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How To Fix Beats PowerBeats Pro Not Working in 5 Simple Steps. Apple beats…

How To Fix Beats PowerBeats Pro Not Working in 5 Simple Steps

Here are simple tricks to troubleshoot and fix common issues with Beats PowerBeats Pro not working:

Use the “jump to” links below.

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Reasons Why Beats PowerBeats Pro Aren’t Working

Here are possible issues you can encounter using Beats PowerBeats Pro. Click on the problem you have to jump to the solution:

You will also learn other helpful things, such as:

How To Reset Beats PowerBeats Pro?

So simple, yet so powerful.

Many problems, especially those related to connection stutters, are solved by simply resetting your earbuds.

Here’s how you reset PowerBeats Pro:

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  • Put both earbuds in the charging case and leave the lid open.
  • Press the System button in the middle of the case and hold it for 15 seconds or until you see the small LED flash red and white.
  • Release the button and wait until the LED only flashes white. That indicates that the earbuds are in pairing mode.
  • Hold them close to your smartphone. Learn how to pair Beats PowerBeats Pro to your smartphone.

Resetting the earbuds wipes the data on paired devices, so you have to re-pair them to your Bluetooth devices again.

Unable to reset?

Your PowerBeats Pro earbuds don’t want to reset?

Usually, the main reason is a poor connection with the pins on one of the earbuds.

  • Try pressing down the problematic earbud to ensure they’re connected with the pins while performing the reset.

However, if the pins don’t connect at all even if you press the PowerBeats Pro down, there’s not much you can do. Send them to repair and save yourself additional frustration.

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How To Pair Beats PowerBeats Pro?

Since PowerBeats Pro are an Apple product, they behave differently around different operating systems (iOS Android).

This is how you pair them:

How To Pair PowerBeats Pro to an iPhone?

Due to the H1 chip inside, the PowerBeats Pro pairing process is super easy:

  • Open the charging case with both earbuds inside. Keep the case near your iPhone.
  • You’ll see a pop-up message with an animation of the earbuds. Tap “Connect.”

The best thing about iOS and H1/W1 chips is that the earbuds automatically switch connections between all devices that use your Apple account.

How To Pair PowerBeats Pro to an Android Phone?

Usually, this involved a few more steps than on iOS. Thankfully, using the Beats app, you can have a similar pairing experience to Apple users.

This is how your pair them without the app:

  • Open the lid and check if the LED is blinking white. Don’t hold the System button for too long since you will completely reset the earbuds.
  • Go into a Bluetooth menu and search for new devices. PowerBeats Pro should be one of those devices.

This is how to pair them with the Beats app:

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  • First, download the Beats app from the Google Play store.
  • Open the app and give it all the necessary permissions. You must have the “Location” turned on.
  • Open the lid of the charging case. After, the pop-up message should appear, asking you to “Connect.”

How To Connect PowerBeats Pro to an Apple Watch?

If you own an Apple Watch, you probably also own an iPhone or another Apple gadget.

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Let’s say you want to pair PowerBeats Pro directly to your Apple Watch. The process is similar to the one on a smartphone.

  • Open the charging case lid and see that the white LED is blinking.
  • On Apple Watch, go into Settings Bluetooth.
  • Under “Devices,” you should see the “PowerBeats Pro.” Tap on it to pair.

As mentioned in the “how to pair to iPhone” steps, if PowerBeats Pro are paired with your iPhone, they will automatically pair to your Apple Watch.

Why Beats PowerBeats Pro Won’t Turn On or Off?

This might seem like a scary problem to have, but often there’s a simple solution for it. Try these troubleshooting tips.

Inspect If Earbuds are Charged

Having an empty battery in earbuds or charging case happens more often than you think.

Plug the case into the power socket to see if it’s charging.

Reset The Earbuds

Place both earbuds in the case and hold down the System button for 15 seconds or until you see the LED flashing red.

Learn the full step-by-step procedure in the reset PowerBeats Pro category.

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Leave Them For a Few Days

Some users report that leaving the earbuds in peace for a couple of days can resolve the issue.

  • One user said he had trouble turning earbuds on, so he left them in the case for 2 days without touching them. After that, he tried again, and lo and behold; the earbuds turned on.
  • A second user left them out of frustration thinking they’re never going to work again, only to find out they turned back on after 2 weeks.

Earbuds Might’ve Malfunctioned

Of course, there’s always a chance the earbuds simply died. Electronics usually stop working right after you try to turn them on.

In that case, if they’re still under warranty, send them to Apple for repairs.

Why Is One PowerBeats Pro Earbud Not Charging?

This is the most common issue with Beats PowerBeats Pro. Inside the app, one earbud reports 100%, while the other earbud is at 0%.

Let’s take a look at all the troubleshooting steps.

Is the Case Charging as Well?

It could be that the case has an empty battery, or that the charging cable is faulty.

  • Plug the case into the power wall outlet, and check if the small LED indicator light is on.
  • If not, try plugging into a different power source, or change the cable and a power brick altogether.
  • If the LED isn’t shining, the PowerBeats Pro charging case might be broken.
  • If the LED light is on and the earbud is still not charging, move to the next step.

Is There Dirt on Charging Contacts?

Inspect the charging pins inside the case and the contacts on the earbuds.

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If you see dirt or debris that could interfere with the connection, clean them off:

  • First, use a clean brush (like a toothbrush) to clean off larger debris.
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  • Then slightly wet a cotton swab with cleaning alcohol (70% or above).
  • Gently brush the pins inside the case and on the earbuds. Let them dry before inserting the buds back into the case.
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If you’re in a hurry, you can simply use a towel to brush off the dirt.

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Reset Both Earbuds

Maybe only one earbud is acting weird and needs a complete software reset.

Check for Firmware Updates

It could be that your earbuds have a bug. Updating to the latest firmware could remove it.

If the same problem persists, we’ve found some DIY solutions that might be worth a try.

Wet the Pins

If the pins between the earbuds and charging case aren’t touching, the saliva will act as a conductor of electricity.

Apparently, that did the trick for some, but we don’t advise you to do that. Liquids and electricity never mix well.

Apply Pieces of Foam

If earbuds struggle to connect to the charging pins, try this:

Put small pieces of foam on the top inside part of the charging case lid (see image below). The foam will push the earbuds down and connect them to the pins.

Here’s what some users did:

beats, powerbeats, working, simple

  • Cut 2 small pieces of foam, a few millimeters thick.
  • Install them inside the charging case, on the lid above the earbuds. Use a simple tape and not a superglue. That way, you can simply take the foam off without leaving a residue.

The foam will push the earbuds further into the pins and establish a connection.

Still No Luck?

Then either the case or the earbud is faulty, and you should send it for repairs.

As mentioned, Beats PowerBeats Pro are notorious for their charging problems. It’s so severe that Apple faces a class-action lawsuit due to poor design that led to this problem.

It’s our understanding, due to the design flaw, there’s a minimal tolerance between the charging pins on the buds and the case. Any earbud that’s slightly off tolerance can have a poor connection with the pins.

Why Is Beats PowerBeats Pro Volume Not Working?

Reasons for volume not working include software bugs, physical pieces of dirt being stuck under the volume rocker, and an actual malfunction.

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Reset Your Earbuds

It could be that a random bug is preventing your earbuds from recognizing button controls. Resetting earbuds may help restore them to their previous state.

Check For Firmware Updates

There’s a possibility that the firmware update scrambled the code and caused earbuds to act funny. For example, that’s what happened when users updated to firmware version iOS 13.1.1.

Keep an eye on notifications suggesting there’s an update available for your PowerBeats Pro.

  • For iOS users, updates are installed automatically in the background.
  • Android users have to install the Beats app on their smartphones and wait for a notification about the update.

Check For Dirt

Beats PowerBeats Pro use physical buttons. So it’s possible that a small particle is preventing you from fully pressing the button. Therefore, earbuds don’t register your command.

  • Inspect the volume rocker if there are any particles stuck in between the button and the housing.
  • If you see it, grab a toothbrush and try scraping out the dirt.

Send Earbuds For Repairs

Of course, there’s always a chance earbuds might malfunction. Maybe the contacts on the logic board failed, or water somehow entered the internals.

