Best wireless headphones 2023: Bluetooth headphones for every budget

Best wireless headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best Bluetooth headphones you can buy in 2023.

The world of wireless headphones has come a long way in recent years. Not only have we seen an influx of new technologies, including new codecs that let them receive much higher quality audio, but we’ve also seen a wave of fresh form factors, such as true wireless earbuds, appear.

As a result, you can now find wireless headphones for everyone, from serious music listeners to hardcore runners and general commuters, across shops and online stores. The added choice is great as it genuinely means there is a pair for everyone out there. The downside is that finding one can be fairly tricky.

If you’re a runner you’ll care about water resistance, as you don’t want to invest in a great set only to have it fall apart after your first sweaty gym session. If you’re a commuter looking to block out background noise on your way to and from work, you need one with reliable active noise cancellation (ANC). Then there’s the question of budgets – you don’t want to over-invest if your needs are fairly basic, or indeed under-invest if you have the budget and will to get the best sound you can afford.

Here to help you avoid wasting money on a sub-par set of wireless headphones, we have created this guide detailing the best we’ve tested that you can buy. Every single pair of wireless headphones on this list has been thoroughly tested by the team of experts at What Hi-Fi?, both in our test rooms and out in the real world, so you can trust our buying advice.

How to choose the best wireless headphones for you

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

With quality has come quantity, though – the market is awash with wireless pairs – so before you start hunting you should decide what style of Bluetooth headphones you want. Our round-up of the best wireless headphones here includes plenty of over-ear designs – often with noise-cancelling thrown in for good measure – with brands such as Sony, Bose, Sennheiser, Bowers & Wilkins and Apple leading the way. With Sonos wireless headphones reportedly on the horizon, too, the competition isn't letting up.

And then there are wireless earbuds – those increasingly rare pairs with a neckband cable joining the buds, and the much more popular 'true wireless' earbuds where the earpieces are completely untethered from one another. Yes, like AirPods. The AirPods 3 and new AirPods Pro 2 may be the most popular of them all, but they aren't the very best sounding – something the excellent Sony WF-1000XM4, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II and other awesome AirPods alternatives demonstrate.

Whatever style you require (need help? Here's how to choose the right pair of headphones) or budget you are tied to, you will find the best Bluetooth headphones you can buy below – all tried and tested by the What Hi-Fi? reviews team so you can be assured all of the suggestions below are truly excellent value for money.

And what makes them even more excellent value for money? A deal, that's what. If you're on the hunt for a bargain, take a look at our round-up of the best headphones deals on the internet right now.

Best wireless headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5

The definitive pick, the WH-1000XM5 are the latest model in Sony's hugely successful line of premium wireless noise-cancelling headphones. (Image credit: Future)
New design, same result for Sony’s latest premium noise-cancelling headphones

Specifications

Bluetooth: SBC, AAC, LDAC
Battery life: 30hr
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes
Transparency mode: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Sensational sonic clarity
+
Nice to use
+
Punchy and precise, agile bass

Reasons to avoid

-
Build less premium than predecessors
-
Don’t fold away completely

It can be tricky for a manufacturer to push the sound performance of a product consistently from generation to generation, but that's what Sony has managed to do with the WH-1000XM5. Not only that, it has been achieved while executing a major redesign over the previous WH-1000XM4 (which appears lower down this list).

When we saw the official pictures of the XM5, we were more than a bit surprised. We wondered whether it was a wise move to give one of Sony’s biggest success stories in recent memory a major redesign. But it's paid off.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones might feel a little less premium than before, but the jump in sound quality from the previous generation is a big one, and rivals could once again have their work cut out. If you are looking for a new pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones, your auditioning should start here. The older XM4 were already the best around – and still are if you can't stretch your budget to the latest pair – but the XM5 are undoubtedly better for those who can afford to pay the premium. 

And that's why they are the best Bluetooth headphones for the money and worthy winners of our Product of the Year What Hi-Fi? Award.

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM5 review

Check out the best Sony headphones

Sony WF-C500

The WF-C500 don't cut many corners to offer Sony style and substance in a more affordable package. (Image credit: Future)
Real competitors in the budget true wireless earbuds arena

Specifications

Bluetooth: SBC, AAC
Noise-cancelling: No
Battery life: 10hrs (20hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and comfortable design
+
Spirited, well-balanced sound
+
Fine control app

Reasons to avoid

-
Ordinary battery life
-
Slightly small-scale sound

Building affordable true wireless in-ear headphones is a different discipline to building expensive ones, but it’s no less tricky. In the WF-C500, Sony has managed to bring a lot of what makes its flagship earbuds (the WF-1000XM4 below) such a success without cutting too many corners.

