Best over-ear Bluetooth headphones for 2016 best wireless headphones header
2016 is all about Bluetooth headphones. Wireless cans outsold their wired counterparts for the first time in June, snapping up 54 per cent of the market share. The biggest sign of the changing times was when Apple dropped the 3.5mm headphone jack from the iPhone 7. Sure, you can still use Lightning-jack equipped headphones with the phone, but you have a smaller pool to pick from.
Even the best wireless headphones produce some drop in sound quality, but the format has a lot going for it. I’ve started using wireless cans as my daily wear and I have no intention of going back. It’s so much better not having to mess around with cables or dealing with the headphone jack joggling around as you move. So without further ado, we present to you the best over-ear Bluetooth headphones for 2016.
Best all-around choice and top noise-isolating choice: Bose QuietComfort 35
Bose headphones have been known for their industry-leading noise cancellation for some time now. The company has firmly kept hold of the crown with the relatively recent release of the Bose QuietComfort 35. The model features superb comfort, solid build quality and excellent sound for a Bluetooth headphone. Bose also hit the nail on the head with the minimalist, fold-up design. The QuietComfort 35 weighs in at 309 g (10.9 lb), but the design prevents this from being an issue. Additionally, the headphones have the advantage of being able to operate with the included 1.2 m cable.
Each charge runs for 20 hours so that should keep you going all day without any issues. Now for the downsides: The headphones aren’t cheap and once the battery goes, it’s not replaceable. Nonetheless, they remain the best over-ear Bluetooth headphones on the market.
Top choice if money is no object: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless
Bose are known for overpriced cans but you better pack an even heavier wallet if you want to pick up Sennheiser’s flagship Bluetooth over-ear headphones. The Momentum range also features earphones and an on-ear design. The over-ear Momentum offers both wireless and wired performance. It sounds great, particularly when connected with the included 1.4 m cable.
The retro design is just gorgeous and is a nice counterpoint to the thoroughly modern look of most of Sennheiser’s competitors. The Momentum Wireless headphones are comfortable, although some users might find the earcups a little small. They are built tough and feature noise cancellation. It’s not extreme cancellation, which is a good thing as you can’t turn this feature off. The balanced reproduction offered by the Momentum definitely makes them one of the best wireless headphones in terms of audio quality. And for the price, you wouldn’t expect anything less. At 259 g, they are also one of the lighter premium Bluetooth models. Off a three hour charge they offer 22 hours of operation.
Top choice for durability: V-Moda Crossfade Wireless
The V-Moda Crossfade Wireless are absolutely built like a tank. Even the haters generally won’t fault the construction for this model. If there’s an issue with them, it’s that some find the grip of the headphones too tight. Additionally, the headphones weigh in at 292g, which might be too heavy for some. The Crossfade Wireless offer a unique look and have shields on the earpieces which can be swapped out and customised. They have a “military” look to them, which depending on your personal taste could be a good or a bad thing.
Like several of the best wireless headphone models, these can be used with the included cable. The wired operation quality rivals the sound offered by the model’s wired over-ear counterpart, the Crossfade M-100. However, unlike the wired model, the Crossfade Wireless doesn’t fold up – it only folds flat. The headphones provide a boosted bass and treble sound, but not to the point of being ridiculous. The Crossfade offers 12 hours of battery life, which isn’t that impressive for the asking price. A 30 minute charge will get you 3 hours of operation though.
Sony apparently like exceedingly long model names. You don’t want get this headphone confused with the MDR-ZX770BN, which is the noise-cancelling version. It would be an expensive mistake as the latter is more than double the price at $169.99. The Sony MDR-ZX770BT is comfortable, lightweight and features great sound quality for the price.
The headphones offer crisp mids and highs as well as solid bass. Don’t expect heavily boosted bass from it however. The earcups can heat up a little so it might be worth trying before you buy if sweating is a concern for you. You can’t operate the headphones while charging, which is one of the biggest downsides. The Sony MDR-ZX770BT will give you 17 hours of operation off a 2.5 hour charge.
Top choice for custom audio experience: Parrot Zik 3
The Parrot Zik 3 is a feature-packed model with a huge degree of customisation available. The free Parrot Zik app includes a five-band equaliser and allows you to customise specific responses for different songs. The Parrot Zik 3 processor can recreate the acoustics of different listening environments. Even the noise cancellation can be altered to your personal taste. During standard operation, the cancellation automatically adapts to your environment.
The Parrot Zik 3 is one of the best wireless headphones on the market in terms of sound quality. For even better results, you can use the wired USB listening mode. From two hours of charge you get to enjoy 18 hours of operation. You can charge the headphones wirelessly by placing them on the Qi charger, although you’ll have to purchase that separately. The included cable covers charging for everyone else. The battery is replaceable, which is a nice touch. You pay the price for all this customisation but it’s worth the outlay for tinkerers.
Top choice for solid bass and looks: Beats Studio Wireless
Beats have upped the game in recent years under the ownership of Apple. The Beats Studio Wirelessis expensive for what you get, but it’s still a solid contender in the over-ear Bluetooth headphone market. It provides punchy, focused bass balanced by boosted yet smooth highs. The noise cancellation performance is fair but isn’t top of the class.
The model looks great and comes in a range of colours, from bold to understated. There’s a cord for wired use but unfortunately wired listening is not possible once the battery dies. The Studio Wireless offers 12 hours of wireless battery operation, so getting caught out is a real possibility. If you want more juice and don’t mind spending a little extra, Beats recently launched the $299.95 Beats Solo 3 Wireless. This model clocks in at 40 hours of battery life.
That’s it for SoundReview’s round-up of the best over-ear Bluetooth headphones for 2016. Let us know if we left your favourite set of over-ear wireless cans out. For everyone else, happy shopping!