Looking for headphones with superior sound? We’ve got a list of the top-performing inexpensive true wireless earbuds and we’ve also rounded up the best cheap true wireless earbuds. But if you want to find the absolute best-sounding wireless earbuds, the hard truth is you’ll need to prepare to spend more — a lot more, in some cases.
The best wireless headphones tend to be on the bigger side because size does seem to matter when it comes to the sound quality of a pair of true wireless earbuds. And that’s where the one big caveat comes into play: To achieve optimal performance, the best true wireless earbuds need to feel comfortable and fit right in your ear — and you have to get a tight seal. If you can’t get a snug fit with a pair of in-ear headphones, you’ll think you got ripped off and be sadly disappointed, which is why I suggest buying a pair from a store with a decent return policy, such as Amazon. I’d also like to add, if you have trouble finding earbuds that work for you, try ones that can accommodate an ear hook. It’s life-changing.
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We wanted to make sure you know about your options beyond the ubiquitous Apple AirPods, especially if you’re not carrying an Apple device. Below is a list of the best-sounding wireless earbuds, with a breakdown of features, including performance, noise cancellation, battery life, audio quality and how comfortable the headphones are. (The Anker Soundcore Liberty Pro 2 and Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus have been added as part of the latest update. They both have great sound.) And if having a true wireless bud nestled in your ear canal isn’t your thing and you’re looking for on-ear headphones, you’re going to want to check out this list. This list was originally published earlier, and we’ll update it as we test and review new products.
More about the best wireless and noise-canceling headphones
It took Bose quite a while to get them into stores, but the $279 (£250, AU$400) noise-canceling QuietComfort Earbuds are finally here. In many ways, they’re excellent true wireless earbuds, particularly when it comes to their sound and noise canceling, which is arguably the best right now in a set of earbuds.
Urbanista may be based in Sweden, but it doesn’t have a problem naming its earbuds after other European cities. Its London true-wireless earbuds ($149) look a lot like Apple’s AirPods Pro and have noise canceling with a transparency mode, as well as a sensor that detects when you take the earbuds out of your ears and pauses your music. They sound better than the AirPods Pro, with clean, well-balanced sound and punchy, well-defined bass and nice detail. On top of that, they’re good for making calls, with good noise reduction so people hear you well, even if there’s noise in the background.
Their only downside is that their touch controls are somewhat limited and not quite as easy to use as those of the AirPods Pro. They also sound distinctly different when you have them in ambient (transparency) mode and in noise-canceling mode. Battery life is rated at five hours — the same as the AirPods Pro — but that’s not as good as some of the latest true wireless earbuds with noise cancellation. The compact charging case, which charges via USB-C, gives you an additional four charges.
Unlike the AirPods Pro, the Urbanista London earbuds are available in not just one color but five.
Water-resistant: Yes (IPX4 rating — sweat-resistant and splash-proof).