The best headphones with a mic built in demonstrates how audio tech, often more typically associated with listening to music, can also be usefully talented for two-way communications. Today’s headphones, particularly the best wireless headphones and the best wireless earbuds, incorporate an array of tiny microphones in the headset. Primarily, these are included as part of any built-in active noise cancellation technology but bring additional benefits with two-way voice and video calling.
As many of us continue to work from home and jump on daily video calls to communicate with colleagues, headphones with built-in mics have helped make home working that bit easier and less intrusive for fellow household members. It’s usually a simple case of pairing the headphones to your device once, and then the next time you put on the headphones or earbuds, you’ll be connected automatically.
Of course, not all models are created equal, and as our test demonstrate even some upmarket designs can disappoint with low-quality mics that affect call quality for the person listening at the other end, or patchy connectivity.
We’ve literally tested hundreds of headsets and headphones for calls. Save yourself the hassle of making a poor buying decision and consult the list below for the very best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls.
Top 3 best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls
Back to school best headphones with a mic for students
Summer will be over before you know it so it’s time to start thinking about back to school sales. The best Bluetooth speakers for students are always in high demand in the run up to schools returning, so it pays to start shopping as early as possible. Whether you’re heading off to college or going back to school, you’ll want the best-headphones with a mic suitable for participating in online tutorials, making calls with family and friends, gaming, or simply listening to podcasts and music. Right now many of our favorite picks are currently on sale making now the ideal time to buy one of the best headphones with a mic. Be sure to follow our back to school guide for all of your shopping needs this season.
The best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls you can buy 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.
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.
Find ways of saving on your order with our Bose coupon codes.
Read our full Bose 700 review.
In a similar vein to the Bose 700, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are a pair of largely music-focused headphones that also manage to deliver outstanding overall quality in voice and video calls. Only this time, everything is squeezed into a much smaller pair of truly wireless earbuds.
Again, the integrated microphones are brilliant at cancelling out ambient sounds, so during calls you won’t have to worry about being drowned out or interrupted by nearby noises. And, while recording clarity can take a nosedive on lesser in-ear buds, this isn’t the case on the QuietComfort Earbuds — in testing, we were complimented on the clarity of sound on our calls. A software update introduces new ANC modes engineered for specific activities and places, along with Aware Mode, which automatically reduces “loud distractions as they happen,” returning to full transparency mode when they pass.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 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 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 has 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 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 suggests, which is useful for longer listening sessions or meetings — or just if you have particularly talkative friends.
Read our full Apple AirPods Max review.
The Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro offers great sound quality with music. Anker’s ANC circuitry doesn’t reduce ambient noise at the level that Apple, Bose, and Sony’s technologies do, but it can handle enough to make for peaceful listens in specific environments.
Call quality is surprisingly good. Indoors calls sounded loud and clear, while outdoor conversations produced similar results when there was no wind around but even in gusty conditions, calls were still clear enough to make out other’s words.
Overall, there a few feature foibles, but the Liberty 3 Pro stands proud for it’s call quality performance that undercuts many of the market’s high-end models.
The Jabra Elite 65t earbuds are a curious case: there are much newer and more advanced Jabra earbuds, like the Elite 85t and Elite Active 75t, but strangely these all represent downgrades on the Elite 65t’s fantastic call quality. If, then, you want a pair of earbuds specifically for voice and video calls, it’s best to go with this older pair.
A four-mic array delivers the golden combination of clear voice with minimal ambient intrusion. The Elite 65t is particularly effective at resisting wind noise, so will suit those who want to take calls while out walking. You can also use the transparency mode to hear yourself, and adjust your own loudness through the mobile app.
Read our full Jabra Elite 65t review.
Another entry for Jabra, although this time its for the new Elite 4 Active, which is another impressively good mid-range model that comes with adequate ANC, rich sound, strong connectivity and waterproof protection. But the thing that makes the Elite 4 Active worthy of inclusion to the list is its excellent call quality.
The four built-in mics come with mesh covering to suppress wind noise, so those on the other end of a call can hear you clearly. And during our tests, speech came through loud and was easy to distinguish for those at the other end of the call, and the ANC handles gusty conditions and suppresses ambient sounds well.
Read our full Jabra Elite 4 Active review.
