neckband earphones stock
Since the earbuds on a neckband pair are tethered to each other, they're always within reach while still offering wireless convenience. Image Credit: Pexels/Balljinder Singh

Before we had true wireless earbuds (TWS), the more traditional neckband headphones ruled. To this day, they haven't been replaced for obvious reasons: neckband earphones offer better battery back-up, reliable Bluetooth connectivity and minimal audio sync delays. Some audiophiles even prefer their sound over modern TWS buds.

Neckbands are often seen as the headphones of choice for sports enthusiasts. This is because athletes would much rather train with earphones they're less likely to lose - even if a bud were to dislodge mid-run, it's going to hang from your shoulder, safe and sound.

With the help of Reza Moradi, an audiovisual instructor at Canadian University Dubai, founder of Hollywood Studio Dubai and an Adobe Creative Educator, we noted down all the ways a neckband pair could change the game for you. Scroll to find our expert's recommendations for the best products below.

Editor's tip
Audiophiles can now get up to 20 per cent off on a number of audio devices, like true wireless headsets, over-ear headphones and neckband earphones on Amazon. Products on sale include top-rated brands like Sony, Sennheiser, Marshall and many more.

Take advantage of ongoing sales on some of these headphones, and order with an Amazon Prime membership to get free delivery.

1. Best Overall: Sony WI-1000XM2


  • Smart neckband headphones with built-in Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri
  • Excellent noise cancelling with ambient mode
  • Supports LDAC codec
  • Flexible silicone neckband bends easily
  • Carrying case comes with in-flight adaptor and USB cable


  • Battery life is 10 hours but reviewers say they average around seven hours
  • Price is slightly higher than the original value

Coming from a leading audio manufacturer, the Sony WI-1000XM2 neckband headphones are your smartest option on the market. They use Sony's HD noise-cancelling processor QN1 and 9mm dynamic drivers, to deliver a clean sound just for your ears. The pair supports High-Resolution Audio Wireless with LDAC, a coding technology that transmits more data than other conventional Bluetooth audio. Its magnetic earphones have an angled in-ear to help them sit deeper, while the neckband itself is made of flexible silicone so it bends easily inside the carrying case. You can call on Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Siri to answer calls, set reminders and change your playlist. With Google's Fair Pair feature, Bluetooth pairing is instantaneous across your Google account devices. Though they come at a premium price, Sony offers everything you need in the box, from an in-flight adapter to a charging USB cable and ear tips. Reviewers who frequent podcasts and audiobooks love how clear these sound, and those working in noisy environments vouch for the incredible noise cancelling. Battery life, however, is shorter than stated.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh124.54 for 12 months with select banks. 

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh86 and two years for Dh121.

2. Best Sound: Sennheiser CX 350BT


  • Balanced sound profile
  • Lightweight and small
  • AptX LL and AAC audio codecs
  • Supports Siri and Google Assistant
  • Connects to two devices at the same time
  • 10-hour battery life


  • Neckband cable might be short for some
  • Not bass-heavy

Audio pros will always lean towards reputable brands like Sennheiser for sound quality. Its CX 350BT headphones don't have a 'collar' save for a small transmitter bar that sits behind the neck. These are mostly just cable so they're even lighter and look less conspicuous hanging from the shoulders. The earphones support high-quality audio codecs like AptX Low Latency and AAC over Bluetooth 5.0. There's no active noise cancellation but you can call on Siri and Google Assistant with a dedicated virtual assistant button. Like the Sony headphones, these promise 10 hours of battery life. Reviewers note that they do have some passive noise reduction, working well for work meetings over Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Those with a penchant for classical music also attest to the sound profile, which doesn't emphasise bass. 

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh12 and two years for Dh17.

3. Best for Work: Samsung Level U2


  • Large 12mm drivers
  • Less likely to be misplaced
  • Uses Scalable and AAC codecs
  • Comfortable open-ear earbuds
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life


  • Comes without charger
  • Neckband can pull on earbuds if working out

Unlike Sennheiser's cable-only headphones, the Samsung Level U2s have a prominent neckband that sits past the shoulders, eliminating any risk of misplacing them. If you find in-ear buds uncomfortable, these have an ergonomic open-ear design so you can keep them in for up to 18 hours per charge. The buds are also magnetic to prevent them from getting tangled haphazardly. The Level U2s use Samsung's own Scalable audio codec, alongside AAC, and maintain a stable connection over Bluetooth 5.0. Thanks to the bigger buds, they're able to accommodate larger 12mm drivers to deliver rich, balanced sound. Buyers try the headphones out with work calls, gaming and training, with satisfying results, saying that there's no noticeable sound delay and that the mic is great. They note how the neckband vibrates to alert about incoming calls, even if the buds are not in.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh12 and two years for Dh17.

