You might be looking for Bluetooth headphones because you no longer want the hassle of the cord constantly getting in your way. Most modern devices are Bluetooth enabled, including iPhone’s, iPad’s and the majority of other Android smartphones and laptops. Bluetooth headphones allow the listener to move a short distance away from the device, or keep the device in a pocket without the inconvenience of the cord. However, this luxury does come with a price, and generally the headphones don’t have great sound quality for the price (compared to a wired headphone in the same price range). Due to the Bluetooth data capabilities being quite limited, sound quality is sacrificed as it is sent from the device to the headphones. However, Bluetooth technology has advanced in recent years, but it is still lacking in terms of sound on a like for like cost basis.
If sound quality is the most important factor to you, you may prefer to save some money and live with the wires. For the same amount of money you’d spend on a pair of Bluetooth headphones, you can buy a wired headphone that typically sounds much better. We should also point out that pretty much all of the Bluetooth headphones we tested in our reviews for this guide were not rated as sweat resistant, so we do not advise you use these for any sport activities. If water gets inside the internal battery, you could short out a headphone. However, there are many sport headphones available on the market, which are smaller and also offer Bluetooth – we cover this in our guide of the Best Bluetooth Headphones for Running. Only the best over and on-ear Bluetooth headphones are reviewed below, so if you’re looking for earphones, check out our Best Bluetooth Earbuds.
Furthermore, this round up of headphones are also not suitable for your home theater, where you may connect them to your TV, stereo or receiver. While some of these electronics may have Bluetooth capabilities, there are 3 pressing reasons why they shouldn’t be used. Your headphones will have features that won’t be used with your TV such as a microphone or track changing buttons. The lower sound quality when compared to other wireless-headphone technologies, means that if you want to purchase something for your home theater, it’s worth spending the money for higher quality sound. Wireless home theater headphones are reviewed in depth in another article. Certain Bluetooth headphones may also suffer from a delay from the Bluetooth transmitter, which might not be noticeable on occasion, but may start to get annoying with regular use.
If you are unsure about the type of headphones that suit your needs, we recommend reading the some of our other headphones articles to find what suits you most. Now, we will say what makes a good pair of Bluetooth headphones. Firstly, the fit, whether they are comfortable, especially over longer periods. Are they able to block out external noise and do they fit right on the ears? Second, you have to consider sound. Is the frequency evenly balanced? Music should sound rich without any booming noises or hisses, the voices should be clear and each syllable crisp. If they sound good through one method, with a cord or without, they should sound decent on the other as well. Finally, consider the build. Are the controls simple? Can they be accessed easily? Is there an optional cord and does it have controls on? Does it require the battery to always be charged? Are they easily paired with your device? Can they maintain Bluetooth signal easily? Is the headband durable? Due to these headphones usually being used with your phone, you should consider the convenience of a microphone as well.
Bose SoundLink around-ear wireless headphones II
Beats Studio Wireless Over-Ear Headphone
Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless with Active Noise Cancellation
Jabra Move Wireless Stereo Headset
Plantronics Backbeat Sense - Wireless Headphones With MIC
JBL E40BT White High-Performance Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Stereo Headphone
JVC HASBT200X Elation XX Bluetooth Headset
Best Bluetooth Headphones Reviews
1. Bose SoundLink Around-Ear II Review
The SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II are extremely comfortable to wear, with surprisingly good sound for a Bluetooth headphone. The battery life is also decent at 15 hours. It can also be used as a headset if required, with easy to operate controls and a useful carrying case included. The SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II combine comfort with performance and are an attractive pair of wireless headphones.
As with all Bose headphones, the SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II have a very comfortable fit, and only weighs around 200grams. The lightweight feel and memory foam earpads gives it a classy image. While it may not look too durable, Bose insist it uses impact resistant materials, using glass filled nylon and stainless steel. This model is so light, you forget you have a pair on your ears. The remote control buttons are useful, placed above the right headphone. To answer a call simply tap the middle button, which doubles up to skip tracks forward or back if playing music.
