Here are my top picks for the best wireless headphones you can buy right now, categorized by price! I’m sure other good models exist, these are just my personal picks.
Top and Only Pick:
Skullcandy Grind Wireless (~$89): An exceptional bargain, just like the older wired version. It’s built from a solid mix of metal and plastic. It has good battery life. It has a standard 3.5mm jack for wired operation. It’s comfy for an on-ear model, although you probably wouldn’t want to wear it all day. The sound is a great middle-ground between v-shaped and balanced. It has an energetic first impression, but the mids aren’t so recessed that you’ll lose all the detail of your music.
There are other, cheaper wireless headphones out there, but I consider this the bare minimum for those looking for exceptional audio reproduction. You’re getting every penny you spend. They regularly go on sale, and come in a variety of fun colors. Read My Review.
Skullcandy Crusher Wireless(~$200): Just like the Grind Wireless, this is an excellent deal, especially for bass fans. You’re not getting any fancy codecs or touch control options…but the battery life is 40 hours and the bass enhancement feature is fun in a really stupid way. The build is solid, the included cable features a remote button and mic, and the included bag is nicer than it needs to be. Its only negatives are that the clamping force is a little bit north of comfy, and the bass feature is absolutely NOT for those seeking accurate crisp reproduction. This has been on sale for as low as $100 which is completely nuts. Read My Review.
If accuracy is more your thing, then you might like the one below.
Audio-Technica SR5BT(~$179): The SR5BT takes the driver from Audio-Technica’s excellent MSR7 and crams it into a tiny wireless on-ear headphone. You’ll get exceptional audio clarity/accuracy. Just like the Crusher Wireless, the included auxiliary cable includes a remote button/mic so you don’t lose functionality. These headphones feature AptX and AAC support if you’ve got a device that can stream them, and they resolve enough detail that you’ll hear the improvement in compression. The battery lasts 38 hours.
The pairing process can be cumbersome, because you can’t easily manually force them into pairing mode to switch the current device. Comfort is great for an on-ear thanks to memory foam pads, but like the Grind Wireless, this is not an all-day wear. These regularly go on sale. I got mine for just $129 from Amazon, which is a no-brainer price. Read My Review.
Runner Up Picks:
Bose Soundlink II Around-Ear (~$279): It’s basically a Bose QuietComfort 35, without the noise-cancellation. It’s a really solid headphone with a nice relaxed sound signature. But honestly, if you’re spending this much, strongly consider stepping up to their next model, which is more fully- featured. This headphone regularly goes on sale, maybe because it now occupies an awkward space in the lineup, or maybe just to compete with Beats on price more aggressively.
Bose Soundlink On-Ear (~$249, if you can find one): I think this headphone was recently discontinued…but I wanted to mention it because it’s the most comfy on-ear model I’ve ever worn. About a year and a half ago, Bose killed the wired version of this headphone too. It’s sad to me that Bose produced a perfectly comfy on-ear headphone…and then not enough people bought it to justify a long-term existence.
Bose QuietComfort35 ($349): This is an exceptional headphone. The noise-cancellation is the best Bose has ever produced, and it has the Active EQ from the Soundlink II to ensure solid reproduction at all volumes. The relaxed, bassy signature is easy to listen to all day. It can connect to two devices at once, and supports AAC for high quality streaming. In spite of many reports on the internet, it’s made from a mix of glass-filled nylon and metal, not plastic. Glass-filled nylon is a higher grade of material than standard plastic, and much more durable long-term. The hard case is nice, the battery lasts about 22 hours in wireless mode, and it has comfort for days.
The only downside here is that the included proprietary backup cable does not have a remote button and mic, meaning you lose functionality in wired mode.
I like this headphone more than the Sony MDR-1000X, which costs more and has less punchy bass. If you like a brighter sound signature, you might like it, or if you want a bunch of touch-control stuff instead of buttons. But for me, Bose takes this price category. Easily. Read My Review.
Sony’s MDR-1000X($399) matches the Bose on noise-cancellation and has some extra features that might be gimmicks or useful to you, depending on what you need out of a headphone. I value the QC35’s ability to connect to multiple devices, and switch between them easily, over these additional features.
In releasing that product, Sony weirdly abandoned last year’s MDR-100 ABN (~$299). I liked the wired MDR100 quite a bit. I think the 100 ABN is a better dollar-for-dollar value than the 1000X. And I like the colors it comes in.
I’ve heard great things about the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless and the Bowers and Wilkins P7 Wireless. Both are higher-priced than I would normally pay for any headphone, but I’ve used each of their wired cousins and their sound reproduction is excellent. They both have a really classy look and build.
What about the Beats Solo 3 Wireless?
Don’t Do It. I know that Beats has the name brand. They have the style. But the Solo 3 is the year’s most disappointing headphone, in my opinion. It’s 100 percent identical to the Solo 2 in design and sound quality, with the only new features being a better battery life and bluetooth chip. It’s more like a Solo 2.5.
You’re not gonna listen, right? Okay then. That’s cool. If you absolutely must have a Beats wireless headphone, this is the one to get. The Studio Wireless is overdue for a refresh, and doesn’t sound as good. I won’t deny that the Solo 3 produces exceptional bass, but I wanted so much more than longer battery life and easier pairing from this refresh.
Now… an over-ear Beats headphone with the W1 chip, comfort that competes with the QC35, and the sound signature of the Solo 3 would absolutely be worth considering…but that product exists only in my head.
At least, for now. I would be shocked if Apple isn’t working on this.
What About Those Air Pods?
The air pods got delayed, and they’re releasing too late for me to review them this year. I don’t have them yet. I’m bummed about it. I think their short battery life makes them a different sort of product than the ones above, but I’d love to play around with a pair sometime soon. More thoughts on these after the new year, if I can get some!