If you work remotely, you may have realized that a reliable pair of headphones – or headset, as office headphones are typically referred to – is vital whether your coworkers include another adult noisily taking Zoom calls in an adjacent room or loud children. The finest headphones for working from home may help you insulate yourself from all of these distracting factors, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.
Working headphones should provide excellent sound quality and comfort (since you will use them for long periods). They should also have substantial communication facilities for making phone calls and video chats. Sound noise reduction is essential, as is hearing your voice in the headphones while speaking (to avoid yelling). Long battery life is also beneficial. Finally, multipoint Bluetooth pairing, which allows you to switch between two devices seamlessly, is an essential function in the home-office setting.
You may be especially seeking a headset or headphones certified for Skype for Business, optimized for Microsoft Lync, and compatible with softphones from Cisco, Avaya, and Skype. I’ve included several UC headphones on this list, but the bulk of these are popular consumer headphones that are also good for travelling. We’ve compiled this list of the best headphones for work as a tool to help you understand what qualities each one brings to the table so you can pick which one is best for you.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
The Bose Headphone 700, the successor to Bose’s QuietComfort 35 II model (now superseded by the QuietComfort 45), offers somewhat improved sound and highly effective noise cancellation and top-notch headset performance voice calls (the QC45’s noise-cancelling is slightly better). They’re an excellent all-around audio performance with up to 20 hours of battery life and a challenging build. Some may prefer the QuietComfort 45 headphones, but the Headphones 700 have a complete feature set, including the option to change EQ and noise-cancelling settings.
They were $400 when they first came out, but they’ve lately dropped down in price. The white version has been reduced to $299, while the black and silver variants have reached $340. However, its closest competitor has also witnessed significant price reductions, the Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones.
Sony has been improved
Sony’s previous WH-1000XM3 noise-cancelling headset was excellent. If it had a flaw, it was its voice-calling skills, especially in noisy surroundings. The new WH-1000XM4 has improved in this area and has a multipoint Bluetooth connection, allowing you to connect to two devices simultaneously, such as your phone and PC. That means that if a call comes in while you’re using your computer’s headphones, the audio will switch to your phone when you answer it.
The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 have a slight advantage for voice calls, but the 1000XM4 is undoubtedly a touch more comfortable and has some other minor upgrades to its noise-cancelling and sound that make it a great all-around pick for working from home.
Bose QuietComfort 45
The QuietComfort 45 is almost identical to its predecessor, the QuietComfort QC35 II, which was widely regarded as one of the most comfortable over-ear headphones, if not the most comfortable. According to Bose, it uses the same drivers and has the same buttons. There are, however, subtle yet noticeable modifications. First and foremost, these have USB-C connectors rather than micro-USB.
Second, the microphone arrangement varies. Not only have the microphones on the headphones been repositioned, but there is now an additional external microphone for speech pickup, bringing the total number of microphones on the QC45 to six, four of which are beamforming and utilized for voice. The QC35 II, on the other hand, has four, two of which are used for voice. (There are a total of six microphones on the Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700.)
As a result, these are ideal for making phone calls. They’re similar to the Bose Headphones 700 in that aspect, and they also include excellent noise cancellation and multipoint Bluetooth pairing, allowing you to connect them to a PC and your phone simultaneously.
Poly Voyager Focus 2 UC
The original Plantronics Voyager Focus UC has long been regarded as one of the most excellent work-from-anywhere headsets. The Voyager Focus 2 UC from Poly (the company Plantronics became after acquiring Polycom) is now available, and it’s improved in several ways, including better noise reduction (it’s stellar), two levels of active noise cancelling, increased battery life (up to 19 hours with ANC off and 16 hours with it on), and superior wireless range with Bluetooth 5.1.
With the accompanying USB dongle, you can connect the Voyager Focus 2 UC to your computer or your phone (or tablet) through Bluetooth. If you wish to bring it to the office, it can also connect to a desk phone. It’s also worth mentioning that the boom microphone has a mute button; however, flipping it up also mutes it. When you elevate the boom microphone on the original Voyager Focus, it does not quiet.
