Our testers loved that these earbuds were both stylish and comfortable. According to one reviewer, “They fit perfectly. I can barely feel them, which is really good for long-term use.” Unfortunately, this pair may not be the perfect pick for your workout needs, with one of our testers noting that he heard some static when he moved around too much. Stick to the streets and the office and these earbuds should work well for you.
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 don’t quite have AirPods money, Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air let you fake the funk for a fraction of the cost. Don’t be mistaken, though — these budget earbuds pack quite a punch. The bass-heavy Soundcore Liberty Air even take after the AirPods design a bit with a golf tee of their own. Whether that’s enough to fool the informed is a toss-up, but regardless, you’re getting decent sound and features for your money.
Although they're not truly wireless earbuds, the in-line controls are easy to use if you're not a fan of touch controls. On the back of the in-line remote is where you'll find the connection pins for the proprietary charger. The latter is a bit of a letdown. Fortunately, you can leave your charger at home, because the battery life on these earbuds are great, coming in at around 13.3 hours of continuous playback.
We use the term “home/studio-style” to describe the typically larger headphones that look like earmuffs, with two ear cups connected by an adjustable headband. Many are corded, with 3- to 8-foot wires—so they can be connected to an audio source such as a receiver or TV. Some fold for storage and come with carrying pouches. There are also battery-powered, wireless models—which use Bluetooth or other technology to connect to a smartphone and other devices without the cord.
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.
Earphones (or earbuds, or in-ear headphones) offer a slightly different sound profile compared with conventional headphones. Generally, you'll get better sound from a full set of "cans" around your head than from buds in your ears, but in-ear sound quality has improved a great deal. More importantly, in-ear headphones are much more likely to be water resistant, and much better suited for use when working out. Get a good sweat going, and you'll turn your headphone earpads into a nasty mess. For our top picks, check out the best earphones and the best headphones for running.
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.
As for sound quality, in our tests the Sesh outperformed the vast majority of true wireless earbuds in its price range. The bass was more intense and, especially with hip-hop, could sound a bit louder in the mix than you might expect, but it didn’t blur or muffle male voices like a lot of the competition did. The higher frequencies were a little rolled-off, so “s” sounds were a bit softer and had an airier “sh” quality rather than a sharp “s” quality. But overall, for a pair that typically costs $60, the Sesh sounded fantastic.
The Phiaton BT 150 NC offers a lot to like, including retractable earbuds, easy-to-use swipe controls, and a lightweight, comfortable neckband. The sound quality was better than that of most earbuds in this range. Plus, this set offers decent ANC and the ability to work with a cord. But the neckband felt flimsy to us and doesn’t fold up, which can be a hindrance when you’re traveling.
If you have the money and are prepared to spend it, then invest in Shure SE535 Sound Isolating In-Ear Stereo Headphones. The brand carries a highly respected reputation when it comes to audio quality — no other company compares. The SE535 delivers high-definition sound and a powerful bass that’s unmatched. The secret? The earphones contain one tweeter and two subwoofers in each bud, creating a bold, rounded sound that other products can’t deliver. It also features noise-canceling capabilities, blocking out up to 37 dB of background noise.
If you don't care for wireless technologies or prefer a stable connection with no latency, the best wired earphones we’ve tested so far are the 1More Triple Driver. The build quality is decent with metal casings and thick cables, where the in-line remote resides along with a decent microphone for calls. The microphone may struggle to separate speech from ambient noise, but will generally be easy to understand. One area of concern is the cables leading up to the earphones, which are thin and not removable.
A: Absolutely not... unless you're just looking for an excuse to try something new. But if you're not made of money, you can always hit up the manufacturer for a pair of replacement tips. Most earbuds only come with one set of each size, so losing one can be annoying. If you're in an experimental mood, Comply offers aftermarket tips that fit your brand and come in a variety of materials.
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.
Closed-back headphones are probably the ones that are most familiar. The drivers in closed back headphones are enclosed in the ear cup save for the part facing your ear. This way sound bounces around but has nowhere to go but into your ear. These types of headphones are good if you don’t want outside noise entering the ear cup, and also if you don’t want the person next to you hearing your music (which is called sound leakage). This makes it a great option for commuters or anyone using headphones in a public setting, like an office.
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.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best in-ear headphones and earbuds to buy for most people in each price range. 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 everywhere).
Sony hasn't been much of a player in the true wireless (AirPod-style) headphone arena, but its new WF-1000XM3 model may change that. While this pair of headphones isn't cheap, as far as sound quality, they're the best wireless earbuds at this price, matching and perhaps even exceeding the quality and performance of pricier competitors from Sennheiser, Beats, Master & Dynamic and Bang & Olufsen. It also has a feature that those wireless earbuds don't have: active noise cancellation technology to reduce ambient noise.
