We’ve tested just over 200 sets of Bluetooth earbuds to date, so we can’t list every competitor here in this earbud review—but we do keep notes. If you’re curious about a specific pair, feel free to reach out to our team with questions. Also, for gym headphones, be sure to check out our workout headphones guide, as we discuss a lot of sport-focused models there.
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).
Active noise cancellation uses outward-facing microphones to pick up and analyze noise, which then gets canceled out by circuitry that generates an inverse wave in the headphones. It was previously an expensive, cumbersome technology that couldn't be found on wireless headphones, but that changed a few years ago with advances in battery life and circuit miniaturization. You'll pay a premium for headphones with active noise cancellation, but it's a handy feature if you just want to tune out everything around you besides your music. For more, check out the best noise-cancelling headphones.
Sennheiser certainly took its time getting into the true wireless market, but if you’ve got a hefty spending budget, you’ll find it was well worth the wait. The Momentum True Wireless offer impressive features like transparency mode to pipe in the sound around you, IPX4 splash-proofing (though we wish they were fully waterproof at this price), and most importantly, audio performance that outdoes everything we’ve heard in the segment.
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.
Finally, we think that you should spend under $250 for a set of true wireless headphones with these features and around $100 for wireless headphones where the two earbuds are connected by a wire or collar (although we allow a price closer to $150 for extra features such as active noise cancelling). That’s enough money to obtain high build quality as well as good sound from a company with a decent track record and reliable customer support.
AirPods Pro are sweat and water resistant for non-water sports and exercise. AirPods Pro were tested under controlled laboratory conditions, and have a rating of IPX4 under IEC standard 60529. Sweat and water resistance are not permanent conditions and resistance might decrease as a result of normal wear. Do not attempt to charge wet AirPods Pro; refer to https://support.apple.com/kb/HT210711 for cleaning and drying instructions. The charging case is not sweat or water resistant.
The best sounding wireless earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Bose SoundSport Free. These sports-oriented truly wireless headphones feel very well-built and have a comfortable earbud fit. They have outstanding audio reproduction and sound slightly more spacious than most wireless earbuds thanks to their semi-open design. They provide nearly 5 hours of continuous playback, which is pretty good for truly wireless headphones, and they have a convenient auto-off timer to help save power when not in use.
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).
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.
The trade-off is that most wire-free earphones have inferior battery life compared with tethered models, forcing you to pop them in their charging case fairly often. Their small size also means on-earphone controls are generally limited, and their price is usually significantly more than similar tethered wireless earphones. Our reviews go into greater detail about these benefits and limitations, and highlight how certain models are starting to overcome these growing pains.
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 Jabra Elite 75t earbuds are a pleasure to use, offering all the benefits of traditional Bluetooth earbuds with absolutely no cords. An upgrade to our previous top pick, the Elite 65t, these are among the smallest, lightest true wireless earbuds we’ve tested, but their fit should still be secure for a variety of ear shapes. The controls are simple and comfortable to use. Battery life is listed at seven and a half hours of listening time per charge, which is about enough for a full workday. The charging case is small enough to fit in the coin pocket of a pair of jeans and provides an additional 20 hours of battery life. The earbuds sound great with music, and the microphones are remarkably good at reducing moderate wind noise while keeping your voice clear to your callers. If you need to brave the elements, the 75t earbuds are dust and water resistant (with an IP55 rating). They’re compatible with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri, and if anything goes amiss, Jabra protects the pair with a two-year warranty.
You can charge your AirPods Pro in their wireless charging case with a Qi-certified charger. While the case is charging wirelessly, you can tap the status light to see the charge status. A green light means that the case—and AirPods, if they're inside—is charged more than 80 percent. You can also plug the case in to an Apple Lightning to USB cable—either USB-C or USB A.
With the Klipsch brand, the bar tends to get set pretty high when it comes to sound quality. Thankfully the company’s latest set of truly wireless earbuds is no exception. In fact, these earbuds make a strong argument for second place in the sound quality category, right behind the Sennheiser Momentums, as they offer better overall fidelity than any other earbuds on this list. The superlatives continue, however, with an eight-hour battery life per charge and an additional 24-hours of juice on-tap in the charging case. Let’s take a moment right now and give proper admiration to that charging case: It looks like (and opens like) a Zippo lighter, and we think it imparts the same cool factor on anyone who carries it. It’s a tad heavy, but those curved corners and metal finish make it all worthwhile.
Apple’s original AirPods debuted to middling reviews and hilarious memes. The golf tee earbuds seemed silly in the face of more effective designs from competing brands. Yet despite their average sound quality, the AirPods and AirPods 2 have become badges of honor among Apple faithful. Enter the AirPods Pro, which improve on the original concept with a bevy of functionality and quality-of-life improvements. The biggest change that Apple touts is active noise cancelation, and rightfully so. This feature drowns out all outside noise if you’re looking for a break from the world. This is no doubt helped along by the new interchangeable silicon tips. Alongside added passive noise cancelation, the ear tips give you plenty of options for finding the perfect fit.