The best wireless headphones package great sound, special features, and lengthy battery life into a convenient, cord-free design. On top of being the perfect companion for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, they also work well for laptop users, especially business travelers, remote workers, students, and anyone who loves using their portable PC as their main audio source.
Laptops were designed to be taken anywhere and can be excellent productivity tools or entertainment consoles when hitting the road. Pairing your machine with some high-quality wireless headphones only enhances the listening experience.
Sure, you can spend money on an elite gaming mouse. Maybe even a portable charger that’s powerful enough to juice up the laptop when an outlet isn’t available. But wireless headphones remain the wiser and more practical investment.
The market is flooded with options and styles, from noise-cancellers to truly wireless buds. To make the decision easier for you, we have compiled this list of the best wireless headphones, based on our extensive testing, research, and comparisons. Here is a look at some of our top picks in the category.
What are the best wireless headphones and earbuds?
Currently listed as the best wireless headphones overall is the Bose 700. A svelte, futuristic design combined with intelligible features, precise sound, and unbeatable active noise cancellation, the company’s latest flagship model has set the standard for what wireless headphones should look and sound like moving forward. Scroll further down to see our official ranking of the best wireless headphones in 2020 (so far).
In the No. 2 slot for best wireless headphones is the Sony WH-1000xM4, which is considered by many critics (including us) to be the best-sounding ANC headphones available. Audio quality is outstanding, with the headphones delivering boomy sonics and crisp mids and highs. Amazing noise cancellation that nearly rivals Bose, customizable features via companion app, and plenty of playtime (30 hours with ANC on) help solidify their placement on this list. Plus, Sony has cleared up that nasty call quality problem so feel free to make all the calls your heart desires.
Our top pick for the best wireless earbuds overall is the Apple AirPods Pro. This upgraded version welcomes innovative features like an adaptive EQ, effective noise cancelling, and even an Ear Tip Fit Test to determine the best ear tip size for maximum sound quality. Not too far behind are the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, noise-cancelling wireless earbuds that combine great sound quality with the very best ANC in the true wireless category.
With the holiday shopping season upon us, Laptop Magazine will continue to scope out the best Black Friday headphones deals. We’ll also be keeping tabs on highly anticipated models set for release next year, including three heavily rumored Apple products: the AirPods 3, AirPods Pro 2, and the company’s first-ever over-ear headphones, the AirPods Studio.
Scroll further down to see our official ranking of the best wireless headphones in 2020 (so far).
The best wireless headphones and earbuds right now
If you’re someone who wants to feel completely immersed in their Spotify playlists without any distractions, look no further than the current king of active noise cancellation. The Bose 700 is the best wireless headphones for the money, taking ANC to the next level with six microphones that filter out ambient sound across the entire frequency spectrum. You won’t notice the crying babies in coach when watching films in flight. Bose also programmed the headphones with 10 adjustable ANC levels, three of which can be assigned as presets to control the amount of noise you want to hear.
Even more impressive is the call quality, as the mics amplify your vocals, while filtering out background fracas. You’ll also get clean sound in a beautiful package that complements any MacBook model. Battery life isn’t anything to brag about, but it’s stable. If you have the money, then it’s worth investing in the 700’s charging case to get 40 additional hours of playtime. Bose also just released a new version of the headphones called the 700 UC that is designed specifically for video conferencing (e.g. Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams) and includes a USB Link Bluetooth model for reliable connectivity to answer calls in a jiffy and easily switch between audio sources.
See our full Bose 700 review.
The Sony WH-1000xM4 headphones offer excellent audio quality, 30 hours of battery life and a host of audio customization features that make the headphones some of the smartest on the market. And you get active noise cancelling that, dare I say, is a serious contender to Bose’s crown. And thanks to Bluetooth 5.0, the 1000xM4 can connect with two devices simultaneously.
In addition you can program the cans to pause whatever you’re listening to the second you speak, adjust the noise cancelling depending on your activity or location, and create a 3D audio experience. And this is all before we get to the excellent active noise cancelling that’s nearly equal to Bose, the incredibly rich audio experience, the 30 hours of battery life and the MIF (Most Improved Feature), the crystal clear call quality.
Read our full Sony WH-1000xM4 review.
The AirPods Pro isn’t the ideal audio solution for any high-powered laptop, but what Apple’s third-gen buds afford you is sheer portable convenience. They’re considered one of the best wireless headphones for many reasons. Comfort is excellent, thanks to a new design that now features integrated tips for a secure fit. Strong connectivity and instantaneous pairing are givens for all Apple devices. The charging case is easy to carry around and supports wireless charging, so you can place it atop the Qi-compatible wireless charger on your desk when crunching numbers on your iMac. Apple also gives you effective noise cancellation to hush annoying co-workers and commuters.
