Most headphones are usable in an office environment, even those designed for audiophiles and professional use. However, the best ones are those that are comfortable to use for long hours, block a good amount of ambient noise in a crowded office, and are not too cumbersome to carry every day. It is also a plus if the headphones do not leak too much sound so that your loud music won’t disturb or annoy people around you.
If you are looking for the best headphones for office use, the products listed in this guide are the best options on the market. The list includes different types of headphones, including truly wireless headphones and over-ear headphones with active noise cancellation (ANC).
Best Wireless Over-ear Headphones: Sony WH-1000XM3
Selling for $350, the Sony WH-1000XM3 are the best over-ear headphones for office use. They are some of the best noise-canceling headphones currently out on the market, with their outstanding noise isolation making them ideal for blocking out ambient noise in the office. They are more customizable and have a longer battery life than the popular Bose QuietComfort 35 II, not to mention their sound leakage is lower.
The WH-1000XM3 are wireless headphones with closed-back ear cups, which automatically means they also provide passive noise isolation. While they are bulky and not as breathable as typical in-ear headphones, they are comfortable to use continuously for hours. Their well-padded headband is sturdy and flexible, while their earpads are soft and don’t feel too warm after just a couple of hours of use.
With their foldable design and included hard case, the WH-1000XM3 are easy to carry for daily office use. They are lightweight and take up less space in your bag when folded, though their foldable design does add more moving parts vulnerable to wear and tear. Their build quality is great and feels more premium than the similarly priced QuietComfort 35 II, but they are not on the same level as some high-end audiophile headphones.
You can manage your calls and music and adjust the volume using the on-cup controls. You can also activate your voice assistant and switch between ANC and ambient modes. If you want to converse with someone without taking your headphones off, you can simply cover the right ear cup’s touch surface with your hand to instantly turn the volume down and disable ANC, which is very convenient.
An airplane adapter and an audio cable are included in the box, along with the hard case and the USB charging cable. While the airplane adapter is convenient if you are a frequent traveler, the included audio cable is definitely more useful, as it allows you to switch to a wired connection when the battery is low. The audio cable ends with a 3.5 mm analog plug, making for universal compatibility with most smartphones and computers.
The WH-1000XM3 are good-sounding headphones that are suitable for listening to music, podcasts, and audiobooks, with their user-friendly Sony companion app allowing you to modify their sound profile, among other aspects. They support NFC technology for faster pairing and boast an excellent wireless range. The integrated mic is also decent and allows for clear phone calls even in a moderately noisy office environment.
With their well-implemented ANC and closed-back design, the WH-1000XM3 are excellent at blocking out background noise in the office like the sound of air conditioners, printers, and chatter. This makes them especially useful in a crowded office. Their sound leakage is also low at higher volumes, which is beneficial for the people around you.
The WH-1000XM3 can run up to 30 hours on a single charge while in wireless mode and with ANC enabled. If they run out of battery in the middle of your work shift, you can easily switch to wired mode with the provided audio cable. Alternatively, you can go for a quick charge, as the headphones charge fast, allowing for five hours of playback after just 10 minutes of charging.
Overall, the WH-1000XM3 are outstanding wireless headphones for office use. Their comfort level, battery life, on-cup controls, noise isolation, and build quality are all great, while their foldable ear cups and lightweight frame make them easy to carry every day. Their companion app is one of the best, with options for button mapping and ANC adjustment. You can also use the headphones for travel and commute, especially considering their superb noise isolation.
Best Truly Wireless Earphones: Samsung Galaxy Buds
If you prefer more compact and more portable headphones than regular over-ear headphones, check out the Samsung Galaxy Buds. They are truly wireless headphones with a comfortable in-ear fit and a longer battery life per charge compared to most other headphones of the same type, which makes them more suitable for continuous use at the office. While they are best paired with Android devices, they are also compatible with iOS devices, but some features are not available on iOS.
The Galaxy Buds are well-designed earphones that are extremely lightweight and compact and come with a separate charging case. Unlike some truly wireless earphones, they don’t protrude too much, translating to a more discreet profile, especially for the black model. They have stability sleeves for a more secure fit. There are multiple stability sleeves and ear tips included in the box, allowing you to experiment with different combinations.
Compared to over-ear and on-ear headphones, the Galaxy Buds are more suitable for running and working out due to their better stability and more breathable design. Their overall build quality is good, but their IPX2 rating for water resistance is inferior compared with some of the best sports in-ear headphones like the Jaybird Tarah Pro and the Jabra Elite Active 65t.
