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.
1More Dual-Driver BT ANC In-Ear Headphones: These earbuds have a traditional neckband-style design, and the active noise cancelling has two modes: one that’s more intense for use on planes and one that’s less so for commuting. A hear-through mode allows for easy conversation without your having to pull the earbuds from your ears. The flexible neckband coils up for easy storage in a pocket. Unlike many Bluetooth ANC earbuds, this 1More pair also works corded via an included cable (and the noise cancellation still works in corded mode), which makes it a great option for use with in-flight entertainment systems. In our tests, the tuning was a little unnaturally boosted in the treble and bass, but overall it sounded enjoyable. The seven-hour battery life is shorter than what you can get from other new true wireless designs, but a 10-minute charge gives you three hours of use, so you’ll be back in business quickly.
As for sound quality, in our tests the Sesh outperformed the vast majority of true wireless earbuds in its price range. The bass was more intense and, especially with hip-hop, could sound a bit louder in the mix than you might expect, but it didn’t blur or muffle male voices like a lot of the competition did. The higher frequencies were a little rolled-off, so “s” sounds were a bit softer and had an airier “sh” quality rather than a sharp “s” quality. But overall, for a pair that typically costs $60, the Sesh sounded fantastic.
All of that is in addition to the two-year warranty against manufacturing defects, plus water, sweat, and dust damage. With its IP55 rating (for more, see our video on water resistance ratings), the Sesh can take rain, sweat, and the dust kicked up from a desert-canyon hike. For occasional gym sessions, the Sesh will work just fine, especially if the earbuds fit your ears securely. That said, we worry that especially high-impact workouts will slowly cause the Sesh earbuds to begin to wiggle loose from your ear, and the sealed design isn’t ideal for outdoor running safety. For regular workout earbuds, we prefer one of our gym headphones or running headphones picks.
AirPods might be on your holiday wishlist, but if you can’t justify paying over $200 for a pair, we feel your pain. The AirSounds Pro offers Apple’s sleek aesthetic at much less, and you can buy them today with this special Black Friday discount. These normally retail for $129.99, but they’re only $27.99 when you use offer code BFSAVE20 at checkout.
When choosing Bluetooth headphones, consider where you'll be listening to your device. Different styles are ideal for different settings. Over-the-ear headphones and earbuds are lightweight and portable, making them a good choice for use while you exercise or for carrying with you on a regular basis. Large headphones, on the other hand, usually offer the best sound quality and noise reduction, making them a good choice for listening on planes, trains and in cars. For everyday listening at home or in the office, medium-sized headphones are a good choice.
Unfortunately, Anker doesn't have a mobile app for customization, but the default sound profile should please most people, with deep bass, clear but slightly recessed mids, and a great treble. As for battery life, they can run for about 4 hours, with the case providing an additional 3 charges. If you're looking for good truly wireless in-ears that won't break the bank, these are worth considering.
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 a single earbud like a traditional headset for calls or to better hear your surroundings.
When you take your AirPods out of the case, they're on and ready to use. When you put them in your ears, your AirPods automatically play the audio from your device. If you take an AirPod out, audio pauses. Take them both out and audio stops. If you're listening with one AirPod and you take it out, the AirPod pauses. If you put it back in your ear within 15 seconds, play resumes automatically.
Of all the excellent true wireless earbuds on this list, there is only one model that provides active noise cancellation. It’s the new Sony WF-1000xM3, which are effectively the truly wireless versions of the Sony WH-1000xM3 — the headphones that dominate several of our best-of lists. These earbuds are a technological tour-de-force, combining superb sound quality, awesome noise cancellation, and class-leading battery life.
Wireless no longer means poor sound, either. These days, Bluetooth audio sounds much better than it ever has. Even though the stereo Bluetooth data signal is compressed, various headphone and earphone vendors have discovered ways of enhancing the signal to compensate for deficiencies in fidelity. (That said, audiophiles will still hear a difference and should probably stick with wired headphones.) But for casual listening, many of the most recent wireless models we've tested sound just fine—even great. Check out our buying advice below before picking the perfect pair.
This is, understandably, a concern of many potential true wireless users. Allow us to allay your fears—we can say that after over a year of testing, you have to try pretty hard to lose one earpiece. First off, just about every pair we've tested offers an extremely secure in-ear fit without sacrificing comfort. Most of the earpieces are larger than typical in-ears, while still maintaining a lightweight feel, making the likelihood of losing one while exercising (or at any other time) fairly low.
Our writers spent 253 hours researching and testing the most popular wireless earbuds on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 10 different earbuds overall, screened options from 10 different brands and manufacturers, and read over 45 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.
Otherwise, Plantronics delivers on better-than-average sound quality with a pair of 5.8mm drivers that make the BackBeat Pro 5100 perfectly acceptable for music. Their tap controls are backed by the BackBeats app that grants cool functionality like one- or two-tap access to playlists, EQ settings, and handy stopwatch and time functions. Couple those last two goodies with IP54 water resistance and 6.5 hours of battery (plus an extra 13 hours from the case), and they can even pull double duty as your workout buddies.