Best Wireless Headphones for Working Remotely [Buyer’s Guide] – 2021

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Buyer’s Guide: Best Wireless Headphones for Working Remotely – 2021

Have you recently considered what the best wireless headphones for working remotely are? With WFH showing no signs of going away in 2021 and beyond, you may be finding yourself spending more time than ever in Zoom meetings with your coworkers and on conference calls with your clients.

Nothing is more frustrating than repeating yourself multiple times because your voice isn’t getting picked up by your microphone or missing an important word because some background noise kicks in at the worst time. 

If any of these things have happened to you, it might be worth considering upgrading your headphones for working remotely in 2021. 

We’ve got you covered with five of the best closed back over ear wireless headphones for working remotely. We’ll cut to the chase – we recommend the Sony WH-1000XM4 as our top pick, with the caveat that if you’re a heavy Apple user, the AirPods Max may be a slightly better option. To find out why, keep reading.

Our Picks for Best Wireless Headphones for Working Remotely

Best Wireless Headphones For Working Remotely Why We Recommend It
Sony WH-1000XM4  Best Overall
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 Best New Release
SENNHEISER Momentum 3 Wireless Best for Minimalists
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Best for Noise Cancellation
Apple AirPods Max Best for Apple Users

Sony WH-1000XM4 – Best Overall

Best Overall
Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones with Mic
$348.00
Pros:
  • Amazing audio quality with 40mm Neodymium magnet drivers for solid bass, true to life mids, and bright highs
  • Immense thought and engineering to craft an intuitive and convenient experience
  • Long lasting with 30 hours of battery life and a comfortable design suitable for 10-12 hours of continuous wear
  • Adaptive sound control adjusts the sound to your location and behaviors
Cons:
  • Included charging cord is only 8 inches long / 1.2m, so you cannot use them while listening to them
  • Not water resistant so best not to wear during inclement weather
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09/28/2021 02:33 am GMT

It goes without saying that the audio and voice quality are top notch. With 40mm Neodymium magnet drivers, the bass is rich, mids are true-to-life, and highs are crystal clear. 

Whether you’re on a conference call, listening to a podcast while working, or vibing to music, the Sony WH-1000XM4 has you covered. With software upscaling, even low quality audio sounds great on these headphones. 

With 5 microphones and advanced digital signal processing software, the Sony WH-1000XM4 has superb voice pickup and noise cancellation, even if you take your meeting somewhere with lots of ambient noise. It’s great at filtering out mid and high frequency noise for crisp clear calls, even when people are speaking in the background. 

And this pair of headphones gets all the fundamentals right too. 30 hours of battery life means they can last several days between charges, and in a pinch, quick charging will net you 5 hours of additional playback for 10 minutes of charging. 

 

The pillowy soft earpads are great at distributing pressure and fit well over the ear. With a lightweight design, you’ll barely notice you’re wearing them, even after 10-12 hours.

What stands out the most about the Sony WH-1000XM4 is all the thought and engineering that’s gone into integrating the audio and voice experience intuitively into your everyday activities.

With adaptive sound control and conversational attenuation the music stops when you start talking and kicks back in once your interaction is done. 

When you remove your headphones, on-head detection pauses playback and resumes as soon as you place them back on. It’s no small feat. 

As many know, working remotely often means working with flexible hours, and these don’t miss a beat when you need to step away for a quick errand. 

Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 – Best New Release

Best New Release
Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones, Black
Pros:
  • 50 hours on a continuous full charge, with up to 3 hours of use on a 10-minute rapid charge
  • Same great studio audio quality as the universally acclaimed ATH-M50X
  • Dual microphones and beamforming technology, which provide improved vocal pickup ensuring crystal-clear audio call quality
Cons:
  • While these headphones are likely to last you years due to the durable build, the headband is similar to previous models, which in our experience showed signs of wear much earlier
  • Not necessarily a con, but it will absolutely expose low quality recordings that slide under the radar with lower quality headphones. Unlike other options, there is no audio upscaling software to compensate here.
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So, we’re not going to beat around the bush, most of our recommendations ended up on the higher end for personal audio hardware. 

It’s just that to achieve the level of voice and audio playback quality that we think are the best overall value when it comes to wireless headphones for working remotely, the higher end options with advancements in hardware and software ended up being worth it. 

