Best Wireless Headphones 2018: The very best Bluetooth headphones

This is why you should trust our list of the best wireless headphones:

We’ve been reviewing wireless headphones since before they were cool, back when they were a niche feature, and way before Apple made wirelessness necessary by removing the iPhone’s headphone jack. We test everything from the latest big-name releases to obscure up-and-comers, so you know when we recommend something, we do so with plenty of context.

We may make money if you click on one of the links to buy a set of wireless headphones. This means we want you to be happy with your purchase, so you come back to us again the next time you need something.

Best overall wireless headphones

Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless Over-Ear Noise Cancelling High Resolution Headphones

These are our favourite wireless headphones. Not only do they sound fantastic, but they also have excellent active noise-cancelling with gesture controls and other clever tech.

£292.53
View deal
Finding the best wireless headphones for your needs isn’t exactly straightforward. With hundreds of pairs competing for your cash, knowing what’s bad and what’s good can be something of a minefield. That’s where we come in. In our guide, we’ve done the hard work for you. You’ll find our pick of the best Bluetooth headphones available, the cheaper alternatives worth considering, and the best wireless headphones for running and the gym.

Our current favourites are the Sony WH-1000XM2, but we’ll be constantly updating this page with the latest and best.

How we test wireless headphones

As with all our headphones, the key thing is about listening. So we listen to headphones until our ears go numb, and then we listen some more. But with wireless headphones, the quality of the connection is just as important as the quality of the audio performance. So we factor in connectivity – we care about how quickly a pair of Bluetooth headphones pairs with various devices.

We also fixate on things people usually forget about, such as connection range and stability. We’ll walk around the house or office to see how far we can take things before the music drops off. We’ll walk through the busiest, most signal-polluted parts of town to see how robust the connection is. All that’s left is for you to pick something we’ve recommended and get on with enjoying your music.

What follows is a list of our favourite wireless headphones – scroll right to the bottom if you need more advice on making a choice.

Related: What is aptX?

Best wireless headphones

Sony WH-1000XM2 – the best wireless headphones

Pros:

  •  Excellent sound
  •  Touch controls work well
  •  Effective and adaptive noise cancellation
  •  aptX HD support

Cons:

  •  B&W PX has slightly better audio quality
  •  Bose QC35 II has slightly more effective NC

We think the Sony WH-1000XM2 are the greatest all-round wireless headphones. They sound brilliant, are incredibly comfortable and have superb noise-cancelling.

They’re also stacked with features. Quick Listen mutes your audio and plays the outside world directly through your headphones – useful for checking for train or plane announcements.

Ambient Sound does the same but lets you continue listening to your music as well, which is good for cyclists, while capacitive touch controls let you control playback by tapping and swiping on the right earcup.

There’s a whopping 30 hours of battery for wireless playback (and up to 40 hours wired), plus more noise-cancellation customisation via the Sony Headphones app. These are excellent all-rounders that put up a strong fight against impressive competition.

Buy now:  Sony WH-1000XM2 for £292 / $298 from Amazon

Best wireless headphones

B&O Beoplay H9i

Pros:

  • Gorgeous looks
  • Excellent build quality
  • Sound great
  • Proximity sensors work
  • Removable battery

Cons:

  • Touch controls can be fiddly
  • Optional app is buggy
  • Expensive

If you have a taste for the finer things in life, and sound quality alone won’t do it for you, then you need to check out the B&O Beoplay H9i. They’re some of the most beautiful and luxurious wireless headphones on the market, made from a mixture of anodised aluminium, toughened cowhide and super-soft lambskin leather.

They’re not just pretty, they’re full of features too. They have Bluetooth, active noise-cancellation, a battery life of around 18 hours, touch controls, and a ‘Transparency’ mode for hearing without removing the headphones. There are also proximity sensors for auto-playing and auto-pausing when you remove or put on the headphones. All that, and they sound lovely.

These aren’t cheap, but they’re worth every penny.

Buy now:  B&O Beoplay H9i for £448 / $499 from Amazon

Best wireless headphones

Bowers & Wilkins PX

Pros:

  • Fantastic sound
  • Handy smart sensors
  • Auto power/connect/play
  • Attractive design

Cons:

  • Noise-cancellation could be stronger

The Bowers & Wilkins PX are B&W’s first crack at a set of wireless, noise-cancelling headphones, entering a challenging market to take on the likes of the Bose QC35 II and the Sony WH-1000XM2.

To differentiate itself, B&W focuses on its core strengths of luxury design and audiophile sound quality – but with some impressive tricks up its sleeve too.

Those tricks include adaptable noise-cancellation and a clever wear sensor, which will detect when the headphones are on your head and when they’re off, pausing playback accordingly. They’re even smart enough to know when you lift an earcup for a quick chat.

Their noise-cancellation can’t compete with the likes of Bose or Sony, but that’s more than made up for by their audio performance. If you want the best-sounding, most musically proficient pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones available right now, these are it.

