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The best wireless headphones you can buy in 2023

Enjoy much-needed peace and quiet with these top-rated noise-cancelling headphones.

Looking for new wireless headphones? Good call. While AirPods and their earbud ilk are easy to carry in a pocket, they offer a fraction of the battery life. They also have comparatively tiny speakers (known as drivers); proper headphones produce a much larger soundstage. OK, but which ones are best? Do you really need to spend upwards of $500? (I'm looking at you, Apple AirPods Max.) Fear not: Below I've rounded up what I consider the best over-the-ear wireless headphones of 2023. Whether you're looking for industry-leading noise cancellation, super-balanced sound, a great budget pick or something else, you'll find it here.

Quick overview
  • Best budget headphones

    Wyze Noise-Canceling Headphones

  • Best headphones for TV watchers

    Zvox AV52 Noise Cancelling Headphones

  • Best headphones for audiophiiles

    Soundcore Life Q35 Noise Cancelling Headphones

  • Best-looking headphones

    Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

  • Best headphones overall

    Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Canceling Headphones

What headphones qualify as "best," and why?

With dozens of different models to choose from, how did I decide which made the cut? Audio is a highly subjective thing; what sounds great to one set of ears might sound less so to another. For example, if you're not a fan of heavy bass, you might dislike 'phones designed to boost that thump. And if you're older, maybe you care more about dialogue enhancement (for movies and such) than anything else.

There's also the question of fit: Not every headphone sits comfortably atop every head. A tight headband or mushy earcups can make for an uncomfortable experience.

Finally, when evaluating audio, there's always the source to consider: If you use a music streaming service like Apple Music or Spotify, data compression can result in a slight loss of fidelity. Will the average listener care about that, or even notice it? Probably not, but it's still a piece of the puzzle.

Headphones from Anker, Sennheiser, Sony, Wyze and Zvox.
Superb wireless headphones from Anker, Sennheiser, Sony, Wyze and Zvox.

All this is to say that different people have different ears, heads, needs and preferences. Budgets, too. Therefore, my picks for this roundup are based on a combination of personal experience, product reputation, professional reviews, user ratings and, finally, price. You won't find only super-expensive headphones here, nor will you find cheap off-brand junk. Every product I've selected deserves its "best" designation for one reason or another.

A word about active noise-canceling (ANC)

The hot headphone feature of the 21st century is active noise canceling, otherwise known as ANC. Flip a switch (or press a button) and the earpieces magically reduce a certain range of ambient sounds. Jet engines, for example, and backyard lawn mowers. The result is that you're able to fly, work or exercise in relative peace.

Some headphones perform this trick better than others, but the good news is it's now a staple feature: Even the most affordable ones have it. Take note, however, that activating ANC will cost you a bit of battery life and possibly some audio fidelity as well. But it's optional, so you can always turn it off if it's not necessary or if you decide you don't like it.

Best budget headphones

Wyze Noise-Canceling Headphones

$70$100Save $30
The Wyze Noise-Canceling Headphones are a steal, offering great sound and ANC for under $100 -- sometimes well under. (They go on sale often, so keep an eye out for discounts.)
$70 at Amazon

If you're wondering whether a $90 product can possibly rival those costing three or four times as much, get ready for a surprise: It can. I've tested the Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones; they sound great and deliver robust ANC. On those merits alone, I'd have no qualms about recommending them. But to quote the old commercial: Wait, there's more.

Available in black or white, the 'phones can play for up to 20 hours on a charge, and USB-C quick-charging nets you up to four hours after just 10 minutes. (That's for wireless play, by the way; Wyze also supplies a stereo cord for wired listening, which requires no battery at all if you disable ANC.)

Like much higher-end headphones, these will automatically pause the music when you take them off your head and resume again when you put them back on. Want to have a quick chat with someone? Cup your hand over the right earcup and the headphones will immediately pause playback and enable Transparency Mode (which disables ANC so you can converse more comfortably). That's probably my single favorite feature.

Double-tap that right earcup and you've got onboard Alexa (by way of your phone), meaning you can ask questions, issue commands...all the usual stuff.

All this for around $90. (The price fluctuates a lot, though, sometimes dipping as low as $60 — I've even seen it hit $44. If you can, wait for a sale.) Oh, and don't just take my word: These 'phones earned a 4.5-star average rating from over 3,400 Amazon customers.

Best headphones for TV watchers

Zvox AV52 Noise Cancelling Headphones

It may look like an ordinary noise-cancelling headphone, but the Zvox AV52 has an extra trick up its sleeve: dialogue enhancement. That's great for anyone with some hearing loss.
$80 at Amazon

If you like to binge movies and TV shows while logging your miles on the treadmill (or sitting on the couch — no judgment), you may have discovered that headphones aren't always great for that. All too often, the dialogue gets lost in the mix, an especially common problem for users with older ears. (I know; I'm one of them.)

