6 Wireless Headphones For Every Budget
Headphones are the most popular way to listen to music on the go. They’re great for allowing us to enjoy our tunes without forcing other people to listen along. While there’s no hard and fast rule stopping you from blasting out songs from a Bluetooth speaker while hanging out in public (unless between the hours of 11pm and 7am), you won’t win any friends! For many years, your choice was limited to wired headphones only but, thanks to advances in digital audio technology, more and more of us are ditching cables entirely with wireless headphones.
These headphones are more convenient and harder to break than wired headphones (how many of us have ruined a good pair of cans by catching the cable?). The only trouble is choosing between all that’s on offer! In this buyer’s guide, we’ll help you out by giving you some choice examples of wireless headphones for every budget.
How much do I have to pay for good wireless headphones?
That depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re just looking for a cheap pair of headphones that give you a fun listen for the gym or a quick walk, you can pick up a perfectly reasonable pair of wireless headphones for around £20. However, if you’d like to experience every detail of your favourite songs when you’re on the move, you’ll want to spend a bit more. Audiophile-quality wireless headphones normally range from £200-£400. A mid-range pair of headphones will cost between £80-£120.
As well as better acoustics, you’ll also get useful extra features if you spend more money. A top example is active noise cancellation (ANC), which uses microphones on the outside of the headphones to monitor ambient noise levels. These headphones then produce a series of inaudible low frequency noise waves which cancel out the background noise, letting you enjoy your music in peace. Active noise cancelling is great for commuting and listening to your personal music in the office, as it saves you from having to crank up the volume.
Are all wireless headphones Bluetooth headphones?
Bluetooth is a wireless technology that connects devices together using short range, high frequency radio waves. The first stereo Bluetooth headphones were released in 2004, and the technology has dominated the wireless headphones market ever since. This is because Bluetooth uses less battery life than other wireless connection technology, and the transmitter is very small, making it easy to fit into headphones.
Bluetooth is popular, but it isn’t the only wireless technology used in headphones. You can buy wireless headphones with Wi-Fi aerials or with an infrared transmitter that works the same way your TV remote does. However, for the purposes of this guide, we’ll only mention Bluetooth headphones. Why? While Wi-Fi and infrared headphones are a good choice for some specialist users, they aren’t portable. Wi-Fi headphones have to connect to your local internet router and infrared headphones need a bulky transmitter to work properly. Since most people wear their headphones while they’re out and about, we think it’s best to concentrate on Bluetooth headphones.
Now that we’ve set up the basics of wireless headphones, let’s get stuck into our six top picks across the different price points! We’ve picked the following Bluetooth headphones based on a variety of factors. How great they sound, how well they’re built and what extra features they come with have all contributed to their inclusion in this buyer’s guide. With these upcoming products, you’ll be able to cut the cable for good!
Pros: Outstanding noise cancellation, lively sound
Cons: Relatively weak battery, on the more expensive side
We’re kicking off our list of the best wireless headphones with this entry from Bose. The Bose 700 are the American company’s latest noise-cancelling headphones, which is their specialty. These bluetooth headphones use eight microphones to detect background noise and safely neutralise it. The busiest high street will be silenced by these headphones, and the technology works during phone calls as well.
You can set the noise cancellation between 10 different settings, as well as turn it off entirely should you desire. This is an important feature, as the noise cancellation technology will drain the battery quickly, and the 700’s battery life isn’t the best on this list. They’ll happily run for about 20 hours or so, but it’s not quite as good as other headphones at this price point.
The noise cancellation alone could be enough to place the Bose 700s among the best Bluetooth headphones, but music lovers will be pleased to learn that they sound fantastic as well. They manage to perfectly balance liveliness with clarity. Drums and basslines have a fun, bouncy quality, but there’s enough space between instruments to pick up the fine details. Your favourite songs could be transformed by these amazing headphones.
Mixing these great acoustic elements with a tough, sleek design costs money though, and Bose passes that onto the customer. The 700s are no doubt expensive, but a few hours with these headphones will assure you that your money hasn’t gone to waste!
