Amazon Echo Buds: These earbuds will appeal to folks who primarily rely on the Amazon ecosystem. When they’re connected to your phone, the Echo Buds’ always-listening Alexa function makes them an Echo device you can wear. But unlike other Alexa-enabled devices we’ve tested in the past, the Echo Buds avoid duplicating voice requests when you’re near other Echo devices. They’re also solid earbuds: Their size is small and they’re comfortable to wear, the sound quality is good, the controls are easy to use, and the price is reasonable. You can use each bud independently, and music pauses automatically when you remove one or both earbuds. They get a respectable five hours of battery life when fully charged, and the case provides an additional 15 hours of playback. The downsides are that you must leave the Alexa app open on your phone for Alexa to function, and the earbuds lack physical volume controls. The Bose noise reduction will diminish the low hum of an air conditioner or plane, but it isn’t as powerful as the noise cancellation you get with the Bose 700 headphones on the highest setting. (We’d say it’s about half as effective, which might be good news for those who are prone to “eardrum suck.”)
The biggest advantage that the Powerbeats Pro has over the competition is its 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 non-Apple 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.
One place that will let you walk right in and stick their product in your ear: Apple. You can try on AirPods inside an Apple Store — the older all-plastic AirPod model or the newer AirPod Pros, for which you can also test the three sizes of silicone tips. Apple cleans the units throughout the day, regularly taking a handful to wipe down with alcohol after one test.
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 adjust the EQ 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 tested true wireless earbuds had a more compressed or two-dimensional quality to their sound.
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.
The Jabra Elite 75t true wireless earbuds are the best Bluetooth earbuds because they sound great, feel comfortable in the ears, and offer the convenience of being completely cable-free. Compared with our previous top pick, the Elite 65t, the new earbuds have a smaller, lighter form, as well as better battery life (seven and a half hours per charge, up from five) and simpler controls. Jabra did away with the smaller, separate volume controls of the 65t and now offers one large, easy-to-press multifunction button on each earbud to control functions such as play/pause, volume, track skip, and digital-assistant activation. The four-microphone array and improved active wind-noise reduction keep your voice sounding exceptionally clear over phone calls. Though the Elite 75t earbuds don’t have active noise cancellation, they block out much of the noise around you and have a transparency mode so that you can choose to hear your surroundings when you need to. The pocket-sized storage case charges via USB-C and holds a little over two full charges. Plus, a two-year warranty from Jabra will protect you from any unexpected hiccups.
This best in-ear headphones guide covers both traditional Bluetooth earbuds, in which the two earbuds are connected via a cable (usually referred to as a collar or a neckband), and what 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. The microphones are built into the earbuds themselves, as are any track and volume controls, since no cable is available to support a traditional in-line remote. Because these earbuds are small, many don’t have more than a five-hour battery life, although the new Bluetooth chipsets being used in 2019 models allow for longer battery life. Most recharge in their carrying case.
The WF-1000xM3 get their impressive audio chops with a little help from Sony’s DSEE HX sound processing, which has a magical ability to take even lo-fi MP3s and make them sound rich and full. The active noise-canceling circuitry is the same as the WH-1000xM3 — in other words, superb. You get whisper-quiet backgrounds on airplanes, public transit, or even noisy offices. That noise cancellation is fully adjustable, and a long-press on one of the earbuds activates a transparency mode, giving you unfettered access to the sounds of the environment around you.
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 by train; you may also want to select another pair of headphones for in-flight use, such as the 1More Dual Driver BT ANC In-Ear Headphones.
For calls, the Jabra Elite 75t packs four different microphones for noise cancelation to make your voice crystal clear to whoever’s on the other end. Using them for workouts? Jabra throws in three extra pairs of silicone tips to help you secure a perfect fit. And with an IP55 rating, you can let a little rain or sweat hit them without worrying about electrical failures, making them an excellent choice for runners and gym rats alike.