Wireless models are common and typically use Bluetooth, which has a range of up to 30 feet or so, to connect to smartphones; laptops; portable media players, such as iPods; and even some TVs. Over the past few years, some companies have released  “true wireless” models, which don’t have a cable or headband that connects the earpieces. True wireless earphones are especially portable, but they often have a fairly short battery life.
Be sure to assess the build quality of your prospective headphones. Some earbuds and portable devices are relatively fragile, for instance. If the headphones fold up for easy storage, are the hinges robust, or will they fall apart in a month or two? Don't forget to consider that the earpads and earbuds will get extensive wear and tear over the life of the headphones.

Students appreciate the convenience offered by wireless headphones. Research your essay or fill out your study guide without being confined to your computer chair, or listen to some tunes and relax in your bed after a busy day of class. Call friends and family members back home without dealing with excess cords, or catch up on local happenings by listening to online news.
Beats includes four sizes of silicone ear tips, so most people will be able to get a good seal. However, the tip material is rather thin, so it tends to crinkle in the ear canal when you first put in the earbuds or adjust them. These also aren’t the most isolating of the earbuds we’ve tested, so you should keep an eye on the volume level when commuting by train; you may also want to select another pair of headphones for in-flight use, such as the 1More Dual Driver BT ANC In-Ear Headphones.
Premium audiophile company Master & Dynamic took a break from ear-melting home theater systems to drop a pair of true wireless earbuds. You’ll pay handsomely for them, but the Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus offer some of the best sound quality you’ll find in a pair of earbuds. You could mistake them for stones thanks to the unique designs on the acetate chassis, which are handmade. Because of that, no two sets of MW07 buds are ever alike.
Whichever model you choose, make sure to use the included pouch or carrying case as often as possible in order to preserve the longevity of your earphones. Balling them up, shoving them into a pocket, and then untangling them each time you want to listen does more to wear them out prematurely than just about anything else. For more details, check out 5 Easy Tips to Extend the Life of Your Headphones.
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.

The best cheap earbuds we've tested so far are the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They perform better than a lot of the more premium wireless earbuds we've tested for a fraction of the price. They're surprisingly well-built, with a very comfortable fit for in-ear headphones, and even come with a nice hard carrying case, which is a welcome addition at this price point. They have an excited, bass-heavy sound that will help bring out the thump and rumble of a hip-hop track without drowning out the vocals and lead instruments of a folk-rock song.
Earbuds rest in the bowl of the ear, outside the ear canal, though a portion might extend into the canal itself. Earbuds are fairly common because they often come with smartphones and portable audio players. Insert-style models are inserted into the ear canal, often forming a seal that can help keep out more extraneous noise. Most come with additional earpieces (canal tips) of varying sizes to ensure a secure fit.
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.
There’s also the problem that no headphones on the market output each frequency at the same volume as all the others. Every set of headphones out there will emphasize certain notes over others, and that will have consequences for your music. Sometimes it will make things sound less clear, or it will all but mute some of the instruments in a song. These are things you can’t divine from a number on a spec sheet.

A volume control is useful, especially if you’re sitting far from the source, such as a TV. Some controls are on the headphone’s earpiece, and others are on the cord. Some cords have a button that lets you answer and disconnect phone calls without even touching the phone. Some headsets offer full capabilities only with specific cell phones, so be sure a given headphone will work with your phone model.
If you’re more of a talker than a jammer, the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 5100 should make you (and your caller) happy. It has four noise-canceling microphones. That alone is nothing revolutionary for headsets, but the company claims its WindSmart technology automatically detects and filters wind. And while there’s no noise cancelation, the cone-shaped ear tips should do a decent job of blocking out moderate levels of noise, and there are multiple options for those in the box.

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.

Unlike many true wireless earbuds we tested, the Elite 75t earpieces felt snug and secure, even when we jogged, jumped around, or shook our heads. They’re small and lightweight, and they won’t dangle, stick out, or fall out every time you move too quickly. With three pairs of ear tips to choose from, all of our panelists were able to find a combination that worked for them, even the folks with the largest and the smallest ears, who regularly struggle to find earbuds that stay in place. The Elite 75t earbuds are far less conspicuous than the majority of competing true wireless designs, which may be appealing for people who don’t want to draw attention to their earbuds.


