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Best headphones for back to school 2017

Looking for a new headphone for the new school year? Here's a wide selection of top wireless -- and a few wired -- headphones to choose from.

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David Carnoy
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1 of 45 David Carnoy/CNET

Sony MDR-1000

Sony's MDR-1000 is Sony's answer to Bose's QuietComfort 35. It's an impressive-sounding wireless Bluetooth headphone that also features active noise-cancellation technology that's on par with Bose's, as well as some nifty extra features geared toward frequent travelers.

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2 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose QuietComfort 35

The Bose QuietComfort 35 is a full-size, around-ear wireless Bluetooth headphone that also includes active noise cancellation and doubles as an advanced headset for making cell phone calls. It earned an Editors' Choice Award from CNET.

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3 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Anker SoundBuds Slim

At a little more than $20, Anker's SoundBuds Slim is one of the best values in-ear wireless sports headphones. 

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4 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

BeatsX

If you're looking for a more traditional wireless alternative to the AirPods, the BeatsX is a fresh take on the neckband-style Bluetooth headphone.

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5 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose SoundSport Wireless

The BoseSound Sport Wireless is a great wireless sports headphone; the company just updated it in September to account for a small flaw that affected a small percentage of units.

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6 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats Ep

Beats' most affordable headphone -- the Ep -- isn't wireless, but it sounds surprisingly good for the price.

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7 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

V-Moda Crossfade 2 Wireless

V-Moda's latest Bluetooth headphone is its best model yet, with improved sound, battery life and comfort. Featuring excellent build quality, it's one of the best premium over-ear wireless headphones, although it doesn't feature active noise canceling.

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8 of 45 James Martin/CNET

Apple AirPods

Apple's totally wireless AirPods may look a little strange, but they're designed to automatically pair with the iPhone 7, 7 Plus and other Apple devices running iOS 10, WatchOS 3 or MacOS Sierra (they're Bluetooth headphones, but Apple devices get access to special features).

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9 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

V Moda Forza Metallo Wireless

V-Moda's Forza Metallo Wireless fits well and is among the best-sounding in-ear wireless sports headphones you can buy. 

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10 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless

Sennheiser's PXC 550 WirelessSennheiser's PXC 550 Wireless is a worthy competitor to the Bose QuietComfort 35. Like that model, it's very comfortable and features impressive noise cancellation and works very well as a headset for making calls.

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11 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony MDR-1A

Sony's MDR-1A is one of CNET's top-rated over-ear wired headphones and delivers excellent sound in a very comfortable design.

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12 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Urbanears Stadion

With its springy coiled cord design, the Urbanears Stadion is a fresh take on a Bluetooth sports headphone -- and it costs less than $100. 

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13 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats by Dre Solo 3 Wireless

Thanks to being updated with Apple's new low-energy W1 custom Bluetooth chip, Beats' Solo 3 Wireless has much better battery life than its predecessor. Its impressive 40 hours of battery life is tops for a Bluetooth headphone.

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14 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose SoundTrue Ultra

Bose's SoundTrue Ultra may be the most comfortable in-ear noise-isolating headphone ever made. It also sounds excellent.

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15 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat 500

If you're looking for an affordable on-ear headphone not named Beats that's attractively designed and sounds very good, Plantronics' BackBeat 500 fits the bill.

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16 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

iFrogz Impulse Duo

iFrogz's in-ear wireless headphone, the Impulse Duo, has a nifty, lightweight design and sounds good for its relatively modest price point. 

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17 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless

Sennheiser's Momentum Wireless is arguably the best-sounding wireless Bluetooth headphone. It also features active noise canceling, though it's not up to the level of Bose's noise canceling. This headphone started out at $500, but has come down to a bit less in some places.

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18 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II

If you can live with out the QuietComfort 35's active noise cancellation, Bose's SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II are a very comfortable full-size headphone with very good sound quality for Bluetooth.

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19 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

B&O Play by Bang and Olufsen Beoplay H4

The Beoplay H4, B&O Play's entry-level over-ear Bluetooth headphone doesn't have much in the way of bells and whistles, but it sounds very good, and it's comfortable.

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20 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose QuietControl 30

The Bose QuietControl 30 is essentially the wireless version of the company's QuietComfort 20 headphone -- an in-ear model that also features active noise cancellation.

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21 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose SoundSport

Bose's SoundSport is one of the most popular in-ear headphones. While it sounds good, its biggest selling point is how comfortable it is to wear.

