XM4 aren’t right for you, either because you’re looking for a set of earbuds or something a little more affordable, don’t fret. We’ve rounded up some more excellent wireless headphone picks, at a variety of price points and styles for multiple uses to make sure you can take beautiful music along no matter where you go.

The best wireless headphones at a glance

The Best Wireless Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony WH-1000XM4
Riley Young / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: Top-tier sound, excellent comfort, and (of course) impressive noise-canceling make Sony’s WH-1000XM4 the headphones to beat.

Who they’re for: Those who are looking for total sonic isolation and wireless convenience, but don’t want to give up high-fidelity sound to get it.

Why we picked the Sony WH-1000XM4:

Let’s get right to it. The previous leader of this list was Sony’s WH-1000XM3, and the WH-1000XM4 have everything that made those headphones amazing, plus a bit more for the exact same price. That by itself should be all you need to know to be sold on the XM4.

For the sake of thoroughness, we’ll break down these new headphones from Sony anyway. The design of the 1000XM4 remains largely the same, making for the same comfort and stability as the previous model. The battery life of these new cans is unchanged, providing 30 hours with active noise cancellation on and 38 hours without. And while Sony says it has improved its software algorithms and hardware when it comes to active noise cancellation, the 1000XM4 are basically the same as the XM3 – excellent.

The few significant changes that were made with the Sony’s WH-1000XM4 include the introduction of Bluetooth multipoint connection, allowing them to be connected to two different devices at the same time. Essentially, you could be watching Netflix on your laptop, field a phone call on your mobile device, then effortlessly return to your streaming enjoyment. The XM4 also got a wear sensor to automatically pause content when you remove the headphones, as well as Sony’s latest music upscaling tech, DSEE Extreme. None of these changes are major, but they don’t have to be. Sony’s headphones were already the best, and this new model only cements that position.

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM4 review

Best budget wireless headphones: Wyze Headphones

Wyze Headphones

Why you should buy them: Noise cancellation, transparency mode, slick design, and pleasing sound — all for the price of a nice meal.

Who they’re for: Those who want a full-featured set of noise-canceling headphones without spending three figures.

Why we picked the Wyze Headphones:

If you just read the description of the Sony WH-1000XM4, and thought, wow, I love those features but there’s no way I can afford those things, we’ve got some great news.

No headphones can truly rival the XM4 at a far lower price, but the $50 Wyze Headphones come astonishingly close. Their design and build quality feel nothing short of luxurious, and their generous ear-cushions provide comfort as well as good passive sound isolation.

But what really amazes us about these cans is their feature set. They possess both active noise cancellation and an ambient transparency mode. You can activate an instant conversation mode just by touching one earcup. An auto-pause feature stops the tunes when you remove them and starts playing when you put them back. And you can pick from your phone’s built-in voice assistant or Amazon Alexa.

You can use the Wyze app to customize various features including EQ, which is almost unheard of at this price level.

And though their battery life, at just 20 hours, isn’t super-impressive, they can be quick-charged for 10 minutes which will give you an extra four hours of play time.

Finally, their sound quality is very pleasing. Plenty of bass and a clear rendering of high frequencies is on tap, but this is the one area where their low-price can’t quite keep up with the more expensive models. The midrange can get muddied, and we don’t recommend listening with the analog cable if the headphones are powered off. They rely on the built-in amp for most of their sound quality.

This one caveat notwithstanding, the Wyze Headphones are one of the best headphone values you can find right now.

The best wireless headphone for running: Adidas RPT-01

Adidas RPT-01
Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They’re durable, light-weight, and have excellent battery life.

Who they’re for: People who want wireless headphones that they can take to the gym, or the track.

Why we picked the Adidas RPT-01:

You’ve no doubt seen folks at the gym or out jogging, wearing wireless headphones. But most of these headphones were never designed for athletic pursuits. They may work in a pinch, but if you want a set of wireless cans that have been created specifically for the demands of a workout, the Adidas RPT-01 are the real deal.

Let’s start with the materials. The breathable fabric that wraps around the headband and earcups may not be much to look at, but it’s designed to absorb sweat while providing grip, and best of all, it’s removable and washable. Can your other headphones say that?

As on-ear (instead of over-ear) headphones the RPT-01 may not deliver fully-immersive audio, but we think their lower weight more than compensates for this. The last thing you want when you’re out for a run is the feeling of having something big and heavy sitting on your head.

The headband has been shaped to provide a lot of clamping force. Our reviewer points out that its vise-like grip may be uncomfortable for casual listening sessions, but for the RPT-01’s primary mission of being great workout companions, it’s a huge benefit.

