How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you

techmanga June 27, 2021 0 Comments

The best running headphones: JLab Epic Air Sport

Why you should buy them: With a truly world-class 10 hours of battery life,total sweat protection, and sound quality that will inject new energy intoyour workouts, the JLab Epic Air Sport are epic indeed.Who they’re for: Those who want it all — great battery life, comfort, soundquality, and sweat-proofing, at a price that won’t force you to cancel yourgym membership.Why we picked the JLab Epic Air Sport:Is it possible to buy true wireless earbuds that deliver great sound, greatcomfort, battery life that is more than capable of lasting a full day, andsweat-proofing that withstand the most strenuous of workouts, all withoutspending upwards of $250? Even as recently as May, the answer would have been“no,” but things have changed, thanks to the latest version of JLab’s Epic AirSport.These true wireless earbuds seem to do the impossible: They offer up a no-compromises truly wireless audio experience for a price most people canafford. Their 10-hour battery life (70 hours if you include the juice in theportable charging case) is astounding, and even (ahem) beats the BeatsPowerbeats Pro, the previous record-holder for endurance. Though not quite ashi-fidelity as the Powerbeats Pro, the Epic Air Sport’s built-in, app-free EQadjustments will help most people find a sound signature that fits theirpreferred music genres. You can control volume, play/pause, trackforward/back, EQ, voice-assistant access, and even “be aware” mode which pipesin outside sounds — all with a few taps on the sides of the earpieces.With a protection rating of IP66, the JLab Epic Air Sport will be immune toany dust or water that comes their way, so long as you don’t take ‘em for aswim — making them among the most rugged on this list. They fit well and theystay in place during running workouts, and did we mention the price? Theseearbuds are just a great all-around value.Read our full JLab Epic Air Sport review

The best running headphones for iPhone: Beats Powerbeats Pro

Julian Chokkattu/Digital TrendsWhy you should buy them: Glorious sound quality with a battery that’ll outlasteven the longest runs.Who they’re for: iPhone users who want truly wireless earbuds that give themhands-free Siri, and sweatproof performance.Why we picked the Beats PowerBeats Pro:iPhone users who wanted a set of truly wireless earbuds that could take fulladvantage of everything their smartphone could offer only had one choice untilthe PowerBeats Pro were launched: Apple’s own AirPods. With middling batterylife, no ability to deal with sweat or lots of movement, and sound qualitythat impressed no one, AirPods weren’t exactly a runner’s first choice. TheBeats PowerBeats Pro changed all of that.With a gargantuan nine hours of playtime on a single charge, it’s unlikelythese earbuds will need to stop for a break before you do. They’re also morethan able to deal with the moisture generated by even the most vigorousworkout (though you should probably shower without them), and they’ve got thatclassic Beats sound: Punchy in all the right places, especially in the low-end.The PowerBeats Pro offer a comfortable yet secure fit, keeping the over-the-ear clip design of the not-fully wireless PowerBeats 3 while managing toimprove on that formula. Siri can be summoned simply by calling her name (orpressing a button), and the included volume rocker switch is a hugeimprovement over the AirPods which lack such a feature.These earbuds don’t offer pass-through audio from the embedded microphones, soyou’ll have to be cautious when working out near traffic or other hazards, butthey do have an excellent (and customizable) auto-pause feature when youremove an earbud, which at least makes stopping for a chat more convenient.Apple’s AirPods Pro, with their IPX4 rating and pass-through audio, are anexcellent alternative for iPhone users, though we think serious joggers willprefer the more secure fit of the Powerbeats Pro.Read our full Beats PowerBeats Pro review

The best running headphones for Android: Amazon Echo Buds

Riley Young / Digital TrendsWhy you should buy them: Comfortable and secure, they give you hands-freeaccess to Alexa, making them a great jogging companion.Who they’re for: Android users looking for a set of true wireless earbuds thathave a bunch of running-friendly features for a reasonable price.Why we picked the Amazon Echo Buds:We don’t know for a fact that Amazon designed the Echo Buds for runners, butit sure feels that way. These compact true wireless earbuds have a variety offit options thanks to three different ear tips and three different “wing tips”which help lock the Echo Buds securely in place.Their IPX4 water-resistance may not be as hardy as some other models on thislist, but as long as you don’t try to swim in them, they should handle eventhe sweatiest workouts.But two features will make you appreciate the Echo Buds as a joggingcompanion: Hands-free access to Alexa so don’t have to constantly raise yourhand to your head to do simple tasks like skip tracks, change the volume,answer a call, or even trigger pass-through mode when using the excellent BoseActive Noise Reduction.These features combined with great sound quality, a five-hour battery life,and — although Amazon is currently experiencing a stock shortage until August14 — a price tag that means you don’t need to scrimp on your next set ofkicks, make the Echo Buds a fantastic choice for runners.Read our full Amazon Echo Buds review

How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you

How much should I spend?As a general rule of thumb, the more you invest, the better the audio qualitywill be. You can pick up a pair of reasonable buds for under £50 but if youwant the very best wireless earbuds you can expect to pay upwards of £150.Cheaper earbuds typically omit advanced features including active noisecancellation, are unlikely to support higher resolution codecs and buildquality won’t be as high.Is it easy to get a good fit?There are two distinct styles of true wireless earbuds. One-size-fits-all budslike the Apple AirPods give you no flexibility in terms of fit – theirearpieces either sit snuggly in your ears or feel loose when worn. They’re thebest choice if you want to leave your ear canals free but they provide little,if any, sound isolation.A significant proportion of buds now favour the use of silicone tips, whichseal off your ear canals and secure the buds in your ears far better. Theyalso have the advantage of providing improved passive noise cancellation.Manufacturers typically provide a range of different-sized tips to help ensureyou get the most comfortable and stable fit possible.How important is the Bluetooth version?Like all wireless headphones, wireless earbuds rely on a Bluetooth connectionto function. With each new Bluetooth version, connections become more stable,while wireless range and bandwith – the rate at which data is transferred overthe connection – increase. Bluetooth version 5.2 was announced at CES inJanuary 2020 but only a handful of earbuds currently support that version ofthe technology. Newer IS better but any buds using Bluetooth 4.2 or above willdo the trick for casual listening.Some earbuds offer Bluetooth multipoint, which allows them to connect to twoor more devices simultaneously. If you’re regularly switching between yourphone and laptop, it’s definitely worth looking out for wireless earbuds withthis functionality.Should I worry about which audio codecs are supported?Codecs determine how Bluetooth transmits information to your device. The SBCcodec is pretty much universal across all devices and works just fine, thoughyou’ll open up the possibility to listen to higher resolution audio with moreadvanced codecs such as AAC, which is favoured by Apple, or Qualcomm’s aptX,aptX HD or aptX Adaptive codecs. Bear in mind that your output device mustalso support the codec: iPhone’s don’t support aptX so even if you own thevery best wireless earbuds money can buy, you won’t be able to make use of it.Can I make and receive phone and video calls?All of the best wireless earbuds come with built-in mics and can be used tomake and take calls when connected via Bluetooth. They’re good at picking upyour voice but won’t isolate it from ambient sound as well as your smartphone.The number of in-built mics and their quality varies from device-to-device sobear that in mind if you spend a lot of time on calls.Can I use one earbud on its own?Most earbuds have one master and one slave driver so, depending on the way themanufacturer has implemented it, you’ll be able to listen to your musicthrough one of the said earbuds. Others operate independently of one anotherand therefore allow you to use either at any time you wish.Any other important features to consider?IP certification: The best wireless earbuds all come with an IP rating, whichreflects their ability to resist dust and water/sweat. If you live in a wetcountry or plan on using your earbuds while exercising then you’ll want topick a pair that offers protection against these external agents.Active noise cancellation: We’re seeing more and more wireless earbudsincorporating active noise cancellation technology to reduce the impact ofexternal sound on your audio. If you want the most immersive listeningexperience, ANC should be high on your priority list.Battery life: Earbuds will always have a stated battery life, as will the caseused to charge them. Between 15 and 20 hours of total listening time is aroundaverage, though your mileage will vary depending on the volume at which youplay your audio. Having advanced features such as ANC active will also drainyour battery faster.In-ear detection: Smarter earbuds can detect when you take them out of yourears and pause your audio automatically when you do so, resuming when they’reput back in. It’s a neat feature that’s fast becoming a staple inclusion forpricier headphones.Voice assistant support: If you like to make use of Alexa, Google Assistant orSiri, you should ensure that your earbuds support your voice assistant ofchoice. Most do nowadays but it’s always worth checking!Touch controls: Don’t want to have to dig your phone out of your pocket toskip a track? Well, you’re in luck, as many of the best wireless earbudsfeature touch sensors that allow fingertip control of your music. Each companyimplements this slightly differently and you may find certain commands omittedso it’s important to ensure the wireless earbuds you like offer control overthe features you use most frequently.Companion apps: Many companies have downloadable applications designed toenhance the audio experience provided by their products. Each offers adifferent range of customisation options though the most common are theability to remap touch controls and select between different EQ presets.* * *

