So you’re looking for a new set of headphones, but the market is so overcrowded that finding the perfect fit seems like a colossal task! With prices and styles ranging from the suburbian to the ridiculous, how are you supposed to know what is right for your needs?
With options like wired or Bluetooth, noise-canceling or noise isolation, or a combination, we are here to help clear the path for you and guide the way.
We have searched high and low, and whittled down the competition to our 10 Best Lightweight Headphones. Most of these are budget offerings, with a few higher-end products thrown in to show just what is on offer these days.
So let’s go through them and find the perfect pair for you…
Top 10 Best Lightweight Headphones of 2023
In the world of personal audio devices, there aren’t many names bigger than Bose. While at times polarising to the professional audio community, customer loyalty has ensured that Bose remains the true heavy hitter they are today.
The Bose Soundlink On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones with Microphone, Triple Black are top of the line and, in our opinion, a fantastic deal. These are priced somewhere in the middle to top end of the market and are generally aimed at consumers looking to move away from earbuds and dip their toes into the world of over-ear headphones.
With the option to run in a wired, passive mode or an impressive wireless reach of 30’ (9.1m). You have the ability to wirelessly connect to multiple devices and a battery life of up to 15 hours. Charging takes three hours for a full charge, with a quick charge option of 15 minutes for two hours!
Take full control while you listen to your favorite track. Maybe sit back and catch the latest episode of that show you’re bingeing or take calls with the handy and intuitive button set on the right earcup.
It can be tricky to design a product to be lightweight, while not leaving it feeling at least slightly cheap and tacky. Here Bose has really done a great job, with the Soundlink feeling like a quality made product. The plush earpads and soft-feel headband combine to give a supremely comfortable fit.
In testing, we found these to perform excellently under hugely varied conditions. Bass-heavy tracks like “Regulate” by the late, great Warren G did push the boundaries of the low end slightly, but we were still impressed.
The balance of the rich low-mids and the clean high-mids makes for easy listening here. Overall the sound quality is top-notch.
- Compact size.
- Powerful audio response.
- Simple controls.
- Wired or wireless.
- Slightly less power when wired.
2 Bose Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Headphones 700
Next up, we have the absolute creme de la creme of lightweight headphones with the Bose Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Headphones 700. These are the long-awaited successor to Bose’s QuietComfort 35 II models and are part of a new, smarter breed of headphones. The Bose 700 have a lot to live up to, because the QuietComfort 35 ll has reigned supreme in the Bose range for a number of years.
Well, although slightly pricier than their predecessor, The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are far better headphones and stand above the rest of the competition as a headset for making calls. They have achieved this through a new microphone setup. This has been tuned to isolate the user’s voice from any background noise.
Also added is the adjustable sidetone feature. This allows you to hear your voice mixed in with the call coming through the headphones. (hopefully preventing you from talking too loudly when on a call). In testing they performed very well in all situations, from work meeting calls on noisy streets during morning rush hour, to loud, windy beaches.
Plus, with a battery life of nearly 20 hours, connectivity with the Bose Music app, a fantastic sound palette across the board, the introduction of touch controls, and coming in as the most comfortable over-ear units we tried. We think they stack up very well against the QC 35 ll.
As the name indicates, these “smart headphones” come with Amazon’s Alexa built-in, and are optimized for Google Assistant and Siri. Both of which have dedicated hardwired buttons, with Alexa being controlled by voice commands also.
In terms of noise-canceling tech, the 700 s has a totally new set of drivers and a total of eight microphones to help with what Bose calls “evolved noise-canceling functionality.”
But, unfortunately, these headphones do not fold, unlike the QuietComfort 35 II. This results in a larger package when stowed in their carry case. However, the addition of a magnetic closing pocket in the case that is large enough for all the accompanying cables was a nice new feature though.
- Great noise cancellation.
- Extremely comfortable.
- Amazing voice clarity.
- More expensive.
- High-end frequencies are not the best.
3 AfterShokz Air Open Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones
Do you enjoy the total immersion that noise-canceling headphones can bring? Well, we do too, but there are many situations, such as while driving or maybe during a run through the city, where being able to hear what’s going on in your environment is very important.
Wouldn’t you love to be able to do this whilst still enjoying your favorite playlist? We are taking a hard left turn here, moving away from traditional headphone design and boldly swerving into the relatively new field of bone conduction technology!
This technology works by sound bypassing the eardrum totally and converts the sound into vibrations that can be inserted directly into the Cochlea.
Originally designed for the use and progression of hearing aids and implants, in 1994, an inventor by the name of H. Werner Bottesch took the technology and applied it to modern headphones. Since then, these headphones have improved dramatically, to the point of being a worthy opponent to regular headphone design.
The AfterShokz Air Open Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones, Slate Grey, AS650SG work by sending the vibrations through the cheekbone, ensuring users’ ears remain totally unobstructed. We found these super comfortable, especially whilst exercising, with the thin plastic head strap proving to be of high tensile strength during testing.
