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While neckband headphones might seem a bit outdated in comparison - after all, their core design hasn't changed much from the very first Bluetooth earphones - they're still very popular.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 570 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 Wireless. These well-built earbuds feature an in-line mic that's positioned quite close to the wearer's mouth, helping it do a satisfactory job of isolating speech from loud ambient noise. It also provides decent overall recording quality, making your voice sound reasonably full-bodied and quite clear. There's even a dedicated microphone mute button on their in-line remote.
They're also equipped with an effective ANC system that allows them to block out ambient noise to an impressive degree, helping you stay focused on what's being said on a call even in noisy environments. They can also pair with two devices simultaneously, allowing you to take calls from both your phone and computer without needing to go through the re-pairing process. Their eight-hour-plus battery life should also allow for a full day of use, and their companion app features dedicated microphone configuration settings.
Unfortunately, they have somewhat high Bluetooth audio latency, though different apps and devices compensate to varying degrees for this, so your real-world experience may vary. Thanks to their wide feature set and decent overall mic performance, these earbuds are among the best earphones with a mic that we've tested.
The Sony WI-C400 Wireless are the best neckband earbuds in the budget range that we've tested. These in-ears have a stable fit, so they shouldn't fall out of your ears while you're working out. They're decently comfortable, and they even come with three different sizes of ear tips to help you get the best possible fit.
Out-of-the-box, they have a pretty neutral, balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different audio content, though they struggle to reproduce low-bass. They don't leak a lot of sound, and escaping audio sounds very thin, so it shouldn't bother anyone around you. Also, they last for 17.5 hours off of a single charge, which should be more than enough to get you through your days on-the-go without a recharge.
Unfortunately, while they have fair overall build quality, the thin cables connecting the earbuds seem very fragile. Also, since they can't reproduce low-bass, they aren't really suitable for listening to bass-heavy music genres like EDM and hip-hop. That said, if you're on a budget, these neckband headphones offer reasonable overall performance.
If you're looking to spend less on a pair of wireless earphones, take a look at the Sony WI-C310 Wireless. They aren't as stable in the ear as the Sony WI-C400 Wireless and offer slightly inferior overall mic performance, but they're substantially cheaper. Their roughly 17-hour continuous battery life is also only marginally shorter than that of the WI-C400, and they do a reasonable job of filtering out background noise. Their flexible design also makes them a little easier to store, and their in-ear fit is decently comfortable and leaks very little audio, so you can listen to content at fairly high volumes without worrying about annoying people nearby. Unfortunately, they don't feel especially well-built, with thin audio cables and mushy-feeling controls on their in-line mic.
If you're looking for budget-friendly in-ears with a dedicated neckband design, get the WI-C400. If you're looking to save some more money and don't mind their more flexible design, consider the WI-C310.
Mar 30, 2021: Verified that all main picks were still in stock and represent the best choice for their given category. Added Beats Flex Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Jan 29, 2021: Removed the Beats BeatsX Wireless as 'Better-Built Budget Alternative' as it's now priced above the Budget category. Added the Sony WI-C310 Wireless as 'Cheaper Alternative'.
Nov 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'.
Sep 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'.
Jul 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.