The Focus 2 is available in various configurations, including USB-A and USB-C variants, as well as a Microsoft Teams-certified device. The headset may be purchased alone or as part of a package that includes a charging port. All models come with a tremendous protective carrying pouch.
The Voyager Focus 2 UC is a pricey on-ear headset that delivers outstanding performance and is pretty comfortable. It also has a beautifully detailed sound and plenty of bass for music listening. It may not be as good as the Sony WH-1000XM4 for music, but it provides a pleasant music listening experience for a work-focused headset.
The original Voyager Focus UC (seen below) can be bought for around $150, so anticipate its next generation to be less expensive over time. I’m not sure if it’s worth the extra money, but it works better and has a more stylish appearance than the original.
Apple AirPods Pro
Lightweight true wireless (Save $69)
Even if they don’t sound quite as magical as you’d expect from a $249 model (they sometimes go on sale for $200), the Apple AirPods Pro are still a terrific set of true-wireless headphones with noise cancellation. This is mainly due to their award-winning design and fit, improved bass performance, and effective noise cancellation – and now they’ve been updated with spatial audio, a new virtual-sound mode for watching movies and TV shows (only works with iPhones and iPads running iOS 14), making it an excellent earbud for the money.
They have outstanding call quality, superb noise suppression, and the ability to hear your voice in the buds while talking. Their transparency mode is excellent (it allows you to listen to the outside world as if you were not wearing headphones), and Apple fans should be aware that the AirPods Pro may swap between Apple devices as long as they are all registered into the same iCloud account.
The most effective bone conduction
AfterShokz has transformed its Aeropex bone-conduction headphones into a more conversational headset with an integrated boom microphone. These aren’t for persons who wish to block their ears from outside sounds since they leave your ears exposed (the sound is carried via your cheekbone). Instead, the idea is that you can hear everything around you without anything covering or jamming within your ears. Some people find it freeing.
While the AfterShokz is perhaps the best-sounding bone-conduction headphones, they aren’t excellent for music since they lack bass. However, because they are perfect for speech, they perform well as a headset for making calls, with strong noise suppression. These also offer a multipoint Bluetooth connection, so you can pair them with both your phone and your computer and switch to your phone if a call comes in while you’re working on your computer.
You may also use the OpenComm for sports events as provided as you don’t mind the book microphone. The Aeropex and other AfterShokz headphones are popular among runners who prefer to keep their ears open to hear what’s going on around them for safety concerns. They’re also waterproof. The main drawback is requiring a proprietary charging cable rather than USB-C. The battery has a capacity of 16 hours of speaking time and eight hours of listening time.
Jabra Elite 45h
Excellent value for money
The Jabra Elite 45h were released in mid-2020 and described as the most excellent headphones for the money. While they aren’t particularly fancy, they are among the most acceptable bargain on-ear headphones available right now, with decent sound quality, a solid build, and a comfortable fit – for on-ear headphones, at least. They also work well as a headset for making calls and have a sidetone function that allows you to hear your voice, so you don’t speak too loudly. The battery life is very decent, and it supports a multipoint Bluetooth connection, which allows you to connect to both your computer and your smartphone simultaneously and effortlessly switch between the two if your phone rings. It’s mainly practical.
It is available in a variety of colours and sells for $100. However, it is sometimes reduced to $70 or less; specific hues may cost less than others.
It’s worth noting that the $250 Evolve2 65, which includes an integrated boom microphone, is essentially the office version of these headphones.
JLab Go Work
JLab, known for its low-cost headphones and earbuds, has introduced a pair of on-ear headphones with an inbuilt boom microphone (which can be flipped up while merely listening to music) and multipoint Bluetooth pairing, allowing you to connect them to your phone and computer at the same time. I like the Jabra Elite 45h, which lists $100 but typically sells for around $75. If you don’t want to spend that much money, the Go Work are fabulous headphones – and an excellent headset – for the price. They’re also lightweight and comfy to wear. These aren’t going to be mistaken for expensive headphones, but the build quality appears to be adequate.
