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The best true wireless earbuds of 2020 Credit: Reviewed / Ryan Waniata

The Best Wireless Earbuds of 2022

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The best true wireless earbuds of 2020 Credit: Reviewed / Ryan Waniata

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Editor's Choice Product image of Jabra Elite 85t True Wireless
Best Overall

Jabra Elite 85t True Wireless

The Jabra Elite 85t offer outstanding features, impressive sound, and serious noise canceling to put the AirPods Pro and plenty of others on notice. Read More

Pros

  • Outstanding features and design
  • Rich, balanced sound
  • Impressive noise canceling

Cons

  • Not as sport-friendly as other Jabra buds
Editor's Choice Product image of Sony WF-1000XM4
Best Noise Cancelers

Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony's flagship wireless earbuds aren't cheap, but they offer gorgeous sound, incredible battery life, and top-tier noise canceling. Read More

Pros

  • Fantastic noise canceling
  • Superb sound
  • Next-gen battery life

Cons

  • No good solution for volume control
  • Missing some features
Editor's Choice Product image of Jabra Elite Active 75t
Best for Running

Jabra Elite Active 75t

Jabra's Elite Active 75t are an excellent choice for those seeking a workout-ready, versatile pair of earbuds with style and affordability upfront. Read More

Pros

  • Durable, dunkable design
  • Sleek and small
  • Loaded with features

Cons

  • Sound lacks balance
  • Fit may be tricky for some
Editor's Choice Product image of Beats Fit Pro
Best For iPhone

Beats Fit Pro

Starting at $199, the Beats Fit Pro are an altogether better choice for iPhone and Android users compared to the AirPods Pro, and they do an awful lot right. Read More

Pros

  • Clear, balanced sound
  • Good noise canceling
  • Ample feature set

Cons

  • Can be finicky on Android
  • No EQ modes
  • Case lacks wireless charging
Editor's Choice Product image of Jabra Elite 4 Active
Best Value

Jabra Elite 4 Active

Jabra’s Elite 4 Active offer excellent features, good battery life, active noise canceling, and a surprisingly rugged design at a killer price point. Read More

Pros

  • Snug, weatherproof design
  • Active noise canceling
  • Great features and battery

Cons

  • No auto-pause
  • Sluggish app connection

If you're looking for the best wireless earbuds you can buy right now, our top pick is Jabra's Elite Active 85t (available at Jabra). Whether on Apple or Android, these buds offer superb build quality, good audio performance, and excellent noise canceling. Add in comprehensive controls and a wide array of top-flight features, and it's easy to see why we think they're the most well-rounded buds in the business.

As our sprawling list shows, however, there are a shocking amount of impressive wireless options. We tested others from Jabra, along with picks from Sony, Apple, Bose, Samsung, and others. We've run both real-world and lab tests on dozens, and we're constantly testing new pairs. The rankings are extremely tight, and each pair has something to offer, so rest assured you'll find the perfect wireless earbuds below, no matter what you're into.

If you're looking for more options, check out our lists of the Best Workout Buds and the Best True Wireless Earbuds Under $100.

These are the best wireless earbuds we tested:

  • Jabra Elite 85t
  • Sony WF-1000XM4
  • Jabra Elite Active 75t
  • Beats Fit Pro
  • Jabra Elite 4 Active
  • Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
  • Apple AirPods Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
  • Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
  • Panasonic RZ-S500W
  • Klipsch T5 II True Wireless
  • Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
  • Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro
  • Beats Studio Buds
  • Amazon Echo Buds (gen 2)
  • Apple AirPods (3rd Gen)
  • Beats Powerbeats Pro

Jabra Elite 85t
Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata

The Jabra Elite 85t offer the best mix of features, usability, and controls no matter which phone you choose.

Best Overall
Jabra Elite 85t True Wireless

Jabra’s Elite 85t really have it all: smooth and balanced sound, impressive active noise cancellation (ANC), easy tap controls, and a barrel full of other top-flight features. It all adds up to the best wireless earbuds—whether you pledge your allegiance to Android or iPhone.

Perhaps more than any feature, the design of these earbuds makes them our favorite all-around bombers. While a more bulbous design means the fit isn’t quite as secure as others, the Elite 85t's oval ear tips provide a proper seal without plugging up your ears. This means you won’t hear yourself chewing, walking, jogging, etc. in the same way as most earbuds. Yet music and noise canceling are intimate and effective, respectively.

That also makes the Elite 85t direct competitors to Apple’s open-style AirPods Pro. But the Elite 85ts offer more features that apply to either side of the mobile aisle, and a more active-ready design. Since they’re device agnostic, you can choose any of the major voice assistants (or none). They also offer all the controls you need (including volume control) for whichever mobile device you prefer.

Speaking of controls, you can configure the two easy-push buttons through Jabra’s excellent Sound+ app. Also customizable are noise cancellation and transparency mode. The latter is among the most natural-sounding transparency mode on the market, keeping you aware of your environment in style. Again, a direct shot across the AirPods Pro bow.

