Best Bluetooth Headphones of 2021

High-rated choices for audiophiles, athletes, and everyone else

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Ever since smartphone manufacturers started ditching headphone jacks, Bluetooth headphones have been an essential item for millions of people. There are options for almost any situation, whether your priority is finding a low price, earbuds for the gym, or a great pair of noise-canceling headphones for some peace and quiet.

More on Headphones

CR’s technicians say audiophiles will still get the very best sound from the top-rated wired headphones. But going wireless doesn’t mean giving up on sound quality—our tests show that the best Bluetooth headphones have impressive audio, too.

We’ve combed our ratings for the best Bluetooth headphones based on a variety of factors, including style, their best uses, and price. We’ve also factored in ratings for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction based on our latest survey of thousands of CR members.

Consumer Reports members can find full test results and reviews on more than 150 models in our headphone ratings.

Studio Style for Half the Price

The Sennheiser HD 250BT is a relative newcomer, but it makes a mark for providing great sound at a bargain price. The HD 250BT is an on-ear model with a sleek appearance and a price that sometimes dips below $70, making this one of the best values among Bluetooth headphones in our ratings.

It has controls for volume, calls, and playback, a smartphone app for equalizer adjustments, and an advertised 25-hour battery life. It also charges over USB-C, the same cable that powers newer Mac laptops and tons of other devices. Sennheiser is a winner for reliability and owner satisfaction, too, earning superb ratings in both categories.

Great Sound on the Go

The Bose SoundSport Wireless doesn’t have active noise cancellation like the brand’s best-known models, but it’s one of CR’s higher-rated portable Bluetooth models. The SoundSport has solid audio quality for the price and features a “hybrid style” earbud design that seals your ears without intruding deep inside them, which may be more comfortable for some people.

Bose gets an above-average rating for reliability in this category and stellar marks for owner satisfaction. According to Bose, this model is water-resistant and has a 6-hour battery life.

For the Audiophile

The GW100 is Grado’s first wireless model, and one of the best Bluetooth headphones we’ve tested in this category. It has a microphone for calls and controls for audio playback, and it comes with an audio cable for wired connections. According to Grado, the GW100 has a generous 40-hour battery life. Shop around or go straight to the manufacturer and you can find it for about $250.

Grado’s signature open-back design is intended to improve audio quality, but it isn’t meant to completely muffle sound that can leak in or out during use. That means if you’re concerned about listening in louder environments or don’t want to bother your neighbors, you may want to look elsewhere. However, Grado says the GW100 limits sound leakage far better than its wired models built for home listening. Grado received stellar ratings for reliability and owner satisfaction.

True Wireless

The Samsung Galaxy Buds are some of the best-scoring portable Bluetooth headphones Consumer Reports has ever tested. That’s all the more impressive, given their true wireless design and a price that often dips under $100.

The Galaxy Buds produce exemplary audio quality packed into a pair of unobtrusive earpieces, complete with touch controls for playback, volume, and skipping tracks. According to Samsung, they have a 6-hour battery life and come with a powered carrying case that will recharge the earphones for up to 7 additional hours of playback on the go. The case itself can be charged with a wireless charging mat, and it’s small compared with the cases that come with many true wireless models.

Based on our recent member survey, Samsung headphones earn solid scores for reliability and owner satisfaction.

Top-Notch Noise Cancellation

The Sennheiser PXC 550-II is one of the highest-scoring headphones in our ratings, with outstanding sound quality and noise cancellation to match. The PXC 550-II is dramatically cheaper than many competitors. But in our tests it outperforms flagship models from companies such as Sony and Beats, and gets almost the same score as the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, one of our other top picks, which is priced around $380.

The PXC 550-II has appealing features, such as adjustable levels of noise cancellation and an ambient sound monitoring mode that lets you hear your surroundings when necessary. It has touch-sensitive controls and an automatic pause feature that stops your audio when you take the headphones off.

Sennheiser says this model will run for up to 20 hours with Bluetooth and noise cancellation turned on, and it can be used with a detachable USB or audio cable. Sennheiser received superb ratings for reliability and owner satisfaction.

Bluetooth for the Budget-Conscious

The Sennheiser CX 150BT is a fantastic pair of headphones for the price. Our tests show that this pair’s audio quality is above average, and better than some models that cost a lot more. There aren’t a ton of extra features, but Sennheiser boasts a 10-hour battery life, more than enough to get you through a gym session or a day’s commute. The brand’s fantastic ratings for reliability and owner satisfaction sweeten the deal.

Sennheiser also sells the similarly named CX 350BT, which gets the same score in our ratings but costs a bit more. Essentially, the only difference is compatibility with AptX, a digital audio format meant to improve the quality of your playback.

For something even cheaper, consider the JVC HA-FX9BT Gumy Wireless. The sound quality won’t blow you away, but it’s a CR Best Buy at $20.

True Wireless Noise Cancellation

Sony continues to innovate in its popular line of noise-canceling headphones, and the WF-1000XM3 is one of the best-performing models yet. The XM3 has outstanding sound quality and top-of-the-line active noise reduction to match—and it does it all with a true wireless design.

These feature-rich earphones have variable noise cancellation, which you can adjust to let in more or less sound, including a “monitor” mode that actively pipes in audio from your surroundings. Those settings can be activated using integrated touch controls, which also operate playback and skipping tracks.

According to Sony, the XM3 has a 6-hour battery life, can be recharged up to three times on the go with the earphones’ portable charging case, and includes a quick-charge feature. A free app adds functionality. One caveat to keep in mind is that some users may feel the XM3 doesn’t fit securely, particularly those with larger ears. Sony gets top-notch ratings for reliability and owner satisfaction. Sony’s noise-canceling models get top marks for reliability and owner satisfaction.

How to Choose Headphones

With so many types of headphones, how do you know which pair is right for you? On the “Consumer 101” TV show, Consumer Reports expert Elias Arias explains everything you need to know.


Headshot image of Electronics editor Thomas Germain

Thomas Germain

I want to live in a world where consumers take advantage of technology, not the other way around. Access to reliable information is the way to make that happen, and that's why I spend my time chasing it down. When I'm off the clock, you can find me working my way through an ever-growing list of podcasts. Got a tip? Drop me an email ( thomas.germain@consumer.org) or follow me on Twitter ( @ThomasGermain) for my contact info on Signal.