Best Headphones for Zoom iMore 2020
Zoom has become part of our workday and generally integrated into our daily lives. It's important to be able to hear and be heard clearly on Zoom (or other video-conferencing platforms) calls. A good quality set of headphones is an excellent way to improve call quality. Of course, you'll want headphones with a built-in microphone, like Apple's AirPods Pro.
- Best Overall: AirPods Pro
- Best Over-Ear Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
- Best Mid-Priced Earbuds: Samsung Galaxy Buds+
- Best Value Earbuds: Rademax Bluetooth Earbuds
- Best with Ear Hooks: Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones
- Best Value Over-Ear Headphones: COWIN E7
Best Overall: Airpods Pro
Of course, here at iMore, we love our Apple products. If you use exclusively Apple products yourself, you probably won't find a better user experience than with the AirPods Pro. The pro version of Apple's uber-popular earbuds have Active Noise Cancellation for when you want to block out outside sounds and Transparency Mode for when you don't.
Three different sizes of silicone tips ensure a good, comfortable fit for your ears. The AirPods Pro are ridiculously easy to set up with any Apple device and will even switch between them automatically. You can access Siri by simply saying, "Hey Siri." The charging case, which can be charged wirelessly, provides up to 24 hrs of battery life. You'll get up to 4.5 hours on a single charge.
- Totally wireless earbuds
- Built-in microphone
- Active Noise Cancellation
- Transparency Mode
- Wireless charging
- Three sizes of silicone tips for a great fit
- Great sound with Adaptive EQ
- The small size makes them easy to misplace
For the Apple fan
If you're all in on Apple, then AirPods Pro are the way to go. Not only do you get all of the features you'd want on headphones for Zoom, but no other headphones let you switch so seamlessly between Apple devices.
Best Over-Ear Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
Get premium sound, comfort, and call quality with these over-ear advanced noise-canceling headphones. Headphones the cover your ears are just physically going to do a better job of blocking out the outside world. When you invest in this, you're probably not using these headphones exclusively for Zoom calls.
Touch Sensor controls will pause/play/skip tracks, control volume, activate your voice assistant, and answer phone calls. If you're listening to music, your music will lower in volume automatically when you start speaking and pause when you take them off. Get up to 30 hours of battery life on a single charge; plus, you can fast charge for 10 minutes to get five hours of playback.
- State of the art sound quality
- Superior call quality
- Touch controls
- 30 hours of battery life
Best Over-Ear Headphones
Superior over-ear experience
If you like wearing cans on your ears rather than earbuds, and your budget allows it, this is the way to go. Get a high-end experience from the moment you place them over your ears.
Best Mid-Priced Earbuds: Samsung Galaxy Buds+
For a truly wireless experience similar to what you get with Apple's AirPods Pro but without being confined to Apple's walled garden, consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds+. While they don't offer Active Noise Cancellation, they are designed to fit snugly enough to physically block out unwanted sounds. If you do want the outside world to filter in, then turn on Ambient Aware2.
Be heard clearly on your call with a dedicated internal and two external microphones that pick up your voice and isolate it from distracting outside noises. Get 11 hours of use from a single charge, pop them back into the wireless charging case, and get another 11 hours. A three-minute fast charge buys you another hour. Each tiny bud has a woofer and a tweeter for great sound quality. Choose from several fun color options.
- Can be used with both Apple and Android devices
- Totally wireless
- Tiny earbuds
- Touch controls
- Dedicated microphones inside and out for stand-out call quality
- 22 hours on a single charge of the case
- Wireless charging case
- Many color options
- No Active Noise Cancelling
Best Mid-Priced Earbuds
Samsung offers premium earbuds at a mid-range price point. You don't get ANC, but you get all of the other features you'd expect.
Best Value Earbuds: Rademax Bluetooth Earbuds
You don't have to spend a ton of money for true wireless Bluetooth 5.0 earbuds. You may not experience the same call quality that you go with a more expensive pair, and there is no ANC feature.