Yes, the WF-C500 can be bettered (and by quite a margin) for battery life, but you’ll be hard-pushed to find a more comfortable pair. You can buy greater outright scale of sound, though you won’t encounter a more complete control app. Some alternatives are a punchier and more ‘exciting’ listen, but very few strike a more convincing sonic balance.

As an overall package, the Sony WF-C500 are genuine contenders for those with tighter budgets. Another deserved What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winner.

Read our full Sony WF-C500 review

Best wireless headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4

Now surpassed by the XM5 above but no less appealing considering their lower price, the WH-1000XM4 remain stellar buys. (Image credit: Sony)
Sony’s premium wireless headphones deliver a sonic masterclass

Specifications

Bluetooth: SBC, AAC, LDAC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 30hr
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Dynamic, detail-rich sound
+
Sensational sense of timing
+
Lightweight, comfy and clever

Reasons to avoid

-
No IP water-resistance rating
-
No aptX Bluetooth support

While now replaced with the newer XM5 (above), these XM4 are still excellent buys for those who are looking for noise-cancelling wireless headphones on a slightly tighter budget. Now that they're no longer the latest and greatest of Sony's crop, this 2020-launched model has dropped in price and is all the better value for it, hence why they are able to remain What Hi-Fi? Award winners.

You won't benefit from the latest design cues and sound quality benchmark of the newer Sonys, but you're still getting a lot for your money – a highly musical and engaging sound that's better than nearly every pair at the price; useful features such as ‘Speak to Chat’, which allows you to talk to someone while the headphones are still on your head, all without moving a muscle; and a very comfortable and smart-minimalist design. 

Still very much one of the best Bluetooth headphones around. Grab them while you can, bargain hunters.

Read our full Sony WH-1000XM4 review

Read our Sony WH-1000XM4 tips, tricks and advice article

Best wireless headphones: Sennheiser HD 250BT

These cheap Sennheisers offer a specification and level of sound quality that belies their very modest price. (Image credit: Sennheiser)
Supremely affordable wireless headphones.

Specifications

Bluetooth: aptX Low Latency, aptX, AAC
Noise-cancelling: No
Battery life: 25 hours
Charging: USB-C
Built in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Open, detailed presentation
+
In-app EQ optimisation
+
Rock-solid budget build

Reasons to avoid

-
Not very modern-looking

The Sennheiser HD 250BT might not feature any luxury design flourishes, but they sound great, are durable and consequently our favourite set of budget on-ear headphones. Hence their What Hi-Fi? Award, defining them as the best pair around at this affordable price point.

That's not to say the spec is bare. Features include Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX Low Latency, a 25-hour battery life, app support and Sennheiser’s beloved-of-DJs transducer tech.

The build is a black plastic affair, but it is functional and solid and features the firm’s traditional S-in-a-rectangle white branding on each ear cup. Said earcups are nicely padded, although the headband is not.

When it comes to sound, the HD 250BT sound a good deal more musically detailed, agile and rhythmically gifted across the frequencies than one might expect given the eye-popping price tag.

All in all, the HD 250BT are a superb budget buy – and a great way to experience what Sennheiser is capable of without breaking the bank.

Read our full Sennheiser HD 250BT review

Check out the best Sennheiser headphones

Best wireless headphones: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Bose's flagship wireless earbuds are the real deal and deserved award winners (Image credit: Future)
Bose's flagship wireless earbuds sound the business

Specifications

Bluetooth: SBC, AAC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 6hrs (24hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptional noise-cancelling
+
Fantastic sense of refinement
+
Beautifully balanced sound
+
Excellent detail levels

Reasons to avoid

-
Earbud battery life can be bettered
-
No Bluetooth multipoint
-
No wireless charging

Say hello to the 'best premium wireless earbuds' winners at the What Hi-Fi? Awards. As the title of the award suggests, these premium Bluetooth in-ears sound amazing and set a new benchmark for wireless earbuds at this level.

Smaller and lighter than the original QC Earbuds (which you can see a few places below), the Earbuds II provide a comfortable fit and lots of features. Bluetooth 5.3 is a big bonus, and the Bose app allows you to alter the amount of noise-cancelling on offer via a number of customisable presets.

