Being tied to a cable isn’t what the modern consumer wants, and with phones from the iPhone 11 to the Pixel 4 not having a headphone jack, going wireless might be pretty much essential.
Luckily, it’s never been a better time to buy some wireless headphones. There are more than ever on the market, with all kinds of shapes and sizes on offer.
The latest technology also means you’re not making the same sacrifices on sound quality that you used to either and many come with modern features such as noise cancelling and automatic adjustments.
Best wireless headphones 2020
1. Sony WH-1000XM4 – Best Overall
They might look nearly identical to the previous version, and have the same sound quality too, but Sony has still taken its flagship headphones to a new level.
Somehow, the already class-leading noise cancelling is even better and the firm has added a range of unique AI smart technology that will come in very useful. This includes Adaptive Sound Control, DSEE Extreme and the slightly odd Speak to Chat.
There’s almost nothing to dislike here so these are the headphones to beat in 2020.
Something to consider, if these upgrades don’t tickle your fancy, is that the WH-1000XM3 and their matching sonics, are now available for a much more affordable price.
Read our full Sony WH-1000XM4 review
2. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 – Best Wireless Earbuds
At their affordable price compared to the big name rivals out there, the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 wireless earbuds should be lacking in a few areas but they’re really not.
They might not have the most striking design but they’re lightweight and comfortable. The buttons can handle a whole range of functions once you learn the system, too.
More importantly, there’s excellent battery life on offer here combined with top sound quality so what more could you want? Perhaps noise cancelling but not at this price.
Read our full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review
3. RHA TrueConnect 2 – Best Battery Life
Now back with a second edition, RHA has made the TrueConnect 2 even better while somehow reducing the price.
Ok, they don’t come with foam tips anymore and they look the same but that’s forgivable considering that these earbuds can now last a ridiculous total of 44 hours – a 75% improvement – and already had top-notch build quality.
There’s still no noise cancelling but they’re cheaper and upgrades include better IP55 durability, excellent touch controls and a more refined sound quality.
Read our full RHA TrueConnect 2 review
4. Bose QC35 II – Best for Comfort
The Bose QC35 II are still among the best all-round headphones you can get at the moment, even now that Bose has followed up with the Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Offering stylish design, sound quality, usability and features.
Although Google Assistant is the main new addition, there’s many more reasons why they QC35 II are great. They’re oh so comfortable and last a really long time which is a good start. Then there’s the almost unrivalled noise cancelling combined with excellent sound quality.
What more could you want?
Read our full Bose QC35 II review
5. RHA T20 Wireless – Best Neckbuds
Aside from lacking Bluetooth 5.0 and AAC support, there’s not really much to complain about when it comes to RHA’s T20 Wireless in-ear headphones, offering a blend of wireless and wired support alongside incredible-sounding audio further enhanced by the inclusion of custom tuning filters that emphasise bass and treble.
The 12-hour battery life isn’t the longest we’ve ever seen from a pair of neckbuds, but when the battery does die, you can switch to a good old-fashioned wired connection which, as well as not requiring power, actually bumps the sound quality into high-res territory with a frequency range of 16-40,000Hz.
Whether you’re an audiophile or just someone looking for a great pair of neckbuds, you won’t be disappointed with the RHA T20 Wireless headphones.
Read our full RHA T20 Wireless review
6. 1More Triple-Driver BT – Best Sounding Earbuds
You might not find the latest version of Bluetooth or smart on/off tech like other neckbuds on the market, but the 1More Triple-Driver BT headphones excel in the audio department – and that’s all that really matters, right?
The patented drivers produce booming bass that doesn’t affect the clarity of the mid- or high-end, offering a balanced audio experience perfect for a range of music.
It’s more tailored towards iOS users with AAC codec support admittedly, but Android users will still get a decent audio experience.
Read our full 1More Triple-Driver BT headphones review
7. Bowers & Wilkins PX – Best Build Quality
Bowers & Wilkins has done an amazing job at its first pair of noise cancelling headphones. The design and slightly more complicated user experience means that Bose’s rival will be a better option for most people.
However, the PX are a top choice with better build quality and seriously good sound, incorporating some tech from the P9 Signature. Battery life is also good and we like the smart sensors, too.
As long as they’re not too bulky for you, we doubt you’ll be disappointed.
