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).
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.
Surprisingly, many of these wire-free models can be used at the gym and even get wet, despite the fact that each earpiece has an exposed charging contact on the inside. Check the IP rating of these; some workout-friendly earphones are only IPX4-rated, so they can stand up to sweat but might be hard to wash. Others are IPX7-rated, which means they can survive getting rinsed and dunked.
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.
Jabra Elite 65t: Our former top pick, the Elite 65t is still a fantastic choice, with solid audio quality, full volume and track controls, a five-hour battery life per charge (with 10 additional hours when you include the case), and very clear phone calls. However, the new Elite 75t ups the ante with longer battery life per charge, a smaller form, simpler controls, better microphone wind-noise cancellation, and a slightly smaller charge case. If those moderate feature upgrades aren’t worth the additional cash to you, the 65t is still highly recommendable, especially if the price is under $120.
There is a marked difference between our Editors' Choices in the true wireless category, and a typical tether-together wireless pair. You can get a good wireless (but not true wireless) set of earphones for $40. You can expect to spend at least twice as much for true wireless. The base price for most true wireless options thus far has been around $100, with the very best options costing as much as $200 or even $300, and some very strong budget contenders coming in around $50. This is not a cheap category, but it's gone past the early adopter premium if you know where to look. To get the most out of your purchase, check out 6 Ways You're Using Your Headphones Wrong.
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.
The Crossfade Wireless are available to customise on the V-moda website so that’s great if you are looking for headphones with a personal touch. They can also be used wired if you run out of battery and they have the ability to connect to 2 devices at once which is great if you are someone who switches between listening on phones, tablets and laptops.
If you’re still using the earbuds that came with your phone or other gadget, you may want to consider an upgrade. You have a lot choices these days: from tiny, in-ear models that will slip into a shirt pocket to big, over-the-ear models that can help immerse you in the music and make you look (and maybe even feel!) like a DJ. And some models skip wires altogether, leaving nothing but air between you and your music.
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.
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.
We've got lists of the best cheap true wireless earbuds and best-sounding true wireless earbuds. This list is, simply, the best true wireless earbuds. Remember that to get optimal performance, the best wireless earbuds tend to need to feel comfortable with an ergonomic design and fit right, with a tight seal. If you can't get a snug fit with in-ear headphones, you'll be sadly disappointed and think you got ripped off, which is why I suggest buying from a store with a decent return policy, such as Amazon.
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.
Over-the-ear models are great for listening at home but could be too large to be easily stowed while you’re traveling. Sometimes smaller, more portable models sacrifice some sound quality, but they are definitely handy, and in-ear headphones are great for listening on the go. If you’ll be doing a lot of flying or you want to block out some sound from your environment, consider buying headphones with active noise-reduction technology.
The Jaybird X4 earbuds came highly recommended by our testers for athletic purposes. “Runners will love the build quality, bass response, and snug fit,” revealed one reviewer. Our testers also liked the accompanying app, which one of our reviewers said has “really intuitive EQ controls and presets, ‘find my earbuds’ functionality, and even how-to guides.” On the other hand, if you aren’t looking to exercise with these earbuds, our testers warned the tight fit can be uncomfortable. Also, its sound quality had both pros and cons, according to one reviewer: "There’s a satisfying fullness and richness to the sound," he said, "but a heavy-handed use of bass seems to swallow up a lot of the detail."
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The Elite 75t uses a four-microphone array similar to that of the Elite 65t, but with upgraded wind-noise-reduction capabilities. When using the 75t in a quiet room, I sounded very clear to other people during calls and videoconferences. To test the wind noise reduction, I stood in front of a window air conditioner, put the fan on high, and called Brent Butterworth. Brent reported that he initially heard the sound of air hitting the mic, but when I spoke, the noise dramatically dropped in volume. In contrast to the experiences we’ve had with other headphones that employ this kind of technology, which can compress the sound of your voice, Brent said my tone sounded a lot fuller and richer through the 75t than through other earbuds he’d heard.
The Sesh does a lot of great things for the price, but battery life isn’t one of them. Three hours per full charge is on the lower end for true wireless earbuds, and about average for the sub-$75 price range. In our tests, at 70 percent volume, the Sesh just barely squeaked out the claimed three hours. Of course, taking calls, pausing your music, and using different volume levels will affect the performance, and the charge case means you can always get more juice without plugging into the wall. But in a perfect world, we’d like our earbuds to last a little longer.
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.
The Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus is the second generation of the company's MW07. It features greatly increased battery life (10 versus 3.5 hours), Bluetooth 5.0 and active noise-cancellation with two microphones on each bud. It may not fit everyone's ear equally well, but they certainly have a distinct look, as well as very good sound and a great listening experience if you can get a tight seal. These in-ear headphones are known for more of an audiophile sound profile, with smooth, well-balanced sound and well-defined bass, and the MW07 Plus delivers that kind of sound.
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.