Also featured, is the use of Adaptive Audio Adjustment technology, which simply means it has a two-way microphone system, which automatically adjusts the volume to the surrounding environment noise. My own experience showed that it is effective, allowing me to easily make calls walking down hustling streets surrounded by plenty of noise. On top of this, the headphones had no problem pairing with the iPhone and Android devices I tested, and I only encountered a few hiccups which is expected with any Bluetooth device. You can also connect to Bluetooth enabled computers if required. The headphones are able to fold flat, but lack a second hinge to allow it to fold up completely within the included carrying case. The carrying case does have pockets to store the charging cable and headphone cable, if you require them when you are out and about.
In terms of battery life, the headphones should last 15 hours, which would get you through the average long haul flight, and the quick charge mode can give you a 2 hours of life from only a 15 minute burst of charging. Once turned on, a female voice tells you the remaining battery life. The same woman also helps guide you through how to pair your Bluetooth device to another. Overall Bose have done a decent job of addressing the kinks seen in other Bluetooth devices. The headphones use Bluetooth 4.0 and support the technology multilink, letting you switch between multiple devices at once (you can only listen to audio from one at a time however). While iOS devices doesn’t support NFC tap to pair technology, Android devices do, and that feature is found in these headphones. However, AptX streaming isn’t included, which is meant to improve the quality of Bluetooth streaming. But select devices like Apple don’t support AptX anyway, even if Android does.
The sound is well calibrated, offering clarity and a decent balance, with no overpowering bass. While you won’t get the supreme crispness, depth or sparkle, you would find in really high end headphones, Bose delivers a smooth, pleasing sound that certainly matches these headphones. I decided to compare them with the Beats Studio Wireless headphones, a popular alternative albeit slightly more expensive. I found that the Beats had a larger amount of bass, a higher volume limit and slightly more dynamic, but Bose surpassed the Beats in clarity and better stereo separation. If you are into the genres of hip hop and desire a more bass heavy sound, then the Bose’s won’t be for you. For everyone else, these Bluetooth headphones can’t be beat. For the DJ that prefers wireless, the Bose sound great when mixing or in the studio for a variety of genres, including EDM, rap, and others. Electronic dance music sounds quite exceptional to say the least.
As with all Bluetooth headphones, in the background there’s plenty of digital processing going on, and Bose has implemented Active EQ and volume-optimized EQ into the headphones. Their plan was to create a more ideal transmission without boosting other aspects like the bass. However, the problem encountered is that the digital files being streamed vary in quality, and Bose is trying its best to smooth out each aspect to make an overall better sound. I would like to say that when I did try the headphones using the cord I did enjoy the sound. While there is no Active EQ or volume-optimized EQ and the bass remains the same level, you can get a slightly louder sound with the same smooth audio. To summarize, if you run out of battery and have to plug the wires in, you won’t really be losing out on anything, which is expected with Bose.
It’s doubtful that any company has created a perfect pair of wireless headphones, and by that I mean a pair which sounds equal to a wired equivalent. However, Bose has done a decent job, mixing sleekness, comfortability and strong performance, creating a desirable product. While the SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II may not be what some people are looking for, you do get a significant amount of passive noise-isolation with the around ear design.
2. Beats Studio Wireless Review
The Beats Studio Wireless is certainly a comfortable over-the-ear pair of headphones, offering brilliant sound by featuring active noise-cancelling technology. You can fold up the headphones into a compact form, and the battery lasts up to 12 hours when using the wireless listening option. They are also suitable for making cell phone calls, acting as a wireless headset.
My testing consisted of several weeks of continuous use, and I ended up being really impressed. In terms of sound, it is comparable to any other high end pair of Bluetooth headphones, and is definitely an upgrade over the previous iterations of on-ear wireless models. The Studio Wireless model comes in six different colors, choose from white, red, blue, titanium and black (glossy and matte), as well as being better constructed than the original Beats studio. My personal preference was the black matte model, but I did like the red as well.
