Best Wireless Earbuds of 2018

By Julia MacDougall and Nick Schmiedicker

If you're in the market for a new pair of earbuds, now is as good a time as ever to go wireless. After reviewing hundreds of wireless earbuds from $40 to over $200, our top pick is the JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless (available at Amazon).

While wired headphones get the job done just fine, wireless 'buds are a great option if you go running, frequent the gym, or are just tired of untangling cables. But not all wireless earbuds are created equal, and there are dozens of crummy, cheap earbuds that fall apart in no time.

To find the best wireless Bluetooth earbuds, we gathered all the best-selling and most popular models into our state-of-the-art test labs. Using our expertise and a peerless robotic helper, we were able to cut through the noise to find the best wireless earbuds you can buy right now. Just note that these are standard wireless earbuds that still have a wire running from 'bud to 'bud; if you're after a completely wire-free experience, check out our roundup of the best true wireless earbuds.

— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Updated September 22, 2018

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
jlab_sport_hero best overall
Credit: / Jackson Ruckar

JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless

  • Editors' Choice

JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless

Best Overall

The JLab Audio Epic Sport earbuds are billed as an "upgrade" to the popular JLab Audio Epic2 Bluetooth Wireless headphones, despite typically selling for about the same price (about $100).

The Epic Sport comes with JLab's signature bendable earhooks, multiple eartip sizes, and three types of cush fins to help the buds stay in place. The inline controls consist of a streamlined remote with three buttons.

The audio can still sound a bit tinny and lacking in bass, especially if the fit isn't perfect, but JLab Audio has really gone the extra mile by building in three "sound profiles": one that augments vocals and bass, one that has a flat profile with no extra enhancements (best for those looking for studio-like audio), and one that boosts the bass notes.

With an IP66 rating (able to withstand both dust and "powerful water jets"), the Epic Sport should be able to withstand rigorous workouts. Another high point is the satisfyingly long battery life which, in our experience, clocks in at over 12 hours. The skinny wires may make it easy to break the headphones, so be sure to pack up these earbuds in their case when not in use.

Overall, we were impressed by the JLab Audio Epic Sport earbuds-especially their ability to connect from the first floor to a phone on the second floor. A few customers didn't appreciate the proprietary charging cable (which cradles the remote and isn't merely a micro USB to USB cable), but we think that the Epic Sport is a solid choice whether you're walking in the woods or cranking through reps at the gym.

Decibullz Custom-Fit Wireless

Decibullz Custom-Fit Wireless

A relative newcomer to the audio game, Decibullz made its mark with affordable earbuds you could custom mold with just a microwave and a cup of water—a process that usually required hundreds of dollars and a trip to an audiologist. We loved the company's first model, the Decibullz Contours, when they first debuted, and it's great to see the startup tackle the burgeoning wireless game.

The Contour Wireless feature the same thermoplastic custom molds, but with a wireless 'bud. That means you’ll get a fit that’s unique to you and affords top-quality sound isolation—perfect for losing yourself to the music. However, there are some downsides. The cable was a bit too long—often getting snatched on shirts or in hair—and the battery life was an anemic 4-5 hours per charge.

The low battery life is troubling because the Decibullz also have an additional inline box that houses the Bluetooth hardware; some users appreciate the symmetry and balance of this box to counter the weight of the inline remote, and others prefer to just have the inline remote.

Jlab Audio Epic Executive

Jlab Audio Epic Executive

For those keen on less intense workouts or casual, around-town usage, be sure to check out the JLab Audio Epic Executive Wireless Earbuds.

The Epic Executive Wireless earbuds are proof that good things come in small packages. For the same price as the JLab Epic Sport Wireless and the Epic2 Wireless, these earbuds have plenty of eartip options, a pretty good sound profile, solid noise cancellation, a long battery life, and a wired adapter for when you run out of juice.

The active noise cancellation (ANC) on these earbuds does a great job at blocking out lower frequency sounds like air conditioners and trains. We wore these on the train, and while we could still hear the screeching of the train hitting the tracks on tight curves, the overall train hum sounded like the train was miles away, rather than beneath our feet.

In our case, playing music and fiddling around with the ANC fully drained the battery after 9.5 hours—more than enough time to get you through a cross-country plane trip. As a bonus, a regular 3.5 mm headphone jack adapter has been included in case the battery dies unexpectedly; the cord and adapter together are long enough that the Epic Executive Wireless can basically double as a pair of wired headphones, where the battery powers the ANC.

The removable neck band is another bonus. Neck bands aren't the greatest earbud configuration for any exercises done on your back, and even without the neck band, the wires are a bit long for anything involving arm movement, but it's a comfortable way to wear them in your downtime.