But the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 holds up extremely well, and comes in around $200 list price, which we think is amazing since it delivers the same level of audio quality as the critically acclaimed ATH-M50x.

Keep in mind that this is a highly anticipated new release so it might be tough to get it on Amazon at list price. During the initial release period, check out the Audio-Technica website! You might also consider the previous generation ATH-M50xBT which is widely available and is very similar to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 seems to have been purpose-built for working professionals in mind, delivering studio-quality gear to the personal audio market. The Bluetooth 5.0 wireless and microphones don’t typically show up in studio-quality gear, but make an appearance in this model, and they’re pretty good to boot. 

The dual microphones and beamforming technology, provide improved vocal pickup ensuring crystal-clear audio call quality. You can also mute with the press of a button, which comes in handy for virtual meetings.

These headphones have a battery life of up to 50 hours on a continuous full charge, with up to 3 hours of use on a 10-minute rapid charge via the USB-C connection, making them the longest-lasting wireless headphones on this list.

Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless – Best for Minimalists

Best for Minimalists
SENNHEISER Momentum 3 Wireless Headphones
$267.69
Pros:
  • Unique and stylish design
  • Automatic pairing makes first-time setup effortless
  • Simple interface makes for easy operation
  • Sleek carrying case
Cons:
  • Less customization compared to other options at this price point
  • Only 17 hours of battery life per charge due to high power draw
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09/28/2021 02:32 am GMT

The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless is sleek and durable, with excellent sound quality. While it lacks some of the hardware and software features of the others on the list, its focus on simplicity and sound design means that it handles percussive and string sounds better than the alternatives.

It also offers exceptional comfort with its soft ear pads and headband crafted from genuine leather. The overall craftsmanship of the build is second to none on this list. It really will last for quite a while.

It’s simple interface and out of the box settings make the set up and day to day use dead easy.

For working remotely, the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless offers a unique and simple active noise canceling solution with exceptional audio and none of the feature clutter for users that tend not to go all in on customization.

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 – Best for Noise Cancellation

Best for Noise Cancellation
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Over Ear, Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with Built-In Microphone
$379.00
Pros:
  • Excels at noise cancellation with 11 levels of active noise cancellation to eliminate ambient noise
  • Optimized for crisp and clear call quality
  • Incredible sound. Clear, separated sound stage, with very smooth bass, mid, and treble
  • Sleek and stylish look
Cons:
  • Firmware issues earlier in the life cycle of this product led to a poor experience for early adopters. Mostly sorted out now, though it pays to be vigilant with this one.
  • Some users have reported battery life at full charge may drop over repeated usage.
  • The bass is strong but not punchy. The audio quality is great for true to life sound, but if you’re listening to rap or electronic music the experience may be different from what you’re used to.
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09/28/2021 02:32 am GMT

The thing we love the most about the Bose Headphones 700 is that they crank noise cancellation all the way up to 11. 

They literally have 11 levels of active noise cancellation. 

The noise cancellation capability is literally so good that you probably shouldn’t use the highest setting while out and about in unfamiliar areas; you might not notice what’s going on around you.

The voice speaking system is also amazing. 

With 8 microphones total, 6 for noise cancellation, and 2 for voice pickup, even if you’re in a busy office environment like an open floor layout or the kitchen during the lunch rush, you can make calls with almost all of the ambient noise blocked out. 

Your voice will sound clean and crystal clear on calls. Your coworkers will appreciate the quality!

It’s not all rosy though. Historically, firmware updates have been rocky, and when you have noise cancellation turned all the way up, these headphones can generate a good amount of heat.

These headphones also lack adaptive sound capabilities – they give you a lot of control but require you to take the reins. 

 

Apple AirPods Max – Best for Apple Users

Best for Apple Users
Apple AirPods Max
$489.99
Pros:
  • If you’re invested in the Apple ecosystem, the AirPods Max will work seamlessly from set up, to sharing your listening experience with others, to switching between devices
  • Superior audio quality thanks to the 40mm dual-neodymium ring magnet motor
  • Unmatched build quality and comfortable to wear all day long
Cons:
  • Not sweat or water resistant, so be careful when wearing outside when weather conditions are inclement
  • The case doesn’t fully cover the AirPods Max so they don’t offer a lot of protection
  • Lightning charging port. While the format is technically superior in many ways, it’s not as interoperable as USB-C, and that may not be ideal if you’re not primarily an Apple User
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09/28/2021 02:34 am GMT

We’d be remiss if we didn’t include the Apple AirPods Max for our Apple users out there. If you own several Apple devices, the AirPods Max may be worth considering over our other recommendations.

