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.
1More Stylish True Wireless: This pair is a solid choice for those who have smaller ear canals or who have difficulty keeping earbuds in place. The multiple wing and tip options combined with a lightweight chassis make the Stylish True Wireless more comfortable to wear long-term than similarly priced competitors. At six and a half hours, the battery life is solid, too. After this pair’s release, 1More added the ability to control volume with the buttons, but you’ll need to update the firmware to take advantage. In our tests, the sound leaned toward being bass-heavy and blurry on male vocals; if not for that, we may have named this pair as a pick.
Brent Butterworth really liked the EarFun Free pair’s sound and fit. And the rest of us do too. For the price, the audio quality is pretty fantastic, with clear highs and slightly boosted lows that don’t blur the mids, giving a nice sense of space to music. The fit is comfortable, as well. The control buttons are quiet, but when you press them, they can cause the earbuds to push into your ear in a mildly uncomfortable way. The real problem is that we tested five pairs, and three had technical issues. EarFun representatives said that the first samples we received may have been left over from its Kickstarter campaign, but this was enough of a concern for us to hold off on making these earbuds a budget pick.
Brent Butterworth really liked the EarFun Free pair’s sound and fit. And the rest of us do too. For the price, the audio quality is pretty fantastic, with clear highs and slightly boosted lows that don’t blur the mids, giving a nice sense of space to music. The fit is comfortable, as well. The control buttons are quiet, but when you press them, they can cause the earbuds to push into your ear in a mildly uncomfortable way. The real problem is that we tested five pairs, and three had technical issues. EarFun representatives said that the first samples we received may have been left over from its Kickstarter campaign, but this was enough of a concern for us to hold off on making these earbuds a budget pick.
Newer models manage to strike a balance between operability and layout. Some use actual tactile buttons to control playback, call management, track navigation, and volume. Some others cleverly divide controls between the two earpieces with touch panels—tapping the left ear, for instance, will skip a track backward, while tapping the right will skip forward. Despite needing to do a little more thinking before you tap, eventually the division of controls between the two earpieces reveals itself to be intuitive. So on-ear control panels are getting more creative and user-friendly, but there's still a ways to go before they catch up with traditional wireless models.
The Skullcandy Sesh finds the sweet spot between low price and solid performance. Most true wireless earbuds under $75 come saddled with a bunch of inconveniences—problems such as signal drop, interference, terrible sound quality, uncomfortable fit, wonky (or absent) controls, and shoddy craftsmanship, all of which tend to negate the feeling of freedom that completely wireless earbuds promise. But the Sesh won’t compromise your enjoyment, thanks to its simple controls, comfortable fit, reliable Bluetooth connection, decent sound, IP55 dust/sweat/water resistance, two-year warranty, and unique earbud-loss replacement program. The only major downside is the battery life: At three hours per charge for this set, you’ll definitely have to bring the charge case, which provides seven additional hours of battery life and is small enough to fit in most jeans pockets.
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.
Six-hour battery life is already better than most of the models on this list, but that’s with noise cancellation turned on. Switch it off and that leaps to a whopping eight hours. The charging case, which looks like it was designed by the marketing team at Duracell, stores three full charges, giving you up to 32 hours of playtime — or 24 if you like your environment ultra-quiet. Wondering how they compare to the PowerBeats Pro? It wasn’t even close.
The active noise cancellation is decent, but it’s not adjustable at all and may cause “eardrum suck” for some people (you can read more about this phenomenon in our best noise-cancelling headphones guide). Because of the vented earbud design, the Pro earbuds don’t provide much noise isolation without the ANC activated, but they still produce some mild occlusion effect. With battery life of four and a half hours, they won’t last a cross-country flight or a full workday without a charging break. The Pro earbuds are water resistant, but the design is far less secure for high-impact activities than that of the Powerbeats Pro and less durable than that of the IP55-rated Jabra Elite 75t. While we like that Apple did away with the tap-based controls, the squeeze controls are fiddly (we often play/paused when we wanted to skip tracks) and still lack volume controls (which both the Jabra Elite 75t and Powerbeats Pro have).
The best Bluetooth earbuds we’ve tested so far are the Jaybird Tarah Pro. They’re highly customizable in-ear headphones with lots of neat features. You can EQ the way they sound with their companion app and their 13-hour battery life with auto-off timer keeps them running all day. Their very stable fit makes them a great option for fitness enthusiasts, and they isolate well enough to be a good choice for commuters, too.
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.”)
B&O had a lot of good ideas for the Beoplay E8, but the execution on all of them was off. The touch controls and transparency mode didn’t work well for us, and none of the EQ settings made the sound quality fantastic. At best, we got metallic, sibilant highs and a shallow soundstage that didn’t come close to what we expect from a $300 set of headphones. The Motion version costs $350 and has the same sound but adds water resistance and stabilizer wings.
The Elite 75t uses a four-microphone array similar to that of the Elite 65t, but with upgraded wind-noise-reduction capabilities. When using the 75t in a quiet room, I sounded very clear to other people during calls and videoconferences. To test the wind noise reduction, I stood in front of a window air conditioner, put the fan on high, and called Brent Butterworth. Brent reported that he initially heard the sound of air hitting the mic, but when I spoke, the noise dramatically dropped in volume. In contrast to the experiences we’ve had with other headphones that employ this kind of technology, which can compress the sound of your voice, Brent said my tone sounded a lot fuller and richer through the 75t than through other earbuds he’d heard.

