Summer is, hands down, the best time of year for finding new music.
So there’s a strong possiblity you’ll be getting the itch for an audio upgrade when it comes to your headphones. And since phone manufacturers don’t seem to bother with 3.5mm jacks any more, it makes sense to go wireless.
Whether you want over-ear noise cancellation or in-ear, sweatproof buds, there’s plenty of choice out there. In fact, it can be tough to figure out which pair to go for.
Which is why we’ve picked out some of the best options and handily categorised them into pricing groups.
Anker Soundcore Life P2
Anker is a known force when it comes to portable power packs, but it also makes headphones too.
And while the Soundcore Life P2s clearly take inspriation from the AirPods with their design, they’re significantly easier on the wallet that Apple’s option.
Charging via USB-C, these headphones will offer up seven hours of playback with a further 40 hours through the charging case. They’re rated as IPX7 waterproof, so you can technically submerge them in water for up to half an hour without affected them. We wouldn’t recommend it though.
Of course, at this price, you’re going to make some sacrifices. There’s no active noise cancellation and no multipoint connectivity – so you can’t quickly switch between using them with your phone and a laptop.
Sony’s headphones are some of the company’s best products and this set of on-ear headphones are a particularly good deal.
The Japanese tech giant has cut analogue input entirely to keep the price down, which won’t matter if you’re going to pair it with your phone. And the rest of the design is pretty utilitarian plastic.
But what’s great is the sound, the massive 35 hours of battery life and the fact they charge over USB-C rather than the microUSB port that is usually still found on budget headphones.
JBL Tune 750BTNC
JBL is well known when it comes to headphones and Bluetooth speakers, so it’s no surprise to find them here.
What might be surprising is that the JBL Tune 750BTNC boasts active-noise cancellation. Which means the headphones will work to counteract the ambient sounds around you to provide an insulated listening experience. Not something you’ll often find at this price.
To keep the price down, JBL has opted for the older MicroUSB charging port, rather than USB-C. They’ll still provide you with 15 hours of listening time, but will require two hours to charge up.
There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can go wired if you’d like, but the JBL Tune 750BTCN support multi-point connection so you can quickly swap between two audio sources.
Apple AirPods 3rd generation
Apple’s most recent AirPods are a halfway house between the top-spec AirPods Pro and the regular ol’ AirPods.
The design apes the Pro, with shorter stems featuring touch controls and a rounded, bulbous head. There’s no silicone tips like the Pros but you will spot the black grilles that hide the on-board microphones.
While the AirPods 3 don’t have active noise cancellation, they do use those microphones for Apple’s Adaptive EQ feature – a nifty trick that tunes sound in real time based on how AirPods fit in your ear. The inward-facing microphone monitors for sound, and then Adaptive EQ, powered by computational audio, tunes the low and mid frequencies to account for what may be lost due to variances in fit.
However, if you’re an iPhone and iPad user, there’s still nothing out there that can really compete with the smart pairing and Find My security that Apple boasts with the AirPods.
Want to know more? Read our full AirPods 3rd generation review right here.
Jabra Elite 7 Pro
When Jabra launched a clutch of new headphones towards the end of last year, the Elite 7 Pros were the best of the bunch. Fast-forward a few months and they’re still some of the best in-ear headphones you can find.
Jabra has equipped the Elite 7 Pros with what it calls ‘MultiSensor Voice’ technology which combines a bone conduction sensor inside your ear canal with four microphones on the buds to filter out things like wind noise and other interference.
As a result, Jabra is promising crystal clear call quality even when you’re in the car or somewhere outside. The Elite 7 Pros also boast Active Noise Cancellation to insulate you properly when listening to music. The company says you can expect 9 hours of battery life with ANC enabled that extends to 35 hours when you drain the charging case.
Marshall Major IV
The Marshall Major IV Wireless Bluetooth On-Ear Headphones boast 80 hours battery life off a single charge and just 15 minutes of charging gives you 15 hours of listening time.
The ear cushions are soft, yet durable and there’s an on-ear knob to give you easy control.
One for all the rockers out there.
Apple AirPods Max
Looking undeniably ‘Apple’, the audio spewing from these super-comfy stainless-steel cans is outstanding, detailed and balanced, and noise-cancelling is good enough to silence the roar of the road.
Control is taken care of using a handy dial that allows you to easily control music playback and summon Siri, while another button switches between active noise-cancellation and transparency modes.
They’ll pause when removed and iThing-friendly features mean spatial 360-degree virtual surround sound and easy-peasy pairing. As for the ineffective carrying case? We’ve no idea either.
If you want to know more, check out our full review of the AirPods Max here.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Following Bose’s previous impressive noise-cancellers, the 700s have some big earcups to fill.
Luckily, they offer exceptional and customisable noise-cancelling tech, with the help of an app.
Comfy on the ears, sound is clear and crisp, and touch controls easy to grasp.
Conversation mode pauses audio for any interruptions, and if you make calls in noisy environments, you’ll appreciate the adaptive microphone wizard for call clarity.
Elsewhere, expect Alexa/Google Assistant support, compatibility with headphone jacks, dual pairing capabilities and 20 hours’ battery life.
With a predecessor that boasts next-level noise-cancelling, excellent audio, adaptive sound control and conversational awareness, Sony’s latest on-ears need to step up.
Luckily, they build on everything that made their forerunner so desirable.
Sony has changed the design into what it calls a ‘noiseless design’ with a stepless slider on the headband for smoother adjustment.
The active noise cancelling is top drawer, with two processors handling information from eight microphones to make the listening experience even better.
You’ll get 30 hours of battery life from a single charge but and Sony says you can get three hours of playback time in three minutes using the USB-C charging port.
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