JLab, renowned for its low-cost headphones and earbuds, has released a pair of on-ear headphones with an integrated boom microphone (which can be turned up while just listening to music) and multipoint Bluetooth pairing, enabling you to connect them to your phone and computer simultaneously. The Jabra Elite 45h, which is listed for $100 but generally sells for approximately $75, is one of my favourites. If you don’t want to spend so much money, the Go Work are excellent headphones — and a fantastic headset – at a reasonable price. They’re also light and comfortable to wear. These aren’t going to fool anyone into thinking they’re expensive headphones, but the build quality looks to be decent.
Creative Sound Blaster Jam V2
On-ear option of high value
I used to like Creative’s original Quality Blaster Jam headphones, which debuted in 2015 and had a distinctively retro appearance and feel, as well as decent sound for the price. They are now available in a 2.0 version with essential updates, including Bluetooth 5.0, USB-C charging, enhanced call quality, and multipoint Bluetooth pairing, which allows you to link it to two devices simultaneously. The battery has a life of up to 22 hours.
I was able to link this wireless headphone set with a Mac Mini and an iPhone 12 Pro and then swap music between the two devices. When connecting Bluetooth headphones with Mac and Windows PCs, some complications can arise, but after I had the headphones associated with my PC and phone, they formed an excellent pair of work-from-home headphones. Furthermore, the pricing is reasonable for parents seeking a good set of children’s headphones for remote learning and regular usage.
The Jam V2s are lightweight and comfortable for on-ear headphones, providing well-balanced sound with decent clarity and sufficient but not overwhelming bass. In my tests, call quality was good, with callers claiming they could hear me even on New York’s busy streets. There is no carry pouch, but you get a second pair of foam ear cushions, which is helpful because they will wear out over time.
The headphones offer physical volume and playback controls and aptX compatibility for devices that support the wireless streaming codec.
Apple AirPods Max
Apple’s premium option (Save $100)
The AirPods Max noise-cancelling headphones from Apple cost a whopping $549. However, if you’re an Apple fan who works on a MacBook and also owns an iPhone (and maybe an iPad), the Max, like previous AirPods, allows you to effortlessly connect to and switch between several Apple devices at the same time (as long as you’re registered into your iCloud account on all of them). If you’re in a Zoom teleconference and a call comes in on your iPhone, the AirPods Max will switch to the iPhone if you answer it.
They sound fantastic, and all of their microphones do an excellent job of picking up your speech and eliminating background noise. Aside from their exorbitant price, their substantial weight is another possible disadvantage.
Improved Sony buds
Of course, no earbud is perfect, and not everyone will enjoy the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds’ fit or be able to afford their hefty price. However, if you’re looking for great-sounding earbuds with noise cancellation, powerful voice-calling features, and long battery life, these buds tick all the boxes.
They don’t have multipoint Bluetooth like the over-ear WH-1000XM4 (it’s about the only thing they don’t have), but their voice-calling capabilities have much improved. You may link them with various devices, but they will not instantly switch between your PC and phone when a call comes in.
Shure Sonic 50
Audiophile Grade Sound
If you want clean-sounding headphones with a more balanced sound profile, the well-built Shure Sonic 50 is just what you’re searching for. The treble is crisp and articulate, and the bass is well-defined but may be weak for those looking for a bit more oomph. The noise cancellation is adequate but not quite up to the quality of top noise-cancelling models from Bose and Sony, which are less expensive.
Although they’re a little hefty, the headphones fold flat, as is their carrying bag. They do, however, function well as a headset for making calls (Shure is known for manufacturing great microphones), so they’re fantastic work-from-home headphones that are pleasant to use, but they may be a little large for some people.
While the Sonic 50 was initially overpriced (it started at $400 but has now dropped to as low as $250 for the brown version), they’re superb headphones that appear to be made to last. The battery life is stated at 20 hours, and they support a range of audio codecs such as aptX, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency audio, Sony LDAC, AAC, and SBC.
