Wireless earbuds are a great option for listeners who don’t want to feel tethered to their phones. There are innumerable options available, from the dirt cheap to ridiculously expensive. Today we’re here to cover a few our top pick for the best wireless earbuds.
What you should know about wireless earbuds
A proper fit can vastly improve audio quality. It’s worth taking a few moments to test out the standard ear tip options. If a pair is too large or small, you could be missing out on bumping bass and general clarity.
Companion apps accompany most brand-name wireless audio products and this can be a hugely advantageous feature as it keeps your wireless earbuds updated for years to come. Be aware: not all companies feature OS-agnostic applications, which can exclude you from access to certain features if you don’t own the compatible hardware.
Let’s talk lingo: Bluetooth codecs and IP ratings
All wireless earbuds and headphones support at least one Bluetooth codec (SBC), which lets it communicate with any Bluetooth-enabled source device. While this is great from a compatibility standpoint, it’s not the best when it comes to Bluetooth audio quality. Android smartphone owners who care about sound quality should lookout for wireless earbuds with aptX or LDAC support, and iPhone owners need earphones with AAC support.
Many of these have merited an IP certification. This stands for “Ingress Protection” and is a moniker used to inform consumers that a pair of earbuds has gone through rigorous testing to ensure water resistance. IPX4 is the standard water-resistance rating for workout earbuds, and you shouldn’t submerge any headset unless it has an IPX7 rating or higher.
Best wireless earbuds:
- The LG Tone Flex HBS-XL7 is a great package with a dedicated Google Assistant button, Bluetooth multipoint, and good sound quality to boot.
- The Jaybird X4 is one of the best pairs of workout earbuds around with its IPX7 rating and comprehensive mobile app.
- The Beats Powerbeats are perfect for iPhone owners because it supports AAC streaming and houses an H1 chip for hands-free Siri access and other features.
- The Huawei FreeLace Pro is a great set of active noise-cancelling (ANC) earphones that won’t break the bank.
- The Sony WI-C400 is for anyone no matter your budget.
LG Tone Flex XL7: The best wireless earbuds for most people
The LG Tone XL7 headset is one of the best all-around options for consumers because it boasts a stylish, resilient design and excellent audio quality despite the limited Bluetooth codec support. That’s right, AAC is the only high-quality streaming option, but everyone can benefit from the 32-bit DAC that upsamples low-quality audio files. What’s more, the drivers are tuned by Meridian Audio, a leader in high-fidelity audio.
On the right side of the neckband is a dedicated Google Assistant button for making inquiries, commands, setting timers, and more. The neckband is also outfitted with a USB-C input and basic onboard controls. Battery life is pretty good: you can listen to music for 10 hours straight before charging up. Even if you’re crunched for time, you can still get quite a bit of juice from these earbuds thanks to fast charging: 10 minutes of charging provides three hours of playtime. The earbuds also support multipoint connectivity, so you can connect to two devices at a time with these ‘buds.
Check out our sister site SoundGuys‘ full review to learn more about the Edifier TWS1.
Jaybird X4: The best for athletes
The Jaybird X4 earbuds are IPX7-rated, meaning they can withstand full submersion of one meter for up to 30 minutes. Battery life is average, and you’ll get around eight hours of playback on a single charge. This falls short of other wireless earbuds, but more than enough to account for most listeners’ workout schedules. When the battery depletes, you have to finagle the remote module into a proprietary charging cradle, which proves a bit inconvenient.
The housings fit nicely against the ear, and the nozzles are angled for an ergonomic fit. Jaybird features a clever cable cinch mechanism, so you can manage unwieldy cables. Athletes should consider these reasonably priced buds.
Check out our comparison of the Jaybird X4 vs. Jaybird Tarah.
Beats Powerbeats: The best for iPhone owners
These are the best wireless earbuds for listeners who don’t want to invest in the Apple AirPods Pro or Beats PowerBeats Pro. They’re Class 1 Bluetooth-compliant, support AAC, and use Apple’s H1 chip. This means you’re afforded hands-free access to Siri as well as even more streamlined device switching on iOS.
Athletes should strongly consider these earphones due to the stable fit provided by the ear hook design and angled nozzles. The ear hooks are adjustable so even those with larger or smaller-than-average ears can find a proper fit. As far as sound quality is concerned, bass notes are emphasized but not to an egregious extent. If you’re an iPhone user looking for a versatile pair of workout earbuds, the Beats Powerbeats are it.
Check out our sister site SoundGuys’ full review of the Beats Powerbeats.
Huawei FreeLace Pro: The best noise-cancelling
The Huawei FreeLace Pro is a great set of earbuds for listeners who want to go wireless without going truly wireless: the neckband houses a solid battery that supplies up to 20 hours of playtime, and its rugged material is sure to endure daily wear and tear. Not all is perfect with this headset as the neckband touch controls are a bit finicky and it lacks multipoint connectivity.
The earbuds have noise-cancelling which effectively quiets low-frequency sounds like an old A/C unit or refrigerator. The ear tips completely seal to the ear canal and feature attached wing tips to keep them in place while you move.
Check out our full review of the Huawei FreeLace Pro.
Sony WI-C400: The best budget pick
The Sony WI-C400 is a great pair of cheap neckbuds to get you through the day. Sony includes several ear tip options, so you can find the best fit for your ears. You’ll want to take the time to do so, since fit greatly impacts a headset’s ability to block out background noise, optimizing sound quality.
You’ll get 20 hours of playtime from these earbuds before you have to charge them up via micro-USB cable. You’ll find all of the controls on the neckband interior for things like playback and call functionality.
Best wireless earbuds: Honorable mentions
- Beats Flex: These earbuds succeed the BeatsX, and deliver 12 hours of playback on a single charge. They feature magnetic earbud housings, which enable auto play/pause functionality, and house Apple’s W1 chip.
- Jaybird Tarah Pro: These are the perfect companion for any athlete who wants their earbuds to be as tough as they are. These are IPX7-rated and can withstand just about anything. The wing tips hold the earbuds in place, while the large control module makes it easy to operate the headset mid-exercise.
- Sony WI-1000XM2: These noise-cancelling earbuds are for people who appreciate fine build quality.
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SoundGuys is our sister site that focuses solely on all things audio. The team has a broad understanding of audio and respects that certain aspects are objective and quantifiable without disregarding the importance of subjective enjoyment. When it comes to consumer audio, SoundGuys strives to cut through the muck, granting readers more time to enjoy their music. Ultimately, the team hopes to educate readers with each post and pique the interest of fellow audio geeks.