What are the best wireless headphones in 2021? Our complete selection

In 2021, the supply of wireless headphones is immense. There is something for all tastes and for all budgets. Are you lost in this section filled with models? Our guide, backed by tests, will help you make the right choice.

The guide to wireless headphones in summary:

  • Sony WF-1000XM4 (€ 279.99): the best noise reduction in this format
  • Apple AirPods (179 €): the right choice of headphones for iPhone
  • Apple AirPods Pro (279 €): noise reduction and the iOS ecosystem
  • Cambridge Melomania 1+ (€ 129.95): an affordable benchmark
  • Beats PowerBeats Pro (€ 249.95): wireless headphones suitable for sport

The removal of the iPhone 7 jack port had sparked a real outcry. However, the market has adapted and in 2021, the trend is wireless more than ever. It is true that in use, this type of headphone is very pleasant. No more hanging cords in your clothes. As long as the headphones fit well in the ear, freedom of movement is complete. This is especially important when playing sports while listening to music.

In this guide, we have selected the best wireless headphones on the market. Whatever your needs and the level of your budget, you will be able to find the most suitable model there.

Sony WF-1000XM4: the best noise reduction in this format

Sony WF-1000XM4 // Source: Sony

Sony has built a solid reputation in the segment of audio products with active noise reduction. Barely launched, its WF-1000XM4 headphones, successors of the WF-1000XM3 that we had voted for in our test, are already asserting themselves as a benchmark according to our colleagues at Frandroid. They come with all the features one would expect from a product at this price (€ 279.99), starting with a bluffing active noise reduction which justifies the premium positioning (and the price).

Tucked into a compact body, the WF-1000XM4 also offers several settings in a comprehensive companion application. This versatility is a real strength and allows the headphones to shine in any situation. As a bonus, Sony has revised its copy in terms of comfort. Far from being irreproachable on this criterion, the WF-1000XM3 give way to much more convincing WF-1000XM4 thanks to a more discreet design. As a bonus, the autonomy is excellent, with 24 hours of listening in all.

Who are the Sony WF-1000XM4 for? Quite simply to those looking for the best headphones.

Apple AirPods and AirPods Pro: comfort the Apple way

Photomontage published by Tim Cook on Twitter // Source: Twitter / Tim Cook

It’s hard not to be interested in Apple AirPods, sold for less than 180 €, if you own an iPhone. With a fairly universal design and fully integrated into the iOS ecosystem – Siri included – these headphones are easy to use and offer astonishing sound reproduction given their format. Above all, they are accompanied by a small magic box which recharges them and guarantees them a very sufficient total autonomy, because more than twenty hours. An ideal of wireless comfort, we indicated in our review of Apple AirPods. Note that these headphones are compatible with Android smartphones. In 2019, Apple’s headsets also won wireless charging (optional for € 50 more, or € 229) and ‘Hey Siri’ voice control.

Apple AirPods Pro // Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

At the end of 2019, Apple decided to expand its AirPods catalog by adding a Pro model to create a real range of wireless headphones. Taking all the qualities of classic AirPods, AirPods Pro additionally offer active noise reduction in a very (very) comfortable intra format. We find all the know-how of Cupertino in terms of design and integration into the iOS ecosystem.

The multinational has also improved the sound reproduction for more precise and dynamic listening. As for intelligent noise reduction, it turns out to be impressive and makes the world seem to fade away around us – without ever completely disappearing. As explained in our review of AirPods Pro, these devices are more expensive (279 €) than AirPods but they are much more than headphones.

Remember that AirPods and AirPods Pro are compatible with the spatial audio rendering available for certain songs in the Apple Music catalog (Dolby Atmos).

Who are AirPods for? For those who want headphones perfectly integrated into the iOS ecosystem.

Who are the AirPods Pro for? For those who want good active noise reduction and better listening quality.

Cambridge Melomania 1+: low price, maximum performance

Cambridge Melomania 1 headphones (which look like Melomania 1+) // Source: Maxime Claudel for Numerama

You don’t want to spend your money on headphones but want to do away with that annoying thread? Consider the Cambridge Melomania 1. Contrary to what their design suggests, they are comfortable and hold securely in place. Above all, they offer excellent sound reproduction and very good autonomy (45 hours in all). At less than 130 €, they are a reference.

To be honest, when we tested them we didn’t expect them to be so qualitative. But these Cambridge headphones prove that it is possible to offer a lot, at a very controlled price. This type of product is welcome in a market where prices are soaring quickly. In 2021, Cambridge only offers version 1+, which has gained a USB-C port and a companion app.

Who are the Cambridge Melomania 1+ for? For those who don’t want to break the bank.

Beats Powerbeats Pro: the best headphones for sports

The Powerbeats in their box // Source: Numerama

Beats has long been seen as a company that knows how to make fashion accessories but not good audio products (due to excess bass). It has improved its copy with the Powerbeats Pro, its first truly wireless headphones initially marketed at € 250 (but now rather sold around € 200) Result: these are the ideal headphones for sportswomen and sportsmen looking for practical earbuds, comfortable with excellent autonomy without sacrificing acoustic performance.

This model fits ideally into the iOS ecosystem, Beats belonging to Apple. As indicated in our Powerbeats Pro test, we only regret its case, which is too massive and incompatible with wireless charging.

Who are the Beats Powerbeats for? For those who are looking for the best solution to go through the hours in a gym.

The criteria to take into account to choose the right headphones

What Defines True Wireless Headphones?

Wireless headphones are all headphones that don’t need to be physically plugged in at the source. But beware, some have a cord connecting the two atria. You have to be careful at this point if you are looking for truly wireless headphones. These are, in this case, delivered in a box dedicated to recharging and transport.

What is active noise reduction?

Active noise reduction has become an essential feature. It allows you to gain immersion by isolating yourself as much as possible from the outside world. One might think that it is less suited to the headphone format but it is, in reality, very relevant. It compensates for the virtual absence of passive noise reduction – headphones, especially circum-aural, offer a much more significant. Obviously, active noise reduction is more effective on headphones.

Are all headphones comfortable?

This is a question which is difficult to answer, given that it is intimately linked to the ear morphology specific to each person. There are more or less intrusive headphones (which sink more or less into the ear canal). As with headphones, your best bet is to try the headphones. From person to person, comfort, like posture, can change dramatically. To compensate for these physical differences, manufacturers provide different sizes of tips.

Can we swim with headphones?

It all depends on the IP certification of the headphones, which provides information on water resistance. Some headphones do not support drops of water, others will resist accidental immersions very well. If you are a swimming enthusiast, however, you will be directed to headphones specially designed for this sport.

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