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The 6 Best Neckband Headphones - Summer 2019
Reviews

Best Neckband Headphones
376 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

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 77 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.

  1. Best Neckband Headphones: Bose QuietControl 30/QC30 Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.0
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.0
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.5
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    7.6
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    7.4
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    5.3
    Gaming
    Type : Earbuds
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    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.

    See our review

  2. Better-Built Alternative: Sony WI-1000X Wireless

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Balanced Armature

    If you’re looking for high-end neckband headphones with a more solid design, go for the Sony WI-1000X Wireless. They’re not as comfortable as the Bose QuietControl 30, but they feel better-made. They have a unique cable management slot to help keep their cables out of your way when not in use and feel more durable overall. They’re compatible with the Sony | Headphones Connect app, which gives you access to lots of customization options like ANC control along with a graphic EQ.

    On the downside, these headphones don’t last quite as long as the Bose, and they take a bit longer to charge. However, they can 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 don’t mind their in-ear fit, they’re a worthwhile alternative to the Bose, especially for travel.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Neckband Headphones: Jabra Elite 65e Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.0
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    6.8
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.4
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    7.6
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    7.3
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    5.4
    Gaming
    Type : Earbuds
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you like the Bose QuietControl 30 but find them too expensive, the best neckband headphones in the mid-range category are the Jabra Elite 65e. They have a comfortable earbud design like the Bose with a durable yet flexible neckband. These headphones have a surprisingly complete control scheme for wireless earbuds, with dedicated buttons for controlling ANC and muting their mic. 

    They have a surprisingly satisfactory microphone for Bluetooth headphones and are currently the best earbuds with a decent 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.

    These headphones have a 8.5-hour battery life, which is decent, but they don’t last as long as the Bose 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, like the Bose, consider the Beats BeatsX. They’re not noise cancelling, but they have an even more flexible and portable design that some may prefer.

    See our review

  4. Alternative With A More Customizable EQ: Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear/HD1 In-Ear Wireless

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you like to be able to fine-tune the sound of your headphones exactly to your liking, consider the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear. They don’t have the microphone performance of the Jabra Elite 65e and sound rather unremarkable straight out-of-the-box, but they’re compatible with the Sennheiser Captune app which lets you customize their sound in-depth. The app provides access to a great parametric EQ so you can fine-tune your listening experience your way.

    Unfortunately, they don’t isolate noise very well. They’re not ANC headphones like the Jabra Elite 65e, and their in-ear fit alone doesn’t block enough noise for them to be particularly well-suited for use while traveling or commuting. Thankfully they don’t leak too much, so if you need to mask more noise you can raise your listening volume a bit without bothering others.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Neckband Headphones: Samsung U Flex Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.8
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    6.7
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    6.9
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    7.6
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    6.9
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    5.7
    Gaming
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you have a Samsung device and are looking for customizable budget headphones, then get the Samsung U Flex. They’re not noise cancelling headphones like the Jabra Elite 65e or the Bose QuietControl 30, but they still provide a feature-packed experience for their price. 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.

    These headphones sound alright once you first power them on, but some may find they sound a little bright. For those who use a Samsung smartphone, you can EQ their sound in the Samsung Level app to better suit your tastes. The app also provides other customizable features, like room effects and volume monitors.

    Unfortunately, the Samsung Level app is only compatible with them 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 provides decent performance overall.

    See our review

  6. Alternative With Universal App Support: Jabra Elite 45e Wireless

    Type : Earbuds
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you use Android devices from other manufacturers or iOS and would like your headphones to have a companion app that works across multiple platforms, consider the Jabra Elite 45e. They’re more expensive than the Samsung U Flex, but their companion app is compatible with the majority of mobile devices. These headphones are more comfortable and even more portable than the Samsung, and their battery takes less than an hour to charge.

    On the downside, they 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.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Mpow Jaws 4.1 Wireless: Budget wireless neckband in-ears with very good passive noise isolation and virtually no leakage, but sound rather disappointing. See our review
  • Sony WI-C400 Wireless: Wireless neckband in-ears with a very good 17.5-hour battery life, but take 4 hours to charge, sound mediocre at best, and don’t feel very well-built. See our review
  • Jabra Elite 25e Wireless: Similar in design to the Jabra Elite 65e but with no ANC and perform significantly worse overall, save for their surprisingly great 16-hour battery life. See our review
  • Beats BeatsX Wireless: Flexible wireless neckband in-ears that sound decent and have great passive isolation. Good for sports. See our review

All Reviews

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.

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