Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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The Best Bluetooth Headphones to Buy in 2024


The best Bluetooth headsets with active noise reduction in 2024

Hi-Res refers to anything with higher values than “CD quality”. The higher these values, the less compressed the sound and the better its resolution or quality. But the heavier the file, too. So you need a good codec to avoid loss of detail when broadcasting via Bluetooth.

The Bluetooth codec

Bluetooth sound broadcasting is by nature “lossy”. The signal is compressed, resulting in a loss of detail and therefore quality. The better the codec, the less compression. The ideal is to have a “lossless” codec that generates very little loss. But there is always some loss.

  Bit depth Sampling rate Maximum bit rate Lossy/lossless?
SBC 16-bit 44.1 kHz 345 kbps lossy
AAC 16-bit 44.1 kHz 256 kbps lossy
aptX 24-bit 48 kHz 384 kbps lossy
aptX HD 24-bit 48 kHz 576 kbps lossy
aptX Adaptive 24-bit 96 kHz 420 kbps lossy
aptX lossless 16-bit 44.1 kHz 1200 kbps lossless (CD quality), lossy (Hi-Res)
LDAC 24-bit 96 kHz 990 kbps lossless (CD quality), lossy (Hi-Res)
LHDC 24-bit 96 kHz 900 kbps lossless (CD quality), lossy (Hi-Res)

Frequency response

The range of frequencies that headphones are able to reproduce. 20 to 20,000 Hz on average, which corresponds to what the human ear can perceive. The wider the frequency response, the more room you have to correct the sound via the equalizer and perceive some of the more subtle sounds in your tracks.

The sound signature of Bluetooth headphones

A track can be broken down into three main types of frequency: bass, midrange and treble. Depending on the type of frequency highlighted or not by the headset, a curve will emerge. This curve corresponds to the sound signature of the Bluetooth headset.

Ideally, a headset with the most neutral signature (flat curve) will produce the most faithful sound reproduction. But you can’t totally “erase” a character trait with an equalizer. The essence of the musical message lies in the midrange (instruments, vocals).

Bluetooth headset active noise reduction (ANC)

The headset picks up ambient noise via microphones and transmits it to the ears by inverting it (known as phase inversion). ANC compensates for the noise, so you no longer hear it.

The more microphones the headset has, the more effective ANC is likely to be. Manually adjustable noise reduction is also preferable to purely automatic ANC.

There’s also a transparency mode. This amplifies ambient noise to keep you aware of your surroundings. The important thing here is the naturalness of the amplified noises. Often, there’s a hissing effect and distortion that can be unpleasant.

Bluetooth headset features

This list is totally arbitrary and subjective:

  • Bluetooth multipoint: the ability to pair your headset with at least two devices at the same time
  • Wear detection: the headset detects when you put it on and take it off your head, so it can pause the music or go to sleep automatically, thus conserving battery power.
  • IP rating: choose a water- and dust-resistant headset with at least IPX4 rating
  • Equalizer: a five-band equalizer is a far too rare ideal. Yet it allows you to personalize your audio experience
  • Microphone quality: you’re likely to use your headset to make calls.

The best Bluetooth headsets with active noise reduction selected by nextpit

The best Bluetooth headset with active noise reduction: Sony WH-1000XM5

The Sony WH-1000XM5 has a recognizable audio signature.
Sony’s audio signature is quite recognizable. / © nextpit

Sony WH-1000XM5 full review

The Sony WH-1000XM5 is Sony’s flagship consumer headset. Its predecessor, the Sony WH-1000XM4, and its predecessor, the WH-1000XM3, were considered the best references on the market.

The Bluetooth headset relies heavily on sound quality, thanks to Sony’s LDAC codec, but also on the effectiveness of its Active Noise Cancelling (ANC). The Sony WH-1000XM5 also marks a breakthrough in terms of design, with a more refined, streamlined look.

But I don’t think Sony is offering much in the way of innovation compared with the Sony WH-1000XM4. Where Sony really stands out, in my opinion, is in the quality of its microphones for calls and certain “comfort” features such as the wear detector and touch controls, which less expensive models often lack.

Good

  • Excellent active noise cancellation
  • Fantastic V-shaped audio signature
  • Excellent companion application
  • Can be paired to 2 devices simultaneously
  • Bluetooth 5.3/LDAC codec supported
  • Solid 30 hour battery life with ANC enabled
  • Port sensor, touch controls

Bad

  • No water resistance certification
  • ANC is not customizable enough
  • Unbearable Speak-to-Chat function
  • No aptX/HD codec supported
  • Impossible to fold the headset
  • Comfort is not optimal on long sessions

Sony WH-1000XM5

Sony WH-1000XM5

The alternative to the best Bluetooth headset with active noise reduction: Bose QuietComfort Headphones

Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones
The cypress green color of the Bose QuietComfort Headphones is quite attractive. / © nextpit

This is the less premium version of the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones (review). It costs $150 less and you only lose 360° audio and the aptX Adaptive codec.

