Ask any seasoned home office worker, and they’ll probably tell you that a good pair of headphones or earbuds is crucial to staying focused and drowning out the noise of your uncontrollable surroundings. There’s no need to listen to your neighbors having their trees trimmed at 7 AM sharp or your roommate’s hourly conference calls when you could tune them out with your favorite playlist or a nice ambient background from a service like Endel.
Picking the right headphones or earbuds isn’t easy, though. Headphones are typically better if you’re worried about damaging your hearing, but earbuds offer a little more convenience, and they’ll draw less attention on conference calls. Whichever you choose, you should still read up on hearing loss prevention to make sure you’re taking all the right precautions.
There’s some other things you should consider, too. To maintain your focus, you’ll want something with noise-canceling, plus good enough sound to not bother you as you work. They should also be wireless, so you’re not completely tethered to your desk—why wouldn’t you wanna carry your tunes with you to the kitchen when you go grab a mid-morning snack? With being wireless comes the woes of worrying about battery life, though, so they should also have a decent battery life to get you through all your Zoom meetings.
Rather than digging through online reviews, we’ve asked some writers and editors from Gizmodo who have been working from home for a while what they recommend. Here’s what they told me.
If you want a good balance between comfort, sound quality, and noise canceling, you should consider Sony’s WH-1000XM3 wireless headphones. They have adaptive noise canceling, which means there’s an entire processor dedicated to drowning out external commotion. A companion app lets you filter what noise comes through and what doesn’t.
Sound quality and noise cancellation won’t be much good, though, if the headphones themselves are a pain to wear. Luckily, they’ve got enough cushion and space to sit comfy on most heads.
Gizmodo senior reviews editor Alex Cranz swears by them: “I’ve got a roommate who has to do calls with her boss, I’ve got a dog who likes to bark, and this helps me focus and feel by myself in a way that I don’t often get to do.”
For a more compact option that won’t get in the way, consider Apple’s AirPods Pro. “You can’t beat the convenience if you’re already in the Apple ecosystem,” says Lifehacker Video Producer Abu Zafar.
While they won’t boast the same sound quality as the Sony’s, they still have some pretty nifty noise filtering features that can facilitate your new home office lifestyle. In addition to improved sound quality over the AirPods, they also have active noise canceling, as well as a nifty feature Apple calls Transparency Mode, which allows you to hear what’s going on around you through your earbuds while your music or podcasts keep playing. This way, you can still hear your roommate hollering your name without fumbling to answer.
For those not deep in the Apple ecosystem, and those who prefer their earbuds to last a little longer, there’s Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus. According to Gizmodo senior reporter Sam Rutherford, they’ll last you through an entire workday without any midday charges.
They’ll last up to 11 hours on a single charge, and the included charging case will give you another 11 hours on top of that. Three minutes of charging will give you about an hour of use, too, so you can get a boost in a pinch. They’re priced pretty competitively, too, especially compared to the AirPods Pro. You might not get the same fancy noise filtration features, but the added battery life and included wireless charging might compensate for their absence, depending on your needs.
The Galaxy Buds Plus do come with their own caveats, though. The touchpads for controlling playback and summoning your voice assistant are a bit too sensitive, so you’ll have to be a bit careful there. They also aren’t sweat resistant, so you’d best leave them at home before heading out on your morning jog.