You do get up to five hours of usage from a single charge, plus an extra 60 hours from the charging case. Not that you're taking Zoom calls in the rain, but if you use these for working out, the IPX7 water resistance will come in handy. Whichever device you're using them with, these earbuds will "remember" and reconnect automatically.
- Great price
- Bluetooth 5.0 for advanced connection
- Truly wireless
- Five hours of use plus an extra 60 from the charging case
- IPX7 water resistance
- Automatic re-pairing with last-used device
- No ANC
- Some users report poor call quality
Best Value Earbuds
If you want truly wireless earbuds, but you don't want to pay a lot, consider the Rademax Bluetooth Earbuds. They have some nice features for the price.
Best with Ear Hooks: Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones
If earbuds are too small or easy to lose, and over-ear cans are too "much," you might prefer a lightweight ear hook style like Powerbeats Pro. These earphones are a collaboration between Beats and Apple, so you know they'll work great and connect seamlessly with your Apple devices. But they also work great with non-Apple devices.
The sound is more balanced, not as bass-heavy as earlier Beats headphones were. Press physical buttons on the Powerbeats Pro to control them. While the Powerbeats Pro do not have ANC, they do have a noise isolation feature due to their shape and placement in your ear canal. The long-range optical sensors know when you're talking, and handle calls remarkably well.
- Fantastic sound and call quality
- Earhooks keep them from falling out
- Noise isolation feature
- Work seamlessly with Apple devices
- Work well with non-Apple devices as well
- Multiple color options
- Button controls
- No ANC
- Significantly larger and with a larger case than earbuds
Best with Ear Hooks
With the same chipset and may of the same features as Apple's AirPods Pro, this collaboration between Apple and Beats might be the perfect blend of features for many people.
Best Value Over-Ear Headphones: COWIN E7
These headphones have good ANC, especially when you consider the price. The sound is decent, though not what you'd find on a more expensive pair of cans. It tends to be a bit bass-heavy. You'll get up to 30 hours on a single charge, so don't worry about them dying in the middle of a call. Plus, you can use the included cord if you prefer. They are comfortable to wear, albeit on the heavier side. Call quality is good with the built-in microphones. You'll have your choice of colors.
- 30-hour battery life
- Large selection of colors
- On the heavy side
- Lacks the sound quality of pricier headphones
Best Value Over-Ear Headphones
For battery life, ANC, and price, the COWIN E7 headphones can't be beaten. Make and take Zoom calls throughout your workday; you won't run out of juice.
The features you look for when choosing headphones for Zoom or video conferencing might be slightly different than what you look for in everyday headphones. Of course, you want excellent sound quality. Being able to block out distractions is also a helpful feature, so it's worth considering headphones with Active Noise Cancelation (ANC). However, not everyone likes ANC, as it can affect overall sound quality. Some people prefer a headphone that physically blocks outside sound by either covering up the ears or being inserted snugly in them.
A built-in microphone is a must for Zoom calls. If you spend more than a few minutes here and there in Zoom, a comfortable fit is vital as well, especially if you wear them throughout your workday, whether you're on calls or not.
If you're using wireless headphones, long battery life is essential. You can use wired headphones on Zoom calls, of course, but I tend to talk with my hands enough to get tangled in wires, so wireless is my preference. I've yanked wired earbuds right out of my ears in an enthusiastic conversation. The look of your headphones is always fairly important, but it's even more so on Zoom when people primarily see just your head. So pick headphones you like the look and style of.
You'll want any headphones you use on Zoom to be user-friendly, as you don't want to have to interrupt a meeting to adjust your tech (I've done it, and it's embarrassing.) Apple's AirPods Pro tick all of the boxes above and more, though any of the choices on this list will provide you an excellent Zoom experience.
Credits — The person that wrote this guide
Karen S. Freeman is a teacher, writer, and family woman. She loves to travel, play with tech stuff, drink coffee, discover amazing new restaurants, and experience new things.
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