Bluetooth headphones test 2021 - test winner and recommendations

Bluetooth headphones test 2021 - test winner and recommendations

Over-ear, in-ear, for sports, with or without active noise-canceling - xiaomist audio expert Stefan presents his selection of the best headphone models with wireless connection via Bluetooth.

Bluetooth headphones 2021: an overview of all test winners and recommendations

Stiftung-Warentest-Sieger 2021 (In-Ear True Wireless) Stiftung-Warentest-Sieger 2021 (Over-Ear) xiaomist price tip (in-ear with neckband) xiaomist tip sound (over-ear) xiaomist tip bass (over- Ear) xiaomist-Tipp Sport (In-Ear True Wireless) xiaomist-Tipp Klang (In-Ear True Wireless with ANC) xiaomist-Tipp Design (In-Ear True Wireless with ANC) Model Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro SM-R190 Apple AirPods Max Beats Flex Beyerdynamic Amiron Wireless Skullcandy Crusher Evo Beats Powerbeats Pro Sony WF-1000XM4 Nothing Ear (1) Price (approx.) 150 euros 450 euros 40 euros 550 euros 140 euros 200 euros 210 euros 100 euros Advantage Good grip Balanced sound quality Inexpensive and stable Highest Sound quality Extremely strong bass effect (adjustable) Bass-accentuated sound Good sound and effective noise canceling Unique design Disadvantage: battery life: mediocre Expensive and mainly for Apple users Sound somewhat poor in detail Difficult Bass control should be readjusted for each song Unreliable touch controls Carrying comfort mediocre K long only average offer MediaMarkt Otto Saturn Beyerdynamic Amazon Amazon MediaMarkt Amazon Compare prices idealo idealo idealo idealo idealo idealo idealo idealo

Buying bluetooth headphones: the most important questions

What does sound quality mean?

A lot is written and discussed about sound , also here at xiaomist. Nevertheless, one must be aware that it is an individual sensory perception . One listener likes a neutral sound (straight frequency response), another finds it sterile and boring. A classical music fan has different requirements for headphones than someone who likes tech house. The general rule is: high-quality headphones are particularly good at mastering all the different challenges and being a kind of all-round tool . Bad sounding headphones, on the other hand, can hardly be saved even with software equalizers via an app.

Also interesting:
Headphones: Why do they sound different to you than to me? Why is the seat so important?

Headphones are something that you wear directly on your body ("wearable"). That means a good fit is crucial . In order to avoid expensive bad purchases and annoying returns, you should try out the desired model yourself beforehand - be it borrowed from a friend or in a shop (where, in fairness, you can buy the right item right away).

In the case of in-ear models, it depends on the silicone adapters whether the fit in the ear canal is correct. Only good insulation ensures a rich sound: If the housing is too loose in the ears, the bass is lost. If they are too tight, this leads to an uncomfortable feeling of pressure and even pain within minutes. Adapters made of flexible memory foam are recommended. When handling in-ears, you should also pay attention to hygiene (clean hands) - after all, you put an object near your eardrum.

Are Bluetooth headphones harmful to your health?

When it comes to health, there are also isolated concerns about the radiation exposure caused by Bluetooth devices. The electromagnetic fields are clearly measurable, but not so easy to interpret, even for scientists. "As far as we know today (...) the high-frequency radiation generated by Bluetooth networks is too weak to (...) trigger acute health effects," says the fact sheet of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (PDF). The German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) generally recommends minimizing radiation exposure in order to keep possible but "previously unrecognized health risks" low (information sheet as PDF). You can find more information in the xiaomist article: "Is Bluetooth harmful or harmless? Easily explained."

Bluetooth Multipoint: Why is it important when using multiple players?

Multipoint wireless headphones stay connected to multiple paired devices at the same time. So you can easily switch between different players (e.g. smartphone, tablet) when playing music without having to pair again each time.

What about cell phone apps and what about data protection?

Anyone who buys modern Bluetooth headphones, in principle, not only pays for the headphones themselves (hardware), but also for the firmware and app that go with operation (software). Some headphones cannot be used to their full extent without a smartphone app - this comes into focus when you have to create a login to use the app, which in turn collects data and transfers it to the manufacturer. If you attach great importance to data protection, you should take this aspect into account and find out beforehand how the manufacturer has envisaged its use.

