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Best Wireless Headphones 2023: Eight great Bluetooth headphones

A pair of the best wireless headphones are an essential purchase if you’re heading outside of the house.

Wireless headphones are perfect for those who want convenience and freedom from a wired connection, able to deliver features such as active noise cancellation, transparency modes and long battery to keep you company on your travels.

While wired headphones still offer the best performance in terms of audio, wireless headphones should no longer be considered as substitutes but close competitors. They are more versatile and have wide-ranging features that make them more useful outdoors than wired rivals.

When we review wireless headphones we take a look at number of factors that include comfort, portability, wireless connectivity, convenience and, of course, sound quality. The headphones that feature on this list are the ones we feel have passed the muster, delivering top notch performance in all these areas.

We’ve also made sure to pick out a range of different options too, ranging from true wireless earbuds to over-ears and on-ears at various price points to fit different budgets. Hopefully, there should be a pair that piques your interest on this page.

If you’re after a specific type of headphone, you can always have a look at our round-up of the best wireless earbuds and best noise cancelling earbuds. If you’re a fitness enthusiast there’s our best running headphones list and if you want to what we think are the best headphones, we can help you with that too.

Best wireless headphones at a glance

How we test

Learn more about how we test headphones

Not just anybody can review a pair of headphones. You don’t need superhuman hearing to tell what’s good, but you do need to know what to listen out for.

Our headphone tests are done by some of the best and most prolific reviewers in the industry, with years of experience listening to everything from the plasticky freebie earbuds that come with your smartphone, to five-figure beasts of glass and marble. We love music and we want your tunes to sound good, too.

So we listen every pair of headphones we can get on or in our ears. We use a variety of sources, from basic MP3s playing on a laptop to high-quality tracks on dedicated hi-res audio players.

Our test tracks are wide-ranging to give headphones a thorough challenge. They’re also familiar, so we know every track backwards, and we know which bits might trouble the lesser performers.

We listen again and again, and we do that for weeks in case the sound changes – because it usually does. Then we’ll listen to similarly priced rivals and come up with a verdict that reflects the performance and features for the money.

Sony WH-1000XM5

Best wireless headphones
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Pros

  • Excellent comfort
  • Musical, rich audio performance
  • Impressively clean and natural noise cancellation
  • Superb Ambient Mode
  • Great call quality

Cons

  • Non-foldable design
  • Connection gets choppy in busy areas

The WH-1000XM5 are Sony’s latest and greatest version of their lauded WH-series of wireless headphones, and they are our favourite wireless headphones at this moment in time.

An the audio front the improvements are incremental, refining what was already an excellent sound from the WH-1000XM4 with more texture to bass, a richer midrange performance, and a soundstage that’s spacious with tighter definition of instruments. Their approach to sound makes them a great listen with virtually any genre.

In terms of features, Speak To Chat (which pauses music when you’re speaking) and Quick Attention (which filters through outside sound) return, with battery life matching the previous model at 30 hours. During testing, we managed to get around a week’s use with ANC so there’s enough charge to last a while.

The ANC is even better than it was on the WH-1000XM4, tackling higher frequency sounds with more confidence. Everything from voices to using transport and big crowds were all suitably silenced; though we’d wager the XM4 model is slightly better at reducing the impact of people talking. Within Sony’s Headphone app there are 20 levels of noise cancellation to choose from, with Ambient Mode featuring a noticeable improvement over the older model with a clearer, natural sound that felt as if you weren’t wearing headphones at all.

It’s on the design front where there have been the most noticeable changes with the XM5s have occurred. They have a more modern and urbane look, redesigned earcups in a more oval shape that we found took a little while to get use to, and, somewhat controversially, the XM5s no longer fold flat. It’s been done in the name of better ANC performance, mimicking the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and the AirPods Max, and it does reduce wind noise for a more satisfying ANC performance.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony WF-1000XM4

Best true wireless headphones
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Pros

  • Impressively rich sound
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Compact design
  • IPX4 rating
  • Comprehensive feature set

Cons

  • Beaten by Bose for noise cancellation
  • More expensive than before
  • Call quality suffers in noisy areas

Sony’s WF-1000XM4 are one of the best pairs of wireless earbuds we’ve tested, earning a place on this list as a result of their all-round quality.

