Since Apple ditched the 3.5mm jack on their phones a few years ago, wireless audio solutions have become increasingly popular. Earbuds are especially on the rise at the moment. However, a good pair of wireless headphones are what offer convenience without compromising much of the sound quality and features. Now let’s get into what factors make the best wireless headphones for your needs:
1. Form factor
Before we get to other features such as noise cancellation, wireless variations, battery life, etc. you need to decide which headphone type is for you. The three major headphone types are as the following:
Over-ear headphones are the largest of the three types. They offer a classic look for the wearers, with earcups covering your entire ear area nicely. Thus, most of them also feature big earpads which bring you super comfortable fit. The best wireless headphones you can find in terms of quality are mostly of this type.
The downside is that due to their large size and weight, they’re not the most portable option. Moreover, due to their ear surrounding design, your ears can get hot after extended use of over-ear headphones. Nevertheless, if you prioritize comfort and sound quality, go for one of these. Something like Sennheiser Momentum 3 won’t disappoint you with their studio-like audio quality.
As the name implies, on-ear headphones have their earpads rest on top of your ears, not over and around them. They are more portable than over-ear headphones thanks to their smaller size and weight. Therefore, they make the best wireless headphones for exercising. For instance, when you’re playing sports or working out you may want to choose something like Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500 or Jabra Elite 85h.
One thing you need to keep in mind is this type of headphone isn’t as comfortable as over-ear headphones. Due to how they sit on your ears, your earlobes may get pressured on them. Another thing is that on-ear headphones tend to let external sounds get into your ears while listening to music.
Next is the smallest of all, in-ear headphones fit nicely into the ear canal. This is the fastest growing type thanks to the ease of use for any average listeners. They often come with the water/sweat-resistant feature hence make them ideal for doing anything active.
However, in-ear headphones’ sound quality is not as good as their bigger siblings, on and over-ear type. Unless you’re using a premium model like RHA T20, most of them have soundstage that is inferior to over-ear headphones. Some people also feel uncomfortable with something stuck in their ears, especially for a long time.
2. Noise cancellation
If you want escape from all the background noises around you, then noise cancellation is a must-have feature. You can find this tech on over-ear, on-ear and in-ear headphones. The best wireless headphones will help you concentrate on your work better thanks to noise cancellation. For the basics, there are two main types of noise cancellation:
- Passive noise cancellation
This is also known as noise isolation. It eliminates noises by simply blocking them out with the headphones’ physical features. There’s no tech involved, just a physical barrier to prevent noises from entering your ears. Most noise isolating headphones are of in-ear type such as Linklike Fly 9.
- Active noise cancellation
ANC technology detects sounds from your environment through a mic, then produces an anti-phase sound wave to cancel out these noises. It’s the most common type of noise cancellation, however it needs power to operate and thus is battery-draining. Most of them are over or on-ear headphones such as Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
When we talk about wireless headphones, most people would think of Bluetooth headphones. There are other ways to connect, but aside from a headphone jack, Bluetooth is your best bet. You can use Bluetooth on any Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as smartphones, tablets, computers, etc.
The downside with Bluetooth is that the transmitted audio quality is compressed and can only work within 10 meters range. However, the best wireless headphones with the latest Bluetooth codes can bring you better sound quality. Plus, Bluetooth headphones such as Jabra Elite 45h are reasonably priced and offer solid performance for the money.
This tech is also prone to latency or “lag” which causes a delay between the what’s being streamed and the device. Latency is a bigger problem when you’re watching videos or playing video games. If you are not doing any of that as well as not being a music editor, then it’s not a big deal.
Another type of connection is radio technology. You can find radio frequency transmission on gaming headphones such as SteelSeries Arctis Pro or Sennheiser RS120. Compared to Bluetooth, it is better at penetrating walls and floors, thus reducing latency. Latency is important in watching movies or playing games as you need the sound to match with what’s going on the screen. As for music listening, the latency doesn’t have as much impact.
4. Sound quality
There’s one buying philosophy every need to adopt: always trying before buying. This holds true to visual and audio products. This helps you ensure the wireless headphones are suit to your liking, quality-wise. If you’re an online buyer, then make sure to read as many reviews as you can, and research the specs carefully. Here’s some parameters that can help you know how good the sound quality of a wireless headphone is:
It’s important to know impedance rating as you will need an amp to get audio signal on high impedance headphones. Some wireless headphones such as Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro have various versions with different impedance ratings. If you intend to use the wireless headphones with smartphones or audio players, go for the 16 or 32-Ohm version.
