The Best Wireless Headphones In 2023

Unwired for sound: MOJO’s pick of 2023’s best wireless headphones

by William Lobley |
Published on

Seen for a long time as an inferior sounding substitute for a proper pair of cans, wireless headphones were something of a dirty word among genuine audiophiles and music lovers.

While Bluetooth connectivity has always offered a tangle-free listening experience, in recent years the quality of the sound produced by wireless headphones has hit a level that can please even the most discerning of ears.

The Best Wireless Headphones In 2023 At A Glance

The best overall - Sony WH-1000XM5 - View on Amazon
The best for rock and guitar based music - Marshall Monitor II - View on Amazon
The best for making music - Audio-Technica ATH-M50XBT2 - View on Gear4Music
The best budget - Sony WH-CH720N  - View on Amazon

There are many reasons for wireless tech gaining ground on wired headphone options. One is the development of new and improved Bluetooth codecs, which is the tech that encodes and decodes audio data, either end. Another is the use of higher-quality drivers, which are effectively the speakers of the headphone, converting electrical signals into audible sound - developments in dynamic drivers, which balances size with improved frequency ranges have been instrumental in improving the audio quality wireless headphones can produce. The final piece of the puzzle is the increasing popularity and availability of high-resolution streamed audio.

Another advantage of wireless headphones is that, unlike many of their tethered ancestors, they carry an array of features ideal for day-to-day life. Noise cancellation, also known as Active Noise Cancellation or ANC, can now genuinely silence the world around you, both reducing distraction and optimising the clarity of your music. Tap commands make skipping, pausing, and volume control a breeze, as does smart assistant support, which lets you issue voice commands to Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant.

While Bluetooth connection is an excellent choice for some, it’s becoming necessary for others. Many of us increasingly listen to music streamed from our smartphones, and it’s now common for manufacturers to ditch the 3.5mm jacks that allow you to hook up a trusted pair of wired headphones. While USB-C and Lightning-to-jack adaptors are available, they are pretty flimsy and fiddly, making the purchase of a proper wireless headphone the best course of action when you want to play some of your favourite albums on the go.

Below, we highlight our favourite options available today - accessibly priced, well-featured and, most crucially, capable of excellent audio performance.

The Best Wireless Headphones In 2023

The best wireless headphones overall

Sony WH-1000XM5

Rrp: £380

Price: £308.74


Combining a neat minimalist style with exceptional audio performance, the latest addition to


  • Exceptional audio performance
  • Comfortable for long periods of use
  • Excellent noise cancellation


  • Previous generation comparable and cheaper

The best headphones for rock and guitar based music

Marshall Monitor II

Rrp: £279.99

Price: £235


The Marshall Monitor II headphones have 40mm drivers which balance an impressively powerful sound


  • Mid and bass ranges are ideal for rock
  • Classic Marshall aesthetic


  • Some sound leakage

The best wireless headphones for making music


The Audio-Technica ATH-M50XBT2 are excellent professional-grade headphones with impressive sound


  • Faithful sound
  • Robust build
  • Impressive 50-hour battery life


  • Heavy and bulky

The best budget wireless headphones

Sony WH-CH720N 

Rrp: £99

Price: £94.99


Sony’s budget offering, the WH-CH720N headphones, are one of the best choices in their price


  • Bargain price for such good audio quality
  • Comfortable for long periods
  • Very long battery life


  • Noise cancellation is bettered elsewhere

The best wireless headphones for noise cancellation

Bose QuietComfort 45
Price: £249 (was £319)


Bose has a long reputation for delivering both rich audio and excellent noise cancellation, and


  • Tight, well-balanced sound
  • Good instrument separation
  • Excellent noise cancellation


  • While punchy, the low-end struggles to push through the mix on bass-heavy tracks
  • Better battery life found elsewhere

The best premium wireless headphones


Focal’s Bathys headphones showcase the premium brand’s reputation for building top-notch audio


  • Superb audio performance, including lossless support
  • Great battery life
  • Comfortable enough for daily use


  • DAC requires wired connection
  • High price

A buyer’s guide to wireless headphones

Here are some key things to look for when buying new wireless headphones:

Sound: Opt for headphones with good sound quality that aligns with your musical tastes. For example, if you’re mainly going to be listening to hip hop, dub or electronic music then the bass is clearly going to be high on your priorities. If you’re into neo-classical, folk or ambient, however, then you’re going to want more definition and clarify at the higher ends. Across the board, look for balanced audio, clear vocals, and defined bass without overwhelming distortion.

