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.
We're starting to see some very compelling wire-free earphones now, with companies like Bose and JLab offering sets with the power, longevity, and intuitive controls necessary for us to recommend them. Typically wire-free earphones were more expensive than conventional wireless earphones, but there are now several compelling sets available for under $150 or even under $100.
Preferences for the length of headphone cables vary for portable users, especially depending on where you prefer to wear your device: a backpack or a pants pocket necessitates a longer cable, while you'll opt for a short one when wearing a player on a neck lavalier or an armband. But a cable length at either extreme need not be a fatal flaw: extension cables can lengthen those that are too short, and cable wraps can tighten up ones that are too long.
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 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.

The treble and the mid-range performance sets the best wireless earbuds apart from their rivals. It will help you enjoy the vocals, as well as the finer details in a song's instrumental accompaniment to the fullest. Bass is typically the easiest audio bit to reproduce. But, especially in affordably-priced headsets, it might come at the expense of the mids and the highs.


The lighter-inspired metal charge case of the Klipsch T5 is snazzy but heavy in a pocket. We found that the T5 sounded quite good, but the Klipsch signature oblong tips didn’t hold the earbuds securely enough in our panelists’ ears: After we yawned or spoke, the T5 earbuds started to slide out of our ears, and Brent (who has large ear canals) couldn’t get a seal at all.
Earbuds land all over the map when it comes to fit, so it’s reassuring to hear one tester describe this pair as “super comfortable.” She used them every day over multiple weeks and never had any issues. What makes them so easy to wear? According to our testers, the ability to customize your fit is the game-changer — the earbuds are adjustable and also include hooks. In addition to superb comfort, these earbuds get top marks where it matters most: sound quality. “Compared to other earbuds I've had in the past,” one tester said, “the sound quality is much better. And the fact that they fit comfortably in my ears is a plus!” Our reviewers also confirmed that the battery life held true to the promised 15 hours.
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.”
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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.
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.
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.
Even if they don't sound as magical as you'd hope a $249 model would, the AirPods Pro still manage to be a great pair of truly wireless earphones. That's largely due to their winning design and fit, improved bass performance, effective noise canceling and excellent call quality. Yeah, they're expensive at $250, but the good news is you'll use them so much you'll probably wear the battery down -- it does degrade over time and isn't replaceable -- and have to buy a new pair in 18 to 24 months if you don't lose them first. 

The best cheap wireless earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They’re more comfortable than most in-ears we’ve tested, since their earbud tips don’t enter too deeply in the ear canal and they have an ear-hook design that ensures a stable fit. Their 13-hour battery life outperforms that of more expensive models, and they even come with a nice hard carrying case, which is a welcome addition at this price point. They’re also the best earbuds for bass that we’ve reviewed to date thanks to their exciting bass-rich sound.


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With a Lightning a USB-C headphone you plug the headphone directly into the Lightning port (on Apple devices) or USB-C port (on Android devices). A standard headphone plug is an analog connection while this creates a direct digital connection. The headphones are powered by your phone (they use only a little bit of battery power) and have an integrated DAC (digital-to-analog converter) that's usually superior to the DAC in your phone.

Total harmonic distortion: True, headphones with lower actual total harmonic distortion (THD) will sound better than those with higher THD. But the quoted THD numbers -- "less than 1 percent" -- aren't helpful in predicting sound quality. Listen to recordings of simply recorded acoustic guitar to assess the distortion of one set of headphones versus another. Some will sound appreciably cleaner than others.

If the Jabra Elite 75t pair is unavailable or you’re devoted to Apple and you want the easy pairing experience you get with Apple’s new H1 chip, we recommend the Beats Powerbeats Pro. Just like Apple’s own AirPods, the Powerbeats Pro earbuds pair quickly and easily with Apple devices. They also offer “Hey Siri” voice activation and the ability to wear either earpiece individually for situational awareness, but no transparency mode as on the Jabra pair. Unlike the AirPods, the Powerbeats Pro earbuds offer water resistance, a secure fit, and volume and track controls. They sound great, with a slightly boosted bass, and they have a longer, nine-hour music-listening battery life between charges (six hours for calls). When you put them into the charging case for just five minutes, it adds 90 minutes of use (and the case will charge the earbuds fully around one and a half times more before it needs to be recharged), but the case is not as small as the case you get with the Jabra Elite 75t or the AirPods. And the Powerbeats Pro set is a lot more expensive than the Jabra Elite 75t.
As for design, these earbuds feature a lightweight aluminum construction that is designed to fit comfortably in your ear canals. The cord itself is four feet long and has both a microphone and a three-button remote for controlling your music. Better yet, 1MORE claims to have collaborated with music industry veteran and sound engineer Luca Bignardi to get the sound just right.
Sealed models are ideal for private listening, where you don't want the sound to be heard by other people. Open headphones -- such as foam earpad models and many sports designs -- are acoustically transparent and allow outside sound to be heard by the headphone wearer, and a good deal of the headphones' sound will be audible to anyone near the listener.
The Anker SoundCore Liberty Air Truly Wireless are the best wireless earbuds under $100 that we've tested so far. Although they don't have the same fit and finish, they're decently well-built and should be able to survive a few accidental drops. Just like the Apple AirPods Pro, there are touch controls situated on the stem, as well as a microphone.
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.
Master & Dynamic MW07 Go: This pair offers a lot of positives. The earbuds are very comfortable and stable in the ears, and we like the separate volume and track controls, although the volume buttons are a tad small for those with larger fingers. The 10-hour battery life and 30-meter Bluetooth range are impressive for this category. The small fabric-wrapped case and the earbuds themselves feel well made. However, although the sound was rather good in our tests, the bass was boosted in a way that could veil male vocals on bass-heavy songs. And we wished the Go had a transparency mode so we didn’t need to take these earbuds out to have a conversation. But if those aren’t dealbreakers for you and you aren’t turned off by the $200 price, they’re solid earbuds.
If the Jabra Elite 75t is sold out or you own multiple Apple devices and want the easiest pairing experience, the Beats Powerbeats Pro set is a great choice. These true wireless earbuds use the same H1 chip as Apple’s AirPods, so you get the same fast, easy pairing and “Hey Siri” voice activation. Overall, the Powerbeats Pro earbuds are superior to the AirPods, adding full track and volume controls, water and sweat resistance, and a longer battery life of nine hours for listening (or six hours of calls). The buds stayed securely in our ears and sounded quite good, with only slightly boosted bass. However, the charging case is larger than we’d like (see the photo comparison below), the ear tips can make a crinkling noise when you adjust them in your ears, and at the original price of $250, the Powerbeats Pro is not cheap.
Earphones might not be as eye-catching as headphones, but they can be much more convenient. Besides their size and weight, earphones are often more resilient than headphones when dealing with moisture. This is important if you want to listen to music at the gym. Earpads can get soaked and worn with a solid sweat, and they aren't built to withstand the regular, constant friction that comes with working out. Earphones can be built to be water- and sweat-resistant, and hold up much better to activity.
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