Not too long ago, if you wanted wireless earbuds with active noise cancelling (ANC), or even just a good battery life, neckband headphones were the way to go. However, companies have been getting better and better at cramming these powerful features into ultra-compact truly wireless earbuds.
While neckband headphones might seem a bit outdated in comparison - after all, their core design hasn't changed much from the very first Bluetooth earphones - they're still very popular. Many people prefer how you can just put them around your neck and forget about them. You can enjoy having your music at arm's reach all day long without needing to worry about dropping your earbuds if you take them out to chat with a friend. Even though truly wireless technology is catching up, neckband headphones also still generally have better ANC, microphone, and battery performance.
We’ve tested over 520 headphones, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best neckband headphones. If you’re looking for our top picks of other earbuds or in-ear headphones, check out our recommendations for the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds and in-ears, the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds for running and working out, and the best noise cancelling earbuds.
The best neckband Bluetooth headphones that we've tested are the Sony WI-1000X Wireless. Although it may be tempting to go for the newer generation Sony WI-1000XM2 Wireless instead, the older model performs better overall and is even more customizable. Their battery lasts longer, their noise cancelling is a little stronger, and they have a slightly more balanced sound out-of-the-box.
While they perform very well on their own, their excellent compatibility with the Sony | Headphones Connect app helps bring them to the next level. By default, they have a versatile, neutral sound. However, with the app, you can not only fine-tune their sound profile with a graphic EQ but also add room effects, customize sound positioning, and even activate virtual surround sound. They can also be used wired once their 10-hour battery life runs out with the included micro-USB to 1/8" TRS cable, which provides extra value while traveling.
Unfortunately, some people find the earbuds press down uncomfortably near the ear canal, which can cause some fatigue over time. On the upside, these neckband earphones come with seven different tip options to help you find the best possible fit. Their in-ear fit also helps with their passive noise isolation. Combined with their impressive active noise cancelling, they isolate noise remarkably well, which makes them especially easy to recommend for commute and travel, making them some of the best neckband headphones.
The best neckband Bluetooth headphones for mic quality we've tested are the Jabra Elite 65e. These earbuds feature an in-line mic that’s closer to the mouth than other wireless models, which minimizes the volume of background chatter and makes your voice sound clearer and more full-bodied. Combined with a dedicated button for muting the microphone, they’re great for phone calls.
While their default sound profile is a little lacking in detail and clarity, it can be adjusted in the Jabra Sound+ app, which provides a wealth of functionality for their other features, including microphone controls, multi-device pairing, and setting up ANC profiles. With the latter system activated, they do a very good job of blocking out noise across the audible spectrum. They’re also very well-built and quite comfortable, with stability fins that help them stay in place, even if you’re out on a run.
Unfortunately, their 8.5-hour battery life is a little on the short side. Their earbuds have unusually long stalks, so their fit might not suit everyone. Still, thanks to their high-quality microphone and customization options, the Jabra are among the best earbuds with a mic we’ve tested.
The Sony WI-C400 Wireless are the best neckband earbuds in the budget range that we've tested. Although they don't really offer a lot of extra features, they support NFC pairing, which makes them easier to pair with another NFC-compatible device. They also have a decently comfortable in-ear fit, so you should be able to wear them without feeling too much fatigue.
Although they lack a touch of thump and rumble, they're mid and treble ranges are quite neutral and flat, which makes them suitable for content like pop music or audiobooks. They also have a 17.5-hour battery life that's sure to last you through a long workday. Their leakage performance is excellent, and you shouldn't bother your coworkers too much if you like to listen to your audio at a high volume.
Unfortunately, they take roughly four hours to charge, which can be a bit of a wait. Their mic also struggles to capture your voice clearly, and speech lacks detail and brightness. Their build quality is also just okay, but that's to be expected at this price-point. If you're looking to save some money and you don't mind their lack of features, they're a suitable choice.
If you're looking for a pair of neckband headphones with better build quality, try the Beats BeatsX. While they aren't technically neckband headphones and they aren't as comfortable as the Sony WI-C400 Wireless, they have a flexible rubberized neckband, which makes them easier to fold up and store in your pocket. They also have a W1 chip, which makes it easy to connect to different Apple devices. Their sound profile is better-balanced and can produce a lot more thump, rumble, and punch. Thanks to their passive noise isolation, they can also cut down some mid-range noise like office chatter. However, their integrated mic struggles a bit more to separate your voice from ambient noise around you. Their battery life doesn't last as long as the Sony, and you may need to recharge them at some point during your 9-5 workday.
If you prefer having a longer-lasting battery life and a more comfortable fit, check out the Sony. However, if you value flexibility and portability in your headphones, go for the Beats.
11/24/2020: Replaced the Bose Quiet Control 30/QC30 Wireless with the Sony WI-1000X for 'Best Neckband Headphones'. Removed the JBL Live 200BT Wireless and replaced it with the Sony WI-C400 Wireless for 'Best Budget Neckband Headphones'.
09/25/2020: Moved the Samsung U Flex Wireless from 'Fully-Featured Alt' to 'Best Budget' to Notable Mentions to reflect pricing changes. Added the Beats BeatsX Wireless as 'Better-Isolating Alt' to 'Best Budget'.
07/28/2020: Minor changes to text for accuracy and clarity; no change in product picks.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best neckband Bluetooth headphones to buy for most people in each price range. 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 wireless in-ear and earbud headphones reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.