Read our full Bowers & Wilkins PX review
8. Sennheiser HD 450BT – Best Budget ANC
The Sennheiser HD 450BT offer a rich sound. The accompanying app allows you to equalize the bass and trebles so you can get the sound that’s just right – whether you prefer bass heavy tones or clear mids and trebles for vocals and podcasts.
They might not technically be budget, but they are one of the cheapest pairs of noise cancelling headphones we’ve tested and are around half the price of many rivals. The ANC is pretty decent, too.
The headband and ear pads don’t clasp onto your head so you can expect a comfortable fit – useful if you want to wear them for a few hours at a time. The combination of features make them a particularly good choice for students.
Read our full Sennheiser HD 450BT review
9. Bowers & Wilkins PI3 – Best for Running
Neckbuds might have been overshadowed by true wireless earbuds but they can offer some benefits such as stability and longer battery life per charge.
If this style appeals to you then Bowers & Wilkins has one of the best pairs we’ve ever tested. Yes, they are more expensive than some rivals but you’re getting very high quality design and build quality.
We’re particularly impressed with the sound quality from the dual drivers, but they don’t get full marks due to the lack of waterproofing and noise cancelling.
Read our full Bowers & Wilkins PI3 review
10. Grado GW100 – Best On-Ear
If you love the idea of Grado’s open-back headphones but can’t countenance a wire in the year of Lord 2019, the Grado GW100 are exactly what you’re looking for. They have all the strengths – and weaknesses – of Grado’s core lineup, but cut the cord.
What you shouldn’t do is believe the company’s marketing line that these have somehow squared the circle of delivering open-back sound without the leakage. There’s less leaking than before, but still: everyone near you will hear your music, and you will hear everything else around you.
For better or worse then, these are Grados. Use them at home and you’ll love the expansive, open soundscape, but try to take them out and you won’t.
Read our full Grado GW100 review
Your buying guide for the best wireless headphones in 2020
These days, you can get wireless headphones at pretty much any price point. Headphone makers have realised that not everyone wants to shell out hundreds of pounds for huge cans so the technology is even found inside small in-ear headphones.
We’ve rounded up the best wireless headphones from both our budget chart and high-end chart (some of which appear here) so you’ll be able to find something to fit your budget. If you’re out for a bargain, take a look at our pick of the best headphones deals.
We also have a dedicated round-up for the best noise cancelling headphones, and another for AirPods-style true wireless headphones.
Please bear in mind that there are countless pairs of wireless headphones on the market so we can’t feature them all. These are the best of the ones we have fully tested and reviewed.
What to look for in wireless headphones
The biggest reason to buy wireless headphones is convenience. Not having to run a cable through your clothes to your phone – that ends up tugging all the time – is so much nicer.
Some wireless headphones even come with NFC built-in to make it super easy to pair them with a smartphone – you don’t need to do much more than tap them together. Apple doesn’t allow the iPhone’s NFC chip to be used for this, however.
There are downsides to wireless headphones, of course, starting with the fact that sound quality won’t be as good compared to a wired pair at the same price point. Look for pairs that support aptX and aptX HD, an audio codec that provides better wireless performance – though, again, this isn’t supported on iPhones so you’ll want something like AAC instead.
Bluetooth 5.0 is the latest version you’ll see and offering things like improved range and can connect to more devices at once. It’s also faster so you shouldn’t experience as much lag.
Wireless technology requires power to work so that means a battery, which is going to make them heavier. This also means you’ll need to remember to charge them up. While some wireless headphones can last a whopping 20-30 hours, some can only manage around three hours.
Don’t forget that using Bluetooth on your phone will also use more of your phone’s battery power than plugging headphones in.
If your wireless headphones do run out of power then you’ll want to revert to the trusty old wire. Not all pairs offer this so check whether this is a feature; it’s also handy if you want to use them with devices that don’t have Bluetooth like the entertainment system on a plane or a Nintendo Switch – though gadgets like the RHA Wireless Flight Adapter will let you connect to wired sources without the pesky wires.
For many, the pros will outweigh the cons when it comes to wireless headphones and we hope you find the right pair below. We’ll be looking to expand the list as we review more pairs. If you’re not sure wireless is the way to go, make sure you read our best headphones chart for other options.
Find out how we test audio.
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