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There are a number of wireless earbud options available these days, but more and more people are wrapping their headphones around their neck with a neckband headset.
As the name suggests, the best neckband headphones combine the compact benefit of earbuds with the ease and security of a neckband. They’re comfortable enough to wear all day, and great for work and calls too — with neckband headphones, the built-in mics are closer to your mouth with no worries about the earbuds fading out or falling out.
The best neckband headphones are excellent for exercise too, as a regular set of buds can slip off your ears and quickly disappear under the treadmill, or worse, get lost in a pile of leaves when you’re outside jogging. Having them tethered to a neckband keeps them connected at all times so you can move freely and focus on getting a good workout.
How Do Neckband Headphones Work?
Here’s what you need to know when looking for a neckband headset online, plus how these neckband headphones work.
Neckband: Fit and comfort are a major factor first and foremost. The best neckband headphones eliminate the headaches that can come from wearing traditional headphones over the head all day — or the stuffiness that comes from the bulky earpads.
Still, you’ll want to consider how the neckband headsets are made — and whether the band itself is adjustable. If a band is too big, it can slip off or get twisted around as you move, pulling awkwardly on your ears. Too small may be uncomfortable and limiting (the neckband is supposed to hang around your neck and over your collarbone, not be tight like a choker).
For the most part, all the neckband headphones we tested were super comfortable, and were built to be flexible and have some bend to them, sometimes foldable enough to tuck away in a pocket. They shouldn’t weigh down on your collarbone either, so keep it light, around 24 grams.
Sound: These aren’t all necessarily noise cancelling, but even the ones that aren’t, still do a fine job of sealing off your ears from outside distractions. This sets the stage for great sound and instrument separation, allowing you to hear the sonic details in each song.
Microphones: Listening to music and podcasts might be what you’re primarily thinking of with a headset, but don’t forget about speaking too. This is what you’ll be taking phone calls through when it’s on, so a set should have at least a couple sensitive mics inside to capture your voice with clarity. Taking incoming calls usually can be done with one touch, or sometimes no touch at all, simply by saying “answer.”
Connection: Bluetooth 5.2 is the latest Bluetooth standard, but even 5.0 holds strong and can let you wander up to 131 feet away from the source device, sometimes as far as 800 feet. Getting your neckband set up for the first time should be quick too, as most pop right up for pairing on your phone by holding down the power button for a few seconds. After that, your device should remember it forever and pair up swiftly, and most everything can be controllable right from the headset.
Battery: Since they’re still pretty small, charging up shouldn’t take too long, and the battery will generally last a while, especially in standby. Around 10 hours of playtime when fully charged is a safe bet, and up to a few days in sleep mode.
Waterproof: A headset that’s resistant to water, sweat and dust lets you wear it without worrying about potential damage. An IPX5 rating offers good protection from raindrops, while anything higher like an IPX8 is fully submergible.
What Are the Best Neckband Headsets?
We found the best neckband headphones, speakers and headsets from brands like Sony, Jabra and more. Here are our top picks to buy online.
1. Poly Voyager 6200
Poly designed their headsets for NASA’s space missions in the early 1960s, and for jet pilots prior to that. Over 70 years later, the company is still creating quality headsets, this time for those working from home.
Four omni-directional mics inside do an excellent job at picking up voice, and the headset AI lets you know who’s calling, allowing you to “answer or ignore” by just speaking commands with your voice.
These sounded great for audio too, and the earbuds slot comfortably in your ears without falling loose, while the wide neckband rests easily against your neck.
2. Jabra Evolve 75e
Jabra’s been a consistently strong contender in the headset game with some of our favorite earbuds with fitness and work. These neckband headphones are no exception — they sound superbly balanced on their own, but their accompanying app lets you adjust the EQ to your preferred perfect settings.
These feature ANC noise cancellation, along with five buttons to control everything and a “Do Not Disturb” light so others know you’re busy.
In addition to the earbuds, the EarWings help hold it in place without digging in after extended wearings. Three sensitive mics pick up details in your voice when speaking, so nothing is garbled or cut out.
Battery life is noteworthy too, stretching up to 14 hours from a two-hour charge, staying comfortable the entire time with a weight of just 8.6 ounces.
3. Sony SRS-NB10 Wireless Neckband
Not everyone is going to want buds plugging their ears up all day, and Sony’s four-ounce neckband lets you listen out loud, with upward facing speakers that deliver quality sound. This is especially perfect for those working from home and handling calls, with zero ear fatigue and no buds to clean or swap.
Two mics on each side let you be heard clearly to anyone on the other end, with a mute button for privacy.This has the ability to connect up to two devices at once, and switch between them smoothly. Battery life can last up to 20 hours on one charge, and just 10 minutes of charging can give you an hour of playtime.
4. LG Tone Style Neckband
Compared to the rest, this set brought big bass and shining treble while staying within an affordable price. Both metal as well as plastic drivers inside can handle the highs and lows of all genres, and at 1.5 ounces this was among the lightest of the bunch.
Two mics inside worked well for calls and voice commands, and the retractable buds (by gently pulling on them) was a clever and simple feature to include.
A 10-minute charge will get you up to three hours of play time, and a full battery can last up to 18 days in standby mode.
5. Naenka Bone Conduction Headphones, IPx8 Waterproof
Naenka’s headset is IPX8 waterproof, meaning it can be fully used in wet situations without worry.
This headset utilizes bone conduction, a technology dating back to Mozart, to better pick up the vibrations and clarity in your voice when on a call, and deliver sound through cheekbones instead of out through the air. It doesn’t skimp on the bass either – the 16mm dynamic speaker makes sure the low end comes through loud and clear. There’s also 16GB of memory and an MP3 player built-in for when you’re away from your devices, and Bluetooth 5.0 to easily pair with Macs and PCs.
The 180mAh battery life was about 10 hours, and recharging took about 90 minutes with wireless charging.