Noise Canceling (ANC) in headphones: what does the technology do?

The topic of noise canceling has been penetrating more and more consumers for a number of years. The active lowering of outside noises by counter-sound can actually ensure a pleasant calm by mainly suppressing low-frequency and monotonous sources of interference (engine hum, air conditioning noise). But you should be aware that some of the manufacturer's advertising promises are exaggerated . Even the best ANC headphones cannot achieve absolute silence like in an anechoic room, which is technically not (yet) feasible. But it becomes audibly more pleasant to enjoy music while traveling by plane or train. Occasionally, users also ask themselves whether noise canceling is harmful to health: The answer to this is no, as an ENT expert at the University of Dresden confirmed on request.

The best Bluetooth headphones: this is how we tested and selected

We have explained here how we test at xiaomist and why you can trust our judgment :

I've been passionate about headphones for over 20 years, and I've tried almost all of the Bluetooth headphones discussed here myself. For some of the products you can also find detailed test reports on xiaomist, which are linked for the respective model. The test samples were made available to us by the manufacturers. Current and popular headphone models that have received special praise from the press and customers and are therefore recommended for purchase are also presented here.


Good sound Secure fit in the ears, also suitable for athletes


Average battery life Telephony feature could be better

In the list of the best in-ear headphones by Stiftung Warentest, the true wireless model Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro is currently at the top. The overall grade is 1.9 ("good"), the sound even got a 1.6 ("good") - see Stiftung Warentest, edition 11/2021. The suitability as sports headphones is emphasized, since the hold in the ear is very good.

xiaomist has also extensively tested the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro model:

Our author Peter Hryciuk got an overall grade of 8.3 out of 10 points . He really liked the compact design, the successful noise canceling and the balanced sound. The battery life (approx. 4 hours per charge) is only average and even as a headset for making calls, these true wireless headphones cannot clearly set themselves apart from the competition. All in all, however, a solid performance from the Korean manufacturer.


Very good sound quality Top processing quality Perfect for Apple users


Heavy and not foldable Comparatively expensive

According to Stiftung Warentest, the Apple AirPods Max are one of the best models among wireless over-ear headphones (issue 11/2021). Above all, the sound quality was able to convince the testers: The sound is brilliant and undistorted, scores with strong bass - this leads to an overall grade of 1.9 ("good") in the end. The weak points are the high weight and the mediocre battery life compared to the competition (approx. 22:30 hours per charge).

Apple AirPods Max: classy, ​​heavy and expensive. (Image: xiaomist)

xiaomist assessment: A well-deserved test victory for Apple - the AirPods Max are certainly not a price breaker, but with good (3D) sound, strong noise canceling, noble processing quality and deep integration into the Apple world (e.g. search function with the App "Where is?" And quick change between players) to offer many advantages. The connection socket for a headphone cable is missing, the AirPods Max are only intended for wireless use via Bluetooth - an unnecessary restriction.

So you should also use the very good alternatives Consider Sony WH-1000XM4 (xiaomist test), Bose Headphones 700 (xiaomist test) and Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H9 (3rd gen.). In the upper class of over-ear headphones, the top is now densely occupied.


Rich sound with deep bass and rounded highs Good sound quality when making calls (headset function)


Not protected against dust, water or sweat (no IPX certification), no noise canceling

There are so many inexpensive Bluetooth headphones available. The Beats Flex model from the Beats brand, which belongs to the Apple group, is extremely interesting - for both iOS and Android users. Technically, you get a genuine brand product with robust workmanship and solid sound quality, which is definitely suitable for everyday use.

What I noticed personally: The Beats Flex can be used very well as a headset for making calls. Even more expensive (true wireless) headphones with a dull sound and poor connection fail in this discipline - but the Beats Flex has proven to be reliable and practical. More about this in our detailed test report:


Outstanding sound properties, shows all details of recordings Supports aptX, aptX HD, aptX LL and AAC The workmanship and comfort are excellent


A little too heavy (400 g). High price, especially the technically identical "Copper" version makes the wallet cry

Professional musicians have trusted a small company from Heilbronn called Beyerdynamic for decades. The wireless top model Amiron Wireless is in no way inferior to studio headphones in terms of sound quality and wearing comfort.

