Wednesday, August 17, 2022
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The best Bluetooth headphones: Check out these 2022 models


The best Bluetooth headphones compared

  Editor’s recommendation Best Apple recommendation Best price-to-performance ratio Best earcups Best budget-friendly model
Product Marshall Major IV
Image
Sony WH-1000XM5
Apple AirPods Max
Sony WH-1000XM4
Marshall Major IV auf einem Produktbild.
Anker Soundcore Life Q35
Design
ANC
HiFi codecs
Battery life
Price (MSRP)
Pros
  • High-quality sound
  • Industry leading ANC
  • Slimmer profile compared to its predecessor
  • Many smart features
  • Very high-quality sound
  • Seamless connectivity to the Apple ecosystem
  • Spatial audio for 3D sound including head tracking
  • Very good sound quality
  • High wearing comfort
  • Very good ANC
  • LDAC and AAC on board
  • Surprisingly intelligent
  • Good battery life (up to 30 hours)
  • High-quality workmanship made of metal and plastic
  • Chic Marshall design
  • Solid sound quality
  • Ultra-long battery life (80 hours)
  • Super long battery life
  • Practical Quick-Charging
  • Good sound with many equalizers
  • Now with LDAC codec
  • Multi-pairing works like a charm
  • Name finally rhymes! 🤷
Cons
  • Very expensive ($399)
  • No support for AptX codecs
  • Can only be switched off by  placing it in the carry pouch
  • Very expensive ($549)
  • Quite a loose hold
  • Unfortunately no longer offers aptX HD support (available in its predecessor)
  • Sony’s app clouds the premium impression
  • Few innovations compared to WH-1000XM3
  • Strong perception of ambient noise
  • No ANC
  • ANC lags behind other models
  • Unpleasant leather smell
Rating Read review

Not yet reviewed

Read review

Not yet reviewed

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Modern Bluetooth headphones offer you very good sound quality thanks to modern wireless standards and high-quality Bluetooth codecs. At the same time, the models are flexible, offer powerful ANC to suppress ambient noise, and shine with smart features. Right from the beginning, however, I would like to separate this article from our list of the best in-ear Bluetooth headphones.

Jump to:

  1. Buying Guide
  2. The best Bluetooth headphones by price
    1. Sony WH-1000XM5
    2. Apple AirPods Max
    3. Sony WH-1000XM4
    4. Marshall Major IV
    5. Soundcore Life Q35
  3. Alternatives

While we compare models like the Sony WF-1000XM4, the OnePlus Pro, or the AirPods in the linked “Best Of” list, we have narrowed it down to just over-ear headphones here. In order to help you decide which model and what type of features you really need, this is where we begin: with a buying guide for Bluetooth headphones.

Buying guide: What you should look for when buying Bluetooth headphones

Over-ear, on-ear, or in-ear?

Let’s begin by taking a step back: Which headphone design is right for you? In this article, we’ll focus on models that cover your ear as over-ear headphones. This provides better insulation against ambient noise and better wearing comfort. At the same time, over-ear headphones are relatively large and can make your ears feel warm in the summer after wearing it for a prolonged period of time.

Sony WH-1000XM5
Over-ear models like the Sony WH-1000XM5 completely enclose your ear. / © NextPit

On-ear models are quite rare in 2022, but they do have advantages with a smaller form factor. In return, they are inferior to other models in terms of sound and ANC effectiveness. In-ear Bluetooth headphones are particularly compact and can even fit in a pocket in most cases. While they can also offer very high-quality in terms of ANC and sound, the wearing experience can be uncomfortable in the long run. In addition, battery life is usually limited to six to eight hours when actively listening to music and the tiny earbuds tend to get lost.

