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Best wireless earbuds 2021: Our favourite budget and premium earbuds for wire-free listening

It's amazing what the best wireless earbuds are capable of these days thanks to advancements in Bluetooth, noise-cancelling, microphone and audio driver technology.

Rock-solid Bluetooth connectivity is a given in most urban areas, while high-resolution codecs facilitate the delivery of exceptional sound quality when streaming audio.

That sound quality may still lag a little way behind premium wired headphones, but the gap is narrower than ever and wireless earbuds are significantly more portable and practical.

Their charging cases allow you to top up your empty buds while out and about, water resistance makes them a great choice for exercise and active noise cancellation - once the preserve of over-ear headphones costing hundreds of pounds - is now a staple feature of the best wireless earbuds around.

Most audio manufacturers include at least one set of wireless earbuds in their lineups, meaning you're spoilt for choice when it comes to picking a pair. With a huge range of brands and models to choose from, selecting the best wireless earbuds for your needs can be a tricky task.

That's where we come in. We're constantly testing and reviewing the latest headphones and this article will break down the very best wireless earbuds on the market.

For those of you that are new to the world of wireless earbuds, we’ve included a handy buying guide detailing all the things you should consider before splashing out on your first pair.

If you just want to take a look at what we deem to be the best wireless earbuds on the market, scroll down for the complete list, along with some honourable mentions that will appeal to certain consumers.

And if you decide that wireless earbuds aren't for you, you may want to check out our pick of the best headphones or our more specific pages documenting the best Bluetooth headphones, best noise-cancelling headphones, best over-ear headphones and best cheap headphones.

Best wireless earbuds: Great deals on some of our favourite buds

How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you

How much should I spend?

As a general rule of thumb, the more you invest, the better the audio quality will be. You can pick up a pair of reasonable buds for under £50 but if you want the very best wireless earbuds you can expect to pay upwards of £250. Cheaper earbuds typically omit advanced features including active noise cancellation, are unlikely to support higher resolution codecs and build quality won't be as high.

Is it easy to get a good fit?

There are two distinct styles of true wireless earbuds. One-size-fits-all buds like the Apple AirPods give you no flexibility in terms of fit - their earpieces either sit snuggly in your ears or feel loose when worn. They're the best choice if you want to leave your ear canals free but they provide little, if any, sound isolation.

A significant proportion of buds now favour the use of silicone tips, which seal off your ear canals and secure the buds in your ears far better. They also have the advantage of providing improved passive noise cancellation. Manufacturers typically provide a range of different-sized tips to help ensure you get the most comfortable and stable fit possible.

How important is the Bluetooth version?

Like all wireless headphones, wireless earbuds rely on a Bluetooth connection to function. With each new Bluetooth version, connections become more stable, while wireless range and bandwith - the rate at which data is transferred over the connection - increase. Bluetooth version 5.2 was announced at CES in January 2020 but only a handful of earbuds currently support that version of the technology. Newer IS better but any buds using Bluetooth 4.2 or above will do the trick for casual listening.

Some earbuds offer Bluetooth multipoint, which allows them to connect to two or more devices simultaneously. If you're regularly switching between your phone and laptop, it's definitely worth looking out for wireless earbuds with this functionality.

Should I worry about which audio codecs are supported?

Codecs determine how Bluetooth transmits information to your device. The SBC codec is pretty much universal across all devices and works just fine, though you'll open up the possibility to listen to higher resolution audio with more advanced codecs such as AAC, which is favoured by Apple, or Qualcomm's aptX, aptX HD or aptX Adaptive codecs. Bear in mind that your output device must also support the codec: iPhone's don't support aptX so even if you own the very best wireless earbuds money can buy, you won't be able to make use of it.

Can I make and receive phone and video calls?

All of the best wireless earbuds come with built-in mics and can be used to make and take calls when connected via Bluetooth. They’re good at picking up your voice but won’t isolate it from ambient sound as well as your smartphone. The number of in-built mics and their quality varies from device to device so bear that in mind if you spend a lot of time on calls.

Can I use one earbud on its own?

Most earbuds have one master and one slave driver so, depending on the way the manufacturer has implemented it, you’ll be able to listen to your music through one of the said earbuds. Others operate independently of one another and therefore allow you to use either at any time you wish.

Any other important features to consider?

IP certification: The best wireless earbuds all come with an IP rating, which reflects their ability to resist dust and water/sweat. If you live in a wet country or plan on using your earbuds while exercising then you'll want to pick a pair that offers protection against these external agents.

Active noise cancellation: We're seeing more and more wireless earbuds incorporating active noise cancellation technology to reduce the impact of external sound on your audio. If you want the most immersive listening experience, ANC should be high on your priority list.

Battery life: Earbuds will always have a stated battery life, as will the case used to charge them. Between 15 and 20 hours of total listening time is around average, though your mileage will vary depending on the volume at which you play your audio. Having advanced features such as ANC active will also drain your battery faster.

In-ear detection: Smarter earbuds can detect when you take them out of your ears and pause your audio automatically when you do so, resuming when they're put back in. It's a neat feature that's fast becoming a staple inclusion for pricier headphones.

Voice assistant support: If you like to make use of Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri, you should ensure that your earbuds support your voice assistant of choice. Most do nowadays but it's always worth checking!

Touch controls: Don't want to have to dig your phone out of your pocket to skip a track? Well, you're in luck, as many of the best wireless earbuds feature touch sensors that allow fingertip control of your music. Each company implements this slightly differently and you may find certain commands omitted so it's important to ensure the wireless earbuds you like offer control over the features you use most frequently.

Companion apps: Many companies have downloadable applications designed to enhance the audio experience provided by their products. Each offers a different range of customisation options though the most common are the ability to remap touch controls and select between different EQ presets.

The best wireless earbuds to buy in 2021

1. Sony WF-1000XM4: The best wireless earbuds overall

Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon

Sony's latest true wireless earbuds are the complete package, delivering smart, effective noise cancellation, excellent audio quality and a whole host of useful features. Those familiar with their predecessors will immediately notice that the fourth-generation model has undergone a significant design makeover and the changes Sony has made are all very welcome.

The earbuds have a more appealing aesthetic and are 10% smaller than the WF-1000XM3, while the charging case is a lot more compact, too. Powered by a new Integrated Processor V1, the WF-1000XM4 now support Hi-res audio via Sony's LDAC Bluetooth codec and they sound superb no matter what you're listening to. Noise cancellation is equally impressive and can be set to adjust itself automatically based on where you are and what you're doing.

Features like Speak-to-Chat, which pauses your audio as soon as your voice is detected, help elevate the user experience above that any other earbuds on the market offer and there's even hands-free support for Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant for those that can't live without their voice assistant.

If you're on a tight budget, the Sony WF-1000XM3 are the more prudent choice at their new price of £139. But if you can afford the WF-1000XM4, you simply won't find better true wireless all-rounders.

Read our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6g per earbud, 41g charging case; Battery life: 24 hours; IP rating: IPX4

2. 1MORE PistonBuds: The best wireless earbuds under £50

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

We've been extremely impressed by 1MORE's earbuds over the past year or so and the PistonBuds - its cheapest set yet - don't disappoint. Their AirPods Pro-inspired design won't win any awards for originality, but the buds are the most comfortable and best-sounding in-ear headphones under £50 we've tested. Despite a weighty low-end response underpinning the audio profile, the PistonBuds manage to maintain a respectable balance across pretty much every genre of music.

The buds are IPX4-rated so can be used while working out or in the rain, touch controls are effective (if a little limited) and battery life is far from shabby at a total of 24 hours listening at moderate volume. If you're ready to jump aboard the earbuds bandwagon but don't want to splash out on a premium pair, we highly recommend you pick up the 1MORE PistonBuds.

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 4.2g per earbud, 36g charging case; Battery life: 24 hours; IP rating: IPX4

3. Apple AirPods Pro: The best wireless earbuds for Apple users

Price: £249 | Buy now from Amazon

The AirPods Pro are the most popular true wireless earbuds on the market and for good reason - they're Apple’s finest headphones to date and improve on the original Airpods in every way. They offer impressive active noise cancellation, which is adjusted automatically with the help of both inward and outward-facing microphones. This does mean they lack the customisation options of some other ANC earbuds but the noise cancellation is so effective that this isn’t a big deal.

Sonically, they’re a little light in the bass department – vocal-heavy tracks are where the AirPods Pro really shine – but overall, their sound quality rivals that of the best true wireless earbuds around. They come with three sets of silicone tips to ensure a secure fit regardless of ear shape and are sweat and water-resistant, making them a fine choice for gym-goers.

If you’re willing to pay the high asking price, you’ll be getting pretty much everything you could ever want in a pair of true wireless earbuds.

Read our Apple AirPods Pro review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.4g per earbud, 46g charging case; Battery life: 24 hours; IP rating: IPX4

4. Bowers & Wilkins PI7: The best premium wireless earbuds

Price: £350 | Buy now from Amazon

The B&W PI7 bring something completely new to the table in the form of a charging case capable of audio retransmission. Plug it into an audio source that lacks Bluetooth connectivity and you can broadcast audio straight to the buds. It’s an innovative feature that works wonderfully well and has meaningful practical applications.

Audio quality is exceptional, too. The buds are beautifully balanced, delivering powerful yet controlled bass, crisp vocals and sparkling trebles without any hint of harshness. Noise cancellation isn’t class-leading but does a good job at reducing ambient sound and there’s an automatic setting if you want the earbuds to actively adjust the level of ANC provided at any given moment.

The B&W PI7 may be exceedingly expensive but they’re also exceedingly good. If you have the cash and want the finest true wireless audio around, these are the buds to buy.

Read our full Bowers & Wilkins PI7 review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 8g per earbud, 50g charging case; Battery life (total): 20hrs; IP rating: IP54

5. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: The best wireless earbuds for noise-cancelling

Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon

Bose’s QC Earbuds offer the best active noise cancellation of any earbuds we’ve tested. ANC functions on a ten-point scale ranging from full transparency (0) to total immersion (10) and at 10, they reduce external noise by a significant amount. You can switch between three levels of your own choosing by simply double-tapping the left earbud and touch controls are well implemented on the whole, though the buds do lack volume touch controls.

Audio is equally impressive, with the QC Earbuds delivering a superbly balanced sound profile that’s immersive without ever feeling claustrophobic. The buds also benefit from Bose’s Active-EQ, which automatically adjusts the bass and treble based on your volume, ensuring music sounds great no matter how loud it is.

Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review for more details

Key specs - Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 8.5g per earbud, 76g charging case; Battery life (total): 25hrs; IP rating: IPX4

6. OnePlus Buds Pro: Attractive AirPods Pro alternatives

Price: £139 | Buy now from Amazon

If you own one of OnePlus' more recent smartphones and are after earbuds to pair it with, the OnePlus Buds Pro are a no-brainer. They support the high-resolution audio codec LHDC, look good, are very comfortable and offer impressive active noise cancellation for the money. Owners of a OnePlus 9 or 9 Pro will also benefit from Dolby Atmos support and a Pro Gaming Mode that reduces lag.

Their AirPods Pro-inspired design stands out from the crowd thanks to reflective stems, which double as the earbuds' control centre, and while touch controls aren't as customisable as we'd like, the Buds Pro have enough tricks up their sleeve to make up for it. There's "Zen Mode Air", which plays calming white noise when you need a break from the world around you, and "OnePlus Audio ID" which tests your hearing and creates an audio profile based on your ability to hear certain frequencies at varying volumes.