Buy now:  Bowers & Wilkins PX for £329 / $399 from Amazon

Best wireless headphones

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Pros:

  • Superb noise cancelling
  • Excellent mic for calls
  • Light and comfortable
  • Long battery life

Cons:

  • No aptX
  • Rivals sound better

Bose has a long history of making great headphones, especially ones with active noise-cancelling, and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are the latest.

Like their predecessors before them, they’re light and comfortable, so perfect for travelling, not to mention they provide the best noise-cancelling on the market.

There haven’t been many changes this time around, but there wasn’t a lot to improve on. There’s still no aptX support (or aptX HD for that matter), but they still sound great, if not quite up to audio standard of the B&W PX or Sony WH-1000XM2.

So what’s new? The level of noise-cancelling is now adjustable and Google Assistant is on board for feeding back notification information from your phone. Other than that, it’s business as usual for these hugely capably cans, including a battery life that remains a respectable 20 hours wireless or 40 hours wired.

Buy now:  Bose QuietComfort 35 II for £329 / $349 from Amazon

 

Best wireless headphones

Urbanista Seattle

Pros:

  • Good value
  • Smart design
  • Great sound

Cons:

  • No NFC or aptX

If you want an all-purpose pair of wireless headphones for less than £100 then the Urbanista Seattle are hard to beat.

While there are headphones out there with better features, including a longer battery life, most will prefer using these headphones day to day. They sound better and are flexible, staying on your head during exercise without worry.

Like most headphones in this class, there’s a crowd-pleasing bass boost. The rest of the sound is smooth without sounding soft, and displays decent detail. Overall there’s very little to dislike.

Spend a bit more and you might get a bit more bite in the treble, but at this price there’s very little to grumble about.

Buy now:  Urbanista Seattle for £89 / $99 from Amazon

Best wireless headphones

Audio-Technica SonicFuel ATH-AR3BT

Pros:

  • Great sound
  • Strong wireless performance
  • Portable
  • Reasonably priced

Cons:

  • No carry case
  • Slightly fiddly controls

Joining the Urbanista Seattle in the sub-£100 category are the Audio-Technica SonicFuel ATH-AR3BT, a superb pair of inexpensive wireless headphones that sound great. They don’t have the flashiest features, but their audio performance more than makes up for it.

Their lightweight, on-ear design is comfy, stylish and solidly built, despite being mostly made from plastic. You’ll get some slightly fiddly on-ear controls on the left earcup, where you’ll also find NFC for quick pairing.

With a full charge, they’ll offer up to 30 hours of wireless charging, which is hugely impressive at twice the price. Their performance is equally excellent, jumping all the hurdles of cheap headphones with ease.

This means they offer a clean hiss-free sound, solid connection and a neutral EQ that’ll work well with lots of genres. You’ll get a touch more dynamism from a pricier pair, but there’s plenty to love here – particularly their price tag.

Buy now:  Audio-Technica SonicFuel ATH-AR3BT for £99 / $118 from Amazon

Best wireless headphones

Sony MDR-100ABN h.ear on Wireless

Pros:

  • Excellent wireless performance
  • Effective, stress-zapping ANC
  • Very comfortable

Cons:

  • Poor sound quality when non-powered
  • Low-tech headphones offer better sound

The Sony MDR-100ABN h.ear on Wireless hit a nice sweet spot between the top-of-the-range wireless headphones and cheaper options.

They’re stylish and comfortable, have very good noise-cancellation for the price and sound pretty good too. Just make sure you listen to them powered, they’re not so talented when playing passively.

The range of colours will split opinions, but there’s something for everyone, including a black finish for those who like their headphones less flashy. A really great option for any city dweller looking to dull the hubbub without spending a fortune.

Buy now:  Sony MDR-100ABN h.ear on Wireless for £189 / $269.99 from Amazon

Best wireless headphones

AKG N60 NC Wireless

Pros:

  • Excellent sound
  • Lightweight
  • Collapsible design
  • Good noise cancellation

Cons:

  • Could have more padding on the headband
  • No NFC

The AKG N60 NC Wireless are a petite pair of on-ear noise-cancelling headphones aimed at travellers and commuters alike.

Their lightweight, collapsible design makes them much more portable than their larger over-ear competition, and their 15-hour wireless battery life is more than acceptable for their size – plus they’ll work passively too.

As far as noise-cancelling, the N60 NC Wireless can’t quite compete with Bose levels of quiet, but they do enough to dull the outside world to little more than a murmur.

They sound great too, offering a punchy, detailed and well organised performance that’s both fun and expressive. A formidable little package that’s certainly worth considering.

Buy now:  AKG n60nc wireless for £99 / $200 from Amazon

Best wireless headphones

Sony WF-1000X

Pros:

  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Adaptive noise cancelling totally works
  • Comfortable, stable fit
  • Auto-connect/disconnect
  • Great sound

Cons:

  • Charging case is a little chunky

If you want a pair of in-ears that cut the cord, the Sony WF-1000X are the first truly wireless earbuds we can heartily recommend.