Their ANC is impressive, able to block most noise indoors and out, along with a transparency mode that provides a natural-sounding performance with lots of detail and clarity. As good as the ANC performance is, it’s not the best noise cancelling earbud we’ve tested, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are the best-in-class. Battery life is improved thanks to the new V1 processor that brings more efficiency to the WF-1000XM4’s performance, the buds quoted at 8 hours with ANC on and 12 hours with it off, longer battery life than you’d get from the AirPods Pro.

Their wireless performance is solid, with few dropouts encountered, and support for LDAC to listen to higher quality tracks from the likes of Tidal and Qobuz. Their call quality suffers in busy areas though, the XM4 proving sensitive to background noise.

During testing, we found the audio offered good tonal balance with refined highs and measured bass pitched alongside a rich and detailed midrange performance. Instruments across the board sounded natural and convincing, vocals carried more emotion than Bowers & Wilkins’ more expensive Pi7. They’re a versatile and adaptable performer, bringing out nuance and detail in every type of music genre we listened to. They’re similar in character to the WF-1000XM3, but eke out more dynamism and fidelity that make the older model sound a little heavy handed.

The XM4s also feature an improvement in their overall design compared to their predecessors with a compact body that provides a tighter seal to help create a more effective ANC performance. They look sleek and stylish with a black finish and copper gold accents present a minimalistic aesthetic. The WF-1000XM4 are a tremendously talented pair of feature-packed wireless earphones.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WF-1000XM4

Mark Levinson No. 5909

Best premium wireless headphones
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Pros

  • Rigorous yet easy-going sound
  • Detail and nuance to spare
  • Nice materials, expertly assembled

Cons

  • Expensive and then some
  • Can be bettered for noise-cancellation
  • Abbreviated control app

The Mark Levinson No. 5909 hit the definition of a premium pair of headphones with their $999/£999 price tag. That will buy you almost four pairs of Sony’s WH-1000XM4 over-ears.

They feel like a properly premium product with their anodized aluminium composition and supremely comfortable memory foam padding that allowed us to wear them for hours on end. From that perspective the build quality of the No. 5909s feel their asking price.

It’s on the front of audio where the No. 5909s where our reviewer found they offered began remarkable levels of detail, alongside a low end with plenty of extension. It’s in the midrange where these cans shined during testing, bringing crispness and clarity to vintage songs for an expressive sound; the soundstage is reasonably expansive with plenty of space for instruments to reside within in it.

In terms of their feature set, there’s not a huge amount of features compared to the WH-1000XM5, especially for the price tag. There’s a comprehensive set of Bluetooth codecs supported with SBC, AAC, LDAC and aptX Adaptive that opens the headphones to accepting higher quality tracks from the likes of Tidal and Qobuz. The battery life is up there with the best, with 30 hours with ANC enabled and up to 34 with it off for a few days’ worth of charge. The ANC here won’t cancel every unwanted noise but deals with a good proportion well, but you can get better for much less.

Reviewer: Simon Lucas
Full Review: Mark Levinson No. 5909

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Best wireless over-ears below £300
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Pros

  • Great comfort
  • Clear, precise, balanced audio
  • Very good noise cancellation
  • Massive battery life
  • Excellent wireless performance

Cons

  • Lacks the style of older models
  • Not the best noise cancellation at this price
  • Bass is a little reserved in tone

While the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless didn’t manage to defeat the Sony WH-1000XM5 in our 2022 awards, they have a lot to commend them, especially if you’re after a less expensive headphones with these models retailing for $350 / £299, which undercuts the Sony by $50 / £50.