Customers were very pleased with the ANC, but had some connectivity issues between the earbuds and their phone. Like the other JLab Audio earbuds, the Epic Executive Wireless have very skinny wires, so be sure to store them in the included case when they're not in use.

Jaybird X3

Jaybird X3

The Jaybird X3 Wireless earbuds are the noteworthy successor to the Jaybird X2 Wireless earbuds. There's nothing really fancy-looking about the Jaybird X3, but these earbuds boast a number of neat features and accessories, the main one being a customizable sound profile.

Like the X2, the Jaybird X3 can be worn with the wires hanging over the ear or hanging straight down. Because there are so many tip, fin, and earbud configurations, it will still probably take a while for you to find the right fit. For those with small ear holes, we recommend the smallest size of Comply memory foam tips, which make for a better fit, better isolation, and better sound clarity. Once you have a good fit, the 8-hour battery life will get you through a work day of calls and music without trouble.

One sticking point is the remote. The controls rely on the wearer holding buttons down for a certain amount of time, rather than sequential button presses. It's different from the way wireless earbuds usually operate and can be frustrating to use while running, but it's manageable with a bit of practice.

Other helpful accessories include clips that can adjust the length of the cable, a shirt clip, and an exciting new feature that allows you to customize the sound profile. After connecting the X3 earbuds to the Jaybird app (Android, iOS), you can use your fingers to boost or reduce the volume of highs, mids, and lows. You can save your profile for future use, or choose from a few preprogrammed audio settings with names like "Signature" and "Bring the Bass". (In our experience, if you really want to boost the bass, reduce the highs and increase the lows at the same time.)

Many customers agreed that finding an ideal fit for the X3 earbuds is a significant time investment, but is ultimately worth it. Gym-goers were very happy that the X3 stayed in place despite a variety of exercise types and positions, and everyone really appreciated the quality of the sound. The main complaints users had were about the proprietary charging cable, defective products that failed to hold the stated 8-hour charge, and terrifyingly sudden battery updates. We do not recommend listening to classical music or horror movies towards the end of the X3's battery life; having a lady shout "BATTERY LIFE: 20%" or "CHARGE ME" will surely scare the daylights out of you.

V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless

V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless

The V-Moda Metallo Forza Wireless earbuds are perfect for the on-the-go audiophile in your life. V-Moda has long prided itself on its high-end studio sound and customizable headphone aesthetics, and its move into wireless in-ear headphones is largely a successful one.

With multiple eartip sizes and relatively small earbuds, it's easy to find a great fit that allows the Metallo Forza's equal emphasis on both the booming bass notes and the tinkling high notes to shine through. Of all of the earbuds we tested, the Metallo Forza were among the most comfortable for hours at a time.

One polarizing aspect of these earbuds is that they come with a rigid plastic neck band that houses the batteries and provides haptic feedback in response to pressing buttons on the remote. While some users really liked the added stability provided by the neck band, others found that it slid off when their heads were tilted upwards or when they were doing crunches. The neck band is heavy enough that it sliding off could pull the earbuds out of your ears.

If you have deep pockets and want earbuds that provide you with a delightful-sounding and pain-free experience, choose the V-Moda Metallo Forza Wireless earbuds.

Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless

Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless

The Beats by Dre Powerbeats 3 are a good choice for rigorous activity, whether that's running, going to the gym, skiing, or anything else. They fit well, offer exceptional connectivity, and awesome battery life—at least at first.

Most headphones aimed at active people tend to make sacrifices in sound, comfort, or style, but the Powerbeats 3 round out all three categories tremendously. Plus, the Powerbeats' "earhook" design (which might seem a little cumbersome at first) ensures a sturdy fit that won't fall out. They also have class-leading wireless performance and range, and the battery is both fast-charging and long-lasting, so even a 5-minute charge will give you enough for a normal run.

Unfortunately, a large number of people have experienced the same problem—the Powerbeats3 never fully charge; the status indicator blinks white three times, and the headphones never turn on. Some have speculated that this is a failure of the sweatproofing. We really fell in love with these when we first used them, but the issues are too prevalent to ignore—buyer beware.

Jabra Elite 25e

Jabra Elite 25e

If you're on a budget, and you're looking for solid earbud performance with a few extras, consider the Jabra Elite 25e. In addition to a surprisingly balanced sound profile, these earbuds have an adjustable neckband and an amazing long battery life of around 14 hours.

While bass notes played in the Elite 25e aren't especially booming, they manage to avoid the tinny quality that plagues many earbuds, which is a feat for a pair of earbuds under $100.

Jabra's take on the neck band is an interesting one. It has "zones" that are flexible, and allow for a slightly better fit for those who are broader in the neck/shoulder area. Additionally, the inline remote is housed in the neck band, making it easier to access by touch, since the remote isn't moving with the wires as you run through the woods. The downside of this design choice is that the remote buttons are really hard to press, and not very responsive. It can take a few jabs before the volume up/down buttons respond accordingly.