In the past, headphones incorporating this technology have been derided for having a tinny, low volume sound with high distortion rates.
However, this is no longer the case. With theses headphone’s, we found the spectrum of sound to be well balanced and the tone to be clear and distortion-free. They are also more than capable when used as a headset for voice and video calling.
- Environmental awareness.
- Comfortable and stable fit.
- Extremely flexible.
- Can produce slight ear “tickle”.
- Short battery life.
4 COWIN E7 PRO [Upgraded] Active Noise Cancelling Headphones
Next on our list of best quality lightweight headphones, we have the upgraded COWIN E7 PRO. Now we are sure that if you tried the first iteration of the immensely popular Cowin E7, as we did, you’re wondering what about this product has been upgraded.
Well, firstly, where the E7 had a pronounced tinny edge to it when using active noise canceling, the E7 PRO holds the full range of sound much better with a nice balance of lows, mids, and highs.
Cowin have increased the battery size as well, with the E7 pro capable of 30+ hours from one charge. The Pro also has four listening modes (Bluetooth with noise-canceling on or off, and wired noise-canceling on or off), which gives you more control over the length of the battery life.
The 90-degree swiveling ear cups with soft feel “professional protein” pads are so comfortable. You can wear these bad boys all day with full comfort.
The E7 Pro is a unit firmly meant for the masses, with its price tag placing these into the upper-middle price range. And comparing all the units at this price point, we think that it is possibly the best choice! When you think about battery life, sound quality, build sturdiness and styling, we think you will be hard-pressed to find a better pair of headphones.
- Great styling.
- Wired and wireless operation.
- Long battery life.
- Larger and heavier than most.
5 Sennheiser HD 206 Closed-Back Over Ear Headphones
When we hear the name Sennheiser, two things usually pop to mind. The first is quality. Second is price, and it’s not the budget end we are thinking of. But with the Sennheiser HD 206 Closed-Back Over-Ear Headphones, you are getting that quality that is synonymous with them at a crazily affordable price.
This option in our list of best lightweight headphones; we see a totally wired set of headphones. So, unfortunately, no Bluetooth connectivity here. But this means fewer components, which equals less weight!
These headphones are ridiculously light, the clarity of tone and sound is surprisingly great, and they were the most comfortable set for hours-long use that we reviewed for this list. But with no Bluetooth or noise-canceling, should these even be considered in this day and age.
While having Bluetooth headphones comes with many advantages, there are some downsides to this technology. Battery life being the number one culprit of frustration with Bluetooth, we also have the problem of walking too far away.
So, even just turning your back away from the broadcasting source and that crystal clear sound quickly devolves into garbled nonsense. The HD 206 boasts a 10’ (3m) cable giving you freedom rarely seen with wired offerings.
The sealed earcups do, all in all, a pretty decent job of filtering out the ambient noise without the use of noise cancellation. We freely admit this does not work in all situations, but during testing, we felt it did a decent enough job in most environments.
With the bass never being overpowering, and a clear and clean tone all around, these are very well balanced headphones.
- Super affordable.
- Very Comfortable.
- Long cable.
- Basic appearance.
6 Levin Bluetooth 4.1 Headphones Neckband Wireless Sports
So you are looking for a price-friendly, well designed, lightweight pair of headphones that are perfect for use while exercising? Well, look no further than the Levin Bluetooth 4.1.
Sick of your earbuds falling out while out on your daily run? Can’t stand the wires getting in your way while stretching? Designed with sport and movement in mind, the Levin Bluetooth 4.1 are great little lightweight, on-the-ear headphones that deliver unrivaled comfort.
The company guarantees that these will not fall from your ears during any movement, including skipping and even jumping on a trampoline!
The behind the neck strap design makes these the perfect headphones to wear with a hat or helmet. We tested these rigorously at our favorite ski resort, and they delivered more than enough volume to be heard easily in all conditions, even during high wind at the top of a mountain.
There are varying Bluetooth systems available at this time. The 4.1 system brings improved connectivity, smarter data transfer, and improved co-existence with 4G networks. Essentially this means that you can be further from your device while still having no breaks in the Bluetooth connection!
Here we see a battery life of 12 hours, and in testing, that proved to be correct. This was a smaller battery life than others on this list but still more than enough for any normal day. The onboard buttons felt a little cheap, but they worked well. No noise cancellation here, but we do get a sweat and splash-proof guarantee.
For the price, you can’t beat the Levin 4.1 if you’re looking for a great pair of training headphones!
- Very comfortable.
- Sweat and splashproof.
- Securely fitted.
- Cheap buttons.
- Small battery life.
7 Edifier H850 Over-The-Ear Pro Headphones
Can headphones that are spouted as being designed for the musician or audiophile, whilst still being dirt cheap, really be a thing these days? We didn’t necessarily think so until we unboxed the Edifier H850.
These headphones have taken the music world by storm, surprising not just us with the well-balanced sound and all-day comfort, but also how well designed they are. With the ability to fold fully flat, they take up a very small area when packed away in the included carry case.