Battery: Consider the headphones’ battery life, especially if you plan to use them for long periods or during travel. Look for models with sufficient playback time on a single charge. Many options offer quick charging, giving you around three hours of playback from a quick 10-minute charge.

Comfort: Ensure the headphones fit comfortably and securely on your ears. No matter how good the sound, comfort is crucial, especially if you intend to wear them for extended periods.

Noise Cancellation/ANC: If you frequently find yourself in noisy environments or want to immerse in your music, noise-cancelling headphones can be a valuable feature to consider.

Connectivity: Check the wireless connectivity options, such as Bluetooth versions and device compatibility. Some headphones may offer additional features like multi-point pairing to connect multiple devices simultaneously.

Controls and features: Some models may have touch controls or physical buttons for actions like play/pause, volume adjustment, and answering calls.

Portability: Consider the portability of the headphones, especially if you plan to use them on the go or while travelling. Foldable or compact designs can be advantageous for easy storage instead of larger studio and home options.

Price: Set a budget and look for headphones that fit within your price range while still meeting your desired features and quality.

The pros and cons of using wireless headphones

The convenience of wireless headphones lies in their hassle-free usage. Wireless headphones offer freedom of movement, ideal for listening on the go, during workouts and commuting. They are compact and lightweight, ensuring easy portability and increasingly robust durability.

There are a few drawbacks, however. While the battery life of the best wireless headphones is generally great, they do require charging, which wired options don’t. Secondly, latency can be an issue, causing a delay between audio generation and playback, which may be noticeable in activities like gaming. Lastly, the price of wireless headphones is generally higher than wired ones.

Headphone drivers

Headphone drivers are components responsible for converting electrical signals into sound. They consist of magnets, voice coils, and diaphragms. The driver size refers to the diameter of the diaphragm, usually measured in millimetres. Larger drivers generally produce more powerful bass and better overall sound quality due to increased air displacement. Smaller drivers are lighter and more portable but may sacrifice some sound depth. Dynamic drivers are common in over-ear and on-ear headphones, offering a good balance between size and sound quality.

How does Active Noise Cancellation work?

With Active Noise Cancellation, or ANC, microphones detect external sounds and use this information to create anti-noise signals. These anti-noise signals have the exact opposite sound waves of the incoming ambient noise but with the same amplitude. When mixed with the audio content, the anti-noise signals cancel out the ambient noise through destructive interference, reducing its impact on the listener.

This technology effectively eliminates low-frequency sounds, such as background hums. However, it may have limitations in cancelling sudden or irregular sounds. ANC provides a quieter listening environment, allowing users to enjoy their music or calls with increased clarity and reduced distractions from the surrounding environment.

What is Bluetooth, and how does it work?

Bluetooth is a wireless communication technology that exchanges data between devices within a short range. Gadgets like smartphones, laptops, headphones, and speakers, use Bluetooth to connect and share information without needing physical cables. During pairing, two devices exchange security keys to create a secure link.

Bluetooth enables data transfer, such as audio, video, files, and control commands. Its range is typically around 10 metres.

What is a Bluetooth codec?

Bluetooth codecs encode and decode audio data when transmitted between Bluetooth devices. It determines how audio is compressed for transmission and decompressed for playback on the receiving device.

Different codecs have varying audio quality and latency levels, and their usage depends on the devices’ compatibility and capabilities. Bluetooth codecs include SBC, AAC, aptX, and LDAC.

What is a DAC?

A DAC, or Digital-to-Analogue Converter, is a crucial electronic component that converts digital audio signals into analogue audio signals. It plays a vital role in audio playback devices like smartphones, laptops, and music players.

When digital audio is stored or transmitted, it exists in a series of 0s and 1s. To produce sound through a speaker or headphone driver, it must be converted back into electrical signals with varying voltage levels. This is where the DAC comes in, translating the digital data into an analogue waveform that can be amplified and transformed into sound, ensuring high-quality audio output for a more enjoyable listening experience.

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