We buy our own products and put them under the same testing methodology so that you can easily compare them. Unlike most websites, we do not get our products directly from the manufacturers, which means our units aren’t handpicked and actually represent what you would buy yourself. We spend a lot of time comparing the products side-by-side to validate our results and we keep them until they are discontinued so we can continually go back and make sure our reviews are always accurate.
Shopping for travel headphones can be a bit challenging. You usually want something that’s compact and lightweight without compromising on sound or good noise isolation. Thankfully, there are lots of good travel headphones to consider, from noise canceling over-ears to the most compact truly wireless headphones. We’ve reviewed 230 headphones and below are our top five picks.
Wireless: Yes (can also be used wired)
Noise Cancelling: Yes
The best travel headphones overall are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They’re outstandingly comfortable, well-built, easy-to-use over-ear headphones. They have a remarkable noise cancelling system, can connect to two devices simultaneously, and are very easy-to-use, which are all super convenient features to have while travelling.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II are great-sounding headphones. They have a neutral, well-balanced sound that is well-suited to virtually all genres of music. They effectively isolate a wide range of ambient noises, from the low rumbles of bus engines to the sharp sibilance of S and T sounds. The QC 35 II also have a very good battery life of 20 hours, charge in about 2 hours, and can be used completely passively without noise-canceling even if the battery is dead.
Although the QuietComfort 35 II are compatible with a companion app, it doesn’t feature an EQ so you can’t customize their sound to your liking. If you prefer headphones that you can fine-tune to your liking, consider the Sony WH-1000XM3. Their neutral sound profile is more bass-heavy, but they have a great companion app that lets you adjust a ton of settings.
Sony WI-1000X: Highly customizable noise cancelling in-ears
Noise Cancelling: Yes
If you’re looking for effective noise cancelling but don’t want to wear bulky over-ear headphones in the subway or at the airport, get the Sony WI-1000X. They’re well-built in-ear headphones with a durable neckband design that has a premium look and feel.
The Sony WI-1000X have a competent active noise cancelling system that does a good job at masking out ambient noise. They also leak less sound than the Bose QuietComfort 35 II thanks to their in-ear design. They sound balanced enough to be suitable for most music genres and they’re compatible with the Sony | Headphones Connect app, so you can customize their sound profile to better suit your tastes.
Unfortunately, the Sony WI-1000X don’t have the best battery for in-ear headphones at this price point. Thankfully, they can be used passively with their provided micro-USB to 1/8” TRS audio cable, which is a welcome surprise. They’re not as comfortable as the Bose QuietControl 30, though, so if comfort is of utmost important to you, you might want to consider the QC 30. That said, if you’re a fan of sound customization, the Sony WI-1000X are a great choice.
Jabra Elite Active 65t: Truly wireless headphones, great for travelling
Wireless: Truly wireless
Noise Cancelling: No
If you want travel headphones that you can easily carry around in your pockets, then check out the Jabra Elite Active 65t. These truly wireless headphones are great for commute and travel, thanks to their strong passive isolation, great portability, and customizable sound.
The Jabra Elite Active 65t sound decent out-of-the-box and are compatible with the Jabra Sound+ app, which has an EQ for you to customize their sound profile. They block noise as well as some active noise cancelling headphones we’ve tested, and they hardly leak any sound so you can play your music at high volumes without bothering those around you. They have a decent 5-hour battery life, with two additional charges stored in their compact case, for a total of 15 hours.
Unfortunately, they’re not as comfortable as the over-ears on this list. Their earbuds are a bit bulky compared to most in-ears, so depending on the size and shape of your ears, they may cause a bit of discomfort if you wear them for a long time. Also, like most Bluetooth headphones, they have a bit too much latency for watching movies, and sadly they can’t be used wired to mitigate this issue. On the upside, their latency is better than most truly wireless headphones.