Office headphones are typically versatile headsets that can be used at work or in an office-like environment. They should be comfortable to use for long periods as well as block the ambient noise of a moderately busy office. They should also have minimal leakage so that you don't disturb the people around you.
We've tested over 400 headphones so far and below are our recommendations for the headsets for the office to buy in 2020. See also our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones and the best noise cancelling earbuds. See also our recommendations for the best mice and the best keyboards.
The best headphones for the office that we’ve tested so far are the Bose 700 Headphones. They have a premium build and aesthetic that's quite different from their popular Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018, but they manage to retain the great comfort these headphones are known for.
As usual, Bose's active noise cancelling is one of the best on the market. The ANC performance in the mid-range is simply superb, which is great for blocking out ambient speech, and the treble performance is outstanding as well, which helps to reduce the hum of AC units on those hot summer days. In terms of comfort and build quality, the headband is reinforced with stainless steel while the ear cups, though shallow, are well-padded with a plushy material. With ANC enabled, the battery can last over 20 hours and takes only 2 hours to charge.
While these headphones are compatible with Bose's mobile app, their functionality remains limited: there's only an option to adjust the amount of noise cancelling applied and to remap the buttons on the headphones. They also leak a bit, which shouldn't cause any issues when listening at a normal volume level, but can be bothersome if you tend to blast your music or if you work in a particularly noise-sensitive office. Overall, these headphones are still a great choice for any office.
If you work in a particularly noisy office and need headphones with excellent noise cancelling, then get the Sony WH-1000XM3. Their microphone doesn't perform as well as that of the Bose 700 Headphones Wireless, but they cancel even more noise, so you can help you focus on your work even when your colleagues are chatting away right next to you. They're also highly customizable thanks to their compatibility with the Sony | Headphones Connect app, which gives you access to a nice graphic EQ, room and sound positioning effects, adaptive noise cancelling, and even different Bluetooth codec options. Their auto-off timer only activates when they're no longer in range of their Bluetooth source, so if you connect them to your work PC and leave them at your desk before you go home, make sure to turn them off first.
Get the Bose if you're looking for a headset to make calls in the office, but if you need something with stronger noise cancelling, then go for the Sonys, which are still some of the best headphones for work.
If the more premium options are outside of your price range, take a look at the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2, some of the best headphones for the office. They’re not as well-built as the Bose 700 Headphones Wireless, but they’re significantly less expensive and have a physical control scheme that’s easier to use. They have decent noise isolation, an outstanding 30-hour battery life, and an exciting bass-heavy sound that’s great for enjoying your favorite tracks all day long. Their ANC isn’t quite as good as competing models, though, so if you care a lot about noise isolation, you’ll want to take a look at the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC: they don’t sound as good as the Plantronics out of the box, but they’re more customizable, block out more noise, and leak less.
Get the Bose if you want more stylish, better-built headphones and your budget allows it, but if you prefer the ease-of-use of physical controls and don’t mind their bulkier design, then you’ll want to go for the Plantronics, especially since they provide such great value for their price.
If you like active noise cancelling but prefer the portability of earbuds, the Bose QuietControl 30/QC30 Wireless are the best noise cancelling office earbuds we've tested so far. Their sleek neckband and in-ear design make them a good choice for those who don't like the bulkiness of headphones.
Well-balanced, these earbuds give you a deep, punchy bass. They also have great noise isolation. If you need a little more flexibility to hear things around you, the Bose mobile companion app allows you to customize the noise cancelling intensity. The battery life is also good too: with over 11 hours of continuous playback, you should be able to make it through your work day without pausing to recharge. Whether you're walking to the water cooler or your cubicle, these earbuds also make it easy to move around, thanks to their wireless, light design.
The treble range of these headphones is uneven, so sounds in this range might sound weak or sharp. However, this should still sound decent to most people. Users might not also like the neckband: slightly bulky and sometimes able to get snagged on clothes, this design might not be for everyone. If you like the minimal look of in-ears, though, these are a good option for headphones for work.
If you like neckband-style earbuds but don’t want something too expensive, then consider the Jabra Elite 65e, some of the best earbuds for work that we've tested. They don’t isolate noise as well or sound as good as the Bose QuietControl 30/QC30 Wireless, but they’re significantly cheaper and have a much better wireless microphone for taking calls. Their controls even include a mic mute button, which can be handy during conference calls. Although they sound less balanced than the Bose, they're compatible with the Jabra Sound+ app which provides access to a graphic EQ.
If you don’t want to have to fiddle with an EQ to make your earbuds sound good, you’ll want to get the Bose since they sound better right out-of-the-box; however, if you care more about mic quality and want earbuds that are cheaper but feel more durable, then get the Jabra.
The best budget office headphones we've tested so far are the Anker SoundCore Life 2. If you're looking for something comfortable but still wallet-friendly, these are an affordable choice for headphones to use at work.
During those long 9-5 shifts, a comfortable pair of headphones can help you get through the day with your favorite audio. Their plushy ear cups and padded headband help to reduce fatigue, especially if you wear them throughout the day. The sound of these headphones is good too: they have an excited but balanced sound profile that's suitable for most audio. Their 28-hour battery life also means you won't have to worry about charging them while you're cranking out your expense reports. Even if you forget to charge them, the included audio cable allows you to listen to music passively.
Unfortunately, their noise cancelling is mediocre. However, if you need to drown out the sound of rolling office chairs or talkative co-workers, you can turn up the volume: these headphones don't leak very much sound, so you shouldn't bother those around you. Their headband is also large and might not fight smaller heads as well. Still, the overall comfort and long battery life of these headphones make them a good choice for those looking to save a few dollars.
If you don't mind not having active noise cancelling and prefer the portability of earbuds for work, then get the AUKEY Latitude, one of our best headphones for an office environment. They might not be as comfortable to wear over long periods as the Anker SoundCore Life 2 Wireless, but their in-ear fit passively isolates significantly more noise than Anker's ANC feature does. You can pair and can use them with your work PC and smartphone at the same time, and they even support aptX-LL, so if you have a compatible Bluetooth dongle you shouldn't notice as much audio lag as you might with other Bluetooth headsets. They can also sound a bit boomy, but fans of electronic music will likely prefer their added bass.
If you're concerned about comfort, you’ll want to go for the Anker. However, if you want something that can isolate more noise, then the AUKEY are the way to go.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best office headphones for most people are to buy. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for office headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and where you use the headphones will matter more in your selection.
03/06/2020: Minor text and structural changes. No change in recommendations.
10/28/2019: Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; changed the budget in-ear alternative from the 'More Customizable' Jaybird Freedom F5 to the 'Passively Isolating' AUKEY Latitude.