Best to leave professional repairmen to investigate the matter. See how to send Beats PowerBeats Pro for repairs.

Why Beats PowerBeats Pro Won’t Connect?

A persistent issue of one of the earbuds not connecting, or stuttering while listening to music.

Here are a few tips that can fix PowerBeats Pro problem:

Reset The Earbuds

Resetting will return earbuds to their factory settings, erasing any bugs that are causing connection problems.

Turn Off Automatic Ear Detection

Sometimes built-in features interfere with music playback. Other users suggest that turning off the automatic play/pause sensor solved the issue.

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  • Go into Settings and select Bluetooth.
  • Next to the PowerBeats Pro, press on the “I” icon.
  • Find the Automatic Ear Detection toggle and switch if off.
  • Download the Beats app and connect it with your earbuds.
  • In the settings app, find the “Automatic Ear Detection” toggle and switch it off.

Update The Firmware

Software bugs are a known suspect for earbuds acting strange, from worse sound quality, no charging, and connection stutters. Therefore, updating to the latest version of the firmware is a possible solution.

  • iOS users will get all firmware updates automatically.
  • Android device users have to download the Beats app and wait for a notification about a new update.

Reset Bluetooth Module (For macOS Users)

Connection issues can also occur on computers.

Continuing with the idea of a software bug causing the problem, try resetting the Bluetooth module.

  • Go into System Preferences Bluetooth settings and check the “Show Bluetooth in menu bar.” A Bluetooth icon should appear in your menu bar on top of the screen.
  • Hold both the Shift and Option keys and click on the Bluetooth icon.
  • Hover over “Debug” and select “Reset the Bluetooth module.”
  • Afterward, restart your computer.

Update Bluetooth Driver (For Windows Users)

On the other hand, Windows users can’t simply reset the module. However, they can try to update the drivers or roll it back to the previous version.

  • Open a search bar and type “Computer Management.”
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  • Click on “Device Manager,” find Bluetooth and click the arrow on the left.
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  • Right-click on the device and select “Update driver.”
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  • Select “Automatically search for drivers.”
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Restore The Previous Driver (For Windows Users)

If your problems started after a Windows update, your new drivers might be faulty.

  • Open a search bar and type “Computer Management.”
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  • Click on “Device Manager,” find Bluetooth and click on the arrow on the left.
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  • Right-click on the device and select “Properties.”
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  • In the “Driver” tab, select “Roll Back Driver.”
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Avoid Places With Lots of Wireless Connections

While Bluetooth is pretty robust, the audio can still stutter if many other devices use wireless connections.

  • For example, if you’re also using a Bluetooth computer mouse or have other people next to you using wireless headphones.
  • Too many Wi-Fi connections can also hurt since both technologies work at 2.4GHz.
  • Make sure you keep your audio source near you. If you’re walking around the house with your smartphone left in your room, it’s possible you might experience stutters.

A long solution from the web:

  • Unpair the buds and place them in the charging case. Close the lid.
  • Turn the Bluetooth off on your smartphone.
  • Open the charging case and connect them to your laptop. Don’t use them for 3-5 minutes.
  • Then, pair them back to your smartphone.

To some, that has resolved the issue.

How To Update the Firmware on Beats PowerBeats Pro?

Companies seek bugs and errors that have escaped their testing and correct them in the form of updates. The solution to your problem may lie in the next update.

How to Update PowerBeats Pro on iOS?

iOS updates are installed automatically and in the background. You can’t force them manually.

  • Simply pair your PowerBeats Pro to an iOS device and make sure to enable an internet connection.
  • After about 15 minutes, any potential updates should be already installed.

How to Update PowerBeats Pro on Android?

  • First, download the Beats app for your Android smartphone.
  • Open the app and pair it with your Beats PowerBeats Pro.
  • Wait for a notification about the firmware update.

Like with iOS, you can’t manually initiate a search for a new firmware update. However, at least with Android, you get asked if you want to update.

What About Beats Updater?

Beats Updater was a computer app used to update Beats headphones’ firmware.

However, it’s officially retired, and you can no longer download it from the official website.

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What’s the Beats PowerBeats Warranty How to Contact Apple?

What if, after all those tips, problems keep persisting? You should strongly consider turning to Apple for repairs.

If earbuds are still in warranty (which usually lasts for 1 year after the purchase), it’s always better to consult with Apple to see if they know what’s wrong.

First, check if your Beats PowerBeats Pro are still under warranty.

  • Beats (Apple) warranty in USA, UK, and ASIA lasts 1 year after purchase, unless you paid for an extended warranty.
  • Beats (Apple) warranty in EUROPE is a mixed bag since some stores offer 1 year, while others offer 2 years (as required by EU law).

Visit a Retailer

If you purchased the PowerBeats Pro in a store, take the receipt as proof of purchase and visit them. A retailer should recognize the problem and send the earbuds for repair.

Contact Apple Support Directly

You can arrange a repair online with a few clicks.

  • Go to Apple’s website. Click on “Support.”
  • Scroll down and click on “Apple Repair.” Direct link to the Apple page.
  • Scroll down again and click on “Start a repair request.”
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  • Under “See all products,” click on “Choose a product.”
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  • Select “Beats by Dre.”
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From there, you can choose between 2 options:

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  • “Bring in for a Repair” finds Authorized Service Providers near you. There, you can drop your earbuds for repairs.
  • Or you can call User Support and arrange a repair from there.

However, you have to be aware that sometimes Apple doesn’t want to repair the faulty product. So, you have to be persistent and keep trying.

Otherwise, you might have to consider third-party repair.


Let us know down in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев if any of our tips helped with your problem.

No product is perfect. Sometimes, earbuds work perfectly until the end, whereas sometimes, you experience problems after a few days of use.

In the case of PowerBeats Pro, users have many problems. As mentioned, Apple faces a class-action lawsuit over the charging issues.

However, while that doesn’t mean that everyone will get full refunds for faulty Apple products, it will most certainly affect Apple’s design choices in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why is one side of my Beats PowerBeats Pro not working?

Maybe one earbud is not charging correctly. 2. You might have connection issues (see fix). 3. Or an actual malfunction. Try resetting the earbuds first to see if it helps. Otherwise, check tips and solutions described in our article.

Do Beats have a lifetime warranty?

No, you only get a 1 to 2-year warranty on Beats products. You can extend the coverage when buying from a retailer.

How do you reset Beats wireless headphones?

Every headphone uses a different chain of commands to reset itself. In the case of Beats PowerBeats Pro: 1. Place them in the case with opened lid. 2. Hold the System button on the case for 15 seconds until you see the red LED turning white. 3. You’re good to go.

What do LED colors on the Beats PowerBeats Pro case mean?

White: flash white means earbuds are in pairing mode, whereas solid white indicates buds are fully charged.Red: the battery life is getting below 40%. If the LED light flashes red, try resetting them.

How to get a Beats headphones repair through Apple support

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  • Apple will replace or repair Beats headphones that have incurred accidental damage, have battery issues, or have certain missing parts.
  • Service costs depend on what Beats product you have, your issue, and whether or not you have AppleCare Plus or another warranty.
  • To make a service request, you’ll first need to call or start an online chat with an Apple support representative.

It’s a bummer if your Beats headphones break. However, depending on the issue you’re having and your coverage by warranties or AppleCare Plus, you can get your headphones repaired or replaced in just a week or two.

How to get a Beats headphones repair

Here’s what you can send in for a repair with Apple, how to make a service request, and how much it will cost.

What you can send in for repair

Apple will service a variety of issues and parts related to Beats headphones. This includes accidental damage, lost or missing items (like a Powerbeats Pro earbud or charging case), and battery failures (due to defects or wear through regular use).

To find out if your particular Beats issue qualifies for repair, you can follow the steps and prompts below to make an appointment or service request through Apple support.

How to make an appointment or service request with Apple for a Beats headphones repair

  • Go to the Apple Support page.
  • Click the “” icon with Apple’s logo.

Select “Beats by Dre.”

Click the box that best describes the issue you’re having.

Click “Call to Arrange a Repair” or “Chat to Arrange a Repair.” Alternatively, you can set up an Apple Genius Bar appointment to receive in-person tech support.