Like with the Sony WH-1000XM3, the control system comes in the form of touch controls, with both earpieces featuring a glossy touch surface on their backplate. You can manage your calls and music and activate your voice assistant using the touch controls, with the option to customize the controls with the companion app. Unfortunately, the app, as of this writing, is not available for iOS devices, which bars iPhone owners from using the earphones to their full potential.
The charging case is just as compact and portable as the earphones themselves, making it easy to carry in your pocket. In addition to serving as a secure container for the small earphones, the case also carries one additional charge. Its single additional charge is disappointing, though, with many other truly wireless earphones featuring a charging case with at least three additional charges for longer total battery life.
Regarding overall performance, the Galaxy Buds are solid. Their audio reproduction is good for truly wireless earphones, which are not exactly known for their sound quality. Their integrated mic sounds decent in a quiet environment but struggles in noisy places. You get a decent amount of customization options with the Android-only companion app, including the option to modify the sound profile.
While they lack ANC technology, the Galaxy Buds are good at blocking out background noise in the office. Their overall passive noise isolation is decent, while their sound leakage at higher volumes is minimal, allowing you to turn the music volume up to further mask ambient noise. You can easily switch to ambient mode if you want to converse with a co-worker but don’t want to remove the earphones from your ears.
Truly wireless earphones usually have a mediocre single-charge battery life, with many products limited to around three to four hours per charge. The Galaxy Buds, however, are some of the better ones in this department. Their advertised battery life is six hours per charge, but according to several hands-on tests, they can easily beat that mark and run for more than seven hours on a single charge.
Their longer battery life per charge allows them to last longer than most truly wireless earphones during a typical workday. But on the other hand, their total battery life is shorter compared to others since their charging case only holds one additional charge. Their advertised 13-hour total battery life should be good enough for most people, though.
On the whole, the Galaxy Buds are highly recommended truly wireless earphones for office use. They have a comfortable design and a good battery life per charge. Their passive noise isolation is good enough for office use while their sound leakage is minimal, which prevents your loud music from disturbing nearby co-workers. If you are using an Android phone and don’t really need ANC, they offer better value for the money than both the Apple AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM3.
Best Neckband Headphones: Bose QuietControl 30
The Bose QuietControl 30 are some of the best neckband headphones on the market, featuring ANC for superior noise isolation, which is beneficial in a busy office. They are easy to use and offer better battery life per charge than truly wireless earphones, easily lasting through a typical workday. They are very expensive, though, selling for around $300.
Featuring ear tips with stability fins, the QuietControl 30 are wireless headphones with a comfortable earbud design. Their black color scheme and compact design allow for a more low-profile look. They are breathable and stay securely in your ears. Their overall build quality is good, but they are not as ruggedly built and as water-resistant as sports-oriented behind-the-neck headphones.
There are three different pairs of ear tips included in the box, allowing you to choose the most stable and most comfortable fit for your ears. Unfortunately, the stability fins are merged with the ear tips, preventing you from combining different ear tip and stability fin sizes, which is possible for some earbuds and in-ear headphones.
While the QuietControl 30 are not as compact and portable as truly wireless earphones, they are still more portable than over-ear and on-ear headphones. You can either put them in the included travel case or simply wear them around your neck when not in use, with their lightweight design making them easy to carry. The included case is a hard case type, which offers better protection against physical damage than a soft pouch.
You can easily adjust the volume level and manage your calls and music using the small inline remote, which is positioned on the right side. You also get additional buttons for adjusting the ANC, which are smaller than the main buttons. Although the buttons are slightly stiff, the control scheme is easy to use even while you are on the move.
The QuietControl 30 are decent-sounding neckband headphones that are suitable for all-around usage, including listening to podcasts and audiobooks. They support NFC technology for faster pairing and boast an excellent wireless range. Their companion app is user-friendly but limited, with no option to freely modify the sound profile.
For phone calls, the QuietControl 30 are not recommended, especially in a noisy environment, whether indoors or outdoors. Even in a quiet room, their mic performance is mediocre, which makes them unsuitable for important business calls in the office. If you take a lot of calls at the office and want headphones with good mic performance, there are better options out there.
