Many people prefer neckband headphones over regular wireless earbuds and in-ear headphones for their added ease-of-use. Instead of rummaging through your bag or pockets to find your earbuds, they’re conveniently hanging around your neck, which ensures they’re easy to access when you need them. Neckband headphones also tend to have additional features that more compact earbuds simply can’t provide, like active noise cancelling (ANC), improved microphone performance, and a better battery life.
We’ve tested 81 wireless earbuds and in-ear headphones and below are our recommendations for the best neckband headphones in 2019. If you’re looking for our top picks for other in-ear or earbud 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 headphones that we’ve tested so far are the Bose QuietControl 30. They have comfortable earbuds and adjustable ANC, which helps make them good travel headphones. Their neckband design keeps the earbuds easy-to-access, which is especially helpful when you’re at a busy airport or train station, and they come with a great hard carrying case to protect them when you’re ready to put them away.
They have very impressive isolation for wireless earbuds. They have very good noise cancelling and effectively isolate across the whole spectrum, from the low rumbles of bus or plane engines to the more high-pitched noises of office A/C systems. They also hardly leak at all, so you don’t have to worry about bothering those around you with your music. They have a reasonable battery life of about 11 hours with ANC enabled.
Unfortunately, they have a relatively bulky neckband compared to the other recommendations on this list. Their neckband is covered in a thick rubber-like sleeve, but there have been numerous reports that it tends to separate and peel off with time, and we experienced this with our unit as well. This issue is mostly cosmetic; however, it can affect the functionality of the power button if the sleeve peels back far enough. That said, not everyone will have this problem and the Bose QC 30 are still very good neckband headphones overall.
The best customizable neckband headphones that we’ve tested so far are the Sony WI-1000X. They’re compatible with the Sony | Headphones Connect app which gives you access to lots of customization options. They have a good control scheme and unique cable management slot to help keep their cables out of your way when not in use.
These in-ears have a decently balanced default sound profile that lends itself well to most music genres right out-of-the-box, but can be deeply customized with their companion app. The Sony | Headphones Connect app provides access to a graphic EQ, room and sound positioning effects, and different audio codecs, as well as ANC control. They get about 10 hours of battery life, which is good, and support aptX for lower latency with select Bluetooth devices.
On the downside, they don’t isolate quite as well as they Bose QuietControl 30 and they’re not as comfortable. That said, they feel better-made overall and can even be used passively with their provided audio cable when their battery is dead, which is a great feature that’s rather uncommon among wireless in-ears. If you like their customization options and sound profile but find them a bit expensive, check out the cheaper, yet less premium-feeling, Sony WI-C600N.
If you’re looking for customizable neckband headphones that are less expensive with a different design, then consider the Jabra Elite 45e. Their default sound profile isn’t as well-balanced as that of the Sony WI-1000X, but they’re significantly cheaper and have a more comfortable earbud fit. The Jabra Sound+ app isn’t quite as feature packed as Sony’s, but it offers a good number of customization options, like a graphic EQ and location presets.
On the downside, the Jabra Elite 45e sound mediocre before being EQ’d. They’ll be alright for more bass-heavy genres of music that don’t typically feature vocals, like EDM, but won’t be ideal for more vocal-centric music like pop or rock music. However, if you’re ready to spend a little time with the Jabra Sound+ EQ, you’ll likely find a sound profile to suit your needs.
The best neckband headphones with a decent microphone that we’ve tested so far are the Jabra Elite 65e. They’re a good choice if you like the design of the Bose QuietControl 30 but want better mic performance. They have a surprisingly complete control scheme with a dedicated mic mute button and a comfortable, well-built design.
They have a surprisingly satisfactory microphone for Bluetooth headphones and are currently the best earbuds with a mic that we’ve tested so far. They also have decent noise cancelling and isolate well overall. While they have great bass, some may find they sound a little sharp. Thankfully, the Jabra Sound+ app provides a graphic EQ for you to customize the way they sound. It also lets you choose different noise cancelling profiles and switch between microphone settings.
The Jabra Elite 65e have a 8.5-hour battery life, which is decent, but they don’t last as long as the QC30 or the Sony WI-1000X. Thankfully, they provide audio while charging, which is great if you often use them near a power source like at your desk. If you find their neckband too bulky, consider the Beats BeatsX. They’re not noise cancelling, and their mic isn’t as good, but they have an even more flexible and portable design that some may prefer.
The best budget neckband headphones that we’ve tested so far are the JBL Live 200BT. They have a very lightweight, breathable design with a slim and flexible neckband. They’re fairly comfortable and their controls are easy-to-use. They sound decent and isolate fairly well, which make them a reasonable choice for commuters on a budget or casual users who prefer a neckband-style design.
They have impressive audio reproduction and a very well-balanced sound that lends itself well to music of a wide range of genres. They don’t leak much sound, either, so you don’t have to worry about bothering those around you with your music too much. Their battery provides just over 10 hours of continuous playback, which will help get you through your work day, and they can connect to your laptop and smartphone simultaneously.
On the downside, their microphone performance is quite poor, especially compared to the Jabra Elite 65e. They also have pretty high latency, so they might not be ideal for watching videos or playing mobile games. That said, certain devices and video apps seem to offer some sort of latency compensation, so you may not notice as much. Overall, the JBL Live 200BT perform fairly well, notably for their price, and are a solid option for fans of neckband headphones on a budget.
If you have a Samsung device and are looking for customizable budget headphones, then get the Samsung U Flex. Their default sound profile isn’t quite as balanced as that of the JBL Live 200BT, but you can EQ the way they sound in the Samsung Level app if you have a Samsung device. They’re reasonably well-built for budget headphones and have a flexible, lightweight neckband design that’s sure to please those who enjoy the convenience of having access to their music nearby. The app also provides other customizable features, like room effects and volume monitors.
Unfortunately, the Samsung Level app is only compatible with the U Flex on Samsung devices. If you use another Android device, the Samsung Level U Pro could be worth considering; however, they’re a bit less customizable and can be difficult to find in stock. That said, even if you don’t have a Samsung device, the U Flex are still worth considering thanks to their portable, easy-to-use neckband design that provide decent performance overall.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best neckband 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 reviews of wireless earbuds and in-ears. 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.