  • If you selected the call option, enter your information to have Apple Support call you, and click “Continue.” If you selected the chat option, enter your information to start a chat session with an Apple Support representative, and click “Continue.”
  • Costs and time needed for Beats repair

    If you send in your Beats to Apple, the company estimates that service will take 3 to 10 business days from the day you ship your product. For service through a local Apple Authorized Service Provider, you’ll need to ask for an approximate timeline.

    If you have AppleCare Plus, you can request Express Replacement Service to have a replacement pair of Beats shipped to you while you return your Beats to Apple.

    Repair costs will depend on the Beats product you have, your issue, and whether or not you’re covered under AppleCare Plus or another warranty like the Apple One Year Limited Warranty or consumer law. For manufacturing defects covered by the Apple One Year Limited Warranty or consumer law, the repair is free. AppleCare Plus coverage includes service for up to two incidents of accidental damage. Each incident is subject to a service fee, which is 29 for eligible Beats headphones and earphones (Beats EP, Beats Pro, Beats Solo Pro, Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats Studio3 Wireless, BeatsX, Powerbeats Pro, and Powerbeats3 Wireless).

    For out-of-warranty repairs, Apple has a support page that outlines its fees, which range from 49 to 199 depending on your device. It notes that Apple reserves the right to determine if your product is eligible for out-of-warranty repairs or replacements. Beats headphones that have broken into several pieces, for example, are not eligible for any out-of-warranty services.

    Abigail Abesamis Demarest is a contributing writer for Insider based in New York. She loves a good glazed donut and nerdy deep dives into the science of food and how it’s made.

    Insider Inc. receives a commission when you buy through our links.

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    I replaced Airpods Pro with Powerbeats Pro for running — here’s what wins

    I’m on a quest to find the best running headphones that don’t fall out of my ears. When I tried Airpods Pro for running at the track a few weeks ago, I spent more time chasing down the bouncy plummeting buds than banking laps.

    Despite my wireless headphone woes, I’m committed to running as a regular fixture of my workout regimen. I will discover the best wireless earbuds (or headset) to provide the soundtrack, even if I have to wear down the tread of my sneakers in the process.

    For my first post-Airpods Pro fail run, I enlisted Powerbeats Pro. Long positioned as a pair of fitness earbuds, I once tried the Beats-brand buds, but I lost them to the laundry cycle when I left them in my sweatpants.

    Still, Powerbeats Pro combines water- and sweat resistance, an attractive ear hook design and effortless Apple integration via an ever-capable H1 chip. If that’s not the combination I need, I’m not sure what is. So are Powerbeats Pro my ideal running headphones? Read on to find out.

    Running with Powerbeats Pro: Comfort and security

    When I unboxed my baby blue-colored Powerbeats Pro, I saw three additional sets of eartips along with a fourth pair that shipped attached to the buds. Airpods Pro comes with just three total: the medium size already attached, and small and large sizes are in the box. But Airpods Pro offers a special fit test to pick the proper size for you. With Powerbeats Pro, I had to rely on old fashioned trial-and-error.

    Satisfied with the stationary security of the smallest eartips, I felt ready to run. Once I finished my walking warm-up at the track, I turned on my upbeat tunes and picked up the pace. At first it seemed as though the Powerbeats Pro wiggled loose and could descend from my ears at any step. I decided to trust they wouldn’t, though, and after the first lap I grew comfortable with the barely-there feel.

    After two miles, the Powerbeats Pro remained in my ears, even when I needed to adjust my ponytail or wipe away the sweat pooling around my neck in the humid summer air. That said, the comfort declined over time. Around the one-hour mark of my workout, the rigid hooks began pinching my ear lobes. The sensation grew intolerable, so I opted to walk home music-less. I never experienced this awkward pain with Airpods Pro.

    Running with Powerbeats Pro: Sound quality

    Before the Powerbeats Pro started to hurt my ears, I enjoyed the sound quality. These buds produce well-balanced audio, mastering the oddities of my eclectic running soundtrack. From the iconic baseball broadcast in Meat Loaf’s “Bat of of Hell” and the cymbal beat of Macklemore Ryan Lewis’s “Can’t Hold Us,” to the addictive bass of Lil Wayne’s “A Milli” and anthemic vocals of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” the Powerbeats Pro held their own. I wish they could get a little louder for the moments I need an extra push, though.

    Powerbeats Pro aren’t noise-cancelling like Airpods Pro, so I could still hear the passing siren of an emergency vehicle and buzz of other people at the track. I like feeling connected to my surroundings when I’m working out, but I wouldn’t wear Powerbeats Pro when I’m trying to FOCUS on work. I’ll probably stick with Airpods Pro or perhaps Airpods Max when I’m not moving around, two of the best noise-cancelling headphones right now.

    Running with Powerbeats Pro: Verdict

    My experience running with Powerbeats Pro could’ve gone better, but it also could’ve gone worse. I happen to love the design and fun color options of the Beats earbuds, so I felt stylish, even with sweat dripping down my face. But they say pain is beauty, and that was the case after wearing Powerbeats Pro for a longer workout.

    Luckily, I don’t plan on reaching distance-runner status anytime soon. For a 60-minute-or-less track workout, the Powerbeats Pro are stellar — and they stay put. For the sound quality and easy pairing, I might even reach for them for my next weight-lifting session, too. I can’t say they’re the ultimate running headphones I’ve been searching for, but Powerbeats Pro are a worthy alternative to Airpods Pro.

    The 7 Best True Wireless Earbuds. Spring 2023 Reviews

    beats, powerbeats, working, simple

    Truly wireless earbuds are fairly new in the headphones market. While several models were made by lesser-known brands for a couple of years, they didn’t become immensely popular until Apple released the first Airpods in late 2016. Since then, almost every company has thrown its hat in the ring. What used to be a relatively expensive product that lacked features is now available at every price point, with a performance that can match regular Bluetooth in-ears. While truly wireless headphones can’t quite match the battery life of larger Bluetooth headphones, most popular options come with a charging case to extend their overall battery life while away from a charger.

    We’ve tested over 165 pairs of truly wireless earbuds and in-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best options. They tend to cost more than ordinary earbuds, so check out our picks for the best cheap earbuds if you’re looking for something more budget-friendly. You can also take a look at the best in-ears and earbuds, the best earbuds for iPhone, and the best wireless earbuds for more options.

    Best True Wireless Earbuds

    Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless

    The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless are the best true wireless earbuds we’ve tested. These premium buds are the next generation of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless and have a less bulky design than their predecessor, which makes them very comfortable for long listening sessions. Although they’re a bit larger than other picks on this list, their build holds an outstanding noise cancelling (ANC) system. Whether traveling by bus or working at the office, these buds can block out lots of noise, meaning you can FOCUS on your audio. They last roughly 6.7 hours continuously, and their carrying case supplies an additional three charges if you need it. Their sound has more bass than we measured as the shape of our test rig’s ear canals impacts their bass delivery. However, subjectively, you can expect more boom, which muddies and clutters vocals and instruments. If you prefer a different sound, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets to help you fine-tune their sound. Unfortunately, despite their high-end price, they don’t support multi-device pairing, so you can only connect them with one device at a time.

    Best Upper Mid-Range True Wireless Earbuds

    Apple Airpods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless

    The Apple Airpods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless are a great option if you’re looking for cheaper earbuds but still want a premium experience. These earbuds are better built than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless and offer a few features for iOS that you might appreciate if you’re an iPhone or MacBook user. Their H2 chip helps with easy pairing to Apple devices, and they support Spatial Audio, a surround sound feature meant to create a more immersive listening experience with compatible content. Their adaptive EQ results in a somewhat warm sound profile, so your audio has a bit of extra boom and cozy-sounding vocals and instruments. Unlike the previous pick, they don’t have an app with sound customization features like an EQ. Their ANC feature isn’t as effective as the Boses’, so they block out less ambient sound overall, but it offers excellent overall performance with a wide range of noise, including rumbling bus and plane engines. The earbuds last just under six hours of continuous use with ANC on and come with a case with four extra charges. They have a comfortable fit for most people, but you might find they wiggle out of your ears after a while and require repositioning.