Both are neat inclusions that when combined with a comfy fit and effective ANC, make the OnePlus Buds Pro a fine choice no matter the phone you use.

Read our full OnePlus Buds Pro review for more details

Key specs - Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 8.5g per earbud, 76g charging case; Battery life (total): 25hrs; IP rating: IPX4

7. Creative Outlier Air V2: The best wireless earbuds under £100

Price: £75 | Buy now from Creative

Thanks to some successfully implemented upgrades, the Creative Outlier Air V2 steal the best earbuds under £100 crown from their predecessor, the Outlier Air. Intuitive and responsive touch controls replace the original’s fiddly physical controls and microphone quality has been improved, too. Battery life has also seen a boost and now clocks in at roughly 34 hours.

The Outlier Air V2 offer fantastic audio considering their affordable price and are compatible with Creative’s Super X-Fi technology, via which you can create a personalised sound profile using holographic modelling. Sadly, you can only take advantage of the tech when listening to locally stored music in the SXFI app, but it provides a wonderful listening experience for those with large music libraries saved to their devices.

Read our Creative Outlier Air V2 review for more details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6g per earbud, 60g charging case; Battery life (total): 34hrs; IP rating: IPX5

Buy now from Creative

8. NuraTrue: Personalised audio in a true wireless package

Price: £199 | Buy now from Nura

Like their stablemates the Nuraphone and NuraLoop, the NuraTrue's unique selling point is that they're able to analyse the way you hear and create a sound profile that takes into account your sensitivity to certain frequencies. The whole process takes less than five minutes and the results are very impressive. Audio quality is right up there with some of the best earbuds around and the NuraTrue have a few other things going for them, too.

They're strikingly designed, extremely comfortable to wear and their use of rubber wingtips ensures they remain in your ears during even the most vigorous of exercise. An IPX4 rating for water resistance further reinforces their credentials as gym or workout earbuds, while decent noise cancellation makes them an appealing choice for those that don't want their audio disrupted at home or further afield.

The NuraTrue don't dethrone Sony's WF-1000XM4 as our favourite true wireless all-rounders, nor do they dislodge the Bose QC Earbuds as the most effective noise cancellers. But both of those options are more expensive and if you've only got £200 to play with, you'll be hard pushed to find better true wireless earbuds.

Read our full NuraTrue review for details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 7g per earbud, 37g charging case; Battery life (total): 34hrs; IP rating: IPX4

Buy now from Nura

9. Grado GT220: Supreme sound quality and bountiful battery life

Price: £199 | Buy now from Amazon

If audio quality is top of your priority list, you won't find better earbuds than the Grado GT220. With a wide soundstage, exquisite detail and rich, well-defined bass, they sound superb. Sound quality is helped by an excellent in-ear seal, which does a great job at reducing the impact of external noise while ensuring a stable fit.

Touch controls are among the most smartly incorporated of any earbuds we've tested and battery life clocks in at a whopping 36 hours. That battery life is in part achieved by the GT220 forgoing active noise cancellation, which, along with a slightly disappointing IPX2 water-resistance rating, are the only real drawbacks of these otherwise exceptional earbuds.

Read our Grado GT220 review for details

Key specs–Built-in microphone and music control buttons:Yes;Weight:5g per earbud, 42g charging case;Battery life:36 hours; IP rating: IPX2

10. Tronsmart Spunky Beat: Impressive cheap wireless earbuds

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

Budget wireless earbuds don't get much better than the Tronsmart Spunky Beat. They feature simple-to-use touch controls, Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, support for both Siri and Google Assistant and offer minor background noise suppression during calls. Audio quality is decent for the money and the buds are comfortable to wear for long periods. The battery life of the buds is around 7hrs at 50% volume, though that figure drops to 4hrs at max volume.

IPX5 certification means these buds are both sweatproof and splashproof, making them a great choice for use in the gym or a rainy run in the park. Other pros include three different-sized eartips to choose from and the ability to charge the case using either an integrated USB-A cable, which folds neatly into the base, or via the USB-C port.

If you're looking for cheap true wireless earbuds, the Tronsmart Spunky Beat can't be, uh, beat.

Key specs - Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 3.7g per earbud, 40g charging case; Battery life (total): 24hrs; IP rating: IPX5

11. Apple AirPods (2nd Generation): The best wireless earbuds with an open-ear fit

Price: £119/£155 | Buy now from Amazon

A list of the best wireless earbuds wouldn't be complete without the Apple AirPods - buds that have helped transform the wireless audio market. Launched alongside the iPhone 7, the AirPods brought Apple's line of wearable tech to prominence and heralded the steady decline of smartphones featuring a 3.5mm audio jack. This second-generation version is available with a standard Lightning cable charging case or a wireless charging case, with the latter option costing around £30 more.

The open-fit design means the AirPods rest just inside your ears rather than wedged inside them, which has some advantages but drawbacks too. They're very comfortable to wear but leak sound and let external noise in. It's also worth noting that, although designed to be one-size-fits-all, some people may find they fall out of their ears, so try out a friend's pair before splashing out on them.

For those that don't want their ear canals filled while listening to music, the Apple AirPods remain the best wireless earbuds around, particularly if you own an iPhone, due to their seamless integration with Apple products.

Read our Apple AirPods 2 review for more details

Key specs - Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 4g per earbud, 40g charging case; Battery life (total): 24hrs; IP rating: IPX4

12. Lypertek SoundFree S20: Accomplished, affordable earbuds

Price: £70 |Buy now from Amazon

Lypertek may not be a household name but its SoundFree S20 earbuds are capable of holding their own against similarly priced, better-known competitors.

They’re lightweight, comfortable and deliver impressive audio quality given their £70 price tag. Trebles can be a little piercing at higher volumes but mid-range frequencies possess a silky smooth quality and there’s enough weight in the low-end reproduction to do bass-heavy tracks justice.

With battery life of up to eight hours at half volume and a Qi-enabled charging case offering a further 40 hours of playtime, the SoundFree S20 are among the longest-lasting buds on the market. They’re also a great choice for those seeking to avoid touch controls as they forgo capacitive controls in favour of depressible buttons.

The S20’s ambient sound mode isn’t the best around but with an IPX5 rating for water resistance and voice assistant support in addition to engaging audio, an ergonomic fit and bumper battery life, they’re among the best all-rounders available for under £100.

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 5.1g per earbud, 38g charging case; Battery life (total): 48hrs; IP rating: IPX5

13. Jabra Elite Active 75t review: The best wireless earbuds for exercise

Price: £150 | Buy now from Amazon

Jabra’s Elite Active 75t are our top choice for those looking for buds to use while working out. They fit extremely securely in your ears and provide impressive passive noise cancellation, while their IP57 certification means they’re better protected from sweat, water and dust than any of the other buds on this list.

A recent firmware update saw Jabra add active noise cancellation into the mix and although it’s not as effective as the ANC offered by the QC Earbuds or Huawei FreeBuds Pro, it’s a very welcome addition. The Jabra Sound+ companion app is excellent, too, providing a wealth of customisation options including the ability to create your own EQ, choose from various presets and create “Moments”, which are listener profiles tailored for specific situations.

Read our Jabra Elite Active 75t review for details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6g per earbud, 35g charging case; Battery life (total): 28hrs; IP rating: IP57

14. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2: ANC wireless earbuds for audiophiles

Price: £279 | Buy now from Amazon

The original Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless held a place on this list for some time thanks to their rich, accurate sound and spacious soundstage. Their successors take everything that was good about the originals and add active noise cancelling into the mix, making for an even better audio experience.

The ANC may not be class-leading, but the sound quality delivered by the 7mm dynamic drivers is. That sonic excellence combined with a comfortable fit and up to 28 hours battery life with the charging case makes the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2 a great option for audiophiles looking for earbuds. The only downside is the price - they’re the most expensive buds on our list.

Read our Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review for details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6g per earbud, 58g charging case; Battery life (total): 28hrs; IP rating: IPX4

15. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: The best wireless earbuds for Galaxy users

Price: £219 | Buy now from Amazon

The Galaxy Buds Pro are Samsung's best true wireless earbuds yet, offering great audio quality, a comfortable fit and a whole host of useful features, including IPX7 waterproofing and active noise cancellation. ANC falls short of other options on this list - the QC Earbuds, Sony WF-1000XM3 and Huawei FreeBuds all do a better job at blocking out sound - but the Buds Pro shine when it comes to compatibility with Galaxy devices.

When paired with a Galaxy smartphone running the latest One UI 3.1 tech (currently only Samsung's S21 range) you can make use of 360 Audio, Multi-mic recording and auto-switching between your various Galaxy devices. There's one-touch access to Samsung's proprietary voice assistant Bixby and the buds also make use of the company's Bluetooth codec, Scalable, which supports hi-res streaming and minimises dropouts by adjusting the bit-rate based on your connection strength.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review for details

Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6.3g per earbud, 45g charging case; Battery life (total): 18hrs; IP rating: IPX7

16. Huawei FreeBuds Pro: Intelligent wireless earbuds for Android users

Price: £129 | Buy now from Huawei

Huawei’s FreeBuds Pro combined a detailed and bassy sound profile with some of the most intelligent noise-cancelling technology around. While Dynamic ANC mode is active, the buds will adjust the level of noise cancellation based on how much environmental sound there is around you. It works consistently well and the reduction in external noise is significant, particularly when Ultra mode is engaged.

Microphone quality is highly impressive, too, while touch controls and wear detection are both executed effectively. Unfortunately, iOS users won’t be able to access the AI Life app to customise various elements of the FreeBuds Pro, making them a poor choice if you own an iPhone. But for Android users, they’re right up there with the buds earbuds available, especially if effective ANC is top of your priority list.

Read our Huawei FreeBuds Pro review for more details

Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6g per earbud, 60g charging case; Battery life (total): 20hrs (ANC on), 30hrs (ANC off); IP rating: No

Best wireless earbuds: Honourable mentions

While the following products didn't quite make it onto our best wireless earbuds list, they're still solid choices and will have particular appeal to some customers.

Huawei FreeBuds 4i

Price: £80 | Buy now from Amazon

If you're on a tight budget and after active noise cancelling earbuds, the FreeBuds 4i are a top option. They're super comfortable and mids and treble sparkle in an EQ tuned specifically for Pop music, though the buds are a little light in the bass department.

Read our Huawei FreeBuds 4i review for more details

Google Pixel Buds A-Series

Price: £99 | Buy now from Google

If you want earbuds with exceptional Google Assistant integration, look no further than the Pixel Buds A-Series. Simply utter “Hey Google” to access everything from audio controls to sports results and real-time language translation courtesy of Google Translate.

Read our Google Pixel Buds A-Series review for more details

Oppo Enco X

Price: £170 |Buy now from Amazon

The Enco X are among the comfiest earbuds we've tested and have a compact form factor that makes it easy to forget you're wearing them. Their ANC is impressive, too, while IP54 water resistance makes them a solid choice for exercise.

Read our Oppo Enco X review for more details

Sennheiser CX400BT

Price: £130 | Buy now from Amazon

Unsurprisingly for a pair of Sennheiser headphones, the CX400BT sound fantastic. They forgo active noise cancellation and sadly aren't splashproof but we've seen them available for as little as £100 and at that price, you simply won't find better sounding wireless earbuds.

Read our Sennheiser CX400BT review for more details

Beats Powerbeats Pro

Price: £169 |Buy now from Amazon

Probably the most stable-fitting earbuds out there thanks to their signature earhook design, the Powerbeats Pro are great if you love a bass-heavy sound signature while working out. They're particularly good if you own an iPhone as they slot perfectly into the Apple ecosystem.

Read our Powerbeats Pro review for more details


MPG PremierPlay Bluetooth Earbuds

  LED Powered Charging Case

Newly added LED Power Indicator to show current battery level inside the earbuds compartment.

  CVC8.0 Dual MIC Noise Reduction

CVC8.0 noise reduction algorithm, through the MIC array, automatically reduces the ambient noise, accurately calculates the position of the caller, presents pure sound quality and clearer voice calls.

  Almost Zero Latency & Highly Immersive Experience

Achieve a lower latency gaming experience and distinguish each individual sound clearly.

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How we pick & test

Why you should trust us

I hold a bachelor’s degree in both music performance and audio production from Ithaca College, and I also have tested more than a thousand pairs of headphones and earbuds while working for Wirecutter.

In addition to reviewing gear for AV magazines, I’ve been in and out of top recording studios for over a decade, first as a radio producer and on-air talent, then as a professional voice actor. My articles have been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, and Time, and on Good Morning America, the BBC World Service, and NBC Nightly News.

Then there’s our panel of experts, including Brent Butterworth, a Wirecutter staff writer with decades of experience, and John Higgins, a session musician, sound editor, and occasional Wirecutter writer (and my spouse) with a music master’s degree from the University of Southern California.

Who should get wireless earbuds

Wireless earbuds are for people who want to listen wirelessly and who want their money to go toward convenience, sound, comfort, and call quality rather than features like heavy sweat resistance or the best noise cancellation. Whether you’re sitting at your desk, commuting to work, or taking the dog for a walk, any of these wireless earbud picks should offer a reliable way to transmit great-sounding music to your ears and a clear-sounding voice to your phone-call recipients. On- or over-ear Bluetooth headphones are also capable of hitting these points, but they can get in the way of glasses and are quite bulky compared with earbuds.

Many of the headphones in this category are resistant to water or sweat but aren’t designed for high-impact workouts or very wet conditions. For workouts, we suggest looking at our guide to the best workout headphones.

Although we do take active noise cancelling into account as a bonus feature for the models in this guide, if you fly a lot or need earbuds with the very best noise cancelling possible, check out our guide to the best noise-cancelling headphones.

If you want to spend less, you can turn to our guide to the best earbuds under $50, where our focus is on delivering the best combo of sound and features for the least amount of money.

How we picked the best wireless earbuds

A close-up of some Jabra earbuds in their open charging case, next to other earbud cases and some boxes.

There are two types of wireless earbuds on the market: those that are tethered via a cable (usually referred to as a collar or a neckband) and those that we call “true wireless” Bluetooth earbuds, which look a little like hearing aids and don’t have a cord connecting them either to your music device or to each other.

True wireless earbuds have become increasingly popular because of how light and unobtrusive they feel. As such, many manufacturers now focus their attention on releasing earbuds in this style, and we’re seeing fewer tethered options outside of the budget-earbud category. We still test both styles for this guide, but we highly prioritize a true wireless design, as we’ve found that both our testers and our readers prefer the comfort and convenience that is possible when all the cables are removed. (If you prefer the tethered style, we have several recommendations in Other good wireless earbuds.)

To find the best wireless earbuds for everyday use, we use the following criteria:

  • Great sound quality is obviously important to us. To help us decide what to call in and test, we check out professional reviews from outlets such as CNET and PCMag, as well as customer and fan reviews on websites like Amazon, Best Buy, and Head-Fi. We disregard any with consistently poor reviews.
  • A secure, comfortable fit is of utmost importance for wireless earbuds you’ll use throughout the day. The shift in preference to true wireless designs makes fit an even more crucial criteria: If a true wireless earbud falls out while you’re on the go, it’s just one wrong bounce away from being gone for good. So we looked for earbuds that come with a variety of tips for different ear sizes and considered how securely each pair fit all of our panelists.

How to shop for earbud tips

  • Good battery life is another must-have feature in a set of Bluetooth earbuds that you’ll use every day. That means at least five hours per charge for true wireless designs that come with a charging case and seven hours for neckband-style earbuds that you have to charge via a USB cable.
  • Voice-call quality is also key for daily-use earbuds, since you’ll likely be taking a lot of calls on them. In this regard, they should ideally match or beat the corded earbuds that came with your phone.
  • The earbuds should also be mildly splash and sweat resistant. Although these headphones aren’t designed for working out, you never know when you’ll get caught in a heat wave or a downpour on your commute.
  • Finally, we think you should spend less than $250 for a set of true wireless headphones with these features and $100 for wireless headphones where the two earbuds are connected by a wire or collar. That’s enough money to obtain high build quality as well as good sound from a company with a decent track record and reliable customer support.

How we tested for the best in-ear headphones

One of our earbud testers sitting in a living room couch with a note pad leaning over a dozen earbud cases on a coffee table.

Over the past five years, we’ve spent hundreds of hours testing more than 300 pairs of wireless earbuds. Our panelists evaluate for sound quality, ease of use, fit, and comfort before ranking their favorites.

My part in the testing process involves taking the favorites and trying out the microphones over phone calls in both quiet and noisy areas. I also test battery life to make sure that the actual use time lines up with each manufacturer’s claim. And I check the Bluetooth signal reliability by wandering a good distance away from my mobile device, putting it in a pocket or bag, walking outside, and going several rooms away.

We test each pair of earbuds with both iOS and Android phones, as well as an Apple laptop, to look for Bluetooth connectivity issues. Most manufacturers will stipulate that their wireless earbuds are designed to work specifically with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. That doesn’t mean the earbuds won’t work with a computer, but depending on your operating system, you could experience a less reliable Bluetooth connection. You can read more about the issue here.

Once we had a sense of how each set of earbuds performed, we took price and extra features into account to choose our final winners.

Our pick for the best true wireless earbuds: Jabra Elite 75t

Our pick for best wireless earbuds, the Jabra Elite 75t.

The Jabra Elite 75t earbuds are a pleasure to use, offering all the benefits of wireless Bluetooth earbuds with absolutely no cords. These are among the smallest, lightest true wireless earbuds we’ve tested, but their fit should still be secure for a variety of ear shapes. They work great with both iOS and Android devices, and the controls are simple and comfortable to use. Battery life is listed at seven and a half hours of listening time per charge, and the charging case is small enough to fit in the coin pocket of a pair of jeans and provides an additional 20 hours of battery life. The earbuds sound great with music, but they’re also good for phone calls because the microphones are remarkably good at reducing moderate wind noise while keeping your voice clear to your callers. The active noise cancellation isn’t the absolute best we’ve ever measured, but it does the trick for reducing traffic sounds, airplane noise, or a loud fan. And if you need to brave the elements, the 75t earbuds are dust and water resistant (with an IP55 rating). They’re compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri, and if anything goes amiss, Jabra protects the pair with a two-year warranty.

Thanks to the inclusion of Bluetooth 5.0 with the Elite 75t, I could walk three walls away from my phone and not experience skips or drops during testing. I even left my phone on the second floor and jogged down a flight of stairs and about 20 feet away to check the mail, and they didn’t drop my call. Of course, large metal beams, pipes, and other factors can affect your experience, but we were very happy with the stability of the connection inside, outside, and even in interference-prone areas like the gym and subway.

The two Jabra elite 75t wireless earbuds, next to their open charging case.

Additionally, these earbuds offer dual-device Bluetooth connection, which means you can be connected to your phone and laptop simultaneously (if the earbuds work with your computer, see the long-term test notes below). So if you are listening to music streamed from your laptop and want to answer a call, there's no need to manually switch the Bluetooth connection from the laptop to the phone as you do with many other earbuds, such as the AirPods or the Powerbeats Pro. You can just answer the call, and the Jabra set will automatically swap the audio. And if you take the earbuds out of your ears, your music automatically pauses.

Unlike many true wireless earbuds we tested, the Elite 75t earpieces felt snug and secure, even when we jogged, jumped around, or shook our heads. They’re small and lightweight, and they won’t dangle, stick out, or fall out every time you move too quickly. While no pair of earbuds can accommodate every ear size and shape, the Elite 75t comes with three sets of ear tips to choose from, and all of our panelists were able to find a combination that worked for them—even the people with the largest and the smallest ears, who regularly struggle to find earbuds that stay in place. The Elite 75t earbuds are far less conspicuous than some competing true wireless designs, which may be appealing for people who don’t want to draw attention to their earbuds.

This pair also offers more controls than many sets of true wireless earbuds. Each Elite 75t earbud has one large button, and through different combinations of taps or holds, you can control play/pause, volume, track skip, call answer/end, and digital-assistant activation. Unlike with many of the touch-sensor-based earbuds we tested, the 75t’s buttons didn’t trigger accidentally if your hand happened to brush one of the earbuds. We like that the buttons don’t click loudly when depressed, and they are sensitive enough to pressure that you don’t have to mash the earbuds painfully into your ears to get a response. The Elite 75t is compatible with both iOS and Android and certified for use with Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant.

The active noise cancellation isn’t as powerful as some of our noise-cancelling earbud picks, but it is effective enough to offer a noticeable reduction in the lower-frequency noises around you. So while frequent flyers might want to invest in a pair that has more-advanced ANC, most folks who use the cancellation feature only occasionally will likely be very happy with the 75t’s reduction capabilities. Additionally, the earbuds’ sealed design isolates enough sound to block out most distractions around you.

If you need to have a conversation or prefer to hear your surroundings, just single-tap the button on the left earbud—this activates a transparency mode, which uses the mics to send external sounds through the wireless earbuds themselves. Using the free Jabra Sound+ app, you can set this action to either pause your music or continue to play it at a lower volume, which allows you to hear a mix of your music or call and the external noise. Additionally, the 75t protects your hearing, so if something very loud passes by, the transparency shuts off until the noise ceases rather than blaring feedback into your eardrums. (I found this out during a wind-noise test involving a hair dryer.)

Music fans will be happy to know that the Elite 75t’s sound quality is pretty great. In our tests, out of the box it offered extra bass intensity and a bump in the upper-frequency range that emphasized some consonant sounds. However, you can easily adjust the equalization in the Jabra app, and your settings are saved in the earbuds: Once you find your personalized sound, the Elite 75t stores it, so you don’t need to play your music through the app to get the extra bass or boosted vocals you prefer. We were impressed with the 75t’s depth-of-field representation, which added a three-dimensional quality in our tests. The vast majority of the true wireless earbuds we tested had a more compressed or two-dimensional quality to their sound.

Of the wireless earbuds we’ve tested, the Elite 75t is the best pair for phone calls, thanks to its four-microphone array with wind-noise reduction. When using the 75t in a quiet room, I sounded very clear to other people during calls and videoconferences. To test the wind-noise reduction, I stood in front of a window air conditioner, put the fan on high, and called Brent Butterworth. Brent reported that he initially heard the sound of air hitting the mic, but when I spoke, the noise dramatically dropped in volume. In contrast to the experiences we’ve had with other headphones that employ this kind of technology, which can compress the sound of your voice, Brent said my tone sounded a lot fuller and richer through the 75t than through other earbuds he’d heard.

With the active noise cancellation deactivated, Jabra claims the Elite 75t has a battery life of seven and a half hours per charge, which should get you through most of a workday. I personally got even more when I listened at a moderate volume and made only a few phone calls under 10 minutes each. (Turning ANC on will shave about an hour off that time.) Of course, your volume level and call duration could mildly impact your results. The charging case is petite enough to fit in a jeans coin pocket yet capable of providing an additional 20 hours of battery life. Even better, the earbud batteries have an initial rapid charge that gives you one hour of use after 15 minutes docked in the case. The case itself charges via USB-C.

You don’t need to worry about being caught in the rain, either, because these earbuds are IP55 rated, which means they can take dust, rain, and some light sweat without breaking. You can tote the Elite 75t to the gym if you are doing a mild workout; however, if you sweat heavily, you may want to consider our workout headphones pick, Jabra’s Elite Active 75t, which has a higher IP56 rating for dust and sweat resistance. Although Jabra backs the Elite 75t with a two-year warranty against water and dust damage, this wireless earbud model isn’t covered for intense sweating.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Although we like almost everything about the Elite 75t, there are a few aspects that aren’t absolutely perfect. For starters, you don’t have the option to use either earbud individually, as you can with some competitors. Also, like all true wireless headphones, this pair produces a very slight sound delay—which we measured in milliseconds—when you’re watching video or playing casual games on your phone.

Although we were able to find a sound profile that made us happy by adjusting the Elite 75t via the Jabra Sound+ app, we wish that the bass and treble were reined in a little more right out of the box. Before we made our tweaks, we found the bass to be a bit loud and the highs a touch icy. It’s not a huge deal, but it would’ve been nice to have a sound we loved without the need to make any adjustments.

Long-term test notes: Jabra Elite 75t

We’ve been keeping an eye on potential issues that some people have reported. Some issues—like a crackling sound in the left earbud, the hear-through mode fluttering off and on rapidly when connected devices play a notification tone, or music that will occasionally stop playing—have been addressed in firmware updates. So if you’re having a problem with your Elite 75t, first be sure to use the Jabra Sound+ app to update to the latest firmware, as it may be your solution.

Another common hiccup is the Elite 75t’s inability to connect with certain computers. With newer laptops, most of these issues can be addressed, and you can find solutions to common Bluetooth/laptop issues and how to address them. However, if you plan to use these earbuds with a computer that didn’t come with Bluetooth installed, we recommend testing them with your computer within the return-policy window.

We’ve seen some comments about music and podcasts randomly pausing when you have two devices connected, and this is another problem that is not Jabra-specific. Again, this is usually an easy fix, and you can read more here.

As for those rare occasions when the Elite 75t earbuds were faulty, it seems that Jabra has been responsive in reviewing cases and replacing defective units with new earbuds.

Runner-up for the best wireless earbuds: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Our pick for best wireless earbuds if the Jabra is sold out, the Beats Powerbeats Pro, next to their charging case.

If the Jabra Elite 75t is sold out or you own multiple Apple devices and want the easiest pairing experience, the Beats Powerbeats Pro set is a great choice. These true wireless earbuds use the same H1 chip as Apple’s AirPods, so you get the same fast, easy pairing and “Hey Siri” voice activation. Overall, the Powerbeats Pro earbuds are superior to the AirPods, adding full track and volume controls, water and sweat resistance, and a longer battery life of nine hours for listening (or six hours of calls). They sound quite good, with only slightly boosted bass, and the buds stay securely in our ears, though their larger, hook-over-the-ear design may not appeal to everyone. The charging case is also larger than we’d like, and the ear tips can make a crinkling noise when you adjust them in your ears.

The biggest advantage these earbuds have over the competition is their ability to connect quickly to Apple gear. (Beats is owned by Apple, in case you didn’t know.) Since these earbuds are equipped with the same H1 chip as the Apple AirPods, they pair with Apple devices nearly instantly. Simply open the case next to your iPhone, and an icon asking if you’d like to connect appears on the phone screen. Tap, and you’re good to go. If you are signed in to your iCloud account, the Powerbeats Pro also automatically appears in all of the Bluetooth menus on your various Apple devices, so you need to pair to only one device. You can also use these earbuds with Android devices, but in that case you need to pair them to each device individually. Switching from one device to another is a process similar to that of other Bluetooth earbuds or headphones. An additional Apple bonus: If a friend has a pair of Beats or AirPods, both of you can listen to one iOS device wirelessly using Apple’s audio-sharing feature.

Our picks for best wireless earbuds shown in their open charging cases, illustrating the bigger size of the Powerbeats Pro.

Another feature Apple fans may like is the always-on “Hey Siri” function, which enables you to use your voice to trigger the Apple-based digital assistant, with no button tapping necessary. If you use a non-Apple platform, you can still activate your digital assistant by holding down the multifunction button on either ear.

Speaking of the controls, the two earbuds have identical physical buttons: one volume button and one large multifunction button that handles play, pause, track toggling, call answering, and digital-assistant activation. Both buttons are easy to find by feel and comfortable to press. This stands in contrast to the experience with many other true wireless earbuds, which have buttons that click loudly or shove the earbud painfully into your ear canal when you depress them. Either Powerbeats Pro earbud will function alone if you prefer to use only one like a traditional headset for calls or to simultaneously hear your surroundings.

Traditionally, Beats headphones are known for their bass-heavy sound quality, which can range from “a bit much” to “completely overwhelming.” However, Beats has comparatively reined in the lows on the Powerbeats Pro, and this pair sounded pretty darn great in our tests. Are they completely neutral and authentic? No, but we found the extra bass boost pleasant, and it didn’t blur or reverberate. Higher frequencies such as consonants and cymbals were clear and didn’t pierce in our tests, though audio purists could accuse them of lacking some sparkle or detail. Overall, we think the sound quality is as good as what Jabra offers; it’s really a matter of preference. The Jabra earbuds give you the ability to adjust the EQ, whereas with this Beats pair, what you hear out of the box is what you get.

The mic quality was quite good when we took phone calls in a quiet room, and it worked well for video chats. Beats has programmed in a sensor that dims the mics when you are not speaking to help reduce external noise, though outside they can still pick up noises around you when you are speaking. There is only very mild latency, so you shouldn’t notice a massive delay between sound and video on your phone, laptop, or tablet.

The Powerbeats Pro earbuds are sweat and water resistant, so they can go from work to the gym, as well as handle a little rain. However, they aren’t IP-certified, so we’d still say that anyone who sweats profusely or who does outdoor sports frequently should stick with our workout pick, which has an IP56 rating and a two-year warranty against water and sweat damage. The Powerbeats Pro comes with a one-year warranty, but Beats isn’t specific about sweat-damage coverage, so we’d exercise caution (pun intended).

You won’t need to worry about the Powerbeats Pro earbuds falling out, as the flexible stabilizing hook over each ear does a fantastic job of keeping these in place for most ear shapes. I wore them at the gym for a 90-minute high-impact workout involving a lot of jumping and diverse movement, and they didn’t budge. This earbud style is one of the most comfortable we’ve tested, but not everyone wants hooks on their earbuds, and the design is far less discreet than other true wireless models. That said, if people can get accustomed to walking around with the AirPods’ trendy white-cigarette-in-the-ear look, we suspect they’ll be completely fine with the Powerbeats Pro look, too.

Beats includes four sizes of silicone ear tips, so most people will be able to get a good seal. However, the tip material is rather thin, so it tends to crinkle in the ear canal when you first put in the earbuds or adjust them. These also aren’t the most isolating of the earbuds we’ve tested, so you should keep an eye on the volume level when commuting.

One downside of the Powerbeats Pro is the large charging case, which is definitely not pocket-size unless you’re partial to cargo pants. However, the Powerbeats Pro earbuds have a claimed nine-hour listening time and six-hour call time, so unlike with other true wireless earbuds, you may not need to keep the case with you all day long. In our wireless earbud review testing, at 50% volume level, our pair lasted well beyond the nine-hour mark, finally dying at two minutes shy of 12 hours. Of course, depending on your preferred volume level, your results may vary. Nine hours is pretty impressive compared with the results from most of the true wireless earbuds currently available, but with some of the newer Bluetooth chipsets slowly making their way to earbuds, we expect to see this longer battery life become more common in the near future.

Overall, the Powerbeats Pro earbuds represent a solid choice, but a set usually costs about $50 more than a pair of Jabra Elite 75t or the standard Apple AirPods. Although we believe that the upgrade in performance over the AirPods (or AirPods Pro) makes this a far better choice for hardcore Apple (or, let’s face it, Beats) enthusiasts, for everyone else we can’t quite justify the price enough to make this set our overall top pick.

Long-term test notes: Beats Powerbeats Pro

A Wirecutter reader alerted us to a small group of people who state that they experienced an allergic-type reaction to their Powerbeats Pro after several months of use. As of now, this still seems like a relatively uncommon occurrence. Should you encounter this issue, first eliminate the possibility that soiled earbuds are the cause. Clean your Powerbeats Pro to remove sweat and bacteria buildup. If that doesn’t resolve your irritation, reach out to Apple Support for assistance.

Best budget wireless earbuds under $100: EarFun Free 2

Our pick for best wireless earbuds on a budget, the EarFun Free 2.

For those who covet the completely wire-free design but don’t have a large budget, the EarFun Free 2 earbuds provide an experience that is on a par with—and occasionally better than—true wireless earbuds in the $90 to $100 range. Though the Free 2’s performance doesn’t rival that of our other picks, our test panel was impressed with both the sound quality and the number of premium features this pair offers while still selling for around 50 bucks. (If you aren’t interested specifically in true wireless earbuds or want to spend even less, pop over to our guide to the best earbuds under $50, where you’ll find more recommendations for neckband-style and wired earbuds that offer surprisingly good sound for the money.)

Many budget-priced true wireless earbuds offer a limited number of controls on the earbuds themselves, but the EarFun Free 2 has a full control suite, including play/pause, volume control, track forward/reverse, call answer/end, and digital-assistant activation. Though our team generally prefers physical buttons over touch-based controls, the large touch-surface area on these earbuds is more forgiving than other similar systems we’ve tested. It’s still not as foolproof as earbuds that have mechanical buttons to press, but because we didn’t have frequent misfires, we forgave this minor drawback.

In terms of sound quality for the price, EarFun did an excellent job in tuning the Free 2’s mid and low frequencies. Bass notes have actual pitches rather than thumps, and the attack and decay of kick-drum hits are clear and defined. The Free 2 provides more detail in the high frequencies than many similarly priced earbuds—but there is a big spike in the range of “s” and “t” sounds or cymbal crashes, which can be fatiguing to listen to, especially at louder volumes. Sensitive folks may find this spike off-putting and prefer the more balanced sound of the Elite 75t and Powerbeats. And unlike the Elite 75t, which offers the ability to adjust the sound in the Jabra app, the Free 2 has one sound profile—if you don’t like it, there is nothing you can do, aside from altering the equalizer in your music app, which won’t help when listening to streaming video or over phone calls.

Three tip sizes are included, and all of our panelists were able to get a secure fit. But the earbuds are a bit chunkier than the Jabra Elite 75t earbuds—the shape is contoured in a way that should make the Free 2 comfortable for most people, but someone with very small ears and ear canals may have a little more trouble.

The EarFun Free 2 wireless earbuds, shown next to their charging case.

The Free 2’s charging case is relatively small and should fit in a jeans pocket. It is compatible with Qi wireless chargers and has a quick-charge feature that will supply two hours of listening time after just 10 minutes in the case. Once fully charged, the earbuds will play music for around seven hours, though this can vary depending on how many phone calls you make and the volume at which you generally listen. If you happen to leave the earbuds out of the case, a 10-minute auto-shutoff will prevent you from draining your battery once your audio device disconnects.

We were very impressed with the microphone quality for phone and video calls, but this pair isn’t wind-noise resistant. A solid gust will lead to a buffeting sound, so you’ll want to duck inside to take a call on a blustery day.

With a higher dust/water resistance rating of IPX7, the EarFun Free 2 can definitely handle rain. IPX7 means the device can be dropped in a meter of water for 30 minutes with no adverse effects. The rating only applies to clear water, so be sure to rinse any saltwater, sweat, or dust off of the Free 2 after exposure and allow the earbuds to dry thoroughly before placing them back in a case. Should anything go wrong, EarFun covers the Free 2 with an 18-month warranty.

Security and privacy

Wirecutter takes security and privacy issues seriously and investigates, as much as possible, how the companies we recommend deal with customer data. Since a growing number of wireless Bluetooth headphones require the use of an app for setup and (sometimes) daily operation, we reached out to the companies that produce our top picks and asked them to provide information that we think is of primary concern for any potential buyer. Here’s what we learned:

How our picks compare

What user data does the app collect?

  • Jabra: Information you provide to create an (optional) public account, such as name, email, or postal code. Additional data collected includes:
    • Device information, such as mobile device ID (including brand and operating system), IP address, or Bluetooth MAC address.
    • Log information: anonymized data that tracks usage, such as where the user taps within the app and how long the headphones are connected (currently shared with Flurry Analytics).
    • Location (optional): may include information from nearby Wi-Fi access points or cell towers.
  • Beats: Although there is no app, if you associate the Beats to your iCloud account, Apple collects diagnostics and usage data if the user has opted in. (See Apple’s support page on this topic for more information.)
  • EarFun: No app.

What permissions does the app ask for?

  • Jabra: Bluetooth, push notifications, location, and warranty registration.
  • Beats: Although there is no app, if you associate the Beats to your iCloud account, Apple collects diagnostics and usage data if the user has opted in. (See Apple’s support page on this topic for more information.)

Are you required to create an account?

  • Jabra: No. If you wish to register the headphones, you can do so via the website without tying the information to your device.
  • Beats: No, provided you pair manually via the Bluetooth menu and not the instant-pairing method.

Can the headphones be used without the app, and what do you lose by doing so?

  • Jabra: Yes. You lose EQ adjustment, button customization, hear-through level adjustment, Find My Jabra (lost-earbud locator), and access to white noise soundscapes.
  • Beats: Although there is no app for Beats, you have the option to associate your Beats with your iCloud account for instant pairing to other devices also signed in to your iCloud account.

Is data collected in the app shared with third parties for marketing purposes?

  • Jabra: No.
  • Beats: Apple does not sell personal information, and personal information will never be shared with third parties for their marketing purposes. Information is shared with third parties only if you request it to be, such as by purchasing an app and authorizing access. (Read more about Apple’s privacy practices.)

Are you able to opt out of sharing some or all of your data, and if so, how?

Other good wireless Bluetooth earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM4: We like a lot of things about this $280 pair of true wireless earbuds. The beam-forming microphones made our voices sound perfectly clear over phone calls, and the wind-noise reduction software performed better than on the majority of other earbuds we’ve tried. With some minor tweaks in the EQ, the sound quality is excellent, with detailed highs and deep bass that isn’t blurry or muddy—a true delight. (Our testers really didn’t like the effects of Sony’s proprietary DSEE algorithm when enabled, so we’d recommend turning it off.) The Qi-charging capability is a nice bonus, and the eight-hour battery life (with active noise cancellation enabled) is a solid listening time for true wireless earbuds. The active noise cancelling is effective enough to be useful on a plane, though not the best we’ve tested, and the earbuds have superlative noise isolation, which means that they’ll block distracting high-pitched sounds like voices, baby cries, and dog barks better than the competition. The speak-to-activate awareness mode is incredibly helpful for office workers or parents who need to have brief conversations and don’t have a free hand to tap a button. What kept the Sony from being an upgrade pick are the limited controls, the large earbud size that will be a tight fit for small ears, and the lack of XL ear tips that can cause seal problems for very large ears. And although there are a lot of nifty-sounding features packed into the Sony app, we found the app cumbersome to navigate, and most of the options—like the automatic location-based listening mode adjustment—were wonky in use. But if these issues don’t affect you and you don’t mind the price tag, the WF-1000XM4 is an excellent pair of earbuds that can be worth the investment.

KEF Mu3: If sound quality is your top priority, the Mu3 is one of the best-sounding pairs of true wireless earbuds we’ve ever tested. Clear highs, deep (but not overpowering) bass notes, and a surprisingly large soundstage for tiny earbuds. The fit is comfortable for all but the most diminutive ears, with small, smooth earbuds that fit securely. The single-button controls are intuitive to use, but there’s no track-reverse control. And the active noise cancellation is just middle-of-the-road.

1More Dual Driver ANC Pro: If you want the best noise cancelling we’ve ever measured, you’ll want to check out these collar-style Bluetooth earbuds, which have a flexible band connecting them. They cancel an impressive amount of noise and have enough battery life to last through a long flight and beyond. These earbuds also function corded—with the active noise cancellation (ANC) on or off—for those trips when you want to use an in-flight entertainment system. While they aren't as convenient as our true wireless picks, those who want the best noise cancelling we’ve ever measured should give the ANC Pro serious consideration.

1More True Wireless ANC: If you want true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation, this pair is worth considering. Unlike many of the true wireless ANC options available, this 1More pair offers decent reduction in the airplane band—enough to be useful on a plane or the subway. The moderate earbud size and inclusion of six sets of silicone tips (plus three sets of wings) help ensure a secure fit for a variety of ear sizes and shapes. The sound quality—which is THX certified as of September 2020—is on the sibilant side, but folks who prefer an extra boost in the consonant range may not mind this too much. Read more about them in our noise-cancelling headphones guide.

1More Stylish True Wireless: Those who have smaller ear canals or difficulty keeping earbuds in place will find a solid choice here. The multiple wing and tip options combined with a lightweight chassis make the Stylish True Wireless more comfortable to wear long term than similarly priced competitors. At six and a half hours, the battery life is solid, too. In our tests, the sound leaned toward being bass-heavy and blurry on male vocals; if not for that, we may have named this pair as a pick.

Beats Flex: If you’re looking for the Beats and Apple pairing experience for a lot less money than the Powerbeats or AirPods, you’ll be pleased with this affordable, neckband-style pair of earbuds. The sound is quite good: The bass is forward (but not blurry or blobby), the fit is comfortable, and the controls are easy to use. We like the 12-hour battery life and the auto-pause function when the earbuds are joined around your neck via magnet. But we wish the Flex earbuds were water resistant and came with optional wings to hold them in place more securely for a wider range of ear shapes.

Master & Dynamic MW08: If you’re seeking a premium earbud design, these have stellar build quality, with an earbud chassis made from ceramic and stainless steel and a small but weighty metal charging case. The noise cancellation on the “max” setting is quite effective on low-frequency sounds, the battery life of 12 hours per charge is impressive, and the fast-charge feature powers both the earbuds and case to 50% capacity after just 15 minutes plugged in. The physical buttons are easy to understand and activate, though folks with large fingers may struggle a bit with the teeny volume toggle. The IPX5 water-resistance rating is sufficient protection should you get caught in the rain or work up a light sweat, and the dual ambient awareness modes are helpful for conversations or navigating a public space. The sound quality is excellent, but because these are $300 earbuds, we feel the need to quibble. The over-emphasis on both bass notes and high frequencies is fun but doesn’t feel fully authentic. The soundstage is less three-dimensional than we’d prefer in a premium product. While the microphones handle calls clearly and reduce background noise and wind noise well, we’d like some side-tone to avoid the urge to speak too loudly. But if money isn’t a concern and you like the luxurious look, you’ll be happy with the MW08.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: For Samsung devotees who want to access all the features their Galaxy device has to offer, these represent the best option available. Seamless connecting means that once you pair the Pro to a device that is signed in with your Samsung account, all other Samsung devices to which you’re signed in will automatically be paired. The microphone quality is impressively clear, even in wind. The sound quality, though a touch on the bass-heavy side, is enjoyable. The ambient awareness mode can be triggered by speaking, but if you stop talking to listen to your conversation partner, it shuts off after 15 seconds, which is mildly annoying. The controls are limited: play/pause, tracks, and answering calls are always accessible, but you must choose between ANC on/off, Bixby, Spotify, or volume. Both the case and earbuds are very small, but the included tips run on the smaller size, so people with large ear canals may have to buy third-party tips to get a seal. The noise cancellation is minimal, and the earbuds themselves don’t isolate very well.

What to look forward to

Samsung announced the Galaxy Buds2 true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation, background-noise-reducing microphones for calls, and compatibility with Samsung’s Auto Switch feature. They are IPX2 rated, have five hours of playtime per full charge with an additional 15 hours in the case, and come in four colors: white, black, lavender, and green. Available for preorder as of August 11, the Galaxy Buds2 will cost $150 when they arrive in retail stores beginning August 27. We have a pair and will be checking in here with the results of our testing.

Jabra has announced three new true wireless earbuds. The first pair arrives September 1. The Elite 3 is Jabra’s more affordable option, with four microphones for clear calls, seven hours of battery life (21 more in the case), hear-through capabilities, and a dust/water resistance rating of IP55. The Elite 3 will be available in lilac, beige, dark gray, and navy and will cost $80.

The second two models, the Elite 7 Pro and Elite 7 Active, seem to be the most akin to our current picks, the Jabra Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t. Both models feature adjustable active noise cancellation, a hear-through mode, nine hours of battery life with ANC activated (26 additional hours in the case), quick-charge capabilities that provide 1.2 hours of listening time after only five minutes in the case, and a dust/water resistance rating of IP57. Both models have Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant (when connected to an Android phone) built in.

The Elite 7 Active (which, like the Elite Active 75t, is geared toward gym use) additionally features what Jabra calls “shake grip” coating. Jabra says this will keep the Elite 7 Active in your ears more securely during sweaty, high-impact moves. The Elite 7 also has mesh covering the microphone to help reduce wind noise when jogging or training outdoors.

The Elite 7 Pro (which is more similar to the Jabra Elite 75t or 85t and geared toward office use) differentiates itself by call clarity. This pair will use bone conduction in conjunction with microphones and software to reduce background noise and increase vocal clarity on your calls. The 7 Pro also has a case with Qi wireless charging.

The Elite 7 Active will cost $180, and the Elite 7 Pro will cost $200. Both models are due out October 1. We plan to test all three sets and update you as soon as we have thoroughly evaluated them.

The competition

We’ve tested more than 300 sets of Bluetooth earbuds to date, so we can’t list every competitor here—but we do keep notes. If you’re curious about a specific pair, feel free to reach out to our team with questions.

1More’s Colorbuds are small and should fit most ears, and we liked the tiny charging case. However, the only controls are play/pause and call answer/end. The sound profile is just okay, as the high frequencies have a sibilant edge that could use some lower-end oomph to balance them out.

1More’s Pistonbuds have very simple and limited controls (only play/pause and digital assistant activation) so everything else will need to be controlled by your device. The sound quality is marred by bass notes that are very blurry, causing everything else to sound muffled and dull. Even vocals sound like they were recorded too close to the microphone. In addition, the earbuds themselves don’t seem to power down without the case, which could be an issue since this pair only has three and a half hours of life per charge. The microphones sound clear enough but can’t handle wind noise.

The biggest benefit of the second-generation Amazon Echo Buds is the ability to access Alexa hands-free. If you are a diehard Amazon fan, there are no other earbuds offering this feature. However, the Echo-specific benefits like Echo device drop-ins, voice product ordering, Amazon Prime Music, and so forth are accessible via the Alexa app in your phone, regardless of what earbuds you choose—and the voice-activated features require you to leave the Alexa app open on your phone at all times. The noise cancellation is average, and despite the stabilizing wings and four pairs of tips included, the buds themselves might be a little large for smaller ears. The controls are limited, and the five-hour battery life is middling.

The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 has stems that, depending on your face shape, can press against your cheek. The sound quality wasn’t our favorite, either, as the high frequencies had an unnatural feel that caused snare hits to sound like a click rather than a rounded snap. The Liberty Air 2 Pro earbuds are fantastic if they fit you properly, but the stem and short sound-tube design make it impossible to push the earbuds deeper into your ear for stability or to get an improved seal. Otherwise, the Air 2 Pro offers up a lot of bells and whistles for a competitive price: a hearing test that adjusts the EQ, an audio-based fit test, multiple noise-cancelling modes, and a background-noise-reducing microphone for calls. The sound quality is quite good and can be adjusted manually. The noise cancellation is quite impressive in the 800- to 100-Hz range, but it isn’t great on low-pitched sounds, which may make those who are sensitive to eardrum suck want to avoid the strongest ANC setting.

Anker’s Soundcore Life P3 is a mix of pros and cons. This pair sounds quite good for true wireless earbuds under $80. Out of the box, the highs are sibilant, but that can be adjusted using the equalizer tool in the Soundcore app. But the limited controls are a bummer. The microphones handle wind noise relatively well, but your voice will sound compressed to your conversation partner. The fit is comfortable, but these airbuds don’t feel as secure as they might with optional stabilizing wings.

The Apple AirPods Pro are a major step up over the basic AirPods, in both sound quality and versatility, but they may not be worth the price unless you’re a hardcore Apple fan. The sound is equaled by less-expensive options like the Jabra Elite 75t. The active noise cancellation is decent, but it may cause “eardrum suck” for some people (you can read more about this phenomenon in our best noise-cancelling headphones guide). The battery life of four and a half hours is subpar, and while these are water resistant, the design is far less secure for high-impact activities than that of the Powerbeats Pro and less durable than that of the IP55-rated Jabra Elite 75t. While we like that Apple did away with the touch-based controls, the squeeze controls are fiddly (we often play/paused when we wanted to skip tracks) and still lack volume controls. In 2020, a good number of people experienced rattling in one or both earbuds. From what we’ve seen, Apple responded to these issues with prompt replacements of the earbuds themselves, but it’s still a bummer. (We contacted Apple but did not receive a response as to what caused the problem, so we’d urge caution purchasing these used.) In the end, we don’t dislike the AirPods Pro; we just like using other earbuds a little better.

The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TW true wireless earbuds do a decent job of reducing noise, but the larger chassis and lack of stabilizing wings may cause a fit challenge for folks with petite ears. We couldn’t suss out how to activate a digital assistant, and there was no mention of it in the manual. The forward bass and spiked treble make drums sound unnatural, and we just didn’t feel the performance matched the more premium cost.

The Beats Powerbeats (2020 release) earbuds offer a solid option for Apple or Beats fans who aren’t into the true wireless style. It’s easy to get a comfortable fit because the over-the-ear hooks are flexible and hold their shape, plus Beats includes four sizes of silicone tips. The cable connecting the earbuds is remarkably good at avoiding noise transfer, and this pair offers 15 hours of battery life per full charge. The sound is a little bass-heavy for our taste, and on bass-intense hip-hop, male vocals can sound a little recessed, though not completely lost. They’re IPX4-rated, but we’d still exercise caution using them at the gym if you’re someone who sweats profusely. We liked them overall, but for a little more money, you could get the feature-packed Jabra Elite 75t instead.

With a diminutive size that will fit most ears well, the Beats Studio Buds could still feel less stable for people with very small ear canals. While the IPX4 water-resistance rating means the Studio Buds can travel with you to the gym, they might not stay put for very dynamic workouts. The sonic profile is the characteristic hyped Beats sound (with extra emphasis in the highs and lows that can make consonants and basslines pop a touch more forcefully in the mix), which many people will find exciting, especially for hip-hop and electronic pop. The Studio Buds offer solid active noise cancellation, and the control buttons are easy to find by feel and press—but they lack volume control. The Studio Buds pair with Android and Apple mobile devices with ease and can support the assistants for both mobile operating systems—but there is no “always listening” Siri. The microphone quality is acceptable but lacks some detail and wind resistance. Though the Studio Buds support Apple Music’s Dolby Spatial Audio, they do not offer head-tracking features. If you’re looking for the Beats true wireless experience for less money than the Powerbeats Pro, the Studio Buds should make you happy.

Belkin’s Soundform True Wireless earbuds may be affordable and decent, but remarkable they are not. On top of this, they may run a bit large for very small ears, and learning the tap-based controls takes some practice—but you do get volume, track, call, and digital-assistant controls. Call quality was passable, and the sound was a bit bass heavy, so male vocals sounded somewhat recessed but not muffled.

We like the fit, the durable IP57 rating, and the easy-to-use controls on Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay E8 Sport. The sound quality is somewhat over-boosted in the bass and highs, which means cymbal and snare hits can become fatiguing for sensitive listeners and the bass will seem louder than usual. The hear-through feature sounds sibilant and distractingly unnatural, so it wasn’t something we’d leave on for situational awareness—but for a brief conversation, it’s fine. Over phone calls, voices can sound a bit tinny, and the mic picks up sounds around you. Overall the flaws aren’t massive, but for $350 we expect better.

Bowers & Wilkins’s PI5 and PI7 true wireless noise-cancelling earbuds are similar. Both look elegant and are made of high-quality materials. Both feature aptX, IP56 dust/water resistance, and multiple microphones for clearer phone calls—the PI5 has two in each earbud, the PI7 has three in each. And both feature the rich, bass-forward sound that B&W is known for. The PI7 has adaptive noise cancellation and a case that doubles as a Bluetooth transmitter—but the audio quality via the case transmitter was poor. The onboard controls are touch-based, have the tendency to misfire, and lack volume capabilities. In order to use the hear-through feature, you need to access the app on your phone, which is more cumbersome than taking an earbud out. We were disappointed that such promising earbuds could be ultimately derailed by poor user-interface choices. Our panelist Brent Butterworth agrees.

With the Bowers & Wilkins PI3, the high frequencies can be icy and fatiguing, and the lows are loud and bloated. With so much competition, the PI3 just didn’t make the cut.

Cambridge Audio’s Melomania 1+ is a little dull out of the box but can sound quite good with a little EQ noodling in the app. However, the bullet-shaped earbuds create a difficult fit that will be a dealbreaker for small to medium ears. The buttons are difficult and somewhat uncomfortable to depress, and the microphones make your voice sound distant to callers.

The Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch earbuds come with three wing sizes and six sets of tips, a combination that offers folks who have struggled with the Jabra 75t a better shot at a more secure fit. The sound quality out of the box wasn’t our favorite, but we were able to adjust the EQ in the app to make them sound very good. The claimed battery life of eight to nine hours per charge is also impressive, and the charging case is small enough to fit in your pocket. But the touch controls are easy to inadvertently activate when you adjust the earbuds in your ears, and the microphone is rather quiet, so you may find yourself speaking loudly when answering phone calls. Also, though these are similar in price to the Jabra 75t, they lack noise cancellation and aren’t as dust resistant.

The Cleer Ally has no track or volume controls. This pair produced blurry and smeared lows that were a little too soft in the mix, so it lost some of the oomph in basslines. Plus, people with larger ear canals may have trouble getting the tips to fit properly.

The Cleer Ally Plus has solid active noise cancellation and an impressive 10-hour battery life, but the design and fit make these difficult to keep in place for larger and smaller ear canals. The sound quality is decent, but not perfect—a little bloated in the bass, with a somewhat lispy aspect to consonants. The Plus also lacks track controls.

The Cleer Ally Plus II true wireless earbuds feature adaptive ANC that is very effective. However, the sound quality isn’t the most appealing: Low notes are too forward and bloated, while high pitches have a sizzling quality to them. Unfortunately, the app-based EQ doesn’t help adjust the sound in the necessary ways. We also wish the onboard controls weren’t so limited. The 11-hour battery life per charge is impressive, but the solid battery life and good noise-reduction performance aren’t enough to make the Plus II a top pick.

DuoLink’s Switchbuds feature large, rotatable dials for controls, which is a nice idea for people with dexterity concerns. However, this concept has not been executed well, so turning the dials also turns the chassis and wrenches the earbuds loose from your ears. In our tests, the large circumference of the earbud design meant that none of our panelists could get a good seal with the included tips, so we lost bass notes. Adding to this pair’s woes, the tube-style charging case is overly large and doesn’t actually serve to protect the earbuds.

EarFun’s Air earbuds have small stems similar to the AirPods Pro design. Our panelists who generally choose large ear tips had trouble getting a seal with this pair because the short stem prevented the earbuds from seating deeply enough into the ear canal. When the pieces were properly fitted, the sound quality was quite good for the price, with just a little too much energy in the consonant and cymbal range of high frequencies, which could make high-hat hits sound tinny. We also missed having a track-reverse control.

If the most important feature of your budget earbuds is that they are fantastic for phone calls, the EarFun Free Pro might be your match. The microphones reduce background noise very well. We tested this with 85-dB airplane noise and were very impressed by how much hum the Free Pro was able to cut out, though the mics weren’t as effective with a gusty wind. These true wireless earbuds have stabilizing wings that help to keep them in place, each earbud works independently, and the charging case is easy to fit in a jeans pocket. The battery life ranges from five to seven hours per charge, and the IPX5 rating means you can get caught in a drizzle and not worry about your earbuds getting ruined. On the downside, the active noise cancelling is only average, bass notes sound formless and too loud, and the touch controls can be fussy.

Earin’s A-3 earbuds are unique-looking true wireless earbuds. Imagine if someone cut the stem off of the AirPods—what’s left is the A-3. The issue with this design is diminished bass response. Though the A-3 fares better than many unsealed earbuds, fans of hip-hop, rock, and pop will find their tunes feel unsupported. The minimal controls only address play/pause and calls, so you’ll need to keep your music device nearby for everything else. Though we appreciate that the A-3’s earbuds aren’t assigned a permanent left and right (either bud can be placed in either ear), we wish that these had a higher IP water-resistance rating than 2 (the A-3 is IP52, the 5 relating to dust, and 2 moisture), as the tiny design could easily be dropped.

