The Best Wireless Headphones for Any Budget | BuzzFeed Reviews
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Mpow 059 Headphones Skullcandy Venue Headphones Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones

The Best Wireless Headphones

We hope you love the products we recommend! We’ve done enough research and testing to be confident that our picks are the best thing to buy in their given price points. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change. For more info on how we choose products and make money, go here

Mpow 059 Headphones

  • Solid sound
  • Foldable and travel-friendly
  • Just-snug-enough fit
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Skullcandy Venue Headphones

  • Surprisingly clear and balanced sound
  • Built-in Tile integration
  • Impressive ANC (and other features) for price
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Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones

  • Intuitive, user-friendly design
  • Great for workouts
  • Longest battery life (40 hours!)
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Some reviews for wireless headphones focus more on the technical specs and sound than the comfort or connectability. But we think you should be able to have it all. So with the help of audio professionals from BuzzFeed’s podcast team, we tested some of the top-selling industry-standard headphones on the market, paying mind to clarity, comfort, and — not least of all — Bluetooth reliability, to determine the best wireless headphones across three price points.

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Mpow 059 Headphones

Starting from $40

The Details

20+ Hours Battery Life

Available in seven Colors

33-Foot Bluetooth range

Passive Noise isolation

Plastic Shell

Stainless-Steel Sliders

Memory-Protein Ear Pads

Bluetooth; cable for wired listening

What / Who It's Best For

  • People on a budget
  • People whose No. 1 priority is comfort
  • Casual music listeners

Why We Love It

We at BuzzFeed pay attention when we hear about an impressive Amazon rating — in fact, it’s the basis of one of our most popular series — so when the Mpow 059 came onto our radar, we couldn’t just tune it out. Not only does this pair of headphones have almost 15,000 reviews, but it has an average 4.5-star rating and has been vetted by Fakespot, a site that detects deception across all Amazon reviews. (No foul play here, folks.)

Mpow 059 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones Side Panel

The Mpow 059s aren’t exactly critical darlings of the gadget world, but they’re well-loved by customers — and for a pretty good reason! We’re happy to report that these headphones match (and, in some cases, outperform) many of their more expensive rivals in the budget category, like the Sony MDR-ZX220s ($78) and the Jabra Move ($69.33). While both of those pairs provide eight hours of battery life (well below industry standard), the Mpows charge ahead with 20-plus hours (up from 13-15 with a recent upgrade in 2017). Their more comparable budget headphone, the well-reviewed Creative Sound Blaster Jam Ultra-Light ($37.99), by comparison, only has 12 hours charge.

We were also pleasantly surprised by how comfortable these cups were. We were even more surprised that they remained comfortable after extended use — especially after reading a “gentle reminder” from Mpow on the Amazon listing, explaining that buyers should plan to remove their headphones every one to two hours to allow their ears to “relax.”

Mpow 059 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones On Ears

Needless to say, that was not our experience. “Good luck prying these from anything but my cold dead body,” said one tester when the process was done. (Editor’s note: She was not actually dead.) We believe the Mpow 059’s comfortable fit is owed in no small part to their soft, memory-protein ear cups with an easy, just-snug-enough design. But this fit presents its own set of challenges: Runners and gym-goers, for example, will find that the slippage and lack of breathability on these ear cups make them a far-from-ideal-performance headphone.

The sound quality on these headphones is by no means perfect either, and that’s to be expected when shopping for a pair at this price point. But if you’re looking for an upgrade from your wired buds, perhaps to use on your work commute or next cross-country flight, these will certainly feel like one. We should also underscore that these are passive (rather than active) noise cancellers, which means it is the physical design of the ear cups that’s blocking out ambient noises — not a built-in technology like you might find on, say, the industry-leading Bose QuietComforts (our $$$ pick). All things considered, the Mpow 059s deliver a pretty balanced, if not slightly bass-heavy, sound for the price.

Mpow 059 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones Folded

If you can get past their somewhat hefty appearance (think: Beats Solo3 but more in-your-face), there is a consolation prize in that the Mpow 059s fold up into a travel-friendly size that can be easily tucked inside their accompanying bag. And, if you’d rather not bring unnecessary attention to your headphones with a flashy red or green, there are seven colorways to choose from (including three black/gray variations).

The bottom line: It’s hard to find a jack-of-all-trades in the budget headphone category. You will probably end up sacrificing comfort, sound, or appearance. The Mpow 059s pass most of — or all of — these categories, depending on your personal affinity for larger-than-average, glossy earwear. And we don’t think you’ll find anything better for less.

