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Best neckband headphones 2021

Best neckband headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best wireless neckband headphones you can buy in 2021.

If you're aiming to get fit for summer with runs, gym workouts or just a HIIT session in your front room, a pair of neckband headphones to upgrade your playlist could be just the boost you need.

With sports models, there are three types of wireless earbuds available: true wireless models, wireless with a cable, and earbuds with a neckband.

These wireless neckband earphones feature a horseshoe-shaped collar that sits around your shoulders and houses a battery and Bluetooth transmitter. The designs may look a little unconventional, but they definitely have their strengths. 

Neckband headphones combine convenience with impressive battery life (high-end models offer 10 hours of playback) plus features such as noise cancellation. You won't be plagued by connection issues, either, since most offer superb Bluetooth stability. And there's the issue of keeping them in your ears – many would argue the neckband design is the best way to do it. 

Most of the big-name audio brands have leapt on the neckband trend, so there's now a range of options to suit everyone from commuters to fitness fanatics. Want to cut the cord without sacrificing sound quality? Here's our pick of the best neckband headphones around right now.

Looking to go true wireless instead? Why not wait for the Apple AirPods 3 (due to land any day now)? If the rumours are accurate, they promise to be some of the best of their kind.

Best neckband headphones 2021

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

1. Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless

The best neckband headphones, offering superior sound quality and a luxurious design.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 10hr | Weight: 53g | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Open sound
Expressive vocals
Powerful bass

Reasons to Avoid

Bass maybe a little too powerful

This neckband headphone model is based on Sennheiser's Award-winning Momentum in-ear headphones, so you're guaranteed sensational sound quality. As well as impressive dynamics and superb vocal clarity, they offer features galore.

To add a touch of luxury to your listening experience, Sennheiser has trimmed the neckband in soft nappa leather. And when you get an incoming call, the neckband gently vibrates – a useful feature even when you’re not listening to music. In a hurry? They fast-charge in one and half hours. 

These Sennheisers are our pick as the best neckband headphones around thanks to the top-of-the-class style, sound and build quality.

Read the full Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless review

Best neckband headphones 2021

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)

2. Bowers & Wilkins PI3

Brilliant wireless buds from B&W.

SPECIFICATIONS

Connector: N/A | Cable length: N/A | In-line remote and mic: N/A | OS support: Android/iOS | Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 8 hours

Reasons to Buy

Clean, detailed presentation
Solid, weighty and tight bass
Flexible design and fine build

Reasons to Avoid

Not IPX rated
Lack of eartip options

Bowers & Wilkins has successfully made a smooth move into the headphone market, building on its almost unrivalled reputation when it comes to making speakers. In-ears of this design, which makes us think of sport and the gym, haven't necessarily been on the hit list however – but fear not, B&W has knocked it out of the park with these neckband wireless in-ears too.

The PI3 earphones are a dual driver design, complete with a flexible neckband. We would prefer a few more ear tips to get the optimum fit, so it might be one to try before you buy. They deliver a decent battery life and though they aren't technically waterproof, B&W claims they are "resistant to light rain, splash and sweat". 

Happily, they deliver a clear, controlled, punchy and well-balanced sound. From rock to pop to hip-hop, the B&W PI3 earphones deliver a confident, entertaining sound. Another fine option from B&W.

Read the full B&W P13 review

Best neckband headphones 2021

(Image credit: Skullcandy)

3. Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless

Lightweight neckband that offers bang for buck.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 6-7hr | Weight: 30g: | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Full, fun sound
Great price

Reasons to Avoid

No aptX Bluetooth or NFC

On a tight budget? Skullcandy’s cheap neckband headphones are the best pound-for pound performers. While the brand is best known as a purveyor of bombastic bass, its Smokin’ Buds 2 offer surprisingly rich and accomplished playback. 

The pared-back design features a simple three-button remote and looks more expensive than it feels. If you're into fitness and don't want the collar jangling around, you can remove the earphones from the flexible neckband.

As you’d expect, advanced features such as aptX Bluetooth and fast charging are off the menu. But factor in the eye-catching price and it’s hard not to be won over but these solid, reliable performers. 

Read the full Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless review

Best neckband headphones 2021

(Image credit: Libratone)

4. Libratone TRACK+

Sporty buds with noise cancellation.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: Yes | Battery life: 8hr | Weight: 28g: | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Comfortable, secure and lightweight
Effective noise cancellation
Splashproof

Reasons to Avoid

Lack some subtlety and attack

Libratone’s splashproof TRACK+ earbuds are aimed at sporty types and remain securely locked into your ears during intensive workouts. They're light but powerful: with eight hours of playback you're sorted for a marathon (or two).

Libratone’s noise-cancelling technology – dubbed CityMix II – offers four levels of noise cancellation, letting you choose how much of the world to let in. It's pretty effective at blocking out everything from chugging lorries to office chatter, and can be tuned via the remote or Libratone’s app.

While not as crisp or insightful as the Sennheisers, the TRACK+ offer a deft balance of dynamics and clarity – without breaking a sweat. If you love running, these are some of the best neckband headphones for going the distance.

Read the full Libratone TRACK+ review

Best neckband headphones 2021

(Image credit: V-Moda)

5. V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless

Sophisticated and stylish – but lacking in oomph.

SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth: Yes | Noise-cancelling: No | Battery life: 10hr | Weight: 22.5g: | Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to Buy

Excellent detail and clarity
Balanced bass
Good looking and comfortable

Reasons to Avoid

Not the best wireless performance
Lack body in the midrange

If style and craftsmanship float your boat, you’ll be instantly drawn to these sleek neckband headphones made from “aircraft grade” aluminium.  Their compact, minimal design is highly impressive – as is the clarity and upper-frequency refinement. 

Sound isolation is good and they come with a nice range of tips (plus ‘sport hooks’ to hold them securely in place). Fast charging means two hours playback from 15 minutes of charging. 

We did experience a few Bluetooth drop outs, though, and the soundstage lacks a little raw power. There are better all-rounders, but if you’re looking for outstanding sonic detail and a swanky design, make a v-line for V-Moda.     

Read the full V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless review

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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