What are the best wireless headphones in 2021?
Wireless headphones are an essential purchase for those who enjoy tech and audio. They provide a listening experience that doesn’t come with the tangle of wires that their wired counterparts offer, and they’ve reached a point where they sound just as good, too.
We’ve reviewed the following headphones against similarly priced efforts over extended periods of time to determine whether they’re worth the outlay. What you see here are the best wireless headphones available, and we’ve taken into account how good they are in various factors: convenience, portability, comfort, wireless connectivity, sound and – where it’s supported – their noise cancelling performance. If you’re somewhere who wears wireless headphones a lot, you’ll want a headphone that passes these factors with flying marks, and the headphones below do exactly that.
This is the Trusted Reviews list of the best wireless headphones. Scroll down to see our summary of why we think they’re the best wireless headphones available.
1. Sony WH-1000XM4
Smarter than your average headphone
- Superb audio
- Great noise cancellation
- Comfortable fit, lightweight design
- Useful smart features
- No aptX/aptX-HD
Sony’s XM4 over-ears were everything we were hoping they’d be and more. While they look virtually the same as the outgoing XM3’s, Sony has tightened things up and improved on the previous headphones’ already great sound.
From a design perspective the small changes Sony has made reap benefits in spades. While they’re only a gram lighter than the XM3, they feel comfier to wear, with the earpads now softer and the headband structure re-designed to distribute weight better across the head. The pressure they exert is minimal, which makes them perfect for both casual wear or long-distance travel.
The noise-cancelling is the strongest we’ve heard from a Sony headphone, keeping outside sounds at bay in an even more effective manner than before. Combine that with it’s smart features, which allow you to speak to other people without taking the headphones off, as well as Adaptive Sound Control that learns where you most often and tailors the ANC performance for that location and they are one of the smartest cans on the market. The sound has been improved immeasurably: more refined, less noisy and as confident as ever. These were the finest headphones we tested in 2020.
- read our Sony WH-1000XM4 review
2. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
Talented beyond their price
- Great battery life
- Comfortable fit
- Poised, energetic sound
- Grey finish is a bit austere
- Touch controls take some getting used to
The Melomania 1 have nine hours of battery life (45 in total), Bluetooth 5 and voice assistant control in the form of Google Assistant. They don’t immediately jump out with their design, but at 4.6g they’re comfortable to wear.
With the higher-quality aptX HD supported they sound great; an accomplished performance that’s full of precision, detail and character. They’re a bargain for the price.
- read our Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review
3. Sony WF-1000XM3
Superb audio quality
- Great musical sound quality
- Super noise cancellation
- Snug, comfortable fit
- Rock solid wireless connection
- Great with all types of music
- Adaptive sound can be intrusive
- No aptX
With an emphasis on sound quality, the WF-1000XM3 have borrowed tech from the WH-1000XM3 over-ears and crammed them into a tiny nugget small enough to sit in your ear.
We found that these wireless earbuds sound absolutely fantastic; showcasing a great, musical quality to its sound with a wireless connection that is rock-solid. With active noise cancellation included, they’re great at blocking out sounds that could interrupt your listening session.
- read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review
4. Sony WH-1000XM3
Great comfort and sound on-the-go
- Excellent sound quality
- Fast charge feature is great
- Comfortable fit
- Responsive controls
- Could do with a touch more detail in the treble
The Sony WH-1000XM3 were one of the the best noise cancellers, but they’ve since lost that crown to their successors. Still, at the lower price point they’re terrific value if the XM4s are out of your price range. Noise cancelling remains terrific, shutting out most things you can think of. If you do want to hear the outside world, there’s a choice of the Quick Listen function which mutes your audio or the Ambient Sound feature which lets you hear more of what’s around you, but keeps your music going.
Sound quality is excellent with a sound that’s clear, powerful and boasting some explosive bass. Add a whopping 30 hours of battery life, a slimmer profile for a more comfortable fit and the WH-1000XM3 are excellent all-rounders.
- read our Sony WH-1000XM3 review
5. Bowers & Wilkins PI3
Faultless wireless performance
- Agile, punchy bass
- Excellent mid-range detail and realism
- Intricate imaging
- Relatively short battery life
With the PI3, Bowers & Wilkins PI3 have made the perfect neckband earphones if sound quality is a priority above all else. Though they lack ANC and battery life at eight hours isn’t the longest, they’re a great pair of in-ears for the commute to work and are a fit for runs and gym sessions.
With support for aptx and aptx-HD, high-quality audio is definitely on the menu and the wireless performance proves to be nigh-on faultless.
- read our Bowers & Wilkins PI3 review
6. Technics EAH-F70N
Bags of style
- Clean, neutral performance
- Terrific noise cancellation
- Great style and design
- Comfortable to wear
- Lacks a little midrange detail compared to Sony
- Activation of Ambient Sound Enhancer can be fiddly
Technics’ entry into the wireless over-ears deserves plenty of plaudits. The design is stylish and great, they’re comfortable to wear and the ANC performance is a force to be reckoned with.
Outside of the Sonys, the Technics are one of the best ANC headphones around, kicking sounds like buses and cars to the kerb. While battery is a little lower than expected at 20 hours, it’s likely down to just how strong the ANC is. Sound quality is also good with measured, calculated approach to sound. Treble reproduction is excellent and there’s plenty of detail and insight. If Technics ever produces a sequel, we can’t wait to hear how they sound.