    Best Mid-Range True Wireless Earbuds

    Google Pixel Buds Pro Truly Wireless

    Consider the Google Pixel Buds Pro Truly Wireless for something more reasonably priced. These earbuds have a less comfortable fit for most and aren’t as well-built as the Apple Airpods Pro (2nd generation), but they still offer a great all-around performance. Their ANC feature does an excellent job of blocking out noise, including rumbling engines during your commute. They support multi-device pairing, so you can stay connected with your phone and computer simultaneously. They come in more colors than the Apple or Bose, so you can get them in bright colors like coral and lemongrass. Their somewhat V-shaped sound profile adds rumble and punch to your audio and keeps instruments and vocals clear and bright. You can also customize the sound with an in-app graphic EQ and presets. However, these buds have a somewhat bulky design compared to the previous picks and aren’t as comfortable or stable for most. The Jabra Elite 7 Pro True Wireless are around the same price and offer a more comfortable fit and better stability, so they’re less likely to slip out of your ears during workouts. However, their ANC feature blocks out much less noise, but they have a better mic performance, so they’re better for phone calls than many truly wireless earbuds we’ve tested.

    Best Lower Mid-Range True Wireless Earbuds

    Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless

    If you’re looking for affordable earbuds, you might want to start your search in the lower mid-range with the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless. These earbuds don’t have a virtual surround sound feature. Their warm sound profile lacks thump and rumble, making them less well-suited for bass-heavy music. However, it’s well-balanced enough for various genres, and if you prefer a different sound, you can use the app’s graphic EQ and presets for sound customization. They support LDAC, Sony’s codec for hi-res audio via Bluetooth. They also have an adaptive ANC system to adjust to the noise around you. It does a fantastic job of blocking out ambient sound and isolates from bass-range noise like rumbling engines more effectively than the Google Pixel Buds Pro Truly Wireless. The earbuds last more than eight hours of continuous use with ANC on, and they come with a case that holds an additional four charges.

    Best Budget True Wireless Earbuds

    Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless

    Check out the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless for wireless earbuds that won’t break the bank. These well-built earbuds stand out from the crowd as their carrying case holds more than 12 extra charges. Although one charge lasts just over seven hours, their total battery life nears almost 100 hours, practically unheard of for truly wireless buds. They also enter a standby mode to help conserve battery life if you forget to turn them off. Also, while they don’t have an ANC system, they do a good job of passively isolating you from office-type noise like ambient chatter and humming A/C units. They come with a selection of differently-sized ear tips and stability fins, and they’re decently comfortable once you find a good fit. Their sound profile is also well-balanced, with some extra bass that lends more thump and rumble to mixes. Unfortunately, unlike the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless, they aren’t compatible with the Anker Soundcore app. They also don’t come with any sound customization features like an EQ or presets to help you fine-tune their sound.

    Best Cheap Truly Wireless Earbuds

    JLab Audio GO Air POP True Wireless

    The best cheap wireless earbuds we’ve tested are the JLab Audio Go Air POP True Wireless. These earbuds don’t have stand-out features like the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless’ extremely long battery life, and like the previous pick, they don’t have an EQ for sound customization. You can cycle through a few EQ presets with the onboard controls. With the default EQ setting, they have a bass-rich sound that adds punch and boom to your audio without overwhelming instruments and vocals. They’re well-built and rated IPX4 for resistance against light water exposure. Their stable fit makes them a solid inexpensive choice for the gym. They don’t have ANC and don’t passively isolate from as much noise as the Anker, but they do a decent job of blocking out ambient sound. They have a long nine-hour continuous battery life, meaning they can last through a workday or long flight, and their case holds three extra charges. The case’s charging cable is built into it, which can be convenient but also means that you need to replace the earbuds if the cable gets damaged.

    Best Truly Wireless Earbuds For Running

    Jaybird Vista 2 Truly Wireless

    The Jaybird Vista 2 Truly Wireless are the best Βluetooth earbuds for running we’ve tested. Unlike other picks on this list, these buds have a rugged and sturdy build, rated IP68, meaning they’re fully dust-tight and protected from water immersion, making them a solid choice for tough hikes and outdoor activity. They’re also very comfortable and have a stable in-ear fit, so they won’t move around or fall out during a run. The case is also rated IP54 for dust and water resistance, so you can toss it in a bag without worrying about dirt or rain damaging your headphones. These earbuds have a well-balanced default sound profile that you can customize with a parametric EQ and presets in the headphones’ companion app. While their roughly five hours of continuous battery life is short for a 9-5 workday, it’ll last through most workouts, and their case holds a few extra charges. Unfortunately, even though they have an ANC feature, it doesn’t offer a very good noise isolation performance, so they aren’t ideal if you want to isolate yourself from noise at the gym. That may not be an issue if you run outside since it makes it a little easier to stay aware of your surroundings.

    Recent Updates

    All Reviews

    Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best earbuds buy for most people in each price range. 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 everywhere).

    If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for truly wireless headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.

    The Best Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds

    beats, powerbeats, working, simple

    We tested the Beats Studio Buds earbuds and added them to the Competition section. We also added information on new earbuds from Amazon, JBL, and Technics.

    There’s no shortage of good wireless earbuds on the market, but the best pair should offer a level of performance, reliability, and comfort that elevates it above the pack.

    In our most recent round of tests, no pair exceeded our expectations like the Soundcore Space A40.

    With excellent noise cancellation, customizable sound, a compact size, good microphone quality, wireless charging, and a comfortable fit, the Soundcore Space A40 performs so well that it’s hard to believe this true wireless pair is priced around 100.

    How we picked and tested

    Our audio experts compared hundreds of earbuds, listening for clear, true-to-life sound with a solid Bluetooth connection.

    A good design should fit most ear shapes, so we have people with various ear sizes try on our top contenders.

    Your callers should understand you no matter where you are, so we test mics in a quiet room, with background noise, and in wind.

    The battery must last at least five hours for true wireless earbuds (ideally more), and we test to confirm that they meet manufacturers’ claims.

    The best true wireless earbuds

    These tiny earbuds have great sound, excellent noise cancellation, and a long battery life. But they don’t support a voice-activated assistant like Alexa or Siri, and the touch controls are slightly limited.

    Buying Options

    At the time of publishing, the price was 89.

    The Soundcore Space A40 outperforms some big competition with a great combination of performance, features, and price. The sound quality is enjoyable right out of the box, but if it’s not your ideal, there are multiple ways to fine-tune the sound using the Soundcore app. The tiny, lightweight earbuds should fit most ears comfortably, and 10 hours of battery life per charge is impressive, especially for earbuds this small. The.sized charging case holds an additional 40 hours worth of power and supports wireless charging. You can use either earbud on its own, and there are six microphones that deliver clear phone calls and a natural-sounding hear-through mode. Dual-device connectivity allows you to effortlessly switch between listening to music on your laptop and taking a call on your phone. The IPX4 water-resistance rating means your earbuds are protected from a little rain or sweat, and the 18-month warranty protects you from unexpected mishaps. Though the active noise cancellation isn’t the absolute best we’ve tested, it’s still excellent.

    The touch-based controls work reliably and are customizable in the app, but they don’t offer everything: You’ll have to choose one function, such as track reverse, to omit. If you want to use your phone’s voice-activated digital assistant, you’ll have to tap the controls to initiate it; this pair isn’t always listening for a wake word. If that’s a feature you really want, consider one of our also-great picks instead.

    If you want voice-activated Siri control

    These earbuds sound great, fit securely, and offer the convenience of hands-free Siri voice control. However, they lack dual-device pairing, and the chunky case can’t charge wirelessly.

    Buying Options

    Free (delayed) shipping for Prime members

    If you are an Apple fan who wants all the pairing and voice-control conveniences of Airpods, but are looking for better all-around performance, the Beats Fit Pro is for you. This pair can transition seamlessly between your commute, workplace, and gym. The Fit Pro sounds great, with a somewhat boosted bass and excellent vocal clarity, and the built-in microphones do a good job of reducing wind and background noise. The active noise cancellation succeeds in bringing down the loudness of airplane/train engines, vacuum cleaners, and air conditioners. You can use either earbud individually if you prefer to keep one ear open, and the six hours of listening time is decent (though not as good as our other picks). The charging case holds an additional 18 hours but lacks the option for wireless charging and isn’t as small as we’d like.

    These earbuds have a high enough water-resistance rating (IPX4) to provide protection for most activities, and the flexible, stabilizing wings keep them securely in place. Our test panel found the winged design to be comfortable and liked the extra security it provided, but people who are sensitive to pressure in the ear might dislike the way the wings feel.

    Just like the Airpods Pro earbuds, these offer easy pairing and connection swapping to iCloud-connected Apple devices, as well as touch-free “Hey Siri” voice control. The physical buttons control track skip, phone calls, and volume on Apple devices; some button customization and one-touch pairing is available for use with Android devices (if you download the Beats app). The main downside with these earbuds is the inability to pair them with two devices simultaneously (such as a phone and laptop), but the easy connection swapping makes that less of an issue for Apple users. Apple’s warranty covers Beats headphones against manufacturing issues for one year from the date of purchase.

    If you want voice-activated Google or Alexa control

    This pair offers your choice of voice-activated Alexa or Google Assistant control, as well as good sound and excellent noise cancellation. But the touch-based controls have some bothersome limits.

    Buying Options

    If you want a pair of true wireless earbuds that supports Alexa or Google Assistant voice control, you’ll love the JBL Reflect Aero TWS. This is the top pick in our guide to workout headphones because the winged earbuds stay securely in place, have simple controls, and are waterproof and sweatproof, with an IP68 rating. But the Reflect Aero TWS goes beyond workouts. The sound is good out of the box, and you can fine-tune it to your preferences using the equalizer controls in JBL’s mobile app. This pair’s eight hours of battery life is solid for true wireless earbuds, and the.sized case offers up an additional 16 hours of power (though we wish it supported wireless charging). The active noise cancellation is very effective, and should you need to hear your surroundings, a hear-through mode is a tap away. Or, if you prefer, you can choose to use only one earbud at a time. Six microphones ensure clear phone calls, and you can connect the Reflect Aero TWS pair to two devices simultaneously.

    Like the Beats Fit Pro, this pair uses stabilizing wings to help keep the earbuds in place. JBL includes three sizes of wings, so you can choose the fit that grips your ear most comfortably. Our testers found the fit to be comfortable, but people who have very small or sensitive ears may find the wings’ pressure fatiguing over time. Although the Reflect Aero TWS’s touch-based controls are easy to learn and use, we wish that they could adjust volume, playback, noise cancellation, and the hear-through feature inclusively, but unfortunately you’ll have to choose one of those functions to omit. If anything goes wrong, JBL covers this pair with a one-year warranty.

    The best budget wireless earbuds

    This affordable pair is loaded with features and performs respectably well, but the sound quality and features fall short of the best competitors.

    Buying Options

    If you want completely wireless earbuds that cost around 50, the EarFun Free 2S is the best pair we’ve found. EarFun gives you a lot of premium features for the money, including a better-than-average waterproof rating of IPX7, a Qi-compatible charging case, a solid battery life of seven hours per charge, and an 18-month warranty. The Free 2S is the successor to our previous budget pick, the Free 2. The majority of specs are the same, but the new earbuds are noticeably smaller and use a newer version of Bluetooth. The Free 2S earbuds have the full complement of touch-based controls, and the quality of the background-noise-reducing microphones rivals that of earbuds priced 100 or more.

    This pair isn’t perfect, though. It lacks advanced features like active noise cancellation and a hear-through mode. And although the Free 2S is less bulky than its predecessor, the chassis is smooth and has less grip than other designs, so people with very small ears may have fit issues. Plus the touch-based controls are fussier than physical buttons.

    The best true wireless earbuds

    These tiny earbuds have great sound, excellent noise cancellation, and a long battery life. But they don’t support a voice-activated assistant like Alexa or Siri, and the touch controls are slightly limited.

    Buying Options

    At the time of publishing, the price was 89.

    If you want voice-activated Siri control

    These earbuds sound great, fit securely, and offer the convenience of hands-free Siri voice control. However, they lack dual-device pairing, and the chunky case can’t charge wirelessly.

    Buying Options

    Free (delayed) shipping for Prime members

    If you want voice-activated Google or Alexa control

    This pair offers your choice of voice-activated Alexa or Google Assistant control, as well as good sound and excellent noise cancellation. But the touch-based controls have some bothersome limits.

    The best budget wireless earbuds

    This affordable pair is loaded with features and performs respectably well, but the sound quality and features fall short of the best competitors.

    Why you should trust us

    I hold a bachelor’s degree in both music performance and audio production from Ithaca College, and I also have tested more than a thousand pairs of headphones and earbuds while working for Wirecutter.

    In addition to reviewing gear for AV magazines, I’ve been in and out of top recording studios for more than a decade, first as a radio producer and on-air talent, then as a professional voice actor. My articles have been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, and Time, and on Good Morning America, the BBC World Service, and NBC Nightly News.

    We’ve also engaged the ears of experts—including audio reviewers, musicians, and composers—to get feedback on the various earbuds we’ve tested.

    Who should get wireless earbuds

    This guide is aimed at the person who wants a great all-purpose pair of wireless earbuds. Whether you’re sitting at your desk, commuting to work, or taking the dog for a walk, any of these wireless earbud picks should offer a reliable way to transmit great-sounding music to your ears and a clear-sounding voice to your phone-call recipients. On- or over-ear Bluetooth headphones are also capable of hitting these points, but they can get in the way of glasses and are quite bulky compared with earbuds.

    Many of the headphones in this category are resistant to water or sweat but aren’t necessarily designed for high-impact workouts or very wet conditions. For workouts, we suggest looking at our guide to the best workout headphones.

    Although we do take active noise cancellation into account as a helpful feature for the earbuds in this guide, if you fly a lot or need earbuds with the very best noise cancellation possible, check out our guide to the best noise-cancelling headphones.

    If you want to spend less, you can turn to our guide to the best earbuds under 50, where our FOCUS is on delivering the best combo of sound and features for the least amount of money.

    How we picked the best wireless earbuds

    beats, powerbeats, working, simple

    There are two types of wireless earbuds on the market: those that are tethered via a cable (usually referred to as a collar or a neckband) and those that we call “true wireless” Bluetooth earbuds, which don’t have a cord connecting them either to your music device or to each other.

    True wireless earbuds have become increasingly popular because of how light and unobtrusive they feel. As such, many manufacturers now FOCUS their attention on releasing earbuds in this style, and we’re seeing fewer tethered options outside of the budget-earbud category. We still test both styles for this guide, but we highly prioritize a true wireless design, as we’ve found that both our testers and our readers prefer the comfort and convenience that is possible when all the cables are removed.

    To find the best wireless earbuds for everyday use, we use the following criteria:

    • Great sound quality is obviously important to us. We look for earbuds that have a generally balanced sound that doesn’t over-emphasize a particular frequency range (too much bass or high-frequency detail), and produce a nice sense of space and openness. You can read more about how we evaluate sound quality in this article.
    • A secure, comfortable fit is of utmost importance for wireless earbuds you’ll use throughout the day. The shift in preference to true wireless designs makes fit an even more crucial criteria: If a true wireless earbud falls out while you’re on the go, it’s just one wrong bounce away from being gone for good. So we looked for earbuds that come with a variety of tips for different ear sizes and considered how securely each pair fit all of our panelists.

    Tips on Tips: How to Shop for Replacement Earbud Tips

    Fit is crucial to earbud performance. If you’re struggling to get a good fit with the provided tips, replacement earbud tips might be the solution.

    • Good battery life is another must-have feature for a set of Bluetooth earbuds that you’ll use every day. That means at least five hours per charge for true wireless designs that come with a charging case and seven hours for neckband-style earbuds that you have to charge via a USB cable.
    • Voice-call quality is also key for daily-use earbuds, since you’ll likely be taking a lot of calls or doing a lot of video chats.
    • The earbuds should also be mildly splash and sweat resistant. Although our FOCUS in this guide is not on headphones specifically designed for working out, you never know when you’ll get caught in a heat wave or a downpour on your commute.
    • We preferred earbuds that offer at least some degree of noise cancellation and/or sound isolation to help you block out the world when you want to, as well as a hear-through mode to let in outside sounds when you need to. But our picks here are not necessarily the best options for noise cancellation; we have a separate guide for that.
    • Finally, most people don’t need to spend more than 250 for a set of all-purpose true wireless earbuds with all these features, while 100 is the maximum for wireless headphones where the two earbuds are connected by a wire or collar. That’s enough money to obtain high build quality as well as good sound from a company with a decent track record and reliable customer support. Spending more might get you a more luxurious design or better active noise cancellation.