The word "natural" keeps coming up when using the Elite 85t, and it's a big key to their success. You can wear them for hours, even when you’re not listening to audio. And you’ll never miss a beat thanks to how seamlessly they transition between noise canceling and transparency mode. A few taps of the keys (even while wearing gloves) lets you slide between jamming out in solitude and striking up a conversation.

Multi-point connection to your devices also makes it easy to switch between fun and work, while solid battery life and wireless charging for the case makes it easy to keep them ready.

As for downsides, the Elite 85t’s IPX4 water resistance rating means you can splash them but not dunk them. That matches most direct competitors outside Jabra, but they’re not as weather-ready as offerings like the Elite and Elite Active 75t earbuds or Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro.

As referenced above, the fit is also less stable than what you’ll get in purpose-built workout buds. And finally, while you can use only one bud at a time, you’re limited to the right one. That makes them less versatile (and accessible) than most competitors.

Those are relatively minor complaints for most, though, as the Elite 85t really are the complete package. If you decide to spring for them, you’ll be rewarded with good sound, great features, and usability that's among the best on the market.

Pros

  • Outstanding features and design

  • Rich, balanced sound

  • Impressive noise canceling

Cons

  • Not as sport-friendly as other Jabra buds

The black and copper Sony WF-1000XM4 sit inside their case with the lid open atop a mossy boulder with pink roses in the background.
Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata

The Sony WF-1000XM4 offer brilliant sound, incredible noise canceling, and other premium features to make them among the best buds you can buy.

Best Noise Cancelers
Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony waited two years for a follow-up to its flagship noise-canceling earbuds, but it was worth our patience. While the WF-1000XM3 are still a fantastic pair of earbuds for the money, the WF-1000XM4 (not to be confused with the WH-1000XM4 over-ears) take things to a whole new level.

Blending incredible sound quality, innovative design, IPX4 waterproofing (finally), and noise canceling that's at the top of the heap, these are an easy pick as the best noise-cancelers around.

There’s only one pair of earbuds that compares to the XM4's noise canceling at publication time: Bose’s well-regarded Quietcomfort Buds. Both pairs have their pros and cons. But the XM4 outrank their rivals.

They have a smaller profile, and next-gen battery life. You get up to 8 hours with active noise canceling (ANC), and a whopping 12 hours without it. There’s also their lovely, luscious sound and other features, including customizable EQ.

It’s worth saying a bit more about their sound, as it’s among the best you’ll find in the genre. It’s sweet, smooth, accessible, and yet rich with detail. The stark canvas provided by the powerful noise canceling makes it even easier to enjoy. You’ll find tranquility with these earbuds on a level that’s hard to find with any headphones, let alone tiny earbuds.

The headphones also offer plenty of features through Sony’s Headphones Connect app. You can tinker with settings, and even set the earbuds to switch between noise canceling and ambient audio based on your routines and locations.

Their design includes comfy foam tips for a stable seal alongside intuitive touch controls. However, this raises our primary complaint: You can’t use the XM4 volume controls without giving up other integral functionality. In addition, they miss a few extras like Find My Earbuds and multi-point pairing, both features we’d like to see in this price range.

Still, these are some of the best noise canceling earbuds and some of the best earbuds, period. Sony’s WF-1000XM4 set a new bar. If you’re after a more affordable pair of Sony noise cancelers (and don’t need water resistance), Sony’s WF-1000XM3 are still a great buy as well.

Pros

  • Fantastic noise canceling

  • Superb sound

  • Next-gen battery life

Cons

  • No good solution for volume control

  • Missing some features

Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

The Jabra Elite Active 75t are great for working out, and so much more.

Best for Running
Jabra Elite Active 75t

The Jabra Elite Active 75t is a great set of wireless earphones for just about anyone. But they're particularly suitable for folks who spend a lot of time running or working out, thanks to their nimble design. Their hearty, IP57-rated dust and water resistance lets you safely rinse them off after a workout.

(Tip: If you're looking for more like these, we have plenty to recommend in our Best Workout Headphones guide.)

The Elite Active 75t will net you nearly every bell and whistle you might need. A finder function makes sure you won't lose track of them. Transparency mode lets you hear the world around you, so you can stay aware in nearly any situation. Jabra even released a firmware update that adds digital active noise cancellation to the impressive passive noise isolation, which helps make these buds even more versatile.

The Elite Active 75t sound good, though their heavy, bass-forward sound profile won't be for everyone. It might take some tinkering in the accompanying app to find an equalization setting that fits your playlist. Still, their sound performance will satisfy most casual listeners and power users alike, and it's bolstered by around 7 hours of battery life per charge (or around 5.5 hours with ANC).

We also love the Elite Active 75t’s playback controls. Their buttons are easy to press without needing much force, yet firm enough that they rarely get pressed accidentally. Jabra’s intuitive controls and customization (thanks to the loaded Jabra Sound+ app) make for one of the best user experiences in the true wireless game.

