which model to choose in 2021?

Wireless Bluetooth headphones are becoming indispensable as Xiaomi, Sony, and of course Apple, to name a few, remove the 3.5mm audio jack from smartphones. Going wireless is a real advance in terms of user comfort. But sometimes this is done at the expense of audio quality. We bring you the selection of the best over-ear and over-ear Bluetooth headphones with or without active noise reduction that you can buy in 2021, whatever your budget!

Our selection of the best wireless Bluetooth headphones

Bluetooth headsets were still a relatively private market a few years ago. It is undeniable that since the disappearance of the audio jack in a growing number of smartphone models, there are significantly more different models, and especially at all prices.

Still, the choice of this or that headphones does not depend only on the audio quality or autonomy. But also big pluses such as ease of use or NFC pairing which makes their everyday use much easier and more pleasant. Our buying guide will help you find the Bluetooth headset that best suits your needs.

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony WH1000XM4

For a price of 379 €, the Sony WH-1000XM4 that we tested is the new top-of-the-range model released in 2020 which has the heavy task of replacing the already excellent WH-1000XM3. It supports SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC audio formats. It offers an autonomy of up to 38 hours with the active noise reduction function, and is from this point of view one of the best on the market in this area.

Like the previous model, there is a very large surface area on the right ear allowing you to control what is being played. Design level, the 1000XM4 is almost identical to its predecessor. The audio quality is always there, the noise reduction is excellent, and we are finally entitled to a proximity sensor and responsive touch controls.

The + The –
Impeccable audio quality
The price which could have been revised downwards
Hyper efficient noise reduction
General comfort
Autonomy

Apple AirPods Max

Apple AirPods Max best price

As with AirPods and AirPods Pro, AirPods Max incorporates many interesting technologies. First, connectivity is provided by the Apple H1 chip. This is the latest generation of SoC dedicated to audio devices that you find in AirPods Pro, for example. There are two: one with each earbud. This means that the smartphone considers AirPods Max like AirPods Pro: two independent headphones. It’s an interesting approach.

The H1 chip is mainly used to connect the headset to an Apple device with which it will communicate better. A great classic. However, you can also connect the headset to an Android or Windows device thanks to the support of the Bluetooth standard, here in version 5.0. This is the minimum required to get quality stereo sound from True Wireless headphones. This is also the case here.

The + The –
Noise reduction The price
Comfort The Smart Case, a sloppy accessory
The sound quality
Autonomy and fast charging
Impeccable finishes

Bose Headphones 700

Bose headphones 700 headphones

A worthy successor to the QuietComfort 35 II, the Headphones 700 offers an active noise reduction system that is even lighter, more refined, more comfortable and with new features. For example, you can select the noise reduction level from the button on the left ear cup.

The Headphones 700 offers up to 20 hours of battery life on a single charge, and it takes approximately 2.5 hours to fully charge (Bose reports that it only takes 15 minutes to charge for up to 3.30 hours). ‘autonomy). If you are interested in these headphones and want to know more, we invite you to read our full review of the Bose Headphones 700.

The + The –
The sound quality High price
Efficient noise reduction The absence of automatic cut-off of listening if the headset is removed
Good ergonomics
Excellent autonomy

Sony WH-1000XM3

Sony wh-1000XM3 headphones

For a price of 279 €, the Sony WH-1000XM3 represents the best noise reduction headphones on the market. It supports SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, LDAC audio formats. Offering up to 30 hours of battery life with the active noise reduction function, it is also one of the benchmarks on the market from this point of view.

Its fast charge mode allows it to get 8 hours of playback for just 15 minutes of charging. According to the manufacturer, the Sony WH-1000XM3 far surpasses and is 4 times more efficient than the previous model Sony WH-1000XM2 in terms of the level of active noise reduction.

The + The –
Its active noise reduction among the best No multipoint Bluetooth connection (cannot connect to more than one device at a time
Excellent audio quality
Responsive touch controls
Comfortable
Excellent autonomy

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

Plantronics backbeat pro 2 headphones

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is truly one of the best headphones in this guide. Recommended as much as a Bose Headphones 700 or a Sony WH-1000XM2. Why ? Because it has it all: active noise reduction, while maintaining excellent sound quality, really easy-to-use controls, quality materials and design. And especially its rather incredible price for all this offer.

The only real negative point compared to the competition is the design choices. While the new BackBeat Pro 2 is thinner than the previous generation, it is still less stylish than many of the competitors in this guide. In addition, the BackBeat Pro 2 has narrower ear cushions and will therefore be less comfortable than its predecessor.

The + The –
Its clean, quality Active noise reduction can be improved
Comfortable
Good autonomy
Comfortable

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones

For several years, the Bose QuietComfort 35 has been the benchmark for active noise reduction headphones. The QC35 II is no exception to the rule, and remains a helmet to which all other models compare. It is among the best in terms of comfort, audio quality (extremely well balanced levels), and of course active noise reduction. The controls are relatively convenient – but you can’t really say they’re ergonomic on the edge of the pads.

On the negative side, we can obviously talk about its particularly high price for headphones made entirely of plastic. As you can see from this guide, there are better headphones nowadays also from a design point of view.

The + The –
Best-in-class active noise reduction The absence of automatic cut-off of listening if the headset is removed
Balanced and clear sound
Comfortable
Neat design
Google Assistant compatible

Marshall major iii

Marshall Major III headphones

These wireless Bluetooth headphones represent one of the best value for money at the moment. It offers excellent battery life and unprecedented listening comfort. Embedding a very practical multifunction button, it is possible to easily switch from one piece of music to another. The bass and treble are put forward without forgetting the mids. Powerful, the sound is just as good.