Sound wasn’t much to brag about previously, but that has changed with the latest iOS 14 update bringing spatial audio into the mix, a feature that brings theater-quality 3D audio to the buds. Sadly, there are no updates for battery life, which is something that definitely needs to be addressed considering the AirPods Pro has a shorter playtime than the AirPods 2.
See our full AirPods Pro review.
The AirPods Pro may be the better overall true wireless model, but the QuietComfort Earbuds are untouchable when it comes to active noise cancellation and call quality. Bose figured out how to stuff its elongated buds with the same ANC technology as the 700 headphones, nearly matching their elite noise neutralization with half the mics. The 700’s warm sound signature has been carried over as well, with the company’s Active EQ and proprietary drivers manning audio duties. And if you’re someone who spends most of their days on phone calls and video chats, then take solace knowing the QuietComfort Earbuds will treat you better than any other pair of wireless earbuds out there.
Keep in mind that battery life is subpar and enabling any of the listening modes will drain juice quickly. Also, the charging case is massive and carries a smaller number of charges than its formidable competitors.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review.
We didn’t think Microsoft had it in them to improve their popular noise-cancelling headphones, but the Surface Headphones 2 are a solid upgrade that adds slightly better performance and more productivity features into the mix. Being able to connect to 10 devices simultaneously and use voice dictation on Microsoft 365 programs makes them our favorite work-from-home cans. Audio remains well rounded, giving you a pleasant mix of deep bass and crisp mids. ANC and volume adjustment are also a breeze to control, courtesy of the user-friendly dials on the side of each earcup.
If not for the lower-than-standard battery life, we would have the Surface Headphones 2 placed higher on our list. Microsoft advertises 20 hours on a single charge, but it’s really about 18 hours when factoring in features, which suck up a lot of juice when enabled at the same time.
See our full Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review.
While we love the Elite 85h, its on-ear counterpart is just as impressive with a sleeker design, better battery life, premium sound, and a handful of features for an unbeatable price. At full charge, the Elite 45h grants you 50 hours of continuous playtime to enjoy solid audio performance, which can be fine-tuned in the Jabra Sound+ app. Fast charging is also some of the best in the category, generating 10 hours of use on a 15-minute charge. Light, slim, and cushiony, you’ll experience little to no discomfort when sporting these cans for several hours.
Just remember that with an on-ear design comes zero noise isolation. In other words, expect lots of sound leakage, which doesn’t allow for much private listening unless you’re tuning out to music at low- or mid-level volume. The plastic construction is a complete 180 from the tank-like build quality of the Elite 85h, but for the price, it could be much worse.
See our full Jabra Elite 45h review.
A notable upgrade of Sennheiser’s previous true wireless earbuds, this sequel boasts some of the best sound we’ve heard in the category, along with adequate playtime and impressive noise cancellation. Underneath the minimalist design are 7mm custom drivers that produce refined, loud sound, allowing you to hear the slightest nuances in songs; this is a treat when indulging in orchestral-heavy recordings. The low end is also well controlled, blending precisely with mids and highs for full, sumptuous audio. ANC won’t match that of the Sony WF-1000xM3, but it’s great for filtering out chatty neighbors and door buzzers. The buds come with double the battery life of its predecessor as well.
For $300, it should offer more features and a better fit, though keep in mind you’re essentially paying for Sennheiser sound in the tiniest form possible.
See our full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review.
A continuously growing feature set, impeccable sound, and a generous markdown keep Sony’s Mark III model in our rotation of the best wireless headphones. Had it not been for the higher-performing WH-1000xM4, this version would easily crack our Top 5 on performance alone. Audio is empowering and complimentary for all music genres, thanks to a variety of built-in EQs, as well as the ability to customize the soundstage via companion app. Battery life remains stellar at nearly 30 hours with ANC on, which is higher than every Bose noise-canceller on the market. Ten levels of ambient listening and NFC technology to tap-and-pair with any compatible Android phone are also nice touches you won’t find on most modern ANC headphones.
As much as we rave about them, the WH-1000xM3 headphones aren’t perfect. Call quality is some of the poorest that we’ve tested in the category. Also, we prefer the more luxe design of the WH-1000xM2.
See our full Sony WH-1000XM3 review.
The Jabra Elite 75t is a top performer that plays nice with all platforms (iOS, Windows, Android) and packs lots of functionality into a super-compact design. You can expect better sound and battery life than the AirPods Pro at a lower price point. Sound is dynamic, and access to the Sound+ app lets you tweak the EQ to get the most out of songs, videos, ebooks, and podcasts. The addition of active noise cancellation via free over-the-air update is a huge bonus, and though it isn’t as powerful as what the AirPods Pro delivers, it’s good enough to block out chatty neighbors and keyboard clatter.
What you’re bound to cherish most is the tiny charging case that stores 20+ extra hours and adds virtually no extra weight to your carry-on bag. For a premium, the Elite Active 75t adds durable aesthetics, slightly better call quality, and water-proof protection into the equation – three attributes that go a long way for fitness buffs. Jabra is even going as far as adding active noise cancellation to both models via over-the-air update, which we will be testing and providing feedback on once released this month.