Speaking of noise-cancelling, the Bose are at the top of their game. They can automatically adjust the amount of ANC on offer so your music isn’t drowned out by particularly loud noises and the effect is deeply impressive. As for sound, it's balanced and neutral and overflowing with fine detail. 

It's a shame there's no support for high-quality wireless audio codecs such as LDAC or aptX HD (though aptX Adaptive is coming next February...), nor is there wireless charging or Bluetooth multipoint. But we don't think this is the end of the world when you consider that these classy buds ooze such sophistication.

Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II review 

Check out the best Bose headphones

Best wireless headphones: Mark Levinson 5909

The No.5909 justify their extravagant price tag by setting a new benchmark for wireless headphones performance. (Image credit: Future)
Mark Levinson manages to justify the No. 5909’s huge price tag with benchmark wireless performance

Specifications

Bluetooth: aptX Adaptive, AAC, LDAC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 34hr
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Benchmark wireless sound performance
+
Decent active noise cancellation
+
Quality build

Reasons to avoid

-
Inaccessible price for most
-
Basic on-cup controls

These Mark Levinsons entered our test room doors as the most expensive wireless pair we’ve tested and therefore did so with a weight of expectation on their shoulders. So, can wireless performance ever be so good as to justify such an expense? You bet it can.

If we hadn’t unboxed the Levinsons and gone through the simple Bluetooth pairing process ourselves, we would be tempted to check for any wires dangling from the earcups. While the No. 5909’s performance is still short of the best available from similarly priced wired headphones, it’s easily the best wireless headphones performance we’ve come across.

For anyone who is after the convenience of wireless without sacrificing too much sound quality to get it, and lucky enough to afford such a best-of-both-worlds solution, the Mark Levinsons are highly recommendable.

Their perceived value may not get top marks (they don't look as bling as they could), but sonic value certainly does – and that’s really what matters here. Mark (ahem) our words, these wireless headphones really wow and, while expensive, the best Bluetooth headphones we have ever heard.

Read our full Mark Levinson No. 5909 review

Best wireless headphones: Apple AirPods Pro 2

Apple has stepped up, and the AirPods Pro are finally a five-star stunner. (Image credit: Future)
Apple's best-sounding AirPods yet are up there with the best

Specifications

Bluetooth: AAC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 6hrs (30hrs with charging case)
Charging: Lightning
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Clear, detailed and powerful sound
+
Excellent noise-cancelling
+
Longer battery life
+
Smooth, intuitive use with iOS devices

Reasons to avoid

-
Many features restricted to iOS devices
-
Customisable ANC modes would be useful

The AirPods and AirPods Pro earbuds have typically been one step behind the class-leading competition, particularly when it came to sound quality. They’ve been good-but-not-great wireless earbuds; lovely to use for iOS users but never quite reaching the sonic heights established by the top pairs in this crowded and popular category. 

That all changes with the new AirPods Pro 2. The second generation of Apple’s flagship wireless ANC earbuds introduces a more powerful processor, advancements in active noise-cancelling, a longer battery life, new features and, more importantly, much better audio performance. 

We certainly didn’t expect them to trouble the best-in-class competitors such as Sony WF-1000XM4 (just below) and Bose QC Earbuds II (just above), but with the AirPods Pro 2, Apple has more than caught up. The Pro 2 are five-star stunners that ensure Apple loyals who want noise cancellation aren't settling for less than great.

Read our full AirPods Pro 2 review

Check out the best AirPods you can buy – ranked and rated

Best wireless headphones: Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony's line of premium wireless ANC earbuds is as successful as its over-ear series. (Image credit: Future)
Sony's best true wireless earbuds to date.

Specifications

Bluetooth: SBC, AAC, LDAC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 8hrs (24hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Clear, detailed bass performance
+
Wonderful sense of musicality
+
Comfortable
+
Class-leading battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Missing Sony’s Multipoint feature
-
Lacking ear tip choices
-
No aptX HD

Yes, it's another Sony – which just goes to show how consistent the brand is across the headphones space. With the WF-1000XM4, Sony has managed to build on the huge success of the multi-award-winning WF-1000XM3 and produce a sensational pair of true wireless earbuds. Another multi-Award-winner, at that.

There are dynamics and detail in spades and it's a balanced performance, with taut, precise bass notes and refined, sophisticated vocals. You can't help but be carried away by their sense of musicality.