User Reviews

“These Mpow Bluetooth headphones deliver in what they said this device would. It connects seamlessly to your phone and can play streamed audio, but also can accept a wired connection (no battery charge needed in wired mode!). Also, the headphone design is foldable (great for travel and storage in general). It's a solidly built and comfortable-to-wear device. Mpow offers a 45-day money-back guarantee and a 18-month worry-free guarantee as well (I've not yet needed to take advantage on the other Mpow items I've bought in the past, all are working great). I would happily recommend these headphones to friends and family, especially for the value and flexibility to use in wireless or wired mode.”
— J. Nastri From Amazon
“I waited over a month to write this review because I thought, no way could these headphones actually be this good for the price. But I use them all day every day and I have never been more impressed with headphones under $50. I have sensitive ears with headphones and am super picky, but these are so comfortable I can sleep in them. Noise reduction is great when something is playing. Fast charge, easy-to-pair Bluetooth or wire jack, play/pause and fwd/rwd buttons are handy. Overall definitely worth the buy. Highly recommend.”
— Whitney O’Neil From Amazon
“They sound really good. Many Bluetooth headphones at this price point have a whine or hum or static when no music is playing. These do not — they are absolutely silent. The bass is deep and good. They are pretty clear-sounding, not muddy. Very, very good sound. You can pick out all of the crummy audio on YouTube, as compared to the cleaner audio from a service like Spotify or iTunes or Amazon Music, which means that these can reproduce sound well enough for you to tell the difference. I'd say that the headphones have a pretty neutral sound, with plenty of bass, which does not overwhelm and is not too boomy, considering the price range. You are never going to get 'best ever’ tight and accurate bass from Bluetooth headphones in this price range, but the bass does not offend. And as I said, I am rather picky, but I can apply a sliding scale based on price. There are plenty of over-bassed, boomy headphones, and plenty of people who think that sounds good. Ugh.”
— Amazon Customer From Amazon

Mpow

Gets-the-job-done favorite

Where to buy

$40 at Amazon
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Skullcandy Venue Headphones

Starting from $180

The Details

24-hour battery life

Active noise cancellation

30-meter Bluetooth range

Integrated Tile tracking

GOOGLE ASSISTANT AND SIRI DIGITAL VOICE ASSISTANT INTEGRATION

Rapid charge

What / Who It's Best For

  • People looking for a premium build at a fraction of the cost
  • Hi-fi enthusiasts who prefer to listen in peace
  • Scatterbrains who regularly misplace things

Why We Love It

Wait, Skullcandy? As in the brand beloved by middle-school emo kids? Yep! Let’s just say Skullcandy took a couple years to find itself (probably not unlike you!), and the Venues represent the closest thing to the brand growing up.

First, allow us to put the price into perspective. Even at nearly half the asking price of the Beats Solo 3s (our $$$ pick), the Venues outperform Dre in the noise-cancellation arena. The Solo 3s offer passive noise isolation while the Venues offer full-blown active noise-cancelling technology. Whereas Beats block out sound only by the materials they’re made from, the Venues, like all active noise-cancelling headphones, monitor unwanted noise and add inverse frequencies to “cancel” them. Our testers agreed the Venues’ ANC was solid for blocking out ambient sound, with the minor gripe that you can hear a low hiss when switching to ANC mode. Easy fix: Just play something and you’ll hardly notice it.

Skullcandy Venue headphones logo

Afraid you’ll be seen in public with that aggressive skull logo? No worries, passersby will have to squint pretty hard. Luckily, Skullcandy went subtle — dare we say tasteful? — with a small decal along the Venues’ matte black headband. Hold us, our baby has finally flown the coop.

Like the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2s, which slightly edged out Skullcandy for our favorite $$ noise-cancelling headphones, the Venues allow for easy toggling. By hitting the “ANC” button while listening to music, you’ll allow noises from the outside world back in without having to entirely remove your headphones each time you want to engage in conversation with someone.

Skullcandy Venue headphones full view

The strength of the sound may come as a surprise to anyone whose primary association with the brand are those tinny-sounding buds from yesteryear. With a range of genres, the Venues deliver crisp and balanced sound. Coupled with its ease of Bluetooth-pairing (we had very little issue connecting or maintaining a connection), the Venues are a perfect match for folks of all ages looking to dip their toes into wireless listening.

