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    Best Wireless Headphones For Your Buck

    Goodbye, world. Hello, music.

    We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.

    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.

    Don Cornelius Productions / Via

    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.

    Editor's Note: We're currently updating these picks! Check back soon for more.

    Mpow 059 Headphones


    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.)


    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.”


    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.

    Get them from Amazon for $39.


    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.

    Skullcandy Venue Headphones


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.

    Get them from Amazon for $115.

    Beats Solo3 Wireless On-Ear Headphones


    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.


    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 previous model 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.


    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.


    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.

    Get them from Amazon for $300.

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