Those who prioritise battery life in their AirPods alternatives should find the eight hours promised by the Sonys more than sufficient. The wireless charging case also extends this by a further 16 hours.

The Sonys are comfortable to wear too, with touch-sensitive controls and ear tips that provide excellent noise isolation. Combine this with brilliant noise cancelling courtesy of Sony's Integrated Processor V1 and ingenious features such as Quick Attention and Speak-To-Chat (which both allow you to have a conversation without removing the earbuds) and the WF-1000XM4 are difficult to fault.

Read our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review

Our pick of the best Sony headphones deals

Best wireless headphones: AKG Y500 Wireless

The Y500 Wireless are hugely appealing to use and listen to – you won’t find a similar wireless headphone experience that wraps every element together so neatly at this price. (Image credit: AKG)
Crowd-pleasing AKG headphones that are now superb value

Specifications

Bluetooth: Yes
Noise-cancelling: No
Battery life: 33hrs
Charging: Micro USB
Built-in controls and mic: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Clear, detailed and refined sound
+
Smooth presentation
+
Excellent build and design

Reasons to avoid

-
Delivery could be more energetic

Scoring highly across all categories, these impressive wireless headphones are durable, stylish and decent-sounding – and now one of the best value wireless pairs you'll find thanks to their huge price cut. The Sennheiser 250BT above take them for sound quality, but we reckon more people will like the look of these AKGs.

They're small enough to squeeze into a pocket, yet sound spacious, rhythmic and detailed. A button on the ear cup connects you to your smartphone's voice assistant, and the Y500 automatically pause music when you slip them off. These old timers (we reviewed them in 2018) have now been superseded by the company's Y400, but they actually have better availability and a more attractive price right now. With rich features, strong battery life and great controls, the Y500 remain superb all-rounders. If you want to bag a bargain, we'd act quickly before these disappear from the shelves altogether.

Read our full AKG Y500 Wireless review

Check out the best AKG headphones out there

Best wireless headphones: Focal Bathys

In addition to aptX Adaptive Bluetooth support, the Bathys also have a USB-DAC mode that supports 24-bit/192kHz through their USB-C port. (Image credit: Future)
Focal blends Bluetooth into its high-end headphones recipe with great success

Specifications

Bluetooth: SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 30hr
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Compellingly big, spacious, clear sound
+
Pleasingly full-bodied balance
+
Gorgeous and solidly built
+
USB-C wired listening bonus

Reasons to avoid

-
Plasticky buttons let down luxury feel

Focal’s entrance into this burgeoning premium Bluetooth headphones market isn’t surprising considering its presence at the premium end of the wired space. And nor is the success of its first effort. The gorgeous-looking Bathys are highly recommendable for anyone after the convenience of portability in a premium pair of headphones at this price, who can stretch their budget above the B&W Px8 but not to the heights of the Mark Levinson No5.909.

For a wireless headphone performance, it’s among the most engaging we have heard. And if you want them to double up as home headphones for longer listening stints, which they are more than comfortable enough to wear for, know that going wired via the built-in DAC/USB-C port does add a degree of refinement and tightness to the delivery.

Noise cancellation is fairly non-intrusive to the performance, too, and if you need it – as we did on two flights during testing – it does a decent job of diminishing distracting outside world noise from your music listening in ‘Silent’ mode.

Read our full Focal Bathys review

Best wireless headphones: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus

Physically compact, sonically musical, and some of the most durable wireless earbuds out there thanks to a 45-hour juicepack. (Image credit: Cambridge Audio)
Cambridge’s Award-winning recipe has been refined to include app support and extra sonic clarity and detail

Specifications

Bluetooth: aptX, AAC, SBC
Noise-cancelling: No
Battery life: Up to 45 hours
Charging: USB-C
In-line mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Extra ounce of dynamic expression
+
Great clarity for the level
+
Slick app support

Reasons to avoid

-
No noise-cancelling

Cambridge’s compact, fuss-free and affordable design in its original Melomania 1 true wireless earbuds was a hit with us the first time around in 2019. The addition of a slicker paint job, app support for EQ customisation and the step-up in sonic detail and refinement only makes us want to heap extra praise upon the new Melomania 1 Plus – especially as they can now be picked up for 50 per cent of their original price.

There’s no noise-cancelling onboard, but those who don’t need shouldn't hesitate to add these latest Melomanias to their shortlist.