With their ANC feature and closed-back design, the QuietControl 30 are great at blocking out ambient noise in a crowded office. Their sound leakage is also minimal at higher volumes, allowing you to blast your music without worrying about disturbing people around you. They can run up to 10 hours on a single charge, which is good enough for a typical workday. Unfortunately, they can’t be used in wired mode when the battery is low since they lack a backup audio cable.
If you prefer wireless neckband headphones for office use, get the QuietControl 30. Their overall performance and build quality are both good, with their comfortable earbud fit, 10-hour battery, and very effective noise isolation being especially beneficial for office use. However, as mentioned earlier, they are very expensive neckband headphones, which isn’t really surprising for a Bose product.
Best Wired Earbuds: Bose QuietComfort 20
Most wired earbuds and earphones are usable for listening to music at the office. But there are certain products that are more suitable for office use than others – and the Bose QuietComfort 20 are the best among them. They are wired earbuds with excellent noise isolation due to their ANC, which is useful in a noisy office setting. They sell for around $250, with Bose offering separate models for Apple devices and Android devices.
The QuietComfort 20 are well-built earbuds with a more comfortable fit compared to typical in-ear headphones. They are compact and breathable and feature stability fins for a more secure fit. There are three different ear tip sizes included in the box, allowing you to choose the most comfortable and most stable fit for your ears. The earbuds connect to a non-detachable cable that ends with a regular 3.5 mm analog plug, which is compatible with most smartphones.
While their long audio cable can be annoying to deal with sometimes, the QuietComfort 20 are very portable and easy to carry in your pocket. They are extremely lightweight and come with a handy travel case for protection against scratches and minor drops. The included case is similarly compact and portable and will take up minimal space in your bag.
Like most other wired earbud and earphones, the QuietComfort 20 include an inline remote with a built-in microphone. The small remote – which has a blue accent like the audio cable – allows for call and music management and volume adjustment, with the buttons providing decent feedback. A control module for the ANC is also integrated into the audio cable. The rectangular control module is easy to use and has a battery indicator.
The QuietComfort 20 have excellent noise isolation performance due to their ANC technology and passive seal. They block a great deal of ambient noise in the office, including chatter and the sound of office equipment. You can easily switch to Aware mode, allowing you to converse with co-workers without removing the earbuds from your ears. Furthermore, the earbuds have minimal sound leakage even at higher volumes, which is beneficial for the people around you.
With their 16-hour battery life per charge, the QuietComfort 20 will easily last through a typical workday and extended hours at the office. If their battery runs out in the middle of your work shift because you forgot to charge them overnight, you can still use them passively, but their noise isolation without ANC obviously won’t be as good. They require around two hours of charging time.
Regarding sound quality, the QuietComfort 20 are disappointing, with many Bose earbuds offering better audio reproduction. They sound mediocre, with an overpowering bass and inconsistent treble performance. This shouldn’t be a big issue for most non-audiophiles, but if you want good-sounding wired earbuds for office use, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Although they are much more expensive than regular wired earbuds, the QuietComfort 20 are some of the best headphones for office use. Their build quality, controls, comfort level, noise isolation, sound leakage, and battery life are all great, while their inline microphone is decent. They are easy to use and can easily connect with most smartphones due to their analog audio cable.
Best Audiophile Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
If you want to use audiophile headphones in the office, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are the most suitable headphones. They are wired over-ear headphones with excellent sound quality and a foldable design that makes them more portable. While their noise isolation is mediocre, their sound leakage is quite low, which is beneficial in an office environment. They are some of the best over-ear headphones under $200, offering great value for the money.
Available in different colors, the ATH-M50x are closed-back headphones with a simple aesthetic that allows for a more discreet look – which is great if you don’t want a lot of people staring at your audio equipment at the office. Their overall build quality is great but not as premium as some high-end audiophile headphones; their headband is sturdy and flexible while their large ear cups feel durable.
The ATH-M50x are lightweight headphones that weigh less than a pound, though their bulky design might suggest otherwise. They are comfortable to use for long listening sessions and can accommodate larger ears due to their spacious ear cups. They are well-padded and don’t feel too tight, but on the other hand, they are not as breathable as on-ear and in-ear headphones.
Over-ear headphones are not the most portable type of headphones because of their bulky design. The ATH-M50x, however, are a bit more portable since they fold into a more compact form. They take up less space in your bag compared to non-foldable over-ear headphones, making them easier to carry for office use. They also come with a pouch that protects them from scratches while stored in your bag.
