Sony had previously won the crown for our favorite set of wireless headphones with a revised version of the MDR-1000X, which hit the market in 2016. The new WH-1000XM2 ($ 350) holds everything we loved about the original, but extends the battery life (now up to 30 hours) and more control over audio settings, through a companion app. Sony has also added a fast-charging mode that gives you an hour of listening time after just 1
The new additions are great and along with Sony's main features, it provides a really good set of headphones. The same excellent audio quality is back, with clear sound and a balanced EQ that delivers near-perfect bass. The noise suppression on the WH-1000XM2 is better than on the Bose (I tested both on long, loud flights), which was one of the main reasons for the sound quality and battery life of these headphones. In addition, Sony has the handy touch-sensitive control panel on the outside of the right auricle, so you can adjust the settings with the touch of a finger or a finger. And, perhaps best, they are still comfortable to wear.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II (and QuietComfort 35)
Bose has long been the category leader in noise canceling headphones. The company unveiled its first QuietComfort 35 cordless model in 2016, before moving on to the QuietComfort 35 II last year as part of Google's push for headphones that worked well with Google Assistant. The only real difference is a new "Action" button that prompts the virtual helper with each press. The 2.0 version also features excellent noise reduction and strong overall sound quality, as well as a lightweight design that is extremely comfortable to wear even for long periods of time. In fact, the lack of weight of the QC 35 II makes it more comfortable than the WH-1000XM2, but Sony still wins when it comes to audio quality and active noise cancellation.
Even if you do not use Google Assistant, this extra button can still lend a hand. You can also go through the three different noise canceling modes of the QC 35 II and spin through the trio to find out which one is best for your current environment. If you do not think that additional control will be useful, you can save a few dollars and get the original QuietComfort 35 – if you can find it. For iOS users, the key used to play / pause or skip songs on both models can also be used to enable Siri when needed. In other words, you have access to Apple's Virtual Assistant on every device. Bose only offers the QC 35 II in its online store, but some dealers are still running the first model for around $ 329.
Wireless headphone with built-in amplifier? Do not look any further. Blue may be best known for its microphones, but the company began earmarking headphones several years ago. At last year's CES, there was the Satellite, a series of wireless noise-canceling headphones that also pack into an amp to further enhance sound quality. These extra components make the Satellite a bit bulky, and you'll certainly notice the extra weight compared to competing Bose and Sony models. And as you might expect, using this integrated amplifier will significantly shorten battery life. However, in the course of my review, I've found that you can still rely on these headphones for almost a full working day, even if you use the hallmarks of Satellite all the time.
What the Satellite lacks in comfort, it balances overall audio quality. These are some amazing sounding headphones; In my opinion, the audio here is perhaps the best of the whole group. However, comfort is almost as important in assessing the benefits of headphones – which is why Blue is halfway there. But there is a much fuller sound here, thanks to the built-in amplifier, with depth and clarity that even the WH-1000XM2 can not reach. Of course, for $ 400, this stellar sound is not cheap.
I know, I know. You're probably thinking, "Seriously, a pair of Beats headphones on a 'Best' list?" Let me finish. Beats headphones are usually criticized for two important things: (1) overbearing bass and (2) commanding a premium for the brand name. I'm not here to discuss this second point, but I'll say I find the overall sound on Studio3 ($ 350) much more balanced than in earlier Beats models I've tested. There is still a solid dose of bass, but it's not as overwhelming as it used to be – at least not for me. In fact, there are some audio settings, but there are a few other features that put these headphones on the list.
First, the Studio3 packs Apple's W1 processor for super-fast pairing – that's the same Bluetooth chip as the AirPods, Beats X and Powerbeats3 earphones. There is also a "Fast Fuel" mode that gives you three hours of listening time with just 10 minutes of charging time. And if you're an iPhone and Mac user, thanks to iCloud, you can seamlessly switch between your phone and your laptop. Beats' Pure ANC noise reduction is also pretty good, though it's not nearly as effective as Sony's WH-1000XM2. After trying out several pairs of Beats headphones that feel uncomfortable, the Studio3 introduces soft ear cushions and a headband that will not constrict your head.
Master & Dynamic MW60
Sometimes your audio equipment looks as good as it sounds. If you are looking for it, you should consider the MW60. Master & Dynamic wireless over-ear headphones have the same design features as the company's other products: a blend of metal, leather, and other materials that provide a higher-quality look and feel than other headphones. Basically: Here you can see no plastic headbands or cheap-looking components.
The beauty of the MW60 is more than just skin color. While I would have preferred a little more volume, they also sound great. M & D's goal is to create a more natural sound profile that presents the music as the artist intended, and this is largely achieved. These headphones are not over-tuned, so you do not have to struggle with too much bass or any other lumbering setting. However, the sophisticated design comes with a higher price: expect to pay nearly $ 550 for these bad guys.
Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC
After a series of picks that cost a few hundred dollars, you're probably hoping for an affordable option. The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC will not impress you with its eye-catching design, but what you get here for less than $ 180 is worth considering. You still get a mix of good sound and active noise cancellation, but these headphones have a cheaper-looking plastic design. They are by no means cheesy, but the aesthetics are not as refined as some of the more expensive options. But for a pair of headphones that is $ 150 to $ 200 cheaper than most of the other models listed here and still sounds pretty good, I'm willing to overlook the fact that it does not have the most stylish design.