Whether you’re an iPhone owner with nowhere to plug your headphones in or are just sick of untangling the cable every time you take them out of your pocket, there are plenty of reasons to go wireless.
But with so many different pairs on offer, how do you pick the right ones for you? You don’t have to, because we’ve tapped into the know-how of the experts at our sister sites What Hi-Fi and TechRadar to compile a list of the finest Bluetooth headphones around, from gym-ready in-ears to premium noise-cancellers.
So without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the 10 best pairs of wireless headphones you can get your hands on this instant.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Don’t be put off by the fact that they’re usually seen on the heads of frequent flyers and straight-laced suits, Bose has earned a reputation for making the best noise-cancelling cans for good reason. What they lack in design flair they make up for with the most effective din-dampening tech in the business, turning a cacophonous train carriage into veritable oasis of calm.
Sony and B&W might make pairs that sound slightly better (see below) but the QuietComfort 35s still offer lashings of detail and well-controlled, weighty bass. With the relevant apps installed on your phone, you can even use them to talk to Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. Battery life of 20 hours is just the icing on the cake.
Depending on your point of view, Apple’s entirely wire-free AirPods are a triumph of technology or a good way of spotting morons who are easily parted with their money. The truth, as usual, is probably somewhere in the middle, as these truly wireless Sony in-ears both sound better than AirPods and make you stand out less in the supermarket.
The slightly sci-fi styling of the gold ones might be an acquired taste but once you’ve got them in your ears the sound will quickly make you forget what they look like, with powerful bass, plenty of detail and impressive clarity. Noise-cancelling is surprisingly effective given their size, and the 9-hour battery life can be bolstered by sticking them inside the charging case.
Urbanista Seattle Wireless
For well under £100 you’d expect Urbanista’s Seattle cans to make some significant compromises somewhere to keep the cost down, but there’s very little here that gives their affordable price tag away.
Their lively, bassy performance certainly isn’t just to mask a lack of detail, because they offer an engaging, well-rounded sound with natural-sounding vocals. Some might say the design’s too plain, but with the controls built into a touch-sensitive earcup you can just call it Scandi minimalism. There’s no escaping the fact that the build does feel a little on the cheap side, but at this price, to dwell on that feels like nothing more than nit picking.
The only problem with wearing noise-cancelling headphones is that there could be a zombie outbreak happening around you and you might not hear the screams and groans until it’s too late.
Sony’s WH-1000XM2 allow you to temporarily reduce the volume of your music just by holding a hand over one ear, so you can check there’s not been an uprising without having to take them off. They also have sensors built in to detect whether you’re on a train or plane, out walking or sitting at your desk, and will automatically adjust the balance of the noise-cancelling to make sure it’s working hard enough, while still letting in some of the outside world if necessary.
That’d all be for naught if they sounded rubbish, but these all-rounders are real stonkers.
Bowers & Wilkins PX
Bowers & Wilkins have spent the last 50 years making expensive hi-fi gear, with their speakers even used at Abbey Road, so plenty of high-end audio know-how has gone into making these PX headphones.
You probably won’t find better sound quality from any of the other pairs on this list, with unbeatable clarity and the kind of detail that’ll make songs you’ve heard a thousand times before sound brand new.
The built-in motion sensors mean your music will pause when you take them off and resume playing again when you put them back on, while the noise-cancelling can be adjusted depending on your environment. Add in a 22-hour battery life and you’ve got a formidable package.
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless
Rather than the high-tech aesthetic that most top-end headphones tend to go for, Sennheiser’s Momentum 2.0 Wireless have an altogether more analogue look to them, with a retro leather headband, exposed wiring and stainless steel sliders.
That’s not to say they’re missing any major modern features though. Just like their similarly priced rivals there’s active noise-cancelling, a built-in microphone for taking phone calls while you wear them, and battery life of around 22 hours - but it’s on good old-fashioned sound quality where they really impress. Bass is punchy without being overpowering and they’ll dig out plenty of detail too. These really are up there with the best.
Bose SoundSport Pulse
If you mainly wear your earphones down the gym or out jogging and you’re after a pair that’ll do a little more than just play music to take your mind off the pain, Bose’s SoundSport Pulse have a nifty trick up their sleeve. They come with a built-in heart-rate sensor that sends data from your ticker to Bose’s Connect app, which can be hooked up to popular fitness platforms such as Strava and MapMyRun.
That would be pointless if they didn’t sound good enough to motivate you to run faster but their fun, bassy tone is the ideal accompaniment to exercise and the wireless signal is unmoved by vigorous activity. As in-ears go they’re quite bulky, and the five-hour battery life isn’t much to write home about, but gym addicts might just have found their perfect partner.
Despite being around for a few years now, AKG’s foldable Y50BT on-ears remain one of the best pairs of Bluetooth headphones available - and for less than £100 as well. That makes them one of the biggest bargains on this list.
Design-wise they’re a little on the functional side, although you can get them in bright blue if you’d like to stand out a little more, but if comfort is high on your agenda these will sit on your ears for ages without giving you cause for complaint. They sound excellent too, with stacks of detail and a real sense of dynamism that breathes life into your tunes.
Bose QuietControl 30
If you’re after a bit of peace and quiet but don’t want a hefty pair of over-ears keeping your lugs warm, Bose has also put its noise-cancelling know-how into these in-ears.
They come with a fairly chunky plastic collar but that’s what extends their battery life to a similarly hefty 10 hours. Some people will be immediately put off by it but if you can put up with it sitting on your shoulders you’ll be rewarded with a well-balanced, detailed sound that picks out individual instruments surprisingly well.
The size of the price tag is hard to ignore but you’ll be hard pushed to find a pair of in-ears that sound as good and are as feature-packed as these.
If you’re worried about remembering to put your headphones on charge every couple of days, pick a pair that’ll last weeks before the battery dies.
Audio-Technica’s ATH-AR5BT boast a whopping 38-hour battery life, which means you can forget to turn them off and probably still have enough juice in them to get you home at the end of the day (and back to work again in the morning after you forget to recharge them that night).
Sound quality isn’t quite as good as the priciest pairs on this list, but considering they cost significantly less than those, there’s still plenty of detail, nicely textured bass and reliable wireless performance.