If you’re searching for sonic satisfaction, the best headphones will give your ears a treat. From top-spec cans to excellent earbuds for exercise, we’ve listened to all of the top wireless headphones. And to help you find the right set for your lucky lugs, we’ve rounded up our favourites right here.
Whether you’re shopping for in-ear or on-ear, we’ve highlighted a wide selection of winning wireless headphones in this guide.
So, if you’re unsure exactly what you’re after, then continue to read our guide to the best headphones below.
What are the best headphones?
We think the best headphones overall are the Sony WH-1000XM5 (buy now). With a comfortable fit, superb sound and top-class noise cancelling, these are the best over-ear wireless headphones you can buy.
Other headphone recommendations
The Sony WF-1000XM5 (check price) are endlessly engaging and ergonomically excellent, Sony takes the true wireless crown with these outstanding earbuds.
The Beats Fit Pro (check price) have competitive battery, punchy sound and a lock-tight fit putting them at the front of the fitness pack.
The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 (check price) are built well with premium materials, their 40mm driver units deliver consistent, well-balanced sound, with the option to tweak the EQ through the app.
The Sony WF-C500 (check price) ape the ergonomic design of Sony’s premium earbuds, the WF-C500 are lightweight wireless earphones for easy everyday audio.
If you’re looking specifically for noise-cancelling cans to hush the outside world, it’s worth checking out our separate round-up of the best noise-cancelling headphones.
The best headphones you can buy today:
1. Sony WH-1000XM5
With superb sound and top-drawer noise cancelling, these are the best over-ear headphones you can buy
- Superb sound quality
- Top-drawer noise cancelling
- Ever-so slightly less premium
- Don’t fold
|Sony WH-1000XM5 specs|
|Battery life||30hrs with ANC on|
Sony’s WH-1000XM4 were already our favourite pair of noise-cancelling wireless headphones. The WH-1000XM5 improve the recipe in all the right ways. In testing, we enjoyed enhanced clarity and beautifully precise sound reproduction, courtesy of new 30mm carbon fibre composite drivers.
Sony has also refined the noise-cancelling performance. Adaptive Sound Control automatically detects your environment and adapts ANC settings accordingly, hushing background noise with ease. It’s particularly effective at higher frequencies.
The XM5 don’t have folding arms like their predecessors, so the wedge-shaped charging case is a little bulkier. Still, while some rivals look more premium, few are quite as comfortable to wear for extended periods, and we experienced no fatigue during testing. They might cost more than before, but the WH-1000XM5 are worth every penny.
- Read more: Sony WH-1000XM5 review
2. Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2
A premium treat in tidy packaging, these second-gen B&W headphones please the ears with great sound quality and impressive ANC
- Lovely premium feel
- ANC is simply brilliant
- No 3.5mm port
- Button setup on right cup is terrible
|Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 specs|
|Connectivity||USB-C, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Battery life||30hrs (7hrs from 15min quick charge)|
Successors to the superb PX7, the Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 are another pair of accomplished wireless headphones. Familiar by design, the physical setup hasn’t significantly changed. They’re still built well with premium materials, and they still feature a slightly tricky row of physical controls on the right ear cup. What’s disappeared is the 3.5mm headphone port.
At 57g heavier than the WH-1000XM5, ear fatigue can be an issue after long listens, but the PX7 S2 are otherwise very comfortable. And that’s good, because you’ll want to keep listening to their 40mm driver units: they deliver consistent, well-balanced sound, with the option to tweak the EQ through the app. ANC isn’t the absolute strongest, but it works well and, crucially, doesn’t impact the sound signature.
- Read more: Bowers & Wilkins PX7 S2 review
3. Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless
Generic styling aside, these Sennheisers have the build, the sound and the battery to mix it up with the best
- Bold, detailed and enjoyable sound
- Epic battery life
- Could be sharper with bass
- Touch-controls are very eager
|Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless specs|
|Battery life||60 hours|
Their styling might be slightly anonymous, but there’s nothing forgettable about how these Sennheiser headphones sound. 42mm full-range dynamic drivers deliver a listen that’s bold, detailed and enjoyable, while eight mics are deployed for noise cancelling duties. You don’t get a blanket of silence, but ramp up the ANC and background noise is significantly reduced.
Battery life is simply epic at 60 hours, and it’s not the only element that can go the distance: thanks to a robust construction and high standard of finish, the Momentum 4 feel built to last. Their cushioned headband is comfy, while the folding ear cups prove handy for packing. Add a comprehensive partner app into the equation, plus a competitive price tag, and their low profile isn’t so significant.