There are multiple audio cables in the box, including a coiled cable and a regular straight cable that ends with a 3.5 mm analog plug. None of the audio cables include an inline remote for volume and music control, though, which isn’t surprising for headphones designed for professional use. The lack of an inline remote means you’ll need to control everything from your smartphone or computer, which can be inconvenient sometimes.
The ATH-M50x are some of the best-sounding headphones selling for around $150 or less. They have a balanced audio reproduction and are suitable for different music genres, including classical, punk rock, and heavy metal. Their treble, mid-range, bass, and imaging are all great, but their soundstage is subpar, which isn’t really surprising for closed-back headphones.
Since they are wired headphones, you don’t need to worry about battery life, wireless range, and the sometimes problematic Bluetooth pairing process. You can simply plug their audio cable to any device that includes a compatible analog port and then listen to music without worrying about running out of headphones battery in the middle of your work shift.
With their closed-back design, the ATH-M50x provide passive noise isolation. But they are mediocre at blocking out ambient noise in a very noisy office. The good news is that their sound leakage, as mentioned earlier, is quite low. This means you can turn the music volume up to mask ambient noise without worrying about disturbing your co-workers with your loud music.
Overall, the ATH-M50x are recommended headphones for office use if you care more about sound quality than features like wireless connectivity and ANC technology. They are suitable for masking ambient noise in a moderately noisy office. They are comfortable to use continuously for long periods and are decently portable for over-ear headphones due to their foldable design.
The products in this section are also great options if you are looking for the best headphones for office use and include more budget-friendly alternatives to our top picks.
The Aukey Latitude are wireless in-ear headphones with a behind-the-neck design, which places them in the same category as the Bose QuietControl 30. But compared to the Bose neckband headphones, they are much more affordable, selling for just around $30. Their build quality is decent for budget earphones; their IPX4 rating means they are protected against sweat and rain. They have stability fins for a more secure fit and include an inline remote for call and music management and volume control.
While they lack ANC technology, the Latitude provide excellent noise isolation. They passively block an incredible amount of ambient noise in the office and are even better than some noise-canceling headphones. Their sound leakage is also minimal, which is beneficial for the people around you. They can last up to eight hours on a single charge and are surprisingly decent-sounding for budget wireless in-ear headphones.
If you are looking for a significantly cheaper alternative to the premium Sony WH-1000XM3, check out the TaoTronics TT-BH060. They are wireless over-ear headphones featuring ANC for better noise isolation in a crowded office and while commuting. Their closed-back design also provides passive noise isolation. They are comfortable to use for hours and can be folded into a more compact form, which adds to their portability. Their on-cup controls are good and include essential functions such as call and music management.
The TT-BH060 have a multi-day battery capable of running up to 30 hours on a single charge while in wireless mode and with ANC enabled. This allows them to last through multiple work shifts – and they charge fast too, allowing up to two hours of playback after just five minutes of charging. If they run out of battery in the middle of your work shift, you can simply switch to a wired connection using the provided audio cable.
Anker SoundCore Life P2
A pair of IPX7-rated earphones, the Anker SoundCore Life P2 are recommended if you want more budget-friendly truly wireless earphones for office use. They are extremely lightweight and compact, making them easy to carry in your pocket. The same thing is also true for the included charging case, which holds additional charges. You get seven hours of playback per charge, according to the official specs, with the charging case providing additional charges for a total battery life of 40 hours.
The Life P2 are surprisingly good-sounding budget headphones with a balanced audio reproduction and are suitable for different music genres. Their passive noise isolation is good enough for office use, while their sound leakage is minimal even at higher volumes. Unlike more expensive truly wireless earphones like the Sony WF-1000XM3, they don’t have a dedicated app for customizing the sound profile and the control scheme, which isn’t really surprising for a budget product.
Selling for less than $100, the Shure SE215 are a cheaper and better-sounding alternative to the Bose QuietComfort 20. They are wired earphones featuring a detachable cable that ends with a 3.5 mm analog plug for universal compatibility. Their build quality is great and better than some earphones selling for a higher price. They are compact and portable, with the included travel case protecting them from scratches and physical impact while stored in your bag.
The SE215 are comfortable to use for long periods. There are different ear tips included in the box, allowing you to choose the best fit. While they lack ANC technology, their noise isolation is excellent, which makes them suitable for blocking out ambient noise in the office. Moreover, their sound leakage is minimal even at higher volumes, making for a very effective two-way sound isolation performance.