Jabra Evolve2 30
Most super comfortable wired for less than $100
Jabra just announced the Evolve2 30, a new wired on-ear office headset with an integrated boom microphone that is more inexpensive. It’s lightweight and comfy, and it’s available in USB-C and USB-A variants, as well as stereo and mono (I tried the USB-A stereo version). Unfortunately, it’s hard to come by right now; apparently, there’s a lot of demand for workplace headphones/headsets at this price bracket.
Although they are designed primarily for speech applications, the headphones are adequate for music listening. They include twin microphones, one for picking up your speech and the other to decrease background noise so callers can hear you better.
Jabra Evolve2 85 UC
If you’re searching for a more powerful version of the Elite 85h, the recently introduced Evolve2 85 provides even more telephony choices as well as a Unified Communications USB dongle for PCs. While the sound quality is identical to the 85h, it features an upgraded audio chipset, a concealed boom arm, and two more microphones (10 total, with the extra two in the boom arm) for noise reduction and speech pickup. Its construction quality has also improved. For those that require it, a Microsoft Teams-certified version is available.
I found it pleasant to wear for several hours, and it has an incredible 37-hour battery life, which is somewhat longer than the Elite 85h.
Epos/Sennheiser Adapt 660
This Epos enterprise-level model is simply a beefed-up Sennheiser PCX 550 with improved telephony and PC connection. It’s comfy and offers superb noise-cancelling capabilities. The voice quality is excellent, and it is Microsoft Teams certified. The battery life is rated at 30 hours, which is fantastic.
The main drawback is that it still charges via Micro-USB rather than USB-C. (the new Sennheiser PXC 550 II has USB-C).
Its list price is $400, but you can get it for less than $300.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay HX
Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay HX is the successor to the company’s H9 series headphones (the X represents a Roman number 10) and, like the older H9 versions, the HX has a $500 list price (some colours are discounted at Amazon). At that price, it competes directly with Apple’s AirPods Max, which are heavier headphones (385 grams against 285 grams for the HX). I’m not sure if the HX is more comfortable than the AirPods Max, but I found the two versions to be about equally pleasant over extended listening sessions, although they do include the typical snazzy B&O lambskin coated memory foam ear cushions.
The HX boasts proprietary 40mm drivers, Bluetooth 5.1, and compatibility for Qualcomm’s aptX Adaptive (including AptX HD) for high-resolution wireless streaming when used with select music streaming services like Qobuz.
Their sound is comparable to that of the AirPods Max, with deep, well-defined bass, authentic-sounding mids (where vocals reside), and enticing detail in the treble (the sound is overall well-balanced). If you want to boost the treble or bass, you may use the Bang & Olufsen app for iOS and Android to adjust the EQ and give the headphones a warmer or brighter profile.
While these are more costly, they provide better sound quality than the Sony WH-1000XM4. Their noise cancellation is also quite adequate, and their voice-calling capabilities are pretty strong. Furthermore, they support multipoint Bluetooth pairing, allowing you to link them to a smartphone and a PC simultaneously (aka Microsoft Swift Pair enabled for Windows PCs), allowing you to choose between the two effortlessly. (This function is also available on the Sony WH-1000XM4.) The battery life is advertised at up to 35 hours with noise cancellation enabled and 40 hours without. Those are fantastic figures.
Jabra Elite 85t
Jabra noise-cancelling earbuds
Jabra just launched its new Elite 7 Active and Elite 7 Pro earphones, although the Elite 85t should be available for some time and will hopefully be priced. It’s a somewhat more extensive version of the 75t with more effective active noise cancellation. Its redesigned oval-shaped tips are intended to provide a more comfortable fit for users; however, the Elite 75t may be a better fit for some people’s ears.
The Elite 85t comes with a wireless charging case (a $20 improvement over the Elite 75t), more significant 12mm drivers for enhanced sound, and six-microphone technology (three on each ear, two on the outside, one on the inside) for better voice calling with superior noise suppression.
These earbuds, like the Elite 75t (and the new Elite 7 Active and Elite 7 Pro), support multipoint Bluetooth pairing, allowing you to link them with both your phone and PC at the same time (and take calls with your phone when they come in). They’re IPX4 splash-resistant and have a battery life of five and a half hours with noise cancelling on and seven hours without.