Despite being a premium headphone, they are constructed of mostly plastic, but the finish applied help them appear flashier than the original Studios. However, being glossy, they are prone to fingerprint marks, but there is an included cloth to help polish them when required. There is an upgrade on the original model as there are no longer any visible screws on display, which previously occasionally came undone and fell out. However, once you fold the headphones up into the case you will notice the Torx screws on the joints either side of the headband. The joint has a bit of metal inside, allowing it to snap conveniently into place when you want to unfold the headphones.
In addition to the carrying case, you also receive other extras, including a straight cord for wired listening, as well as another that is compatible as an Apple-friendly remote and microphone, useful for phone calls. (The remote features might not be compatible with non-Apple devices, but the microphone should still work). To power on the Bluetooth and the noise-cancellation feature, there is a built-in rechargeable lithium battery which is charged by the included red Micro-USB charger. Battery life should last 12 hours in wireless mode, and up to 20 hours with the wire being used. There’s a “battery fuel gauge” which indicates how much life is left, displayed by a five light LED system. If you have an iOS device, you can see the battery level on your screen next to the Bluetooth icon.
The answer/end call button appears in the middle of the left side earcup, doubling as a one button remote for playing back music. If you tap it once, your music will pause, press it twice quickly and it skips to the next track. Three presses and it sends you back a track. To control the volume you will find buttons above and below the one button remote. Very simple.
Finally, there’s an automatic on/off feature if you unplug the headphones while in wired mode. Beware however, if they remain connected to your phone in Bluetooth mode, the charge will be drained overnight. The Studio Wireless version certainly has an air of excitement surrounding them, however, the result is fairly subdued. The sound is both smooth and accurate, but with less push to the treble. The bass packs a punch, but it doesn’t feel too accentuated, and the midrange (vocals and acoustics) is fairly forward leaning, but only slightly.
You might assume that these headphones sound better when connected in wired mode, but this is not the case. Headphones that feature Bluetooth, combined with active noise cancelling functions, are usually tailored to those conditions. I personally thought the sound was more vibrant under Bluetooth mode. You should be aware however, just like the majority of other noise-cancelling headphones we have experienced, the Studio Wireless’ built-in electronics create a minor hissing noise, but it is only audible in the quietest of rooms. However, for the headphones to work, it requires the noise-cancelling system to be on. These headphones are priced quite high, but you are paying a premium price for that “Beats” branding, and the majority of users will be more than satisfied with the sound these headphones deliver.
3. Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless Review
The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless is a commendable pick being well-designed, durable and folds up to offer more compact storage as well as offering fantastic sound over Bluetooth or wired connection. Like most models, it comes with active noise-cancellation and even dual microphones to be used as a cell phone headset.
There are plenty of things great about this model, it is well built and comfortable. Sennheiser has made minor adjustments from other Momentum over-ear and on-ear models. Both versions, wired and wireless have a new folding technique, which lets the compact model take up even less room in the carrying case. In addition to the Bluetooth (using Bluetooth 4.0), the Momentum 2.0 Wireless benefits from active noise cancellation and near-field communications, tap-to-pair technology if your device is compatible, and even supports aptX codecs. Furthermore, the included cable can be used if you want to use the headphones in the wired mode, which will make it sound better and louder.
The power button, volume and playback controls are all found on the right earcup, and are easily operated just through feel. Like other Bluetooth headphones and speakers, there is a built-in voice to help guide you through certain functions and telling you select information such as whether the device is on or off, helping you pair the headphones to your deice, and alerting you when the battery is running low. The wireless range itself is up to 10 meters or 33 feet, and generally the connection is strongly maintained.
You are unable to turn off the noise cancellation, however, this doesn’t affect the battery life and we can last up to a whole 22 hours. We tested the cancellation feature by walking down the streets of New York and found it worked decently, and the integrated dual microphones working very well for making calls. In terms of features and price, this model is certainly a competitor for the Beats Studio Wireless. With similar features, like the previously discussed dual microphones and active noise cancellation, there is little difference between them. The Beats were a little bit more comfortable in fairness.
