The best headsets and headphones for working from home pair great over-ear sound quality with effective microphone clarity for voice and video calls.
With many of us continuing to juggle a hybrid work life split between the workplace and home office, a quality headset or headphones can improve the call quality when speaking to coworkers. Plus, they’re also versatile enough to improve your multiplayer gaming experience during downtime.
Many of today’s headphones, particularly the best wireless headphones and the best wireless earbuds, incorporate an array of tiny microphones. These are used primarily for any built-in active noise cancellation (ANC) technology or transparency modes, but they bring additional benefits for two-way voice and video calling.
Not all ANC models are created equally, however, and even some upmarket headphone designs can disappoint with low-quality mics that can affect speech clarity. Call connectivity can also be a problem on some.
We’ve tested dozens of options to bring you this list of the best headsets and headphones so read on to be sure you buy the model that’s right for you.
Top 3 best headsets and headphones for working from home
Black Friday deals: Best headsets and headphones for working from home
Black Friday 2022 is right around the corner so it’s time to start thinking about what to look out for in this year’s deals. The best headsets and headphones for working from home are always in high demand, so it pays to start shopping as early as possible if you’re looking for top performance at a bargain price. Many of our favorite picks will be on sale making this period an ideal time to buy one of the best headsets and headphones for working from home. Be sure to follow our Black Friday deals page for all of your shopping needs this season.
The best headsets and headphones for working from home right now
Bose is the class leader when it comes to active noise cancellation (ANC) on headphones, and its mastery extends to voice calling quality as well. That’s why the Bose 700 are the best pair of headphones for making calls, and by a comfortable margin, too.
In our testing, we found that the 700’s extensive microphone array picks up your voice with outstanding clarity while simultaneously blocking out loud ambient noises, allowing fewer distractions on calls even when you’re in busy places. Combine that with a comfortable fit, excellent sound quality for music and the absolute best ANC on the market, and the Bose 700s are worth paying a little extra for.
Read our full Bose 700 review.
The Razer Kaira Pro is long established as one of the best wireless gaming headsets, and this Xbox Series X/S-friendly option also makes a great option for working from home. Why? Well, look no further than its boom microphone: this serves up excellent, clear audio whether you’re embroiled in a heated multiplayer session or just chatting to workmates, friends or family over Zoom.
In our testing, we also found that it provides a comfortable fit and that it offers good sound quality — although if music is your primary concern then you’ll be better off with one of the headphones in this list. But that aside, it has lots to offer. We’re big fans of its gorgeous looks, which combine a restrained chassis with a tasteful black-and-green color scheme, and its Bluetooth connectivity is slick and robust.
Read our full Razer Kaira Pro review.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 over-ear headphones had been wowing us for a while, but the surprise launch of the XM5 back in May 2022 makes significant advances in a new design that we didn’t bargain for. Call quality is one area where significant improvements have been made, thanks to the XM5’s eight mics which help it exhibit call quality quite easily described as ‘exemplary’. Wind-noise is kept to a minimum, and both ends of a conversation prove distinct and direct. It’s difficult to know what else you can realistically ask for.
Read the full Sony WH-1000XM5 review.
While not quite on Bose’s level, Apple knows a thing or two about making headphones that can double as great calling headsets. Its best effort is also the most expensive, but the AirPods Max have a few tricks that help justify the higher price. Transparency mode is one: this lets you hear you own voice when speaking, which in turn helps you moderate your own volume and make sure you’re coming through clear.
Not that the latter takes much effort, as based on our testing the AirPods Max do fine work in reducing the impact of ambient sound on the microphones. These ANC headphones also feel a lot lighter on the head than their weight might suggest, which is useful for longer listening sessions or meetings — or just if you have particularly talkative friends. They also sound great, particularly if you’re listening with Apple’s Spatial Audio feature.
Read our full Apple AirPods Max review.
When it comes to pure audio quality, the Cleer Audio Alphas are one of the best options on the list. They come equipped with 40mm ironless drivers, aptX Adaptive codec support, a customizable EQ, spatial audio, and a 3.5mm jack. Such a dynamic feature set allows for full-bodied sound that widens when enabling Dirac Virtuo spatial audio.
Along with a great sound playback, the Alphas have effective noise cancellation and a Smart mode that automatically adjusts depending on the environmental level. The Ambient Noise Control mode has 10 adjustable transparency levels, meanwhile, and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity allows up to 50 feet of wireless listening.
Qualcomm’s cVcTM two-mic beamforming architecture does pick up lots of ambient sound, but it also emphasizes vocals, meaning you’ll still sound loud and clear over noisy backdrops.
Read our full Cleer Audio Alpha review.
The Bose QuietComfort 45 are an excellent upgrade to the QuietComfort 35 II, with better ANC, sound quality and battery life. Proprietary TriPort acoustic architecture and a volume-optimized Active EQ combine to produce a rich sound with nice levels of detail. Bose’s mic array is powerful, not only blocking out large amounts of ambient noise across the frequency spectrum, but also demonstrating great intelligibility with voice commands when using your native assistant. The mics work well for voice and video calls, so long as you’re in a quiet indoor environment. However, we found that resistance to wind noise isn’t its strongest suit.
Having longer battery life (24 hours on a full charge) than its predecessors is a huge deal, but so is not being able to turn off ANC mode for power preservation. Some of the absent features from previous Bose designs are missed as well.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort 45 review.