The range of human hearing is between 20Hz – 20kHz. Therefore, as a minimum a good pair of wireless headphones must offer a frequency response within this range. Some premium models have a wider frequency range (Sennheiser HD 650 has a frequency response of 10-39,5 kHz). However, for an average user, a standard 20Hz-20kHz range is enough.
5. Battery life
Wireless headphones are convenient as you can use them almost anywhere at any time, until they run out of batteries. When that happens, you are left without any music or podcast to entertain yourself. Most wireless headphones can last up between 5-10 hours. If you travel frequently, you may want to find a pair that have up to 15 hours and more of battery life. This Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 can accompany you on a long flight with its 24-hour of battery life.
Another thing to look out for is the quick charging feature. It lets you charge the headphones with a high amount of energy within a very short timeframe. Check out this Mpow H19 offers up to two hours of use after a 10-minutes quick charge. This feature will be your lifesaver when you’re in a pinch.
1. What’s the difference between headphones, headsets and earbuds?
These terms may be a bit confusing for the first-time buyers. As they people often overlap one with one another. Let’s take a closer look at what makes them differ from each other.
The basic difference between headphones and headsets is the microphones. The former has integrated or built-in mic. On the other hand, the headsets have a visible microphone. Their mics can be bent, twisted and detached at will. Generally, headsets are not suitable for public use. Going around with an attached mic pointing up to the sky is not very good-looking and convenient.
Earbuds and in-ear headphones are often mistook for each other. They are both small, portable and well-suited for outdoor activities. The big difference between them is that earbuds don’t fit inside your ear canal while in-ear headphones do. Earbuds are designed to sit on the outside area of your ear canal.
2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of wired and wireless headphones?
Wired and wireless headphones have their own distinct characteristics. They have their own advantages and disadvantages. But ultimately, everything depends on the buyer’s requirements and needs. Here’s a little comparison chart of the pros and cons of wired and wireless headphones:
Offer a cable-free experience and freedom
Have high compatibility especially via Bluetooth
Often include extra features
3. Can I connect my wireless headphones to TV?
Yes, you can. Most modern TVs have Bluetooth built in. Therefore, you can easily pair your wireless headphones to TV through Bluetooth.
In case your TV doesn’t have Bluetooth capability, you have various options. Firstly, you can buy a Bluetooth transmitter or adapter. These devices are plugged in the audio inputs on the TV and transmit the sound via Bluetooth.
Alternatively, you can find RF or IR wireless headphones. These come with a base station. The best station acts as a transmitter for transmitting and receiving sound from and to your TV.
Last but not least, you can find a separate Bluetooth-enabled device and hook it up to your TV. Media streamers are the most popular choices. These allow you to access your wireless headphones and streaming services at the same time.
4. Can I connect my wireless headphones to my pcs or gaming consoles?
Most wireless headphones work with PCs out-of-the-box, provided that the PC is capable of Bluetooth connection. If not, then you need to buy a Bluetooth adapter to establish a connection between the two of them.
As for Xbox One/PS4/Switch, it’s a different story. Due to compatibility and driver issues, some wireless headphones may work with either or none of these consoles. You need to research the specs sheet carefully to see which consoles the wireless headphones of your choice support. There’s a workaround for this, you can buy an USB dongle to plug it into the consoles themselves. Another solution is connecting the wire cable from your wireless headphones to the 3.5mm jack on the controllers.
5. Are there any other features I should look out for the best wireless headphones?
We’ve covered key factors you need to consider for choosing the best wireless headphones in the buying guide. There’s more to it, actually. Here’s additional features you may want to look out for in a wireless headphone:
- Remote control: While wired headphones have buttons on the cable, wireless headphones have them on the earpieces themselves. This may be in the form of remote or touch control.
- Wired inputs: Some wireless headphones come with a cable that allows you to connect to 3.5mm jack in case the battery is empty.
- Virtual assistant: With a touch or a press of a button, you can control your headphones with voice command.
- Microphones: Built-in mic allow you to answer your phone calls. If your wireless headphone’s mic is not up to the task, you can always buy a separate one.