Why go wireless, and what are your options?
Wireless headphones are ideal for home theater, a home stereo system or even video games when you don't want a cord to get in the way. They're also popular for workouts, where a dangling headphone wire could get snagged during exercise.
However, sound quality can be an issue with wireless headphones. The very best models can sound every bit as good as their wired headphone equivalents, but still suffer from interference and hiss under certain circumstances. For use with mobile devices, including cell phones, MP3 players, tablets and the like, wireless headphones use Bluetooth technology.
The best Bluetooth headphones can sound great in their own right, and this can be easily verified by using them corded -- an available option on some of the best models. Yet Bluetooth technology has a limited dynamic range, which can affect sound quality. Some Bluetooth headphones and some newer mobile devices use aptX technology to make things sound a bit better. Reviews indicate that mobile devices and Bluetooth headphones that support aptX, such as our Best Reviewed Harman Kardon BT, do benefit.
In general, however, the best-sounding wireless headphones are designed for home theater or gaming use. They tend to be bulky and aren't ideal for those on the go, but their comfort level is often high since they're meant for extended use such as movies, games and listening to music.
When playing video games on computers or gaming consoles, dedicated gaming headphones designed specifically for this purpose are the best choice. Most have a microphone for communicating with others in multiplayer games. Wireless gaming headphones may not have great range, but they do offer excellent clarity and performance. Most include simulated surround sound that does a great job of placing you in the heart of the action, but it won't be as completely realistic as a surround-sound setup made up of discrete loudspeakers appropriately placed around the room.
We consider three factors when looking for the best wireless headphones for use at home, on the go and for gaming. Sound quality is paramount, of course, but even the best-sounding wireless headphones won't be appreciated if they're uncomfortable to wear. Ditto for headphones with poorly placed controls or other usability issues. Finally, value can't be overlooked.
Professional reviewers, including the experts at sites such as CNET, PCMag.com and What Hi-Fi? help determine how today's wireless headphones stack up. User feedback is also critical, especially since it reflects longer use than most experts can dedicate to one product. We weigh feedback from owner reviews at Amazon.com, Newegg.com, Crutchfield.com and elsewhere.