Let’s be honest, the Edifier H850 are not going to win any beauty pageants any time soon, but with the matte black finish and brushed aluminum faceplates, they are not bad looking either.
Most headphones in this price range have overly boosted bass and really lack the proper top end needed for music production. Not these, with the sound being super well balanced.
The isolation is a little below average compared to other audiophile headphones, but again, for this price, nobody is complaining too loudly. While not being a perfect product, the standards produced here are high enough for us to feel they will satisfy most musicians and others looking for top quality sound at a rock bottom price.
- Low Price.
- Comfort level.
- Compact design.
- Not very attractive.
8 Sony XB550AP Extra Bass On-Ear Headset/Headphones
Sony have always been one of the leaders in headphone technology. Since the introduction of the walkman, all the way back in 1979, Sony have been known as a company to trust when considering any audio equipment.
The whole line of Sony’s XB series are designed with a robust, modern look and a real punch of bass thrown in for all you bassheads out there. The Sony XB550AP are near the cheaper end of the range, but are certainly no exception, with great styling and a healthy dose of lower frequencies.
Here we have a wired set of over the ear, cup style headphones. We have an inline microphone for taking calls (we were impressed with how clear the voice was through this mic), a flat cord (to help with tangles), and a supremely comfortable headband.
Well, if you’re looking for heavy bass, then yes, we guess we can say these perform pretty well. But, if you are looking for a balanced set of headphones that will deliver pure sounds at all frequencies, then these may not be the headphones for you.
They don’t perform terribly in the mids and highs, but they don’t perform particularly well either. For this offering, it really comes down to personal preference.
- Good microphone.
- Too much bass for some.
9 Koss KTXPRO1 Titanium Portable Headphones
Where do we even start with these ridiculous headphones? The reaction around the office when we first unboxed this set was one ranging from surprise to let’s face it, a huge disappointment.
The styling looks like something straight out of “Back to the Future,” but in all the wrong ways, with the cheap-looking “silver” plastic covering leaving us with the overall feeling of confusion as to what look they were going for here.
But, once we had the chance to actually plug and test in the Koss KTXPRO1 Titanium Portable Headphones, we were, quite literally, blown away! These definitely do not sound like they should for the price that they are!
The Koss KTXPRO1 had the sound quality of a pair in much higher price brackets, with clear and clean tones. We had zero problems differentiating instruments, even when the sound stage was full. The treble frequencies shine through brilliantly, the mids are strong and ever-present, and the low end is just right in its punchiness.
With 4 and 5 star Amazon user reviews sitting at 80%, it is obvious that Koss are really doing something right with this set, albeit not the looks. Amazingly, Koss offers a full lifetime warranty on these as well, so you will have no worries about breaking them.
Unfortunately, no microphone is included with this one, but there is an inline volume control.
- Superior sound quality.
- Great price.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Horrible looking.
- Cheap feeling.
10 On Ear Headphones with Mic
These wired headphones from Vogek may be the last on our list today, but they are, for sure worthy of your consideration. Here we see a single wired, over top of the head strap, ear cup headset. We have an inline microphone for taking calls, flat tangle-free cord, and noise isolation. All at a truly bargain price!
What we noticed right off the bat was the very well balanced sound. The 40mm drivers deliver a full listening experience, with ultra-comfortable ear cups, and flat-folding design. We are pretty sure you will have an enjoyable experience with these ones.
The super sturdy construction left us with feelings of full confidence that they would fair well when we tossed them into our backpack. Vogek are offering a 12-Month warranty, which we find very generous for this price point. Unfortunately, the cable is only 5’ (1.5m) long, which in most cases is fine but is a bit shorter than a lot of the competition.
If you are looking for a robust, sturdy, and price-friendly set of headphones, then there are not many better available today. We are actually using these ones as our gaming headset at the moment and loving them.
- Good price.
- Great look and feel.
- Single cord setup.
- Sturdy design.
- Shorter cord than others.
Still Not Found Your Sound?
Well, we’re not surprised with so many options out there! So, let us help, and go check out our reviews of the Best AptX Bluetooth Headphones, the Best Headphones for Rock Metal Music, or the Best Headphones for Cycling currently available.
Or if you want something more personal, we’ve singled out a few of our favorite one on one reviews. Our Plantronics Backbeat Fit 6100 review, our AKG N60NC review, our Bose Soundlink On Ear Wireless review, our Skullcandy Crusher Wireless review, and last but by no means least, our review of the excellent Sony WF 1000XM3.
The choice is yours!
So, What Are The Best Lightweight Headphones?
We are hoping that this has cleared up some of the confusion surrounding this complicated and stacked marketplace, but don’t worry if you are still unsure!
For us, the clear winner is the second on our list, the… Bose Noise Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth Headphones 700, with Alexa Voice Control, Black.
If this pair is out of your price range, then we suggest checking out the… Sony XB550AP Extra Bass On-Ear Headset/Headphones with mic for phone call, Black.
So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and do some shopping!