The Best Over-Ear Bluetooth Headphones | BuzzFeed Reviews
ADVERTISEMENT

The Best Over-Ear Bluetooth 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

$35

  • Solid sound
  • Foldable and travel-friendly
  • Super-soft ear pads
  • Just-snug-enough fit (but not suited for athletics)
Buying Options

Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones

$299

  • Improved and brightened sound
  • Great for workouts
  • Intuitive, user-friendly design
  • Longest battery life (40 hours from just one charge)
Buying Options

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II)

$349

  • Best-in-class noise cancellation
  • Bulky, but immediately comfortable
  • Reliable Bluetooth pairing
  • Perfectly crisp sound for all but the most sensitive ears
Buying Options

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 pair at each price point.

ADVERTISEMENT

Mpow 059 Headphones

Starting from $35

The Details

20+ Hours Battery Life

Available in 7 Colors

33-Foot Bluetooth range

Passive Noise isolation

Plastic Shell

Stainless-Steel Sliders

Memory-Protein Ear Pads

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 customer favorite

ADVERTISEMENT

Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones

Starting from $299

The Details

40-Hour Battery Life

120-Foot Bluetooth Range

Passive Noise isolation

Cable for wired listening

Available in One Color

“Fast Fuel” Charging

What / Who It's Best For

  • Casual music listeners
  • Runners and gym-goers
  • Commuters

Why We Love It

When the Beats Solo3 headphones were first introduced at the tail end of 2016, one of the biggest criticisms was that they cost too damn much. At just under $300, Beats were placed in a class of premium headphones like the Bowers & Wilkins P5 and the wired B&O Play H6 — and simply put, it was hard to justify spending that amount of money for a piece of plastic when those options existed.

Cut to 2018. The Beats Solo3s have shed nearly one-third of their retail price, and “piece of plastic” now feels like an entirely reductive description of these headphones. In fact, we have no hesitation in calling these the best middle-tier headphones available. Nevermind that their headband and ear cups are made of plastic (may we recommend the matte, rather than glossy, for a slightly more sophisticated look?) — their synthetic leather ear pads keep them from looking anything but top-of-the-line.

Beats Solo3 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones on head

Where the Solo3s really excel is in their intuitive and unfussy design that caters squarely to casual listeners, not self-identified “audiophiles” or 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.

If there’s one pair of headphones that comes close to rivaling the Solo3s at this price point, it’s the Plantronics Backbeat PRO 2. Unlike the Solo3s, the Backbeat PRO 2 has solid, active noise cancellation (the Solo3s have only passive noise isolation). Like the Solo3s, they offer a generally seamless Bluetooth-pairing experience. Where they fall short is in their clunky design: They’re not foldable like the Solo3s, which make them somewhat of an undesirable commuter pick, and, though it’s been improved upon since Plantronics’ first model, they remain heftier than humanly needed.

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

ADVERTISEMENT

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II)

Starting from $349

The Details

20-Hour Battery life

30-Foot Bluetooth range

Active Noise cancellation

Volume-Optimized EQ

Corrosion-Resistant Stainless Steel

Cable for wired listening

Google Assistant and Siri digital voice assistant integration

Synthetic Leather Ear Cushions

What / Who It's Best For

  • Frequent fliers
  • Audiophiles
  • Anyone looking for best-in-class noise cancellation

Why We Love It

If you’re planning to drop more than $300 on a pair of headphones, you’re going to want a pair that has it all — not only fit, style, and sound quality, but also superior noise-cancellation abilities. (Because let’s face it: nothing ruins a perfectly good listening experience like the outside world). Bose’s QuietComfort 35 (Series II) headphones excelled in all these categories (and even a few others we threw in for good measure), making them our $$$ pick.

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

We spoke with Alex Laughlin, an audio producer with BuzzFeed’s podcast team. In describing her commute with the Bose QuietComfort headphones, she said, “They’re so effective that I couldn’t hear anything around me. I only knew there was a train coming when I felt the vibrations in my body.” (Editor’s note: Commute in these responsibly!).

For those who prioritize comfort, rest assured that “comfort” is in this model’s name for a very good reason. The QuietComforts offer the most immediate sensation of comfort of any luxury headphone, but what makes them truly outstanding is that they manage to remain comfortable (with varying degrees of good to excellent) after extended use. Style-conscious headphone shoppers might find that the QuietComforts are unable to match the design innovation that models like M&D deliver on, with their chic leather and metal details that complement — rather than overtake — your face. But that’s a comparably small price to pay for best-in-class noise cancellation and, oh yes, reliable Bluetooth pairing.

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

But did we mention this is a wireless headphone review? Not surprisingly, the biggest issue we bumped up against during testing other models was maintaining a strong wireless bluetooth connection. Bose’s QuietComforts were one of the few models that were able to reliably carry out their one real job — a feat you will only truly appreciate once you’ve screamed at your device after its 15th consecutive failed pairing attempt and jiggled the Bluetooth switch in every imaginable way.