    How we tested for the best in-ear headphones

    We’ve spent hundreds of hours testing more than 400 pairs of wireless earbuds. Our panelists evaluate for sound quality, ease of use, fit, and comfort before ranking their favorites.

    If a pair makes it past our initial tests, I then try out the microphones over phone calls in both quiet and noisy areas. I test battery life to make sure that the actual use time lines up with each manufacturer’s claim. And I check the Bluetooth signal reliability by wandering a good distance away from my mobile device, putting it in a or bag, walking outside, and going several rooms away.

    I test each pair of earbuds with both iOS and Android phones, as well as an Apple laptop, to look for Bluetooth connectivity issues. Most manufacturers will stipulate that their wireless earbuds are designed to work specifically with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. That doesn’t mean the earbuds won’t work with a computer, but depending on your operating system, you could experience a less reliable Bluetooth connection. We discuss this issue in greater detail in the article “Bluetooth Headphones Don’t Always Play Nice With Computers. Here’s Why.”

    Once we have a sense of how each pair of earbuds performs, we take the price and extra features into account to choose our top picks.

    Our pick: Soundcore Space A40

    beats, powerbeats, working, simple

    The best true wireless earbuds

    These tiny earbuds have great sound, excellent noise cancellation, and a long battery life. But they don’t support a voice-activated assistant like Alexa or Siri, and the touch controls are slightly limited.

    Buying Options

    At the time of publishing, the price was 89.

    It’s remarkable that the Soundcore Space A40 packs great sound, 10 hours of battery life, good microphone quality, dual-device connectivity, and excellent noise cancellation into earbuds the size of slightly squashed marbles—with a price around 100. This little pair of true wireless earbuds outperforms sets that cost double. While we wish the Space A40 had a few more control options and the ability to activate a digital assistant using your voice, there isn’t much else that we can complain about. Out of the box, the sound of the Space A40 is quite good. The upper bass is boosted a little too much for our taste, and female vocals lack a bit of presence, but it’s still very pleasant to listen to. If the default sound profile is not completely to your taste, the app offers multiple avenues to fine-tune the sound—including a plethora of EQ presets, a manual frequency-range adjustment, and a listening-test-based personalization system. We were pleased with the spacious soundstage, the clarity of the highs, and the bass presence we achieved with some adjustment. Once you find your favorite tuning, the app saves your settings to the earbuds, so you don’t need to repeat the process over and over.

    The smooth, ergonomic design of the A40 earbud does a better job at sitting comfortably in a variety of ears than the vast majority of earbuds we’ve tested. Not only are the earbuds small, they’re also lightweight—so the design isn’t fighting gravity and tugging at your ear canal. We were able to wear the A40 pair painlessly through an entire workday. This set has an IPX4 water-resistance rating, which means it can take a little rain or sweat. However, the earbud design lacks a wing or hook to secure it in place. For workouts that involve bouncy or high-impact moves, we’d recommend you take a look at one of our picks in our guide to workout headphones instead. This is especially true if you have small ears: Because small ears have less surface area to grip, true wireless earbuds are notoriously difficult to hold in place without added support.

    The A40’s 10-hour battery life means you can easily wear this pair all day long. The case charges wirelessly or via cable, fits easily in most s, and holds an additional 40 hours of playtime. The quick-charge feature powers your earbuds for four hours of use after only 10 minutes in the case. Of course, your volume level and the number of calls you take can cause some variation in battery life, but we found that we nearly never needed to put our buds back into the case before bedtime.

    The active noise cancellation on this pair is among the best we’ve measured. The Space A40 can reduce lower-pitched noises like vacuum cleaners or plane engines well, and the included tips do a decent job of dampening higher-pitched sounds like babies crying or dogs barking. When you turn on the ANC, you’ll immediately notice a difference, especially on a plane. Using the app, you can adjust the intensity of reduction or choose an adaptive mode that automatically shifts the ANC to match the kind of sounds around you. For folks who are bothered by the phenomenon we call eardrum suck, the ability to choose a comfortable ANC level is a nice benefit.

    For those times when you want to hear what’s going on around you, a hear-through mode is a tap away. The sound piped through the earbuds is remarkably lifelike—not tinny or overly muffled. Some earbuds have hear-through modes that are fine for a quick conversation, but not really tolerable for long-term awareness. In contrast, the A40’s transparency sounds good enough to leave on for situational awareness as you go about your day. Or, if you prefer, the Space A40 allows you to use either earbud on its own.

    The call quality on this pair is excellent, thanks to the use of the six microphones combined with software help to reduce background noise and ensure you come through clearly, even in breezy conditions. The A40’s dual-device connectivity allows you to pair with two Bluetooth sources simultaneously. This is handy when switching back and forth between video conferences on your laptop and streaming music from your phone.

    Flaws but not dealbreakers

    This pair uses touch-based controls rather than physical buttons to do things like play/pause, change tracks, call up your digital assistant, toggle between ANC and hear-through, and adjust volume. You can customize the controls using the Soundcore app—but no matter what series of taps and holds you choose, you have to omit one major function. In our case, we decided to leave out the track-reverse function so that we could keep volume controls. While it’s nice that owners have the ability to choose their own customized settings, we wish that Soundcore had come up with one more gesture so that we could have access to every control directly from the earbuds.

    Touch controls are notoriously prone to misfires, but the Space A40 provides optional beeps as sonic feedback to make it easier to ensure your taps are registering. That said, we still prefer well-made physical buttons like those on the Beats Fit Pro. We also wish that Soundcore had included at least one always-listening assistant, but since that function can drain battery life, we were willing to let it slide, especially since this pair is so affordable.

    Last, these earbuds come with a “lost earbud finder,” but it is limited in usefulness. Unlike devices that use Tile or your phone’s GPS location to show you on a map where you last connected your earbuds, if your A40 earbuds are off or stored in the case, you’re out of luck. But if an earbud takes an odd bounce out of your ear, you can use the Soundcore app to make the earbud beep for (slightly) easier locating. We noticed that the beeps are high pitched, so if you are hard of hearing in that frequency range, it may be challenging to hear your earbuds calling to you.

    If you want Siri voice control: Beats Fit Pro

    beats, powerbeats, working, simple

    If you want voice-activated Siri control

    These earbuds sound great, fit securely, and offer the convenience of hands-free Siri voice control. However, they lack dual-device pairing, and the chunky case can’t charge wirelessly.

    Buying Options

    Free (delayed) shipping for Prime members

    If you’re willing to pay more to get hands-free “Hey Siri” voice control, the Beats Fit Pro is a delightful pair of true wireless earbuds. This set sounds fantastic, with slightly boosted bass and a good sense of detail in the mids and highs—without the need to fiddle with equalization controls to improve the sound. Pliable, stabilizing wings hold these buds comfortably in place better than most true wireless earbuds, and the IPX4 rating means it’s no big deal if you break a sweat. The active noise cancellation reduces the intensity of sounds like the subway or a lawn mower to a murmur, and the battery life is a solid six hours (with ANC on). The Fit Pro’s physical buttons don’t misfire as frequently as touch-based controls can, nor do they require a ton of pressing force that can jam the earbuds painfully into your ears. But you can’t control everything via the physical buttons, the Fit Pro will only pair with one device at a time, and the charging case is larger than we’d like.

    In the past, Beats headphones were known for their bass-heavy sound quality, which ranged from “a bit much” to “completely overwhelming.” However, Beats has comparatively refined the sound profile on the Fit Pro, and this pair sounded pretty darn great in our tests. Are these earbuds completely neutral and authentic? No, but we found the extra bass boost to be pleasant, and the bass notes didn’t blur or reverberate. Higher frequencies, such as consonants and cymbals, were clear and didn’t pierce in our tests, though audio purists who like an extra pop in the high frequencies could accuse them of lacking some sparkle or detail. You cannot customize the sound profile of these earbuds; what you hear out of the box is what you get, so people who like the ability to tweak the sound may be disappointed.