Sound quality and flexibility

Thanks to large drivers and good passive noise isolation, you can look forward to high sound quality when buying over-ear headphones. As a rule of thumb, the more money you spend, the higher the sound quality is the end result. You can pay attention to some of the technical specifications when making a purchase decision, which you can then use to evaluate the sound quality without trying it out.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Companion App
This is what companion apps for headphones usually look like! / © Sony / Screenshot: NextPit

Among them are the size and material choice of the drivers, their frequency response, and the support of high-quality Bluetooth codecs. However, this has never been able to replace a listening test in the technology market or reading reviews that carry detailed descriptions of the sound. You can also adjust the sound to your preferences via equalizers and sound profiles in the companion apps to tweak it further.

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC)

Active noise cancellation, abbreviated as ANC, is available in most Bluetooth headphones. Here, the headphones pick up ambient noise via its microphones and play it back in your ear in reversed polarity. The so-called anti-noise cancellation compensates for the surrounding noise and you no longer hear it.

With a good pair of headphones, the ANC level can be controlled in a flexible manner, even fully automatically as an ideal, and there should also be a transparency mode. This allows you to listen to the ambient noise using microphone support, which is very practical in the midst of traffic or during conversations.

Battery life

Another advantage of over-ear models have over true-wireless headphones is the length of its battery life that is often several days long with active noise cancellation. The small in-ear models only last about one working day without additional charging in the charging cradle. Check whether the battery life is sufficient for you when buying a new pair of headphones.

Also another practical aspect to consider is support for Quick-Charging and the possibility to use the headphones as a wired opton even when you are running on an empty battery. You can usually find this information in reviews and on the manufacturer’s website.

Comfort features and extras

Since headphones should no longer just play music in 2022, you can look forward to some exciting smart features. The Sony WH-1000XM5, for example, can control how powerful the ANC will be based on your movement patterns. Apple, on the other hand, caused a stir with the introduction of their AirPods Max with realistic spatial audio. All of those features are not that essential, but do come in very handy in everyday life!

The best Bluetooth headphones by price

Best Over-ear headphones with ANC: Sony WH-1000XM5

Antoine, der die Sony WH-1000XM5 auf dem Kopf trägt.
With a more modern design, the Sony WH-1000XM5 shone in our hands-on. / © NextPit

Pros

  • High-quality sound
  • Industry-leading ANC
  • Slimmer profile compared to its predecessor
  • Many smart features
 

Cons

  • Very expensive ($399)
  • No support for AptX codecs

With an introductory price of $399, the Sony WH-1000XM5 is really expensive. Fortunately, Sony’s top headphones are industry leaders in several categories. First and foremost is ANC, which not only reacts intelligently to your surroundings, but also works particularly effectively thanks to eight microphones and its very own V1 ANC chip. The sound quality is also high and the headphones support the high-quality Bluetooth codec LDAC.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM5 hands-on

For 2022, Sony has come up with a design update that seems a bit more stylish and rounded. In his hands-on session for the launch of the WH-1000XM5, the degree of wearing comfort convinced Antoine.

 

Recommended for Apple users: Apple AirPods Max

Die AirPods Max im passenden Tragecase.
The AirPods Max comes with an unconventional carry case. / © NextPit

Not yet reviewed

Pros

  • Very high-quality sound
  • Seamless connection to the Apple ecosystem
  • Spatial audio for 3D sound includes head tracking
 

Cons

  • Can only be turned off by inserting it into the carry case
  • Very expensive ($549)

If you have just under $550 to spare and are deeply entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, you should set your sights on the AirPods Max. The company’s first over-ear headphones shine with an ultra-high-quality finish alongside a metal casing, offering particularly high sound quality and automatic detection of which Apple device you are currently using for listening to music or podcasts.

To our release news on the AirPods Max

Operation is extremely intuitive thanks to the crown on the right side that was borrowed from the Apple Watch. In addition, the headphones are seamlessly connected to the Apple ecosystem as usual. This means you can connect them conveniently to your iPhone, iPad, MacBook, and all other Apple products. However, an H1 chip for precise tracking like the AirTag is missing.