The Award-winning Sony WF-C500 near the top of this list take the performance that one step higher, but with an engaging, detailed, expansive listen, the Melomania 1 Plus are a close second-best at this level.

Read our full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review

Best wireless headphones: B&W Px7 S2 review

B&W's latest wireless over-ears combine competitive sound quality with best-in-class features and a stylish design. (Image credit: Future)
Wireless noise-cancelling headphones that supply style with substance

Specifications

Bluetooth: aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, AAC, SBC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 30hr
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Insightful, clean, focused sound
+
Taut bass
+
Premium build

Reasons to avoid

-
Not class leaders
-
No mini jack input

The Px7 S2 are a clear step forward for Bowers & Wilkins, offering a more sophisticated, neutral and detailed sound compared to the 2020-released PX7. These are headphones that really prompt the listener to dig in and analyse their music. Some of the best wireless headphones competition, such as the leaderboard-topping Sony WH-1000XM5, are arguably more engaging, but the Px7 S2 are still an excellent and stylish alternative for those who enjoy attentive listening.

The 30-hour battery life is welcome, as is fast charging. And support for aptX Adaptive and aptX HD are big ticks in the box for those who own sources that also support these higher-quality Bluetooth codecs. 

Note, however, that the Px7 S2 don’t support passive audio, so must be charged up and powered on even for cabled listening. And those who have bigger budgets should consider the company's Px8, which deliver even more in the way of musical insight and enjoyment than Apple’s AirPods Max and are close rivals for the Focal Bathys above.

Read our full B&W Px7 S2 review

Read our full B&W Px8 review

Best wireless headphones: Panasonic RZ-S500W

Can't stretch to the Sony XM4 above? These all-rounders from Panasonics are next-best options and much kinder on the wallet. (Image credit: Future)
A hugely talented and affordable pair of cheap ANC wireless earbuds

Specifications

Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 6.5hrs (21hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Expansive detailed presentation
+
Excellent noise cancelling
+
Superb touch controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Fit could be an issue for some

Panasonic isn't a brand that immediately springs to mind when you think of cheap wireless earbuds. But perhaps it should be. The RZ-S500W are the company's first foray into wireless noise-cancelling earbuds and they're sensational performers for their outlay – and the best budget wireless earbuds with noise-cancelling.

Specs are thorough, with noise-cancelling tech, an Ambient Mode, twin mics for voice calls, and battery life that totals 19.5 hours (6.5hrs from the buds and 13hrs from the charging case). A 15-minute USB-C quick-charge can deliver 70 minutes of playback.

You also get five sizes of ear tips to help with fit. We found this a little hit and miss, so we'd definitely experiment and consider mixing the sizes if it means getting a more secure fit.

Both noise-cancelling and sound quality are excellent. There's plenty of agility through the low end and loads of texture across frequencies. Music sounds clear and there's a great deal of refinement on show, which is to be welcomed at this price level. To sum up, these Panasonic earbuds are superb for the money.

Read our full Panasonic RZ-S500W review

Best wireless headphones: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3

Third time's a charm for Sennheiser's premium wireless earbuds, which barely put a foot wrong. (Image credit: Future)
The True Wireless 3 keep the momentum going strong

Specifications

Bluetooth: aptX Adaptive, aptX, AAC, SBC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 7hrs (28hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Spacious, refined and insightful sound
+
aptX Adaptive Bluetooth support
+
Nicely priced

Reasons to avoid

-
Earpieces slightly cheap looking
-
Pick up wind noise

There are true wireless headphones that have proven so consistently commendable over the years that a new iteration is hard to ignore when it comes along, and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless are one of them. 

Entering their third generation here, two years on from the launch of the sophomore efforts, the wireless noise-cancelling earbuds remain on the top rungs of an increasingly tall ladder with an improved performance that's right up there, a competitive spec sheet that offers great battery life (28 hours) and Bluetooth codec support (aptX Adaptive), and the bonus of extra in-app personalisation features. Oh, and a welcome new launch price below those of the former Momentum models.

They're nice and comfortable, deliver one of the most mature, spacious and refined performances in the market, and have the bonus of noise cancellation too.

Building on an already winning recipe with an improved feature set, decent step up in performance and kinder price tag, the Momentum True Wireless 3 are Sennheiser’s best yet and competitive next to the Sony XM4 and AirPods Pro 2.