A special feature is the sound personalization, in which the headphones adapt to the hearing ability of the wearer. Noise canceling is not part of the equipment. The Amiron Wireless is controlled via a touch field on the right auricle - this takes a bit of getting used to. All in all, one of the most expensive Bluetooth headphones on the market, but it pays off in full, especially when listening to enjoyment at home.


Extreme bass effect (infinitely variable)


If the bass control is set incorrectly, the music will sound terrible

If a headphone has "Crusher" in its name, you might ask: What do they mean by that? What is being "smashed" there? Well, with the Skullcandy Crusher Evo , the answer is very simple: your skull bone.

Skullcandy Collina Strada Crusher Evo: This special design edition puts your taste buds to the test. But there are also more moderate color variants of the bass headphones to buy. (Image: xiaomist)

At first glance, they are completely normal wireless over-ear headphones with Bluetooth: reasonably comfortable to wear, decent build quality and easy to use via hardware buttons.

The special feature is a slider with which a physically noticeable bass boost can be switched on. Depending on the song and volume, this can lead to an amazing immersion that makes the music seem alive - as if you were there live. But if you turn it up a little too far, the experience tips over and the vibrations feel as if your head was lying on a spinning washing machine. Thunder in the jawbone. The bass boost should therefore be carefully adjusted depending on the song so that the best interaction occurs. The special groovy listening pleasure that the Crusher Evo offers can hardly be found anywhere else.


Consistently designed for sport with a secure fit. Excellent battery life


Ear hooks ensure safety when moving, but could be a problem for those who wear glasses. Relatively large transport case

The Beats Powerbeats Pro for 249 euros (RRP) are what sporty Apple fans have always wanted from the original AirPods: Absolutely wireless headphones ("True Wireless Earbuds") that are sweat- and water-resistant and thanks to flexible ear hooks sits securely - no matter what you do with it. The battery life is extremely good thanks to the efficient H1 chip with up to 9 hours per charge. An important detail for everyone who is critical of touch operation with headphones: The volume can be adjusted with hardware buttons on the housing. The case is quite large and, by the way, not waterproof.

The Beats Powerbeats Pro are primarily intended for iPhone users, because they have the "Hey Siri" function - the digital assistant can be started simply by calling out during the workout, there is no need to press a button. We will see something similar from other manufacturers in the near future. Apart from that, the model is also an interesting choice for Android users, but then only with the important basic functions. Opinions differ on the sound: some love the spirited tuning, some the sound is too exhausting in the long run. Further information can also be found in our detailed test report (score: 86 percent).


Fantastic sound quality Very good noise canceling (ANC) Useful app


Mediocre wearing comfort

If there are no compromises in sound quality, then the Sony WF-1000XM4 are the right choice. Rich bass, natural mids and crystal clear highs - everything is just right here. In addition, there is very good noise canceling, so that the Sonys are the ideal companions on train and air travel.

I was not entirely convinced by the fiddly touch controls and the somewhat clunky wearing comfort. More about this in the detailed test report:


Good price-performance ratio. Usable noise canceling. Successful design


In terms of sound only average ambient sound mode is noisy

A hype was sparked in advance about the new product from OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei, as it could be in a marketing textbook. We now know: The mysterious gadget is true wireless headphones like the ones there are already hundreds on the market. Although there is a small unique selling point at first glance: The cases of the " Nothing Ear (1) " are partly transparent .

The extraordinary design alone is perhaps a legitimate reason to buy. Where the Beats brand once stood for the ultimate lifestyle headphones, space has emerged after all these years for new and fresher designs. The Nothing with the Ear (1) jumps confidently to exactly this point. Sound and functions are just standard fare - neither audiophiles nor technology enthusiasts will jump for joy. But when it comes to a fashionable (techwear) statement, there is hardly a way around the futuristic Nothing Ear (1).


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