Best wireless over-ear headphones 2022

#1 Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones

If you have the money and want a top-tier pair of headphones for modern life, the Sony WH-1000XM4 is the way to go. The combination of high-quality Bluetooth codecs, great sound, improved noise cancelling, good battery life, and smart features like auto pause and Bluetooth multipoint makes these the best all-around option for most people.

The Sony WH-1000XM4 builds upon its predecessor, the Sony WH-1000XM3. The WH-1000XM4 continues to give Bose competition and features multipoint connectivity, speak-to-chat functionality, and a host of other advanced software features. This time around, Sony forges ahead of the pack, and with the advent of the Sony WH-1000XM5, you can get the XM4 headphones for a steep discount. Does this set of Sony headphones have the heart to continue fighting against its competition or do others overtake it? We spent two weeks with the Sony WH-1000XM4 active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones to find out.

Editor’s note: this review was updated on July 11, 2022, to address how the Sony WH-1000XM4 compares to the Sony WF-1000XM4 noise cancelling earbuds. We also added a microphone frequency response chart to the review and added information in the Noise cancelling section comparing the WH-1000XM4 to the WH-1000XM5, Bose QuietComfort 45, and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

#2 Beats Studio3 Wireless Noise Cancelling

The Beats Studio 3 Wireless are Beats’, and therefore Apple’s, premier full-size wireless headphones, enduring as the brand’s flagship over-ear headphones since their release in 2017. 

These over-ear headphones provide good comfort, great wireless connectivity, and excellent battery life; for excellent noise cancelation and sound quality you might want to look elsewhere, though. 

However, that age does mean they’re no longer competitive when priced at anything close to their $349 / £299 launch price. Better noise-cancelling headphones (like the Sony WH-1000XM3, for example) are available for much less during regular deals, and so we only recommend picking up the Beats Studio 3 Wireless today when they’re on a deal bringing them down to half their original price, or less. But if you can find them for that price, they’re still a tempting buy today overall. 

#3 Anker Soundcore Q30

Anker Soundcore is Anker’s audio brand. As such, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 headphones are a great value for money. Because Anker’s expertise is at the helm here, it isn’t surprising to see truly impressive battery life. Anker Soundcore promises up to 40 hours of battery life with active noise cancellation activated, and an incredible 60 hours of continuous playback if ANC has been disabled. These numbers aren’t even present on premium Bluetooth headphones like Sony’s WH line and Bose’s QC line, so to see this amount of battery life on $70 is truly amazing.

Although the sound quality and noise cancellation are excellent, it is not exceptional. The spec sheet puts the frequency response well beyond the official hearing range of the human ear, so you’ll have plenty of frequency coverage. The sound quality is a bit too bassy out of the box. However, you can adjust the EQ settings in the Anker Soundcore App to get a more balanced and detailed sound. You can adjust noise cancellation to suit your surroundings. There are settings that are suitable for travel, office work and many other situations. There’s a transparency mode, too, to make sure you’re aware in public environments.

This package also feels very premium. The design isn’t as subtle as some more premium offerings but definitely has enough attention to detail to look good. Although the headphones are comfortable and provide comfort, heavy users may feel fatigued by the headphones’ heavy weight. The Q30s are a great value for money, thanks to their excellent fit and finish, including the hard shell travel case.

#4 Microsoft Surface Headphones

Microsoft’s Surface line is geared towards designers. The sleek, gray design of the new Surface headphones is as minimalistic and modern as it gets. These noise-canceling headphones are made from lightweight plastic with a memory-foam pad. They are lightweight at just over half a pound, making them suitable for long listening sessions.

Microsoft has also included some unique design features. The Surface Dial, a puck-shaped accessory which was used as an unconventional rotating tool alongside the Surface Studio, may be familiar to you. This unique accessory seems to have informed the design of the headphones—you can actually turn the outer part of the ear cup like a dial to adjust the level of noise canceling. This is the most distinctive feature of the Surface headphones, and it makes them extremely versatile. You can use this feature to block out all the noises and listen to your music while you work in noisy offices. Ambient sound can be used to enhance your situational awareness when you are walking down the street. The 40mm Free Edge driver puts out decent sound quality (though most reviews point to it being “passable” rather than exceptional), delivering sound pressure levels up to 115 dB and covering a frequency spectrum of 20–20,000 Hz. They may not appeal to audiophiles, but they are perfect for casual listening.

The Microsoft Surface headphones connect via Bluetooth or aux cable. They come with a sturdy carrying case and work seamlessly with Siri, Google Assistant, and of course Microsoft’s Cortana. Jason’s review praised the unique dial controls as well as the customizable noise cancelling features.

#5 B&O PLAY by Bang & Olufsen

When it comes down to it, music lovers’ main concern is really sound quality and these Bang & Olufsen headphones don’t disappoint. They house 40mm electro-dynamic drivers that produce a deeply rich and balanced sound with high clarity and crisp mids, and we’re happy to report that the sound quality holds up even when used wirelessly over Bluetooth. The H8i also features advanced, hybrid active noise cancelling technology. This uses two microphones, one inside the earcup and one outside the headset, to detect and remove distracting noise pollution. The battery life promises a remarkable 45 hours of playtime (or up 30 if Bluetooth and ANC are activated continuously).

Aside from sound quality, anyone who knows Bang & Olufsen knows the company is renowned for its design details. The Beoplay H4 is sleek yet strong and made of metal with rich lambskin on the headband. It also has memory foam earpads. Andy, our reviewer, praised the H8i’s high-quality sound quality and luxurious experience that comes with wearing such a thoughtfully made headset.

#6 Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Bose 700 is a stylish, modern addition to the wireless noise cancelling headphone market. Although they are costly, they are well worth the investment. Expect a crisp, clear, and energetic sound that delivers deep, powerful bass without overwhelming the ears with piercing high frequencies. Bose has confirmed that an equalizer control will soon be available via the app.

It would be remiss not to mention the 700’s main feature: It contains six microphones for noise cancellation, which is fully adjustable and can block out sounds completely or let in sounds around you so clearly that you might forget you’re wearing headphones at all. It can be used with any voice assistant, and boasts excellent call quality. You can control the headphones via the physical buttons as well a touch sensitive panel on the right earcup. It controls volume, track, volume and voice assistants as well as phone calls. The battery life is the only problem. Although it offers 20 hours of power, it is not as powerful as some of its competitors. Andy, our tester, called the Bose 700s ‘nearly perfect’ with flawless audio and excellent noise-canceling. It also fits perfectly.

#7 Sony WH-XB900N

Headphones that claim bass response as their main feature tend to sacrifice clarity and evenness across the frequency spectrum. Sony has taken a different approach with the WH-XB900Ns. They have integrated bass functionality into the headphones’ construction. Designed into the ear cups is a “bass duct” which, according to Sony’s marketing materials, is much like a bass port in a larger speaker. This means you’ll get some bass boost without the need to blow out the bottom end of the spectrum on the digital side.

Add this together with a pretty tight seal around your ears, 1.57-inch drivers, and solid noise-canceling, and you’ll have a full, rich, immersive experience. With coverage across the full spectrum of 3Hz to 20kHz, you won’t be left wanting on that front with these headphones. The battery life is impressive as well, with 30 hours of listening on one charge. You also have the option to fast-charge for a quick top-off. There’s Bluetooth 5.0 for the most modern connectivity, NFC for tap-and-go pairing with compatible devices, touch controls, and smart assistant functionality. It all sits in a sleekly designed package that, for our money, looks pretty close to Sony’s flagship WH-1000X line.

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