Top five best wireless headphones for 2019
By Oliver Trebilcock
Sound quality and battery drain are no longer a concern with wireless headphones. We’ve rounded up some excellent models to suit you.
Most wireless headphones work using Bluetooth. The best Bluetooth headphones are comfortable and have enough battery to see you through several long-haul flights. Most importantly, they don’t sacrifice sound quality for wireless convenience.
However, our testing has uncovered some models that you wouldn't want anywhere near your ears, wireless or not. Don't invest in a pair of headphones that simply can't bring out the detail in your favourite tracks, or have a horrible balance between bass and treble.
We’ve found great examples of wireless headphones that sit over, in or on your ear, shown in the table below.
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Best wireless headphones
These over-ear headphones are a landmark launch, becoming the highest-ever scoring headphones at our expert lab. The industry-leading active noise cancelling is the best we’ve yet seen, they’re superbly comfortable, and the 27-plus hour battery life goes the distance. They’re foldable and there’s even a detachable cord if you forget to charge them, plus a whole host of optional settings in the accompanying smartphone app.
These in-ear wireless headphones have one aim: to make your music sound amazing – and they certainly deliver. Sound is well balanced, punchy and entertaining. They’re lightweight and comfortable too. Plus, the neckband brings added stability and longer battery life. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better-sounding pair at this price.
40 hours of battery life puts these headphones at the top of the heap for longevity. But you need more than a big battery to achieve a Best Buy score. Thankfully, these headphones have the sound quality to match. We didn’t find a genre that they were unable to handle with aplomb.
These are an impressive, versatile pair of on-ear headphones with a lengthy battery life and a premium build. They’re very comfortable and the sound quality is superb. There’s a high level of detail in music, bass is good and our panel found them a pleasure to listen to. Check our full review to find out whether it leaks audio to your surroundings, and how these compare with rivals.
If you want to save yourself from the daily chore of untangling wires, truly wireless headphones could be ideal. The Bose SoundSport Free are a rival to Apple’s AirPods, and they come with a charging case that provides two full charges. They are suitable for exercise and are sweat and weather-resistant, plus the sound quality is strong. Find out how our expert panel rated the comfort of these headphones, and whether there’s anything you should watch out for.
Not found the product for you? Browse all of our headphone reviews.
And here are three cheap wireless headphones to avoid
The convenience of wireless headphones won't count for much if you get a pair that can't produce great audio. The worst models we see at our test lab are bad enough to induce headaches, with harsh sound and uncomfortable fits. Make sure you check the table below so you can avoid some of the worst offenders.
Wireless headphones to avoid
These budget over-ear wireless Bluetooth headphones are a shining example of ‘too good to be true’. At a rock-bottom price, they’re barely more expensive that some of the cheapest in-ear wired headphones. They seem to have all the useful features, including a mic and controls to answer and control calls, as well as volume and music controls, and the earcups swivel flat for easy storage. However, sound quality is appalling. Bass is boomy, but also thick and dull; sound is muffled and lifeless, lacking articulation and excitement, and highs are tinny and harsh.
On paper these headphones look pretty decent. They’re wireless and have small hooks designed to keep them secure in your ears when you’re out for a jog. However, the bass is overpowering and the worst crime of all is that they’re uncomfortable, so you won’t be able to get the most out of your workout.
You'll want to steer well clear of these headphones. They're actually meant for use in the home, so you can listen to your hi-fi or TV late at night without disturbing others. Unfortunately though, you're the one that will end up being disturbed if you buy these headphones. The sound is rotten - a distracting hiss swamps everything you listen to.
More on wireless headphones
Will wireless headphones work with any smartphone?
Pretty much, yes. The vast majority of wireless headphones – and all the models featured in the tables above – use Bluetooth to connect wirelessly to your phone. Bluetooth is a universal standard, so you'll be able to transmit music from any Bluetooth-enabled phone, laptop or tablet to any pair of Bluetooth headphones.
Things do get slightly more complicated, as there have been different Bluetooth standards released over the years. The later versions allow music to be transmitted in higher quality and use less battery power. Don't worry though: if the headphones and the music source are both compatible they'll automatically use the higher-quality version.
Can wireless headphones sound as good as wired?
The reasons are complicated but, in short, yes, wireless headphones can sound just as good as a wired pair for most people's purposes. The thing that matters most for sound quality is the physical design of the headphones. The best wireless headphones are capable of playing music in CD quality and above, and it's a matter of scientific debate whether we can even hear differences in quality above this.
How we test
We use a panel of five experts to judge every pair of headphones on their sound quality, comfort, durability and how much sound they leak. We also look at how stable the wireless connection is between the headphones and smartphone or MP3 player, to make sure you get uninterrupted music.