Comfort always feels like the most contentious topic when evaluating wireless headphones, and the Venues were no exception. While there are a range of factors that influence comfort — like whether you wear earrings or glasses, or whether your ears are small, average, or large — the general consensus here is that the Venues fit pretty snuggly. This fit won’t be for everyone, but others will swear by them for long-distance flights, which the Venues were made for, thanks to their 24-hour battery life and rapid charge (just 10 minutes of charging will give you five hours of battery life). Now if only they collapsed down for easier transport.

Skullcandy Wireless headphones buttons

The winner of the best feature you didn’t know you needed? Built-in Tile integration. Using the accompanying mobile app, Venue owners can locate the exact whereabouts of their misplaced headphones — a game-changer for scatterbrains who have been down this (Tile-less) road one two many times before.

While it’s true the Venues will not offer Bose-level (that is to say, best-in-class) ANC, their Bose-influenced build, clear and balanced sound, and Tile integration might be just enough for where you are in your music-listening journey. And it sure doesn’t hurt any that they’re a fraction of the price.

User Reviews

“I played several different styles of music through these, from heavy metal to classical, and in each case the sound quality was fantastic. It felt like I was able to hear every detail and never felt that the sound was muddy or overcharged. For me, A good test of a pair of headphones isn’t how loud you can make them, but how clear the music is at lower volumes. On that score, these performed extremely well! I was very surprised at how light and comfortable these are. I wore them for several hours straight to see if they would bother my ears and they never really felt uncomfortable. These do clamp down on your ears pretty hard, so I had to move them around at first to find the ‘sweet spot’ over my ears. I have fairly small ears and still had to do some adjusting to get them to feel right as the ear opening on these are a bit small. If you have larger ears, these might not fit as well.”
— GH06903 From Best Buy
“I've worked in audio production for about a decade now, and while I never use headphones for audio work, I do have an experienced ear. These headphones sound pretty good with all genres of music. Compared to Bose, they are very close in clarity — but the Venue has more bass. And by more bass, I really just mean that they render the bass exactly the way it was mixed and should sound. They are lightweight and very comfortable. The build quality is pretty solid.”
— Terassic From Amazon
“Great sound quality and lightweight but solid construction. I love being able to quickly switch between the active noise-cancelling and monitor modes so I don’t have to take my headphones off to talk to people or hear what’s going on around me.”
— BigD From Amazon
I waited several weeks to leave a review to make sure I was happy with headphones, here goes. I received headphones and fully charged before use, after 4 weeks of use (1 hour * 4 times a week) battery level is at 3 lights or 75%. Noise reduction is very good very little ambient noise is heard. Headphones are very comfortable and fit well. It took a while to get used to controls as I switched from Bose over ear to these.
— Dan From Amazon

Skullcandy

The grown-up emo kid

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Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones

Starting from $300

The Details

40-Hour Battery Life

120-Foot Bluetooth Range

Passive Noise isolation

Bluetooth; Cable for wired listening

“Fast Fuel” Charging

Available in 12 colors

What / Who It's Best For

  • Long-distance flyers and long-haul commuters
  • Gym-goers looking to get pumped
  • Anyone who acts like they forgot about Dre

Why We Love It

You might be thinking: “Hmm, I knew Beats were solid cans, but are they really the best premium headphone on the market?” Let’s address that right out of the gate: If we’re talking active noise cancellation, then no — the Beats Solo3s are merely passive-noise isolators. (If that is your main priority, might we redirect you to our review on the best noise-cancelling headphones?) But do we believe they are all-around the best fit for the most amount of casual everyday listeners? Without a doubt.

That said, the Beats Solo3s have been known to fluctuate wildly in price; if you have reservations about throwing down an amount of money that is roughly in line with more sound-forward, audiophile favorites like the Bowers & Wilkins P5, do note that prices dropped as low as $197 through retailers like Amazon and Walmart in 2018. At under $200, we had no hesitation in calling these the best middle-tier headphones available, no questions asked.

Beats Solo3 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones on head

Even when marked at its notably higher retail price, we’re still putting our full weight behind them. Here’s why: The Solo3s are intuitive! Their unfussy design caters squarely to casual listeners, not those with a wealth of Bluetooth experience. There is only one button to press on the entire headphone, which powers on (or off) your Bluetooth when pressed for three seconds, so the likelihood of messing this up is slim. That same button prompts a series of LED lights to illuminate, indicating exactly how much battery life is left.