Furthermore, the Beats were a little bit louder when played at maximum volume, but overall, the Sennheiser sounded better quality, offering tighter bass and a more refined sound. The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless was better balanced, and is certainly an excellently designed Bluetooth headphone, which also offers brilliant wired performance.
4. Jabra Move Wireless Review
We chose the Jabra MOVE for a few reasons, for example the great sound, the reasonable price, and the comfort nature combined with easy to use controls. Out of all the medium priced wireless headphones we tested, these were some of the best sounding pairs. All the frequencies, from high, mid and low were nice and balanced, from all genres including hip hop and jazz. It all sounded great.
At the lower end of the frequencies, you will find them nicely defined. There won’t be any muddiness in the sound in electronic bass-lines, and kick drums are tight sounding. Despite the bass not being low in volume in contrast to the rest of the mix, those who prefer a high boosted bass-line will be the only ones wanting more. The mid frequencies don’t disappear in the overall sound either. The lead guitar and rhythm guitar don’t compete with each other. Male vocals sound smooth and quite rich, while piano keys stood out due to the depth. There is a little bit of boost in the sibilant range, so the consonants have a slight bit of “sss” extra, but when compared to other comparable Bluetooth headphones, it’s relatively minor.
Every one of our team of experts agreed that the Jabra MOVE wireless had a decent fit, with soft ear pads, a customized swivel to the earcups, as well as the headband being cloth-coated, the MOVE not only felt comfortable and lightweight, but also durable and high quality. You will find when you come to use the controls that they are rubberized, and are easily found by using the sense of touch when you can’t see the headphones due to them being upon your head. Many designs have the problem of the controls being hard to find once they are being worn, so it is nice that Jabra MOVE doesn’t suffer from this particular problem. The volume buttons are interchangeable with the track forward and back, with the center button between them letting you play, take calls, pause and use the voice commands. You will also find a built-in microphone, which sounds on par with any other wireless headphone on the higher end models, which is pleasantly surprising.
Other Bluetooth headphones also seem to have the lack of an on/off button despite the simplicity found in one. It may sound silly, but we found in most cases it was annoying to have to figure out whether the headphones had actually been turned off. When you want to save battery life, confirmation that the headphones are actually off is required. Fortunately, the Jabra MOVE has a toggle button for this purpose, which is easily understood and slights right to power off, center to power on, and left to pair with a device. Furthermore, the Bluetooth connection range was surprisingly decent, letting us move up to three rooms and walls away without any interference. The reality for you may vary however, depending on how thick your walls are. But we found based on our tests, the range allowed enough freedom for the majority.
Besides functioning surprisingly well, the MOVEs come in the range of colors of red, black and blue. The slim design means they don’t look out of place, and there’s no eye-catching logo, perfect for those who prefer the simple and clean design, as the overall aesthetics are great. Overall, when accounting for everything the Jabra MOVE Wireless offers, they really are the best value for money choice. They deliver what they promise too, without charging for un-needed extras, If you desire to cut the cord to your music player, you won’t be disappointed with this.
5. Plantronics BackBeat SENSE Review
Plantronics may not have the same kind of market share other popular headphone brands have benefited from over the last several years, but its slow penetration of the consumer market has resulted in some interesting products. The BackBeat SENSE are a nice pair of on-ear wireless Bluetooth headphones, carefully created to be light, flexible and comfortable for long durations.
Plantronics are not known as being a fashionable tech brand, and the model Sense is unlikely to be changing the tide on that. For the purpose of our review we received both of the color options, the black with brown headband and ear cushions, and the similar white and brown combo. The latter is a bit more eye-catching. However, the combination of leather and memory foam is a lovely one, providing a soft feel which is pleasant to the touch. To help orient users, the letters L and R are clearly marked within the earcups.
On the outside of the left sided cup you will find the playback controls. Like most Bluetooth headphones, the play and pause button is in the center, with the back and skip button on either side, however, the volume control is controlled by an outer ring. There’s a red button to the bottom letting you mute the music if you desire, as well as engages the microphone. On the other side, in the right earcup, you can find a main function button which once pressed it can accept or end phone calls, as well as reveals the battery level through a 5-led indicator. The generic voice can also announce the battery level to you, but only by saying “low, medium or high”, with no indication of how much in time is left. You can also find on the bottom right hand side the headphone jack and micro-USB charging port, whereas the power and Bluetooth buttons are on the top.
