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While neckband headphones might seem a bit outdated in comparison - after all, their core design hasn't changed much from the very first Bluetooth earphones - they're still very popular.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 100 wireless earbuds and in-ear headphones. 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 wireless neckband headphones we've tested so far are the Bose QuietControl 30. These headphones have a curved neckband that keeps you comfortable whether you're commuting or working at the office, and their soft, silicone earbud tips have a secure fit that doesn't put too much pressure on your ear canal.
Thanks to their well-balanced and neutral sound profile, they're versatile enough for a wide array of audio genres such as rock or podcasts. They also have an impressive active noise cancelling feature that helps to cut background sounds like bus and train engines so that you can enjoy your commute. Although they can take a bit of time to charge, their 11-hour battery life should be able to last you through your work day and their auto-timer is a nice feature that can help you save power when not in use.
On the downside, they don't have the best build quality. While it's mostly a cosmetic issue, the rubber coating surrounding the neckband can detach and peel away, which is disappointing for higher-end headphones like these. Still, they deliver a comfortable fit with great noise cancelling and a balanced, neutral sound, making them one of the best neckband headphones we've tested to date.
The best neckband Bluetooth headphones for customization we've tested so far are the Sony WI-1000X. Although it might be tempting to go for the newer generation Sony WI-1000XM2 Wireless instead, the older model actually 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 these neckband headphones 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. These headphones 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.
The best neckband earphones for mic quality we've tested so far are the Jabra Elite 65e. While the other earphones on this list are alright for phone calls, these have a much better microphone that actually sounds decent. They have a lightweight neckband design and surprisingly comfortable earbud fit, so you shouldn't feel too much fatigue whether you're catching up with an old friend or pitching a new business idea.
These Bluetooth earbuds have a great active noise cancelling feature that does an impressive job at cutting out distracting ambient noises, so you can focus on your calls. They can also connect to two different devices simultaneously, so you can take calls on your phone while listening to music on your laptop at the same time. They have an impressive set of controls, which include a mic-mute button - handy during remote meetings - and their battery will last up to 8 hours.
While their mic performance is fairly well-rounded, their default sound profile isn't as versatile. They sound surprisingly dark and lack quite a bit of detail and clarity, which can make voices sound muffled. Thankfully, you can customize the way they sound with their companion app to help them reproduce voices more accurately. The app also lets you tweak some microphone settings, another small touch that helps make them the best earbuds with a mic we've tested so far.
The JBL Live 200BT are the best budget neckband headphones that we've tested to date. For their price point, they offer great value thanks to their well-balanced sound profile, and lightweight, low-profile neckband design. They're also suitable for smaller ears as they have smaller earbuds.
These headphones are suitable for any audio genre including EDM and podcasts as they're able to reproduce sound with outstanding accuracy. Although they don't have active noise cancelling, they can help cut down some background sounds like chatter or A/C noise. Their battery life also lasts just a bit over 10 hours which should be long enough to get you through your workday without pausing to recharge.
For this price point, their lack of features is to be expected. Their integrated microphone also has an overall sub-par performance and they aren't compatible JBL's companion app. That being said, they're still a solid budget choice, especially if you don't mind their straightforward design.
If you're looking for something more fully-featured and have a Samsung phone, then get the Samsung U Flex. They don't sound quite as well-balanced as the JBL Live 200BT Wireless straight out-of-the-box, but they're a lot more customizable thanks to their companion app on Samsung devices. With any other Android phone, the app is nearly useless, but on Samsung, you get not only a graphic EQ, but also room effects and volume monitors for different connected devices. They last just over 11 hours on a charge and also have a standby mode to help save power. Their in-ear fit isn't comfortable for everyone, though, and they don't isolate much noise passively.
Get the JBL if you'd prefer a simpler pair of earbuds that are missing all the bells and whistles but do what they do well. However, if you have a Samsung phone and would rather have something you can customize, then go for the U Flex.
05/29/2020: Verification for accuracy; text refresh to keep things up-to-date.
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 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.