We have spent several hours researching what are the right pair of wireless headphones for every need, and after going back and forth we came up with this list of the best overall, true wireless, workout earbuds, noise cancelling, sound quality, on-ear, and all of that taking into account different budgets and options, including wireless headphones for kids.
Check our other audio guides, such as Best Soundbars.
The best over-ear wireless headphones
The best true wireless headphones
The best workout earbuds
The best noise cancelling
The best for iPhone and Mac owners
The best for producing Podcasts or Music
Why trust Most Dear?
Cristian Gonzalez is the cofounder and the reviews editor of Most Dear, focusing on home and consumer technology. Previously, he was Head of New Technologies at Prensa Ibérica, where he focused on reviewing technology products. He is a graduate of the Lleida’s School and Conservatory of Music, where he studied guitar and music theory. After that he fooled around with electronic music using tools like Ableton, FL Studio, Reaktor, and played live on a few events on his hometown.
Why wireless headphones?
Mainly for the convenience of not having to be tethered to a cable. It is much more comfortable to be able to go back and forth without any tethering or tugging.
We would even avoid the annoying situation of untangling the headphones before each use, and we know that it is inevitable.
Technology today, allows us to have headphones with a very good sound quality, without having to be connected by a cable, as perhaps happened before, that not being so developed, the sound quality was lost a little.
There are wireless headphones for all tastes and budgets, the most common and sold, logically for its price, are those of smaller size that we are worth to go from one place to another without even realizing that we go with us.
But we should also know that there are specific headphones for professionals in the world of music, such as those used by producers, musicians or DJs. If we are talking about fanatics, there are headphones for gamers and audiophiles; also for travelers and athletes.
In this article we will perhaps focus more on the rest of us mortals who prefer to do without cables, enjoy a good musical company and not have our pockets hurt so much. We leave the complexity to the audio sybarites.
Things to consider before buying
There are several issues that influence the sound quality and all of them are related to the headphone technology. We will explain them clearly and concisely:
- Sensitivity: refers to the sound output power, measured in decibels (dB). It is advisable not to exceed 100dB in order not to damage the ear.
- Impedance: measured in ohms (ohm) it indicates the passage of the electric current and affects the intensity of the sound produced by the headphones. The less Ohms, the higher the volume. Ideally, it should be in the range of 16 to 32 ohms, in small devices; and between 25 to 70 ohms in larger headphones.
- Response: it is measured in Hertz (Hz) and has to do with the frequencies reproduced by the headphone. A good parameter is that it provides frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hz, which are the frequencies that can be picked up by the human ear.
- Power: it is nothing more than the electrical power and is measured in milliwatts (mW).
The sound quality will depend a lot on the cost of the earphone, the more expensive ones will surely offer a better balance of bass and treble; but much will also depend on the ability to isolate external noise, it is worthless to have an earphone that can be heard very well what it reproduces, but the outside can also be heard very well.
It will depend to a great extent on the shape of the earphone: those that are called closed-cup earphones have a casing that covers them, as an insulating material. Those that are called open pinna, do not have this casing and those around us will be witnesses of whatever we are listening to. Although it may seem a contradiction, open-cell models provide better sound quality, because they have fewer reverberation problems than closed-cell models.
It will also depend on the technology they incorporate, some models offer a system that neutralizes outside noise.
They are very small devices and with a bad movement if they do not have a good support can come off. Some models usually use tweezers or a similar system that adapts to the ears, while others adapt to the inside of the ear, the former being more voluminous.
A good reference to decide this question, is to take as parameter the helmets that we use daily. If we are one of those who have problems to fit in the ear, it is better to opt for a wireless headset with a clip or some kind of fastening system.
There are models that allow alternatives to adapt, either combining one system or another, or the possibility of adapting the earphone to the ear.
It will depend on how much time we use them, if they will accompany us actively throughout the day, or only on journeys to and from work. If the use we are going to give is intensive, we will have to get long-lasting ones, of course this will impact on the size of the battery and therefore the weight of the headset.
Another alternative if we are not willing to give up size, is to take the charging system with us, so we must consider that it should be small and transportable.
Here the parameters and calculation are very simple, we must consider how many hours the battery lasts, how many hours we will have them in use and how long it takes to charge.
One of the issues that we like about this type of headphones is that being much smaller than others, they are easy to carry and go virtually unnoticed during use. Let’s remember that the fastening system and the size of the battery will have a lot to do with the size.
There are two major differences here:
- The circumaular (Over-ear), are those that are used covering the ear, and are usually the typical wireless headphones that are used inside the home. It is very common that they communicate with a base that is connected to the electric current and that is also in charge of emitting the signal so that we can listen. In terms of isolation and sound quality, they are undoubtedly the best.
- The supra-aural (On-ear), are the compact version of the circumaural, giving up a little isolation and sound quality. They do not cover the entire ear but are placed over it. They are usually used outdoors and are not connected to any base but use Bluetooth or WiFi technology to connect to a cell phone or other devices. It is also true that there are more complex models that already have a built-in music player.
- In-ear headphones are the ones that give more war to hold because they go inside the ear canal, of course it will depend on the size of our ear, how fixed or not remain. They are much smaller and lighter, something that our ear is usually grateful for. Due to their size they are much more portable, but we must be very careful with sudden movements, since they could fall to the ground and in the worst case they could be damaged.
Hand in hand with size and support, should come comfort in use. If we are going to spend most or all of the day with the headset in the ear, ergonomics is crucial, as it will prevent us from feeling discomfort. It has to hold well, but at the same time adapt very well to the shape of our ears.
All very nice, but where do we manage the volume and song selection in something so small, the answer is simple. Some devices bring it with them, of course this may increase their size a little; others use the device to which it is connected; the most advanced, and obviously more expensive, use voice commands.
Part of the efficiency in the management of the headset will be limited by the range of the headset with respect to the device. They usually use Bluetooth technology and we already know that depending on the device to which the headset is connected, its connection will be better or worse. Ideally, the Bluetooth system should not be lower than version 4.0.
If technologically we already have everything we want in a headset and they also hold well, we will have to choose one that is attractive in terms of design. It is not that it is a minor issue, but it is worthless to have a super nice headset, but we have to reposition it all the time because we drop it, or that allows us to hear more what the person next to us says, than the music itself that is being played.
Some headphones, especially those that are linked to the phone, come with a microphone so that we can answer calls during use.