One small point of caution: Their small size and rigid plastic design isn't a perfect fit for everyone. They also may wear on those with smaller ears after a few hours—though that's the case with the majority of true wireless earbuds to some degree.

Jabra has since added a new pair to replace the 75t, the Elite 7 Pro and Elite 7 Active, which offer a retooled (and for my ears, comfier) design. But the price point has dropped so low for the Elite Active 75t that we're still recommending it as the better buy in this category.

The Jabra Elite Active 75t are a great pick, offering superb performance, durability, and a well-rounded experience. In addition, if you need the IP57 waterproofing—and want to save a few bucks—the Elite 75t earbuds are nearly identical to their cousins, only with a less-rugged IP55 dust/water-resistance rating.

Either way, you'll be getting a great pair of durable earbuds, armed for virtually any scenario you can throw at them.

Pros

  • Durable, dunkable design

  • Sleek and small

  • Loaded with features

Cons

  • Sound lacks balance

  • Fit may be tricky for some

Credit: Reviewed / Lee Neikirk

The Beats Fit Pro are our pick for the best true wireless buds for iPhone

Best For iPhone
Beats Fit Pro

It’s been a long time since Apple AirPods Pro hit the scene, but they’ve long maintained their status as the most popular true wireless earbuds for pairing with iPhones. But for savvy buyers, the Beats Fit Pro have finally usurped them as the best choice for most iOS users.

Starting at $200, the Fit Pro are not only more affordable than the AirPods Pro at full price, but they also offer better features. They provide longer battery life (6 hours with noise canceling, 7 without), a more secure in-ear fit, and comparable if not better sound quality. They’re a much better choice for Android users, too, thanks to the dedicated Beats app.

The Fit Pro also do everything the AirPods Pro do in terms of features. There’s iCloud/Music Sharing, Hands-Free Siri, Spatial Audio with Dynamic Head Tracking, and Find My tracking so you won’t lose them. Right down to Apple’s H1 chip, the Fit Pro are essentially the AirPods Pro in a better-fitting, more colorful, and longer-lasting package.

That’s not to say the Fit Pro are perfect. During testing, they weren’t quite as clear as the AirPods Pro when it came to voice calling in a windy environment. You also can’t wirelessly charge their case, and they can occasionally be finicky on Android phones.

But that's mostly nitpicking. While the AirPods Pro are still a great choice, the Beats Fit Pro are currently the top wireless earbuds for iPhone. Even if you’re missing out on those iconic white stems, you’re making the smarter purchase at the end of the day.

Pros

  • Clear, balanced sound

  • Good noise canceling

  • Ample feature set

Cons

  • Can be finicky on Android

  • No EQ modes

  • Case lacks wireless charging

A navy earbud sits in the ear of a man with brown and grey hair with trees and grass in the background.
Credit: Reviewed/Ryan Waniata

The Jabra Elite 4 Active offer a truckload of features at a surprisingly low price point to make them an incredible value.

Best Value
Jabra Elite 4 Active

Much like their pricier siblings, Jabra’s Elite 4 offer a package that includes everything you could want in a pair of true wireless earbuds. And yet, they launched with one of the lowest price points we’ve ever seen for a pair of earbuds this loaded.

The stacked feature set offers something for everyone. Whether you need a snug pair of earbuds with transparency mode for walking and running, a water-resistant pair you can rinse off in the sink (or dunk for short periods), or just decent noise canceling to keep out distractions while working from home, they've got you covered.

You’ll get plenty of functionality in Jabra’s Sound+ app, like a 5-band EQ and an earbuds finder. The buds themselves include comprehensive onboard controls (including volume control), battery playback of 6-7 hours per charge, and the ability to use either bud on its own.

As the price suggests, they don’t have everything under the sun. You obviously won’t get the seamless connection to Apple’s ecosystem found in iOS favorites like the AirPods or Beats Fit Pro, and you’ll have to forgo the multipoint pairing of Jabra’s top pairs.

You’ll also have to give up a few convenience features at this price, like auto-pause when you pull an earbud out, or a wireless charging case. But Jabra attempts to make up for those omissions for Android users with extras like Google Fast Pair and one-tap access to Spotify.

When it comes to sound quality, the Elite 4 Active offer clear, accessible sound and noise canceling that meets or beats most compeitors in their class. They can’t match top picks in these categories, but then again you won’t be paying the sticker-shocking prices of the top performers, either. That’s what makes the Elite 4 Active such a tempting option: good performance and a heap of flagship features at a price that’s easy to justify.

Frankly, you’ll have a hard time beating these buds for the money in the vast majority of categories. Whatever you’re into, Jabra’s versatile Elite 4 Active bring you a huge slice of the best that true wireless earbuds have to offer for a price you can swallow.

Pros

  • Snug, weatherproof design

  • Active noise canceling

  • Great features and battery

Cons

  • No auto-pause

  • Sluggish app connection

Other Top Wireless Earbuds We Tested

Product image of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Pro are an obvious attempt to create earbuds just as impressive for Samsung phones as Apple’s AirPods Pro are for iPhones.

