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Best wireless headphones for TV 2020: budget and premium

TechRadar logo TechRadar 8/25/2020 What Hi-Fi?
Best wireless headphones for TV: budget and premium © Provided by TechRadar Best wireless headphones for TV: budget and premium

Best wireless headphones for TV Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best wireless headphones for TV you can buy in 2020.

A good set of wireless TV headphones means you'll never need to worry about the volume of your late night concerts and car chases ever again. Whether it's your neighbours or the people you live with that normally complain, it'll be them who are silenced too.

Unfortunately not all over-ear, on-ear and in-ear wireless headphones are suited to TV programmes and movies, so it's important to choose wisely. One issue when using wireless headphones with a TV is a small, but annoying one: lag between what you see on screen and what you hear. This is due to latency: the time it takes the sound to travel from the source to the headphones.

The good news is that Bluetooth codecs have steadily improved latency and squashed most of the issues. The latest version of Bluetooth (5.0) should ensure a great match between audio and video and has a 40m indoor range, compared to Bluetooth 4.2's 10m range. The best wireless headphones for watching TV in our list shouldn't have any issues.

Of course, you'll also have to make sure your TV is capable of transmitting audio wirelessly over Bluetooth.

Some Bluetooth-equipped TVs offer their own audio delay settings, which can help you marry up picture and sound. If your TV doesn't have Bluetooth built-in and you attempt to use an external Bluetooth dongle through its audio output, this could introduce lip-sync issues.

Aside from good wireless performance, you'll want to consider aspects of the headphones, such as comfort, battery life and weight (since you'll be wearing them for extended periods). And if you live in a noisy household, you might want to opt for a pair of wireless headphones with noise-cancelling tech. They cost a bit more, but you'll be able to enjoy your favourite shows in peace.

So what are the best wireless headphones for TV? To save you a lot of time and hassle, we've reviewed and rated all the best models below, ranging from budget to blow-out. Read on to upgrade your TV viewing experience.

Best cheap headphone deals

Some of the best headphones for music are also some of the best for watching TV. The Sony WH-1000XM4s are wireless, so you don't need to snake a cable through your lounge, and they pack fantastic noise-cancelling tech, which is handy if next door won't keep it down.

They're comfy enough to wear through a boxset binge, and they activate the passthrough mode automatically when you start speaking, so you can have a conversation with someone without taking the headphones off (even if it is just to tell them to keep it down). 

But the sound quality is the real selling point. The low-end has been finessed somewhat since the XM3s, while dynamic shifts (think whisper-quiet dialogue to teeth-rattling explosions) are handled with panache. And the timing is spot on, so dialogue won't be out of sync with the actors' lips. Simply put, some of the best headphones money can buy.

Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM4

Sennheiser's Momentum Wireless headphones are renowned in the wireless world, and this third instalment does the range proud. Three noise-cancelling modes give you plenty of choice, and there are loads of features to play with (they can be tracked using the third-party Tile app, for instance).

Performance is better than ever, which is no idle boast given the pedigree of the Momentum family - the level of clarity and rhythm are off the chart, while all-day comfort makes them a great choice for any telly watcher.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless

Sony's finest true wireless earbuds support Bluetooth 5.0, so they handle video and dialogue with aplomb. Rather than relay sound from one earbud to the other, their wireless tech transmits sound to the left and right ears simultaneously. In other words, what you see on screen should match what you hear. Dripping with features, they pack an awful lot into a small bundle including state-of-the-art noise-cancelling tech and intuitive touch controls. And just like Sony's over-ear wireless headphones, they sound wonderfully musical, natural and expressive. If you prefer the convenience of earbuds for, say, watching TV in bed, these are hard to beat.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3

You'll be delighted to discover that these dynamic on-ear cans offer great wireless audio for the money. Features, design and build quality are superb. Blessed with an impeccable sense of timing, they're capable of reproducing a thrilling level of detail. Planning to watch back-to-back movies? The soft ear pads are extremely comfortable to wear although over-ears will give you a slightly tighter seal. Given that you can pick up a pair of Y50BTs for less than £80, they're a no-brainer for buyers on a tight budget.

Read the full review: AKG Y50BT

Sony's wireless noise-cancelling headphones are one of the most comfortable pairs of over-ears we’ve tested – and an ideal choice for TV box-set binges. They also sport Bluetooth 5.0, meaning they have an outstanding 40m indoor range. The quick-charging battery will come in handy too: a ten-minute charge returns five hours of playback.

The open, spacious soundstage provides plenty of room for sparkling vocals and ensures clear dialogue that can be heard above explosions or sound effects. If you're looking for a stereo home cinema experience that fits on your head, these talented wireless headphones should definitely make your list. And now they've been succeeded by the XM4s, they should come at a knockdown price.

Read the full review: Sony WH-1000XM3

This little-known company has produced a comfortable, nicely built set of headphones that also boast excellent battery life, wireless charging support and the kind of pleasant and spacious presentation that works a treat for everything from kitchen sink dramas to summer blockbusters.

The battery life is seven hours from the buds and a further 28 hours from the charging case and, amazingly, it all feels fairly premium too. The Bluetooth 5.0 connection is solid and stable and won't keep cutting out at the crucial moments or in the middle of critical dialogue.

If you’re after something fun-sounding and very affordable - which will also work a treat while out and about or down the gym - the Earfun Air wireless earbuds could be just the ticket for a little quiet viewing.

Read the full review: Earfun Air review

Grado is best known for its stay-at-home headphones - with an open-backed design, they give plenty of room for the audio to breathe, and so sound fantastic. The downside? Everyone can hear what you're listening to, so they're strictly for at-home listening. This is its first ever Bluetooth pair, and as such, expectations are high.

