Best neckband headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best wireless neckband headphones you can buy in 2020.
In the future, we'll probably have audio chips implanted directly into our brains. Until then, there are three types of wireless earbuds available: true wireless, wireless with a cable and earbuds with a neckband.
The wireless neckband models 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 you'll quickly reap the rewards.
Neckband headphones combine convenience with impressive battery life (high-end models offer 10 hours 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 to cut the cord without sacrificing sound quality? Here's our pick of the best neckband headphones.
This neckband 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 using listening to music. In a hurry? They fast-charge in one and half hours.
The Libratone TRACK+ neckband headphones are aimed at a sportier audience, but if you're not a regular gym-goer these remain top-of-the-class for style, sound and build quality.
Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless
The big draw here is the noise-cancelling functionality. Sony has gone to town and added an ‘Adaptive Sound Control’ mode that continuously tunes the sound profile to match your movement (sitting, walking, running and transport).
The result is superb sound that's punchy and nuanced. It’s also worth noting that these neckbuds feature aptX HD Bluetooth, which provides the option to stream audio at 24bit/48kHz resolution.
Some of the buttons on the neckband have dual functionality (longer presses activate different functions), but unless the lack of dedicated buttons grinds your gears, you'll be wowed by these hugely impressive earphones.
Read the full review: Sony WI-1000X
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 – 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 review: B&W P13
The QuietControl 30s are solidly-built and impress with their sonic ability, elegant design and best-in-class noise-cancelling. They never sound flat, and boast an impeccable sense of rhythm and timing.
Bose is known for its effective active noise-cancelling technology, which does a fine job of shutting out the world – without ruining the musicality of your favourite track.
While some people might find the collar a little weighty, the killer combination of premium noise-cancelling, superb battery life and outstanding audio quality adds up to a five-star review.
Read the full review: Bose QuietControl 30
On a tight budget? Skullcandy’s cheap neckband headphones are the best pound-for pound performers. While the brand is best known as purveyors of bombastic bass, its Smokin’ Buds 2 offer surprisingly rich and accomplished playback.
The paired-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 review: Skullcandy Smokin' Buds 2 Wireless
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 8 hours 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+s offer a deft balance of dynamics and clarity – without breaking a sweat. If you love running, these will go the distance.
Read the full review: Libratone TRACK+
If style and craftsmanship float your boat, you’ll be instantly drawn to these sleek earbuds 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 review: V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless