These will pair fast with your Android phone
Harman Kardon makes headphones under its own branding, though you may not have known that, given the Samsung subsidiary’s penchant for in-car audio. These were some of the very first headphones to support Google’s Fast Pair feature, so you can bet the quick pairing process leads to a good head start. JBL is a Harman property, so there are some similarities here.
The Fly ANC produce sound quality on par with JBL cans in the same price range, which is to say that they pump out enough bass to satiate most tastes. The mids and highs complement the noticeable low-end, but unlike some JBL headphones, these are more balanced out of the gate. Of course, you can always play around with the equalizer in the My Harman/Kardon app to get more of the sound you’re looking for. Active noise cancelation (ANC) also holds up well, doing an adequate job of blocking out most background noise.
Battery life is pretty decent at up to 20 hours per charge, and fast charging is offered as well to go with that. Plug in via USB-C for 15 minutes, and they can play for up to 2.5 hours. So while there are plenty of headphones at the same price (or cheaper) that outdo the Fly ANC on battery life, at least you won’t be waiting too long to get them back up and playing again.
That extra playing time matters more when they’re comfortable to wear, which should be the case here. The over-ear design comes with a fair amount of cushioning to keep things sturdy yet lightweight at the same time. If you like, you can also use these headphones as wired cans with the included cable, plus the additional adapter for airplane in-flight entertainment systems.
The JBL Live 660NC’s strong suit is battery life with up to 50 hours of audio playback on a single charge. They hit up to 40 hours with active noise cancelation (ANC) on, so they can keep playing for long sessions with plenty left over. We’re talking days before you probably need to recharge, even if you use them for 10 hours straight. Fast charging via USB-C lets you plug in for just 10 minutes to get four hours of playback in a pinch.
Sound quality is quite good, with somewhat of an emphasis on bass response, though highs also cut through at times with some sibilance. It’s a balance that works for what the 660NC are supposed to be, with range and a soundstage that would suit any pair of ears that stick to popular music genres. ANC performance is pretty good to keep out background noise, though it won’t do really well in high-pitched situations. Not to mention these headphones also work with Alexa, in case you want voice assistance that way.
Comfort is decent. You won’t experience any ear fatigue or discomfort when they’re on your head, but you may experience your ears getting warm after extended listening sessions. This means you’ll likely be taking breaks after a few hours of usage to let your ears cool down. That being said, the Live 660NC are relatively portable, as the ear cups can fold for more compact storage. Great for travel if you plan to take them along.
If you’re looking for Fast Pair neckbuds, the 1More Dual Driver BT ANC are right up your alley. One of the Dual Driver BT ANC’s major strong suits is battery life, with up to seven hours on a single charge. The buds charge over USB-C and even offer a wired mode when your battery is low with a USB-C to 3.5mm cable. Unfortunately, you can’t charge and listen wired at the same time because there’s only one USB-C port on the buds.
Comfort-wise, the Dual Driver BT ANC are exceptional. Thanks to their neckbud design, the buds rest around your neck when not in use. There’s no special sauce here either; the buds simply go in your ears. No wings or hooks to worry about. So it’s unlikely that you’ll experience any discomfort or fatigue with them. You can, however, turn them off by magnetically attaching the two buds.
The Dual Driver BT ANC feature active noise-cancelation (ANC) as well. Their ANC performance is as expected from a set of earbuds. It aids with passive isolation, but it won’t blow anyone away. It’s great for reducing background noise, especially while commuting, but we wouldn’t recommend flying with these.
In terms of sound, they are OK at best. The bass is only slightly boosted but is still balanced all around. The midrange is a bit uneven and bizarre across the board. The treble is overall recessed, giving the Dual Driver BT ANC a warm, forward sound that lacks quite a bit of air due to the lack of treble. However, the dynamic range is excellent, and the soundstage is decent for a set of earbuds.
These might seem a bit expensive to be considered “value” earbuds but they prove themselves in many other ways. For one, the Pixel Buds A-Series, which we tested and reviewed, are virtually the same as the 2020 Pixel Buds, save for a couple of features that have nothing to do with either integration or sound quality. Second, they work seamlessly with Android. Just open the case the first time, and with one tap, they’re paired to most modern Android phones.
And like their very similar siblings, you can access Google Assistant hands-free by just verbally calling for it. Or you can use a quick gesture on the earbuds themselves to do it. A dedicated app (or settings on Pixel devices) gives you access to some extra audio features, like Bass Boost and Adaptive Sound. Unfortunately, you won’t get ANC or an ambient mode, though you get a pretty good fit to be comfortable with.
Transcribe mode helps Spanish, French, Italian, and German speakers translate into English. The opposite also works, improving how English speakers get translations from those languages too. With Sharing Detection, you can share one of your earbuds with someone, letting you each control volume individually.
Battery life isn’t great, but at least they can charge relatively quickly via USB-C. Too bad wireless charging is one of the things you have to sacrifice to get a lower price.
It’s no secret that Bose makes some of the best active noise-canceling (ANC) headphones on the market. While the new NCH 700 don’t support Fast Pair, the older QC35 II do. So they’re still a solid choice, despite being a few years old.
In terms of sound, the QC35 II are great. In our review of them, we noted that their sound signature overall is very balanced, with minor inconsistencies most people won’t hear. However, where they fall short is in dynamic range and soundstage. The lack of dynamic range can make the treble sound a bit sharp and piercing, and the soundstage is decent but relatively small compared to other closed-back, over-ear headphones.
Battery life is solid, with up to 20 hours of battery life on a single charge. The QC35 II charge over Micro-USB instead of USB-C, which is fine considering that the QC35 II is a couple of years old.
Comfort is where the QC35 II shine. If you’re generally not a fan of over-ear headphones, the QC35 II might change your mind. They are the de-facto set of headphones when it comes to comfort. You won’t experience discomfort or fatigue (other than an overload of treble) with them.
Fast Pair is an amazing technology that allows you to effortlessly pair your best wireless earbuds and best wireless headphones to your Android phone. Fast Pair headphones are relatively rare as many manufacturers haven’t adopted the technology yet. And the ones that do seem to treat it as an afterthought, often forgetting about the feature between generations.
However, the Harman Kardon Fly ANC are excellent headphones that provide dependable sound, good comfort, ANC, and decent battery life. While battery life could be better and may not be ideal for wearing them while active, they’re just a great all-around pair of headphones.
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.
Peter Cao spends more time than he’s willing to admit listening and analyzing music and headphones. When not on the clock, he’s probably still doing the same, playing basketball, or playing video games.