Another good showing for Apple, the AirPods Pro effectively cut out background noise and provide a better seal in your ear than the company’s standard AirPods 3 (below). The good passive sound isolation means you can better hear your friends and colleagues on the line, and that’s before taking into account the effective ANC performance.
It’s not much of a factor for voice and video calls specifically, but the AirPods Pro also has a few special features that only work with compatible iOS devices. If you have the right phone, then, you can take advantage of faster pairing and spatial audio, which provides a neat surround sound effect when watching certain video content on your phone.
Read our full Apple AirPods Pro 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 too. We like the way that the QC45 produces loud and clear results in most environments, though 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.
Apple gave us more than we expected with the AirPods 3, which takes several impressive features from its noise-canceling AirPods Pro sibling and incorporates them into an updated design. A new low-distortion driver combined with Adaptive EQ delivers well-rounded audio output, while spatial audio creates an immersive listening experience by bringing 3D effects to music and movies. These buds also come with the longest battery life of any AirPods model.
This is all great, but what you really want to know about is call quality. Thankfully, it’s on par with past models. Apple added acoustic mesh on the mics to reduce wind noise, and AAC-ELD codec support delivers full HD voice quality when jumping on FaceTime calls.
Read our full AirPods 3 review.
The Surface Headphones 2 is an amazing upgrade for those seeking solid overall performance from their wireless headphones. Sound and noise cancellation practically remain untouched, rewarding 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, 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 ten devices simultaneously. Business users who want to ramp up productivity should look at the Surface Headphones 2 Plus (opens in new tab), an updated version certified for Microsoft Teams calls and offers “super reliable connectivity” when using the Surface USB Link (opens in new tab).
Read our full Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 review.
Very few sport headphones offer solid audio and call quality, and by few, we mean only the Beats Powerbeats Pro and the Amazfit Powerbuds Pro. We currently prefer the latter for how well it performs indoors, and its strong connectivity to keep calls going without breakup when teetering around the max wireless range (40 feet). Active noise cancellation also comes as part of the package, which helps bring ambient noise down a few notches during video chats and listening sessions. Speaking of audio, these buds pump out vibrant sound to keep your workouts energized, while features like activity tracking and heart-rate monitoring mean you can leave your Apple Watch or Fitbit at home during runs.
Read our full Amazfit PowerBuds Pro review.
The Beats Fit Pro’s six-mic array (three in each bud) and voice accelerometer serve as a powerful combination that not only delivers excellent clarity for voice and FaceTime calls, but also great speech recognition when firing off “Hey Siri” hands-free voice commands. Strong noise cancellation keeps background interference to a minimum when talking on the phone or vibing out to songs. The updated design with integrated wingtips is also huge, ensuring the buds remain in place when engaged in hardcore workouts.
Read our full Beats Fit Pro review.
How to choose the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls for you
First, consider whether you’d prefer over-ear headphones or a pair of in-ear buds. There’s no rule of thumb that suggests one style is inherently better than the other for calling quality, though both have their pros and cons.
Wireless earbuds, for example, are more portable but don’t create a seal around your ear; as a result, over-ear headphones might be better if you expect to take calls where there’s a lot of ambient noise that could make it harder to hear what other call participants are saying.
Over-ear headphones also tend to have longer battery life, though most true wireless earbuds will last upwards of 4.5 hours between charges. That’s enough for all but the longest voice and video calls.
Don’t forget, also, that the main benefit of buying a pair of headphones over a headset or standalone microphone is that you can use it for music and podcasts too. So think about whether you want to pay extra for ANC, which enhances your listening experience in busy areas or on transport, as well as how important sound quality is for you more generally.
How we test the best headphones with a mic for voice and video calls
We test the calling capabilities of mic-equipped 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.
This is one of many tests to which we subject each pair of headphones. We also judge overall audio performance by how well each pair handles a variety of music genres, and will measure how long we get out of the battery before it runs empty.
To test comfort, 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.
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.
Next: If you’re looking to upgrade your desktop communications, don’t forget to check out our other buying guides based on our comprehensive product test for everything you need to know about the best headsets and headphones for working from home, best microphones or the best desktop speakers, and bring your home workspace up to date for less.
Plus: Save without compromising on sound quality with our pick of the best wireless earbuds under $100.