The + The –
Solid audio performance No active noise reduction
Comfortable design
Comfortable
Good autonomy

Sennheiser HD 4.50

Sennheiser HD 4.50 headphones

If you’re looking for a comfortable wireless headset with high sound quality that offers active noise reduction without breaking the bank, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 is a great choice. The latter can connect to any Bluetooth 4.0 and aptX compatible device. It delivers the best possible audio quality wirelessly. If you do not have a device with Bluetooth technology, you can still use it by connecting it directly via the jack.

Very enduring, it provides excellent battery life of 19 hours on a single charge (bluetooth mode and active noise reduction NoiseGard activated). The manufacturer explains that the sound of his headphones is “Powerful and extremely detailed, it has the very latest wireless technology, simple, intuitive use, maximum wearing comfort and an elegantly minimalist but robust design based on high quality materials”. In addition, it has instant pairing by NFC and very intuitive controls on the earpiece to change tracks, manage calls through the built-in microphones or adjust the volume.

The + The –
Top noise reduction Perfectible comfort
Good finish
20h autonomy

V-Moda Crossfade II Wireless

V-Moda Crossfade II Wireless Headphones

With multi-award winning sound quality from the Crossfade series (over 50 awards from specialist magazines) in both wireless and wired Bluetooth mode, favored by gamers and DJs for latency-free analog sound, the V-Moda Crossfade II Wireless headphones are ideal for people who value bass. This headset is equipped with a microphone allowing use as a hands-free kit. Its autonomy reaches about ten hours. It is usually found around 250 euros.

Urbanista Seattle

Headphones urbanista seattle bt

How to miss this little gem at this price? The Urbanista Seattle headphones offer a rather comfortable 12-hour battery life, and offer deep bass, a neutral and sleek design, and discreet controls at an unbeatable price. If by any chance you run out of battery, a cable allows you to connect it via the good old jack – as long as your smartphone still has one!

In terms of comfort, for this price, Urbanista offers very comfortable memory foam for a compact over-ear headphones. It has a bit (too) strong bass, which is not surprising for headphones in this price category. But the compromise is so attractive that we are ready to forgive it everything.

The + The –
Powerful and crisp sound High price
Good finish Limited autonomy (10h)

Marshall Mid A.N.C

Marshall Mid A.N.C Headphones

The latest from the famous London brand, the Marshall Mid A.N.C benefits from the same advantages as its cousins. On the other hand, they are the first active noise reduction headphones designed by Marshall. Like its predecessor, the very successful Marshall Mid, this headset benefits from a battery life of around thirty hours, excellent ease of use and unparalleled audio quality, which will especially delight rock fans. We especially appreciate its active noise reduction system, which allows the brand to go to the next level. The icing on the cake: very comfortable leather pads! It is usually found around € 250.

The + The –
Clean and balanced sound Not as comfortable as the best of the competition
Effective active noise reduction A warning light always too discreet
Compact and retro design A warning light always too discreet
Nice carrying case The lack of a dedicated application

Jabra Elite 85h

Jabra Elite 85h headphones

The Jabra Elite 85h are on-ear headphones with intelligent active noise reduction that responds to your surroundings. Thanks to its SmartSound feature, it automatically analyzes your sound environment to apply the ideal audio settings. The headphones deliver quality sound and are comfortable despite their weight of 296 grams.

The + The –
Good sound rendering Not compatible with aptX and LDAC codecs
Effective active noise reduction
Excellent autonomy of 36h
Comfortable despite its weight

🔎Things to know before buying a Bluetooth headset

On the comfort side, there are the over-ear and over-ear headphones. In the first case, the pads include the ear for optimal comfort of use with the added bonus of more or less effective passive noise reduction. In the second, the pads press more on the ears which clearly affects the comfort, especially on prolonged use. The insulating effect is also less. However, the really difficult problem is that the most comfortable headphones are generally also the most bulky.

🤔What is the right price for a Bluetooth headset?

The other rather paradoxical thing: headphones with active noise reduction are more expensive than others. But they are often less good in terms of audio quality than headsets that do not. It’s up to you to see if it’s more the music or the need for calm that arouses your purchase. In the same vein, not all use the same version of Bluetooth or even the same protocols (like aptX or aptX HD). And that has a lot to do with the audio quality in wireless mode. Finally on the autonomy side, we are today on very comfortable periods of 8 to more than 30 hours of continuous use.

🎧What is Active Noise Reduction?

In many situations, outside noise can quickly be annoying when traveling or when you want to immerse yourself in your favorite music, especially when you are going on vacation and have a long flight where you want to relax. The active noise reduction function is generally useful in noisy environments such as public transport (bus, plane, train…) as well as in premises and spaces with a large city.

Active noise reduction is done using circuits or microphones built into the headphones and has acquired this name due to the principles of electronic operation, which helps reduce unwanted ambient noise by producing opposite sound of the same frequency in order to to cancel it.

👓What does AD2P mean?

It is the abbreviation for “Advanced Audio Distribution Profile”. A2DP is a Bluetooth profile that transmits stereo sounds. Also known as the AV profile, it is designed to transfer stereo audio stream (such as music) from an MP3 player to headphones or car stereo.

Our other buying guides on other types of headphones

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