The Surface Headphones 2 are great for those seeking solid overall performance from a headset that can also boost productivity. Voice calls are loud and clear on both ends of the call and effective noise cancelling rewards your ears with deep sonics and interruption-free listening, thanks to Microsoft’s powerful eight-mic system that helps filter out up to 75% of ambient noise. Adjusting ANC and volume levels is seamless via the dial controls on the side of each earcup.
Where these headphones really shine are in the productivity features for the workplace or home office, such as voice dictation with Microsoft 365 to verbally jot down notes in Office programs (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, Outlook), and multipoint technology, which lets you connect to up to 10 devices simultaneously.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review.
The HyperX Cloud II Wireless is a great option for anyone seeking a comfortable headset that delivers more-than-serviceable sound quality. Its cordless connectivity, lightweight design and removable mic make it versatile, allowing it to pull triple-duty as a dedicated gaming peripheral, work-from-home companion and on-the-go accessory for your laptop or Nintendo Switch, when used with the supplied USB adapter.
The headset’s red-and-black design is pretty subdued. It won’t make much of a splash next to flashier gaming setups, but it also won’t draw any unwanted attention when you’re using it out and about. The mic consistently delivered clear audio in our testing, and the ability to remove the mic is a welcome option. But there’s no Bluetooth, which might be a must for some.
Read our full HyperX Cloud Wireless II review.
The Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT has a crystal-clear mic that is among one of the best we’ve ever tested for both multiplayer games and phone or video conversations. It has a removable, flexible boom mic, as well as a 3.5mm port and a USB-C charging port and plenty of controls.
Unlike many gaming headsets, it’s also a good choice for music, which comes through with real immediacy whether you’re listening to a full choir with orchestral backing or a head-banging guitar solo. Comfort levels are good for long-term wear, too. However, battery life caps out at 15 hours, which is not great, since most of its competitors give better run time. It also took a lengthy three to four hours to recharge via USB-C attached to a computer port.
Read our full Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT review.
How to choose the best headsets and headphones for working from home
Along with price, the other factors to consider when choosing the best headsets and headphones for working from home include whether to go wired or wireless and whether you want something geared more towards music or gaming.
Design: Wired models can be useful for taking work calls via a computer, but depending on your phone you might need an adapter. Wireless Bluetooth models work well with either, but bear in mind that you’ll probably lose battery life as a result.
All the models tested here are wireless and are either equipped with array microphones inside the earcups or come with boom microphones. Dedicated boom mics — usually found on gaming headsets — can often outperform other headphones on call quality, but have differing platform compatibility.
It’s difficult to try out headphones before you buy, so make sure you read our full reviews and look out for areas where the reviewer mentions factors like the headband shape and any spring tension it places on your head or ears, or the amount of earcup padding for long-term comfort. Don’t be afraid to pass on headphones you don’t like the aesthetics of, too.
Sound quality: Different models offer different sound, and since you’re buying a pair to enjoy music individually, it’s important to find headphones that match your sound preference, be it heavy bass or distinctively clear to where you can hear the littlest nuances in recordings. Some models offer personalized sound via companion app, which allows the user to create their own profiles and tweak EQ levels to their hearing.
Each model here has exceptional call handling capabilities and performs well with music and podcasts. But, if you’re looking for a model that also works as a multiplayer gaming headset, you’ll need to know the platform you’re using (or are likely to use in the future) to ensure the headset is compatible.
Battery life: Most wireless over-ear headphones typically manage around 30 hours. Wireless earbuds can last about 5 to 10 hours and offer extended playtime with their bundled charging cases — always make sure one is included.
Accessories: It’s disappointing spending money on a new pair of headphones only to find that you need to buy the accessories separately. For wired models, the manufacturer must include the aux cable, and any headphones that come with a carrying case, charging cable, user guide, and extra ear cups or tips are solid purchases.
Pricing considerations: Obviously, price is a big consideration when looking for the best headphones. Although there are always exceptions, big-name brands will typically command a bit extra, but generally speaking, the less you spend on a pair of headphones the greater the chance that sound and features will be compromised. Going for a budget option isn’t always the best choice, as any money you save on your purchase won’t do you much good if you’re constantly needing to recharge your audio gear, or the sound quality is poor.
As the saying goes: timing is everything; and right now it’s worth waiting for the holiday season sales when many of our favorite models will be discounted at online retailers, meaning you can bag a bargain for even less. Bookmark our Black Friday deals pages to keep track of the best deals.
How we test the best headsets and headphones for working from home
We test the calling capabilities of mic-equipped headsets and headphones exactly as you’d expect: by making calls. This lets us make sure each pair delivers the sound quality needed to ensure other callers are clearly audible, and we ask whoever we call for their feedback on how we sound. This helps us identify any problems with microphone volume or clarity — or, conversely, if we sound clear to others.
Comfort is the other big metric for success, although this is a highly subjective evaluation. We make sure to use the headphones over several days, including sessions wearing them for 2-3 hours at a time. This gives a good indication of how comfy each pair is, and whether that comfort is maintained in extended use.
We also judge overall audio performance by how well each pair handles a variety of music genres, and measure how long we get out of the battery before it runs empty.
Finally, we score each pair of headphones on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is the lowest, 5 is the highest, and the most impressive headphones might get an Editor’s Choice badge as well.
Find out how we test for more information on our reviewing procedures.
More: If you decide you definitely want an ANC set of of headphones, don’t forget to check out the best noise-cancelling headphones and the best noise-cancelling earbuds.
Next: Alternatively, if you’re looking to upgrade your desktop audio, don’t forget to check out our regularly updated guides on the best microphones, best USB microphones and best streaming microphones for PCs and laptops.