There’s a nifty little pressure sensor also inside the device, so the headphones know when they are being worn and when not. Lifting the device off your head or just the right earcup will pause the music temporarily. Bluetooth 4.0 is also supported, with 2 different devices being connected at the same time, so if you are watching a movie on your tablet and a phone call comes in, you have both options covered. Range can go up to 330 feet, but this should probably be taken with a grain of salt, as it assumes a very optimistic line-of-sight rating, particularly when it is connected to more than one class-1 BT device). If there are obstacles in your way, expect that number to decrease drastically.
The BackBeat Sense are certainly among the very best when it comes to wireless on-ear headphones, and it just so happens for their price they are a real bargain. Without skewing too much with the equalizer, no potential listeners are alienated. However, those who are part of the Beats crowds may not find the sound to be of their taste. The bass is fairly tight and balanced, but not particularly deep or overpowered. A bass heavy track does sound fine, but to get a good sound from the lows you need to increase the volume.
Overall, our opinion is that these headphones aren’t particularly suited to one definitive genre, but they do a perfectly capable job for all of them. However, listener’s tastes can be a fine line, which is why there are so many different sounding models on the market. You will start to notice the shortcoming within the beats as the volume increases, as the bass is too heavy at the expense of the high and mid frequencies. It feels a bit of a balancing game to find the perfect volume for your listening desires, and any user who takes the mind-set of the louder the better with music will notice the pitfalls. However, when it does come to listening at the higher level volumes, the Sense model does manage to maintain a level of clarity with any genre. The vocals were never drowned out by other instruments, and while the highs and mids could be a bit warmer, it didn’t sound like too much was actually missing. On tracks which contain loud and pronounced vocals, the Sense managed to make sense of the chaos surprisingly well, even if the bass wasn’t rumbling the way it could have.
No matter the genre, be it classic rock, house or R&B, everything essentially sounded like it had excellent stereo separation. We did experiment playing the music through various equalizer apps to get the most bass as possible at louder volumes, albeit with limited success, but it was only useful if we had the music on a smartphone, computer or tablet. We couldn’t replicate the custom results through streaming services like Spotify, Pandora or Apple Music. However, there is currently no noise-cancellation feature, but that does not mean the battery will last longer. The noise-isolation feature does the job well enough though, as we found ourselves ignoring the ambient noise externally and getting lost in the tunes.
The 18 hour estimate for the battery appeared to be accurate, and was definitely one of the best we have experienced with an on-ear headphone set. At louder volumes, the battery life dropped to around 15 hours per each charge. Using them with the cable that comes included was also convenient when we didn’t have the option of going wireless, or if it was not necessary. When using this headset for phone calls, it wasn’t surprising to find that the Sense model excelled in this department. Given Plantronics experience with mono headsets, it was to be expected. The calls themselves were clear, and the microphone was of high quality, the controls for calls were also suitable for basic tasks. We were unable to get Google Now and Siri working though using the function button, so functionality was limited in this aspect. There were no risks taken by Plantronics approach to designing the BackBeat Sense, leaning with a neutral attitude towards design and audio performance. We can’t recommend these for any certain genres, because they treat each one in the same way. Bass lovers may feel like something needs to be added, whereas those who prefer the subtlety will appreciate the intricate balance and detail.
Being on-ear, wireless and on the low end in terms of prices, especially for a feature rich headphone, we certainly have been left feeling strongly impressed. The performance and features are great, and the battery life takes several days before needing to be recharged at the standard listening frequency. What the BackBeat Sense does they do well, and considering the price, it is certainly a recommended purchase.
