The Aukey EP-T16S offers a tiny case, tiny earbuds, and tiny tips—too tiny for medium or large ear canals to get a seal. In our tests, when they fit properly, the EP-T16S pair produced a ton of bass that could overwhelm male vocals in hip-hop and electronic music, and highs that sounded mildly harsh. Despite their size, we don’t recommend these earbuds for diminutive ears because we’ve found that small ears need more than just small tips to hold the earbuds in place securely and comfortably (usually a wing or hook helps).
If you are worried about replacing the batteries in your headphones, you'll be relieved to learn that many devices come with rechargeable batteries. Many devices remain fully charged long enough for you to finish a full shift of work, making it easy to finish all of your job-related duties without stopping to recharge your headgear. Not all wireless headphones come with a charging device, but we sell compatible models separately for many popular brands.
The Bluetooth connection is solid; I got two walls away from my iPhone with no skipping or stuttering. Of course, pipes and metal beams can still cause issues because of the physics involved with Bluetooth, but with line-of-sight, the Sesh shouldn’t have signal dropout for at least 50 to 60 feet. It produces a very mild latency when you’re watching video, but not so much that dialogue looks dubbed.
Apple AirPods Pro: These earbuds are a major step up over the basic AirPods, in both sound quality and versatility. If your heart is set on a pair of AirPods, get the Pro version. The added bass response, improved fit, mild water and sweat resistance (rated IPX4), and active noise cancellation make these the best earbuds Apple has made. The easy pairing process (thanks to Apple’s H1 chip) is still nifty, the small charge case is handy, the wind-noise-reducing microphones are effective, and the iOS interface is pretty. However, although the AirPods Pro earbuds are good for Apple fans, they may not be worth the price for everyone else. In our tests, they were much better than the basic AirPods in sound quality but equaled by less-expensive options such as the Jabra Elite 75t.
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If there's one complication many models share in the operation department, it's that it's easy to accidentally pause music, skip a track, or summon a voice assistant when you merely meant to take an earpiece out or adjust it slightly. There's not a lot of real estate on most of the earpieces we've tested, and thus much of the outer panel area is devoted to housing controls.
For other people, Android fans say, it’s just as important not to rock anything that could even be confused with an AirPod. The safest non-Apple neutral look is the most common design: a black, roundish bud that doesn’t have any major protrusions. Amazon Echo Buds, Jabra Elite 75t, the black Samsung Galaxy Buds, and a number of budget options all have that same generic look. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Post, but we review all technology with the same critical eye.)
You'll notice that most of our top picks today are completely wireless! Once part of an expensive and questionable sub-category of products, today’s best wire-free buds have evolved to deliver great sound, a reliable device connection, and enough battery life to meet the demands of most users. Most importantly, they're also priced competitively, making them more attainable than ever before.
The Elite 75t offers more controls than many sets of true wireless earbuds. Each 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. We found this new button configuration to be easier to manipulate than that of the Elite 65t. And unlike with many of the touch-sensor-based earbuds we tested, the 75t’s buttons don’t trigger accidentally if your hand happens 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.
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.
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Testing conducted by Apple in October 2019 using preproduction AirPods Pro with Wireless Charging Case and software paired with iPhone 11 Pro Max units and prerelease software. The playlist consisted of 358 unique audio tracks purchased from the iTunes Store (256-Kbps AAC encoding). Volume was set to 50% and Active Noise Cancellation was enabled. Testing consisted of full AirPods Pro battery discharge while playing audio until the first AirPod Pro stopped playback. The drained AirPods Pro were charged to 100 percent, then audio playback was resumed until the first AirPod Pro stopped playback. This cycle was repeated until both the AirPods Pro and charging case were fully discharged. Battery life depends on device settings, environment, usage, and many other factors.
The necessary solution that (nearly) all of these designs share in common is a charging case. Each case protects the earpieces when not in use, and charges them simultaneously. Most of the cases carry two extra full charges, so you can recharge your earphones on the go. It's not unlikely that this weak aspect of the true wireless realm will improve to the point that it will no longer be an issue.
Sony’s noise cancelation technology remains bar-setting thanks to the QN1e processor. Paired with Sony’s DSEE HX audio engine, little can compete with the sound quality coming out of the WF-1000XM3. You’ll get well-balanced sound out of the box, and there’s an adjustable EQ if Sony’s modest sound signature doesn’t vibe with you. The WF-1000XM3 are also intuitive. Using touch controls, for instance, you can disengage noise cancelation in either of the buds by holding your finger against it. Managing your calls, tracks, and digital assistants happens with just a few taps and swipes. Removal detection is also present, so your tracks will pause if one of the earbuds falls out.