You are in the middle of a movie on a 6-hour flight. A tone runs through your ears. The battery is about to die and you are about to find out that the clumsy blonde really was meant to fall in love with the ex-jock carpenter. You reach for a cord to connect them to your tablet, but quickly realize that your headphones don’t have an aux jack.
Instead, when you need to know the end of that corny romantic comedy, make sure you get headphones that are both Bluetooth wireless and physically wired. This list can help you sort through and decide for you, where to begin your search. But what features do you need?
Noise-cancelling can be either active or passive. Passive noise-cancelling just means that there is physical material between your ears and the noise that will dull the sounds. With closed-back over-ear headphones you will always get some aspect of passive noise-cancelling.
Active noise-cancelling refers to the active management of the noise that the headphones hear. The exterior noises are canceled when the headphones emit an opposite frequency. This is typical in higher-end over-ear headphones from Sony or Bose. They are the experts in active noise-cancelling software, but there are a lot of players in the game.
You shouldn’t need to recharge your headphones after every use unless you are doing marathon gaming sessions or on a cross-Atlantic flight. Solid battery life should be at least 10 hours even with active noise-cancelling. The longer the battery lasts the longer your music will continue to play. Some headphones will have a quick-charge option that will give you a large percentage of your battery in a short amount of time. This is very advantageous for those that are complete procrastinators and need to quickly charge them before running out the door.
If you are reading an article on the top wireless headphones and considering how the music and sound are, then you should always consider the quality. We are all appreciators of the art deep at heart. When we hear music that is perfectly in pitch and balanced, we know we have discovered beauty. Sound quality always matters. It matters so much that if you have ever purchased a headphone set with poor music you know you hate using them. You know because you are here trying to find out what you should buy instead.
Design and Comfort
This may be less important but it is worth noting that design and comfort shouldn’t be forgotten. You want to look and feel good while wearing them. You want to be happy and proud of them. It is your accessory, and a pricey one. Show them off. The list below will get you started and, on the path, to wireless audiophile Valhalla. Pour one out for me.
|Bluetooth Version||Noise Cancelling?||Battery Life (Hours)||Sound Quality||Design & Comfort|
|Philips PH805||Bluetooth 5.0||YES||30||Above Average||Over-ear, Closed-back|
|Sennheiser Momentum 3||Bluetooth 5.0||YES||17||Brilliant Quality||Over-ear, Closed-back|
|AKG N60NC||Bluetooth 4.0||YES||15||Above Average||On-ear, Closed-back|
|Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT||Bluetooth 5.0||NO||31||Brilliant Quality||Over-ear, Closed-back|
|Grado GW100||Bluetooth 5.0||NO||15||Audiophile Dream||On-ear, Open-Back|
Philips PH805: Best All-Around Noise Cancelling Headphones
The active noise-cancelling tech in the Philips PH805 won’t beat out the Sony alternative. However, it will beat out Sony in price, battery life, and style. The comparison is only slight. These 5.0 Lossless Bluetooth powered sleek black headphones will keep you jamming out to your greatest hits for 30 hours. That is an epic amount of time uninterrupted.
The right ear cup has a 3.5mm jack for powered down sessions. The set is light at 235g and the ear cushions are butter-soft. The sound is equal and neutral over all frequencies. When you hear the bass or the treble, you hear both with equal clarity. Though they lack the punchiness of other top audiophile gear, they make it up with reliability across music and speech. With better than average sound at all frequencies you are getting a solid headphone set fit for any situation.
- Great Noise Cancelling
- 5.0 Bluetooth
- 30 hours of battery life
- Minimalist design
- The headband isn’t padded enough
- Sound Could be more dynamic
If you need a pair of headphones that you can use on the plane, in the house, on the train, or in the office then this pair is for you. The over-ear and closed-back designs mean that you will have minimal noise escape or intrusion, particularly with the active noise cancelling turned on.
Sennheiser Momentum 3: Tech Lover’s Accessory
If you ever wanted to add “Tile-tracking technology” to literally everything you own then you are now on your way. The Sennheiser Momentum 3 has the added feature of being able to track the location of your headphones via a smart app that clicks in with the Tile-tech embedded in the headset. Don’t worry. These headphones are still worthy of the audiophile name of Sennheiser.
The sleek and minimalist design is evident in the stainless-steel tracks used to adjust the height of the cans. This does cause the cords to be visible, but it also makes them stand out against the mono-design patterns of the Sony and Bose noise-cancelling headphones. The right side holds the buttons and access to the 3.5mm jack for wired listening. The noise-cancelling can’t beat the best in the business but with the benefit of 17 hours of playback, you will be enjoying the tunes heavily without a worry.
Some of the other features included are Anti-Pressure and Transparent Hearing. These allow the pressure built up by noise-cancelling to dissipate and for the noise to enter the cans so that you can hear your surroundings when you can’t miss your boarding time. You can actually hear your surroundings better than if you just turned the noise-cancelling off. It is as if you took them off altogether.