Best price-to-performance ratio: Sony WH-1000XM4

Ben, der die Sony WH-1000XM4 auf dem Kopf trägt.
Rather large and clunky, the Sony WH-1000XM4 sits on your head. / © NextPit

Rating

Bewertung Design und Handling

Pros

  • Very good sound quality
  • High wearing comfort
  • Very good ANC
  • LDAC and AAC on board
  • Surprisingly intelligent
  • Good battery life (up to 30 hours)
 

Conss

  • Quite a loose hold
  • Unfortunately no longer offers aptX HD support (available in its predecessor)
  • Sony’s app clouds the premium impression
  • Few innovations compared to WH-1000XM3

The Sony WH-1000XM4 is the predecessor to what we consider the best Bluetooth headphones on the market. After experiencing a decent price drop, the headphones are now highly recommended in the price-to-performance range. Armed with industry-leading ANC, high-quality sound, and many smart features, the WH-1000XM4 fully convinced us in our review.

Best over-ear model: Marshall Major IV

Die Marshall Major IV auf einem Pressebild
Marshall’s Major IV relies on an on-ear design. / © NextPit

Pro

  • High-quality workmanship made of metal and plastic
  • Chic Marshall design
  • Solid sound quality
  • Ultra-long battery life (80 hours)
 

Contra

  • Strong perception of ambient noise
  • No ANC

If over-ear headphones are not for you, we recommend the Marshall Major IV. We have not yet been able to review this pair of stylish headphones in the editorial office, but there is a review of another device from its stables, the Marshall Monitor II. In addition, I have personally used the Marshall Major III for years and was particularly convinced by the stable quality of the headphones. As an anecdote, the headphones even survived being rolled over by a car. Only one of the two ear cups popped off, but it could be reconnected after bending it back into place.

The Marshall Major IV relies on a similarly stable design that is made of metal and plastic. The ultra-long battery life of up to 80 (!) hours is striking when looking at the hardware specifications. Another positive point is the control via a four-way switch on the right ear cup and the ability to use it as a wired headphones even when the battery runs out of juice. A build-related disadvantage is the stronger perception of ambient noise – you also have to do make without ANC in the Major IV.

Best model under $150: Soundcore Life Q35

Die Soundcore Life Q35 in ihrer Ladeschale.
Bundled together: a charging cradle made from imitation leather. / © NextPit

Rating

Bewertung Design und Handling

Pros

  • Super long battery life
  • Practical Quick-Charging
  • Good sound with many equalizers
  • Now with LDAC codec
  • Multi-pairing works like a charm
  • Name finally rhymes! 🤷
 

Cons

  • ANC lags behind other models
  • Unpleasant leather smell

If you are looking for the cheapest Bluetooth headphones possible, you should check out the Soundcore Life Q35 on Amazon. The successor of the Soundcore Life QC 30, which we also reviewed, is now available for $130. As you can read in our Life QC35 review, you can expect solid ANC performance, a high-quality sound, and above all, a very good companion app.

This is your key for precisely optimizing the sound profile, which is really fun after adjusting the equalizers. The battery life is particularly long, lasting up to 60 hours, and there are also important smart features such as multi-pairing and wear detection. So, if you don’t want to rely on high-quality audio brands and are looking for a cheap alternative, you’ll be well rewarded here.

Alternatives in the Bluetooth headphone sector

The Bluetooth headphone industry is extremely competitive due to the number of available options. Since we want to limit ourselves to a subjective selection in this “Best Of” list, there are still some alternatives you can check out, some of which we have already reviewed for ourselves in the editorial office.

5 alternatives for Bluetooth headphones

Model Review Check price
Bose NCH 700 Read review

Buy now

B&W PX7 Read review

Buy now

Valco VMK20 Read review

Orosound Tilde Pro Read review

Buy now

And now, over to you: Which Bluetooth headphones do you recommend and which ones are overpriced Hi-Fi junk in your opinion? I’m looking forward to your discussion in the comments!



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