aptX Low Latency Headphones
Qualcomm, which owns the aptX Bluetooth codec, describes aptX Low Latency as “audio that keeps up.” The implication is that sound will be in sync with whatever you’re watching on a screen, which is critical if you’re watching a show, movie, or playing a game. The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 stands out as the best aptX LL headphones because they offer excellent all-around sound quality, fantastic comfort, and superb battery life.
Best Overall: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 (3rd Gen)
Bang & Olufsen first launched the Beoplay H9 in 2017, and the headphones have now entered their third generation. They have a number of features you would expect for the price, including a premium build and comfortable fit, though are probably a little overpriced when considering competitors offer the same for less. However, many of those competitors don’t support aptX Low Latency, putting these in unique territory for viewing content without sync issues.
It reduces the delay to a maximum of 40 milliseconds, which is short enough to ensure there is no gap between what you see and hear. Despite supporting the Low Latency aspect of the codec, these Beoplay H9 headphones don’t use aptX HD or aptx Adaptive, so when latency isn’t a concern, it sticks to the standard aptX codec, which isn’t as good as the HD variety. Adaptive will automatically toggle between aptX and aptX HD, depending on the connection, which is why it’s not here. Naturally, all of this depends on whether the device you’re using also supports aptX and aptX LL, so compatibility does have to swing both ways.
It helps that the headphones also offer great audio quality and active noise cancelation (ANC). With the former, the soundstage is balanced and resonant, whereas the latter is convenient, even if it isn’t quite on par with the best the industry has to offer. Google Assistant integration is fine, giving you access to the voice assistant whenever you need it. The headphones’ connectivity consistency is a boon throughout for the simple fact you don’t have to worry about dropouts or bad connections. The onboard controls, however, are more finicky because they may require repeated touching.
Battery life is rated at 25 hours, though the headphones will annoy you enough to beep when juice gets low. The Bang & Olufsen app handles setup, while also including access to features included in the headphones.
- Excellent audio quality
- Effective ANC performance
- Comfortable fit
- Solid battery life
- Dedicated app support
- Google Assistant integration
- Should be less expensive
- Iffy multi-device pairing
- Built-in controls inconsistent
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 (3rd Gen)
Sweet sound without missing a beat
Bang & Olufsen throws users a bone with a pair of solid headphones that sound great and support a codec to keep all audio in sync.
Best Value: Avantree Aria Pro
Finding over-ear headphones at vastly different price points isn’t hard, but it is more challenging to find ones that support advanced features at a lower cost. The Avantree Aria Pro is such an example, where on top of offering aptX Low Latency, you’ll also get a boom microphone attachment. If that wasn’t enough, it also supports aptX HD, making it possible to get the best quality Bluetooth can handle.
The balance throughout these headphones is emblematic of how careful they are not to skew too far one way or the other. Bass is solid without feeling overpowered, putting them into neutral territory. The ANC feature has no chance of matching what higher-end headphones can produce, but the fact that it’s there is a nice benefit for something in this range.
Supporting aptX Low Latency (as well as aptX HD) is somewhat of a surprise, but it makes sense when you factor in the boom mic, which ensures video calls are in sync. Unfortunately, that support doesn’t extend to AAC. The headphones also have built-in microphones, except the boom mic is a considerable upgrade. Battery life is good at up to 24 hours, though not exceptional, and the overall plastic-heavy build quality won’t feel all that premium.
- Decent sound quality
- Lightweight design
- Good aptX codec support
- ANC and boom microphone
- Design heavy on plastic
- ANC isn’t always effective
- No AAC codec support
Avantree Aria Pro
Headphones that offer plenty for the price
The Aria Pro has excellent aptX codec support, on top of ANC and a detachable boom microphone for a worthy value proposition.
Best Versatlity: Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3
In true Sennheiser fashion, the Momentum Wireless 3 maintain a retro styling on the outside with demonstrable audio prowess on the inside. Granted, these aren’t the top model from the company but they are a better value for what you get out of them. The specs list a nice collection of features, one of which is the broad codec support that includes aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, and AAC. That’s on top of the dynamic drivers, ANC, and dedicated Smart Control app support.
None of that would matter if they didn’t sound good, but that’s not a problem here. Known for balanced fidelity, Sennheiser stays consistent with a signature soundstage that works with anything you listen to. That includes watching movies, shows, and podcasts, where voices and music need to sync without delay.
The ANC is good, though not entirely as effective as the likes of Sony and Bose, primarily because you don’t get to customize it. It’s also not dynamic, so it won’t make its own adjustments on the fly. Not a problem if you don’t feel you need it, but something to consider at this price point. On the brighter side, you can connect to two devices at once, and battery life lasts a good amount of time at about 15 hours, even with ANC on.
- Excellent balanced sound
- Comfortable fit and design
- Great codec support
- Can connect to two devices at once
- Occasional connection drops
- ANC could be better
Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3
Sennheiser delivers on a little bit of everything
With broad codec support, the Momentum Wireless 3 fits in a range of situations, adding to the great sound and balance.
Best Earbuds: Aukey B80 Hybrid Dual Driver
Earbuds supporting aptX Low Latency aren’t especially easy to find. The Aukey B80 Hybrid Dual Drivers are a standout for a number of reasons. They have solid codec support for wireless earbuds at an affordable price, and have 10mm balanced drivers inside, which means there’s some power behind audio playback.
Whether the earhooks are comfortable likely come down to personal preference, but with the IPX6 waterproof rating, it does mean these earbuds can withstand some punishment at the gym or on a run. Whether they stay firm and stationary will depend on your ears, but there’s a risk they won’t always stay secure. The Bluetooth connection is good, though may also be susceptible to the odd flutter. These are largely subjective points that you may or may not experience.