1. Sony WF-1000XM3: The best wireless earbuds overall

Price: £165 | Buy now from Amazon The Sony WF-1000XM3 may not be the best wireless earbuds for sound quality oractive noise-cancellation – titles held by the Bose QC Earbuds and Grado GT220- but they’re not far off. And with their price having dropped significantlysince release, they’re now substantially cheaper than those aforementionedoptions, making them our number one choice if you’re after a balance betweenfeatures, quality and price.They house the company’s QN1e chip, a near-identical processor to the onefound in industry-leading, over-ear WH-1000XM4, and have a fun soundsignature, intuitive touch-based controls and a wide level of customisationvia Sony’s Headphones Connect app. Their only real drawback is the lack of anIP rating for water/sweat resistance.Read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review for more detailsKey specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 8.5gper earbud, 77g charging case; Battery life (total): 32hrs; IP rating: No* * *

4. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: The best wireless earbuds for ANC

Price: £250 | Buy now from Amazon Bose’s QC Earbuds offer the best active noise cancellation of any earbudswe’ve tested. ANC functions on a ten-point scale ranging from fulltransparency (0) to total immersion (10) and at 10, they reduce external noiseby a significant amount. You can switch between three levels of your ownchoosing by simply double-tapping the left earbud and touch controls are wellimplemented on the whole, though the buds do lack volume touch controls.Audio is equally impressive, with the QC Earbuds delivering a superblybalanced sound profile that’s immersive without ever feeling claustrophobic.The buds also benefit from Bose’s Active-EQ, which automatically adjusts thebass and treble based on your volume, ensuring music sounds great no matterhow loud it is.Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review for more detailsKey specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 8.5gper earbud, 76g charging case; Battery life (total): 25hrs; IP rating: IPX4* * *

8. Apple AirPods (2nd Generation): The best wireless earbuds with an

open-ear fitPrice: £159/£199 | Buy now from CurrysA list of the best wireless earbuds wouldn’t be complete without the AppleAirPods – buds that have helped transform the wireless audio market. Launchedalongside the iPhone 7, the AirPods brought Apple’s line of wearable tech toprominence and heralded the steady decline of smartphones featuring a 3.5mmaudio jack. This second-generation version is available with a standardLightning cable charging case or a wireless charging case, with the latteroption costing around £40 more.The open-fit design means the AirPods rest just inside your ears rather thanwedged inside them, which has some advantages but drawbacks too. They’re verycomfortable to wear but leak sound and let external noise in. It’s also worthnoting that, although designed to be one-size-fits-all, some people may findthey fall out of their ears, so try out a friend’s pair before splashing outon them.For those that don’t want their ear canals filled while listening to music,the Apple AirPods remain the best wireless earbuds around, particularly if youown an iPhone, due to their seamless integration with Apple products.Read our Apple AirPods 2 review for more detailsKey specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 4g perearbud, 40g charging case; Battery life (total): 24hrs; IP rating: IPX4Buy now from Currys* * *

14. JLAB Epic Air ANC: The best wireless earbuds for battery life

Price: £100 | Buy now from Amazon The Epic Air ANC manage to cram in a huge range of features given theirreasonable price. They offer ANC, an ambient sound mode, IP55 dust- and water-resistance, voice assistant support for Siri and Google Assistant AND acharging case that can be charged wirelessly. On top of all that, there arethree EQ presets to choose from, a companion app within which you cancustomise touch controls and create your own EQs, and you get six pairs ofeartips to help you find the right fit.Sound quality is reasonable but the noise-cancellation falls well short of thestandards set by pricier alternatives. That’s to be expected though, and whenit comes to battery life, the Epic Air ANC leave the competition in the dust.With ANC switched off you’ll get up to 48 hours of audio playback, while youcan expect around 32 hours with it switched on.If you prioritise an extensive feature set over sound and ANC quality and arelooking for affordable earbuds that have the stamina to outlast theircompetitors, the Epic Air ANC are well worth a look.Key specs– Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 6g perearbud, 57g charging case; Battery life (total): 32hrs (ANC on), 48hrs (ANCoff); IP rating: IP55* * *

