Bluetooth headphones come in all shapes and sizes, and the sound quality satisfies everyone except the keenest of audiophiles. Yes, it’s one more thing to charge, but it’s just so convenient to not need a wire. Still, finding the right pair of Bluetooth headphones isn’t easy.
There are several options when it comes to choosing the best headphones for your budget. This article will help you find the perfect pair of Bluetooth headphones for any price, from cheapest to most expensive.
Glossary of Headphone Terms
There are a few things to know before buying Bluetooth headphones:
- On-Ear: On-ear or supra-aural headphones sit on your ears, without wrapping them from the top, bottom, or sides.
- Over-Ear: Over-ear or circum-aural headphones completely wrap your ears from all sides, creating a seal.
- In-Ear: In-ear headphones plug into your ear canals. They are not earbuds, which sit in your ears without blocking the holes.
- AptX: AptX is a compression technology to transfer audio data from your smartphone or tablet to the Bluetooth headphones. It used to be more important earlier but isn’t as crucial with headphones made in the last couple of years.
If you still feel lost check out these headphone terms everyone needs to know.
The best cheap Bluetooth headphones.
A quick search on Amazon will show Bluetooth headphones can cost as little as $20, but you sacrifice a lot of quality for that price. The cheapest headphones you should get are the JLab Audio Neons. These are also among the few headphones at this price that fold up for easy portability.
This pair offers a balanced sound profile that’s good for anyone who listens to rock or pop. As you might expect, they don’t have a thumping bass, but that was always going to be a trade-off at such a low price. While some wired headphones at the same price would sound better, the JLab Neons are one of the best headphones priced under $50.
One of the more impressive aspects of the JLab Neon headphones are their battery life. Even at this low price, they give you about 10 hours of continuous playback, which is comparable with phones that cost twice or thrice as much.
2. Jabra Move
The best budget Bluetooth headphones for most people.
For most casual music listeners, these Jabra Move headphones are the best pair to buy. The Jabra Moves offer quality sound, low cost, solid construction, and a comfortable fit when listening for extended hours.
The fit is a crucial feature of headphones. If you like on-ear, then the Moves’ soft padding and swiveling cups will feel comfortable for extended usage. The band and cups don’t press hard on your head or ears respectively, and the controls are easy to reach.
The Jabra Move headphones’ battery lasts for about 8 hours. Plus, in case you run out of juice, there’s a standard 3.5mm audio jack for you to use these as wired headphones.
As for audio quality, the Moves punch above their weight class. Rich bass, high volume, and clear sharps make these sound good whether you’re listening to AC/DC or Yo-Yo Ma. I have personally owned a pair of Jabra Move headphones for years, and can recommend them.
These are a no-brainer choice for anyone who wants the features and the feel of high-end Bluetooth headphones without paying a high-end price.
The best sports or exercise Bluetooth headphones for most people.
Plantronics has cracked the formula for what most people need in the gym or on a run. The BackBeat FIT 500 headphones don’t cost the Earth, but still sound good, have a long battery, and can handle the rough use of a workout.
What makes these workout headphones is a nano-coating that makes them water-resistant (not waterproof). This means you can wear these while sweating profusely or during a run in a light shower, but don’t take them out in heavy rain.
It’s important to get the FIT 500’S fit right. Even though these are exercise headphones, they tend to slide off your head if you push the band back beyond the top of your dome. I’d suggest putting them on a little tighter than you usually wear headphones, and making sure the band is right on the top of your head.
Apart from that, the sound quality, battery life, and other essential elements will be good enough for most people. Unless you’re an audiophile, the Plantronics BackBeat FIT 500s are one of the best exercise headphones money can buy.
4. CB3 Hush
The best budget Bluetooth headphones with active noise cancellation.
If noise cancellation is a must-have feature for you, but you’re still on a budget, then go for the CB3 Hush headphones. They don’t sound as good as the Jabra Moves, but you won’t find such good noise cancellation at this price.
The CB3 Hush headphones are excellent for people who need a set of Bluetooth headphones for travel. Whether you want to cut out the background noise of your daily commute or the continuous low hum during a flight, the Hushes do it with aplomb.
