Though wireless headphones have been available for a while now, recent technical innovations have led to a range of great options for design-minded music lovers. And this is just the beginning—Apple’s announcement of the headphone-jack-free iPhone 7 yesterday (and the rumors leading up to it) will create even more demand. We got hands-on with the lovely new iPhone and are excited about the refresh. Though it comes with basic Lightning-port wired earbuds and an adapter for those wanting to use the higher-end wired headphones they’ve already invested in, now is a good time to consider going wireless for untangled listening pleasure. We haven’t tested everything on the market, but here are the best ones we’ve found so far. And yes, all of them have integrated microphones and can be used for making phone calls as well.
Over-Ear Headphones: Master & Dynamic MW60
Though NYC-based Master & Dynamic is a young brand (it launched in 2013) their products have been flawless from the very start. The MW60 over-ear headphones, released late last year, hold true to the brand’s commitment to blending quality and design to deliver premium headphones that look, feel and sound fantastic. The slightly retro-modern MW60s feature buttery soft and ear-hugging removable leather pads (a range of colors are available) and a removable 3.5mm cable in case you forget to charge the batteries (which last for 16 hours) or just want to plug in old school. The sound quality is extremely rich and well-balanced, partially due to the acoustic nature of their milled aluminum housing. And given that the Bluetooth antenna is integrated with the frame, the signal strength is really strong.
Available in three base colorways for $550 at Amazon.
On-Ear Headphones: Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless
Bowers & Wilkins began making speakers in the UK over 50 years ago, but only made their foray in to headphones in 2010. The P5 was their debut and quickly became a reference for outstanding craftsmanship and sound quality. Late last year they added the P5 Wireless in the same slim and elegant form factor. There’s no compromise in sound quality by going wireless with these—it’s still great. Though they don’t engulf the ear, the supple leather pads still do a great job blocking outside noise. They also feature microphones on each earpiece for optimal call quality.
Available for $300 from Amazon.
Sporty Tethered In-Ear: B&O Play Beoplay H5
Danish audio savants Bang & Olufsen’s more consumer-oriented line B&O Play recently released the Beoplay H5 wireless earphones. The H5s are a simple pair of earbuds joined by a tether which makes them easy to wear around the neck when not in use. And doing so becomes functional when the magnets in each bud connect to not only secure them around your neck, but also stop playing music. Both sound quality and battery life are impressive given the small size of the units and they come with six differently sized and textured earpieces to ensure you can find the best fit. We very happily ran in them and they remained secure for all but the most erratic maneuvers. And given that they’re moisture- and dust-resistant they’re great for all outdoor exercise.
Available in pink or black for $250 from Amazon.
Stylish Tethered In-Ear: i.am+ EPs
Combining his musical talents and the experience he gained on the Beats journey, will.i.am recently released the i.am+ EP earphones. They’re designed to look and feel like jewelry, but boast impressive sound quality. The album-looking platters sit low on the ear making a techno nod to modern primitive extended lobe jewelry, while also providing a counter-balance helps keep the ear piece in place. The tether between the buds is a bit longer so that when worn around the neck and clipped together with their magnets they rest appropriately in front of your heart. The added length also makes it easier to only wear one ear in drape the other to more easily hear the world around you in addition to your soundtrack.
Available in black or gold from Apple for $230.
Apple’s AirPods won’t be available until late October but we got a chance to demo them. The sound quality is far superior to the usual white earbuds and there’s a ton of great functionality given their ability to deeply integrate with iOS and macOS. Pairing them to your devices is literally as easy as a tap and they’re smart enough to know when to work with each device. Sensors on the buds detect when they’re removed from your ear and will automatically pause music playback, and of course, Siri is integrated. There are batteries in the AirPods themselves that last five hours, but their case is also a charger with its own battery so the combines life is 24 hours. While we did’t get to test making a call and hearing the voice on the other end, Apple promises the microphones and on-board processor will deliver the best voice quality possible. Our big concern with these is how easily they’ll fall out of the ear or get misplaced. Surely there will be many third parties making tethers for AirPods…
Coming in late October for $160.
Images courtesy of their respective brands