Best Headphones for Working From Home iMore 2021
Many of us are working from home more these days, and while it's easy for some, others may have a little trouble with focusing and blocking out the noise of everything else in our house (especially if there are kids). Thankfully, some headphones and earbuds help you tune out everything else with noise cancellation, so you can work or study in peace. We think the best headphones for working from home are Apple's AirPods Pro because they're small, sound great, and have amazing active noise cancellation for the size.
- Best Overall: AirPods Pro
- Best for Gaming: HyperX Cloud Mix Wired Gaming Headset
- Best Value: Tribit XFree Tune Wireless Headphones
- Best Noise Cancellation: Sony WH1000XM4
- Best Bose: Bose QuietComfort 35 II
- Best AirPods Pro Alternative: Jabra Elite 65t
- Best Luxury Headphone: AirPods Max
Best Overall: AirPods Pro
You've probably seen us praise the AirPods Pro quite a few times since the product launched back in October 2019. That's because it's one of our favorite audio products from Apple in recent memory and for good reason, making it the best headphones for working from home.
AirPods Pro have a new design from the previous generations, and it also has silicone ear tips, providing a better fit for most people. It's more comfortable in the ears, more secure, and the tips seal out external noise, so they definitely help tune it all out. The AirPods Pro stem has a Force Sensor that lets you toggle Noise Control or Siri (customize this in Settings) on the fly.
The AirPods Pro also have significantly better sound quality than its predecessors, probably due to the silicone tips. Once you turn the ANC on, then you are fully immersed in your music, podcast, audiobook, movie, or whatever you're listening to. The ANC, combined with the sound quality, makes it hard to hear any external noise, so it's great for just drowning out that distracting family noise while working from home.
However, if you need to hear the outside world while working, Transparency is a lifesaver. Turning this on lets some outside noise filter in, so you can hear if someone calls your name, for example. If you're out for a bike ride or walking, then Transparency lets you hear if there are cars around you, which is incredibly important to be aware of.
While you're just going to be at home, the AirPods Pro case is super convenient. It's not much bigger than the regular AirPods case, and it can hold about 24 hours worth of charge, so just pop your AirPods Pro back in when the battery is running low. If you need to charge up the case, it can be plugged in via Lightning, or you can throw it on top of any Qi-certified wireless charger.
- Small and compact
- Better fit and sound quality
- ANC and Transparency mode
- 24 hours of charge in case
- Case works with wireless chargers
Best for Gaming: HyperX Cloud Mix Wired Gaming Headset
Despite being marketed as a gaming headset, the HyperX Cloud Mix can be used for anything, and it's fantastic. I've been using this headset daily for over a year at my desk for music listening, work meetings, and more. I have the Rose Gold color, but that has since been discontinued. However, you can still get it in black, which is more of a neutral color for everyone.
First off, the Cloud Mix is very lightweight and comfortable to wear. I have it on my head for my entire workday and experience zero discomfort on my head by the time I'm done for the day. The headset is adjustable to your liking, and the leather earcups are soft and plush. The sound quality is great too, and while it doesn't have noise cancellation, it still does a great job of muffling outside noise once you put them on.
While the Cloud Mix is labeled as a wired headset, it actually still has Bluetooth connectivity, so you can pair it with your iPhone or iPad (or other smartphone or tablet) if you want. The detachable boom mic means great audio quality on calls (video or not) too, but there is also a built-in mic that kicks in for Bluetooth.
- Very comfortable and lightweight
- Great audio quality
- Can be used wired or wireless
- Comes with detachable mic
- In-line audio control on braided cable
- Only in black (Rose Gold has been discontinued)
- No ANC
- A little pricey
Best Value: Tribit XFree Tune Wireless Headphones
If you are looking for a good pair of more budget-friendly headphones, look no further than the Tribit XFree Tune Wireless Headphones.
The XFree Tune headphones have dual 40mm sound-stage drivers that deliver true-to-life audio with rich bass, so your audio is fully immersive. While they don't have ANC, they do feature advanced passive noise reduction, which still helps tune out the external noise around you.
XFree Tune headphones also have a comfortable design with an adjustable headband, metallic slider, and leather earmuffs. They fold down so you can store them safely in the provided carrying case and have about 40 hours of playtime. You could also just plug them in with the audio cable if you prefer, saving battery life.
According to our friends at Android Central, the XFree Tune headphones sound almost as good as Bose, but for a fraction of the price.
- Comfortable design
- Good sound quality
- Very affordable
- Long-lasting battery
- Comes with audio cable
- No ANC
- Old-fashioned Micro-USB for charging
Best Noise Cancelation: Sony WH1000XM4
If you have a bit of money to spare and need excellent noise-canceling headphones to drown out all sounds in the house, then go for the Sony WH1000XM4 Wireless Headphones.
These headphones are well-known for incredible sound quality with industry-leading ANC. The ANC is digital, so you get a virtually soundproof experience, and zero outside noise will get through. The digital ANC also has Smart Listening to adjust ambient sound to give you the best noise cancelation possible. You can also cover the right ear cup to turn down the music automatically if you have to engage in conversation, rather than taking them off completely. And with Wearing Detection, it can automatically pause your audio when one earcup is lifted from your ear.
The WH1000XM4 also has built-in Amazon Alexa, so you can control the music and other information with just your voice. You also get around 30 hours of playtime, and they're comfortable to wear all day. When you're not using them, just fold them down and store them in the included carrying case.
