Choosing the Right Bluetooth Headphones help you get the best sound quality with The Wirecutter guide. Bluetooth headphones give you the freedom to listen not only wirelessly but with noise-cancelling audio purity.
Bluetooth Headphones WireCutter Guide
Bluetooth headphones have come a long way from the early days of boom boxes and Walkmans. Today’s Bluetooth headphones are small and light, have battery-powered noise cancelling, work seamlessly with most audio devices and, above all, are cordless.
Bluetooth headphones have several advantages over their wired counterparts. Long gone are knots or tangled cords and the risk of getting the wire caught on something like a door handle.
Bluetooth is starting to take over wired connections, at least for mobile devices. Apple has removed the headphone jack from the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Apple includes a pair of Lightning EarPods and an adaptor for connecting your standard 3.5 mm headphones, but these may not be the best option. The EarPods have poor audio quality, don’t provide a strong seal and let in external noise. They fall out of your ears, too, which is incredibly frustrating.
If you decide to use your old headphones with the newest iPhone, you have to carry around a small, easy-to-lose adaptor. And if you forget it, you are out of luck and won’t have any way to listen to your music. Lose it and it’ll cost you about 10 bucks for a replacement.
On the other hand, many Bluetooth headphones are noise cancelling and have impressive sound quality, especially when it comes to bass. Not only that – they work wirelessly with a handful of devices besides your smartphone, whether it’s your laptop, smart TV, tablet or smartwatch.
For the best sound quality and overall performance, the JBL Tune 510BT, JBL Live 460NC, Sony Wireless Headphones WH-CH510 and the Bose QuietComfort 45 Bluetooth Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones are our top contenders.
Bluetooth Headphones: What to Look for
During our Bluetooth headphone comparison, we found that certain features made the best headphones stand apart. Convenient features such as NFC (near-field communication), day-long battery life and easy-to-use remotes are just some of the liberating elements we looked for in top Bluetooth headphones.
The first thing you should look for with Bluetooth headphones is sound quality. While it’s only normal to want good-looking headphones, you shouldn’t sacrifice substance for aesthetics. Frequency response is one major factor to consider. Headphones with a wide frequency response offer the best and most clear sound at both high and low tones. The standard range is 20Hz to 20kHz, anything with a wider range is better though. You also want to look at the sensitivity and the headphones’ overall sound quality.
The best Bluetooth headphones have a good balance of strong bass and crisp middle and high frequencies. Larger drivers also aid in creating a full soundscape so look for 30 mm to 50 mm drivers. Many headphones also function as Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones so you get a quiet, wireless listening experience.
A convenient design is a major highlight of the best Bluetooth headsets. Most headphones have Li-Ion batteries or LiPo batteries. Li-Ion batteries last longer whereas LiPo batteries are smaller and weigh less. A good battery life will last at least eight hours in active Bluetooth mode and at least 20 hours in standby mode. Keep in mind that the heavier your headphones are, the less comfortable they will be to wear for a long period of time, so look for something less than 9 ounces.
A headphone’s design not only governs general aesthetics and comfort, but also sound quality. Over-ear ear cups are generally more comfortable and naturally block out extraneous noise for a rich, full listening environment. On-ear ear cups are much lighter but allow for sound to escape both ways.
Since these are wireless headphones, remotes are located on the ear cups instead of in-line on the cord. Some ear cups are easier to use than others, so look for headphones with numerous remote features for the most convenient control systems. Ear cups also include mics so you can make phone calls.
Top Bluetooth headphones have large wireless ranges so you’re not tethered to your phone, tablet or music device. Any range larger than about 30 feet will allow you to walk around your house or office without losing audio range. A detachable cable should also be included so you can listen passively if your battery dies on a long flight.
Features like aptX, NFC and an app greatly improve your audio quality and the headphones’ user friendliness. With aptX, your headphones don’t sound like the poor quality you expect from Bluetooth headphones, the audio is louder and richer. NFC (near-field communication) lets you tap your phone and Bluetooth headset together for faster pairing. By controlling the equalizer with the accompanying app, you have complete control over your musical experience.
Help & Support
After you purchase Bluetooth headphones, you might have questions about pairing devices or maintaining the headset so make sure you have access to email, phone or live chat support. Any smaller questions you have should be easily located in the FAQs page on the company website or the included user manual. A one-year to two-year warranty is standard.
For our Bluetooth headphones review, we found that the best products had more features than just Bluetooth to their name. Many are noise cancelling, have large wireless radiuses and have NFC and aptX capabilities. With all of these features combined, you’re sure to find the perfect set for wireless listening.