And the best part? Not all of these over-ear wonders will burn a hole in your wallet.
Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Industry Leading Headphones with Auto Noise Canceling Optimizer, Crystal Clear Hands-Free Calling, and Alexa Voice Control, Midnight Blue WH1000XM5
When it comes to over-ear noise-canceling headphones, they typically offer an array of features that elevate our listening experience. The finest among these wireless options combine exceptional sound quality, robust active noise cancellation (ANC), and a suite of other nifty functionalities to present a complete package. However, it’s important to note that some manufacturers excel in this endeavor more than others. In Engadget’s quest to discover the best wireless headphones, we rigorously evaluated a range of models, each boasting different features such as noise cancellation, customization options, and audio quality. What’s more, our favorites span various price points, allowing you to decide how much you’re comfortable spending while ensuring you get the best value.
Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2 Over-Ear Headphones (2022 Model) - All-New Advanced Noise Cancellation, Works with B&W Android/iOS Music App, Slim & Lightweight, 7-Hour Playback on 15-Min Quick Charge, Black
What to Keep an Eye On
When you embark on the quest for headphones, the first decision you need to make revolves around the style you prefer. Are you inclined towards on-ear or over-ear headphones? For the sake of our buyer’s guide, we zero in on the over-ear style as it aligns with the design of most contemporary noise-canceling headphones. While you may stumble upon on-ear models with ANC capabilities, it’s the over-ear designs that truly shine in their ability to block out ambient noise.
Bose QuietComfort 45 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones, Triple Black with Power Bank Charger
Speaking of noise cancellation, it’s crucial to decide whether you require this feature. If your daily life involves immersing yourself in music amidst noisy surroundings, not only should you ensure that noise cancellation is included, but it’s equally important to gauge its effectiveness. Conversely, if you plan to use your headphones in quieter settings, forgoing ANC can translate to significant cost savings.
Audio-Technica ATHM50XBT Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Headphones, Black
The next consideration is the array of features on offer. We recommend seeking the best value for your money, but as you explore the market, take a moment to pinpoint which features are indispensable and what you can do without.
Technics HiFi True Wireless Multipoint Bluetooth Earbuds with Noise Cancelling, 3 Device Multipoint Connectivity, Wireless Charging, Impressive Call Quality, LDAC Compatible - EAH-AZ60M2-K (Black)
Don’t take basic functions like automatic pausing and Bluetooth multipoint connectivity for granted; not all brands incorporate them. Delving into reviews can shed light on how well a company’s advanced features perform, helping you decide whether they warrant the extra expenditure. It’s also prudent to pay close attention to battery life estimates and avoid being swayed by exaggerated claims regarding call quality.
Sound is inherently subjective, so if the opportunity arises, we recommend trying out headphones before making a purchase. We understand that this may not always be feasible, especially when most of our shopping is conducted online. Nevertheless, donning a pair of headphones and immersing yourself in their sound for a few minutes can spare you from post-purchase regret. Additionally, consider aspects such as Spatial Audio, Dolby Atmos, 360 Reality Audio, and other immersive formats. Not all headphones support these formats, so ensure that your prospective pair does if these features excite you.
Sennheiser Professional Audio Momentum 4 Wireless Headphones - Bluetooth Headset for Crystal-Clear Calls with Adaptive Noise Cancellation, 60h Battery Life, Lightweight Folding Design - Black )
Our Methodology for Testing Wireless Headphones
Our primary approach to evaluating headphones involves wearing them extensively. We prefer to undertake this process over one to two weeks, although embargo constraints may occasionally disrupt this schedule. During this period, we engage in a mix of music and podcast listening while also using the headphones for voice and video calls. Given that headphone battery life often extends to 30 hours or more, we meticulously drain the battery with continuous music playback at a comfortable volume level (typically around 75 percent). Given the prolonged battery estimates, we routinely power off the headphones and leave them idle as part of our review process. This simulates real-world usage and alleviates the need for constant monitoring spanning over 24 hours.
Sennheiser Professional Audio CX Plus True Wireless Special Edition, Bluetooth in-Ear Headphones for Music and Calls with Active Noise Cancellation and 24-Hour Battery Life – Matte Black (509247)
To assess audio quality, we expose the headphones to a variety of music genres, taking note of any variations in sound profiles. Furthermore, we test audio quality at both low and high volumes to ascertain the consistency in sound tuning. When evaluating phone call quality, we record audio samples using the headphones’ built-in microphones and also engage in third-party calls.
In the realm of features, we conduct comprehensive reviews of companion apps, rigorously testing each feature as we navigate through the software. We scrutinize any carryovers from previous models, assessing for enhancements or regressions. If the headphones under review represent an updated version of a prior model, we invest time in reacquainting ourselves with the older set. The same applies to the closest competitors of each new headphone set we review.