Active noise cancellation uses outward-facing microphones to pick up and analyze noise, which then gets canceled out by circuitry that generates an inverse wave in the headphones. It was previously an expensive, cumbersome technology that couldn't be found on wireless headphones, but that changed a few years ago with advances in battery life and circuit miniaturization. You'll pay a premium for headphones with active noise cancellation, but it's a handy feature if you just want to tune out everything around you besides your music. For more, check out the best noise-cancelling headphones.
If the Jabra Elite 75t pair is unavailable or you’re devoted to Apple and you want the easy pairing experience you get with Apple’s new H1 chip, we recommend the Beats Powerbeats Pro. Just like Apple’s own AirPods, the Powerbeats Pro earbuds pair quickly and easily with Apple devices. They also offer “Hey Siri” voice activation and the ability to wear either earpiece individually for situational awareness, but no transparency mode as on the Jabra pair. Unlike the AirPods, the Powerbeats Pro earbuds offer water resistance, a secure fit, and volume and track controls. They sound great, with a slightly boosted bass, and they have a longer, nine-hour music-listening battery life between charges (six hours for calls). When you put them into the charging case for just five minutes, it adds 90 minutes of use (and the case will charge the earbuds fully around one and a half times more before it needs to be recharged), but the case is not as small as the case you get with the Jabra Elite 75t or the AirPods. And the Powerbeats Pro set is a lot more expensive than the Jabra Elite 75t.
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Plantronics BackBeat Go 410: This affordable pair reduces a decent amount of noise, sounds pretty good, and fits comfortably. The flexible collar that connects the two earbuds is lightweight and comfortable, and it folds up easily into an included pocket-sized bag. The rated eight-hour battery life with noise cancelling activated (10 with ANC off) isn’t as long as we’d like, but it will get you through a long flight or a full workday. Unlike the vast majority of Bluetooth earbuds, the BackBeat Go 410 also supports a wired connection to your device (the charging cable doubles as a wired ⅛-inch jack) so you can keep using these earbuds when the battery runs out. However, the active noise cancellation won’t work when you’re using them in wired mode.
Master & Dynamic fit a 10mm beryllium driver inside each of the earbuds to deliver audio that could rival 50mm over-ears. Active noise cancelation keeps the unwanted noise out, but there’s an ambient listening mode if you need it. And on the call side, voices are clear thanks to two microphone arrays that help eliminate background noise. By far the biggest reason for owning them, however, is the ten-hour battery life, which is well beyond the average mark. The stainless steel carrying case only adds an extra 12 hours, but who cares when you have that much in the tank?
Wireless no longer means poor sound, either. These days, Bluetooth audio sounds much better than it ever has. Even though the stereo Bluetooth data signal is compressed, various headphone and earphone vendors have discovered ways of enhancing the signal to compensate for deficiencies in fidelity. (That said, audiophiles will still hear a difference and should probably stick with wired headphones.) But for casual listening, many of the most recent wireless models we've tested sound just fine—even great. Check out our buying advice below before picking the perfect pair.
You can charge your AirPods Pro in their wireless charging case with a Qi-certified charger. While the case is charging wirelessly, you can tap the status light to see the charge status. A green light means that the case—and AirPods, if they're inside—is charged more than 80 percent. You can also plug the case in to an Apple Lightning to USB cable—either USB-C or USB A.
Wireless headphones are ideal for hardworking employees who need to handle client calls while organizing files and preparing documents. Bluetooth headphones also work well for employees in the construction field and workers who spend the day in a warehouse. Hands-free headphones help make the workplace safer because there are no stray cords to catch on supplies or cause employees to trip and fall. We have wireless headphones for your office or factory available from many reputable companies, including Kinivo, Sennheiser, Sony, and Motorola.
Bose is promising five hours of listening time on a single charge, which is just above the 4.5-hour threshold we feel is the minimum for a pleasant experience. You’ll get another 10 hours from the case, which isn’t great against today’s competition, but you can squeeze another 45 minutes of usage out of a 15-minute charge, and at least it only takes two hours for a full top-up. The Bose Soundsport Free have other neat features to justify its high-end cost, like NFC pairing with your iPhone or Android smartphone, IPX4 water resistance, interchangeable ear tips, and a tracking feature for finding lost buds.