The gambit worked pretty dang well. Samsung’s made a feature-packed pair of earbuds bespoke for their platform that offer plenty for those outside it, too.

The big headliner for these earbuds is solid active noise cancellation. It’s a first for Samsung’s true wireless buds beyond the extremely light ANC in the Galaxy Buds Live.

But that’s just the beginning. They also offer adjustable ambient audio, which is boostable for super hearing, and a truckload of other features typical of flagship earbuds, like the ability to use one bud at a time, a wireless charging case, and a Find My Earbuds function.

One particularly interesting feature is Voice Detect. It’s designed to pause ANC and engage ambient mode when you speak, so you can keep in touch with those around you hands-free. However, we found it can be overzealous at times.

Most of the Galaxy Buds Pro’s top features will work for any phone with Samsung’s well-equipped Wear app. But they also saved a litany of extra features for the Samsung faithful, including auto-pairing and Bixby wakeup. There’s even a new 3D audio feature for the Galaxy S21 and up. In other words, it pays to be heavily invested in Samsung’s ecosystem here.

Still, these earbuds feature design traits everyone can enjoy, like class-leading water resistance (IPX7) and impressive, well-balanced sound that’s as good at bumping beats as it is carving out ultra-clear detail or serving up phone calls.

There are some downsides. The fit can wear on the ears over time (and can jostle during some activities). The battery life is just so-so for 2021, less than 5 hours per charge with ANC. In addition, we’ve found the case doesn’t charge the earbuds as quickly as advertised, so you’ll have to wait longer once you lose juice.

That said, Samsung has created a winner here thanks to a well-rounded feature list, impressive audio performance, and a great price that make its Galaxy Buds Pro instant contenders—especially if you’re toting around a new Samsung phone.

Pros

  • Powerful, nuanced sound

  • Plenty of features

  • Stylish, micro-sized design

Cons

  • Battery life just OK

  • Sluggish charging

  • Touchy controls

Product image of Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro

Apple's AirPods Pro take everything we love about the traditional AirPods and ramp things up a notch (or three). They sound better than all Apple earbuds before them, deliver excellent noise reduction, and add proper water resistance. Plus, these are the first Apple earbuds with swappable silicone ear tips, making it easier to get a comfortable fit.

In our lab tests, we found the AirPods Pro’s noise cancellation was on par with pricier noise-canceling headphones, with a minimal hit to battery life. Their Transparency Mode is also among the most effective and natural-sounding we’ve experienced, piping in the outside world when you want to be aware of your surroundings.

The call quality—which uses dual microphones plus digital distortion reduction—is also excellent. The design also makes them incredibly easy to pair, control, and wear, particularly with Apple iPhones, which will automatically pair right out of the box.

If there's a downside to its features, it's that most extra features like spatial audio, auto-pairing, and Siri on demand only work with iPhones. There's no dedicated app for Android users to tap into. They also don't offer onboard volume control, requiring you to ask Siri for help instead.

Battery life is also poor for their price point, at just 4.5 to 5 hours. On the bright side, their pocket-friendly carrying case holds multiple recharges for 24 hours total listening time, and a quick charge in the case provides an hour of listening in just five minutes.

While the AirPods Pro are pricey, they offer enough of a meaningful upgrade that they’re worth it—especially for those with iPhones. They can be your go-to headphones for everyday use, long trips by train or plane, and even light workouts. It's for all these reasons the AirPods Pro are some of the most popular earbuds on the planet.

Pros

  • Active noise cancellation

  • Silicon tips ensure a more comfortable fit

  • Easy setup and syncing

Cons

  • Sub-par audio quality for the price

  • No onboard volume controls

Product image of Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds 2 are a rare breed of earbuds. They not only look better than their price point suggests, but perform better than expected as well. They provide a brilliant balance: tons of features, value, and reliable performance in a design that looks good and fits comfortably. They’re a serious win for value shoppers.

They’re not as cheap as the value-packed Amazon Echo Buds (gen 2). But the Samsung buds look a whole lot cooler, and offer similar features and performance. That includes relatively stout active noise cancellation, adjustable transparency mode options to bring in the world around you, adjustable EQ presets and controls, and much more.

Through the Wear app you can customize controls, including Samsung-specific features like Bixby Wakeup and a Spotify shortcut. The earbuds can also auto-connect to other Galaxy devices.

You won’t get the same audio performance or the full package of extras that comes with their pricier siblings, the Galaxy Buds Pro. But you do get ANC that holds up pretty well to the flagship buds, and a lighter, comfier design to boot.

The only real holdup on these earbuds is their middling battery life. (You get just 5 hours with ANC, or 7.5 hours without it). Also, the water resistance rating just barely charts at IPX2 (the Buds Pro offer IPX7). Still, these are a value-packed bargain and when the price inevitably falls, they’ll be hard to turn down even in this cutthroat market.