- Read more: Sennheiser Momentum 4 review
4. Sony WF-1000XM5
Top-notch across the board, these Sony ‘buds set a new bar for in-ear listening
- Exceptional ANC abilities
- Wonderfully comfortable fit
- Companion app could be easier to get around
- Some materials don’t feel as luxurious as others
|Sony WF-1000XM5 specs|
|Battery life||8 hours/16 hours (ANC on, buds/case)|
|Weight||5g (buds) 36g (case)|
Not content with making the best on-ear wireless headphones, Sony also makes our favourite pair of true wireless earbuds. Follow-up to the brilliant WF-1000XM3 and WF-1000XM4 – both of which still represent excellent value – the upgraded WF-1000XM5 deliver a listening experience that’s equal parts punchy and detailed. With a balanced sound signature, we found them both accurate and enjoyable in testing.
Besides their sonic talents, these Sony ‘phones offer some of the best noise cancellation we’ve experienced in a set of wireless earbuds. Touch-sensitive controls are easy to use and can be usefully customised in the partner app, along with ANC and EQ settings. Some competitors do offer a bigger battery backup in the charging case, but the benefit is an updated design that’s now much more pocket-friendly than before.
- Read more: Sony WF-1000XM5 review
5. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
More compact than before, Sennheiser’s third-gen wireless earbuds have poise, fidelity and features to spare
- Poise, detail and fidelity to spare
- Good touch-controls and great control app
- No multi-point connectivity
- Bass attack could be considered slightly tentative
|Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 specs|
|Battery life||7 hours / 28 hours (ANC on, buds/case)|
|Weight||5.8g (buds) 66.4g (case)|
With some sensible tweaks, Sennheiser’s third-gen Momentum True Wireless earbuds secure their place among the best wireless headphones. Build quality is every bit as robust as before, while a meaningful reduction in dimensions means they look and feel less chunky.
Put the 7mm drivers to work and your ears will enjoy a poised recital. Rather than overwhelming with bass, the MTW3 prefer balance and fidelity, demonstrating remarkable sonic control. Detail is also engrossing across the entirety of the spacious, tonal soundstage.
Each earbud’s touch interface can be customised in the feature-filled app. Enable ANC and you’ll find the sonic attitude shifts a little, but they still retain that likeable balance while cancelling external sounds almost entirely. Battery life is above average at seven hours, too.
- Read more: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review
6. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Others are sonically superior, but exceptional noise cancelling makes the Bose all-rounders hard to beat
- Great new design
- Let you pair two devices simultaneously
- Not quite as comfortable as the QC35 IIs
- Sony’s WH-1000XM3 are cheaper and sound better
|Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 specs|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C, 3.5mm jack|
|Battery life||20 hours|
Not the newest cans in this list, Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 remain the benchmark if call quality and ANC are high on your list. As you’d expect from the pioneer of noise-cancelling cans, their muting abilities are remarkable when dialled up to 11. Six mics assist with ANC, while two more enhance vocal pick-up for amazing call clarity.
Forged from a single piece of stainless steel, there are no visible hinges on the headband. Helpfully, the earcups can rotate to flat for carrying. Foam in all the right places keeps things comfy, even if they squeeze more than the QC35 II.
While they won’t knock Sony off its perch, they’re no sonic slouches. There’s range, subtlety and balance here, with just enough punch to the playback. 20-hour battery life is below average in 2023, but there’s plenty of value here at their current price.
- Read more: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review
7. Apple AirPods Pro (2nd gen)
Even more feature-packed than previously, a meaningful update reaffirms the position of Apple’s top-spec AirPods among the best wireless earbuds
- Even better than the excellent originals
- Improved feature set
- We don’t like the swipe volume control
- Very Apple centric
|Apple AirPods Pro (2nd gen) specs|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.3, Apple H1|
|Battery life||6 hours / 30 hours (buds/case, ANC on)|
|Weight||5.3g (buds), 51g (case)|
A compelling upgrade to Apple’s excellent wireless earphones, the second-gen AirPods Pro deliver a leap in sound quality and features. Already the smartest earbuds for Apple users, the second edition harnesses an H2 chip to enhance ANC performance. This is so effective at blocking background noise that we found ourselves using the improved Transparency mode more often.
Overall audio is beefier than before, while a software update means Spatial Audio can be personalised through analysis of your ears. Swipe volume controls on the stem aren’t the most accurate way to make adjustments, but the addition of a speaker to the charging case means you get sonic assistance when searching for it with FindMy. Battery life has also been boosted, although the increase isn’t immediately noticeable.