Unsurprisingly, Grado has stuck with the open-backed design, meaning these will leak a little noise into your surroundings, although it'll still be quieter than listening with no headphones. While that will annoy some, many - us included - will think the awesome sound quality is a more than worthy trade-off. Wear them while pottering around at home, and you'll have an experience unlike any other wireless headphones we've ever tested, with a glorious spaciousness to the audio that no other wireless pair can match. Buy them and elevate your TV watching to another level.

Read the full review: Grado GW100

These sleek, simple in-ears have a short cable connecting the wireless earbuds to each other. They're comfortable enough for extended viewing and support aptX Bluetooth too. We tested them with a range of video sources (including BBC iPlayer and Sky Q) and didn't experience any obvious delays between sound and video. An impressive level of detail, clarity and refinement, combined with the convenience of wireless technology, makes these an excellent option for TVs and tablets.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum Free

Sony's affordable noise-cancellers offer comfortable wireless performance for less than £100 – no mean feat. You get 35 hours of battery life, and a 10-minute charge will provide enough juice for an hour. Rich, weighty and packed with bass, they're nicely-suited to energetic, fast-paced Hollywood blockbusters. Other, pricier wireless headphones offer more impressive noise-cancelling tech, but if you want a pair of top-quality wireless headphones to use with your TV that won't break the bank, the WH-CH700Ns should be on your list.

Read the full review: Sony WH-CH700N

In the market for a pair of talented TV wireless earbuds and don’t mind a neckband design? You should definitely consider the Bowers & Wilkins PI3s.

The neckband is made of coated silicone and rubber, which is soft, smooth, quite soothing to the touch and perfectly comfortable enough for a good movie session. It’s flexible too, which makes it easier to fit under jackets and clothing, and less prone to catching and unsettling the earbuds.

Sound-wise, they perform very well indeed. They have a clean-sounding presentation with crisp, distinct highs and a solid, punchy bass bringing up the rear - equally good for the dialogue as for the on-screen effects. There is also detail and analysis around every corner.

There’s no noise-cancelling tech but Bluetooth AptX Adaptive is supported, which should ensure higher quality audio from smartphones and tablets as well. Battery life isn't epic, though, so make sure you remember to plug them in overnight.

Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins PI3

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2s bring a raft of improvements compared to their predecessors and one of the most refined sounds we've heard from a pair of wireless buds.

The design looks much the same as the original, but there has been a slight aesthetic tweak. The earpieces are slightly slimmer, so they protrude less from your ears, and, more importantly, they're more comfortable to have in place for long viewing sessions. They offer noise cancelling and they're nice to use too, with touch-sensitive pads on each earpiece.

Battery life is competitive too, with a single charge giving seven hours of playback and the charging case providing an additional three charges, bringing the total battery life at your disposal to 28 hours.

It's all positive and we haven't even touched on the sound quality, which is extremely refined and sophisticated for the money. Highs and lows are composed and controlled but dynamics aren't sacrificed. The Sennheisers present a detailed soundstage with impressive scale and authority. They're a little pricier than other wireless earbuds, but if your budget can stretch, your ears will be rewarded.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

These impressive all-rounders are durable, stylish and extremely comfortable to wear around the house. Despite being pocket-sized, they offer spacious, rhythmic sound and great battery life (five minutes fast-charging gives an hour's worth of play time). A handy button on the ear cup connects you to your smartphone's voice assistant, and when you slip them off, the Y500s automatically pause music. Packed with features and easy to control, the Y500s a good option for both movies and music. 

Read the full review: AKG Y500 Wireless

The QC35 IIs have a lot going for them, including class-leading noise-cancelling and a rich, warm, detailed sound. Bose designed them with long-haul travel in mind, so they're light and ultra-comfy. They don't support the latest version of Bluetooth, but they do have plenty of other talents.

Can't quite remember the name of that bit part actor? These headphones have a dedicated button to activate Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, instantly granting you the answer to almost any movie trivia question. They read out text messages too, so you can stay in the loop  – without having to fish around for your phone.      

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Very similar in look and feel to the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, these are light and comfortable enough to wear through even the most epic-length feature films. Battery life is strong and the Bluetooth 5 connectivity makes for a wireless range of up to 10m as well as hi-res audio abilities. There are three levels of noise cancelling, which you can toggle with the press of an earcup, plus a solid 30-hour battery life.

Sound-wise, there's plenty to get stuck into. There's a good dose of warmth at the bottom end to provide solid sound effects and enough subtlety in the midrange to give dialogue some real character. There could be more treble going on and, dynamically, they're just short of creating truly powerful swells and silences but there's still a lot to like here if this is the price you're shopping at.

Read the full review: Philips PH805

While they may lack the outright transparency and simplicity of the very best noise-cancelling pairs out there, there really is plenty to like in the HD 450BTs – not least in the way of top-notch features, such as excellent, 30-hour battery life and aptX Low Latency support, which are far from given in headphones of this price. 

If battery and bass are up there on your list of priorities, you won’t regret making these Sennheisers yours.

Read the full review: Sennheiser HD 450BT

These impressive performers are blessed with the latest version of Bluetooth, granting them an indoor range of 40m and low latency (no lag between what you see on screen and what you hear). Noise-cancelling tech is absent, but the plush ear pads make an effective barrier between you and the outside world.

A full charge of seven hours will return a whopping 40 hours of playback too; unless you're a telly addict that should be enough juice for a full week's viewing. Want to know whether the film you're watching won Best Picture at the Oscars? A button allows access to the voice assistant on your phone (Siri, Google Assistant, etc). A great listen – and decent bang for your buck.

Read the full review: Audio Technica ATH-M50xBT

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