- Industry-leading ANC
- Comfortable to wear
- Built-in Amazon Alexa
- Easy to store in carrying case
- Comes with audio cable
- No built-in Siri
Best Bose: Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Another one of my personal favorites that work very well are the Bose QuietComfort 35 IIs. These, as the name implies, are comfortable to wear, and they come in several different color variations.
With the QuietComfort 35 IIs, you get that high quality that Bose is known for. The sound quality is superb, and the ANC is noticeable when you put them over your head. The QC35 IIs have three ANC levels, so you can pick the one that works best for your WFH situation. They also have a noise-rejecting dual microphone that ensures clear sound and voice pick up for calls. Unfortunately, they don't have a Transparency mode of any kind.
Extra features include built-in Alexa and Bose AR support. The AR element is innovative, audio-only versions of augmented reality that show off Bose products' capabilities. However, you do need to use the compatible companion apps to test these out.
- Great sound quality
- Comfortable to wear
- Three levels of ANC
- Different color options
- Built-in Alexa
- No Transparency mode
Best AirPods Pro Alternative: Jabra Elite 65t
Those who want wireless earbuds but don't want AirPods Pro, or think the price for AirPods Pro is a little much, then the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds are a great alternative option.
The Jabra Elite 65t are similar to the AirPods Pro in that they are truly wireless earbuds, so no annoying wire attached. They use Jabra's "EarGels" tips, and there are multiple sizes that come with the earbuds, so you can find the size that works best for your ears. They'll fit snugly in your ears and block out a lot of external noise, helping you focus.
While the earbuds themselves have about 5-hours of battery life on a single charge, the charging case can store another 15-hours or so, giving you plenty of listening time. Jabra Elite 65t are also IP55 resistant, so you don't need to worry about sweat or dust. They also have Alexa built-in and come in at a more affordable price than the Bose QC35 II or Sony WH1000XM4 headphones.
It is worth noting that while we do like the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds, they are a previous generation product. They still work great, and because they're older, they come in at a reasonable price tag. However, if you want the new-and-improved version, give the Jabra Elite 75t earbuds a look — just understand that they have a higher price tag.
- Super affordable price
- Comfortable and secure fit
- Good battery life
- IP55 water and dust resistant
- Built-in Alexa
- No ANC
- Older generation product
Best Luxury Headphone: AirPods Max
One of the best options, though very pricey, are the AirPods Max. This is the premium over-ear headphone from Apple, and it packs quite a punch in all the right places. Plus, if you need the best headphones for working from home that plays nicely with the best iPhone, iPad, and Mac, then the AirPods Max are your best bet.
With AirPods Max, you're getting a rigid and firm stainless steel frame, but the mesh canopy at the top feels comfortable to wear. I have been wearing mine for at least eight hours on my working days, and I don't have any discomfort by the time I'm done, despite it being the heaviest headphones I have. The ear cushions are also super lightweight and breathable, making them more comfortable than most leather ear cushions on other headphones. You can even easily remove them to clean since they're magnetic.
The AirPods Max feature an elegant, retro aesthetic, and you have a button for toggling Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode on the right ear cup. There is also a Digital Crown (like on the Apple Watch) to press to control audio playback and turn to adjust the volume. The sound quality is also superb, with an amazing sound stage and very balanced tones.
The Active Noise Cancellation on the AirPods Max is absolutely stellar. It will completely tune everything out, even a lawnmower and wind. But Transparency Mode is just a press of a button away. There are also a total of nine microphones, with eight of them used for ANC and three for voice pickup. As far as mic quality, the AirPods Max are good, and you could hold a clear conversation while you're outside, even in windy conditions since it filters out noise.
I've been using my AirPods Max every day since getting them on launch, and they're my favorite pair of headphones now. However, they are the most expensive on this list, but well worth the money. Just be aware that they are a little shorter on battery life than others (around 20 hours), and they don't have a power button. It also has a rather...dumb case, but you can replace it with third-party alternatives, like Waterfield Designs AirPods Max Shield Case.
- Incredible sound quality
- The best ANC
- Comfortable to wear all-day
- Great mic quality
- Fully integrated with Apple devices
- Super expensive
- Lighter colors get dirty easily
- Battery life shorter than competition
Tune it out and focus with the best headphones for working from home
We still love the AirPods Pro the most out of these options. That's because the AirPods Pro are small and super compact in the wireless charging case. This means that they're incredibly easy to carry around with you everywhere, and it's easy to take them out and pop them into your ear on the fly. Plus, there are a ton of the best AirPods Pro cases to choose from, giving you plenty of choices when it comes to accessorizing and protecting your AirPods Pro.
As a user of the first-gen AirPods, the AirPods Pro fit is so much better. The silicone ear tips are comfortable and come in multiple sizes, and they seal the sound in your ear, resulting in better sound quality. Apple's ANC is like what you'd expect from Sony or Bose but packed into such small and impressive earbuds. Unlike some other headphones, the Transparency mode is nice to have, especially when you still want to be able to hear for important sounds around you.
We know that times like this can be tough, so getting a hold of the best headphones for working from home, the AirPods Pro, may not always be feasible. If that's the case, then the Jabra Elite 65t is still a good wireless earbud to consider. It's also an older product, so you can get them at a very affordable price. If you prefer the over-ear headphone style, then the Tribit XFree Tune is another well-reviewed option that is easy on the wallet.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Christine Romero-Chan is a bit of a headphone addict. She has several different pairs of earbuds and headphones all over the house for different purposes, so she knows a thing or two about headphones to help you focus.
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