Edifier’s NeoBuds Pro started as an Indegogo campaign, but can be bought via retail as of August 2021. We liked the large amount of included color-coded tips that make getting a proper fit a breeze. The case has a Kitt from Knight Rider vibe, with a ping-ponging red light. The noise cancellation is excellent: Though this pair doesn’t reduce noise quite as well as our top ANC picks, it does a really good job on sustained, low-pitched sounds. But music playback has a bit too much bass, and the bump extends too far into the upper lows, so there is a reverby quality that can’t be EQed out in the app. The microphones are clear on calls, but in windy conditions the signal processing makes your voice bizarrely bassy. You won’t hear much wind, but your caller may ask why you suddenly sound so weird. And we were sad to see that you can choose only two controls per earbud, which really limits adjustments.

Edifier’s TWS NB2 Pro earbuds are a decent choice if you want good active noise cancellation but don’t care about earbud-based controls. Each earbud can only have two assigned controls (so play/pause or track forward or ANC mode), and this pair doesn’t power down without the case. However, we did appreciate that you can adjust the touch-control sensitivity in the Edifier app. The sound is boosted in the low frequencies in a way that can muddy male voices, but has lovely mids and highs on less bass-heavy songs. Our voices sounded clear over phone calls, though the right earbud picked up wind noise in blustery conditions. Also the textured coating means that the stem that extends from the earbuds can transfer some noise if you have long or thick hair that brushes against them, which can be especially pronounced in hear-through mode.

Edifier’s TWS 330NB has active noise cancellation, but only four hours of battery life with ANC enabled. (Listening time extends to five hours when ANC is deactivated.) We were impressed with the number of features included on this pair for the price, but the performance was less exciting. The hear-through mode sounded muffled, the controls are limited, and these lack the ability to power down without the case. Noise cancellation is effective in a specific low-frequency range, but ends up sounding unnatural since the isolation on higher-pitched sounds isn’t as effective. That said, both the audio and microphone quality are quite good, similar to the more expensive TWS NB2 Pro.

The Fiil CC2 was clearly designed for looks and not performance. There are no included wings or tips to stabilize the fit, so our panel felt as though we were at risk of a bud falling out if we moved beyond a brisk walk. The lid-less case offers no protection from dust or water, so we could easily see it getting gunked up with lint in a bag pocket. The unsealed design means the sound severely lacks bass. The Amazon listing says these are noise cancelling, but we observed nothing of the sort. The microphone quality is fine as long as there is no wind—usable, but nothing impressive. In light gusts, though, the mics become unusable. The sleek, modern-looking design is pretty cool, though.

Google’s Pixel Buds 2 earbuds are to Pixels what AirPods are to iPhones. If you’re an operating-system purist, it is nice to have the easy setup with your Pixel phone—but beyond that, these earbuds are middling. The supplied tips are rather small, and two of our panelists needed to use third-party tips to get a seal. The sound quality is balanced once you get the proper fit, but the “vented” design means that there isn’t much isolation from noise around you. The touch controls are easy to use, but we found ourselves inadvertently triggering music when trying to get them initially positioned in the ear.

TOP 5: Best TRUE Wireless Earbuds 2021

Best wireless earbuds in Australia for 2021: budget and premium in-ears

As Bluetooth becomes an increasingly viable way to transmit audio from devices that continue to lose their headphone port, the market has exploded with awesome options. 

These compact alternatives to over-ear headphones utilise a variety of methods to ditch the headband and severely reduce the overall size and weight of your audio companion. This includes the regular variety with a cable connecting each earpiece, the neckband headset which uses a stiff band to sit around your collar, and the increasingly popular true wireless buds which require not physical connection between each earbud whatsoever. 

This liberating design is not only great to cut down on the kit you lug around with you, but is ideal for those wanting to take music with them on a job or a workout session. Earbuds dedicated to this kind of user will often come with some kind of sweat resistance as well, and a generally more rugged design.

One of the latest trends to take off – largely thanks to industry leaders, Sony – is the notion of noise-cancelling, true wireless earbuds. These aren't so much designed for athletes but are better suited for those that regularly commute, make calls, and want comfortable listening in a tiny package.

As you can see, there's plenty on offer to choose from, so we've gone through and selected the cream of the crop across all these categories, no matter your budget.

1. Sony WF-1000XM4

The best wireless earbuds you can buy right now.


OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 8 hours (24 hours with charging case)

Finishes: 2

Reasons to buy

+Clear, detailed bass performance+Wonderful sense of musicality+Comfortable+Class-leading battery life

Reasons to avoid

-Missing Sony’s Multipoint feature-Lacking ear tip choices-No aptX HD

Somehow, Sony's managed to build on the huge success of the WF-1000XM3 (below) and produce a pair of wireless earbuds that take everything up a notch.

The WF-1000XM4 produce one of the most dynamic, detailed and balanced performances we've heard from a pair of Bluetooth buds. Bass notes sound tight and textured, while vocals ooze refinement and sophistication. Their musical delivery keeps you coming back for more, and also makes you thankful for the eight hours of battery life, which is class-leading in this field.

The Sonys are comfortable to wear too. The new-look earpieces include touch-sensitive controls and a new ear tip design which helps with noise isolation. Combine this with the excellent noise cancelling provided by Sony's Integrated Processor V1 and you've got a pair of headphones that effectively block out the hustle and bustle.

IPX4 water resistance comes as part of the WF-1000XM4 package, as does Sony's clever Headphones Connect app for iOS and Android and clever features such as Quick Attention and Speak-To-Chat which both allow you to have a conversation without removing the earbuds. You're looking at a new benchmark for wireless earbuds.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM4

2. Sony WF-1000XM3

2019 What Hi-Fi? Award-winners, and some of the best true wireless earbuds you can buy.


Connector: N/A

Cable length: N/A

In-line remote and mic: N/A

OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 6 hours (24 hours with charging case)

Reasons to buy

+Musical sound+Good noise-cancelling+Excellent battery life+Snug fit

Reasons to avoid

-No aptX HD support (yet)

Sony's second ever pair of true wireless earbuds, the WF-1000XM3s offer solid and stable Bluetooth connectivity and stellar noise-cancelling, which is a clear cut above the competition.

The fit is excellent, as is battery life and the all-important sound quality. They come with more tip sizes than most rivals, feature intuitive touch controls and sound wonderfully musical. Despite their tiny proportions, there's a good sense of scale. Instruments sound natural and authentic, with plenty of detail and composure to the performance. 

You get six hours of playback as standard, while the case has enough power for an extra three charges, giving a total of 24 hours when using Bluetooth and noise-cancelling. Plus there's a fast-charge function: 10 minutes of charging breathes 90 minutes of life into these buds.

Quite simply, these 2019 What Hi-Fi? Award winners are the second-best wireless earbuds we've ever tested, only trumped by their successful successors.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3

3. Panasonic RZ-S500W

A hugely talented and affordable pair of wireless earbuds


Bluetooth version: 5.0

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 6.5 hours (+ 13 hours from charging case)

Charging: USB-C

Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Expansive detailed presentation+Excellent noise cancelling+Superb touch controls

Reasons to avoid

-Fit could be an issue for some

Panasonic isn't a brand that immediately springs to mind when you think of the best wireless earbuds. But perhaps it should be. The RZ-S500W are the company's first foray into the market and they're sensational performers for the money.

Specs are thorough, with noise-cancelling tech, an Ambient Mode, twin mics for voice calls, and battery life that totals 19.5 hours (6.5hrs from the buds and 13hrs from the charging case). A 15-minute USB-C quick-charge can deliver 70 minutes of playback. The touch controls on each bud are responsive and intuitive, allowing you to control your music and switch between noise-cancelling modes with zero fuss. 

You also get five sizes of ear tips to help with fit. We found this a little hit and miss, so we'd definitely experiment and consider mixing the sizes if it means getting a more secure fit.

Both noise-cancelling and sound quality are excellent. There's plenty of agility through the low end and loads of texture across the frequencies. Music sounds clear and there's a great deal of refinement on show, which is to be welcomed at this price level. To sum up, these Panasonic wireless earbuds are superb for the money.

Read the full review: Panasonic RZ-S500W

4. Sennheiser CX 400BT

Looking for a bargain pair of wireless earbuds? Look no further.


Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: No

Battery life: 7hr (+13hr from case)

Charging: USB-C

Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Lively, detailed sound+Lightweight fit+Excellent value for money

Reasons to avoid

-Battery life below the best-Not waterproof

Although the CX 400BT don't have the best battery life in the class and lack the weather-proofing or sweat-resistance of many of their rivals, the drawbacks of Sennheiser's latest earbuds ends there.

At an incredibly affordable price point, these unassuming performers offer up clear, lively and detailed sound, belying both their price and compact, lightweight form factor. You'll also be treated to the stable connectivity of Bluetooth 5.1, and EQ adjustment via the companion app to dial in your desired fine-tuned settings.

Simple and intuitive touch controls round out the package, making it a breeze to skip tracks, change the volume, answer calls or access your device's voice assistant.

The CX 400BT are a great option for anyone in the market for an affordable, yet extremely musical pair of wireless earbuds. For those seeking true wireless in-ears at a budget price that aren't too fussed about an IP rating, there are few products on the market that beat out these buds.

Read the full review: Sennheiser CX 400BT

5. Google Pixel Buds A-Series

The new Pixel Buds wireless earbuds get an A-grade from us.


Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: No

Battery life: 5hr (+20hr from case)

Charging: USB-C

Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Well-rounded, clean sound+Comfortable+Reliable connection

Reasons to avoid

-No volume touch control on buds-No noise-cancelling

Google's latest wireless earbuds are packed with features and come in at a very low price which is an attractive package in itself. But how do they sound?

They're light and comfortable, and while they don't offer noise cancelling, they do a good job of isolating you and are aided by rubber fins that keep them secure. They are vented, though, so some background noise inevitably creeps in, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Your colour choices are either white or 'Dark Olive'.

Battery life is okay at around five hours, plus another 20 or so from the carry case in four charges. The Pixel Buds A-Series pair with your device very easily indeed, too, especially if you're using an Android smartphone or tablet that boasts the Fast Pair feature. IPX4 water resistance means they should be ok for exercise too.

These wireless earbuds put in an admirable performance come music time, with a clean, balanced sound that doesn't lean too far into any part of the sonic spectrum. This is a great pair of wireless earbuds at a great price.

Read the full Google Pixel Buds A-Series review

6. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Pricey, but arguably the most refined-sounding wireless earbuds we’ve tested.


Connector: N/A

Cable length: N/A

In-line remote and mic: N/A

OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 7 hours (28 hours with charging case)

Reasons to buy

+Refined, mature sound+Lightweight and comfortable+Nice to use

Reasons to avoid

-Price-Timing can be bettered-aptX support but not HD

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2s bring a raft of improvements compared to their predecessors (which are mentioned further down this list) and one of the most refined sounds we've heard from a pair of wireless buds.

The design looks much the same as the original, but there has been a slight aesthetic tweak. The earpieces are slightly slimmer, so they protrude less from your ears, and, more importantly, they're more comfortable to have in place for long listening sessions. One of the major changes is the introduction of noise-cancelling, which works extremely well and is pretty much on par with the Sony WF-1000XM3. They're nice to use too, with touch-sensitive pads on each earpiece which can be customised to control music playback and features.

Battery life is competitive too, with a single charge giving seven hours of playback and the charging case providing an additional three charges, bringing the total battery life at your disposal to 28 hours.

It's all positive and we haven't even touched on the sound quality, which is extremely refined and sophisticated for the money. Highs and lows are composed and controlled but dynamics aren't sacrificed. The Sennheisers present a detailed soundstage with impressive scale and authority. They're a little pricier than other wireless earbuds, but if your budget can stretch, your ears will be rewarded.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

7. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Fantastic wireless earbuds with some brilliant built-in tech.


Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 6hrs (18hrs with charging case)

Charging: USB-C

Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+Exciting, entertaining sound+Superb balance+Impressive noise-cancelling

Reasons to avoid

-No volume controls-Average battery life

Bose's first-ever pair of noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds are a huge success. The Bose feel lightweight enough for the average commute or exercise session (the QuietComfort are both sweat and weather-resistant) and they're great to live with. Battery life is a claimed six hours from a single charge, with the charging case supplying an extra two charges, making 18 hours in total – a decent reserve, but by no means class-leading. You can customise some features and controls, and adjust the excellent noise-cancellation, in Bose's handy companion app.

The sense of enthusiasm and excitement conveyed by the Bose buds is highly infectious. There’s power, poise and a fantastic sense of dynamism. Bass notes sound full-bodied, go deep and the QuietComfort Earbuds squeeze out lots of detail.

All in all, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are sensational all-rounders, capable of impressive musicality and topped off with excellent noise cancelling. These wireless earbuds are more than a match for any rival at this level, including the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, mentioned above.

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

8. Jaybird Vista

Among the best wireless earbuds you can buy, especially for running.


Connector: N/A

Cable length: N/A

In-line remote and mic: N/A

OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: No

Battery life: 6 hours (16 hours with charging case)

Reasons to buy

+Lively, entertaining sound+Fullsome bass+Excellent fit

Reasons to avoid

-Not the most detailed

Whether you consider yourself a serious athlete or just enjoy a weekend jog in the park, the Jaybird Vista wireless earbuds should be on your shortlist. They're true wireless, so it's an earbud for each ear and the fit is extremely secure (aided by tips with integrated fins). IPX7 water- and sweat-proofing means they'll withstand intense training sessions and the odd downpour, too.

Power up the clever Jaybird app and besides pairing you can also customise their sound for your ears and also customise the controls on each earbud. There's USB-C charging - a five minute 'super-charge' will give you one hour, while a full charge gives you six hours plus an additional 10 thanks to their charging case. 

All this is topped off with an exciting, entertaining sound and a big dollop of bass. What they lack in detail, they make up for in sheer enthusiasm. They might not sound as refined as some competition out of the box, but add some of your own EQ and the Vistas are a superb choice for your everyday listen and for workouts alike.

Read the full review: Jaybird Vista

9. JBL Reflect Flow

If you’re after sports earbuds, these are some of the best around


Connector: N/A

Cable length: N/A

In-line remote and mic: N/A

OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: No

Battery life: 10 hours (30 hours with charging case)

Reasons to buy

+Good detail+Strong bass depth+Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-Can be beaten for dynamics-Carrying case is a bit big

JBL is a heavy hitter when it comes to wireless sports earbuds – and with the Under Armour Flash as its predecessor, the JBL Reflect Flow is a value-packed entrant to the flourishing true wireless earbuds market.

The Reflect Flows are very good indeed, especially if you desire a bass-heavy sound for the gym without resorting to on-ear or over-ear headphones. You get 10 hours of battery in the buds plus an extra 20 hours from the case, and JBL promises a quick 10-minute charge will provide an hour's playback.

With the right tip and fin combination, they produce a stable fit that holds them securely in place when tackling all manner of athletic pursuits, while that extra helping of deep but accurate bass should see you over the finish line.

One notable feature is the ambient mode: press the left bud and the volume decreases, allowing you to hold a conversation without removing the buds. It's worth comparing these to the sporty five-star Jaybird Vistas (above) as they're similarly priced and featured.

Read the full review: JBL Reflect Flow

10. Sennheiser Momentum Free

A truly five-star pair of wireless earbuds.


Connector: N/A

Cable length: N/A

In-line remote and mic: Yes

OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: No

Battery life: 6 hours

Reasons to buy

+Impressive clarity+Powerful, musical performance+Excellent dynamics

Reasons to avoid

-Call quality could be better-Some top-end harshness

The Momentum Frees are essentially a streamlined version of the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless – the design has been pared back a bit, and the battery life dropped from 10 hours to six. 

Crucially, sound quality hasn't been compromised one bit – there's real weight and purpose here, coupled with bags of clarity and detail. Even with more compressed tracks, these earbuds refuse to get bogged down and still manage to carve out bass, mids and highs with expert precision. 

Design is simple and unfussy, with a single short length of cable running between the two earpieces. You can adjust the length via the attached slider, and opt to run the cable behind your neck or under your chin.

Said cable also plays host to an in-line mic and controls for music playback and volume. A long press on the top or bottom buttons skips track and a short one changes volume. And build quality is as solid as we've come to expect from Sennheiser. 

If you can put up with the slightly shorter battery life this is a great pair of wireless buds at a very tempting price.

Read the full review:Sennheiser Momentum Free

11. Bose SoundSport Wireless

A fine-sounding pair of wireless earbuds, ideal for gym-goers and audiophiles alike.


Connector: N/A

Cable length: N/A

In-line remote and mic: Yes

OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: No

Battery life: 6 hours

Reasons to buy

+Comfortable+Fun sound+Strong wireless performance

Reasons to avoid

-Less-than-stellar battery life

Comfortable, great-sounding, splashproof and weather-resistant for sweaty outdoor workouts... these wireless earbuds have it all. They're more versatile than most thanks to their wing tips to keep them in your ears, meaning you can head for a run and not worry about them falling out. 

Sound is superb, full of punchy, powerful bass that should get you running that bit faster. They're reliable too, with no issues with the wireless signal and easy-to-use controls. The neckband cable incorporates a remote housing part-way down, but the power pack appears to live in the earpieces, which may explain the modest six hours battery life.

On the upside, they're IPX4 rated, meaning they can’t be submerged in water but will handle sweat and splashes better than normal earphones. The addition of NFC tech means they're particularly easy to pair with Android devices.

If the rather average battery life isn't a deal-breaker, you'll like these buds – they're comfortable, sound great and enjoyable to use.

Read the full review:Bose SoundSport Wireless

12. Bose SoundSport Free

Bose's in-ears are top of the podium when it comes to sporty alternatives.


Connector: N/A

Cable length: N/A

In-line remote and mic: N/A

OS support: Android/iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: No

Battery life: 5 hours (15 hours with charging case)

Reasons to buy

+Weighty, full-bodied sound+Deep, powerful bass+Even tonal balance

Reasons to avoid

-Nothing of note

They might not sound quite as peachy as the true wireless earbuds at the top of the list, but these Bose's still come with plenty to recommend. They don't burrow into your ears, so are comfortable to wear for extended periods. 

Designed with sporty types in mind, the SoundSport Free in-ears are both sweat- and water-resistant, and have a suitably rugged feel to them. The earbud-mounted controls are very useful and save you taking your phone out when pounding the pavement. Talking of which, the earpieces are neatly held in place by Bose’s StayHear tips which feature little wings that rest against the inside of your ear for extra stability. 

Five hours of battery life should be enough for a workout, but the solid plastic charging carry case serves up an extra ten hours of power.

Despite all the sporty touches, the SoundSport Frees have more than enough sonic appeal to satisfy commuters. Sound is bold and balanced, with rich, weighty bass and crisp highs. These sporty, feature-packed buds sound great and tick all the boxes.

Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Free

13. Apple AirPods Pro

Apple's first noise-cancelling, wireless earbuds put up a solid display.


Connector: N/A

Cable length: N/A

In-line remote and mic: N/A

OS support: iOS

Bluetooth: Yes

Noise-cancelling: Yes

Battery life: 5 hours (19 hours with charging case)

Reasons to buy

+Comfortable fit+Impressive noise-cancelling+Balanced sound

Reasons to avoid

-Noise-cancelling impacts timing-Key rivals sound better

The AirPods Pros sit above the standard AirPods you'll find lower down this list. They're pricier, but you do get better sound quality, an improved level of comfort and the addition of Apple's own noise-cancelling technology, which is up there with the best at this money.

Unlike the standard AirPods, the Pros come with a choice of silicone tips. Once you've achieved a good seal, you'll enjoy some of most effective noise-cancelling we've ever experienced (Apple claims its adjusted 200 times per second for maximum effect). 

Each bud has a force sensor on the stem – squeeze it to activate Siri, answer calls, skip a track, etc. The only disappointment is that Siri is the only method for adjusting volume without reaching into your pocket for your phone. 

Battery life is a claimed five hours for the earphones with another 19 hours from the charging case. In a hurry? A five minute charge will give you another hour of listening.

The AirPods Pro earbuds are sweat- and water-resistant, albeit to a lesser degree than sporty rivals, and they don't sound as good as the Sony WF-1000XM3s. But if you're an iPhone user, you're going to want to give these superb wireless earbuds an audition. They're a joy to use.

Read the full review: Apple AirPods Pro


Earbuds mpg

The folks at Jabra scanned thousands of ears to come up with this sleek, comfy design, and it shows. WIRED reviews editor Adrienne So and I have very different-sized ears, and we both found the Elite 85T (9/10, WIRED Recommends) to be super comfortable and stable on our outdoor adventures. The sound quality, noise-canceling tech, and mic quality are excellent, and we also like that the headphones have physical buttons rather than sweat-stifled touch controls. 

The best part? They come with a two-year warranty, and Jabra often continues to sell old models for years, which means you'll have no problem replacing ear tips, the case, or even a bud as needed.

Our other fave: We love the $111 Beats Powerbeats earbuds (8/10, WIRED Recommends), which get 15 hours of battery life and lock over your ear. They sound amazing. On the downside (or the upside, depending on your point of view), they do have a neckband that connects the earbuds, and they don't come with a charging cradle.

TOP 5: Best TRUE Wireless Earbuds 2021

The best earbuds 2021 our top earphones and in-ear headphones for any budget

Finding the best earbuds to suit your needs and your budget can be difficult. There are many different types to choose from, including wired in-ear headphones, neckbud-style wireless earphones, and true wireless earbuds. In this guide, we’ll help you pick the right choice for you. 

If you hate wires and have a fairly healthy budget, we recommend cable-free true wireless earbuds, like the Sony WF-1000XM4 and the AirPods Pro – many of which now come with extra features, including noise-cancellation. 

Perhaps you value security and audio fidelity above all else. In that case, check out the wired earbuds we’ve selected. Or, opt for something that has the best of both worlds with a pair of the best wireless earbuds. These styles are able to connect to your phone via Bluetooth but still retain a cord between the two earbuds themselves – which means less chance you’ll lose one.

Although there are different designs, prices and brands to choose from, all of the top earphones in our list below are compact, sound fantastic, and are super-convenient to use compared to bulky over-ear headphones.

Our top earbud picks

If you want earbuds that come with a cable to keep them secure and avoid losing them, the 1More Triple Driver in-ear headphones are the best wired earbuds you can buy in 2021. After spending a few weeks with both the 1MORE Triple Driver in-ear headphones and the1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones we were blown away at just how much value each one gave in their prospective price ranges. 

For $100 / £100 (around AU$168), it’s hard to find a better sounding pair of earbuds  than the 1MORE Triple Driver. That said, if you want just that little extra refinement and luxury materials, the 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones are still a bargain at twice the price. 

There’s very little we can fault the Triple Drivers for. Their rubber cable can be annoying and its remote control feels cheap, but these are just nitpicks. For their price, they’re impossible to beat.


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