10 Best Wireless Headphones Buying Guide – Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Wireless Headphone in India
Updated January 2022
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Choosing the best wireless headphones for your budget and usage situation can seem difficult because there are so many options available. Whether you wear a wireless headset while running, gaming, making calls, consuming content, or creating content, this guide to buying a wireless headset explains the terms and specifications you need to know and how to buy the best headphones for every budget.
Wireless Headphone Form Factors
How do you want the headphones to fit on your head? Wireless headphones come in three types: in-ear, in-ear, and over-the-ear. Each has pros and cons of portability, comfort, and performance. Headphones in all design factors provide budget range and sound quality.
In-ear headphones fit into your ear canal. Manufacturers call them true wireless headphones because the left and right headphones have no cables to connect them. The compact and lightweight in-ear headphones are great on the go and for listening to music or podcasts while exercising. They are usually charged via USB in their case. Eargels cover the speaker and provide a snug fit that isolates ambient noise. In-ear headphones can be attached to neckbands for a better fit when not in use, and these can include a microphone and touch controls, allowing users to skip tracks, take calls, and talk to their digital assistant without having to pick up the phone.
fully encapsulate the listener’s ears. Due to their larger size and better sound isolation, over-ear headphones tend to be better suited for use at home rather than on the go, however, many offer fold-up designs that challenge this idea. Over-ear headphones provide maximum loudness and bass levels. The earcups create a large soundstage for the listener by effectively sealing the audio in and keeping outside noise out. This improves the user experience for low volume audio—like watching TV or making a phone call. Open-back designs offer a more natural soundstage for the listener and are typically used for gaming, or when tracking vocals or musical instruments.
Over-the-ear headphones rest on the outer ears, so the level of noise isolation varies widely. These are popular in offices and call centers, where listeners still want to hear some noise from the outside world. On-ear offers a balance between the portability of in-ear models and the sound quality of full-size models. Many models have collapsible designs for easy storage. Those with closed designs offer a solution when users do not want their hearing aids to transmit sounds to neighbors. Internal microphones with denser pad material provide a better seal for noise isolation.
We no longer just listen with headphones. We want our headphones to hear us too. We use wireless headphones to play online games, make calls and give commands to virtual assistants, making the microphone an important part of the design. Standard headphones used for games or phone calls have an arm that extends around the mouth for maximum clarity. High-end headphones typically have four or more built-in microphones to ensure maximum speech clarity and provide inputs that control active noise-canceling functions.
ANC - Active Noise Cancellation (Adaptive)
The noise canceling features are great if you want to block out the world around you and focus on your audio. The quality and characteristics of the noise cancellation mechanisms largely determine the price of a good Bluetooth headset.
Passive noise cancellation is a good expression of what earplugs do. All headphones have passive noise cancellation if they fit comfortably and cover your ears. Wearing tight-fitting eargels with in-ear headphones improves passive noise cancellation, and densely padded headphones enhance passive noise cancellation capabilities for over-ear and over-ear wearers.
Active (adaptive) noise cancellation (ANC) is more technically involved. Using small microphones in the headphones, ANC detects unwanted noise and then reproduces the inverted signal of that noise to the listener. This creates a damping effect that blocks out the noise from unwanted noise. In general, ANC works best against constant, unchanging noise, such as the sound of a train or a crowd of people talking.
Headphone manufacturers build CPUs built into the headphones to provide ANC functions to suit your sound environment in their flagship in-ear and in-ear headphone lines. From hearing aids that detect someone speaking to hearing aids that automatically adjust to airline flights, each brand has its own automated ANC features.
In-ear headphones are usually best for noise cancellation. The Sony WH-1000XM series and the noise-canceling Bose 700 headphones are popular among technology writers; see also Beyerdynamic LAGOON ANC Traveler. ANC technology is also built into in-ear headphones, with popular examples being the Sony WF1000XM3B and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2.
Sound quality and drivers
We’ll take a look at how drivers relate to sound quality without being overwhelmed by science. The driver unit consists of a magnet, voice coils and a diaphragm that vibrates to create sound. Driver size ranges from 8 mm to 15 mm for in-ear headphones; 20 mm-50 mm in supra-hearing and super-sound headphones. Larger drivers tend to produce better bass and more power. This is not to say that small drivers sound bad; Other factors affect sound quality more than driver size.