The main advantage over the other options we’ve listed is that the experience of interoperability with other Apple devices is downright magical. 

From the first time you turn on your AirPods Max, to when you switch between devices, swapping works seamlessly without any additional thought or effort. 

This is a huge advantage for working remotely when you need to step away from your computer for a minute while on a call, but still have your phone on hand.

That being said, you definitely pay the Apple Tax for the effortless integration experience.

And it’s Apple, so of course there’s a strong showing on the hardware front, comparable to the others we’ve mentioned above.

For video conferencing, virtual meetings, and phone calls, AirPods Max have six outward-facing microphones to detect noise in the environment, and two inward-facing microphones to measure what you’re hearing. 

The two beamforming microphones help isolate your voice on phone calls, so that you come through clear on the other side, at home, outside on a windy day, when your dog is barking at the delivery truck. 

With transparency mode on, sounds from the world come through as if you’re not wearing headphones at all.  

Buying Guide

We elected to highlight wireless headphones in the closed back over ear form factor for the ambient noise cancellation and environment isolation in addition to the mobility that wireless allows for. 

When working remotely, you may spend many hours in your home office, but working remotely these days often means flexible working arrangements. 

With that in mind, we wanted to consider options that would be suitable whether you’re working from home full-time, or alternating a few days at home with a few days at the office.

Microphone Quality

Unique to this use case, when you’re working remotely, sooner or later you’ll find yourself on calls or virtual meetings, and your coworkers and clients will appreciate when your voice reaches them with clarity and free of interference.

It may even help you stand out and make a great impression when it matters the most.

All of our recommendations have two microphones for exceptional voice pickup and some form of hardware or software filtering to eliminate environmental noise.

Noise Isolation

While noise isolation is important for being heard, it’s just as important for hearing what your coworkers and clients are saying on the other side. There’s nothing more frustrating than background noise cutting in just as your client is about to explain their pain points or just as you’re about to close the deal.

If you’re taking your calls while running an errand or taking the dog out, it’s doubly important that your headphones can adapt to changing ambient noise.

All of our recommendations have advanced noise canceling technology. While some excel more than others, all are sufficient for any kind of work from home acoustic challenges you might face.

Mobility

Working remotely often means working with flexible arrangements. It may mean fully remote, but it may also mean a few days at home and a few days at the office.

We made sure that our picks would be suitable for a range of environments, to that whether you’re at home, at the office, at the bank, or on the occasional commute you can take your calls with confidence.

All day use

Let’s face it, working remotely means you spend a lot of time connected – to other people through slack and zoom, on your computer, or listening to music while working. You may spend 10-12 hours with your headphones on, so comfort and adjustability is really important.

There’s nothing worse than having to constantly take off your headphones because there’s too much pressure or heat or pain around your ears. If the battery doesn’t last the full day either, you’ll likely find yourself inconvenienced by having to charge at inopportune times.

All of our recommendations are built for all day wear and will last at least 10 hours, but many for multiple days on a single charge.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should you choose closed back headphones for working remotely?

Personal audio headphones with ear cups typically come in closed back and open back configurations for the back of the headphone drivers (speakers). Closed back headphones mean that the back of the drivers are completely covered. This results in better noise isolation and ambient sound management. 

Why should you choose over ear headphones for working remotely?

Over ear headphones provide the best noise isolation. High quality over ear headphones typically have microphones that enable support for transparency settings so that you can hear what’s going on around you when you need to.

Conclusion

Given the nature of flexible work, you may find that your lifestyle has you switching between meetings for work, running errands, picking up the kids, and then back at meetings again.

A great pair of high quality wireless headphones for working remotely should adapt to any environment and meld into the fabric of your life, whatever may come your way.

For that reason, we totally recommend the Sony WH-1000XM4 for its intuitive design and exceptional audio and voice quality that makes you forget you’re even using it.

Red
Hi, I'm Red, the Chief Editor of Red Diamond Audio.