No change in our ranking since the recent arrival of the Sennheiser Momentum 3, which took second place. Elsewhere, CES 2023 was pretty quiet when it came to headphones, putting more emphasis on True Wireless headphones . AudioTechnica still presented an interesting headset for streamers. Those who wish to have advice for choosing the right headphones can, as always, go to the bottom of this page where they will find our dedicated FAQ.
Sony WH-1000XM4: the best Bluetooth headphones, all criteria combined
After a WH-1000XM3 at the top, Sony is refining its recipe for the ideal active noise reduction headphones without upsetting it too much with a WH-1000XM4 evolving in small steps. The device features slightly more effective active noise reduction, better call quality, multipoint Bluetooth connection (finally!), and new advanced features. Thanks to its excellent noise reduction, its first-rate audio quality and its optimal comfort, the 1000XM4 delivers, like its illustrious predecessor, the best performance on the market in the field of mobile headphones. On the other hand, the device is no longer compatible with the AptX codec, which is not dramatic since it remains the LDAC to obtain a high quality stream, but all the same. We would also have liked to see the brand take a little more risk,
Sennheiser Momentum 3: the best alternative to Sony
The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless continues to honor its lineage thanks in particular to a high-end sound rich in bass but clear and precise. Its noise reduction is effective without reaching the level of that of its most illustrious competitor from Sony, and its slightly retro design with an impeccable finish provides satisfactory comfort, but again slightly lower than the Sony WH-1000XM3, however. cheaper. Its price is also its main drawback. However, in our opinion, the Momentum 3 Wireless deserves its place on the podium of the best noise reduction headphones on the market.
Bose QC45: the most comfortable headphones
The successor to the famous Bose QC 35 II has arrived. Even if the design remains unchanged, this new version benefits from welcome technical improvements, starting with a slightly longer autonomy of 24 hours with active noise reduction and a volume at 50%, according to the manufacturer. Moreover, the RBA has been reworked and now includes two settings, “Silence” to eliminate ambient noise and “Attentive” to let certain sounds through. The headphones have a USB-C connection with fast charging which allows you to recover 2.5 hours of listening in 15 minutes and Bluetooth 5.1 Multipoint to connect it simultaneously to a PC and a smartphone. Thanks to an additional microphone and a repositioning of the previous ones, this headset is also excellent for calls. A great success.
Jabra Elite 85h: the headset with the best quality/price ratio
Jabra’s Elite 85h is a good alternative to noise canceling headphones from Bose and Sony, especially if hands-free functionality is important to you. The sound is a little less thin but the price is softer. A very relevant proposal.
Jabra Elite 45H: the best headphones under €80
In line with the very good Jabra Move, the Elite 45h offers very good performance for a very reasonable price. Featuring a reliable Bluetooth 5 connection, Multipoint (Jabra remains an expert in headphones for work) and a monstrous 50h battery life, these small headphones in supra-aural format also deliver satisfying and customizable sound via the excellent app Jabra Sound+. In addition, like the other products in the Elite range, it is possible to save a sound setting directly in the headphones. We only regret its somewhat basic, non-foldable side with somewhat weak passive insulation, a total absence of IP certification and a somewhat tight output power. But in its price range, the Jabra Elite 45h turns out to be one of the best quality/price ratios of the moment.
For its first foray into the market, Apple signs a Bluetooth headset with an irreproachable and extremely premium finish delivering excellent sound quality despite the use of the AAC codec alone and an impressive spatialization, worthy of an open headset. Equipped with a top-flight active noise reduction system, the AirPods Max also adopt complete, simple and effective physical controls, and offer a solid Bluetooth connection thanks to two Apple H1 chips, all for 20 hours of autonomy. However, the helmet is not perfect and some design “errors” have been made in our opinion: the device is heavy, non-foldable, and must be transported with its cover, the only way to manually put the device on. Standby. Besides, you have to buy yourself a Lightning to jack cable to use it wired and some features are reserved for iOS, such as multipoint Bluetooth. Despite these flaws and the exorbitant price, the AirPods Max are, in our opinion, one of the best mobile headphones with active noise reduction on the market.