With that in mind, we've included a range of styles and prices here. You're bound to find something that fits well, sounds great, and—above all—doesn't tie you up in knots. Once you've found the perfect pair, check out our five easy tips to extend the life of your headphones and six ways you're using your headphones wrong. And if you want to share your tunes with others, look no further than our favorite wireless speakers.

At $300 (£279, AU$499), Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless are more expensive than Apple AirPods, Jabra's Elite 65t true wireless earbuds and the Elite Active 65t and Bose SoundSport Free wireless earbuds. But they sound superior to those models, with better bass and cleaner, more detailed audio. They also feature quality performance for making phone calls, with solid noise cancellation, and offer a generally comfortable fit, though they're bigger than the Jabras and stick out of your ear a little more. Their only significant downside is that they gradually lose their charge in the charging case and can end up completely dead after four days or so if you don't recharge the case.
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.
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.
The Elite 75t has a sealed, noise-isolating design that helps to block out distractions around you. But if you need to have a conversation or prefer to hear your surroundings, just single-tap the button on the left earbud—this activates “transparency mode,” which uses the mics to send external sounds through the wireless earbuds themselves. Using the free Jabra Sound+ app, you can set this action to either pause your music or continue to play it at a lower volume, which allows you to hear a mix of your music or call and the external noise. Additionally, the 75t protects your hearing, so if something very loud passes by, the transparency shuts off until the noise ceases rather than blaring feedback into your eardrums. (I found this out during a wind-noise test involving a hair dryer.)
Premium audiophile company Master & Dynamic took a break from ear-melting home theater systems to drop a pair of true wireless earbuds. You’ll pay handsomely for them, but the Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus offer some of the best sound quality you’ll find in a pair of earbuds. You could mistake them for stones thanks to the unique designs on the acetate chassis, which are handmade. Because of that, no two sets of MW07 buds are ever alike.

You'll notice that most of our top picks today are completely wireless! Once part of an expensive and questionable sub-category of products, today’s best wire-free buds have evolved to deliver great sound, a reliable device connection, and enough battery life to meet the demands of most users. Most importantly, they're also priced competitively, making them more attainable than ever before.


The Elite 75t has a sealed, noise-isolating design that helps to block out distractions around you. But if you need to have a conversation or prefer to hear your surroundings, just single-tap the button on the left earbud—this activates “transparency mode,” which uses the mics to send external sounds through the wireless earbuds themselves. Using the free Jabra Sound+ app, you can set this action to either pause your music or continue to play it at a lower volume, which allows you to hear a mix of your music or call and the external noise. Additionally, the 75t protects your hearing, so if something very loud passes by, the transparency shuts off until the noise ceases rather than blaring feedback into your eardrums. (I found this out during a wind-noise test involving a hair dryer.)
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.

If you spend a lot of time commuting each day and want headphones to block out background noise, get the Jabra Elite Active 65t. They aren't as comfortable as the Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless, but they have much better passive sound isolation and better controls. They have a good amount of bass that isn't too overbearing, and their sound can be customized in Jabra's Sound+ app to better suit your tastes. The app also allows you to toggle Jabra's HearThrough feature, which mixes ambient sound into your music so you can hear what's going on around you, which is helpful when you're running outside and want to stay aware of your surroundings. Unfortunately, the earbuds are a little bulkier than other truly wireless headphones, which means those with smaller ear canals may find them uncomfortable and have a tough time finding a good fit, even with the different sized included tips.
These headphones rest on top of your outer ears and run the gamut from inexpensive portables to high-end home models. While on-ear headphones can have closed designs that cover the ears, some prefer fully sealed circumaural models (see below) for their increased sound isolation and the fact that they won't leak sound to neighbors. Still, the earpad headphone is preferred in places like office environments, where users still benefit from hearing the outside world.

Earphones can connect to your smartphone through a 3.5mm cable or wirelessly over Bluetooth, depending on the model. Wired earphones are generally less expensive, and you don't need to worry about keeping them charged. Bluetooth earphones are more convenient because you don't have to physically connect them to your smartphone, but they need battery power to work. For the most part, you won't find a 3.5mm port and removable cable on Bluetooth earphones; when they're out of power, they're out of commission until you charge them again.
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