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Best headphones to take back to school

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.

Daniel Van Boom
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
1 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose QuietComfort II

The Bose QuietComfort 35 combines top-of-the-line active-noise canceling with wireless Bluetooth operation in an extra-comfortable, fold-up design. Most importantly, sound quality is excellent for a set of wireless headphones. They sell Down Under for AU$499.

2 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple AirPods

Are Apple's AirPods the future of earbuds. Probably -- and if so, the future is lightweight and comfortable, if a little weird looking. They provide good, wireless sound for AU$229. Just try not to lose them. 

3 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET


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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Bose SoundSport Wireless

The BoseSound Sport Wireless is wireless, sweat-resistant and sounds great. They sell for AU$249. 

5 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

V Moda Forza Metallo

Sweat-resistant and sturdy, you'll find V-Moda's Forza Metallo earphones at David Jones for AU$249. These great-sounding earphones will last a full school day, running up to 10 hours long.

6 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats Ep

The new Beats Ep, a wired model, is the company's most affordable on-ear headphone. It sounds surprisingly good for the price of AU$139.

7 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless

Sennheiser's PXC 550 Wireless, at AU$630, is about as premium as wireless headphones get. It's comfortable, relatively lightweight, sounds very good and features impressive noise-cancellation.

8 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

​Beats Solo 3 Wireless

Beats Solo 3 Wireless uses Apple's new custom Bluetooth chip, the W1, for easy pairing and excellent battery life (40 hours). It costs AU$399.

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The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless

Sennheiser's Momentum Wireless is arguably the best-sounding wireless Bluetooth headphone. You'll pay AU$699 for that sonic quality, though.

10 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose QuietControl 30

The AU$399 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.  

11 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II

The AU$329 SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphone II is very comfortable to wear, sounds excellent for a Bluetooth headphone, and offers good battery life (15 hours).  

12 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat 500

Not all headphones need to cost a pretty penny. Plantronics' BackBeat 500 series starts at AU$119, for which you'll get attractively designed, wireless headphones that are comfy and produce good sound for its price.

13 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear Headphones

There are two versions of this in-ear headphone, a SoundTrue Ultra for Apple devices, and another for Samsung/Android devices. Both sets are AU$179, highly recommended to audiophiles, and also ideal for anyone who usually finds in-ear headphones uncomfortable.

14 of 27 Sarah Tew

Bose Soundsport In-Ear Headphones

Selling for AU$249, 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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Plantronics BackBeat Fit

Plantronics also has the in-ear goods. The BackBeat Fit is a lightweight wireless stereo headset (with integrated microphone) that features a sweatproof design and decent sound for AU$179. 

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Jaybird X3

The Jaybird X3 offers an improved design, better battery life and lower price tag than its predecessor, the X2. You can snag it for AU$199. 

17 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats Powerbeats 3

The AU$259 Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless offers an improved fit, very good sound for Bluetooth sports headphone, reliable operation, and strong battery life (12 hours), thanks to Apple's W1 chip.

Beats Studio3 Wireless
18 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Beats Studio Wireless

The Beats Studio Wireless, now AU$449, 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.

19 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Skullcandy Grind

The Skullcandy Grind sounds surprisingly good for its modest price of AU$89. 

20 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

The BackBeat Pro 2 is an excellent full-size wireless noise-cancelling headphone -- and at AU$299 it costs much less than comparable models from Bose, Sony or Sennheiser.

21 of 27 Sarah Tew/CNET


JBL's AU$149 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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Skullcandy Ink'd Wireless

Skullcandy's Ink'd Wireless is an affordable (AU$79), lightweight neckband-style headphone that sounds surprisingly good.

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Plantronics BackBeat Sense SE

The water-resistant Plantronics BackBeat Sense SE is a comfortable, AU$280 on-ear wireless headphone that delivers very good sound for Bluetooth.  

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Sony Hear On Wireless Noise Canceling Headphones

Sony's H.ear On Wireless NC comes in several eye-catching colors and features wireless Bluetooth streaming, as well as active noise cancellation. At AU$499, it delivers excellent performance for Bluetooth.

AKG N60NC Wireless
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AKG N60NC Wireless

The AU$399 AKG N60NC Wireless on-ear headphones are compact, comfortable and well-designed, and sound excellent for a model with active noise cancellation and Bluetooth.  

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Jabra Elite Sport

Jabra's Elite Sport earbuds are an AirPod alternative: They're wireless, waterproof and even have a heartrate monitor. They're more pricey though, at AU$349.

27 of 27 Joshua Goldman/CNET

Samsung Level U

It may seem weird to use a Samsung headphone with an iPhone, but the AU$100 Level U is a likeable 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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