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.
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 Panasonic ErgoFit in-ear earbuds are no-frills headphones that offer a comfortable wear day in, day out. Incorporating generously sized 9mm neodymium drivers, the ErgoFit adds a bass-heavy sound with crisp treble that is surprisingly good for the entry-level price. The ultra-soft earbuds come in a range of colors and sizes to suit your style and allow for maximum comfort. An optional in-line microphone works well for phone calls and is compatible with Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices. The 3.6-foot cord adds enough length to easily listen to a device placed in a backpack or pocket, while the thin and light build makes them a must own for commuters and travelers.
Jabra engineers audio products almost exclusively, so it should come as no surprise that its Elite 75t earbuds rank among the best in wireless. There are lots of reasons to like the Jabra Elite 75t. They don’t sound the absolute best, but you may come to love Jabra’s punchy sound signature that bumps the bass just enough for a dance break. And there’s more, including 7.5 hours of battery life, a remarkable figure at their moderate size. The charging case can get you another 28 hours, with 15 minutes of USB-C charging being all you need for an hour’s worth of listening.
While they sound balanced enough to be suitable for most people, some will find they lack a bit of bass. If you have an Android phone, you can boost their bass a bit with an EQ preset in their companion app, but iOS users won’t have that option. You can also only access button mapping from the app, so if you have an iPhone you won’t be able to access volume controls either. That said, they still perform very well overall even if you don’t have an Android device, and are easy to recommend in general.
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.
If you’re an Android user, and especially a Samsung Galaxy owner, you’ll want to check out the Galaxy Buds. They’ll work with any Android phone and even iPhones, mind you, but Samsung users get an easier pairing process (just open the case while it’s near your phone) and a proprietary high-quality audio codec. Even without those perks, the Galaxy Buds are impressive at their affordable price point. Samsung tapped AKG’s sound expertise to tune the drivers with a balanced sound profile. They won’t replace a pair of studio monitors, but our reviewers say the Galaxy Buds will produce a pleasant result that you can further tweak using EQ presets in the companion app.
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.
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.
You won’t need to worry about the Powerbeats Pro earbuds falling out of your ears, as the flexible stabilizing hook over each ear does a fantastic job of keeping these earbuds in place for most ear shapes. I took our test pair to the gym for a 90-minute high-impact workout involving a lot of jumping and diverse movement, and the Powerbeats Pro set didn’t budge. It’s one of the most comfortable earbud styles we’ve tested. For once, an ad with celebrity athletes (video) promising a secure earbud delivers on that promise. However, this design makes the Powerbeats Pro far less discreet than other true wireless earbuds, and it does feel reminiscent of the commuter Bluetooth single-ear headsets of, say, 2007. That said, if people can get accustomed to walking around with the AirPods’ trendy white-cigarette-in-the-ear look, we suspect they’ll be completely fine with the Powerbeats Pro look, too.
A number of wireless models have rechargeable batteries. And if they run out of charge, the headphones don't work at all, though some models can also function without power using a detachable audio cable. There are also a few headphones on the market that can be powered with replaceable alkaline batteries, but we recommend the rechargeable option instead of tossing batteries out again and again.
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 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.
The Jabra Elite 75t true wireless earbuds are the best Bluetooth earbuds because they sound great, feel comfortable in the ears, and offer the convenience of being completely cable-free. Compared with our previous top pick, the Elite 65t, the new earbuds have a smaller, lighter form, as well as better battery life (seven and a half hours per charge, up from five) and simpler controls. Jabra did away with the smaller, separate volume controls of the 65t and now offers one large, easy-to-press multifunction button on each earbud to control functions such as play/pause, volume, track skip, and digital-assistant activation. The four-microphone array and improved active wind-noise reduction keep your voice sounding exceptionally clear over phone calls. Though the Elite 75t earbuds don’t have active noise cancellation, they block out much of the noise around you and have a transparency mode so that you can choose to hear your surroundings when you need to. The pocket-sized storage case charges via USB-C and holds a little over two full charges. Plus, a two-year warranty from Jabra will protect you from any unexpected hiccups.
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.
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.
While the Bose QuietControl 30/QC30 Wireless have a good default sound, not being able to customize it may be a dealbreaker for some, especially if you have a varied musical taste; for those who want more customization, go for the Sony WF-1000XM3. Sony's mobile app is among the best on the market. The app allows you to pick a preset sound profile, manual tuning through the graphic EQ, apply room effects, and control the active noise cancelling feature, just to name a few. With a bulkier design and oddly large ear tips, it may be more challenging to achieve a good fit, making the Sony slightly less comfortable. Sony's ANC also tends to focus on the mid-range, great at blocking out speech, but may struggle when it comes to the low rumbles of bus engines.
Jabra claims the Elite 75t has a battery life of seven and a half hours per charge, which should get you through most of a workday. I personally got even more when I listened at a moderate volume and made only a few phone calls under 10 minutes each. Of course, your volume level and call duration could mildly impact your results. The charging case is petite enough to fit in a jeans coin pocket yet capable of providing an additional 20 hours of battery life. Even better, the earbud batteries have an initial rapid charge that gives you one hour of use after 15 minutes docked in the case. The case itself charges via USB-C.
Audio-Technica has announced two new sets of true wireless earbuds: the Audio-Technica ATH-CK3TW and the Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW. The CK3TW offers six hours of battery life per charge, with an additional 24 hours of juice in the case, and is expected to be priced at $100. The CKS5TW promises 15 hours of battery life per full charge, with an additional 30 hours in the charging case, and features aptX, SBC, and AAC compatibility; that pair costs $170.
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.
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.
Case in point: the Koss PortaPro headphones first hit the market in 1984 and have become such a favorite with audiophiles that the company leaves the design (and the price tag) untouched. You can still pick one up for less than $50, and they come with a lifetime warranty, no receipt necessary. Check out our favorite budget headphones for more selections.
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.
If you're an iPhone user, it's worth considering a pair of headphones that use Apple's proprietary H1 (or older W1) chip. The chip makes Bluetooth pairing even easier—there's no need to open the Settings menu, as your phone automatically prompts you to connect whenever the headphones are nearby. The chip also makes for a more stable connection and increased wireless range.
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.)
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.
From cheap earbuds to the top of the line, in-ear headphones offer a lot of options for all situations, whether you want to use them at the gym, at the office, or during your commutes. Earbuds are ultra-portable and very convenient thanks to their small size and weight. While earbuds rest at the edge of the canal, in-ear headphones have special tips that are inserted into the ear canal.