While the Bose QuietControl 30/QC30 Wireless have a good default sound, not being able to customize it may be a dealbreaker for some, especially if you have a varied musical taste; for those who want more customization, go for the Sony WF-1000XM3. Sony's mobile app is among the best on the market. The app allows you to pick a preset sound profile, manual tuning through the graphic EQ, apply room effects, and control the active noise cancelling feature, just to name a few. With a bulkier design and oddly large ear tips, it may be more challenging to achieve a good fit, making the Sony slightly less comfortable. Sony's ANC also tends to focus on the mid-range, great at blocking out speech, but may struggle when it comes to the low rumbles of bus engines.


It’s also worth mentioning that the T5s are impressive for their call quality. That’s not normally something that people care about a lot in truly wireless earbuds, but with their long battery life, it’s good to know you won’t need to reach for your phone to take calls. Usability is also excellent thanks to the T5’s built-in controls for volume, track control, play/pause, and voice assistants. That usability ought to get even better when Klipsch releases its Connect App later this year.
The House of Marley Liberate Air earbuds are unique-looking and made with some sustainable parts, which we appreciate. But the earbud shape and smallish tips may not fit folks with larger ears. When we did get them to fit, the sound quality was decent, with balanced low and mid frequencies but somewhat sibilant and sizzling highs. Overall, we didn’t dislike this pair, but we loved other options more.
1More Stylish True Wireless: This pair is a solid choice for those who have smaller ear canals or who have difficulty keeping earbuds in place. The multiple wing and tip options combined with a lightweight chassis make the Stylish True Wireless more comfortable to wear long-term than similarly priced competitors. At six and a half hours, the battery life is solid, too. After this pair’s release, 1More added the ability to control volume with the buttons, but you’ll need to update the firmware to take advantage. In our tests, the sound leaned toward being bass-heavy and blurry on male vocals; if not for that, we may have named this pair as a pick.
The Amazon Echo Buds are the best true wireless earbuds you can buy. With an incredible array of features and sound quality better than their low price indicates, it’s hard to find a better value. But they’re just one of nine selections we’ve highlighted in this roundup. If you’re ready to leave behind the wires — all the wires — for a set of completely wireless earbuds, we’ve got the perfect resource to help.
As for Bluetooth pairing, you won't find an easier pairing process than with the AirPods or the Powerbeats Pro (if you have an iOS device), which essentially do all the work for you the second you turn them on thanks to Apple's H1 (or older W1) headphone chip. Other pairs are still relatively simple to connect in your phone's Bluetooth settings menu.

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.

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.
Tward says it’s possible to get a skin or outer-ear infection from trying on in-ear headphones that have been in other people’s ears. If you choose to go down this test-driving path, clean the earbud with an alcohol wipe first, Tward says. Most stores don’t allow people to try on in-ear headphones, possibly for fear of spreading bacteria — but also because it would require the employees and resources to clean them. Best Buy and Target, for example, don’t offer test units to shoppers.