4. Best Budget: JBL Tune 215BT


  • Long battery life of 16 hours, but sometimes even longer, per reviews
  • Large 12.5mm drivers
  • Ultra-lightweight with no traditional 'neckband'
  • Supports one high-quality codec - AAC
  • Virtual assistant button


  • Bass is decent
  • Earbuds are not magnetic

If you'd rather not have anything weighing your neck down, go for the JBL Tune 215BT. It's an all-cable lightweight pair, where the 'neckband' is replaced by a thicker wire. These headphones employ JBL's signature Pure Bass sound, supported by 12.5mm drivers. Like our Samsung pick, the earbuds have an ergonomic open design to keep ear fatigue at bay. You also get to call on your device's voice assistant by pressing a button on the in-line remote. If you're tackling multiple projects at once, these headphones are capable of connecting to several devices and switching between them seamlessly. They only support AAC (Apple's high-quality codec) and SBC audio codecs over Bluetooth 5.0., so reviewers have had great luck with their Apple devices, from iPad to iPhone. They don't find the bass as punchy as in other JBL audio devices, but headphones do excel in battery life.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh12 and two years for Dh17.

5. Best for Sports: Rythflo WH01


  • Less likely to fall out during high-intensity workouts
  • IPX7 waterproof rating
  • Runs the Bluetooth 5.2 protocol
  • Supports Apple's AAC codec
  • Some noise cancellation
  • 30-hour battery life


  • No mute button

Rythflo's neckband headphones are going to be a great companion to your active lifestyle. They boast an IPX7 sweatproof rating - the device can survive in one-metre of water for 30 minutes - and a 30-hour battery life that can last you the entire week. The neckband is a flexible cable, with the Bluetooth chip and battery components placed at the ends of it. These run on the Bluetooth 5.2 protocol, with minimal audio delay or lag, but only support two codecs like the JBL pair - AAC and SBC - the former being the only high-quality audio codec. Buyers with small ear canals say the smaller ear tips in the box have worked well for them. While it's not explicitly stated, there is some noise cancellation on these, according to reviewers. Mic calls are clear and the sound profile is decent, but the best part is the incredibly long battery life. They hold on pretty well during high-energy, sweaty workouts, bike rides, hikes and runs.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh12 and two years for Dh17.

Why use neckband headphones?

Bluetooth neckbands connect wirelessly to your phone or smartwatch, but maintain a wired connection between the earbuds. When worn around the neck, the neckband "keeps your earbuds in check with no risk of losing one," says Moradi.

"Neckbands are perfect for those who are into sports or looking to just relax outdoors in the UAE. They sound just as good as wireless earbuds and the neckband spreads the weight, so there's no strain on your ears, either," he explained.

The neckband itself houses all the heavier components, with more room to spare for a bigger battery, giving you more listening hours. In the same vein, it can host a larger antenna, which "can contribute to a more stable wireless connection, potentially reducing audio sync issues".

So, if you can overlook the outdated aesthetics, neckband headphones are worth adding to your rotation for their durability, long battery life and ease of use. Do keep in mind that a fully wired connection will undoubtedly sound superior than wireless form factors.

What features should I look for in neckband earphones?

The list of considerations with neckband headphones isn't any different from shopping for other wireless pairs. You can still enjoy noise cancellation if needed, and water resistance ratings should be at the top of your list if you like to run, workout and train, says Moradi.

"Look for neckband earphones with the latest Bluetooth technology, for example, Bluetooth 5.0 or higher," he added. And make sure your Bluetooth headphones use a high-resolution audio codec to get a more detailed, rich sound straight from your phone. Popular codecs like Qualcomm's aptX HD, Apple's AAC and Sony's LDAC are excellent choices, but they'll work best if your audio source device supports them as well.

Finally, since neckbands rest around the neck, comfort is crucial. Moradi says to opt for lightweight, adjustable models - or better yet, foldable - so that they're easy to carry.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.