Audio quality is less advanced than on the Sony WH-1000XM5, but is equivalent to that of the AirPods Max. It also lacks a wearable sensor.

But Bose’s active noise reduction is excellent, and it’s also the most comfortable headset to wear in this selection. The design is highly transportable, since the headset’s earcups can be folded away wirelessly. These two very good points compensate for the shortcomings I mentioned above.

If you want a no-fuss, plug-and-play premium headset for streaming mp3s on Spotify, this is an excellent choice.

Bose QuietComfort Headphones

Good

  • Good audio quality
  • Very good Active Noise Cancellation
  • Good battery life
  • Very comfortable to wear and easy to carry
  • Multipoint Bluetooth connectivity
  • Auto off mode
  • Spotify Tap

Bad

  • No IP certification
  • No wear detection
  • No HD codecs supported
  • A little too expensive

Bose QuietComfort Headphones

Bose QuietComfort Headphones

The active noise-canceling Bluetooth headset with the best battery life: Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Understated yet impressive: The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless.
The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless is a headset of impressive quality. / © nextpit

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless full review

Sennheiser’s flagship headphones have come down in price since their release. They can be found for around 250 euros, which makes them particularly attractive.

Sennheiser’s audio quality is always a safe bet, even if this Bluetooth headset doesn’t support HD codecs (aptX Adaptive max). The active noise reduction, while very decent, is not the best on the market either.

Its main distinction is its enormous 60-hour battery life. No other high-end wireless headset can match it in this respect. If you’re looking for a balanced, ultra-enduring Bluetooth headset, the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless is for you.

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Good

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Ultra-long battery life (60 hours)
  • Effective ANC
  • Multipoint Bluetooth connectivity
  • High wearing comfort

Bad

  • Most parts are made from plastic
  • Controls are a bit complicated
  • No 3D audio support
  • 2.5mm instead of 3.5mm cable

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

The best wireless headphones with active noise reduction for Apple fans: Apple AirPods Max

The Apple AirPods Max sports a timeless and classic design.
Even four years after its release, the design of Apple’s AirPods Max remains very modern and, above all, very classy. There’s no denying it. / © nextpit

Apple AirPods Max full review

The Apple AirPods Max is the most expensive wireless headset in this selection. That doesn’t mean it’s the best model. If you’re not into the Apple ecosystem, you’ll have to pass. Apple’s headset is too limited in functionality when paired with a non-Apple device.

But if you have an iPhone, an iPad and a MacBook Pro, then the AirPods Max remains a very good choice in 2024, even almost four years after its launch.

Its noise reduction is excellent, perhaps better than that of Sony and Bose. Its design is very elegant and uncluttered. Audio quality is decent, although the headset doesn’t support lossless audio over Bluetooth.

Battery life is 20 hours, but it’s not possible to switch the headset off completely. The absence of an IP rating is also a rather negative point for a headset costing over $400.

Good

  • Premium design that hasn’t aged a day
  • Good audio quality
  • Excellent active noise cancelation
  • Good battery life

Bad

  • No lossless audio on Bluetooth and complicated on wired connections
  • No IP rating
  • No manual equalizer
  • Headset never turns off
  • Multipoint only with Apple devices
  • Difficult to use on Android/Windows
  • Price still high 4 years after release

Apple AirPods Max

Apple AirPods Max

Wireless headphones with the best active noise reduction: Bose QuietComfort Ultra

If you want great Active Noise Cancellation, the Bose QC Ultra is perfect.
Bose QC Ultra headphones offer highly effective active noise reduction. / © nextpit

Bose QuietComfort Ultra full review

The Bose QC Ultra is a very good pair of wireless headphones with ANC. It’s very comfortable to wear, all the features are there (except audio via USB-C), there’s an HD codec, IPX4 rating, a full app, and very good battery life.

Immersive sound is a bit of a gimmick, but it’s easy to use and works well enough. We’re still a long way from the quality of Apple’s spatial sound, however.

At $430, these are very expensive headphones, and a good alternative to the AirPods Max for Apple fans. If price isn’t a criterion for you, I’d recommend the Bose QC Ultra if you value quality active noise reduction and comfort. ANC is great with these headphones. If audio quality is your priority, the Sony WH-1000XM5 would still be my favorite.