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
Excellent for Windows users
Microsoft’s over-ear noise-cancelling Surface Headphones 2 were introduced earlier in 2020, with the main difference between them and their predecessor being the price: The original Surface Headphones were priced at $350, while the Headphones 2 were priced at $250. This second-generation model, like the first, has a lot to enjoy. While they’ve lost their hands-free Cortana voice-control feature (which no one will complain about) and the sound quality hasn’t improved (it’s good but not great), the combination of some minor design changes, improved battery life, upgraded Bluetooth, and the new lower price help boost their rating and make them more recommendable.
Because of its multipoint Bluetooth connection feature, you can pair them with two devices simultaneously (for example, a computer and a phone) and rapidly switch the audio from either device to the headphones. That’s an intriguing feature for those who work from home, and these also work well for making phone calls.
Logitech Zone Wireless
Designed for use in an open workspace
While Logitech refers to the Zone Wireless as a headset, they are on-ear active noise-cancelling headphones with an integrated boom mic. What distinguishes them is that you can charge them wirelessly by placing them on a Qi wireless charging station. Their battery is rated for up to 15 hours of call time or music playing. The headset may also be charged via a Micro-USB cable.
They’re a comfortable fit, especially for on-ear headphones, and they’re ideal for making calls, with a sidetone function that allows you to hear your voice within the headset, so you don’t shout too loudly during chats. The sole disadvantage is that the headset’s audio quality is adequate for music and audio listening. While they aren’t designed to be mobile headphones, they are comfortable to use and have a multidevice connection capability that allows you to move between your phone and a computer effortlessly.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Noise-cancelling earbuds from Samsung
Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro are marginally better than the newer, slightly less expensive Galaxy Buds 2 in terms of sound, noise-cancelling functionality, and water resistance (they’re entirely waterproof). They also include a few capabilities that the Buds 2 lack, including Samsung’s new 360 Audio virtual surround capability, akin to Apple’s spatial audio (360 Audio only works with specific Galaxy devices, but the list is growing).
The Buds Pro are largely excellent, but how good you believe they are will ultimately be determined by how well they fit your ears. The smaller Galaxy Buds 2 will be a better fit – and a better option – for specific individuals.
In my voice-calling testing, the Buds Pro functioned admirably. According to Samsung, they have three microphones, a Voice Pickup Unit and noise-reduction technology that helps decrease wind noise. Callers commented that my speech sounded a little clearer while I was wearing the AirPods Pro, but the noise reduction was substantial with the Buds Pro, and many claimed they could hear me well even in pretty busy places. While they, like the Galaxy Buds Plus, can effortlessly swap between Samsung Galaxy smartphones, they lack full multipoint Bluetooth connectivity (for connecting to two devices simultaneously). They do, however, incorporate Microsoft’s Swift Pair function, which allows them to be more readily paired to a Windows 10-based PC.
Jabra Evolve 65e UC
The Jabra Evolve 65e UC is an around-the-neck style that provides a secure, comfortable fit. There are three sizes of stabilizing fins included and three sizes of ear tips. This version is Skype for Business and UC approved, and the accompanying USB Bluetooth adapter allows you to connect to your PC (Windows or Mac) and your smartphone at the same time.
While these headphones are adequate for music listening (albeit a touch light on bass), they excel as a phone headset, with superb noise attenuation, particularly wind noise. Because the integrated inline microphone is close to your lips, others will be able to hear you well. Battery life is rated at 13 hours.
It should be noted that this is Elite 65e’s business-grade variant. Jabra also produces the Evolve 75e UC, which costs around $50 more and has active noise cancellation. However, I didn’t believe the noise cancellation was outstanding, so it’s probably preferable to save money and purchase the 65e UC.
Voyager Focus UC
The Plantronics Voyager Focus UC is an oldie but a goodie that lets you switch between a Bluetooth connection on a smartphone or tablet and a PC. These are lightweight, comfy on-ear headphones with outstanding noise suppression and a retractable boom microphone, allowing people to hear your speech and you to hear your voice in the headphones.