Bluetooth Headphones: best from Sennheiser, Bose, and Marshall – and can they cancel noise?

Bluetooth headphones: the best available in 2021, for exercise, noise cancelling, and sound quality

The best bluetooth headphones for 2021The best bluetooth headphones for 2021
The best bluetooth headphones for 2021

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When it comes to buying Bluetooth headphones, there is a baffling smorgasbord of makes and models to choose from. Normally one would advise going for a well-known brand when purchasing electronics, but when it comes to headphones, it’s usually the smaller, lesser known brands that impress the most.

We’ve called in a plethora of Bluetooth models and these as our favourites: they all deliver great sound at affordable prices. Before we look, here’s what to consider (skip down to the products if you don’t enjoy tech talk).

Bluetooth headphone types

There are three main types of Bluetooth headphones: 1) the classic over-ear style; 2) in-ear buds connected by a neck cable with small integrated battery pack; and 3) True Wireless, comprising two in-ear buds with no neck wire and batteries built into each ear bud.

Bluetooth explained

The very latest wireless standard is called Bluetooth 5.0 – improved speed, better sound quality and greater range – which many modern headphones now support. However, under this transmission umbrella there are also a number of compression codecs, which are essentially algorithms or pieces of software that compress the song you’re listening to before encoding it for wireless transmission over Bluetooth.

What is Latency?

Some codecs produce better sound quality and improved latency (a millisecond of delay between the signal leaving the audio source and the headphones or speakers you are listening to). Latency is never an issue when listening to music but it can quite literally spoil the enjoyment of watching a video because the image may not be in perfect sync with the audio.

Latency is most prevalent in True Wireless in-ear buds because the signal needs to be encoded and then shared between two separate ear buds – and that takes time. For this reason, we would avoid True Wireless models if being bought for watching films and music videos or you may find that actors’ lips don’t sync perfectly.

Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) explained

Some headphones in this roundup are equipped with ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) technology which cleverly cancels out the ambient sound around the listener to make the most of the music. ANC is useful in environments where continual noise surrounds the listener and is especially effective on aircraft and trains and in busy traffic. The system is so effective that you can even use ANC without playing any music; almost all ambient sound simply disappears.

The best affordable Bluetooth headphones and in-ear buds you can buy