Listening to your favorite track while working out undoubtedly provides an incredible boost. However, it becomes counterproductive if you must keep adjusting the headphones over and over.
Wireless earbuds are arguably the best solution to this problem. But their small size increases the likelihood of losing them. If this sounds familiar, I think you should try around-the-neck headphones. They are sturdy, lightweight, and not-too-small.
In this article, I will review the 6 best around-the-neck Bluetooth headphones. I will also discuss some of the top factors you should bear in mind before buying a pair. Let us get going!
The 6 Best Around-The-Neck Bluetooth Headphones
How are the headphones built? How do they sound? And what shortcomings should you consider? These are some of the questions that I will answer for each product.
– Best Overall
Sennheiser managed to do a great job with these headphones. They successfully combined between esthetics, performance, and durability. That is why it was obvious to choose it as my top pick.
Around the flexible neckband, Sennheiser placed a stunning layer of sheepskin leather that feels incredibly great over the skin. They also stitched the borders with a vibrant red thread. The cables are given similar black/red tones, providing the headphones with an epic final look.
The powerful drivers of these headphones can produce tones in the frequency between 15 Hz and 22 kHz. This way, you should be able to enjoy soaring highs and rumbling lows, both in high quality with little to no distortion.
On the left wing of the neckband, you’ll find the controls and the omnidirectional microphone. Expectedly, the microphone does not offer the best noise cancellation, but it still picks the sound with enough clarity for phone calls.
So far, the HD1 excels over most of the famous headphones by a pretty wide margin. Lucky for us, Sennheiser did not stop there. They packed these headphones with a bunch of useful features and tweaks without steering too far with the price.
The most notable perk for me is the NFC compatibility. In simple words, you can pair these headphones by simply tapping them to NFC-compatible phones.
- ✓ Reasonably priced
- ✓ Premium design
- ✓ NFC-compatible
- ✗ Their sound signature is geared a bit toward the lows
– Best Lightweight
Around-the-neck headphones are unique for their lightweight design. But some of them can be so light that you literally will not feel them. If that is what you are after, you should consider the SoundSport headphones from Bose.
Instead of the hard, bulky frame, these headphones feature a neckband cable that connects the two earpieces together. The remote is also made with a minimalistic approach to achieve the best stability possible.
The earpieces are equipped with small silicone hooks to engage the basic depressions of the ear. This way, these headphones will not put any pressure on the walls of your ear canal.
Since there is no neckband frame, the battery and the rest of the hardware goes into the slightly bulky headpieces. I do not have a problem with them, but some people might hate how huge they look over the ear.
These headphones have been rated with IPX4 in water resistance tests. This means that they will not survive sinking in water, but they will be sturdy enough against sweating. This fact alongside their lightweight build makes them the ultimate option for vigorous workouts.
In terms of sound quality, the SoundSport headphones are as good as wireless headphones can get. You cannot really expect them to produce a wide range of frequencies. But at least, they do not ruin tracks with those infernal distortions.
- ✓ Affordable
- ✓ Lightweight
- ✓ No sound distortion
- ✗ Bulky earpieces
– Budget Pick
I am always a bit skeptical around affordable headphone. If you are not careful, you will end up wasting your money on an awful pair that distorts every single tone. After a meticulous search, I can say that the Sony C400 headphones are among the best in this category.
The greatest thing about these headphones is undoubtedly the battery. They offer around 16 hours of continuous playtime, exceeding a lof of pricier headphones. On the downside, they need up to 3 hours to charge, which can be too much for most people.
The build of these headphones is probably my least favorite thing. The neckband is a bit slimmer than it should be. It probably will not break that easily, but it leaves you quite cautious with the way you use the headphones.
The cables are also flimsy and thin. Some customers said they started to tear only after a couple of months. On the bright side, the length of the cables can be easily adjusted by a small sliding ball located over the neckband wings.
Despite the flimsy build, these headphones deliver surprisingly good sound quality. Their lows, mids, and highs are clear enough with little to no distortion. Their bass is not that thumping, though. But you cannot really expect that at their price range.
- ✓ Highly affordable
- ✓ Acceptable sound quality
- ✓ You can adjust the length of the cables
- ✗ Flimsy construction
– Best Foldable
The thing I hate the most about around-the-neck headphones is the portability. Like it or not, you will want to take them off your neck at one point or another. And since they are often fragile, you cannot figure out a way safe enough to store them. If this sounds familiar, you will love these headphones.
When you are done listening, you can retract the earpieces by simply pressing the two buttons found on the inside of the neckband. Then, the two wings can fold 90 degrees inward for easier and safer storage. For the best results, I recommend getting their dedicated carrying case.
The battery of these headphones is not phenomenal, but it is acceptable. After 3.5 hours of charging time, it allows for 10 hours of music time, 12 hours of talking time, and 180 hours of standby time.