Putting sound quality first, they’ve taken a few elements from last year’s excellent (over-ear, wireless, noise-cancelling) Sony MDR-1000X and crammed them into a tiny nugget small enough to sit in your ear.

Not only are they head and shoulders above any wireless earbud headphones we’ve heard to date – they’re good enough to replace a lot of wired rivals – but they are also the first of their kind to feature noise-cancellation.

This means that not only do you get excellent sound and total freedom of movement, but also the ability to shut out other people’s racket. If this is the future of wireless earbuds, count us in.

Buy now:  Sony WF-1000X for £154 / $198 from Amazon

Best wireless headphones

V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless

Pros:

  • Great clarity and detail
  • Solid, balanced bass
  • Comfortable

Cons:

  • Slender mids

The V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless are a seriously stylish pair of headphones, with swish aluminium-coated earbuds, smart volume controls and a comfy fit.

They’re much more than just a pretty face, with a 10-hour battery life (including a 15-minute quick charge function) dual microphones for clearer calls, and a vibration motor in the neckband that buzzes when you receive a call. They even promise sweat-proofing for when you’re in the gym.

All that and they sound good too. In fact, they are among the best-sounding neckband headphones we’ve heard.

The slight letdown is the Bluetooth performance is just okay – we noticed a few more blips than the very best at this price. Still, it was minimal enough not to annoy, and the rest of their performance easily gains them a spot on our recommended list.

Buy now: V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless for £139 / $169 from Amazon

Best wireless headphones

Jaybird X3

Pros:

  •  Good sound quality
  •  Useful companion app for adjusting EQ
  •  Great build quality
  •  Solid battery life

Cons:

  • Initially fiddly to get the right fit
  •  Proprietary charging clip

It took Jaybird a fair few goes to get the formula right, but with the Jaybird X3 it finally combines a super-secure fit, great sound and solid battery life into a complete fitness headphones package.

With a sweat-proof design that won’t budge no matter how vigorous your exercise or workout, these are perfect for running, the gym or any adrenaline-fuelled activities.

Sound quality is right up there with the best running and sports headphones we’ve tested and you can even configure the sound through a companion app. The changes you make are saved directly to the headphones, so you get the sound signature you like no matter what device you pair them to.

Buy now:  Jaybird X3 for £94.99 / $99 from Amazon

 

Best wireless headphones

House of Marley Positive Vibration 2 Wireless

Pros:

  • Solid sound
  • Affordable
  • Relatively tasteful but distinct look

Cons:

  • The best sub-£100 pairs sound more dynamic

Good looking headphones with Bluetooth and a price tag of £50. There must be catch, right? Surprisingly, no. House of Marley has really nailed this one. In the past we’ve had some pretty mediocre models with gaudy colours but these have a subtle design and good performance. For this money, you can’t go wrong.

They’re comfortable and not too large considering their over-ear design. The aluminium cups are nice design touches we’d expect from more high-end alternatives. The 12-hour battery is reasonable at this price range, there are basic controls, and the sound is solid too. These headphones won’t outshine more expensive models, but they’re a very good deal.

Buy Now: House of Marley Positive Vibration 2 for £69.99 from Amazon

That’s it for our list of the best wireless headphones – read on for a brief buying guide to help you choose your purchase.

Why buy a pair of wireless headphones?

The main reason is convenience – wireless headphones offer unprecedented freedom from tangled cables, not to mention headphone jacks. Active noise cancelling (ANC) is a common and useful feature for blocking out noisy environments too, and is well worth considering if you travel frequently.

What do I need in a pair of wireless headphones?

Your first question when buying a pair of wireless headphones is what you need them for and what your budget is. Bigger budgets often (but not always) open to door to better performances and better finishes, while what you use them for will have a big say on the design you should opt for.

In-ear Bluetooth headphones are a great pick for sports, and are often waterproof for outside training (not to mention, you know, sweat). There are more and more that are ‘truly wireless’ too, but keep an eye out for those with plenty of eartips to ensure a snug fit.

Over-ear and on-ear styles are the most popular for day-to-day usage. On-ear are usually a little smaller and cheaper, but by design, they’re not always the comfiest – especially for glasses wearers. Over-ear are better in this respect, but can make your ears hot over long listens. Be sure to read our reviews to see how they fare.

Battery life is another consideration, and will range from over 20 hours on larger over-ear headphones to as little as three hours on completely wireless earbuds. Fine for most commutes, but not as convenient for longer haul journeys. If you’re forgetful when it comes to charging, consider an on- or over-ear style that allows wired playback when the battery runs out. Not all do.

As for getting the best sound quality, look out for aptX or aptX HD support (Sony offers its own solution called LDAC). You’ll need a source device that supports it as well as your headphones, which counts iPhones out, but most Android devices are on board.

If you’re not 100% sure wireless headphones are right for you, we recommend you take a look at our best headphones round-up as well.