Pros

  • Light and stylish design

  • Respectable ANC

  • Great features and performance

Cons

  • Minimal water resistance

  • Controls could be better

Product image of Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Judged by sound alone, Sennheiser’s Momentum True Wireless 2 might be our top pick. They offer arguably the best sound in the category, and while their amazing performance comes with a hefty price tag, they can often be found on sale for a reasonable price.

First, the good stuff: The Momentum True Wireless 2 serve up a rich, dynamic listening experience regardless of genre. This is thanks in part to mid-level (but relatively effective) active noise cancellation. In fact, they sound so good that you might find yourself discovering details in songs you thought you knew like the back of your hand.

Listening to music with the Momentum 2 is an inviting experience, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-sounding pair of wireless earbuds of any kind. They also offer desirable features like transparency mode for environmental awareness alongside their basic active noise cancellation.

Compared to the original Sennheiser Momentum, the Momentum 2 offer a vastly improved selection of touch controls on the outside of each earbud. And as a bonus, Sennheiser’s Smart Control app has also improved. The customization experience is painless and surprisingly granular, letting you change the controls in any configuration. They also offer respectable IPX4 water resistance and an improved Bluetooth 5.0 connection.

There are a few drawbacks should you decide to shell out for a pair. They offer better battery life than their predecessor or the AirPods Pro, but they still top out at around seven hours. That’s less than we'd like for their price point.

In addition, the Momentum 2 aren’t quite as durable as some of the more affordable true wireless earbuds we’ve tested. And while they're relatively easy to use, the interface isn't as dead-simple as some of our top picks. Finally, their transparency mode is a bit less natural-sounding than in others like the Elite 85t and AirPods Pro.

Still, if you value high-quality sound first and foremost, and you've got the means, Sennheiser's Momentum 2 are a fantastic pick. They’re better than their predecessor and stand toe-to-toe with our top picks in a wide range of categories.

Additionally, if you want that fantastic Momentum 2 sound on a tighter budget, Sennheiser has essentially ported it into the CX 400BT earbuds. These sell for a lower price than the flagship pair by cutting active noise cancellation and any water resistance. Either way, you'll be getting unmatched sound, and that's worth serious consideration.

Pros

  • Glorious sound

  • Noise cancellation

  • Customizable controls

Cons

  • Battery could still be better

  • Not as rugged as we'd like

Product image of Panasonic RZ-S500W
Panasonic RZ-S500W

Panasonic's RZ-S500W won our favor with a brilliant combination of great sound and excellent noise canceling, at a price that often undercuts major competitors.

Many wireless earbuds offer noise canceling as something of an afterthought. But the RZ-S500W serve powerful noise cancellation across frequencies, creating a comforting realm of sanctity from barking dogs, yelling kids, and much more. We utilize noise canceling more than any other feature, often wearing earbuds for tasks like vacuuming or lawn mowing. That’s why we’re so taken with these relatively affordable buds.

As noted, the sound is also impressive. The clear, mostly even sound signature offers quality listening across musical genres, podcasts, and more. In the Panasonic app, you can adjust everything from EQ to noise cancellation.

You can also choose different transparency modes like ambient sound mode or hearthrough mode to fine-tune how much environmental sound you hear. With around 6 hours of playback per charge, the RZ-S500W are around the middle of the pack.

That said, they do have a few drawbacks. For one thing, their charging case only holds two charges. You’ll have to top it off more frequently than most rivals. On top of that, while they’re quite comfortable, the somewhat bulky design can make the fit tricky. Even when properly sealed, they tend to jostle during rigorous activities. They’re a much better fit for your office (home or otherwise) than your daily jog.

On the other hand, they offer IPX4 water resistance, allowing you to easily combat the elements. Add in their other generous features and the Panasonic RZ-S500W earbuds sit among our favorite earbuds that came out in 2020.

They're also often on sale for far below their already low price point. If you can snag them at the low end, they’re among the best value propositions in the space.

Pros

  • Excellent noise cancellation

  • Clean, balanced sound

  • Impressive feature set

Cons

  • Battery life is so-so

  • Fit may be tricky for some

Product image of Klipsch T5 II True Wireless
Klipsch T5 II True Wireless

Klipsch’s second generation of true wireless earbuds are just as stylish as the original T5, with some impressive upgrades. What hasn’t changed here is the sound, which is among the best in the category. The T5 II offer clear, detailed sound that’s as dynamic as it is engaging, alongside crystal clear phone calls.

The latest buds offer plenty of handy features like comprehensive controls (including onboard volume control), a light and comfy fit, and top-notch dust and water resistance (IP67). The Zippo-like metallic case is robust as they come, but still fits perfectly in your pocket.

There are a few downsides, of course (otherwise they’d be our top pick, right?). Some sought-after features like active noise cancellation and a Qi-certified charging case are absent. In addition, the onboard controls can be finicky.

That said, these earbuds won our hearts. The simple, stylish design is easy to take along, and they have some of the best sound in the niche. If sound is your top concern, and you don’t want to spring for the much pricier Sennheiser Momentum 2, you’ll want to give the T5 II a long look.