    The microphone quality is stellar for phone or video chats. In quiet rooms you’ll sound very clear, and if you need to take calls on the go, the background-noise reduction technology helps a great deal. Although removing noise somewhat compresses the sound of your voice, it also effectively removes wind and other sustained din, such as traffic whooshes. There is a catch: Because of the way the feature works, if the noise around you is in the vocal frequency range, like clattering silverware, your caller will hear it. So maybe hold off on doing dishes when you’re chatting with Grandma.

    The battery life of around six hours (longer if you pause your music occasionally and don’t leave the noise cancellation on) is a bit lower than that of our other picks, but the combination of quick-charge capabilities and the three full charges provided by the case means that most folks will get through a full day of use with no problems.

    Each earbud has a single physical button that is easy to find by feel and comfortable to press. That stands in contrast to the experience with many other true wireless earbuds, which typically have wonky touch controls or buttons that shove the earbud painfully into your ear canal when you depress them. The buttons handle play/pause and track skip, call answer/end, digital-assistant activation, and toggling between ANC and the hear-through mode that lets in outside sounds for more situational awareness. One bummer is that this pair lacks volume controls, which can be a pain if you prefer to keep your phone someplace inaccessible. In the Apple settings menu or (for Android users) the Beats app, you can swap in volume controls in place of the ANC/hear-through and digital assistant controls, but we found that configuration had more drawbacks for Android users than Apple users—since the always-listening “Hey Siri” feature made the assistant button easier to give up.

    We were impressed by the flexible wings that hold these earbuds securely in place. These wings, or fins, grip the outer ear without creating too much pressure, and the earbuds are light and small enough that there isn’t too much heft dragging them down. However, those with very small ears and people who are sensitive to tactile response in the ear area may find that the wings create a “too full” feeling that can be fatiguing during long listening sessions. This wasn’t a problem for any of our testers, however.

    beats, powerbeats, working, simple

    Because this pair fits so securely, the Fit Pro is equally comfortable on a jog as it is at the office. The water resistance rating of IPX4 means that the Fit Pro should be sufficient for the average run or workout. However, for heavy sweating, water-based workouts, or tough mudders, we recommend looking at our guide to workout headphones.

    The noise cancellation on this pair is very effective, though only in a specific frequency range. We talk more about how well the Fit Pro compares with other earbuds in this regard in our guide to noise-cancelling headphones, but folks using the active reduction to combat airplane noise should find it useful. Those who want to block out higher pitches such as voices or baby cries will find that the Fit Pro offers solid noise isolation. Because of the distinct, intense range of noise cancellation on the Fit Pro, people who are prone to eardrum suck may discover that the ANC on this pair triggers that feeling of unease—and the level of reduction is not adjustable. Personally, I’m prone to that feeling. One trick I discovered that helps to combat my ANC collywobbles is to have music playing before activating the noise cancellation. Somehow this keeps my brain occupied enough to reduce the psychosomatic unease.

    In contrast, the hear-through mode on the Fit Pro sounds excellent and makes it very easy to carry on a conversation or maintain situational awareness without adding too much distracting sibilance to the sound of the world around you. As an added bonus, either of the Beats Fit Pro earbuds will function alone if you prefer to use only one like a traditional headset for calls or to simultaneously hear your surroundings.

    Apple users will be pleased to know that the Fit Pro takes all the reasons you might want to own the Airpods Pro—easy Apple pairing and device swapping, touchless “Hey Siri” control, head tracking and spatial audio via Apple Music, and the “Find My” function—and puts it all in a smaller, more secure pair of earbuds with physical button controls (Beats is owned by Apple). Although bonus features like spatial audio and head tracking have yet to really show lasting value, others such as the touch-free “Hey Siri” control and “Find My” function can prove especially helpful. Since these earbuds are equipped with the same H1 chip as the Apple Airpods, they pair with Apple devices nearly instantly: Simply open the case next to your iPhone, and an icon asking if you’d like to connect appears on the phone screen. Tap and you’re good to go. If you are signed in to your iCloud account, the Beats Fit Pro also automatically appears in all of the Bluetooth menus on your various Apple devices, so you need to pair to only one device.

    You can also quickly pair these earbuds with Android devices, but in that case you need to download the Beats app to experience the instant pairing pop-up. Switching from one device to another is a process similar to that of other Bluetooth earbuds or headphones, and you can only be connected to one device at a time.

    Whereas most of the lost-earbud location trackers we’ve tested are clunky and less than pinpoint accurate, the “Find My” function on Apple devices is truly stellar. If you’ve seen how an AirTag functions, you’ll be familiar with the process, which is a combination of GPS, Bluetooth proximity, and speaker chirp. It’s really the only system we’ve tested that is useful enough to merit consideration as a factor in purchasing one device over another. Between the stabilization fins on the earbuds and the “Find My” feature, losing an earbud becomes far less likely—so if you’re an iPhone user prone to misplacing small things, the Beats Fit Pro might be worth extra consideration. Android users aren’t completely left out. Once you enable location permissions in the Beats app, it will note the last location you powered your earbuds on, as well as offer directions back to their general locale in the maps feature. This is less helpful when you know they’re somewhere in the house, but it’s helpful if you can’t recall when you last saw your earbuds.

    The biggest downside of the Beats Fit Pro is that these earbuds can only pair with one device at a time, so you can’t connect simultaneously to a computer and a phone. However, based on what we’ve experienced and heard from many users, this feature can also be a point of consternation—especially as video-conferencing services like Zoom and Google Hangouts change software settings that impact the way headphones connect. Plus, the easy connection swapping you get from Apple’s H1 chip makes this less of an issue for Apple users.

    Another downside is the case. Not only does it lack Qi wireless-charging capabilities (it charges via USB-C), but it’s also a little larger than we’d like—too large to fit in the coin of men’s jeans (or the main of tight jeans that have that annoying half- design). However, Beats has improved the wear sensor of the Fit Pro so that the earbuds are far less likely to activate when they’re not in your ears. So unlike other true wireless earbuds that require the case to power off, these earbuds are safe to slip into your in a pinch without completely draining the battery or triggering music playback. Although we consider the case’s size to be a flaw, a few of our testers preferred the larger case—they said it was easier to find in their bag.

    If you want Google or Alexa voice control: JBL Reflect Aero TWS

    beats, powerbeats, working, simple

    If you want voice-activated Google or Alexa control

    This pair offers your choice of voice-activated Alexa or Google Assistant control, as well as good sound and excellent noise cancellation. But the touch-based controls have some bothersome limits.

    Buying Options

    Our favorite workout earbud pair, the JBL Reflect Aero TWS is also a good all-purpose pair for someone who wants hands-free Alexa or Google Assistant voice control. This completely wireless pair of earbuds is excellent for the gym because the IP68 water-resistance rating gives the earbuds an exceptionally high level of protection against water and dust, and the stabilizing wings hold the small earbuds securely in place. But the good sound quality, wind-resistant microphones, dual-device connectivity, and effective active noise cancellation elevate this set to great everyday earbuds, too. The Reflect Aero TWS has eight hours of battery life, plus an additional 16 hours in the charging case. The large touch controls are easy to activate, and the pair’s always-listening Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant support allows fans of those digital assistants to get the help they need without lifting a finger (Apple-device users can call up Siri using the physical controls).

    Out of the box, the JBL Reflect Aero TWS sounds exciting, albeit not completely neutral—with some added intensity in the bass and a few added decibels in the frequency range where consonants and cymbals sit. Many folks are likely to enjoy the sound as is, but we liked it better after doing a little EQ tinkering in the app. Once you’ve found your ideal sound, either through presets or via the frequency-range faders, the tuning is saved to the earbuds, so you only need to make this adjustment one time.

    The battery life is around eight hours (this can vary depending on how loudly you listen, the frequency of phone calls, and whether you use ANC or hear-through). If you run out of power, the charge case holds 16 hours of additional battery life. Plus, the.sized case features quick-charge capabilities: 15 minutes in the case provides a respectable four hours of playtime. However, the case does not support wireless charging, as you get with some competitors. The case also has a wristlet-style lanyard that we wish was detachable.