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22 of 45 Bowers and Wilkins

Bowers and Wilkins P7 Wireless

Bowers and Wilkins' best-sounding headphone is now available in a wireless version, the P7 Wireless, for $400. It's a swanky-looking, well-built wireless headphone that delivers clean, well-balanced sound.

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23 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Jaybird X3

With the X3, Jaybird fixed some of the small issues that bothered owners of the X2. A slightly smaller design and better battery have made this one of the top Bluetooth sports headphones. Jaybird sometimes discounts it 25 percent, which makes it an even better value.

Plantronics BackBeat Fit
24 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat Fit

Plantronics BackBeat Fit has been out almost two years, but it remains a top wireless sports headphone and has proven to be durable. It started out at $130 but can now be had for around $80 online in the US.

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25 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Skullcandy Grind Wireless

The Skullcandy Grind Wireless is an on-ear model and one of the better values in Bluetooth headphones.

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26 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 is one of the best values in noise-canceling wireless headphones.

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27 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats Studio WIreless

The Beats Studio Wireless has been around for a couple of years (and is due for an update), but it's still one of the best Bluetooth headphone and also features light active noise cancellation. It started out at $379 but is now down significantly online.

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28 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats by Dre Powerbeats 3 Wireless

Beats' Powerbeats Wireless 3 improves slightly on the design of the popular Powerbeats 2 Wireless sports headphone and adds Apple's energy-efficient W1 custom Bluetooth chip, which makes connecting the headphones very easy (for Apple users) and significantly boosts battery life.

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29 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Doppler Labs Here One

While they're pricey, Doppler Labs' Here One totally wireless earphones offer more features and deliver better sound than Apple's AirPods.

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30 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

B&O Play BeoPlay H7

B&O Play's BeoPlay H7, an around-ear model, is stylish, comfortable and sounds very good.

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31 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

AKG N60NC Wireless

It's not cheap, but the AKG N60NC Wireless is arguably the best-sounding on-ear wireless noise-cancelling headphone you can buy.  

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32 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Urbanears Hellas

The Urbanears Hellas are sporty headphones with touch controls at a reasonable price tag.

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33 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Jabra Halo Smart

Jabra's Halo Smart is a neckband-style wireless headphone that performs very well as a headset for making cell phone calls, has good battery life, and delivers decent sound quality for music so long as you can get a tight seal from the included earbuds.

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34 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Focal Listen

Focal's Listen headphone is an audiophile-grade over-ear wired headphone that's well priced for the sound it delivers.

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35 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Audeze Sine

Audeze's Sine is the company's most affordable full-size planar-magnetic headphone. This type of driver technology is known for delivering impressively clean, distortion-free sound and the Sine's sound is superb for the price, although some people might wish the comfortable were a little more comfortable. It comes come with two wired options: one with a traditional miniplug, and one with Apple's Lightning connector.

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36 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony H.ear On Wireless

Sony's H.ear On Wireless NC comes in several eye-catching colors and features wireless Bluetooth streaming, as well as active noise cancellation. It's not quite as impressive as Sony's MDR-1000, which costs $50 more, but it does deliver excellent performance for Bluetooth.

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37 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat Sense

Plantronics' BackBeat Sense is one of our favorite on-ear wireless headphones, and it also performs very well as a wireless headset.

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38 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beyerdynamic T51i

The Beyerdynamic T51i remains one of our favorite on-ear wired headphones.

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39 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bowers & Wilkins P5 Wireless

We're fans of Bowers & Wilkins wired P5 (now on its second generation) and the P5 Wireless is a very good wireless headphone, just a tad pricey.

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40 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Jabra's Elite Sport

Jabra's Elite Sport headphones are totally wireless earphones with an integrated heart-rate sensor.

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41 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Skullcandy Ink'd Wireless

Skullcandy's Ink'd Wireless is an affordable, lightweight neckband-style headphone that sounds surprisingly good.

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42 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

While the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless is a more versatile headphone, the wired Momentum 2.0 is significantly more affordable and sounds great.

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43 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung Level U

It may seem weird to use a Samsung headphone with an iPhone, but the Level U is a likable neckband-style Bluetooth headphone that doesn't costs too much. The step-up Level U Pro sounds better, but it has a noise-isolating design and isn't as comfortable as this model.

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44 of 45 Sarah Tew/CNET

JBL E55BT

JBL's E55BT isn't a total bargain, but it's a midpriced over-ear model that delivers solid performance and decent comfort.

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Skybuds

They're a little pricey, but Skybuds are among the better totally wireless headphones available today. 

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