Your buying guide for the best wireless headphones in 2017
Being tied to a cable isn’t what the modern consumer wants and with many smartphones not having a headphone jack, it might be essential. Whatever your reason for cutting the cord, here are some of the best wireless headphones you can buy.
It’s never been a better time to buy some wireless headphones. There are more than even on the market, with all kinds of shapes and sizes on offer. The latest technology also means you’re not making the same sacrifices on sound quality, either.
How much should I spend on wireless headphones?
These days, you can get wireless headphones at pretty much any price point. Headphone makers have realised that not everyone wants to shell out hundreds of pounds for huge cans so the technology is even found inside small in-ear headphones now.
We’ve rounded up the best wireless headphones from both our budget chart and high-end chart so you’ll be able to find something to fit your budget. If you’re out for a bargain, take a look at our pick of the best headphones deals.
Please bear in mind that there are countless pairs of wireless headphones on the market so we can’t feature them all. These are the best of the ones we have reviewed.
What to look for in wireless headphones
The biggest reason to buy wireless headphones is convenience. Not having to run a cable through your clothes to your phone that ends up tugging all the time is so much nicer.
As mentioned earlier, phones don’t always have headphone jacks now so you might need headphones to be wireless to avoid having to remember the pesky adapter. Also read: How to stop earphone cables getting tangled or twisted.
Some wireless headphones even come with NFC built-in to make it super easy to pair them with a smartphone – you don’t need to do much more than tap them together. Apple doesn’t allow the iPhone’s NFC chip to be used for this, however.
There are downsides to wireless headphones, of course, starting with the fact that sound quality won’t be as good compared to a wired pair at the same price point. Look for pairs that support aptX, an audio codec that provides better wireless performance.
Wireless technology requires power to work so that means a battery is going to make them heavier. This also means you’ll need to remember to charge them up, but they will run out eventually. While some can last a whopping 20-30 hours, some can only manage around three hours.
Don’t forget that using Bluetooth on your phone will use more battery power compared to plugging headphones in.
If your wireless headphones do run out of power then you’ll want to revert to the trust old cable. Not all pairs offer this so check whether this is a feature; it’s also handy if you want to use them with devices that don’t have Bluetooth like the entertainment system on a plane.
For many, the pros will outweigh the cons when it comes to wireless headphones and we hope you find the right pair below. We’ll be looking to expand the list as we review more pairs. If you’re not sure wireless is the way to go, make sure you read our best headphones chart for other options.
Best wireless headphones reviews
They’ve been a long time coming but Bose has finally made a pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones and they were worth the wait. They’re only £30 more than the QC25 which makes them a no brainer even if you use them chorded a lot of the time. They’re comfortable, the noise-cancelling is outstanding and the sound quality is high-quality too. An all-round excellent pair of immersive headphones. We’d just like a better app and control over the noise-cancelling.
Read our Bose QuietComfort 35 review.
Sony has done a great job of combining style, functionality and great sound quality into a pair of headphones which aren’t too expensive for what you’re getting. Most importantly, the wireless sound quality is excellent and we’re impressed with the noise cancelling, too. Build quality is good for plastic and extra features such as NFC and easy to use controls add to the experience. These are a great choice for anyone looking for wireless over-ear headphones with noise cancelling and solid sound quality.
We said in our Series 2 review that some might find the £249 price a little hard to swallow, and it’s harder still to stump up £80 more for the removal of a cable. Yet, if you are specifically after wireless headphones, these are one of the best pairs we’ve tested.
Read our Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless review.
If you’re specifically after wireless headphones, the P7 Wireless are some of the best around. They’re not cheap, but they’re reliable, look great and – overall – sound great. They’ll suit those who like heavy bass, but don’t forget about the Bose QuietComfort 35, which may not sound quite as good, but has active noise cancelling and are £30 cheaper.
Read our B&W P7 Wireless review.
Audio-Technica has created a stylish and lightweight pair of on-ear headphones which won’t break the bank. Although we haven’t found them the most comfortable in the world, they have a lot to offer including NFC, good wireless performance and decent sound quality.
Read our Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT review.
These headphones are not for the more discerning listener but for a little over £100, they make a good choice for those looking for a combination of over-ear wireless headphones. The touch controls aren’t great and the noise cancellation isn’t overly impressive but sound quality is decent for the price.
Read our Philips SHB9850NC review.
If you can afford the price, the Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless headphones provide great sound over Bluetooth, offering punchy bass without going over the top. There are handy features such as NFC, a smart touchpad for controls, and a microphone for calls. Some might find the build is a little on the plastic side, and these headphones are pretty bulky – but that’s the street style that Sennheiser is aiming for.
Read our Sennheiser Urbanite XL Wireless review.
Audio-Technica’s ATH-AR3BT headphones deliver a balanced soundscape and solid build at a reasonable price. With a mid-range price and a jack-of-all-trades listening experience, these should be a good fit for anyone with a broad range of music in mind.
Read our Audio-Technica ATH-AR3BT review.
The Urbanista Seattle headphones are hard to summarise. The design is simplistic and attractive and would be a hit with the fashion-conscious, but there are downsides too; namely comfort and temperamental touch-based media controls.
Luckily they perform much better in the audio department, providing pronounced bass without drowning out the mid-range, although the high-end could be a little clearer.
Read our Urbanista Seattle wireless review.