15. 1MORE Colorbuds: The best wireless earbuds for colour and comfort

Price: £95 | Buy now from Amazon Comfort is king when it comes to true wireless earbuds and the 1MORE Colorbudsare among the best-fitting buds we’ve tested. They’re lightweight, create agood seal in your ear canals and don’t protrude out too far out of your ears.The charging case is equally ergonomic and takes up very little space in yourpocket.Touch controls work effectively and can be customised via the 1MORE app, whereyou’ll also find an option to toggle off the buds’ auto-pause and playfeature. Battery life clocks in at roughly six hours for the buds themselves,with the charging case providing close to three full charges. Sonically,there’s support for the aptX Bluetooth codec in addition to AAC and SBC andsound quality is good on the whole, though we found them a little lacking inthe bass department.Key specs – Built-in microphone and music control buttons: Yes; Weight: 4.1gper earbud, 32g charging case; Battery life (total): 22hrs; IP rating: IPX5* * *

Best wireless earbuds: Honourable mentions

While the following products didn’t quite make it onto our best wirelessearbuds list, they’re still solid choices and will have particular appeal tosome customers.Probably the most stable-fitting earbuds out there thanks to their signatureearhook design, the Powerbeats Pro are great if you love a bass-heavy soundsignature while working out.Read our Powerbeats Pro review for more details* * *The Enco X are among the comfiest earbuds we’ve tested and have a compact formfactor that makes it easy to forget you’re wearing them. Their ANC isimpressive, too, while IP54 water-resistance makes them a solid choice forexercise.Read our Oppo Enco X review for more details* * *If you’re on a tight budget and after active noise cancelling earbuds, theFreeBuds 4i are a top option. They’re super comfortable and mids and treblesparkle in an EQ tuned specifically for Pop music, though the buds are alittle light in the bass department.Read our Huawei FreeBuds 4i review for more details* * *Unsurprisingly for a pair of Sennheiser headphones, the CX400BT soundfantastic. They forgo active noise cancellation and sadly aren’t splashproofbut we’ve seen them available for as little as £100 and at that price, yousimply won’t find better sounding wireless earbuds.Read our Sennheiser CX400BT review for more details* * *If you want earbuds with exceptional Google Assistant integration, look nofurther than the Pixel Buds. Simply utter “Hey Google” to access everythingfrom audio controls to sports results and real-time language translationcourtesy of Google Translate.Read our Google Pixel Buds (2020) review for more detailsThe best wireless earbuds in 2021The best wireless earbuds sound great and often come absolutely stuffed withfeatures, neither of which are qualities you might expect from such tinydevices. Yes, these might be a lot more pocketable than the best over-earheadphones, but don’t be fooled: even on a budget, you can get a seriouslyimpressive set of completely wireless in-ear buds.Even active noise cancellation (ANC) is on the cards, so you might want a pairof wireless earbuds as your commuting partner. Or perhaps you’re looking for alightweight pair to help you exercise, or something that will let you takeadvantage of Apple’s spatial audio tech. Whatever your needs, you’ve come tothe right place: we’ve tested and ranked the best wireless earbuds on saleright now.

What are the best wireless earbuds?

The technology behind wireless earbuds has improved markedly, and now theyhave become as ubiquitous as wired headphones. The very best wireless earbudsoffer long battery life, great sound, and call quality, and some noisecancellation, as well as water- and sweat-resistance, so you can use them forworking out without worrying about damage. And the best wireless earbuds riseto the top of the list fit comfortably within your ears and don’t budge whileyou’re running or working out.After reviewing dozens of models, the best set of wireless earbuds overall isthe Jabra Elite Active 75t thanks to its customizable fit, personalized sound,passive noise cancellation, and waterproof protection. The AirPods Pro is aclose second with built-in active noise cancellation, seamless iOSintegration, easy-to-use controls, and sweat resistance.The much newer Master & Dynamic MW08 also comes in at third place, thanks toits stellar sound and luxe design. This pair of ANC earbuds is even pricierthan the AirPods Pro, but well worth the investment; alternatively, check outthe Sennheiser CX 400BT if you want great audio quality at a lower price.

How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you

THE BEST HEADPHONES AND EARBUDSWith so many wireless earbud options to choose from, you may find it difficultto settle on one. There are several factors to weigh, and which one is mostimportant depends on personal preference.One factor to consider is fit. How comfortable is the earbud in your ear? Dothe earbuds come with different sized tips so you can adjust them to your ear?The fit of wireless earbuds becomes even more crucial if you want to use themwhile working out. And if that’s the case, water and sweat-resistance isanother factor to consider.Battery life is also key in choosing the best wireless earbuds. Check out therated battery life and whether any carrying case comes with the earbuds toprovide additional power. Then there’s sound quality of both music and phonecalls, which you can determine from reviews by professional testers and peoplewho’ve bought the earbuds.And of course, price is a big consideration. If you can splurge, you have awider array of choices. But if you need to be budget-conscious, you may wantto go with lower-priced brands or with older generations of wireless earbuds.

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