The Momentum 4 Wireless aren’t as flashy as the previous model, losing a sense of style and attractiveness in the process. However, we didn’t mind that change as there were gains in ergonomic terms with the headphones very comfortable to wear with no annoying obstructions and bulky earcups to deal with. They cannot be collapsed to be more compact, following the trend set by the likes of the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and AirPods Max by opting for a simpler design that reduces wind noise.

The noise cancellation is very good, though not quite as good as the Sony or Bose QuietComfort 45 are. They deal with crowd noises very well and hush voices with confidence but both the Sony and Bose eke out a more comprehensive noise cancelling performance. The Transparency mode is one we felt was very clear and detailed, sounding natural in tone when piping the outside world to our ears.

The battery life is a phenomenal 60 hours, it took a week of using the headphones heavily to get them down from 40% to zero. It could take a few weeks to use up all the battery, which means fewer charges over the course of the headphones’ lifetime. The wireless performance has been very good, with only one moment of instability during our week of using the headphones that caused us any worries.

The sound quality is not as energetic as the Momentum Wireless 3 was, taking a more refined and balanced approach to music. There is less emphasis to bass frequencies than we remember, but the soundstage is bigger in scope than it is on the Sony, filled with detail with instruments and vocals conveyed with lots of clarity. They aren’t quite as dynamic in sound as the Sony, losing a couple of points in terms of energy and vibrancy but their more neutral approach does aid them in producing a consistent performance across a range of music genres.

The Sennheisers are good all-rounders, perhaps not the best in any category, but among their close price rivals below the £300 mark, they are the best headphones we’ve come across in recent times.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Final UX3000

Best affordable wireless headphones
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Pros

  • Good comfort
  • Effective ANC
  • Rich, warm sound
  • Solid battery life
  • Simple operation

Cons

  • Stripped-down feature set
  • Minimalist looks may be interpreted as bland

Recent years have seen wireless noise cancellers tumble in price to the point where you don’t need to spend a few hundred to get a good performance, as the Final UX3000 demonstrate.

In our view they offer some of the best audio in their sub-£150 price tag, delivering an audio performance that bettered the more expensive Ausounds AU-XT ANC, with plenty of richness, weighty bass and bright highs, as well as describing instruments naturally described instruments. They lack a certain crispness, which in this case means they’d don’t dig up as much detail as the Cleer Enduro ANC, but they’re a more musical-sounding performer, with a wide soundstage and an enjoyable sense of depth within the stereo image.

The UX3000s keep things simple on the feature with no app support or transparency mode. The ANC is pretty solid for the price, good at getting rid of most ambient noise, with loud crowds and vehicles making less of an impression. It won’t match the ANC levels of the Sony WH-1000XM5, but for most it’s more than serviceable for commutes and walking about cities. Battery life also proved to be more than good enough with 25 hours with ANC on, and up to 35 hours without it, as we rarely felt the need to charge them often during testing. There’s no support for fast charging, so filling up the battery did feel as if it took longer than usual.

That simplicity also extends to the UX3000’s design, with comfortable fit and a minimalistic aesthetic. The finish is what Final refers to as ‘Shibo’, which brings with some distinctive wrinkles and can help to repel dirt and dust. Controls here are taken care of by a few physical buttons for playback, volume and the ANC, adding to the overall simplicity and accessibility of the headphones.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Final UX3000

SoundMagic P23BT

Best on-ear wireless headphones
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Pros

  • Refined and detailed sound
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Long battery life
  • Cheap

Cons

  • Can pinch on the ears
  • Not what you’d call stylish

It’s been a while since we last heard from budget headphone specialists, SoundMagic, but we shouldn’t have worried as the P23BT are another pair of excellent value headphones from the company.