Pros

  • Clear, vividly detailed sound

  • Great style, fit, and finish

  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Some controls are finicky

  • Missing some features

Product image of Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

It will come as no surprise to Bose fans that the QuietComfort Earbuds were designed from the ground up for one thing: brilliant active noise cancellation. On that front they succeed immensely, instantly offering world-class ANC that matches brilliantly with Sony's WF-10000XM4 as the best in the genre. The QuietComfort also offer elegant design, clear sound, and a comfy, secure fit that keeps them in place under duress.

In order to get those features, however, you’ll have to deal with a hefty price tag and some compromises elsewhere. Those compromises include extra-large earbuds that weigh around 50% more than the AirPods Pro, and a chunky charging case that offers only two recharges. Between the buds and the case, you only get 18 hours of total battery life. That makes these tough to take along.

The sound, while good, also doesn't match our favorite earbuds at this price point, sometimes becoming a bit sibilant in the upper register.

On the other hand, Bose added slick onboard volume control to the earbuds via swipes up and down on the right bud. In addition, the versatile Bose Music app allows you to adjust noise cancellation levels in multiple ways. You can also adjust the loudness of your own voice during phone calls and other parameters. (Though we would have loved some form of EQ).

While we wish Bose would have thrown in a bit more for your money, what you're paying for is killer noise cancellation, and that's exactly what you get.

Pros

  • Class leading noise canceling

  • Comfy, secure fit

  • Tight, present audio

Cons

  • Chunky design

  • Case has mediocre battery

  • Middling features for the price

Product image of Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro
Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro

The Liberty Air 2 Pro’s shiny new feature is active noise cancellation. They’re the first of their kind from Anker's Soundcore line to offer it, and the ANC is impressively effective for the money.

The active noise cancellation built into the Liberty Air 2 Pro is not quite as impactful as you’ll find in some of the pricier options on our list, but for such a low price point, effective ANC with equally adequate transparency mode is a serious feat.

Both functions pair well with the excellent sound quality the Liberty Air 2 Pro provide. Soundcore makes both ANC and equalization fully customizable. However, we found sticking to the earbuds’ Soundcore Signature setting delivered the kind of balanced sound that suits most musical genres.

The Liberty Air 2 Pro’s other features, like IPX4 water resistance and solid battery life (around six hours with ANC and seven without), aren’t uncommon for the market. However, their execution is on par with many pricier options.

We do wish Soundcore had made these earbuds more secure for workouts and found a way to offer more comprehensive controls. Still, those are small transgressions for an otherwise value-packed pair of true wireless earbuds.

The selling point for the Liberty Air 2 Pro isn’t that they perform a certain function incredibly well. Instead, they do several things quite well, at a price that positions them as great alternatives to high-end earbuds. Soundcore closed a sizable gap in performance with the Liberty Air 2 Pro, without sacrificing affordability.

Pros

  • Great sound for the price

  • Thick with features

  • Good noise canceling for the price

Cons

  • Not ideal for active usage

  • Limited controls

Product image of Beats Studio Buds
Beats Studio Buds

The Beats Studio Buds arrived as the spiritual successor to the second-generation AirPods. Though the AirPods 3 (technically called the "AirPods third-generation") have since launched with popular iOS features like Spatial Audio, the Studio Buds are a better choice for those seeking a more traditional experience.

Offering clear sound, a slick and comfortable design, and even active noise canceling that ramps up when things get louder, these funky little buds are a welcome refresh that screams "Apple." They even offer some of the AirPods’ most prized Apple-centric features. You’ll find one-touch pairing for iPhone, voice-activated Siri, and Find My Earbuds via your iPhone settings.

It’s not too surprising that a pair of Beats buds can step into the AirPods’ shoes. Apple owns Beats, after all. What is surprising is how well the Studio Buds cater to the Android crowd. You’ll find similarly breezy one-touch pairing, and an app to toggle the noise canceling and ambient audio modes. There’s even a Find My Earbuds feature via the Android menu.

There’s a lot that these buds get right. Their splash-proof, ergonomic design tops the list, followed closely by affordable ANC. But they are missing some key features. Other Apple buds with the H1 chip can auto-sync to all your Apple devices via iCloud. These don’t.

They also don’t offer a wireless charging case or sensors that pause your earbuds when you take one out. (Though you can use one earbud at a time). While their mirrored controls make things simple, there’s also no onboard volume control, something we see on nearly all non-Apple earbuds at this price.

Their incredible ease of use, comfy fit, and simple setup could make up for those transgressions, though—especially if you're looking for Apple-centric buds at a great price.

Amazon’s second attempt at true wireless earbuds are a huge step up. The tech giant found a way to revamp the new Echo Buds’ blueprint, improve both their sound and features, and add true active noise cancellation.

The best part? Even with all of these added perks, the second-generation Echo Buds cost exactly the same as the originals.

True wireless earbuds are all about usability. Amazon’s first earbuds didn’t have it, with their bulky size and uncomfortable fit. With round two, Amazon made the Echo Buds 20% smaller and far comfier.

