5 Best Travel Headphones Of 2018


Shopping for travel headphones can be a bit challenging. You usually want something compact and lightweight without compromising on sound, but you also need good noise isolation. Thankfully, there are travel headphones that fit pretty much every need, from larger, comfortable over-ears to the most compact truly wireless headphones. We’ve reviewed 230 headphones and below are our top five picks.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II: The best travel headphones overall

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Type: Over-ear

Enclosure: Closed-Back

Noise canceling: Yes

Wireless: Yes (can also be used wired)

If you want the best of the best for travel, look no further than the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. These wireless headphones are one of the most comfortable over-ears we’ve ever tested. They’re lightweight, comfortable and easy-to-use. They also have excellent isolation, suitable for most noisy environments and deliver a good, exciting sound with a lot of bass.

They have a decent wireless range and a reliable 20-hour battery life, with power-saving features, so they should easily last you long enough for most commutes and even long international flights. Unfortunately, they do leak a bit at higher volumes so in quieter conditions, what you’re listening to will be audible to the people around you. Also, like most Bluetooth headphones, they have a bit too much latency to be the ideal option for watching a lot of videos.

On the upside, you can use them wired, which removes all latency and makes them suitable to watch movies on long flights. The QC35 II also work passively, with the provided audio cable, so you can still listen to your audio, even when the battery dies.

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Sony WH-1000XM2: Highly customizable travel headphones

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Type: Over-ear

Enclosure: Closed-Back

Noise canceling: Yes

Wireless: Yes (can also be used wired)

If you want a similar experience to the Bose QC35 IIs, but want to be able to customize their sound and noise cancellation feature to your liking, then get the Sony WH-1000XM2 instead. These wireless over-ears have a have a slightly more polished design than the Bose QC35 II but are not as comfortable. They also have an excellent noise cancelling feature that rivals and sometimes outperforms that of the Bose, since you can optimize it for your environment and how the headphones fit over your ears.

The biggest advantage of the WH-1000XM2 however, is the great companion app that is available for iOS and Android. The app can be used to customize their sound profile, with everything from a custom equalizer to room effects and sound position options. It also gives you more control over the ANC feature than most noise cancelling headphones.

They’re not as easy to use as the Bose. They’re also a bit heavier, bulkier and slightly more cumbersome to wear. But on the upside, the new WH-1000XM3 solves some of these inconveniences and improves on the XM2’s design, so maybe wait for that model instead.

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Jabra Elite Active 65t: Truly wireless headphones great for travelling

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Type: In-ear

Enclosure: Closed-Back

Noise canceling: No

Wireless: Truly Wireless

If you want a travel headset 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 above-average sound that you can EQ via the Jabra Sound+ app. They also have a decent 5-hour battery life, with two additional charges stored in their compact case, for a total of 15 hours.

Unfortunately, they won’t be as comfortable as the over-ears on this list. They have slightly larger earbuds than most in-ears, so depending on the size and shape of your ears, they may get a little uncomfortable during longer listening sessions. 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 designs and their passive isolation is as good at blocking noise as some of the active noise cancelling headphones we’ve tested. They also have nearly perfect leakage, so you can play you music at high volumes and not bother the people around you.

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JBL E25BT: Best budget travel headphones

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Type: In-ear

Enclosure: Closed-Back

Noise canceling: No

Wireless: Yes

If you want a decent sounding pair of wireless headphones for your morning commute for less than $50, get the JBL E25BT. These wireless headphones have a simple, compact, highly portable design. Like most in-ears, not everyone will enjoy the fit, but they come with 3 sizes of interchangeable earbud tips, so you should be able to find a fit that works for you.

They have a decent sound, with a deep bass, an even mid-range and a well-balanced treble. Their in-ear fit also blocks a decent amount of noise but unfortunately, it’s not as effective against the deep rumbling noises of a bus or airplane engine, which will still seep into your audio from time to time.

On the upside, although the JBL E25BT can’t be used wired if the battery dies, they should last long enough for most trips thanks to the 9.5-hour battery life. They aren’t perfect, but for the price, they are a decent pair option for commute and travel that should please most listeners.

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Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear: Budget wired headphones with above-average sound

RTings.com

Type: In-ear

Enclosure: Closed-Back

Noise canceling: No

Wireless: No

If you prefer to not worry about keeping the batteries charged, check out the Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear headphones. These compact wired earbuds offer a better, more comfortable fit than typical in-ears. They have excellent breathability, they’re stable enough for sports and have good passive isolation. They are a great choice for your morning commute, long trips, or even running and working out. They have an above-average sound, and excellent leakage control, so you won’t bother anyone at work or in a quiet room.

Unfortunately, they only isolate with the tight seal the buds create in your ears, so they won’t be the ideal option for really noisy environments. On the upside, they should do well enough passively for most commutes.

The SoundTrue can only be used wired, so they won’t be as convenient as the wireless recommendations on this list. But on the other hand, you do not have to worry about battery life or latency, and they will work with all devices that have a headphone jack.

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This guide may have been updated. To see all measurements and the current recommendations for the best travel headphones, please go here.

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