It should also be noted: The only remarkable upgrade from the Series I (that you’re paying roughly $20 extra for) is an “action” button that connects the headphones to Google Assistant via Android or iOS. This is a relatively unexplored territory in the headphone world, and allows you to ask questions, control volume levels, or have your messages read back to you. Not your spiritual headphone journey? Fine! The Series I, while technically discontinued, is still available for purchase on Amazon and subject to occasional price drops beyond the $20 at the time of publishing.

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Bluetooth Headphones in Travel Case

Now, the Series II headphones are not without some shortcomings. For example, their idle noise leakage (the sound that escapes the headphones when they’re at rest). The Bowers & Wilkins PX have a leg up here, as they come with proximity sensors that stop music from playing when removed from your ears. Also, there’s the QuietComfort’s absurdly short USB charging cable (hardly a deal breaker, but baffling nonetheless), and what many of our testers described in so many words as “excessive bulk.”

And here’s where things get tricky: Sure, the QuietComforts are crisp and will sound great to most people, but they are not actually the best-sounding cans available right now at this price point. That title, in our very humble opinion, is bestowed upon the PX. We found these headphones to be top-of-the-line for music listening — particularly for upbeat, contemporary music where their immersive and vibrant sound could really shine.

So why aren’t we just going with the PX as our pick? Well, it is our firm belief in this house that no one should have to suffer for an optimal listening experience. And to be honest, the PX hurt, even after a few minutes of listening. Plus, they are hellishly difficult to pair with Bluetooth. In other words: Bose was the kid in high school who did just enough to earn straight As, while B&W was the overzealous kid (probably pictured in several yearbook photos) who burnt out and peaked junior year.

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Bluetooth Headphones

The bottom line is this: We believe comfort shouldn’t be treated as a footnote, especially for something you put around your skull. The Bose QuietComfort 35 (II) might not have the trendiest design or best quality sound, but they are extremely easy to use and pair, and they over-deliver on their two namesake promises: being comfortable AF and having the best noise-cancelling technology on the market.

User Reviews

“These are amazing and Bose is great! I purchased these headphones for their noise-cancellation abilities. I am an application developer and wear them at work because I am easily distracted. I don't even listen to music with them... they just cancel just about all background noise, including random chatter from the annoying marketing department. I also use them for WebEx and Skype calls with clients. The built-in microphone is great and the noise-cancellation is helpful during those calls as well. Battery life is extremely good. I can go an entire week without having to charge the headset. It comes with an 1/8" cable that will allow you to listen to music even when the batteries are dead. An added feature is that the bluetooth feature will allow you to connect to and hear audio from two sources at the same time. This is great if you want to connect to your iPhone and laptop at the same time.”
— John S From Amazon
“So far, wearing these have given me the best wearing experience out of any of the headphones I've tried previously. I can go hours with them on without feeling much discomfort and because they are so light-weight, sometimes I forget that they're even on. What's also great about these, in particular is that these cover your entire ear. The plush for the L/R ears actually sits around your ears instead of sitting partly on your ears. When I tested the Sony headphones at Best Buy, the headphones sat partly on my ears and after ten minutes of testing them, I had the sense that they might become uncomfortable after some time. This was also one of the big reasons I chose to go with Bose instead of Sony.”
— Jeffrey Wang From Amazon
“These headphones are amazing! I might have been perfectly satisfied with the first version of the QC35s, but I luckily stumbled on the second generation which includes the Google Assistant integration. I initially thought it would be a small bonus, but I totally underestimated how powerful and convenient this could be. It's more than just a trigger for voice commands. It's a surprisingly flawless implementation that allows Google Assistant to turn you into much more productive multi-tasker.”
— Jordan T From Amazon
“Unbelievably happy with this product. I cannot live without out my Bose QC 35 IIs (even considering a second one to keep at work). It is empowering to put these on and all the noise pollution just goes away. I bought them for home and hadn't planned on taking them to my large open floor office. I put them on and suddenly realized there was a very low and loud hum coming from the ceiling (air blowers I assume). Now gone. I sit there in my cubicle and feel sorry for everyone else because they don't have a pair of these. I tried other brands, but they were simply not properly engineered. Once you get the pairing "dialed in" it is seamless. I have a Mac and iPhone but bought the new model (with Google voice button). I use the button's alternate function of turning on/off noise cancellation — just for fun to remind me how great this product works. But remember … this technology is not going to isolate voices — it is designed to remove motor noises (plane, furnace blower, road, engine, etc).”
— Claveman From Amazon
“Nobody on Amazon owns more bluetooth headphones than me. This is my 12th pair and I think I've finally found what I'm looking for. I use this pair, strictly for my noisy office building. Although you still can hear the subtle, muffled murmurs here and there, it eliminates 80 percent of the background noise when the music goes silent. It drowns out our servers almost completely. The sound quality is 9 out of 10. Soft music, pop and top 40 genre type, it handles really well. Dubstep, techno and electronic music sounds great. Heavy metal, death metal is fair. noise canceling at high setting deters the music quality from its better. Having it off will give the highest quality, but i have it set to high because of my noisy environment and I’m perfectly ok with it.”
— Vader From Amazon

Bose

Premium jack-of-all-trades

ADVERTISEMENT
.