Jabra Elite 65e
The Jabra Elite 65e are wireless neckband headphones that are suitable for all-around use, with their good noise isolation, minimal sound leakage, solid battery life, and portable design all making them especially suitable for office use. They are more ruggedly built than the Bose QuietControl 30, boasting a better IP rating of IP54, which means they are better protected against dust and water. Their efficient control scheme includes the usual buttons for call and music management and volume control, along with separate buttons for the ANC and mic mute.
Compared to most wireless earbuds and in-ear headphones, the Elite 65e have better mic performance, which is especially beneficial if you make a lot of phone calls while at the office. Their app support is good, with the option to modify the sound profile. They can run up to eight hours per charge with ANC enabled and up to 13 hours with ANC disabled.
Featuring ANC technology for better noise isolation, the Sony WI-1000X are neckband headphones with a typical in-ear fit, a responsive control scheme, and good app support. They support NFC for faster pairing and are compatible with both Android and iOS devices. Their build quality is good, but their thin cables feel less durable compared to the neckband. There are different ear tips included in the box, allowing you to choose ear tips that offer the best seal and most comfortable fit.
The WI-1000X are good at both blocking out ambient noise and preventing sound from leaking out too much at higher volumes, which are beneficial in an office environment. They can last up to 10 hours on a single charge with ANC enabled. Unlike the Bose and Jabra neckband headphones above, they come with a backup audio cable, allowing you to switch to wired mode when the battery is low.
Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are some of the best wireless over-ear headphones under $200 for office use. While their bulky design might suggest otherwise, they are lightweight and are comfortable to use for long listening sessions. They have well-padded ear cups and a flexible headband that feels durable. Their on-cup controls are responsive and easy to use and allow for basic functions like call and music management and volume adjustment.
With their multi-pairing feature, the BackBeat Pro 2 can connect with up to two devices at the same time, allowing you to connect them to your smartphone and office computer. Their wireless range and sound quality are both good while their noise isolation with ANC enabled is decent enough for office use. They can run up to 24 hours per charge, allowing them to last through multiple work shifts on just a single charge.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 are noise-canceling earphones that are more customizable than all the other truly wireless earphones on this list. Their companion app allows for a good amount of customization, including the option to modify the sound profile. Their touch controls are easy to use and allow for call and music management and voice assistant activation. You can also cover the left earbud’s touch panel to instantly turn the volume down and disable ANC, which makes it easy to talk to a co-worker without removing the earphones from your ears.
While their overall noise isolation performance is not as good as that of some of the very best noise-canceling headphones, the WF-1000XM3 block a good amount of ambient noise in the office. You can increase the music volume to further mask background noise. You don’t need to worry about disturbing your co-workers with your loud music, as the earphones have low sound leakage. They can run up to six hours per charge, with the included charging case providing additional charges for a total battery life of 24 hours.
Apple AirPods Pro
The recently released Apple AirPods Pro are more suitable for office use than the AirPods 2, mainly due to their significantly better noise isolation performance. Unlike the relatively more affordable AirPods 2, they are truly wireless earphones with a closed-back design and ANC technology. You can also change their ear tips, with Apple including three different pairs in the box.
Out of all the truly wireless headphones listed here, the AirPods Pro are the best when it comes to noise isolation. They block a great amount of ambient noise, allowing you to work in peace in a crowded office with lots of chatter. Their sound leakage is also low at higher volumes. However, they won’t last through a typical workday on a single charge; they can only run up to four hours and 30 minutes per charge with ANC enabled and the volume set to 50 percent.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
A pair of wireless over-ear headphones, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are noise-canceling headphones that are extremely comfortable to use for hours. They are lightweight, well-padded, and don’t feel too tight on the head. With their ANC and closed-back design, they are excellent at blocking out ambient noise, not only in a crowded office but also during commutes. They can be folded into a more compact form and include a hard case, making them easy to carry for everyday use.
Compared to the similarly priced Sony WH-1000XM3, the QuietComfort 35 II are better-sounding out of the box and more comfortable and have a simpler on-cup control scheme. But on the other hand, their app support and battery life are both inferior. In addition, they leak more sound at higher volumes, which means you might disturb nearby co-workers with your very loud music.
The post The 15 Best Headphones for Office Use appeared first on Improb.