The seal in your ears is tight, which helps to cut out noise around you. They’re also better with jostling movements like running or going to the gym. They’re also comfortable enough to avoid substantial ear fatigue after long periods of listening.

Aside from a smaller design, adding full active noise cancellation is perhaps the new Echo Buds’ standout feature. It may not be on par with higher-end options like Jabra’s Elite 85t, and certainly can't match up against Sony's WF-1000XM4. But for their price point, they are very effective. It’s a significant step up from the Active Noise Reduction found in the first Echo Buds.

Like the originals, the battery life of the second-generation Echo Buds isn’t anything to write home about. You get just 5 hours with ANC and 6.5 hours without. There also aren't a lot of customization options when it comes to sound quality.

Besides that, though, Amazon’s second-gen Echo Buds are a workhorse pair of earbuds. A compelling combination of comfort, features, and sound quality to make them easily among the most value-packed buds we’ve tested. And that’s without mentioning the inclusion of Alexa, the world’s favorite voice assistant.

Pros

  • Light and comfy design

  • Solid ANC for the money

  • Breezy setup for Android or iOS

Cons

  • No onboard volume control

  • Light on extras, no H1 chip

  • Only two charges in case

Product image of Apple AirPods (3rd Gen)
Apple AirPods (3rd Gen)

After nearly two-plus years, we finally got an update to Apple’s most iconic buds, and there are plenty of cool additions. The AirPods third-generation got a full redesign, looking like a hybrid between the AirPods Pro and previous AirPod generations.

Like the Pro model, the AirPods 3 (as they’re known colloquially) add a Force sensor to the shortened stems as controls. They also finally add some basic water resistance, rated at IPX4 for both the buds and the case. There’s even a new sensor to better detect skin for pausing/unpausing the buds when you pull them out.

But it’s what’s inside that makes for the biggest update. New sensors offer head-tracking for Apple’s Spatial Audio feature and better ways to track your pods in general with iOS 15. Like the previous generation, the new pods offer easy one-touch pairing to Apple devices. Apple’s H1 chip allows for easy switching between all your Apple gear, along with music swapping and sharing.

Other upgrades include a bigger battery—6 hours per charge, and 30 hours total with the case. There are also new custom drivers and Apple’s Adaptive EQ for improved sound, all crammed into a slimmer design.

But there are a few reasons the new AirPods may not be your best bet, even within the Apple ecosystem. First, you won’t find the kind of features we look for at this price, like active noise canceling or transparency mode.

You won’t need transparency mode, though. The AirPods 3 are open-air buds that naturally let sound in, but that’s another reason they fall in our rankings. Some listeners may like the old-school shell design. Unfortunately, the total lack of customization limits stability, comfort, and sound quality. Unlike the AirPods Pro, if the AirPods 3 don’t fit right away, there’s nothing to be done.

If you don’t demand the plastic shells, you’ll get better value from the AirPods Pro or Beats buds like the Beats Studio and Beats Fit Pro. They all bring great Apple-first features alongside active noise canceling and ultra-fast pairing for Android or Apple devices. And if you love the plastic shells, you can now get the second-generation AirPods at a much lower price.

Still, if you want a taste of the old AirPods experience with modern advancements like improved battery life, better tracking, and upgraded audio quality, the AirPods 3 deliver that experience with the signature elegance Apple fans have come to expect.

Pros

  • Compact new design

  • Upgraded battery and features

  • Improved sound and great calling

Cons

  • No noise canceling

  • Still no way to customize fit

  • Upper register can sound tinny

Product image of Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro
Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro

Whether you go with the "Powerbeats" linked together by a small wire, the or the fully wireless Pro version, these are some of the most popular sports buds out there.

Priced similarly to Apple's AirPods Pro, the Beats Powerbeats Pro lack features like ANC or ambient sound mode. But they're still stalwart workout companions.

They offer impressive playback time per charge, great sound, and a durable, sporty design. They're relatively stylish (as you might expect from Beats), available in ivory, black, navy, or moss colors. Adjustable ear hooks to help keep them in your ears during just about any workout.

Both Powerbeats offer great water resistance and vastly improved sound quality over previous Beats earbuds, making them good for general use. However, their ear-hook design can get uncomfortable over time.

Like most true wireless earphones, the Powerbeats Pro come with a pocketable charging case. (Thanks to their ear hooks, it’s a lot larger than most.) But their impressive 9 hours of battery life per charge lets you leave the case behind.

The Powerbeats Pro are less minimalist than Apple's AirPods, and come at a premium price point—especially for their feature set. This makes them less-than-ideal for jogging in busy areas. Because of their Apple-first design, they're also not as good an option if you own an Android phone.

Their price point has also dropped a fair bit over time, though. If you’re looking for fitness first, they're a fine choice, especially if you find them on a good sale.