When it comes to sound quality, these cans may not please audiophiles, but they deliver what fitness-fiends most desire: Bass. Lots of low-end oomph is perfect for powering through a tough workout and the RPT-01 deliver. They’ve also impressive stamina with a claimed 40-hour battery life.

For those who want music while they sweat (and who don’t like earbuds) the Adidas RPT-01 are just what the coach ordered.

Read our in-depth Adidas RPT-01 review

The best wireless headphones for calls: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: The Bose Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 shine in voice performance, making them the go-to companion for frequent callers and flyers.

Who they’re for: Those who need excellent and reliable call quality without sacrificing musical fidelity

Why we picked the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700:

While the Sony WH-1000XM4 are our favorite pair of full-sized wireless cans overall, Bose steps in for calls with its Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 — which we’ll just call the Bose 700 from here on out. These are ideal for the individual who switches between tunes and talk often. In testing, we found that the microphone on Bose 700 consistently matched, and sometimes outclassed, the one built into the phone. Get ready for productive calls as those on the other end won’t have to devote precious brainpower deciphering garbled dialog.

Perfect for business users, the Bose 700 boast excellent noise cancellation, which helps those noisy rides in a car or airplane. They don’t measure up to the aforementioned Sony pair in that regard, but they come very close, and the rich audio performance helps drown out anything that might otherwise penetrate the soundstage. Although its overall design offers less ergonomic flexibility compared to the company’s highly refined QuietComfort II model, Bose’s signature comfort is in full force here thanks to soft padding for the cups and headband and good weight distribution.

The Bose 700’s controls are convenient, with three tactile buttons combining with a touch interface to give you one-touch access to volume and playback functions. One of those buttons allows you to adjust the noise-canceling intensity on a scale from zero to ten, or outright disable the feature altogether. There’s also a button dedicated to calling up your favorite virtual assistant.

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 have the power to go as long as 20 hours when noise cancelation is engaged, and that runtime doubles to 40 hours with it off. Even if you’re an unusually heavy listener, a 15-minute charge with the included USB-C cable can get you two extra hours, so you should never feel the need to stay tethered.

Read our in-depth Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review

The best wireless headphones for iPhone: Apple AirPods Max

Apple AirPods Max
Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They’re superb in almost every way, and the perfect headphones for iPhone owners.

Who they’re for: Apple users who want the best wireless headphones and aren’t put off by high prices.

Why we picked the Apple AirPods Max:

After Apple’s runaway success with the AirPods Pro, we were ready to be wowed by the AirPods Max, but they’re even better than we expected.

Yes, their price is high. In fact, at $549, they’re the most expensive headphones on this list by a mile. But if you’re willing to make that investment, Apple rewards you with beautiful design, high-quality materials, and a feature set that will please the most discerning listener.

Their sound quality is excellent. Some listeners may still prefer the Sony WH-1000XM4, but the AirPods Max are close enough that few folks will find them lacking. Moreover, if you have an iPhone, their spatial audio feature is a fun (and Apple-exclusive) way to enjoy movies.

Where the AirPods Max truly shine is their ANC, transparency, and call quality, each of which is best-in-class for wireless headphones. That’s saying something considering just how good the competition (Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700) is.

The noise-canceling is sublime and our reviewer believes their transparency mode is the closest thing you can get to not wearing headphones at all.

Apple has also done its usual “it just works” magic with the AirPods Max’s controls. The digital crown knob may look a little unusual, perched on top of the right earcup, but it’s intuitive and even a little addictive. The dedicated button for ANC/transparency is also perfectly positioned and works like a charm.

The innovative mesh materials used on the headband and ear-cushions are comfortable, but they can’t quite make up for the AirPods Max’s one major drawback: Their weight.

Considerably heavier than any other models on this list, you may find that they’re simply too weighty for long listening sessions. That’s a bit of shame considering how great they sound.

Battery life is on the low-end at 20 hours, but this number might be conservative. At lower volume levels it could easily extend to 25.

Pairing with and switching between Apple devices is a snap. The only thing we think Apple has to rethink with the AirPods Max is the protective travel case, which neither very protective nor very useful for travelers.

Read our in-depth Apple AirPods Max review

The best wireless headphones for Android: Google Pixel Buds 2

Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: It’s hard to beat the combination of features, comfort, and quality that the Google Pixel Buds 2 bring to the table.

Who they’re for: Those who are already invested in the Android ecosystem and looking for earbuds designed to fit right in.