Unfortunately, their neckband isn’t the most durable and the rubber sleeve that protects the inner components tends to peel apart with time. Consider the Jabra Elite 65e Wireless as a better-built yet cheaper option with superior mic performance and more customization options, but they don’t sound as well-balanced and their battery doesn’t last as long. All things considered, the Bose still perform quite well overall and are good travel headphones.
Sony’s noise cancelation technology remains bar-setting thanks to the QN1e processor. Paired with Sony’s DSEE HX audio engine, little can compete with the sound quality coming out of the WF-1000XM3. You’ll get well-balanced sound out of the box, and there’s an adjustable EQ if Sony’s modest sound signature doesn’t vibe with you. The WF-1000XM3 are also intuitive. Using touch controls, for instance, you can disengage noise cancelation in either of the buds by holding your finger against it. Managing your calls, tracks, and digital assistants happens with just a few taps and swipes. Removal detection is also present, so your tracks will pause if one of the earbuds falls out.
What's most impressive about the EarFun Free is the features: Bluetooth 5.0, both USB-C and wireless charging and fully waterproof (IPX7), according to their specs. Do they sound fantastic? No, but they sound pretty good. They don't have the clarity of higher-end true wireless earbuds that cost $150 or more, but they do have plump bass and enough detail to avoid sounding dull. They're also pretty solid for making calls. An excellent value at less than $45.
Cable dressing and length: Most stereo headphones have just one cable, usually attached to the left earpiece (sometimes called single-sided cabling). Some models -- and all earbuds -- use a Y-cable that connects to both earpieces (double-sided). The actual cable plug, meanwhile, is usually one of two designs: a straight I-plug or an angled L-plug; the latter may be useful if your portable player has a side- or bottom-mounted headphone jack.
Jaybird got off to a bumpy start in the world of true wireless -- that's "AirPod-style headphones" -- when it released its Jaybird Run workout headphones back in October 2017. Updated to the wireless in-ear Jaybird Run XT earlier this year, the Jaybird Run earbuds were well designed but had some small performance issues that held them back from being great. But their wireless successor model, the Jaybird Vista (cue the Windows Vista jokes), includes design, battery life and performance improvements that make it the quality product I'd hoped the Jaybird Run would be.
Plantronics BackBeat Go 410: This affordable pair reduces a decent amount of noise, sounds pretty good, and fits comfortably. The flexible collar that connects the two earbuds is lightweight and comfortable, and it folds up easily into an included pocket-sized bag. The rated eight-hour battery life with noise cancelling activated (10 with ANC off) isn’t as long as we’d like, but it will get you through a long flight or a full workday. Unlike the vast majority of Bluetooth earbuds, the BackBeat Go 410 also supports a wired connection to your device (the charging cable doubles as a wired ⅛-inch jack) so you can keep using these earbuds when the battery runs out. However, the active noise cancellation won’t work when you’re using them in wired mode.
Impedance: Generally speaking, the lower the headphones' electrical impedance (aka resistance), the easier it is to get higher volume. But here again, the low impedance is no guarantee of high volume capability; other factors can still limit loudness potential. Since many MP3 players have feeble power output -- the iPod is a notable exception -- smart shoppers should check the loudness before purchasing any pair of headphones. To be sure, listen with your player.
Sports headphones are among the most popular types of headphones and the best ones are now wireless. Sweat-resistant or even totally waterproof, they can be used at the gym or for running or biking. Some are have an open or semi-open design to let some sound in for safety reasons (so you can hear traffic noise). However, other models have a sealed, noise-isolating design.
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.
Unfortunately, there have been reports that the neckband build quality isn’t the best, as the rubber casing starts peeling off after a few months of usage. The Bose Connect app also doesn’t offer many customization options and doesn’t provide an EQ, unlike the highly customizable Sony WI-1000X Wireless. Nevertheless, these are versatile, comfortable earbuds that are likely to please, especially for commute and travel.
The best earbuds we’ve reviewed so far are the Jaybird Tarah Pro. Having sports-oriented earbuds doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on sound quality - at least that's what Jaybird is trying to prove. Not only are they one of the best earbuds for working out, with their IPX7 rating and secure fit, they're also one the best sounding pairs. They have a deep bass with clear mids, but the treble can be a bit sibilant and the bass slightly boomy. If this sound doesn't suit you, Jaybird provides an incredible EQ within their excellent companion app.