The sound quality is highly dependent on the fit, which is par for the course with any pair of earbuds. They support aptX, aptX Low Latency, and AAC, covering the better Bluetooth codecs to improve sound further. Battery life isn’t super impressive at eight hours, but a 10-minute fast charge can give you an hour of playback.
- Good sound with good seal
- Excellent codec support
- IPX6 waterproof rating
- Affordable price
- Fast charging
- Bluetooth connection could flutter
- Earhooks may not be for everyone
- So-so battery life
Aukey B80 Hybrid Dual Driver
These earbuds offer support on many levels
Aukey covers some important bases with these earbuds, from great codec support to waterproofing, making them an intriguing option.
Best on a Budget: Mee Audio EarBoost EB1
Getting bang for the buck is usually a good feeling, and that’s part of the angle here. Mee Audio gives the EarBoost EB1 a slew of features that work together to make up a decent set of wireless earbuds. WIth aptX and aptX Low Latency support, these earbuds cover good ground with Android, though lack support for the AAC codec. You can use these to view anything where staying in sync is paramount.
The EarBoost app has some customizable features, like a hearing test to put together an audio profile that you can use with the EB1 (or any other headphones, apparently). The 6mm drivers inside aren’t as powerful as similar earbuds, which may force you to raise the volume more often. The Low Latency support is a key reason why you may want to go with these, especially if you plan to use them in quieter environments, like watching a show or movie without disturbing a sleeping partner.
In a nice touch, built-in magnets can connect the backs of both sides together to keep them on you when you’re not wearing them. There isn’t much here to withstand water or sweat, so it’s better to keep these to leisure usage to keep them going for longer. As for battery life, don’t expect more than six hours, on average.
- Comfortable fit
- Good codec support
- EarBoost app features
- Affordable price
- 6mm drivers aren’t powerful
- Lack AAC codec support
- No water or sweat resistance
- Average battery life
Best on a Budget
Mee Audio EarBoost EB1
Hearing voices is more convenient wearing these
The EarBoost EB1 have good codec support and an app to customize sound to your ears, and all at a price that won’t break the bank.
Best for TV: Mee Audio Connect T1CMA
There’s nothing more frustrating than wanting to watch something on TV through headphones only to find that the action doesn’t match what you’re hearing. That’s what the Mee Audio Connect T1CMA system aims to solve, courtesy of a pair of headphones and the Connect Bluetooth audio transmitter. It effectively makes the TV a more passive element in the setup, since the headphones and transmitter do the legwork.
The transmitter has ports for digital optical S/PDIF and even old school RCA. A 3.5mm headphone jack is thrown in for good measure. You can also pair a second headphone set to the transmitter, making it possible for two people to view the same content at their own preferred volume.
You don’t have to stick to just the TV, however, as the headphones will also stream audio via Bluetooth from phones and tablets as well. Mee Audio includes four sound profiles to cover video and music content to get more out of them. Battery life is rated at 30 hours, which is good for what they can do. Just a shame they don’t charge via USB-C but instead use the aging Micro-USB.
- Comes with TV transmitter
- Multiple connectivity options
- Works with phones and tablets
- Good battery life
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- Pricey when adding second headphones
- May be tougher to set up with HDMI-ARC TVs
- Uses Micro-USB for charging
Best for TV
Mee Audio Connect T1CMA
Make sure every word is in sync on the big screen
The Mee Audio Connect T1CMA system puts every scene in a show or movie in sync by bringing a Bluetooth transmitter into the mix.
Best for Gaming: HyperX Cloud Mix
Gamers are a demanding bunch, and keeping audio in sync is a must to make every session feel smooth. Kingston took a hybrid approach with this headset that aims to cover different scenarios. The gaming part requires plugging in for a wired connection, complete with boom mic. Detach the cable, and the headphones run on Bluetooth with support for AAC, aptX, and aptX Low Latency codecs.
Here’s the catch: you can’t play games on your console wirelessly because they don’t natively support Bluetooth audio, and if you do, the boom mic won’t register. One workaround is to use an aptX LL transmitter plugged into the console via USB to enable the connection, but again, you would have to settle for the internal mic. Plug in through the included 3.5mm cable and splitter, and you can use the boom mic, but not the Bluetooth features.
Normally, these trade-offs would be hard to justify at $200, but they’re more palatable at a lower cost. The Cloud Mix sounds good, and battery life is a consistent 25 hours per charge. Given it’s a stereo headset, listening to music on it will feel consistently good. While some games may not sound as broad without 5.1 or 7.1 surround coming through, there’s not much to complain about here for what you get. Comfort also shouldn’t be an issue, which is critical for longer gaming sessions, or even during a commute listening to music.
- Both wired and wireless
- Comfortable fit
- Good codec support
- Excellent battery life
- Better price
- Boom mic won’t work with Bluetooth
- You may need an aptX LL transmitter
- Hybrid design may not be for everyone
Best for Gaming
HyperX Cloud Mix
Hearing every shot right on time
The HyperX Cloud Mix is a gaming headset running on a wired connection, but also lets you go wireless via Bluetooth for all else.
For the uninitiated, the aptX Low Latency codec will be a mystery, but it’s one of the only ways to ensure that you get a much faster response time when watching anything on video. Voices and sounds that are out of sync ruin a viewing experience, which is what these headphones aim to deal with. The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 have the best overall fit, performance and feature set. They are expensive, but you can use them in just about any audio situation that involves keeping everything audible in order.
It will work with any Android phone or tablet supporting the codec, and with aptX HD and AAC included, has plenty of flexibility with other products. In a limited supply of headphones including aptX Low Latency, this one stands out.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Ted Kritsonis loves taking photos when the opportunity arises, be it on a camera or smartphone. Beyond sports and world history, you can find him tinkering with gadgets or enjoying a cigar.
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