As usual, they’re affordable at just £49.99 and while they’re not big on features, SoundMagic has made some sensible choices as these headphones offer good level of convenience, too.

There’s no escaping the on-ear design, which may work better for some than it does for others. Issues include pinching around the ear and leaking noise for the outside world that could interrupt your music listening session. If you’re not too bothered by the latter, some may even prefer to be aware of what’s around them, and you’re not affected by the former issue, then the SoundMagic can be comfortable enough to wear thanks to their soft-padded earcups.

They integrate touch controls, which work surprisingly well in terms of how responsive they are, and their compact, lightweight and foldable design make them, in our opinion, easy to wear and even easier to store when not in use.

You won’t find features such as noise cancellation or transparency mode here. You get a battery life that’s estimated to be around 54-60 hours, which is nearly double that of the Status BT One on-ears we tested a few years ago, but lags behind the Marshall Major IV, which have 80+ hours in reserve. They also pack aptX-HD Bluetooth, which allows for Hi-res music playback from the likes of Tidal and Deezer music streaming services.

The sound quality is far more balanced and mature than we expected for the price, our reviewer found the headphones offered a subtle, well-balanced listen with its detailed midrange performance, sharp high frequency playback and bass that features a decent amount of depth. If you do prefer a bassier sound to your headphones, you may want to give the Marshall Major IV a try as an alternative.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: SoundMagic P23BT

AirPods Max

Best Apple over-ear headphones
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Pros

  • Wonderful, versatile sound
  • Many clever design elements and strong build quality
  • Spatial audio can be immersive for the apps that support it
  • Strong connection to the Apple ecosystem

Cons

  • Lack of ‘off’ button is annoying
  • The included case is bad in just about every way
  • Heavy and can’t be folded down
  • The high price can’t be ignored

The Apple AirPods Max, in our view, represents the best wireless over-ears available if you have an iPhone, MacBook or iPad.

Their design is typically Apple with a modern aesthetic that’s unlike any other pair of headphones we’ve tested. They borrow cues from both the Apple Watch and HomePod Mini to create a set of cans that look and feel excellent, with smooth rounded metal earcups and a mesh headband with memory foam earcups that made them immensely comfortable. At 385g, they are quite heavy, and there’s no IP rating for use in the rain or exercising, if that’s of interest. The case isn’t the most thoughtful, as it offers zero protection, and causes irritation as it’s the only way for the AirPods Max to turn off.

The feature set here is great for Apple users. For instance, Spatial Audio offers a more immersive and 3D-like sound profile that’s only available on iOS devices, and while the feature is clever, it’s availability is limited to several apps such as Apple TV+, Netflix and Disney+.

During testing, we found the noise cancellation to be very good, similar in performance to the Sony WH-1000XM4 and marginally better than the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, with its transparency mode that sounded perfectly natural. We also found the battery life to match Apple’s claimed 20 hours, and while it’s less than what the competition can offers, it’ll be more than enough for long haul flights or a few days of use.

The AirPods Max’s sound takes a balanced approach. It features plenty of bass and low end rumble, alongside clean vocals and sparkly highs that don’t sound harsh. The balanced profile lent itself to the fact Apple’s premium over-ear contenders worked well with a variety of music, and the presence of Spatial Audio is useful within Apple Music with a well-mastered track. These headphones don’t support Hi-Res Audio, which is disappointing for the price, but if you’re within the Apple ecosystem, these over-ears are you best bet for an excellent experience.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full Review: Apple AirPods Max

We also considered…

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FAQs

What are the best over-ear wireless headphones?

Our nomination for the best wireless headphones would be the Sony WH-1000XM5. They sound great, feature excellent noise cancellation and come with useful and convenient smarts such as the Speak to Chat function that pauses music when the wearer starts talking.

What are the best wireless headphones on a budget?

We’d recommend the Final UX3000, which offer good noise cancellation and rich and vibrant audio for less than £150. They’re well suited to being used on the commute.

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