- read our Technics EAH-F70N review
Your own personalised sound
- Immersive, dynamic sound
- Rock solid fit and seal
- Gym ready
- Reliable ANC
- Design is a little chunky
If you want solid sound quality, great ANC and a rock solid fit, the NuraLoop are the wireless headphones for you. The NuraLoop aim to offer users customised “studio-accurate” audio, which works by creating a map of your ear and adjusting the audio profile to eliminate distortions or echoes.
The tech works a treat. Factor in aptX with a reliable ANC performance, and the NuraLoops are one of the best in-ear wireless sets around £200. The only downside is that their band design can make them feel less comfortable to wear.
- read our NuraLoop review
8. Marshall Monitor II A.N.C
Stylish, well-designed noise-cancellers
- Great style
- Entertaining delivery
- Collapsible design
- Impressive noise cancellation
- Treble could be sweeter
- Can sound lean
The Marshall Monitor II ANC are up against some firm competition and more than hold their own. They’ll appeal to those who like the headphones with some style, the noise cancellation is impressive and the sound is well-balanced and enjoyable. Their tough outer exterior mean they should survive a few knicks and the collapsible design means they can be chucked into a bag at a moment’s notice.
On the downside is a signal strength that takes a few knocks in busy areas, but aside from that, there’s not a lot else to find disagreeable about these headphones.
- read our Marshall Monitor II A.N.C review
9. Apple AirPods Pro
A pricier, more feature-rich AirPod earbud
- Much improved design over original AirPods
- Excellent noise cancellation
- Well-integrated with the Apple ecosystem
- So comfortable
- ANC strength can’t be manually altered
We’ve not always been fans of Apple’s headphones, but that changed with the AirPods Pro. They are pricier than some of its competition, but wireless connectivity is strong (as usual with an AirPod); they’re very comfortable to wear – great news for those who aren’t fans of in-ear designs.
They’re not the best-sounding wireless earbuds out there, but you get much better detail, clarity and bass than you would from the standard AirPods. If you’re an Apple user looking for ANC earbuds, these would be at the top of the list.
- read our Apple AirPods Pro review
10. Cleer FLOW II
Great wireless connection
- Clean, articulate sound
- Ironless drivers sound great
- Excellent noise cancellation
- Strong wireless connection
- Comprehensive set of features
- Bulky design
- Build quality could be better
- Mild discomfort during long extended listening sessions
The Cleer Audio FLOW II over-ears are a surprise package. Noise cancellation is reliable and thorough; the sound is as clean as you can get, with Cleer’s Ironless drivers generating little ear fatigue over long periods. The wireless connection is one of the strongest we’ve tested, batting off busy areas such as Waterloo, Victoria and Kings Cross train terminals with barely a connection drop.
What hold them back is that aren’t the most comfortable to wear for long sessions, and the bulk makes them a little less portable than some efforts on this list. Still, the FLOW II are impressive mid-range wireless cans.
- read our Cleer FLOW II review
11. Razer Opus
A surprise pairing reaps benefits
- Reliable ANC
- Balanced audio
- Lengthy battery
- Mics pick up background noise
An unexpected pairing sees gaming brand Razer and the venerable THX collaborate together. Even more unexpected is that the Razer Opus are pretty good.
They’re not the flashiest pair – in fact they look suspiciously like the Sony WH-1000XM3, but it helps to be inspired by the best. Battery life is 25 hours and there’s support for aptX to deliver high-quality music over Bluetooth.
Sound quality is balanced, with highs, mids and lows playing their part in the Opus’ enjoyable sound. ANC performance is effective, though not as powerful as the best pairs, but enough to drown out everyday background noise.
- read our Razer Opus review
12. Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT
Reliable wireless performance
- Great soundstage imaging
- Engaging sound
- Good wireless reliability
- Unusual pairing style
- Slightly thicker sound than older M50 models
The ATH-M50xBT are among the most engaging and entertaining wireless headphones at their price. Though active noise cancellation isn’t on the feature list, battery life is a long-lasting 40 hours. You can wear them comfortably for hours on end without any fatigue settling in, and wireless connectivity proves to very reliable.
They don’t quite have the low-end power of the Sony or Sennheiser, but at this price you likely won’t care too much when the sound is this good.
- read our Audio Technica ATH-M50XBT review
13. Status BT One
A wireless bargain
- Well-balanced sound
- Long battery life
- Slightly flimsy build in places
- Some may not like on-ear design
These are compact, stylish and affordable (£80!) on-ears that deliver great sound on-the-go. There are some aspects that are less impressive: the buttons feel stiff and the build can feel a little flimsy at times. Some may not like on-ear designs, which can heat your up, but that’s not an issue we encountered with the BT One.
With 30 hour battery life, aptX/Bluetooth 5.0 and a weight of 155g which makes them very light on the head, the Status BT One are a bargain.
- read our Status BT One review
14. Beats Solo Pro
Superb transparency mode
- Superb transparency mode
- Good active noise cancellation
- Balanced tone, particularly for Beats
- Go over-ear and you get bigger sound, same price
- Tight grip may be a turn-off
- Fold to turn off? It’s not for everyone
Beats always had an issue with excessive bass in its headphones, but that’s no longer the case. The Solo Pro sound much clearer and balanced, while still being big on bass.
With the effective noise-cancellation turned on, you get 20-22 hours out of the Solo Pro. Run out of juice? Connect the Lightning cable and you can get three hours more playback in a jiffy. Wireless connectivity is flawless with an iOS or Android phone, but the real star is the Transparency Mode. You can hear what’s around you and still listen to music, and it’s one of the best implementations we’ve heard yet.
- read our Bose Solo Pro review
How do we select the best wireless 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.
Still looking for a headphone to buy? If you’re interested in delving deeper into other types, here are other pages that go into greater detail.