Choose your headphones carefully. A good pair can outlast a phone when treated right, and Black Friday is the single best time of the year to pick one up.
Let’s not squander it. We’re not going to suggest any £18 pairs of earphones, now obtainable at £2 off this Black Friday. We have looked by hundreds of headphone deals-from Amazon and John Lewis to Argos, Currys and more-and simmered the selection down to the pairs people want, those more people should want, in addition as some less commonly seen sets you may not have considered.
There are true wireless earphones, complete-size headphones and some higher-end pairs only really appropriate for home use that delivery the best sound quality of them all.
WIRED’s Black Friday Edits
Apple’s Black Friday headphone deals are ordinarily among the most popular, already when you only get £10-20 off. This year’s discount is a little more substantial, at £55 off Apple’s own price. The AirPods Pro with MagSafe Charger are Apple’s top earbuds, already with the recent release of the AirPods 3 (£169). They are similar to the last version, complete with perfected sound quality, strong active noise cancellation and seamless iPhone compatibility. MagSafe charging is the change this time, although the wireless charging case nevertheless has a wired port. This is likely why we’re seeing a better discount than we might usually get from recent Apple devices. For a bigger sound and further enhanced ANC, check out the Apple AirPods Max (£479), which are also reduced right now.
Look no further if you want the best active noise cancellation you can get in a pair of true wireless earphones. While rivals like Sony have improved their ANC with more context-aware modes, the Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Earbuds are nevertheless class-leaders for sheer effectiveness. Sennheiser and Sony pairs at this level offer slightly more dynamic sound, but as an all-round package these are excellent at £180.
Over-ear headphones have become more techy in recent years, and that can make them appear to age faster. However, the 2018 Sony WH-1000XM3 might be this year’s best Black Friday headphone buy for those who want a high-end pair of wireless noise cancelling headphones without the usual high price attached. Despite being superseded last year by the WH-1000XM4 (down to £249), they nevertheless outclass many more expensive new pairs. They have excellent noise cancellation, dynamic sound, a sleek turn up and around 30 hours of battery life. While Sony made noticeable tweaks to the sound and ANC in the newer generation, this pair is like scoring a first-class plane ticket for EasyJet money.
Dread was the first thing that came to mind when JBL launched the Club 950. already Beats has moved away from a “clubby” bass fug. But relief was on the way because the JBL Club 950’s sound is truly clear, perfected and punchy — there is an additional bass characterize, but it’s a mode you can turn on and off. Their active noise cancellation is not best-in-class, but at £80 they should make you consider buying a JBL pair already if you never have before.
The headphones and earphones with the most emotional-looking Black Friday discounts aren’t always the easiest to recommend. For that you’re looking at something like the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+. This pair is currently £30 off its original price, £10 less than the weeks before the Black Friday and Cyber Monday free-for-all. However, their sound and battery life are excellent, the earpieces are unobtrusive and the charging case is small. Their IPX5 water resistance makes them sport-ready too. Active noise cancellation is the possible stumbling block: the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ don’t have it.
These new earphones may not have attracted the same sort of attention as Sony’s flagship pairs, but they have already won awards and cost a whole lot less than the top-end WF-1000XM4. Their battery lasts a near-class-leading 10 hours and IPX4 water resistance is good enough for the runners out there. The Sony WF-C500 do not have active noise cancellation, the main reason to buy a pricier set, but their sound quality holds its own against pricier models.
Sony’s “WF” series true wireless earphones have dominated our WIRED Recommends round-up for some time now. The two most recent generations are in this year’s Black Friday sale: the WF-1000XM3 for £113 and the new WF-1000XM4 for £200. Check your budget and make your choice, but the latest version is a meaningful step up. They are much better-looking earphones, for one, have improved active noise cancellation and greater clarity and dynamism to their sound.
The Philips Fidelio X2 range is a Black Friday favourite. This was once one of the most lauded ranges of mainstream at-home headphones. Fidelio’s star has dimmed, and we get the assistance with the opportunity to snag a luxurious pair of headphones for under £100. They have ultra-comfortable velour pads, a head-cradling headband and a slightly wider soundstage than competitor Sennheiser models around this low price. Don’t already consider them for outdoors use, though, as they are open-back headphones. They let noise in, they leak sound out. This pair sold for around £130 before Black Friday, but originally cost more than £300.
Jabra made some of the first great Bluetooth true wireless earbuds, and has tweaked its designs over the years without discarding their identifying characteristics slightly sporty look. You’re doubtful to find a more characterize-high true wireless pair than the Jabra 75T Active for under £100. They have IP57 water resistance, high enough to take a rinse under a tap. Their sound is muscular but controlled. And, thanks to a software update, they already have active noise cancellation while also working great with iOS and Android. These would be our current top pick for sports use.
Hifionix has not specifically listed this Audeze LCD-2 typical deal as belonging to Black Friday, but you get £83 off compared to almost all other retailers in spite of. Selling for £666, maybe this hifi retailer is showing its disdain for the whole event. Either way, you get a substantial discount off some of the best headphones obtainable for under £1,000. These are planar magnetic headphones, which use a larger driver whose surface does not distort to the same degree as a typical dynamic driver, resulting in less harmonic distortion. Like most planar magnetic headphones the Audeze LCD-2 typical are a little heavy, but their sound is worth the weight.
This is one of the biggest percentage discounts on a pair of headphones this Black Friday. Of course, it’s a Bang & Olufsen pair and consequently highlights just how pricey its sets are from the off. However, audio quality compares well with the Sony WF-1000XM3 you might buy at around this price, particularly if you enjoy B&O’s warmer sound identifying characteristics. In their early days these earphones were plagued by connectivity issues, but these have largely been fixed with subsequent firmware updates. However, there is no ANC, which is why you might want to consider another set.
Before pricey wireless headphones with active noise cancellation became the norm, Sennheiser was the top name to shop with for those willing to use £300 or more on a pair. And it has quietly continued in the background, making stellar audiophile headphones that put zero of the budget into Alexa sustain or dynamic noise cancelling algorithms. The Sennheiser HD 660 S are all about sound, and might be the best place to put £350 this Black Friday if you want a pair to watch movies or play games late at night. Or listen to music at home, from your laptop or phone, without disturbing the neighbours. These are high fidelity open-back headphones made for close listening. Useless for outside use, but a dream for the indoors in terms of both sound and comfort.
Edifier is a value-led brand, and the angular-looking NB2 Pro were already highly rated at their original £70 price. With almost 50% off, these are a real contender for the best budget Black Friday true wireless buy so far. The features on offer for under £40 are stupendous: IP54 water/dust resistance, active noise cancellation and nine hours of use before you need to put them back in their case. Their sound is not neutral, with timid mids overshadowed by punchy bass and bright highs, but it makes for a fun listen.
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