The sound quality is surprisingly good, given the awesomely affordable price. They only have minimal sound bumps with the mids, which might make the voices sound rather odd. But with the Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity, they rule out the annoying latency issues.
I was amazed when I learned that they could connect to two devices at once. I know that this feature is already available in many headphones, but it is great to see it in this price range.
- ✓ Highly affordable
- ✓ Acceptable sound quality
- ✓ They vibrate when you receive phone calls
- ✓ You can connect them to two devices simultaneously
- ✗ Thin cables with flimsy quality
– Best Value
So far, all the products featured on this list cancels the noise passively through the thickness and seal of their materials. As you might imagine, this does not always produce satisfying results. For more consistent performance, you should consider the Sony WI1000X.
Rather than depending on materials, these headphones are equipped with an active noise cancellation system (ANC). Simply put, they adjust the sound level and signature to successfully cover up whatever happening around you.
There are two options with which you can control this feature. The basic adjustments are made through a button located on the left wing of the neckband. When pressed, it cycles through different ANC presets.
For instance, the basic “Noise Cancelling” mode blocks monotonous sounds like air conditioners and distant traffic. The “Atmospheric Pressure Optimizer” adjusts for the low air pressure by using a sensor in the neckband.
The most elaborate customization can be made from the iOS and Android apps. From there, you can enable the “Adaptive Sound” mode. This lets the headphones automate the noise cancellation based on what you are currently doing (sitting, walking, running, etc.).
The build quality is simply phenomenal. The neckband balances well between flexibility, sturdiness, and comfort. Design-wise, I do not think it could have been better. The matte black fits stunningly with the shiny earpieces.
- ✓ Reasonably priced
- ✓ Equipped with an ANC system
- ✓ Can work with a micro-USB/3.5mm cable
- ✗ They depend heavily on dual-functioning buttons
What to Consider Before Buying Around-The-Neck Headphones
None of my recommended headphones is bad. Still, some of them might be more suitable for you than others. But how can you know which would work and which would not? That is what I will discuss in this section.
Even though you are already determined on buying Bluetooth headphones, there is a bunch of different things to consider.
Just like any technology, Bluetooth is constantly getting better. That is why you will find different versions marked by numbers.
I recommend opting for Bluetooth 4.0 or anything higher. Luckily, most of the new headphones support these versions. But you will have to carefully inspect this aspect if you are buying a secondhand pair.
Without getting into technical details, codecs determine how Bluetooth sends and receives data. Brands have been fiercely competing to develop codecs that can transfer the biggest amount of data with the least distortion and latency.
Unfortunately, I will need a separate article to review all the available codecs. Therefore, I will suffice by mentioning my favorite one, aptX.
AptX was developed by Qualcomm since the 1980s. There are two famous variants under this category: aptX HD and aptX LL. The latter provides an astoundingly low latency of 40 milliseconds. Aptx HD, on the other hand, excels in sending a huge range of frequencies with minimal compressions and distortions.
In exclusively-Bluetooth headphones, you will completely lose functionality whenever the battery dies. I do not know about you, but there is nothing that annoys me more. That is why I prefer headphones that offer a secondary wired mode.
The Sony WI1000X headphones, that I reviewed earlier, are probably the best in this category. They come with a micro-USB/3.5mm wire that plugs into the charging port.
If you will use your headphones for intense workouts, you must make sure they can withstand the whopping loads of sweat.
Some brands use a test called Ingress Protection (IP) to determine this feature. The results of these tests are often written in two digits such as IP23. The first digit is intended to describe resistance to solids, while the second relates to water resistance.
Expectedly, the bigger the digits, the higher the resistance. For easier reference, every digit means a certain level of waterproofness.
With headphones, solid resistance is not important. That is why you will often find the first digit replaced with “X”. For the best results, I recommend going with a rating higher than IPX4. This should mean enough resistance to water splashes and heavy sweating.
This is perhaps the worst thing about these types of headphones. If you are not cautious, you might end up buying an awfully designed pair that does not stand up against the lightest forces.
Unfortunately, there are no definite parameters with which you can choose the most durable headphones.
But avoid buying headphones that have delicate cables or thin neckbands. Also, search online for user reviews that specifically discuss durability.
It is crucial to choose headphones with a battery capacity large enough to accommodate your daily activities. Personally, I prefer to stay around 10 hours of playtime. This might seem like a lot, but it certainly comes in handy when I have a long 8-hour workday with a 1-hour commute back and forth.
Charging time is another important factor to consider. The LG Tone Flex HBS-XL7 can amazingly deliver 3 hours of playtime after charging for 10 minutes only!
After my thorough search, I can say that the Sennheiser HD1 is the best around the neck Bluetooth headphones. Their premium design and NFC compatibility make them an obvious choice for people seeking quality.
If you want something that feels super lightweight, consider the Bose SoundSport. They replace the bulky headband with sturdy wire and compact remote. But first, make sure you are ok with how big their earpieces look.
I hope this roundup answered your questions. See you in another one soon!