Pros

  • Water-resistant

  • Available in a number of colors

  • Long battery life

Cons

  • Bass-forward sound not for everyone

  • Ear hooks can be uncomfortable

How We Test Wireless Earbuds

True wireless earbuds all come with two individual buds—no wires between them—and a charging case.
Credit: Reviewed.com / TJ Donegan

True wireless earbuds all come with two individual buds—no wires between them—and a charging case.

When testing earbuds, we focus on several key pain points consumers typically run into including (but not limited to) battery life, ease of use, controls, wireless range, sound quality, sound isolation, and comfort.

For sound quality tests, we use a mix of real-world and lab testing, including data collection and A/B testing on factors like max volume, passive and active noise attenuation (including active noise cancellation), and how well each earbud blocked outside and background noise. We use all the earbuds extensively, playing a wide variety of test tracks ranging from classical to hip-hop, rock, jazz, and more.

Most features are tested in real-life situations, including sweat proofing, short- and long-term comfort, battery life, microphone quality, and connectivity over distances and through obstacles like doors and walls.

Perhaps the biggest missing link in all headphone reviews is durability. It's simply impossible for us to test a single pair and come to a meaningful conclusion about how well they'll hold up over time and with regular use (and abuse). To account for this, we note any major issues that popped up in user reviews (where available), though this doesn’t impact final scores.

We also use these earbuds over a prolonged period and update their firmware when available to test out the latest features. We update relevant articles and reviews with our findings.

The truth is that wireless earbuds across the board have struggled with durability, so this is a major cause of concern for us. Since some of these models are quite new, we reserve the right to revisit our conclusions as we become aware of any major issues or pain points as time goes on.

What You Should Know About Buying Headphones

You've probably seen a bunch of different headphones in your everyday life. While they have a number of different selling points, headphones are primarily categorized into three types: in-ear (including earbuds), on-ear, and over-ear headphones.

For this article we focused only on wireless in-ear models. These are primarily designed to be inserted into your ear canal. Apart from audiophile options or professional in-ear monitors, the vast majority will connect to your source device wirelessly.

In-ear vs. on-ear vs. over-ear headphones.
Credit: Reviewed

Three popular types of headphones: in-ear, on-ear, and over-ear.

Knowing the basic terminology of modern headphones is the best way to estimate what you need. From there you can decide on which features you want to fit into your budget. Below are a few important terms to know before you shop.

  • Bluetooth/wireless: Do you want wireless headphones? A pair of Bluetooth headphones will let you unplug from your source device, while a set of "true wireless" earbuds are even more minimalist, offering totally wire-free listening with no cable between the earbuds. If you're looking for an experience that won't tether you to your phone, tablet, or laptop, Bluetooth headphones are what you need—and fortunately, they're ubiquitous enough these days that you can find them in every style and price range.

  • Active Noise Cancellation: Active noise cancellation (ANC) isn’t just for frequent flyers. Originally developed for pilots, this technology reduces the effect of ambient noise around you using phase cancellation of unwanted frequencies.
    ANC headphones have become a mainstay for travelers, public transit commuters, gym-goers, and those working in distracting environments in the office or at home. Most of our top picks include ANC as the feature has become more popular. You can also check out our guide of the best noise-canceling headphones we've tested.

  • Transparency mode: This feature goes by many names, including hearthrough mode, ambient sound mode, etc. All of these phrases refer to the same technology, which uses tiny microphones on the exterior of your headphones or earbuds to filter in sound from your environment.
    The purpose is to keep you aware of your surroundings. You can play tunes while you jog or hike, while still being aware of dangers or alerts. Not all transparency modes are created equal, though. How a headphone’s hardware and software handle things like wind gusts can make a serious difference in the feature’s utility.

  • IP: You'll encounter an "IP" rating across a wide array of electronics. The term is perhaps most important when it comes to products designed to take on the elements. You'll often see the code "IPX" with a number at the end, or you may see codes like IP67, etc.
    The first number is dust resistance. The higher the number the better, it stands up to dust. The second number is water resistance. The highest you'll likely see for headphones is "7", indicating that the product is certified to withstand being fully submerged in one meter of water (freshwater only) for 30 minutes.
    For headphones, anything from IPX4 (meaning the headphones can withstand splashes from any direction) and above should do the trick. You can find more info in our IP guide.


Meet the testers

Lee Neikirk

Lee Neikirk

Editor, Home Theater

@Koanshark

Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.

See all of Lee Neikirk's reviews
Ryan Waniata

Ryan Waniata

Managing Editor - Electronics

@ryanwaniata

Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan parlayed his time working as a musician and audio engineer into a career in digital media in 2012. Since then he's had extensive experience as a writer and editor, including everything from op-eds and features to reviews on TVs, audio gear, smart home devices, and more.

See all of Ryan Waniata's reviews
Nick Woodard

Nick Woodard

Contributor

@@nwoodard25

Nick Woodard is a tech journalist specializing in all things related to home theater and A/V. His background includes a solid foundation as a sports writer for multiple daily newspapers, and he enjoys hiking and mountain biking in his spare time.

See all of Nick Woodard's reviews

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