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Wireless Bluetooth® headphones buying guide

Enjoy great sound without the tether to your device

David Brown is a member of Crutchfield's Home A/V writing team. He studied writing and politics at Ithaca College in upstate New York, where he grew up. He spent 12 years in Washington, D.C., where he earned a Masters degree in journalism and wrote an award-winning humor column. David relocated to Charlottesville, VA, in 2012. He enjoys listening to music, playing the guitar and piano, and hiking with his wife and children.

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Ever been annoyed by that dangling wire between your headphones and your smartphone? If so, you should consider a pair of wireless Bluetoooth headphones. They allow you to enjoy high-quality sound without being tethered to your device.

Wireless Bluetooth headphones

Crutchfield Advisor Enrique pairs his smartphone to a set of Bluetooth headphones, and listens cable-free.

How do they work?

Most wireless headphones use Bluetooth – you’ve probably heard of it. It’s the wireless technology in every smartphone and tablet, plus most computers. If you want to listen to music wirelessly from any of these devices, then you’ll want a pair of Bluetooth headphones.

Many Bluetooth headphones have built-in control buttons. They let you play and pause the music, skip tracks, and adjust the volume with the headphones. That means you can maintain control of your music while your phone stays in your pocket.

What about phone calls?

You can also take phone calls with Bluetooth headphones thanks to built-in microphones. When a call comes in, your music will pause. You can answer the call with the tap of a button, carry on your conversation, and hang up with another button press. Your music will even start back up.

Bluetooth wireless headphones

Most Bluetooth headphones offer controls on the earcups for taking calls, adjusting volume, and controlling music playback.

Benefits for Android users

If you have an Android phone, there are a couple of features to look for when shopping for Bluetooth headphones. NFC pairing makes a wireless connection between devices by simply touching them together. Want better sound quality? Look for headphones with aptX®. This high-quality wireless technology offers improved sound over standard Bluetooth transmission.

Extended wireless range with Beats

The newest Beats wireless headphones offer some unique benefits. Along with parent company Apple, they’ve developed a way to extend Bluetooth range up to 100 feet. Our test with the Beats Solo3 headphones yielded a range of more than 150 feet.

Bose Solo3 headphones with extended wireless range

Our headphone writer, Jeff, tests out the extended wireless range of the Bose Solo3 headphones.

Want headphones for watching TV?

Looking for wireless headphones to better hear the TV or watch movies late at night? Instead of Bluetooth, get a transmitter-based headphone system. They're easy to connect to your TV, cable box, or home theater system. Plus, they offer listening ranges of over 100 feet and can delivery CD-quality sound. To learn more, read our article on wireless TV headphone systems.

Wireless TV headphones

Sennheiser's RS series headphones use a wireless transmitter and over-ear headset for TV listening.

  • G. Freedman

    Posted on 5/27/2015

    Can wireless headphones be connected to cable boxes provided by cable companies?

  • David Brown from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/28/2015

    Yes, most wireless headphones that work over RF with a separate transmitter, such as the Sennheiser RS line of headphones, can be connected to a cable box. Most cable boxes have stereo RCA outputs that can output audio simultaneously with the HDMI output for audio and video. With these cable boxes, you could connect the headphone transmitter to these RCA outputs and listen wirelessly to cable programming using the headphones.
    This would allow you to listen either with headphones or with your TV's built-in speakers or an external audio system such as a sound bar or home theater system - or both at the same time.
    To find out how wireless headphones will work with your specific gear, call, chat, or email us.

  • Alden

    Posted on 2/6/2017

    Nice Guide

  • WAYNE from PLAUCHEVILLE

    Posted on 6/2/2017

    Can the TV volume be heard from the TV while the wireless headphones are in use, so others watching the TV can hear as well?

  • Jeff Miller from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/7/2017

    Wayne -- You'll have to check your TV's audio settings. Some TVs let you connect transmitter-based headphones (or another audio device, like a sound bar) and still play audio through the TV speakers.

    Also, most of the transmitter-based headphones let you connect more than one headset.

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