And, hooboy, about that battery life. The Solo3s have made vast improvements in this space — tacking 28 additional hours onto the 12-hour bandwidth of the Solo2s for a total of 40 hours. This means that it’s entirely possible for a casual listener — who uses their headphones for no more than five to six hours a day — to go a full week without a single recharge. If you do happen to burn through those 40 hours in less than a week and, inconveniently, don’t catch that low battery until you’re zipping out the door for work, there’s Apple’s patented “Fast Fuel” to save your butt. For the uninitiated, Fast Fuel works by giving you (the pressed-for-time individual in this scenario) three hours of playback from just a quick five-minute charge. This is the cherry on top of the sundae, a cherry that you might never even need to touch, because, to reiterate, 40 hours is a lot of hours.

Beats Solo3 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with case

Let it also be known that, for a pair of on-ear headphones, the Solo3s are exceptionally comfortable — granted, a few of our testers found them to be a little too snug and reported that their initial comfort gave way to mild discomfort after extended use (this was especially true of testers who wore them with glasses). That said, we believe that their snugness is somewhat of a blessing in disguise: For runners and gym-goers, the Solo3s are that rare unicorn of an over-ear headphone that can double as a performance pair. They won’t slip during a workout because of this fit, and they can withstand a pretty heavy sweat, despite not technically being “waterproof.” That’s money saved on an additional pair of athletic headphones.

Beats Solo3 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones folded

Bottom line: The Solo3s are built with the largest number of people in mind, and they seamlessly transition from commuter to athletic to workplace headphone. Their compact and sleek design — paired with a more-than-reasonable reduced price tag — makes these the middle-tier headphone to beat.

User Reviews

“I love these things. First, I was looking for something with the W1 chip to easily sync/switch between my iPhone, Apple Watch, iPod, iPad, etc. It's flawless. I also have them synced to my Windows 10 laptop. If that's on, it takes priority over the other connections, so I just flip the Bluetooth on the laptop on or off (it's a toggle function button on mine) and it works great for that as well. This alone is awesome for my use. The battery life is just ridiculous. Forty hours? I've played about 20 hours of music since last charge and am just above 50-percent battery. That is crazy. And, finally, the wireless range IS INSANE. I can leave my phone in the bedroom, be across the house (75ft+) through three interior walls and an exterior wall, and these don't skip a beat.”
— Big Dutch From Amazon
“After several weeks of researching, comparing, and reading reviews, we bought the Beats Solo3s. I originally wanted the Bose QuietComfort 35s or the Beats Studios. I tried them on, tested them out in-store, and was having a hard time deciding. I saw a pair of th Solo3s and tried them on (not sure how I’d feel about the on-ear versus the over-ear style). I was amazed that the Solo3 sounded just as great as the Bose (in my opinion). While not offering noise-canceling, I could still hear most things around me with the Bose and Beats Studios. I felt the sound quality was just as good and I could hear just as much noise with the Solo3’s as the other two with noise-canceling. So we bought two and have had them for two weeks now and traveled with them. We are extremely happy with them and would buy them again!”
— T R From Amazon
“Amazing headphones. I use them to do transcription and I am able to hear every single word without the strain or difficulties I had with previous headphones. The color is gorgeous and I love that it came with a case, cords, and even a clip to put on the bag for when I'm traveling. The soft inner cushions for the ears are superb and very comfortable. I was worried that the white would be difficult to keep clean or would not look good but once I received them I saw that this would not be an issue. Controls on the headset are very easy to use, quick to connect to computer, laptop, or cellphone, and the sound quality is superb. I am very pleased with these amazing headphones and they truly are worth the splurge.”
— Vicereine From Amazon
“Beats Solo3 is not the best audio out there, but the crazy thing is that I find myself wearing them more often than another $500 pair of headphones that I have just because they are so convenient and easy. They fold up small and are easy to carry in a backpack, holding up well to pretty tough treatment. The battery lasts forever, and if it does die, you can get a whole study session of juice for like five minutes of charging. Connecting to my MacBook, iPhone, or iPad is so easy using the M1 chip, and the syncing of settings through iCloud that it makes connecting other Bluetooth devices seem super cumbersome: Just turn the Solo3 and choose it from your list of devices (no need to disconnect from one device before connecting to the next). And finally, they look good and are very comfortable.”
— Jacob and Kiki Hantla From Amazon
“I’m very active and cannot wear those tiny earbuds (my ears are small and they just don’t fit right). These headphones paired instantly with my iPhone 10. Super stylish! I wear them running, weightlifting, and even for travel.”
— Deena Bolen From Amazon

Beats by Dre

Compact, versatile, and long-lasting

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