Most mid-range consumer headphones use dynamic drivers with wider diaphragms (see: JBL Tune 700 BT or Sennheiser HD Series) that provide strong bass for DJs and electronic music lovers.
Planar magnetic drivers
are what you’ll find on high-end headphones used by audiophiles or studio production professionals (See: Audeze LCD-1) or Monoprice Monolith M1060. These drivers employ a more complex build, sandwiching the diaphragm between two magnets to produce a very high level of sound accuracy.
Premium in-ear headphones (See: Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 or OVEVO Q62 ) have balanced armature drivers
, a configuration of several tiny drivers built into the earpiece capable of a wide frequency range with minimal distortion.
Durability is an important consideration for headphones. We are constantly handling them, and if you’re taking them from place to place with you, buying something a little more expensive will typically save you money in the long run. We’d also recommend getting a headphones carrying case if you’re an avid traveler.
More expensive headphones usually have better engineering with replaceable metal parts in common areas where breakage and wear occur, such as ear pads, straps and wiring. Features such as oscillating earbuds make it easy to store headphones safely in your bag. Others have aesthetic features for fashionable looks, such as the attractive invisible hinges typical of Bose wireless headphones and the Sennheiser Momentum leather headband and metal mounts.
Mobile application management and voice assistant access
Most leading brands have mobile apps for entering playlists and preset sounds for listening to different types of media such as podcasts, different types of music or videos. For a hands-free user experience, headphones with mobile operators provide easy access to virtual assistants such as Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri. Manufacturers include specialized built-in chips in the headphones to enhance the effectiveness of voice assistants; The Apple H1 chip built into the Apple AirPods Pro is a good example of this. Headphones with multiple microphones offer additional clarity and accuracy in speech for virtual assistants.
3D Audio or 360 Audio features
Headset manufacturers build immersive audio features into all types of headphones, but over-ear headphones tend to offer the best immersive audio experience. Immersive audio is called many things but it all ties back to the concept of binaural sound recording and playback, which gives the impression that sounds are happening all around you instead of from two speakers. The effect is meant to recreate sound in a more natural way. Dolby Atmos and DTX:X systems are popular in film and VR gaming; Sony Reality Audio is at the forefront of this technology in music production. Several music streaming services have started encoding content in the MPEG-H codec making immersive audio features available anytime, anywhere for music lovers.
True wireless headphones are often sweatproof because they are designed for use during a workout. Many budget-level wireless in-ears have IPX4 ratings which means that headphones can resist sustained low-pressure water jet spray. If you spend time in the water and want totally waterproof headphones, look for an IPX7 rating like you’ll find on Jabra Elite Active 75t.
Bluetooth Codecs and connections
Bluetooth 5.0 is the current version of the wireless communication standard. Devices are backward compatible with each other. Bluetooth 5.0 witnessed a huge range increase; devices can communicate over distances of up to 800 feet, which is four times the range allowed by Bluetooth 4.2. The latest standard is also more efficient, which translates into longer battery life for devices.
Sound files are compressed and coded when traveling between headphones and the audio source. Codecs set the parameters for how this occurs, and there are four to note when discussing wireless headphones.
- SBC is the default codec for all Bluetooth headphones and generally offers the lowest sound quality, although it may vary from device to device.
- AAC is the codec that Apple products use for Bluetooth connectivity, and you’ll find it on some Android phones as well.
- aptX and aptX HD is an efficient low-latency codec used by devices with Qualcomm CPUs—which includes many Android phones and tablets
- LDAC is proprietary to Sony, and offers a range of audio qualities and potentially the highest quality connection of any codec thus far. It comes built into Android 8.0 Oreo, in addition to Sony products.
Bluetooth headphones capable of multipoint connection are useful if you use more than one device throughout the day or even simultaneously. For example, if you have a work phone and a personal phone, you can connect to both with a single paid or headphones. Or when you are gaming on your laptop and your phone rings, your headphones are smart enough to pair automatically when you take the call, and then resume gaming once the call is over. Some professional headphones take this a step further. The Jabra Engage Series has a docking base with a touch screen that unites all your connections and allows you to merge each into one conversation.
If you’re bringing your audio out and about battery life is an important consideration. Most wireless in-ear headphones have a battery life rating between five and eight hours. Bluetooth one-ear or over-ear headphones last around 25 hours or longer.