See our full Jabra Elite 75t review.
See our full Jabra Elite Active 75t review.
For audiophiles and music professionals, Shure is a familiar name. But now, the makers of microphones, in-ear monitors and wireless headphones are heading into unfamiliar territory –– wireless, active noise-cancelling headphones. The Shure Aonic 50 is the company’s first entry into this market, and while many companies have growing pains their first time out, Shure is knocking it out of the park.
From its genuine leather and metal frame, cushy earcups and stellar sound, the Aonic 50 follow the high-end formula Shure is known for. And with a strong Bluetooth 5.0 connection and surprisingly powerful ANC, it’s clear that the company has hit a serious home-run. So while the $399 price will be a strikeout for most budgets, if you have the coin, the Shure Aonic 50 is worth the investment.
Read our full Shure Aonic 50 Headphones review.
The Major IV is a notable upgrade that maintains the hallmarks of its predecessor, while nearly tripling its battery life. A full charge gets you 80 hours (no, that’s not a typo), which should get you a good 2 to 3 months of playtime when using the headphones in moderation. You can also charge the headphones wirelessly via wireless charging pad. Marshall’s retro audio equipment design is still attractive and features innovative physical controls like the multi-directional control knob that makes pairing, playback, volume, and call management simple to execute. The 40mm dynamic drivers pump out excellent mid-range too.
As with most on-ear headphones, the Major IV does let in more noise than it blocks out, which can affect audio quality. Also, while we like the rich bass these cans deliver, we also felt the low end could have delivered punchier results. Other than that, the Major IV is another solid addition to the company’s long line of high-performing headphones.
The Pixel Buds 2 is a vast improvement from what the company has put out in the past, addressing the numerous issues that hindered its predecessor’s performance, while employing stylish design tweaks. As expected, Google Integration is flawless, with the buds connecting instantaneously to Android devices and offering cool functionality such as real-time translations via Google Translate. The 12mm dynamic drivers combined with an all-new Adaptive Sound feature give audio a rich, lively presence. We’re also fans of the flush design with built-in fins for proper comfort, as well as the innovative egg-shaped wireless charging case that holds an additional 24 hours of playtime.
The extra playtime is heavily needed, as a single charge only nets users about 4.5 hours of use, which is lower than what Google advertises. Not to mention this is the same as the AirPods Pro, a noise-cancelling model with better battery management.
See our full Google Pixel Buds 2 review.
How to choose the best wireless headphones and earbuds for you
The keyword here is wireless, so, realistically, you’ll want to select the best wireless headphones with the best connectivity. Look at the spec sheet to see what Bluetooth protocol these cans operate on; the majority of today’s headphones and earbuds have Bluetooth 5.0, whereas older models run Bluetooth 4.2. Just know the higher the protocol, the better the pairing capabilities and wireless range you’ll get.
Next on the checklist is sound. It goes without saying that these headphones or earbuds should sound great. Brand recognition goes a long way, so researching models from companies with strong audio backgrounds might help narrow down your selections. Otherwise, hunt for models with powerful drivers that can deliver well-balanced sound, no matter the media format (e.g. music, movies, podcasts, video games). We also advise looking at those with either programmed EQs or mobile apps with personalized sound settings.
The move from wired headphones, which require zero power, to wireless headphones can be a big change for some, as usability is based primarily on battery life. Simply put, you want headphones with long playing times, that way you won’t have to worry about carrying around a charging cable or portable charger. Most wireless earbuds are rated at 5 to 8 hours, though newer releases (e.g. Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus) offer as much as 11 hours on a single charge. Bluetooth headphones should last 20 hours or more.
Design is just as important. Why wouldn’t you want headphones or earbuds that look as good as they sound, and are easy to carry around? See what’s out there that is comfy, flexible, lightweight, and built to last. A travel case is vital as well, so don’t overlook this when browsing through the product’s list of bundled accessories.
How we test the best wireless headphones and earbuds
Several factors are taken into account when finalizing our list of the best wireless headphones. Our reviewers evaluate the following criteria: audio, battery life, connectivity, design, and value. Any models with app-enabled features are thoroughly tested as well.
Every pair is worn over the course of a week for 2 to 3 hours at a time. Throughout the testing period, our staff evaluates Bluetooth performance, comfort, ease of use, and sound quality. We listen to tracks across several genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical, and R&B, just to name a few. We evaluate clarity, fullness, and volume levels too.
With more streaming services offering high-resolution audio, we advise reading this audio codec FAQ to learn more about FLAC files, MP3s and everything in between.
Once testing is completed, our reviewers rate each pair of wireless headphones based on Laptop Magazine’s five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Any product that shows it is truly exemplary is awarded an Editor’s Choice badge.