Illustration of over-ear headphones on a colorful background
Illustration: iStock

If you’re looking for a new pair of earbuds or over-ear headphones, you’ll find some of the best models Consumer Reports has tested on sale right now. And while Amazon Prime Day is officially over, there are still a few models left on sale. 

Whether you’re working from home, you’re working out, or you simply want to tune out for a while, having just the right headphones can make a huge difference. But they can get expensive quickly, especially if you want a true wireless or noise-canceling model. So we keep an eye on our top-rated models to help you take advantage of sales as they pop up.

Looking for something else? Check out our coverage of other tech deals.

For more info on other smart purchases, including items that earn a CR Best Buy designation for high performance at a low price, check out the ratings for all the electronics products tested in our labs.

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True Wireless Earphones

Apple AirPods (2nd Gen.) True Wireless Earphones With Wireless Charging Case

    Unlike the new AirPods Pro, the second-generation AirPods don’t get high marks for sound in Consumer Reports’ testing. But there’s no denying the appeal of these true wireless earphones for many Apple fans. And with the launch of the newer model, we’re seeing some terrific discounts on these headphones. If you buy the AirPods with the standard charging case straight from Apple, you’ll pay $160, but a number of retailers are selling them for much less.

     

    CR’s test results: Apple AirPods (2nd Gen.) With Wireless Charging Case

    Apple AirPods Pro True Wireless Earbuds

      The AirPods Pro offer active noise cancellation to muffle outside sound and interchangeable ear insert tips, abandoning the one-size-fits-all earbud design of its predecessors. The sound quality is more than sufficient for critical listeners of music and movie soundtrack playback.

       

      CR’s test results: Apple AirPods Pro

      Apple Powerbeats Pro True Wireless Earphones

        The latest in the popular Powerbeats line of earphones, this model is the first from the brand to ditch the cable connecting the two earpieces for a true wireless design. The audio quality is just so-so; according to our tests, the bass is unnaturally loud, distorting the true sound of music. Still, Beats are popular, and these earphones could make a great gift.

         

        CR’s test results: Apple Powerbeats Pro

        Cleer Ally Plus Headphone

          This model is an outstanding value at its normal price of around $100, and right now you can pick it up even cheaper. It’s the most inexpensive true wireless noise-canceling model we recommend, delivering dependable sound quality, great noise cancellation, and other handy features, such as an auto-pause function that stops your audio when you take the headphones out of your ears. 

           

          CR’s test results: Cleer Ally Plus

           

          Jabra Elite 85t True Wireless Headphone

            Jabra’s follow-up to the popular 65t model lives up to the hype, and adds fantastic noise-canceling performance in addition to the great audio quality. These feature-rich true wireless headphones have adjustable noise-cancellation levels; a monitor mode, so you can pipe in outside sound; and an auto pause feature that stops your audio when you take the earbuds out. They also feature a “hybrid” earbud/insert style, so they seal the ear canals without sticking deep inside them, which may be more comfortable for some people.

             

            CR’s test results: Jabra Elite 85t

            JLab Audio JBuds Air Earphones

              Even at full price, the JLab Audio JBuds Air earphones deliver impressive sound quality, beating some competitors that cost more than three times as much and earning them a spot in CR’s picks for the best true wireless headphones of 2021. So when you can save 30 percent, it’s an even bigger bargain.

               

              The JBuds Air have an advertised 3.5-hour battery life and come with a carrying case that will recharge the earphones for an additional two cycles. Other features include support for various digital assistants, three switchable EQ modes to change the tonal balance of the sound, and according to JLab, water resistance. (We don’t test that feature.)

               

              CR’s test results: JLab Audio JBuds Air

              Samsung Galaxy Buds True Wireless Earphones

                The Galaxy Buds are among the best true wireless headphones CR has tested. The model produces exemplary audio quality packed into a pair of unobtrusive earpieces, complete with easy-to-use touch controls for playback, volume, and skipping tracks.

                According to Samsung, the Galaxy Buds have a 6-hour battery life. They come with a powered carrying case that will recharge the earphones for up to 7 additional hours of playback on the go. 

                CR’s test results: Samsung Galaxy Buds

                Sony WF-SP800N Wireless Headphones

                  This massively discounted model is a good deal if you’re looking for noise-canceling true wireless headphones. The SP800N gets a decent rating for sound-blocking and audio quality, and it has a handy monitor mode that lets you listen in on your environment when you don’t want to cancel outside sound.

                   

                  CR’s test results: Sony WF-SP800N

                   

                  Noise-Canceling Over-Ear Headphones

                  Beats by Dre Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphone

                    These headphones deliver above average sound and superb noise cancellation. At the usual price, they typically don’t make our lists of top picks, because there are cheaper models that perform just as well or better. At just under $200, though, the Studio3 is definitely worth the cost of entry.  

                     

                    CR’s test results: Beats by Dre Beats Studio3

                     

                    Beats by Dr. Dre Solo Pro Headphones

                      These noise-canceling headphones are usually a little too expensive to justify their performance, but they’re worth a look at this Walmart price. The Solo Pro Wireless gets an above-average rating for sound quality in our tests, and the noise cancellation is superb. Before you pick them up, though, you may want to check out other noise-canceling options available for $200 or less.

                       

                      CR’s test results: Beats by Dr. Dre Solo Pro

                       

                      Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

                        Bose lives up to its reputation with these headphones, one of the top-rated models from our tests. They deliver superb audio quality and sound-blocking capability. They have a variety of appealing features as well, including touch controls, adjustable levels of noise cancellation, and a monitor mode to let in outside sound when you want to listen in on your surroundings. And, according to Bose, they have a generous 20-hour battery life.

                         

                        CR’s test results: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

                        JBL Live 650 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones

                          A small marvel at this price, these over-ear headphones deliver impressive noise cancellation and audio quality. JBL hasn’t skimped on features, either. The Live 650BTNC comes with a detachable audio cable for use with wired devices, a quick-charge function, the ability to simultaneously pair with multiple devices, and a generous 20-hour battery life, according to JBL. A free app brings some additional functionality.

                          CR’s test results: JBL Live 650BTNC

                          Sennheiser PXC 550-II Noise-Canceling Headphones

                            These headphones rate with the best when it comes to sound quality and noise cancellation. They also have appealing features, such as adjustable levels of noise reduction and an ambient sound monitoring mode that lets noise from your environment back in so that you can hear what’s happening around you. The model has touch-sensitive controls and an automatic pause feature that stops your audio when you take the headphones off. 

                            CR’s test results: Sennheiser PXC 550-II

                            Sony WH-1000XM4 Noise-Canceling Headphones

                              Sony’s noise-canceling over-ear headphones always do well in our tests. They’re on the pricier side, but this discount, which is available periodically, matches what we saw for Black Friday last fall. We give them high marks for sound quality, and they perform even better at blocking out unwanted noise from your environment. The headphones have touch controls, adjustable levels of noise cancellation, a generous battery life, and a slew of other features. 

                               

                              CR’s test results: Sony WH-1000XM4