Read our full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review

Best wireless headphones: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Same old supreme Sennheiser sound, even if this fourth-gen pair doesn't look as luxurious as its predecessors. (Image credit: Sennheiser)
Highly competitive premium over-ears in the sound and features departments

Specifications

Bluetooth: aptX Adaptive, aptX, SBC, AAC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 60hr
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Clean, neutral, musical sound
+
60-hour battery life
+
Effective ANC
+
Wired listening doesn’t require battery

Reasons to avoid

-
Drops predecessors’ classy aesthetic
-
Earcups don’t fold inwards

Only the strongest film franchises tend to get a fourth go and, like Toy Story 4, the Momentum 4 Wireless noise-cancelling over-ear headphones have dutifully honoured the legacy of those that came before it – sonically and feature-wise, if not aesthetically. We are disappointed to see the classy design of Momentums of old giving way to one that’s markedly more non-descript, but the new guise is fit for purpose and we recognise that many might like its low-key discretion.

The fourth-generation Momentum Wireless’ noise-cancelling performance is very decent, and the 60-hour battery life betters most rivals by two or three times – a pretty big deal if you value endurance.

That they undercut the Sony XM5 makes them highly recommendable for those that can’t afford the greater outlay for the class-leaders' extra sonic transparency, and perhaps the best of the (many) XM5 alternatives if you prefer your music to be more lively than analytical.

Read our full Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless review

Best wireless headphones: JBL Reflect Flow Pro

JBL delivers once again in the sport wireless earbuds market with the durable and energetic Reflect Flow Pro. (Image credit: Future)
These sport earbuds put big, bold ticks in the boxes of style and sound quality.

Specifications

Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 30 hours (10 buds (ANC off); 20 case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable, secure fit ideal for exercise
+
Likeably lively, detailed sound
+
Decent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Noise-cancelling is only OK
-
No aptX Bluetooth support

Yes, you can get true wireless earbuds that aren't geared towards sport that, for a similar price, will deliver more insight into music by offering that bit more detail and dynamic subtlety. The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 and Sony WF-1000XM4 further up this list are two such pairs. But, unlike these JBLs, they won’t have the honed ergonomics or ruggedness to be hailed as ideal fitness buddies.

Within the context of earbuds for exercise, the Reflect Flow Pro are like champion heptathletes – strong in all areas. They're waterproof, lightweight, comfortable and with multiple ear tip fin options that make them great for running, cycling and use in the gym. What's more, they sound very decent for the money.

The fact that these JBL sport earbuds are religiously used by one of the What Hi-Fi? review team members is a pretty solid advert for them, too. Extremely easy to recommend.

Read our full JBL Reflect Flow Pro review

Don't care for noise-cancelling? Check out the cheaper JBL Reflect Flow

How we test wireless headphones

While we have state-of-the-art testing facilities in Reading and Bath, where our team of experienced, in-house reviewers test the majority of hi-fi and AV kit that passes through our door, wireless headphones are on-the-go products that deserved to be tested as such.

To that end, our wireless headphones reviewing process tests everyday aspects such as the portability and ruggedness of their build, their long-wear comfort and how their claimed battery life translates into real-life use. If a pair has active noise cancellation, as is increasingly the case these days, we'll ensure part of our testing involves using them in various environments, such as an office, on public transport and – when we can – during flights.

Of course, sound quality is key in forming our verdicts and star ratings too. As What Hi-Fi? is all about comparative testing, each pair we review is compared to the best in its price and style class – whether that's one standout pair or a few we favour the highest among the many models we listen to each year for reviews and What Hi-Fi? Awards judging. So if we get a pair of over-ear wireless headphones in for review around the £300/$350/AU$550 mark, we will test it against the class-leading Sony WH-1000XM5 and likely another five-star model too. We keep current What Hi-Fi? Award winners and plenty of five-star products across every product category we review in our jam-packed stockroom so that we can always easily compare new products to rival ones we know and love.

All review verdicts are agreed upon by the team rather than an individual reviewer to eliminate any personal preference and to make sure we're being as thorough as possible, too. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, with What Hi-Fi? proud of having delivered honest, unbiased reviews for decades.

You can read more about how we test and review products on What Hi-Fi? here.

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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her eight years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.

  • Helenasam
    I think that you are some kind of headphone expert because of the way that you describe each and every headphone detail I really like and love to read them and I also buy Sony WH-1000XM4, they are very good, sound-canceling and my experience is very good with them. Thanks for sharing your throughs with us and keep the good work.
    Reply