- Read more: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd gen) review
8. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
With exemplary ANC, engaging sound and easier dimensions, Bose’s second-gen earbuds are a compelling package
- Exemplary noise-cancellation
- Big, detailed and engaging sound
- Bog-standard battery life
- Short of outright dynamism
|Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II specs|
|Battery life||6 hours (buds, ANC ON) 18 hours (case)|
|Weight||6.2g (buds) 59.8g (case)|
Already five-star wireless earphones, the second-gen QuietComfort Earbuds make the best bits even better. Smaller and lighter, the QCE II are easier on the ear and the eye, with swappable tips and stability bands ensuring a snug fit. Each compact stem features a touch surface that’s responsive and customisable.
In the ear, 9.3mm full-range drivers produce a soundstage that’s expansive yet packed with detail, paired with bass that’s bold but controlled. Others do more with dynamic variations, but the Bose ’buds don’t want for nuance. They also excel when it comes to ANC. Eight mics help them deal convincingly with ambient noise, and we experience no sense of in-ear pressure. You’ll find better battery life elsewhere, but these are easily Bose’s best earphones to date.
- Read more: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II review
9. Beats Fit Pro
Putting AirPods tech in active packaging, the Beats Fit Pro score highly for their fit, features and outright sound quality
- Good battery life & fast rapid charge
- Excellent stay-put fit
- Bulky case
- Lacks customisation
|Beats Fit Pro specs|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth, Apple H1|
|Battery life||7 hours (buds), 23 hours (case)|
|Weight||5.5g (buds), 54g (case)|
Pairing the intelligence of AirPods with a sporty shell, the Beats Fit Pro are the best fitness earphones you can buy. A flexible wingtip setup creates a secure and comfortable fit, which stays put throughout a workout. There’s no off button, but wear-detect sensors stop PB playlists getting away from you. Battery life won’t set any records, but it’s good enough at six hours.
With Apple’s H1 chip sending signals to 9.5mm drivers, sound quality is fantastic. You get the same ANC and Transparency modes as the first-gen AirPods Pro, as well as an adaptive EQ which adjusts the sound profile to your environment. Competitors can go louder, but the Fit Pro benefit from punchy bass and crisp detail. There’s support for spatial audio, too.
- Read more: Beats Fit Pro review
10. Ultimate Ears / Logitech Fits
Made-to-measure earbuds at an off-the-peg price? Yes please.
- Precise, perfect fit
- Punchy, detailed and energetic sound
- Could sound more dynamic
- No multipoint pairing
|Ultimate Ears / Logitech Fits specs|
|Battery life||8 hours (buds), 20 hours (case)|
Struggle to find earphones that fit your lugholes perfectly? Custom moulded ear tips is one option, but can be mighty pricey. Ultimate Ears’ Fits true wireless buds are a more affordable alternative that shape themselves for the best possible comfort and passive noise isolation. They use proprietary tech to heat up silicone-filled ear tips, fitting the contours of your ear canals better than any rival that uses off-the-shelf tips.
They lack active noise cancellation, but the near-perfect fit (which only takes a minute to set up and only leaves your ears moderately warm during the process) goes a long way to making up for it. Expect an enthusiastic, though well-controlled listen, comprehensive EQ presets and respectable battery life, too.
- Read more: Ultimate Ears Fits review
11. Focal Bathys
Superb sounding over-ears that are guaranteed to turn heads, although they don’t have the very best ANC around.
- Simply delightful audio
- Quality construction justifies the asking price
- ANC merely OK at this price
- Mega money
|Focal Bathys specs|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.1, USB-C, 3.5mm|
|Battery life||30 hours (ANC on), 35 hours (3.5mm), 42 hours (USB DAC mo|
Focal’s first pair of noise-cancelling wireless headphones will set you back more than any other model on this list. They’re a luxury purchase, to be sure, but have the slick styling and phenomenal sound quality to back it up. The French firm’s M-Dome dynamic drivers are used to full effect, delivering superb audio whether listening via aptX Adaptive Bluetooth, or over a USB-C wired connection for 24bit/192kHz tracks.
The ANC abilities aren’t quite up to the same standards as either Bose or Sony, and the mostly-metal construction makes them rather heavy, but the well-padded ear cups and headband still mean they’re comfortable to wear for long periods. Battery life is easily on par with the more mainstream competition, too. They’re statement headphones that are sure to impress audiophiles.