6. JBL Synchros E40BT Review
The JBL Synchros E40BT underlines JBL’s to delivering a low cost option which still delivers performance. Luckily it is a success, however perhaps too light on bass and a bit uncomfortable on the ears, the E40BT is a decent all round experience. It does come with the perk of a signal sharing feature however. These are on-ear headphones, so they rest on the outside of your ears but do not fully cover them. The cups are padded, with a silky leatherette material. This comfy substance is found in pillow pads, and will guarantee a comfort when wearing the headphones.
While the design is pretty basic, there are a few visual touches. The crosshatch texture surrounding the JBL logo is nice, as well as the triangles on the hinges. I’d say the logos are a bit too eye-catching though, and the color scheme of the black and silver that I received didn’t really seem exciting. There is a white and gray alternative version which looks sleek though.
Other colors include red, as well as a black pair with purple touches, which can catch the eye without being too over the top. If you are looking for simplicity and affordability in wireless headphones, the E40BT are a good fit. A clear sound which packs a punch, with fairly decent mid-range performances. However, the bass output does lack a little bit. I noticed it most when listening to hip-hop. Kanye West’s album “Yeezus” seemed to lack a bit of a thump, but did sound sufficiently grimy. However, when switching to Chvrches’s “The Bones of What You Believe” the rising synths sounded fantastic on these affordable headphones.
The volume can get pretty loud if you desire it too, but the output does start to sound a bit muddled when cranking it. However, that’s no shock. These headphones aren’t built to be high end, but that isn’t a big problem. If you do enjoy deafeningly loud music, then others close-by will hear plenty of excess noise. The microphone itself is hidden, but still works well for taking calls, with a clear voice detection pumping through the ears. However, what is better is that there were no quality issues reported back from the other side. Button controls are conveniently placed on the right side, with the JBL saucer acting as a directional pad. Up or down for volume, left for multifunction, letting you skip tracks or take a call. The right button includes an unusual feature in the form of “Share Me”. Enabling you to share the audio with another compatible JBL headset. It’s a nice feature, but only really suitable if you have another pair of E50BT or E40BT headphones nearby. However, the battery life comes in at an impressive 16 hours, and even more talk time at 24 hours. This seemed accurate based on my frequency of use, and the auto turn off feature if the device’s idling is neat.
The headphones are easily charged via USB cable. Plug it into the headphone jack for three hours and it’s ready to go. That same port can also be used for wired listening. Considering the amount of expensive headphones currently on the market, it’s great to see the JBL E40BT target itself as being affordable without having to compromise too much in quality. The on-ear fitting was a little tight for my liking, making longer listening sessions a bit uncomfortable, but the sound quality is decent and the battery life exemplary, as well as the aesthetics looking good. If your budget is under 100 dollars, then you can’t go wrong with these.
7. JVC XX Elation Review
There isn’t a premium look when it comes to the JVC XX Elation, coming with a plastic construction emitting a bit of a cheap vibe. However, don’t judge a book by its cover, as the headphones are durable and well-constructed. The flexible plastic also makes the headphones lightweight, enough so that you could even forget that they are on your head. Thanks to a fair amount of clamping force though, the JVC XX Elation will stay securely in place.
Battery Life is a respectable 10 hours, but will vary depending on volume. It does come with an iPhone compatible 3.5mm cable, if you are low on power. However, there’s no other accessories, even though they fold down for traveling, no case is included. The sound the headphones deliver is quite well-balanced, and is capable of more than one would expect. Bass isn’t overwhelming, but if you want more, there’s an optional bass boost function, and vocals have a reasonable level of clarity. Overall, the sound signature feels a little bit thick, but does show better signs at the top end which balances out nicely.
Bluetooth headphones under $100 are usually dodgy territory, but the XX Elation has proved that wireless headphones don’t have to sacrifice sound quality or features when they are cheap. With a decent battery life, reasonable sound with extra bass if required, these headphones are inexpensive and resilient, and will suit many people’s needs.
Latest posts by Lewis Drakken (see all)
- 6 Professional Tips to Take Better Selfies - April 3, 2017
- 5 Great Tips for Beginner Photographers - April 2, 2017
- The Importance of Photography in the Ever-Expanding Digital World - March 30, 2017