Why we picked the Google Pixel Buds 2:

Granted, these are not wireless headphones per se, but until Google makes a competitor to the AirPods Max, the Pixel Buds are the best wireless choice for Android users. There’s been plenty of earbuds vying to be what can best be described as the “AirPods of the Android world.” Some, like the Amazon Echo Buds and Samsung Galaxy Buds+, have done well. But no product has brought it down to a science quite like the Google Pixel Buds 2.

Google’s second-generation Pixel Buds come equipped with an array of Android-specific features, starting with a Fast Pair on Android feature that streamlines pairing the buds with your Pixel or Android smartphone. They’re also the first Google Assistant hotword-enabled earbuds, meaning you can make voice commands just by saying “hey, Google” or “OK, Google” out loud. Toss in other stellar features, like the return of Google Translate, and these Pixel Buds certainly seem like the real deal for Android owners.

While they only have average battery life, the Google Pixel Buds 2 have an exceptional sound quality and a retooled design that fits near-flush in your ear. Add in those rock-solid features, and it’s evident that Google has created the best buds for Android users yet.

Read our in-depth Google Pixel Buds 2 review

The best headphones for gaming: Astro A50 headset

Why you should buy them: The Astro A50 headset lives up to its audiophile-grade promise, and then some.

Who they’re for: Gamers after the best wireless headset available.

Why we picked the Astro A50:

We take our gaming recommendations seriously around here, and we’re happy to confirm that the Astro A50 nails all the feature points you’d expect from a high-quality headset: Powerful audio performance, excellent battery life, and a great mic with clear voice capture. Plus, it’s stocked with a handful of other features that complement its powerful specs and help it stand out from its numerous competitors.

Starting with the audio quality, the Astro A50 is a wireless upgrade from A40, but with all the audiophile-grade sound of its corded sibling preserved thanks to 5.8GHz wireless connectivity for low-latency sonic delivery.

The A50 makes every game we’ve played with this headset on our ears more engrossing and entertaining. Not only does it live up to Astro’s claims of audiophile-grade sound, but the A50 is also a powerful headset that pushes some seriously big sound. The only aspect of the sound quality that we didn’t like was a bit too much brightness in the high-end. Theoretically, the included EQ switcher should have helped this, but we found the feature lacking. Still, even with that minor complaint, there is no doubt the A50 is one of the best-sounding wireless headsets out there.

Other features — auto-shutoff, hassle-free wireless connection, and long battery life — make this headset excellent for long hours of play time, while the A50’s mic will outperform whatever flimsy pack-in mic your console came with. We had a blast testing the Astro A50 headset, and we have no reservations in saying this headset should be the go-to option for both serious gamers and audiophiles alike.

Read our in-depth Astro A50 review

The best headphones for kids: Puro PuroQuiet

Puro Sound Labs BT2200 review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: The PuroQuiet are designed to keep children’s ears happy and safe.

Who they’re for: Parents who want the peace of mind of knowing their children’s hearing is protected.

Why we picked the PuroQuiet:

When we say “best wireless headphones for kids,” we aren’t talking about the cutest or most colorful — though we could see a case being made for the PuroQuiet being referred to as such. Instead what we mean is the safest headphones for kids. As reviewers of audio equipment, hearing damage and loss ranks pretty high on our list of fears, so we can empathize with parents looking for the safest pair for their kids (we’re actually turning down our headphones as we write these words.) In this department, the PuroQuiet can’t be beaten.

The PuroQuiet are noise-canceling headphones designed for kids that come with a hard volume limit to prevent your child’s tiny ears from getting damaged.

Despite children’s products being stereotyped as low-quality junk (rightfully so, in many cases), Puro hasn’t cut corners on the PuroQuiet, which punch well above their weight when it comes to looks and build quality. The headphones feature rectangular-shaped earcups that are made out of robust metal and come in vibrant colors like electric blue or bright pink. They’re blocky and colorful, as kid stuff often is, but don’t look or feel “childish,” if that makes sense.

They also strike a balance between comfort and design, with a plush, round headband coated in soft imitation leather. Even the adjustment section of the headband, which is also metal, feels solid and strong. Parents can feel comfortable letting their kids wear these, and the headphones are durable enough to take a beating, too.

However, the standout feature here is the Puro PuroQuiet headphones’ custom, built-in software limiter. It’s designed to keep music below 85 decibels, while maintaining a balanced sound signature. This means that your budding audiophile can crank them all the way up, and you’ll still never have to worry about them blasting their ears out. And thanks to 16 hours of battery life, your kids can listen for as long as they (by which we mean you) want.