- Read more: Focal Bathys review
12. Apple AirPods Max
Heavyweight headphones with a matching price tag, rich audio and superb ANC means the AirPods Max impress in high-end style
- Rich and detailed sound
- Spatial audio enhances TV and movies
- Uncomfortable if worn for long periods
- So-so battery life
|Apple AirPods Max specs|
|Drivers||Apple-designed dynamic driver|
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0, Apple H1|
|Battery life||Up to 20 hours|
With anodised aluminium earcups, a stainless steel headband and a knit mesh canopy, the AirPods Max bear all the hallmarks of Apple design. The trade-off is that they’re noticeably heavier than plastic rivals, which can cause them to pinch the temples after lengthy sessions. Still, their performance credentials match the premium build.
Combined with 40mm drivers, Apple’s H1 chip powers an adaptive EQ which automatically adjusts audio based on the fit. The result is a rich, spacious and enveloping soundstage. There’s detail to spare, plus they offer low-end oomph without sacrificing clarity. They also cancel noise as well as anything out there. There’s better value to be found higher in this list, but for Apple fans who can handle the heft, the Max don’t disappoint.
- Read more: Apple AirPods Max review
Over-Ear, on-ear or in-ear headphones
If you want to start listening to music on the go, but aren’t sure exactly what you want, then the first thing you’ll have to decide is whether you want over-ear, on-ear, or in-ear headphones.
The choice between these three types of headphones depends on your specific needs, preferences, and usage scenarios.
Over-ear headphones generally provide better sound quality, as there’s more room to house larger drivers, they have more space for acoustic engineering, and they provide better passive noise insulation.
The large padded ear cups also tend to be more comfortable – distributing pressure more evenly on your ears.
Over-ear headphones do, however, tend to be bulkier and less portable compared to other options.
On-Ear headphones are more compact, which makes them easier to carry in a bag or backpack, however, the smaller cups may not be as immersive as over-ear models.
Comfort can also be a bit hit-and-miss, as the pressure is applied directly to your ears. Look for models with well-padded ear cups and an adjustable headband for a better fit.
Finally, in-ear earbuds are the most convenient for use on-the-go (especially the best wireless earbuds) – they are compact, lightweight, and easy to carry in your pocket.
Of course, this convenience comes at the cost of sound quality and noise isolation. That’s not to say there aren’t decent-sounding in-ear headphones, but they can’t match over and on-ear headphones for oomph.
Ultimately, the choice depends completely on your needs and how you plan to use your headphones. We’ve recommended all types of design below.
How to choose the best headphones for you
Okay, so you’ve decided between over-ear, on-ear and in-ear, now here are some more things to consider when buying the best headphones.
Arguably the most important factor when buying headphones is sound quality. We’ve recommended headphones that deliver a detailed, balanced and accurate sound – you won’t be disappointed by the performance of any models on this list.
Coming in a close second to sound quality is comfort. A comfortable pair of cans is vital if you plan on wearing the headphones for extended periods. You’ll want well-padded ear cups, an adjustable headband, and a lightweight design.
If you’re trying to block out a loud co-worker or commute, then you’ll want a pair of headphones with active noise cancelling (ANC) tech. These use microphones to counteract ambient noise, providing a more isolating experience. We’ve got some ANC options in this buying guide.
You’ll also need to decide whether you prefer wired or wireless headphones, with wired options generally offering better sound quality but limited portability, whereas wireless headphones offer greater convenience and freedom of movement. For more wired recommendations check out Stuff’s guide to the best wired headphones.
If you opt for wireless then battery life becomes an important consideration. Look for a balance between the battery duration and the size/weight of the headphones.
Finally, some headphones offer extra features such as touch controls, voice assistants (Siri or Google Assistant), customizable sound profiles, and companion apps.
While these features are nice to have, we’ve found they’re rarely a necessity, so don’t let these shiny features sway your decision too much.
How we test the best headphones
To assess the best headphones, our keen-eared team puts every pair through a playlist of tests. Reggae or rave, home or high street: we check the sonic chops of every set in a range of real-world listening scenarios. So if they’re featured in our list below, you know they’ve earned their spot.
Just like our list of best Bluetooth speakers, we review these headphones in a real-world environment and use them just as someone who has bought them would. This allows us to get a great understanding of how they perform sonically and how comfortable they are.
It also lets us test things like build quality, whether they can withstand being thrown into a carry-on suitcase, and how easy the controls are to use out-and-about.
For more information on Stuff’s rating and review process, read our page on how we test products.