FAQ | Lingo | Price-Based Selections
Wireless Bluetooth Headphones Buying Guide
Your music, no cables attached
When do you most often listen to music? Is it while you run, bike, or work out? Do you stream music or listen to podcasts on a packed bus or train during your morning commute? If so, listening through wireless or Bluetooth headphones or earbuds is going to make your life a lot easier. Their wireless connection to your mobile device means there’s nothing for them to get tangled in or caught on, and makes for easy packing for your getaways. Bluetooth headphones are also great for listening at home, if you don’t want to be physically tethered to your desktop computer.
Still want to feel connected through a cable? Many wireless headphones include a cable with a standard 1/8″ jack, so you can keep listening to music even with a dead battery, or connect to any non-Bluetooth device. Make the most of your smartphone and pair it with some wireless headphones!
Wireless Headphones FAQ
Below are some frequently asked questions about wireless headphones. Click a question to see its answer.
Got a question of your own? Leave it as a comment below!
Mobile devices and headphones models vary, but in general, you’ll need to open your settings, make sure Bluetooth is activated, and turn your headphones’ Bluetooth or wireless functionality on. From there, the name of your headphones should appear in a list of Bluetooth devices in your mobile device’s menu. Select the headphones, wait a brief moment, and you should receive a message on your device or an audible note in your headphones as confirmation. After that, you’re all set!
That all depends on the manufacturer and model of your headphones. We recommend checking the specs and listings of a specific pair, but in our price recommendations below, we mention a couple of models that have great range!
Bluetooth involves a codec that compresses the audio signal being sent between devices, and that results in lost data, so yes — streaming through Bluetooth does downgrade audio quality compared to a wired connection. However, Bluetooth technology has constantly improved over the years, and along with that comes more efficient compression. Most listeners won’t notice any significant quality difference in streaming audio through Bluetooth headphones or a speaker vs. through wired headphones or speakers. For everyday listening, Bluetooth is just fine, but if you’re looking for reference- or audiophile-quality sound, Bluetooth is not for you.
Know Your Lingo
When comparing headphones, knowing the terminology can help you sort through models to find exactly what you need. Here are some terms relevant to wireless headphones and earbuds.
Bluetooth is a technology allowing for wireless transmission of data signals between devices which otherwise would be done through cables.
Wirelessly connecting a Bluetooth device to a mobile device through Bluetooth.
Headphones with wireless capabilities typically receive a signal from an audio player via radio frequency or Bluetooth. They are a good choice for exercise, because they do away with cable clutter. Many wireless earbuds fit behind the neck so nothing is in the way of your arms.
Some wireless headphones feature an in-line mic on one of the ear cups. These small microphones allow you to speak into them to conduct phone calls. Some also feature volume and/or playback controls for music and taking/ending calls.
Near Field Communication (NFC):
Some Bluetooth headphones (among other devices) use Near Field Communication, a short-distance wireless communications technology. NFC works in conjunction with Bluetooth in such headphones. The headphones are paired to a smartphone via NFC, then data is shared through Bluetooth. Pairing is done through NFC due to its advantages in short-distance communication over Bluetooth. This enables a more secure, easier-to-set-up pairing.
What’s Your Price Level?
Wireless headphones are available in a wide array of price points. Here are a few of our recommendations for three price levels.
Entry-Level to Mid-Priced: Bluetooth Headphones Under $200
You can de-clutter your listening experience with Bluetooth headphones under $100 — Shure’s SE-112 wireless earbuds bring the same isolation and sonic detail of their SE-112 earbuds to a wireless format. Step up your style with a pair of Audio-Technica ATH-SR5BT headphones — the memory foam earpads around their large 45mm drivers provide premium comfort. Want a truly wireless pair at a great price? It’s tough to beat MEE Audio X10 Bluetooth earbuds. Incredible range and instantaneous re-pairing make these an excellent alternative to AirPods.
Mid-Priced to High-End: Bluetooth Headphones for $200+
Doing double-duty as Bluetooth earbuds and in-ear monitors, Shure SE535-BT1 headphones are throughly professional-grade with triple driver performance. Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT headphones bring high-definition audio to the wireless crowd with the Pure Digital Drive which eliminates the sound-degrading D/A converter found in many wireless headphones. Into working out? Bose SoundSport earphones are completely wireless and designed to keep sweat out. In short, they work as hard as you do.