- 17-Hours Battery Life
- Tile-Tracking Tech
- Anti-Pressure Tech
- Transparent Hearing
- Amazing Sound Quality
- Great Style
- Noise Cancelling Could Be Better
- Buttons Can Be Glitchy
Sennheiser continually delivers one of the best sounds paired with some of the newest tech. If you are interested in all of the most recent features then you need to check out the Sennheiser Momentum 3. It is hard to beat the quality of the sound paired with the 5.0 Bluetooth and 17 hours of battery life. Here is where style meets function meets the future.
AKG N60NC: Minimalist & Modest
AKG is actually an Austrian acoustics firm that is part of Harman International Industries, owned by Samsung. So, basically, it is 3 levels of decades of global sound industry experts all building a global sound empire. The AKG N60NC delivers on this pedigree. For an amazing price, you are going to get sound and noise-cancelling tech usually only reserved for fully over-ear cans.
These on-ear cans are flashy, light, comfortable, portable, foldable, and hold Bose-level noise-cancelling tech. If you need something that less bulky than the over-ear headphones, then on-ear headphones are your option. Because the pads rest on your ears, they can get a little tiring. However, for daily commuters or medium-level listeners, this won’t be a concern. Think of these as the light touch to your audio experience. You won’t hear that bass blasting beat. You are going to hear each string and each vibration of the cymbals without the added flare that others introduce to the sound mix. You will only get the rich sound quality across all frequencies that you deserve.
With 15-hours of play-back, you will have plenty of time to catch the entire movie marathon on the plan or all of the episodes of the podcast without the need to recharge.
- Amazing Noise Cancelling
- Amazing Sound
- Small, foldable, highly portable
- 15 hours of battery life
- Not Bluetooth 5.0
- On-ear design can be a drawback for some
- Only a 2.5mm jack for wired listening
If you like the weight, size, and feel of the on-ear headphones then you can’t get any better than the AKG N60NC. The noise cancelling and the audio quality is comparable to the top of the line Bose and Sony headphones. The foldable design means that you can easily pack and take them anywhere you need to be.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT: For the “In-Crowd”
When you think of Audio-Technica you most likely think of record players and general audio equipment. They aren’t just in the headphones game. They run the entire game. The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT is a mouthful and a complete pleasure from start to finish. Whether you are a musician or a non-bass heavy music aficionado, the ATH-M50xBT is your audiophile entry into the world of high sound.
Just as good as the cans that cost hundreds of dollars up to thousands, these focus on quality delivery. With built-in 5.0 Bluetooth, you have the technology to back up the sound quality. The padding on the earphones is a little thin, per usual for Audio-Technica. They can be easily swapped out for other thicker pads.
These don’t come with active noise cancellation. However, they do come with 30 hours of battery life, 45 mm diameter drivers, and Bluetooth 5.0 that has AptX, AAC, and SBC supported codecs. So, you are looking at quick and sold connections to all types of platforms. True they don’t have active noise-cancelling but the closed-back design and over-ear seal creates an incredible passive noise-cancelling feature, better than most. It won’t cancel out the deep noises of the plane or train engine. Those can only be canceled with active noise-cancelling headphones. However, you will get a crisp and true sound and a great microphone for taking calls.
- Audiophile’s Dream Sound
- 5.0 Bluetooth with aptX, AAC, and SBC codex
- 30 hours battery life
- Great passive noise cancellation
- 3.5 mm jack
- No active noise cancellation
- Pads are thin
If you are focused on sound and don’t necessarily care about noise-cancelling headphones then you can’t beat the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT. They deliver on sound, comfort, travel, tech, and battery life. You won’t regret wearing these once you hear your favorite sounds coming out of the 45 mm diameter drivers on repeat for 30 hours before the battery is drained.
Grado GW100: Brooklyn Statement Piece
If you know Grado, then you don’t need an introduction. If you don’t know Grado, then you should listen up. Based in Brooklyn, NY, Grado Labs has been handcrafting high-end dynamic open-air headphones since 1953.
The unique open-back design isn’t just functional, but also it serves as a statement piece. It is a sign of quality and respect for the audiophile community. The Grado GW100 brings the standard Grado into the Bluetooth technical age with a great product that represents the company well. There is no mistaking a Grado pair. Nor is there mistaking the quality sound that they make.
Open-back designs allow the sound to reverberate not just to your ears but around the room and back again. You receive more than the noise but they openness of the sound. Grado is about the sound and only the sound. This is obviously clear in these headphones. Grado obviously wanted to compete with the other players for a piece of the commuter market. However, the sound leaks through the open-back design of the headphones. These are best for home or closed office use. Let’s be clear, though. They are amazing for home or closed office use.
- Grado grade sound quality
- Open-back grating
- Classic design
- 15 hours battery life
- 3.5mm jack
- No Noise Cancelling
- Should Not Commute with These in Public
- Mic is Not the best
If you are looking for a quality statement piece that delivers on sound and wireless tech then the Grado GW100 is your pair. Since 1953, Grado Labs has been handcrafting quality statement pieces for everyone. With a large playback time and a classic open-back design, the GW100s are an excellent choice for any home audiophile.