The audio quality is a hit-or-miss affair though. The CB3 Hushes are fine for pop songs, classical music, or movies and podcasts. But if you listen to songs that require rich reproduction, these headphones can’t quite cope.
The CB3 Hush headphones are more about giving you active noise cancellation, Bluetooth, a long battery life (over 12 hours), and decent audio, while keeping the price under $100. It’s difficult to find affordable noise-cancelling headphones, especially with Bluetooth, so these are a good jack-of-all-trades purchase.
5. JBL Duet
The best Bluetooth headphones under $100.
Those willing to spend a little extra cash without breaking the bank should consider the JBL Duets.
The JBL Duet headphones boast impressive sound quality in every aspect: a deep bass that booms rather than thumps, and surprisingly crisp and clean highs. It’s a sound balance that you usually get on headphones that cost at least $50 more, making the Duets a bargain.
The JBL Duet headphones last for about 16 hours on a single charge, which makes them among the Bluetooth headsets with the best battery life. And there is also a 3.5mm audio port so you can listen to them when the battery runs out.
However, the best part is the way these fit. The JBL Duets feel comfortable even when you wear them for several hours. There is no ear sweat, no clamping pressure, and no sliding of the headband. These are a clear winner for those who want headphones that cost under $100.
The best Bluetooth headphones under $200 with noise cancellation.
Once you pass the $100 price tag, noise cancellation should be a requirement from your headphones. And the Sennheiser HD 4.50 headphones should be your first choice.
The HD 4.50s don’t boast the best fit, which means they’ll take some time to get used to. The design of the headband makes the cans clamp tight on your ears; if you loosen the headband, it falls off. However, over time, you’ll figure out just the right adjustments for your head, and then get to enjoy the HD 4.50s for what they do best: noise cancellation and sound quality.
Few headphones at this price balance noise cancellation and sound like the Sennheiser HD 4.50s. They actually sound like a pair that rivals the Bose QuietComfort 35 IIs, which cost nearly twice the price. The noise cancellation is top-notch, the sound is balanced, the battery life is excellent, and there’s nothing apart from the fit to complain about.
If the fit is a big problem for you consider instead the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2s:
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 headphones were first released in 2016, but their continuing popularity shows how good they are. Despite looking big and bulky, they are surprisingly light when you put them on. Plus, they boast an impressive 24 hours of battery life. However, the sound quality doesn’t match up to the Sennheiser HD 4.50s, and they don’t fold, so they are much more cumbersome to carry around.
7. Sony WH-1000XM2 or Sony WH-H900N
The best Bluetooth headphones when money is no object.
If money is no object, you should buy Sony’s H.ear On headphones. But reviewers are split between which of these two similarly-priced models you should choose: the Sony WH-1000XM2 or the Sony WH-H900N. Everyone has a different opinion, so here’s what sets them apart:
- Noise cancellation: The WH-1000XM2s have better noise cancellation than the WH-H900Ns.
- Design and Portability: Both the headphones look and feel similar, so this shouldn’t be a big factor in your decision. But note that the WH-1000XM2s come with their own hard case, while you’ll have to buy a case separately for the WH-H900Ns.
- Sound quality: The WH-H900Ns beat the WH-1000XM2s here with better mids and a deeper bass.
- Call quality: The microphone on the WH-H900Ns picks up your voice easily in noisy environments. The microphone on the WH-1000XM2s isn’t bad either, but it will pick up ambient noise.
A simpler way of look at it is this: Buy the Sony WH-1000XM2 headphones if noise cancellation matters more, buy the Sony WH-H900N headphones if audio accuracy matters more.
What About the Best Bluetooth Earphones?
You may be surprised that Bose didn’t make the list this time, but it appears that other brands of headphones have caught up or surpassed Bose now. This article should help you pick up the best Bluetooth headphones for your budget. But things are different if you’re looking for earphones instead of headphones.
Right now, most reviewers are fans of the Sennheiser HD1s, the Jabra Elite 65ts, and the BeatsX earphones. But there are other options too, including some made by Bose. If you’re looking for earphones rather than headphones, check out our recommendations for the best wireless earbuds you can buy today.