When choosing Bluetooth headphones, consider where you'll be listening to your device. Different styles are ideal for different settings. Over-the-ear headphones and earbuds are lightweight and portable, making them a good choice for use while you exercise or for carrying with you on a regular basis. Large headphones, on the other hand, usually offer the best sound quality and noise reduction, making them a good choice for listening on planes, trains and in cars. For everyday listening at home or in the office, medium-sized headphones are a good choice.
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.
Although their control scheme provides all the essential functions, the buttons are very stiff, which makes them difficult to use. They’re also rather bulky: the earbuds themselves protrude quite a bit of out the ears and their charging case doesn't fit in your pockets as nicely as that Anker SoundCore Liberty Air Truly Wireless. That said, they're the best Bluetooth earbuds for sound and are a very good choice for those who want something durable without compromising on sound quality.
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.
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.
We found the Aukey EP-B33 earbuds comfortable to wear. Though they have three sound profiles to choose from, the options range from a bit too bass-heavy (which leads to dull-sounding male vocals) to a bit too much of a spike in the highs (so vocals have a sibilant, lispy quality). None of the options are terrible, however. These earbuds are a solid choice, especially if you can find them for $60 or less. They just aren’t quite as fantastic to use as our picks.
We found that the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E6 had decent bass but a sibilant high-frequency range that made harpsichord and piano sound tinny. Our panel didn’t find the stabilization wings to be comfortable. Although the earbuds are designed to connect together around your neck, the magnet in them isn’t strong enough to hold the E6 in place. The Motion version sounds the same but adds water resistance.
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 mic quality was quite good when we took phone calls in a quiet room, and it worked well for video chats. Beats has programmed in a sensor that dims the mics when you are not speaking to help reduce external noise, though outside they can still pick up noises around you when you are speaking. There is only very mild latency, so you won’t notice a massive delay between sound and video on your phone, laptop, or tablet.
The most important thing to consider is how you’re going to be using the headphones. If you commute, you probably don’t want open back headphones. If you’re going to be mixing movie soundtracks in a studio, you might not want a pair $10 in-ears. The audio market is exploding and there are literally thousands upon thousands of products out there. Chances are, there’s more than a few that are going to suit your needs perfectly and now that you know what everything means, finding it shouldn’t be too difficult. Happy hunting!
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best Bluetooth earbuds and in-ear headphones for most people to need according to their needs. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the US).
Fit is important for any pair of workout headphones and the wireless Jaybird X4 is super customizable for maximum comfort. The earbuds come with different-sized silicone and foam tips and fins along with a “Speed Cinch” that lets you tighten or loosen the cable hanging around your neck. You also have the option of draping the cable either under or over your ear, depending on your preference.
The best wireless noise cancelling earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Bose QuietControl 30. If you’re looking for more comfortable earbuds with great isolation, they're a great choice. They have great active noise cancelling, reproduce audio fairly well, and have a comfortable earbud fit. Like most in-ears, they have little sound leakage, which makes them a decent choice for use at the office. Their neckband design ensures your music is always at arm's reach.
The best earbuds for noise cancellation that we’ve tested so far are the Bose QuietControl 30. If you usually find in-ears a bit uncomfortable, then their earbud fit may be the solution you've been hoping for. They have a well-balanced, bass-rich sound, and their neckband design ensures your music is always at arm’s reach. They have very good noise cancelling and also hardly leak any sound, which makes them a good choice for use while commuting or at the office.
Each type of headphone has their own distinct advantages. What is right for you might not be the best headphone for someone else so before get into the list we want to give you some points to consider before your next purchase. If you just want to see the list of the best wireless headphones feel free to skip the next couple of sections and go straight to our top 10.
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.
Technically speaking, earbuds are not earphones, as they don't enter your ear canal. Instead they sit just outside of it, where it's easy to become loose and cause problems when it comes to accurate stereo imaging (in which both ears get the same amount of audio) and bass response. Earphones, meanwhile, fit in the ear canal and form a seal inside your ear, blocking outside noise while piping sound directly into your ears. They're much smaller and lighter than headphones, since they don't need to fit on or over your ears and don't require any outside support (though some have stiff wire sections or flexible fins to keep them in place without getting in the way). Plus they won't mess up your hair.