Pros: The best bass response around, Apple W1 wireless chip
Cons: Not as versatile as similarly priced headphones, very tight fit
Beats by Dr. Dre headphones feature regularly on top headphones lists, and we’ve included the Beats Solo 3, the company’s signature over-ear headphones, in our list. Combining a punchy, heavy sound with top of the range hardware and a cool style makes them some of the best wireless headphones around.
The Beats Solo 3 are probably the best wireless headphones to listen to pop, rap and EDM music with, thanks to their emphasis on bass tones. Their sound profile makes music sound exciting again. Play a dance track and the drums will pound with every hit without ever becoming distorted. Better yet, there’s plenty of weight given to other frequency ranges as well.
While this bass is fantastic, it might be a little overpowering for music genres with lots of instruments in the mix. If you like picking out all the players in an orchestra or big band jazz ensemble, you’re better off choosing the Bose 700.
The design of the Beats Solo 3 is another high point. They’re among the most recognisable headphones in the world, as much a fashion statement as a pair of headphones. They look great, although they have a tight fit which might be uncomfortable after a period of time, particularly if you wear glasses.
It’s not all haute couture, though. The chic stylings contain powerful hardware designed by Apple. The battery is a high point - it lasts for up to 40 hours on a full charge and, with its quick charge feature, you can play music for up to three hours after just five minutes of charging.
Another awesome feature is the inclusion is the Apple-designed W1 wireless chip. This wireless chip uses class 1 Bluetooth to keep the Beats Solo 3s connected to your devices. With a maximum range of 100m, connection drops are incredibly rare. You’ll undoubtedly feel connected to your music with these top Bluetooth headphones.
Pros: Low price, quality bass for price
Cons: Lacks detail of expensive headphones, control buttons are hard to hit
Thanks to lowering technology costs, it’s easy to buy a pair of wireless headphones without paying a huge amount of money. Getting a pair that’s cheap and worth listening to is a little harder. Luckily, we’ve found a great pair for you in the Mpow H7.
While they’re a budget pair, these wireless headphones certainly don’t look cheap. The headphones have a smooth plastic covering that’s supported by a steel headband, which is visible when you adjust the headphone’s fit. The Mpow logo is stenciled in white against a speckled black background for a subtle, sleek look.
You’ll find a series of control buttons running along the bottom of the headphones, allowing you to pause and play your music, as well as skip tracks. These buttons are standard on most wireless headphones, but they’re worth mentioning here because the buttons Mpow have included are a little difficult to hit. They lack any engraving and sit quite flush to the rest of the headphones.
Listening to these headphones is a surprisingly Hi-Fi experience for such a low price tag. There’s a thumping bass response and, while it can’t stand up to more expensive headphones like the Solo 3, there’s still a good deal of subbass. These wireless headphones are certainly fun enough to make listening to pop music a pleasurable experience.
While their bass response is adequate, the timbre of other frequencies is underwhelming compared to the other products in this buyer’s guide. The tonal character of instruments blends together a little, and you’ll miss some of the detail of your tracks. But for such a low cost, you’ll never get true audiophile headphones, and these budget wireless headphones deserve to be placed among the greats.
Pros: Detailed sound, excellent build quality for the price with aluminum fixtures and large control toggles
Cons: Lacks bass power, ear cushions are a bit too thick
We’ve reached the mid-point of our guide - and what better time to talk about middleweight wireless headphones? These headphones from AKG are some of the best wireless headphones you can find for under £100. AKG are experienced headphone manufacturers and they’ve packed impressive clarity into these headphones. When you listen to music through these Bluetooth headphones, you’ll notice that edges of notes sound crisp and well projected. This means they’re an attractive listen for all kinds of music, from classic rock to piano concertos. That said, AKG have sacrificed a little oomph to get that clarity. Bass response is ample, but not extraordinary.
The design of these wireless headphones is another win in our opinion. We love the mixture of aluminium with plastic finishes that makes the headphones sturdy but still fairly lightweight. The onboard control buttons are well designed too, and the volume toggle is especially easy to use, meaning you can raise or lower the volume in a flash.
