What freshly minted grad wouldn’t appreciate a good headphone as a graduation gift. Here’s a wide selection of top wireless models.
With a multitude of models to choose from, it’s not easy to figure out which headphone to buy these days. With that in mind, we’re highlighting several of our highest rated wireless headphones — not all of them are pricey — to help narrow down your gift choice this graduation season.
Note that these products are independently chosen by our editors. CNET may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.
David Carnoy/CNETSony’s WH-1000XM3, the third generation of Sony’s excellent wireless noise-canceling headphones, is more comfortable and features even better performance. It’s currently our top-rated noise-canceling headphone.
Jabra Elite Active 65t
Tyler Lizenby/CNETJabra’s Elite Active 65t ($190) are one of the top truly wireless earphones and are superior to Apple’s AirPods in some ways. The step-down Elite 65t earphones aren’t quite as durable, but there isn’t a huge difference and they sometimes go on sale. (The Elite Active 65t in Copper Blue are currently on sale on Amazon but their ship times are listed at two to four weeks.)
JBL Live 650BTNC
Sarah Tew/CNETWhile its noise-canceling feature and comfort levels aren’t quite on par with competing models from Bose and Sony, JBL’s Live 650BTNC ($200) sound measures up well and it’s worth considering if you don’t want to spend $300 or more on a noise-canceling headphone.
Sarah Tew/CNETApple’s second-generation AirPods are an incremental upgrade from the original AirPods — and incremental upgrades tend to be a little boring. And on the surface anyway, the new AirPods aren’t exciting. However, thanks to those updated components on the inside, including a new H1 chip that supports Bluetooth 5.0, improved audio synchronization and always-on Siri, they’re definitely better in small ways that a lot of people will appreciate. Even though it’s $40 more at $199, the model with the wireless charging case is probably the one to get — if you’re giving it as a gift anyway.
Anker Liberty Air
Sarah Tew/CNETAs long as you’re OK with a noise-isolating design, the Anker Liberty Air are an excellent alternative to the AirPods that cost half the price ($80). And while they’re available in white (like the AirPods), they also come in black.
Beats PowerBeats Pro
Sarah Tew/CNETThe Powerbeats Pro, Beats’ first true wireless earphones, are larger, sportier versions of the 2019 Airpods. They offer all the same basic conveniences of the AirPods, including fast pairing, rock-solid wireless connectivity and always-on Siri voice recognition for iOS users, but they deliver bigger sound and have better battery life. Only drawbacks: They’re fairly pricey and have a bulky charging case. Also, there are some delays with shipping times as demand is high and Beats can’t seem to make them fast enough.
Samsung Galaxy Buds
Angela Lang/CNETIf you’re looking for a headphone gift for an Android user, the Galaxy Buds are Samsung’s latest answer to the AirPods — and they’re a likable set of true wireless earphones.
Sarah Tew/CNETHere’s a way to combine two gifts into one. Yes, the Bose Frames ($200) are both sunglasses and headphones — and they sound surprisingly good for sunglasses headphones.
The Frames are available in two models: the Rondo and Alto. You can only get them in black for now.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless
Sarah Tew/CNETIt’s a little expensive at $300, but the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless is currently the best-sounding true wireless headphone.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Sarah Tew/CNETThe Bose QuietComfort 35 II got a little upgrade this year with the addition of support for Bose AR (only units manufactured at December 2018 have the upgrade). It’s due for a bigger refresh later this year, but the current version is still a great noise-canceling headphone.
Tribit XFree Tune
Sarah Tew/CNETIf you don’t want to spend a lot on a headphone gift but want something that sounds good and is comfortable to wear, the Tribit XFree Tune at just less than $50 is a good bet for a full-size Bluetooth headphone. It doesn’t have active noise-canceling but the earcups passively seal out a fair amount of sound.