Read our in-depth PuroQuiet review

The best wireless headphones for sound quality: Sennheiser Momentum 3

Sennheiser Momentum 3

Why you should buy them: For the money, there are no better-sounding wireless headphones out there.

Who they’re for: Avid audiophiles who want to go wireless.

Why we picked the Sennheiser Momentum 3:

Followers of this round-up will no doubt wonder why the Sennheiser Momentum 3 have taken the place of our previous pick for this category, the Master and Dynamic MW65. The answer comes down to price. We still adore the MW65 for their incredible wireless sound quality, which we still believe is the best you’ll find. But the Sennheiser Momentum 3 come so close — yet they cost around $100 less —  it makes them the better overall value.

When our reviewers spent time with the Momentum 3, it was clear that Sennheiser hadn’t wavered one bit from its commitment to top-notch sound. The wireless cans manage to “achieve both energy and accuracy in a way that we’ve rarely experienced from wireless headphones before,” with modern rock music being an especially strong genre. Female vocals, in particular, stand out from the mix and are given just the right amount of precision and crispness, without suffering from any harshness.

Noise-cancellation, though not quite as good as the Bose or Sonys, will still satisfy most listeners in typical environments like coffee shops and public transit. Call quality is also excellent thanks to Sennheiser’s judicious placement of mics on the earcups.

Of course, there’s more to the Momentum 3 than just sound quality. In our opinion, they’re some of the best-looking headphones on the market. The clean, bare-bones design has a slightly retro vibe, yet the choice of materials makes it clear these are state-of-the-art. Their physical buttons instead of touch controls make them a snap to figure out and use, and Sennheiser’s companion app for iOS and Android let you tweak things like EQ to your heart’s content.

Integrated Tile tracking is a bonus: No more where-the-heck-did-I-leave-my-headphones as you try to get out the door in the morning.

Are they perfect? No — we have some minor quibbles when it comes to battery life, which at just 17 hours is only just OK, and we wish the headband had just a bit more padding. The lack of a hard case and the Momentum 3’s one-way folding design means that they’re not going to be as good for frequent travelers as some of our other picks.

That said, if you’re looking for sublime sound in a set of wireless headphones, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 check all of the right boxes and even save you some money over pricier models.

Read our in-depth Sennheiser Momentum 3 review

Research and buying tips

Are Airpods the best wireless headphones?

While this is obviously subjective, our answer is no. The latest AirPods have middling battery life, mediocre sound, and are missing features we expect to see in top wireless earbuds, including waterproofing and features like ambient awareness mode. That said, Apple’s new AirPods Max are spectacular. If it weren’t for their sky-high price and some Apple-exclusive features, they’d have nabbed the top spot.

Do wireless headphones work well for TV?

Generally, only with TVs that output Bluetooth audio, many of which do not. Otherwise, you’ll usually need an adapter or select soundbars with Bluetooth transmission.

Can I make calls with wireless headphones?

As long as they have a built-in microphone, which the vast majority do, you can make calls with your wireless headphones.

Are any wireless headphones sweatproof?

Yes, if they have an IPX rating for water or sweat resistance.

How durable are wireless headphones?

This depends heavily upon the make and model.

How long do wireless headphone batteries last?

This depends on many factors, but batteries last anywhere from 3 to 36 hours or more per charge. Expect battery life on the lower end of that scale for wireless earbuds, while full-sized over-ear headphones typically last much longer. If the wireless headphones in question offer a decently fast quick-charge option, that can make up for a smaller battery capacity. A bigger question is, how long will those rechargeable batteries continue to hold a full charge? As we’ve seen with Apple’s AirPods, the answer isn’t always great.

Are wireless or wired headphones better?

Wired headphones will almost always offer better fidelity, longevity, and durability. For most use cases, though, wireless headphones offer significantly more convenience.

How we test

We test headphones and earbuds the way normal people live.

We run every pair of headphones through a rigorous process over several days. That includes playing them in all sorts of scenarios — be it on a bus, in the listening room, or at the office — and playing back from a wide array of s. We know most people use their headphones with a smartphone, often with lower quality MP3 resolution tracks, so we do, too.

However, we also move up to high-resolution audio files, as well as a wide variety of s, including plugging in directly to a PC or Mac, using USB DACs (digital-to-analog converters), and employing high-quality dedicated portable players and amplifiers. Finally, we compare the headphones to some of our go-to models, both in their class and price point, as well as a level or two above to find out if they can punch above their weight.

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