The eartips that come with the Jabra Elite 25e are oblong, rather than circular. These tips are purported to create a better fit, but that wasn't the case in our experience. Because of the unusual shape of the eartips, they never sat correctly in our ears, and the imperfect seal allowed us to hear shouted conversations on the bus with better clarity than our music. With a poor fit, the earbuds are also more likely to fall out during activities that require bouncing.

These eartips are a great point of contention for people who purchased the Elite 25e; some found that they really did increase the fit and comfort, while others experienced the same poor seal we did. If circular earbuds have worked well for you in the past, think about swapping the eartips that come with the Elite 25e for ones that you already know fit you well.

Of the wireless earbuds we've tested recently, the Jabra Elite 25e have the longest battery life, coming in at around 16 hours. This is not a drill. The convenience of having to charge your wireless headphones every couple of days instead of once a day cannot be overstated.

The Jabra Elite 25e is a great product for those with very specific needs and tastes. There may be some form and function problems, but the battery life is no joking matter.

JLab Audio Epic2 Bluetooth Wireless Sport

JLab Audio Epic2 Bluetooth Wireless Sport

JLab Audio's Epic2 Wireless are the less intense (and similarly-priced) cousins of the JLab Audio Epic Sport Wireless, but they are still a great contender in the wireless earbud game.

The Epic2 Wireless have the same great sound, battery life, and adjustable earhooks as the Epic Sport, but with a slightly reduced (but still impressive) IP55 waterproof rating.

While it's also missing the additional sound profiles of the Epic Sport, the Epic2 Wireless has the regular micro USB to USB charging of most wireless earbuds, meaning you probably already have such a cable on hand, don't have to carry an extra cable around in the Epic2's nicely reinforced carrying case.

User reviews are a mixed bag; some are very happy with the sound clarity, but there seems to be a higher than usual incidence of units that have physical defects or have bad connectivity.

Our experience was a positive one, but we recommend that you do your research before dropping your hard-earned cash on the JLab Audio Epic2 Wireless earbuds.

Read our full review if you want to know even more.

Panasonic RP-HJE120B

Panasonic RP-HJE120B

Some people would be extremely wary when faced with a pair of wireless earbuds costing under $40, but these Panasonic earbuds are a good choice for the person who doesn't want to fully commit to more expensive wireless earbuds on the market.

We were pleasantly surprised by nearly every aspect of these earbuds: between the long-term comfort, the sound clarity, and the long battery life, the RP-HJE120 are really punching outside their weight class. The only major downside? The low build quality.

Durability is often the largest problem facing wireless earbuds, and these Panasonics are no different. With very thin wires and plastic earbuds, it's easy to imagine them breaking at the bottom of a purse or backpack. Be sure to find some safe storage options for these earbuds, as the skinny wires connecting the earbuds to the remote will probably not survive a lot of wear and tear.

While some users were very pleased with the long battery life, others found that the heavy remote on one side of the earbuds would hit people in the face, or the weight of the remote would cause the earbud on that side to fall out entirely. Another problem is that these earbuds turn off automatically after 5 minutes without use, and require re-pairing when they are once again being used.

If you like the price point, try checking out the wired version of these earbuds, the Panasonic RP-HJE120B. They are extremely well-reviewed, and appear to last much longer than their wireless counterparts.

Jam HX-EP510 Transit Micro Sport Buds

Jam HX-EP510 Transit Micro Sport Buds

The Jam Audio Micro Transit Sport Buds are a reasonably-priced set of 'buds that come with a lot of extra goodies. From the removable ear hooks/fins and adjustable neck split to the BPA-free water bottle, Jam Audio wants these buds to fit your active lifestyle.

The fit is not for everyone; the ear tips seem to be larger than usual, which may be a tough fit for those with small ear canals. One set of ear tips are made of rigid plastic, which is meant to make the 'buds more sweatproof, but it can make for an uncomfortable experience in your ears.

Between the rapid charging, the long battery life, the ability to shut off one earbud at will (for safety purposes) and the magnetic earbuds that snap together for easy storage, these headphones have a lot going for them, but those good qualities are offset by a sound profile that is rife with audible distortion.

As with most wireless earbuds, the most common problems are with charging and Bluetooth connectivity. Unfortunately, the Micro Transit Sport Buds are no different; there are some reports of the earbuds being unable to hold a charge after a few months, and other customers found that the sound often cut out when their phones were in their pockets.

If you get the chance, try out the fit of the Jam Audio Micro Transit Sport Buds before you try them, and make sure that they sit in your ears comfortably; if you can't wear them without cringing in pain, then all of the neat bonuses don't matter much.

If you're shopping for earbuds, check out our guide, The Best True Wireless Earbuds.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below