PCs, tablets, smartphones, docking stations, hi-fi systems and even music players… wireless headphones connect to all types of devices and are never far from our ears. In addition, the Bluetooth protocol has evolved and now provides excellent wireless audio quality and high connection reliability.
No offense to the ayatollahs of the jack, the AptX HD and LDAC codecs even allow the transmission of high quality streams, so that wireless headsets no longer have anything to envy to wired models. Increasingly packed with technology, these listening devices are also beginning to support personal assistants from tech giants, the new fashionable “ feature ”, to serve as control centers for our various connected devices.
Beyond the pure technical specifications, the criteria for evaluating the qualities of a headset encompass various notions, including comfort and sound color, without forgetting the wireless connection and insulation, sometimes based on a noise reduction system. active noise. You can find them on almost all high-end products now, and even some entry-level and mid-range headphones. Note that in this guide, we are focusing on consumer mobile products for listening to music, watching videos with your smartphone or teleworking from your PC. We voluntarily omit headsets for gamers, which must offer specific characteristics.
Our advice for choosing the right Bluetooth headset
For what use(s)?
In transport or on the street, at home, for gaming or sports… there are plenty of opportunities to use headphones. You must determine (and precisely) the uses that interest you before going to checkout, it is a fundamental step to make your choice. Indeed, the market for audio headsets is very varied and it can be tricky to navigate. Some products are not very versatile and are designed for a specific use, this is often (but not always) the case with gaming headsets which generally use a USB connection or a Bluetooth dongle. So better not be wrong!
What sound signature?
On the sound side, the ideal headphones depend on the music you listen to. All do not have the same rendering, each has its own sound signature, its color, with more or less treble, midrange or bass. You will notice, for example, that some models exaggerate the bass, or on the contrary neutralize it. If you like R&B, Hip Hop, then you will probably prefer headphones with deep bass in order to enjoy the rhythm. For classical music, it is the opposite. Because many are the clear instruments, whose sounds are masked by an excess of bass. Of course, good sound reproduction is not just a matter of taste. The headphones must be precise, rich, with little distortion and good spatialization.
There are generally two types of isolation, passive isolation created by the design of the product and active isolation which relies on a noise reduction system using the built-in microphones. These microphones will pick up ambient noise, then the headphones will invert the phase of the signal and inject it into your ears so that the two signals (natural noise and noise picked up by the microphones) in phase opposition cancel each other out. It is a very effective technology for self-isolation, and it even works on public transport. Unfortunately, helmets that have them are usually expensive. Some entry-level models are well equipped, but their noise reduction is generally much lower than that of the best products.
What type of connection?
A good Bluetooth connection will guarantee low latency and good signal stability, prefer Bluetooth 4 at a minimum and if possible Bluetooth 5. This is an important parameter, especially when watching a film or a series. Supported audio codecs also matter. An apt-X or LDAC compatible headset will produce less compressed, even high definition sound. Also, most high-end products also offer a wired connection which can be appreciable but beware, some will only work if there is battery left. This is a point to check. Finally, be aware that the wired is getting lost these days and more and more products no longer ship jack cable ports.
Which format to choose?
Circum-aural or Supra-aural? That is the question. Circum-aural headphones isolate well and often prove to be more comfortable than supra-aural ones (this is not an absolute rule), the sound can also be richer sometimes, but they are large and less transportable. The supra-aural is more compact, generally easy to transport but sometimes less good on the sound side and often less comfortable since the pressure of the ear cups is applied directly to our ears. It also benefits from more varied constructions (hoops behind the ears and head).
What materials for good comfort?
The majority of helmets will offer you soft pads in leather (or in a material approaching it). A few rare models offer pads in fabric or velvet. It’s comfortable but also much warmer, which is useful in winter but annoying in summer. In general, prefer genuine leather, which is more durable over time. Or even better, opt for a model with removable and easy to replace pads, there are quite a few on the market but this detail is not always mentioned.