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While neckband headphones might seem a bit outdated in comparison - after all, their core design hasn't changed much from the very first Bluetooth earphones - they're still very popular.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 still generally have better ANC, microphone, and battery performance.
We’ve tested more than 600 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 picks 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-1000XM2 Wireless. They're well-built and have a malleable silicone neckband that feels light and comfortable. They're more compact than the previous-generation Sony WI-1000X Wireless, and their in-line controls are much easier to use.
They have an active noise cancelling (ANC) feature that does a good job blocking distractions, like the rumble of bus and plane engines and background chatter. Their default sound profile lacks low bass, which may bother fans of genres like EDM and hip-hop, but you can customize it in the app with a graphic EQ and presets. Their continuous battery life of about 8.6 hours is just okay, but they recharge quite quickly and come with an audio cable included, so you can use them wired if you run out of battery life.
Unfortunately, their in-ear fit isn't the most comfortable and may be fatiguing after a while. Depending on how they fit you, they may not be the most stable and may be prone to falling out of place when you move your head. That said, they come with several different tip size options to help you find the best fit, and if you like headphones with a neckband design, these are a versatile option.
The best neckband Bluetooth headphones for working out that we've tested are the Sony WI-C600N. These Bluetooth-only headphones are decently well-built and comfortable. They have good stability, so they should stay in place during workouts or when you're out for a jog.
They have good controls on their neckband, so you can turn up the volume or skip a track during a workout without taking out your phone. Their default sound profile is a bit bass-rich and boomy, which may suit fans of EDM and hip-hop. You can also customize it with a graphic EQ and presets in the companion software. Their ANC feature does a good job of isolating you from background noise, as well, although it struggles a bit more with bass-range sounds like rumbling engines.
Unfortunately, they have a continuous battery life of just under six hours, which isn't very long. They also lack an IP rating for dust and water resistance, which may be disappointing for some, although we don't currently test for it. Still, they're a solid option for the gym if you're looking for neckband headphones.
The best neckband earbuds in the budget category that we've tested are the Sony WI-C400 Wireless. These earbuds are decently comfortable and come with three differently-sized tips to help you get the most stable fit. Their neckband is made of flexible plastic, and you can adjust the lengths of the cables that go to your ears.
They have a fairly neutral, well-balanced sound profile, making them suitable for a variety of different types of content. They don't leak very much sound, so you can turn up the volume without worrying about bothering people nearby, and they passively isolate you from a decent amount of mid-range noise, like conversations. Also, their continuous battery life of roughly 17.5 hours is more than enough to long enough to last you through a typical workday.
Unfortunately, while they have an okay overall built quality, the audio cables and earbud tips feel fragile. They also struggle to reproduce the thump and rumble of low bass, so they aren't ideal for listening to bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. Otherwise, if you're looking for budget-friendly headphones with a neckband design, these are a solid option.
If you want an even cheaper pair of wireless neckband earphones, you may prefer the Sony WI-C310 Wireless. Their mic performance isn't as good as the Sony WI-C400 Wireless', and they aren't as stable, but they cost less, and their flexible design makes them a bit easier to store. They have a similar continuous battery life of roughly 17 hours, recharge more quickly, and are decently stable and comfortable. They passively isolate you from a good amount of mid-range noise like ambient chatter, and they leak very little audio, so you can listen to music at high volumes without bothering people around you too much. Unfortunately, they aren't very well-built, since the cables and in-line controls feel fragile.
If you want budget-friendly in-ears with a plastic neckband design, get the WI-C400, but if you want to spend less and don't mind their flexible cable design, you may prefer the WI-C310.
Jul 27, 2021: Checked picks to make sure they represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.
May 28, 2021: Replaced the Sony WI-1000X with the Sony WI-1000XM2 Wireless as the pick for 'Best Neckband Headphones' because the WI-1000X are out of stock. Removed the Jabra Elite 65e Wireless as the pick for 'Best Neckband Headphones For Mic Quality' because they're also out of stock. Changed the category to 'Best Neckband Headphones For Working Out' and added the Sony WI-C600N.
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'.
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.