You can’t buy a bad pair wireless earbuds nowadays. With constant discounts and sales everywhere you look, this is the perfect time to splash out on that pair you’ve been eyeing. Since the days of wireless earbuds, when they were only available in true wireless form, we have seen a lot of innovation. Today, things are very different. Companies like Samsung, Apple, and Sony have learned a lot from previous product generations. Now they are releasing the most innovative earbuds yet
If you are willing to spend big, premium earbuds can offer exceptional noise cancellation and sound quality. These are not the only criteria. You might also be looking for the best fitness earbuds, or a set that can play your favorite podcasts and playlists as well as work with Zoom calls.
What I am looking for
- Comfort. Comfort. There are many types of earbuds, and the comfort factor can be subjective. Our picks usually include a variety of sizes of ear tips. Most are silicone but some companies use foam or both. It all comes down to personal preference as to which ear tip you prefer. While silicone tips are more popular, foam can expand to fill your ear better. You can try different sized tips in each ear. You might find one that is more suitable for your particular ear.
- Good sound. We all have different preferences about sound quality, just like comfort. Some people can’t live with a low, thumping bass. For me, dynamics, clarity and definition are more important to me than music. I want the vocals to sound natural and the instruments to be clearly separated from each other in the music. I am looking for earbuds which can bring out the details of my favorite songs.
- Active Noise Cancellation. Once a rare feature, it is now a standard. Our top picks all include active noise cancellation, which helps to quieten the outside world. Noise cancellation can help you concentrate in the office, or while on the road. Some people dislike the “plugged-up” feel of earbuds, and prefer open-style buds to help them be fully aware of their surroundings.
- Earbuds with ANC enabled can last between five to six hours. While some models may have a longer battery life than others (over-ear headphones can last up to six hours), the ease of simply putting your earbuds back in their case to get more juice makes it easier to make the tradeoff.
- Water resistance. You should look for earbuds with IPX4 water resistance. These protect them from water splashes (and sweat), and should be removed for daily hazards.
Tech companies are making their earbuds more compatible with their products by offering exclusive features and functionality. You can use AirPods with your iPhone or Samsung phones to get head-tracking spatial sound.
The best overall wireless earbuds
Sony’s WF1000XM4 has excellent noise cancellation and a lively, enjoyable sound quality. They are a top pick overall because they offer wireless charging and additional features such as LDAC support.
No noise cancellation. Battery life: 6 hours (ANC On). Water resistance: IPX4. Bluetooth codecs are LDAC, AAC and SBC. Multipoint: Yes. Compatible with Android, iOS, Windows OS, macOS. Ear tips: Foam (S M, L).
Although they are expensive, the best wireless earbuds for you is Sony WF-1000XM4. These earbuds offer excellent sound quality, with great active noise cancellation. Although the ANC isn’t as powerful as Bose’s QC Earbuds II it is still very effective. Their impressive battery life can last up to eight hours with noise cancellation on. This is enough to outlast any of Sony’s top competitors.
The WF-1000XM4s feature a premium, matte (or light grey) design with elegant rose gold accents. While most earbuds have standard silicone tips, Sony has foam-style tips. These tips expand in your ears and create a seal that, along with noise cancellation, hush the outside world. Sony’s eartips are not for everyone. They’re larger so make sure you try them out.
The 1000XM4s can be used on Android phones to support Sony’s LDAC codec, which allows for better music playback. They can be used on any platform, but they are up there with premium audio-focused earbuds such as Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 2 with better noise cancellation.
Sony recently announced that it would fix the main problem with the 1000XM4s, which is their lack of multipoint. This support is coming soon so you can pair them with two Bluetooth device simultaneously. You won’t find a better combination of features, including bonuses like 360 Reality Audio support, improved voice calling performance and outstanding battery endurance.
The best earbuds under $100
Jabra’s Elite 3 Earbuds are more fashionable than its previous models. They aren’t overly complicated or have extra features but they perform well in key areas like sound quality, comfort and battery life.
Noise cancellation: None / Battery life 7 hours / Water resistance IPX55 / Bluetooth codecs AAC, SB / Multipoint: Yes / Compatible with Android, iOS Windows, macOS, and macOS / Eartips: Silicone (S M, L).
Sometimes you just need the basics. Jabra’s Elite 3 Earbuds stand out from the crowd of sub-$100 competitors. Although they place a lot of emphasis on bass, the sound is still balanced and clear for their price.
The compact case can hold three extra charges and lasts up to seven hours. The earbuds’ large buttons make it easy to use. They are IP55 rated for water and dust resistance. The Jabra Elite 3 wireless earbuds are the best under $100.Photo by Chris Welch
Although the Elite 3s don’t have the Jabra multipoint feature, that is the main reason they are so expensive, it’s still a great deal. Both earbuds can be used in mono mode and as a standalone device. They are extremely comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. Although you don’t get wireless charging or active noise cancellation (though Jabra has a transparency mode), the Elite 3s work reliably with strong Bluetooth signals. These are a great value for money.