T3 Awards 2017 together with Three: Best Bluetooth headphones

Whether you rock the on-ear, the over-ear or the in-ear look, these are the cream of this year's portable audio crop

As you'd expect, we're exploring the techiest part of the increasingly huge and diverse milieu of headphones: Bluetooth, wireless ones. As headphone sockets start to vanish from phones, and sound quality, connection reliability and battery life greatly improved over a few years back, it seemed the logical choice.

In fact, we have TWO Bluetooth headphone categories, with the larger on- and over-ear varieties separated from more discreet, gym-friendly in-ear headphones.

Audio Technica ATH-SR5BT

A true Bluetooth bargain at under 150 quid – most of the others here are decidedly premium – Audio Technica's mid-range wireless cans are the purist's choice, thanks to accurate sound reproduction, understated design and excellent connectivity.

A battery life of 38 hours, plus easy NFC pairing are also not to be sniffed at.

B&O Play BeoPlay H4

Offering B&O's usual luxury at a slightly more universal price point, the H4 is a formidable pair of headphones that blends classic lamb's leather 'n' aluminium tooling with contemporary tech and design and some exceedingly vibrant colour options.

Sound is similarly upfront, meaty and beaty, and wireless connectivity is rock solid.

Bose QC35

The QC stands for QuietComfort and there's no doubt Bose delivers on both – most particularly the 'Q' bit, thanks to some seriously next-gen noise cancelling. 

This comes into its own on planes, trains and amidst urban noise-scapes but it's designed to be worn anywhere. The noise cancelling was initially on all the time, but can now be turned up and down in the Bose app – a great addition.

From speaking to various rival manufacturers, there's no doubt Bose's device is seen as the gold standard for premium, portable headphones, in terms of sales and consumer recognition – and little wonder.

Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless

It's all a matter of personal taste of course, but in terms of pure sound quality, this Bluetooth upgrade to the original P7 is probably this year's winner.

The P7 is a big beast and its classic look is a step away from the urban styling of most of its rivals, but it doesn't look out of date, and it certainly doesn't sound it. 

Unlike some previous B&W wireless efforts, the Bluetooth connectivity is also highly reliable. What the British hi-fi stalwart has created here is a near perfect recreation of the sound quality of the wired P7, but with wireless convenience. 

Marshall Monitor Bluetooth

Marshall's comparatively compact Bluetooth over-ears took the rocking sound of their Mid headphones and pumped it up to 11, without taking the price too much higher (although they are less of a bargain).

Exhibiting better build, comfort and audio quality than anything from the brand thus far, the Monitors truly are the rock fan's headphones of choice, but the sound is far more adaptable to other genres than the look and brand associations might suggest. 

Sony MDR-1000X

The first noise-cancelling cans to seriously rival Bose's for portability, snorting audio quality and build, these Sonys are a truly classy act.

The ability to tailor the sound to suit your head shape and whether or not you wear classes may be of slightly questionable usefulness, but nobody can seriously doubt the excellent overall results, especially with the incredibly effective, active noise cancelling activated.

Also up for grabs…

Apple AirPods

Arguably the least 'musical' but most innovative earphones to be nominated, AirPods offer complete wirelessness, seamless integration with iPhone, typically stand-out design and the fastest handshake this side of Donald Trump. 

Audio quality and battery life might not be their most acclaimed features but they're also not bad by any means. They're number 1 in a field of W1.

Jabra Elite Sport

These run- and gym-friendly in-ears are also fully wireless. While they might lack the svelte finesse of Apple's buds, they pack in a lot of tech, with accurate pulse monitoring, automatic counting of cross-training reps and very solid audio quality.  

A recent hardware upgrade brought welcome improvement to the battery life, too.

Optoma NuForce BE Sport3

These super-light American in-ear headphones appear in both our Best Running and Best Bluetooth headphone lists. That's because, almost uniquely among headphones for gym bunnies, the sound quality is good enough to use them every day.

The eight to ten hours battery life is also impressive considering they are about the size and weight of a bit of tagliatelle.

Monster iSport Victory 

Highly robust, great-sounding gym and run headphones, these represent a new high point in the genre from the (perhaps slightly unlikely) workout-audio market master, Monster. 

Everything just works with these. Just whack them in, turn them on, and get jogging; connectivity is rock solid and near-instant, and the sound quality is perfect for, if you will, 'Power Choonz'.

Sennheiser Momentum in-ear Wireless 

It's taken headphone Kaiser Sennheiser a long time to get around to doing Bluetooth in-ears, and it's opted for a 'necklace' type design.

Typically for the brand, the results are not necessarily the most lightweight or attractive, but with the help of that neck-draping band, battery life, connectivity and sound are better than anything else here.

Bose QC30

With consistently excellent audio, fairly gob-smacking (and adjustable) noise cancelling and 10 hours of wireless connectivity, these cutting-edge cans from Bose go a long way towards justifying their premium price. Great stuff!

How the winners are chosen

Most of the winners - including this category - are decided by the T3.com and T3 magazine teams, aided by a panel of expert judges from the tech biz.

Our Awards for the people who have shaped tech this year and throughout its history, are awarded by the T3.com and T3 magazine teams.

On the following key categories YOU get to vote:  Gadget Of The Year, Brand Of The Year, Retailer Of The Year and Phone of the Year. 

Vote for those categories in the T3 Awards 2017 together with Three

Duncan Bell

Duncan is the former lifestyle editor of T3 and has been writing about tech for almost 15 years. He has covered everything from smartphones to headphones, TV to AC and air fryers to the movies of James Bond and obscure anime. His current brief is everything to do with the home and kitchen, which is good because he is an excellent cook, if he says so himself. He also covers cycling and ebikes – like over-using italics, this is another passion of his. In his long and varied lifestyle-tech career he is one of the few people to have been a fitness editor despite being unfit and a cars editor for not one but two websites, despite being unable to drive. He also has about 400 vacuum cleaners, and is possibly the UK's leading expert on cordless vacuum cleaners, despite being decidedly messy. A cricket fan for over 30 years, he also recently become T3's cricket editor, writing about how to stream obscure T20 tournaments, and turning out some typically no-nonsense opinions on the world's top teams and players.

Before T3, Duncan was a music and film reviewer, worked for a magazine about gambling that employed a surprisingly large number of convicted criminals, and then a magazine called Bizarre that was essentially like a cross between Reddit and DeviantArt, before the invention of the internet. There was also a lengthy period where he essentially wrote all of T3 magazine every month for about 3 years. 

A broadcaster, raconteur and public speaker, Duncan used to be on telly loads, but an unfortunate incident put a stop to that, so he now largely contents himself with telling people, "I used to be on the TV, you know."