That's why Zvox's AV52s are the no-brainer pick for TV watchers. Equipped with the company's AccuVoice technology (also found in Zvox soundbars), these headphones were designed specifically to give voices a boost. At the same time, there's ANC here as well, the better to reduce the noise made by your workout machine, neighbor's lawn mower and the like.

Available in a nice array of colors — black, blue, white or rose gold — these folding 'phones come in a zippered carrying case and include an audio cord if you want to switch to wired listening (like on an airplane). Zvox promises up to 24 hours of battery life on a charge (with ANC enabled), which is about average.

These aren't the best noise-cancellers in the group, not by a longshot, but they can definitely help those with hearing challenges better enjoy video.

Best headphones for audiophiiles

Soundcore Life Q35 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Save $10 with coupon
If you want lossless sound without the high price, Soundcore's Q35 headphones deliver. They look extra-snazzy, too.
$100 at Amazon

Although Sony's WH-1000XM4 (see below) is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to audio quality, Anker's Soundcore Life Q35 headphones come very close — for around one-third the price. That's because they're certified for Hi-Res Audio and Hi-Res Audio Wireless and they incorporate LDAC technology, which allows for lossless audio transfer over Bluetooth. Translation: much less compression, much higher audio fidelity.

Where the Q35s fail to rival the Sony product, however, is in their noise cancelling. It's good, but not great. Even so, there's a lot here to like, starting with design: Anker offers three colors, each adorned with some glossy accents that really make them look like a luxury product.

Battery life is a standout here as well: Up to 40 hours, according to Anker. I especially like Anker's companion app, which affords control over equalizer settings and even includes a batch of white-noise sounds to help you sleep. Speaking of the equalizer, you may want to tweak it a bit to reduce the bass-heavy default.

A word about price: Although other Soundcore products frequently go on sale, the Q35s don't get discounted very often. At this writing, however, they're $30 off, and there's an extra $10 savings available from an on-page coupon. So grab that deal if you can, but note that even for $130, the Q35 is well worth the price of admission.

Best-looking headphones
Sennheiser Consumer Audio

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

$240$400Save $160
Hello, gorgeous! Sennheiiser's headphones have a unique, industrial design that's a refreshing change from most.
$240 at Amazon

Although the Momentum 3 was recently succeeded by the Momentum 4, I advise choosing the former while it's still available. For starters, you stand to save a bundle (see below). And where most 'phones look more or less the same (and decidedly plastic), Sennheiser employs nifty metallic arms beneath the headband. Sadly, the company abandoned this cool industrial design in the Momentum 4, hence my preference for its predecessor.

Those arms are functional, too, allowing you to position the earcups exactly to your liking. And there's something special under the hood as well: built-in Tile tracking. In case you can't remember where you left the headphones, the Tile app can help you locate them. I don't know of another over-the-ear headphone that offers this handy feature.

As you might expect, the Momentum 3s offer just about every other feature you might want: ANC, transparency mode, auto-pause and a companion app for tweaking sound and settings. I haven't tried these myself, but most reviews are extremely positive.

The two key complaints: price and battery life. The latter is rated at 17 hours, well below average but not what I'd call terrible. (Remember, you're lucky to get five hours from a pair of AirPods.) As for price, the Momentum 3 originally sold for $400, which is high indeed. But the arrival of the Momentum 4 has pushed the 3 down to $240, at least as of this writing. That's a significant savings on a premium pair of headphones.

Best headphones overall

Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Canceling Headphones

If you have ears, you're sure to love Sony's WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling cans. The sanity you save may be your own.
$348 at Amazon

The Sony XM4 (please don't ask me to type out "WH-1000XM4" over and over, because yeesh!) is widely regarded as one of the best ANC headphones on the planet. Yes, there's a newer version, the XM5, but how do you improve on perfection? Not easily. The upgraded model costs $50 more and offers only a few minor tweaks, so for now I say stick with the XM4 — which you can often find on sale below $300. Sometimes well below.

That's still a splurge, of course, but worth it if you want the best. They XM4 is comfortable, sounds amazing (thanks in part to onboard LDAC, as described above) and offers virtually unrivaled noise cancelling. You can get them in black, blue or silver.

Sony baked some pretty advanced features into them as well, starting with speak-to-chat: If you start talking to someone, the music cuts out while the microphones cut in — the better to allow clear conversation. Touch controls make it simple to adjust volume, skip tracks, access your voice assistant and so on. And Sony promises up to 30 hours of listening on a charge.

Any downsides? Just sticker shock: The XM4 has a list price of $350. Fortunately, stores like Amazon and Best Buy often run sales; on many occasions I've seen the headphones for as low as $248, and even down to $228 near the holidays. If you want to treat your ears to the best audio experience possible, break open the piggy bank.