Office headphones are typically versatile headsets that can be used at work or in an office-like environment. This means that headphones good for office use should have minimal leakage to not disturb the people around you. They should be comfortable to use for long periods and block the ambient noise of a moderately busy office.
We've tested over 400 headphones so far and below are our recommendations for the best office headsets to buy in 2020. See also our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones and the best noise cancelling earbuds.
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, but they manage to retain the great comfort these headphones are known for. The headband is reinforced with stainless steel while the ear cups, though shallow, are well-padded with a plushy material.
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. With ANC enabled, the battery can last over 20 hours and takes only 2 hours to charge. One thing of note, though: they do leak a bit, so while they shouldn't cause any issues when listening at a normal volume level, they can be bothersome if you tend to blast your music or if you work in an office that's particularly noise sensitive.
These headphones are compatible with Bose's mobile app, but the functionality remains limited, as there's only an option to adjust the amount of noise cancelling applied and to remap the buttons on the headphones if you don't like the default settings. All in all, 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 BackBeat Pro 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 probably a better fit for you. These headphones have a comfortable neckband design but may not suit everyone. The neckband itself feels fairly well-built and dense, however, there have been reports of the rubber coating peeling off after a few months of use, and although it's mainly a cosmetic issue, it's still disappointing to see on a pair of headphones at this price point. That issue aside, they're still great sounding headphones with excellent active noise cancelling performance.
The noise isolation performs well across all frequency range and the intensity of noise cancelling can be adjusted through Bose's mobile companion app. Sadly, the ANC and auto-off timer are the only features that are customizable within the app, as it's sorely lacking any preset sound profiles or graphic EQ for further customization. Battery life is good, with an average of over 11 hours of continuous playback, and they take about 2.5 hours to charge.
In regards to sound, these headphones are well-balanced, with deep, punchy bass, and a flawless mid-range. The treble, however, can be somewhat uneven and may sound sharp, but overall, they should be pleasing to most ears. If you're looking for earbuds that can block out your colleagues' chatter and still sound good, give these headphones a try.
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. They might be slightly outside of the budget range for some, but their comfortable design, low leakage excellent battery life make them worth it. They feel fairly well-built and come with a great hard carrying case too, so you can protect them at your desk when they're not in use.
These headphones have an excited, yet balanced sound profile that's suitable for a wide range of music you might want to listen to at work. Their battery lasts an impressive 28 hours, and you can also use them passively with their provided audio cable when it finally runs out, which is helpful since they don't have an auto-off timer. The cable also has an in-line microphone, which should provide better recording quality than their integrated Bluetooth mic.
While their noise cancelling is rather mediocre, they don't leak very much sound, so you should be able to mask most ambient noise without bothering your colleagues by raising your listening volume a bit. Their headband is quite large, though, and might not fit those with smaller heads as well. The Mixcder E9 Wireless have a more snug fit and better noise cancelling, but they leak quite a bit more sound and their battery doesn't last as long, so the Ankers are a slightly better choice overall.
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 the 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 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 Ankers. However, if you want something that can isolate more noise, then the AUKEYs 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.
01/08/2020: Minor text and structure 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.