Setting up these headphones is easy — even for earbud novices. According to one reviewer, users just need to “pick the right size ear tips, plug in, and play!” He also added, “For iPhones, you do need the adapter that likely came with your phone, as this pair uses the traditional round plug.” These earbuds also had excellent sound quality. “The sound is very clear at any volume,” one tester said, “whether you're listening to a podcast or music with a heavy bass. The noise-canceling effect is also solid. They can handle pretty much anything you throw at them.”
On the downside, their default sound lacks a little bass. Since their companion app is only available on Android, iOS users who are fans of bass may be a bit disappointed. They also don’t have onboard storage like the Samsung Gear IconX Truly Wireless, which are harder to find, and are only rated IPX2 for minimal water resistance. That said, the Galaxy Buds feel better-built and have far superior battery life. If they suit your needs, they’re fairly versatile truly wireless headphones that are worth considering.
Active noise cancellation (ANC) works differently, though the end goal is the same. Products with ANC have tiny microphones in them that pick up outside sounds. The headphones then produce the opposite sound wave in order to actively cancel out the unwanted noise. It’s all based on physics and wave properties so as you can imagine, it’s not an easy thing to accomplish. When headphones claim noise cancelling we usually give their effectiveness a mention in our full reviews because it varies from product to product.
First, let’s start with the basics and take a look at the major types of headphones. You’re probably already aware of these and if you’re not, keep reading. We’ll go through some of the pros and cons of each kind of headphone so you can understand which one would best suit you. It’s worth mentioning that there are always exceptions to the rules so these pros and cons apply to most, but not all of the products in any particular category.
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.
At an original price of $300, the Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus is one of the priciest pairs of true wireless earbuds available. Although these earbuds feel very well built, they have some flaws that we might be more inclined to overlook in less-expensive options. The ANC is minimally effective. The metal case, while pretty, is heavy in a pocket. And although the drivers sound like they are of high quality, the tuning is just a little too boosted in the lows and highs. Those drawbacks don’t make the MW07 Plus a bad pair of earbuds, but they may make it not worth the price tag.
The sounds quality of these earbuds scored high marks with our testers. “They have a really crisp, clean, sound,” one reviewer explained. “I'm almost surprised by the nuance it adds to my listening experience.” Our testers also appreciated the variety of ear tips that were included to ensure they found their perfect fit. One thing our reviewers weren’t as psyched about, though, was the fact they didn’t block outside noise as well as other earbuds. One tester also had an issue with the volume buttons not working when she used the earbuds with her phone.
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.
On the downside, like most budget headphones, they don’t have any power-saving features, so you’ll need to remember to turn them off when not in use or else their battery will continue to drain. They also don’t have a companion app, so your EQ options are more limited. Though their ear-hook design ensures a stable fit, they don’t have the most sweat-proof design, so athletes may want to consider the similar yet more sweat-resistant Anker SoundCore Spirit X Wireless. Overall, they're the best Bluetooth earbuds we've tested in the budget category.
The tech-speak description for this type of headphone is "circumaural," which includes any headphones with earcups that fully enclose your ears. Because of their size and their acoustic isolation, full-size headphones are often considered to be better-suited to home use rather than as a portable option, but the recent popularity of full-size, noise-canceling Beats headphones are challenging the rule.
These are typically lighter than over-ear models, and they press on the ears instead of the sides of your head. Some users find them to be more comfortable than over-ear models and less likely to make their ears hot during long listening sessions. On-ear headphones, like over-the-ear, also come in open-back and closed-back varieties, but regardless, they often let in more outside sound because they typically don’t form as tight of a seal with the ear. Some can fold for storage and come with carrying pouches.
If you're a music lover, chances are you're not happy with your phone or media player's bundled earphones. Most of the time, they sound pretty dismal. Some devices don't come with any earphones at all, but even the models that do include them tend not to offer a high-quality listening experience. Your music and video can definitely benefit from an upgrade.