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

Good

  • Excellent Active Noise Cancellation
  • Solid battery life
  • Pleasant wearing comfort
  • Useful app
  • Nice 360° audio
  • Decent audio quality with adaptive aptX codec
  • IPX4 certification

Bad

  • Too expensive
  • Not the best audio quality on the market
  • Clean but uninspired design
  • Outdated technical specifications (drivers)

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones

The best-value wireless headphones with active noise reduction: Soundcore Space Q45

Get the most bang for your buck with the Soundcore Space Q45.
The Soundcore Space Q45 is the champion of value for money. / © nextpit

Soundcore Space Q45 full review

If you want a good pair of headphones but don’t have $300 or $400 to invest, the Soundcore Space Q45 is for you. The successor to the convincing Life Q35 takes up its strengths while improving on its shortcomings such as the weak ANC. Priced at just under $150, the Space Q45 boasts a well-balanced specification sheet that makes it the perfect headset for the average user.

The design is successful, the battery life is excellent and the efficient ANC is pleasant to use on a daily basis. The Space Q45 also convinces with its well-thought-out companion application and features such as multipoint connection, as well as LDAC and Bluetooth 5.3 support. All in all, Soundcore has succeeded in creating a headset with very good value for money, whose only shortcoming is its sound quality, which doesn’t match that of the models it targets.

Anker Soundcore Space Q45

Good

  • A beautiful finish
  • Effective and adjustable active noise reduction
  • Excellent battery life
  • Comprehensive companion app and controls
  • LDAC, Bluetooth 5.3, multipoint support
  • Affordable price

Bad

  • Lots of plastic parts
  • Not the most durable design
  • No IP rating and gets complicated for sports use
  • Audio quality is not on par with the market leaders

Anker Soundcore Space Q45

Anker Soundcore Space Q45

The best value alternative: Sennheiser Accentum Wireless

You get plenty of bang for your buck with the Sennheiser Accentum Wireless.
The Sennheiser Accentum Wireless also offers good value for money. / © nextpit

Sennheiser Accentum Wireless full review

The Sennheiser Accentum Wireless is obviously not as good as the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 4, which sells for $380, nor is it a flagship killer. It’s simply a very good, coherent mid-range headset.

Active noise reduction is more than adequate. Autonomy is excellent. Audio quality doesn’t break the ceiling, but it’s very good for coffee if you’re listening to mp3s on Spotify, and you’ve got an HD audio codec with aptX HD. You’ve even got multipoint Bluetooth, and the Smart Control companion app is very comprehensive.

Its only real shortcomings are its non-folding form factor, the absence of a carrying case, and the cruelly lacking port detection. The headset’s physical controls aren’t super-intuitive either. And the Sennheiser Accentum lacks an IP rating for water and dust resistance.

Sennheiser Accentum Wireless

Good

  • Excellent battery life
  • Multipoint Bluetooth support
  • aptX HD codec support
  • Effective active noise cancellation
  • Comprehensive application

Bad

  • Unintuitive controls
  • No IP rating
  • No 3.5mm jack
  • Form factor is not foldable
  • No carrying case

Sennheiser Accentum Wireless

Sennheiser Accentum Wireless

The best cheap wireless headphones with active noise reduction: Soundcore Life Q35

Value-for-money seems to be Soundcore's...core value.
Soundcore knows what it’s talking about when it comes to value for money. / © nextpit

The Soundcore Life Q35 full review by nextpit

If you’re looking for the most affordable Bluetooth headset possible, you should take a look at the Soundcore Life Q35 on Amazon. The successor to the Soundcore Life QC 30, which we also tested, is now available for under $100. The Life QC35 offers decent ANC, good sound quality, and, above all, an excellent companion application.

The latter is essential for the precise optimization of the sound profile, which, once the equalizers have been adapted, really puts you in a good mood. Battery life is particularly good (up to 60 hours), and important functions such as multi-pairing and port recognition are also available. Those looking for a good, inexpensive Bluetooth headset will be well served.

Good

  • Super long battery life
  • Practical quick charging
  • Good sound with many equalizers
  • Supports LDAC codec
  • Ingenious multi-pairing capability
  • Name finally rhymes at last! 🤷

Bad

  • ANC lags behind other models
  • Unpleasant leather smell

Anker Soundcore Life Q35

Anker Soundcore Life Q35


What do you think of this selection of the best wireless headphones with active noise reduction? Is ANC an important purchasing criterion for you, as it is for me? Which brand or model do you think deserves a place in this selection? Do you think we should test and compare more audiophile models?

To find out more, take a look at our selection of the best wireless headphones to choose in 2024. And check out our complete guide to audio codecs.



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