The headphones have thick cushions made from memory foam. While a lot of users will appreciate the padding, they’re quite thick for on-ear headphones. People who wear glasses might struggle with them, although the memory foam should mould itself to your head if you give it time. Overall, an excellent choice for most users.
Pros: Incredibly comfortable, good noise cancellation
Cons: Still fairly expensive, pairing with non-mobile devices is a bit of a pain
This is the second set of Bose headphones we’ve included on this list, and they’ll be instantly recognisable for anyone who’s spent time on public transport! That’s because the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 has been the most popular noise-cancelling wireless headphones for several years, and they’re a regular sight on planes and trains.
With the release of the Bose 700, these headphones are no longer the rulers they used to be - but they’re still an attractive option, and certainly one of the best Bluetooth headphones you can buy currently. This is partially down to how comfortable they are. Weighing just 310g, the Quiet Comfort 35s are very light for wireless headphones and their generous, soft cushioning means you can wear them for hours on end without the slightest discomfort, whether you wear glasses or not.
Their noise cancellation isn’t quite as sophisticated as the Bose 700s, but it’s still pretty great. You don’t get 10 different levels of noise cancellation to choose from like you do with Bose’s premium headphones, but you’re still able to adjust it between a low and high setting, and turn it off completely. Sonically, the Quiet Comfort 35s share the balanced profile of the 700s. Your music won’t be quite as detailed, but you still get a neutral, far-ranging sound. Bass response is a little lacking, but still fat enough for most listeners.
Unlike many Bluetooth headphones, you can connect the Bose Quiet Comfort 35s to two devices at once. This is pretty easy to do on mobile devices - the Bose app will walk you through everything you need. Connecting to a PC or Mac is more complicated. It’s certainly possible, but it requires more steps and a little technical finesse.
You might think that the Quiet Comfort 35s would be considerably cheaper than the Bose 700s, but that’s not quite the case. These are still premium headphones with a premium price tag. However, because they’re an older model, they’re often on sale, with the average price hovering around half that of the original RRP. If you want a good balance between detail and practicality with oodles of comfort, look out for these Bluetooth headphones.
Pros: Good sound isolation, energetic sound
Cons: Thin wire connecting the headphone cups to the headband, limited features
Marshall has been a legend in the music business for years. Their stadium-shaking amplifiers have been used by rock and roll’s finest, so how will their personal audio stand up? The Marshall Major II are a fine pair of on-ear Bluetooth headphones. With their recommended retail price, they sit firmly in the middle of the wireless headphone market.
Marshall has always had an iconic design, and the Major IIs are no different. Their shape harks back to the 1960s, courtesy of the square textured cups and stitched leather effect headband. It’s cool without being flashy, and the signature Marshall logo on each side is a nice touch. They lack some of the features that expensive headphones come with - there’s no noise cancellation or multiple connection options - but that’s not surprising for headphones in this price range, and the noise isolation provided by thick leather cups is great for on-ear headphones.
Something to look out for with these headphones is the way that the cups are connected to the headband. Most wireless headphones use a ball joint that keeps the cups secure while still allowing for adjustment. Marshall has used a pair of thin hinges instead. It makes the Bluetooth headphones more flexible, but they’ll stand up to less punishment than the other headphones on this list.
As with the AKG Y500, the Major IIs are some of the best Bluetooth headphones you can buy for under £100. While the AKG headphones tried to scale back the drama for a more refined sound, the Marshall’s aren’t afraid to get rowdy. The result is headphones that have a punchy sound that’s fun and energetic while still packing plenty of detail in.
That’s six of the best wireless headphones all summed up! Hopefully you’ve found your next trusty pair of cans to groove with. Of course, there are plenty more audio delights to be found in our headphones category! If you’re looking for private home listening, we have some truly exceptional wired headphones for you. Or, if you want headphones and a mic in a single package, look out for our selection of gaming headsets. We even have special kids headphones for young listeners!
Of course, as with all pieces of tech, there’s a variety of functions and variations to choose from - all of which require a generous amount of research in order to find the best pair for you. If you’re not quite sure where to start, check out our guide to everything you need to know to buy the best headphones. While you’re here, why not explore our entire collection of headphones guides to find out even more information?
Please note: The information in this buyer’s guide is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.