Everything about the JLab JBuds Air Icon is fantastic except the sound. These earbuds pair easily, fit comfortably, and have an intelligently designed charging case with a USB cable built in. They’re water and sweat resistant, too. But even with three EQ options, they can’t compete with our picks sonically. In our tests, the “balanced” mode produced soft and blurry bass and sibilant highs, the “bass boost” option was crazy-loud and reverby in a way that obliterated every other instrument, and the “signature” mode had bloated, woofing bass that covered male voices. If you listen only to podcasts, these earbuds are excellent, but music fans would likely be disappointed.
Though the PowerBeats Pro share many of the same features with Apple’s AirPods, they’re different where it counts: Sound quality — especially low-end bass — is far better on the PowerBeats Pro, which benefit from having a sound-isolating design. The PowerBeats Pros aren’t perfect; we experienced some frustrating connection problems even though the earbuds use Apple’s new H1 wireless chip, which should be better, not worse than its W1 predecessor.
The headphones are designed for go-anywhere, do-anything performance, with built-in earfins and IPX2 sweatproofing that allow them to be a companion during rainy runs and sweaty workouts alike. We found the design to also be extremely comfortable, even for extended periods. The charging case is one of the smaller ones we’ve seen — not quite as compact as the AirPods charging case, but very close. The only disappointment is that it only carries a little more than one recharge’s worth of juice, which means there may be times when these earbuds can’t quite make through a full day without needing either a plug or a wireless charging mat (or phone).
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.
If you don’t like the cumbersome design of over-ear headphones and prefer headphones with a smaller footprint, earbuds and in-ears can be a good choice. But if you don’t like having a wire going to your phone and prefer the freedom of wireless technology (or maybe your phone doesn’t even have an audio jack), wireless earbuds and in-ears are even better.

Testing conducted by Apple in February 2019 using preproduction AirPods (2nd generation), Charging Case, and Wireless Charging Case units and software paired with iPhone Xs 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%. Testing consisted of full AirPods battery discharge while playing audio until the first AirPod stopped playback. The drained AirPods were charged to 100 percent, then audio playback was resumed until the first AirPod stopped playback. This cycle was repeated until both the AirPods and charging case were fully discharged. Battery life depends on device settings, environment, usage, and many other factors.
The Sesh earbuds aren’t the smallest true wireless earbuds we’ve tested, but they are minimal and lightweight enough that they won’t hang heavily in your ears—and they aren’t visually obtrusive, either. Skullcandy includes three sizes of silicone tips, and all of our panelists were able to get a secure fit. Both earbuds feature a single large button that takes up the entire surface of the earbud chassis, so it’s very easy to find by feel. The Sesh’s controls are sensitive enough to pressure that they don’t require you to jam the earbud into your ear canal to change tracks or adjust the volume. They also click softly, so there isn’t a loud, annoying “kuh-click” sound that hurts your ears. The Sesh’s controls handle all the basics: calls, tracks, volume, digital assistant, play, and pause.
B&O had a lot of good ideas for the Beoplay E8, but the execution on all of them was off. The touch controls and transparency mode didn’t work well for us, and none of the EQ settings made the sound quality fantastic. At best, we got metallic, sibilant highs and a shallow soundstage that didn’t come close to what we expect from a $300 set of headphones. The Motion version costs $350 and has the same sound but adds water resistance and stabilizer wings.
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.
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.”)
You won’t need to worry about the Powerbeats Pro earbuds falling out of your ears, as the flexible stabilizing hook over each ear does a fantastic job of keeping these earbuds in place for most ear shapes. I took our test pair to the gym for a 90-minute high-impact workout involving a lot of jumping and diverse movement, and the Powerbeats Pro set didn’t budge. It’s one of the most comfortable earbud styles we’ve tested. For once, an ad with celebrity athletes (video) promising a secure earbud delivers on that promise. However, this design makes the Powerbeats Pro far less discreet than other true wireless earbuds, and it does feel reminiscent of the commuter Bluetooth single-ear headsets of, say, 2007. That said, if people can get accustomed to walking around with the AirPods’ trendy white-cigarette-in-the-ear look, we suspect they’ll be completely fine with the Powerbeats Pro look, too.
Anker uses graphene drivers here, which it says deliver a purer sound. You miss out on active noise cancelation, so they’re not ideal for noisy plane rides and such, but there’s a dual microphone array in each earpiece for improved call clarity. Intuitive touch controls allow you to answer calls, pause and skip tracks, and summon your favorite virtual assistant. The battery inside can go for up to five hours, and you’ll add up to 15 hours more thanks to their charging case.
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