    Like the Beats Fit Pro, this pair relies on stabilizing wings to keep the earbuds securely in place. Three sizes of flexible, gripping wings and three sizes of eartips provided a secure fit for all of our testers. These earbuds are lightweight, sleek, and minimal in size, with no parts that significantly protrude from the head. However, if you dislike the feeling of pressure in your ears or you have very small ear canals, you may prefer a different, non-winged earbud design.

    The large, touch-based controls are easy to find and use without looking, though mastering the timing of taps—which can be less intuitive than the tactile feedback provided by a physical button clicking under your finger—may take some practice. You can assign two sets of controls, covering the playback controls, ANC/hear-through controls, or volume controls—but not all three at the same time. Alexa and Google Assistant fans may not mind that limitation; since their preferred digital assistant is always listening for its wake word, no tap is necessary. However, Apple users will need to use a tap-and-hold to access Siri. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, the Beats Fit Pro pair offers hands-free “Hey Siri” compatibility.

    Though the active noise cancellation is not the absolute best we’ve tested, the amount of reduction is nonetheless impressive, and similar to that of the Soundcore Space A40. You can see how the Reflect Aero TWS stacks up against other noise-cancelling earbuds in our ANC headphones guide. If you’d like to be aware of your surroundings or have a conversation, you can use one earbud alone or activate the hear-through mode to let outside sounds in. We were impressed by the sound of this mode, which avoided the tinny or muffled quality found in much of the competition. It’s also adjustable, so you can choose how much of the outside world you want mixed into your ears.

    This pair has dual-device capability, which means people who switch between devices regularly can stay connected to both devices simultaneously without having to muck about in Bluetooth settings. Your calls will be clear too, thanks to the six-microphone array that picks up your voice and helps to reduce background and wind noise. One slight quibble is that, during calls, this pair lacks adequate sidetone (when you hear a bit of your own voice in the earbuds as you talk), which for some people may cause an urge to speak louder than is necessary. If that bothers you, we recommend considering the Soundcore Space A40 or Beats Fit Pro, both of which have a greater amount of amplified sidetone.

    The manual isn’t the clearest we’ve read. We wanted to do a factory reset as part of our testing, and the diagram was less than accurate on how to accomplish the task. (Incidentally, you take the left earbud out of the case and put it in your ear, leaving the right one in the case. Next, you tap-tap-hold on that left earbud until you hear the earbud shut down.) We managed to figure out the most important instructions, but the lack of clarity is a little annoying.

    Best budget wireless earbuds: EarFun Free 2S

    beats, powerbeats, working, simple

    The best budget wireless earbuds

    This affordable pair is loaded with features and performs respectably well, but the sound quality and features fall short of the best competitors.

    Buying Options

    For those who covet a completely wire-free earbud design but don’t have a large budget, the EarFun Free 2S earbuds provide an experience that is on a par with—and occasionally better than—true wireless earbuds that cost twice as much. The 2S is the updated version of our previous pick, the Free 2. Most of the specifications are the same, but the Free 2S earbuds are much smaller than their predecessor, and they use a newer version of Bluetooth to enhance connection stability. Though the Free 2S can’t rival our top picks in performance and this pair lacks active noise cancellation, our test panel was impressed with both the sound quality and the number of premium features this pair offers while still selling for around 50 bucks. (If you aren’t interested specifically in true wireless earbuds or want to spend even less, pop over to our guide to the best earbuds under 50, where you’ll find more recommendations for neckband-style and wired earbuds that offer surprisingly good sound for the money.)

    In terms of sound quality for the price, EarFun did an excellent job in tuning the Free 2S’s mid and low frequencies. Bass notes have actual pitches rather than thumps, and the attack and decay of kick-drum hits are clear and defined. The Free 2S provides more detail in the high frequencies than many similarly priced earbuds—but there is a big spike in the range of “s” and “t” sounds or cymbal crashes, which can be fatiguing to listen to, especially at louder volumes. Sensitive folks may find this spike off-putting and prefer the more balanced sound of the Beats Fit Pro or the more customizable sound of the Soundcore Space A40 or JBL Reflect Aero TWS. Fortunately, if you don’t like the Free 2S’s sound profile, you can adjust it (as well as update the firmware and customize controls) in the EarFun app.

    Fully charged, the earbuds will play music for around seven hours, though this can vary depending on how many phone calls you make and the volume at which you generally listen. The charging case is relatively small and should fit in a jeans It is compatible with Qi wireless chargers and has a quick-charge feature that will supply two hours of listening time after just 10 minutes in the case. If you happen to leave the earbuds out of the case, a 10-minute auto-shutoff will prevent you from draining your battery once your audio device disconnects.

    Many budget-priced true wireless earbuds offer a limited number of controls on the earbuds themselves, but the EarFun Free 2S has a full control suite, including play/pause, volume control, track forward/reverse, call answer/end, and digital-assistant activation. Though our team generally prefers physical buttons over touch-based controls, the large touch-surface area on these earbuds is more forgiving than other similar systems we’ve tested. It’s still not as foolproof as earbuds that have mechanical buttons to press, but because we didn’t have frequent misfires, we forgave this minor drawback.

    Three tip sizes are included, and all of our testers were able to get a secure fit. But the earbuds are slightly larger than the diminutive Space A40 buds, and they don’t have wings or hooks to stabilize them like our Beats and JBL picks. So although the shape is contoured in a way that should make the Free 2S comfortable for most people, someone with very small ear canals may have a little more trouble keeping these earbuds in place.

    We were very impressed with the microphone quality for phone and video calls, but this pair isn’t resistant to wind noise the way our other picks are. A solid gust will lead to a buffeting sound, so you’ll want to duck inside to take a call on a blustery day. Unfortunately, this pair also lacks a hear-through mode, but either earbud can be used independently if you need to stay alert.

    With a higher dust/water resistance rating of IPX7, the EarFun Free 2S can definitely handle rain. IPX7 means the device can be dropped in a meter of water for 30 minutes with no adverse effects. The rating only applies to clear water, so be sure to rinse any saltwater, sweat, or dust off of the Free 2S after exposure and allow the earbuds to dry thoroughly before placing them back in a case. Should anything go wrong, EarFun covers the Free 2S with an 18-month warranty.

    Other good wireless Bluetooth earbuds

    If your priority is excellent sound quality: The KEF Mu3 is one of the best-sounding pairs of true wireless earbuds out of the box we’ve ever tested. Clear highs, deep (but not overpowering) bass notes, and a surprisingly large soundstage for tiny earbuds. The fit is comfortable for all but the most diminutive ears, with small, smooth earbuds that fit securely. The single-button controls are intuitive to use, but there’s no track-reverse control. And the active noise cancellation is just middle-of-the-road.

    If you want the best noise cancellation: If you are obsessed with finding the best noise reduction possible, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II has the strongest and broadest active noise cancellation of any pair of earbuds we’ve measured. You can read all about them in our guide to the best noise-cancelling headphones.

    If you’re willing to pay for a more luxurious aesthetic: If you’re seeking a premium earbud design, the Master Dynamic MW08 has stellar build quality, with an earbud chassis made from ceramic and stainless steel and a small but weighty metal charging case. The noise cancellation on the max setting is quite effective on low-frequency sounds, the battery life of 12 hours per charge is impressive, and the fast-charge feature powers both the earbuds and case to 50% capacity after just 15 minutes plugged in. The physical buttons are easy to understand and activate, though folks with large fingers may struggle a bit with the teeny volume toggle. The IPX5 water-resistance rating is sufficient protection should you get caught in the rain or work up a light sweat, and the dual ambient awareness modes are helpful for conversations or navigating a public space. The sound quality is excellent, but because these are 300 earbuds, we feel the need to quibble. The over-emphasis on both bass notes and high frequencies is fun but doesn’t feel fully authentic. The soundstage is less three-dimensional than we’d prefer in a premium product. While the microphones handle calls clearly and reduce background noise and wind noise well, we’d like some sidetone to avoid the urge to speak too loudly. But if money isn’t a concern and you like the luxurious look, you’ll be happy with the MW08 earbuds.

    If you want earbuds in the Samsung ecosystem: For Samsung devotees who want to access all the features their Galaxy device has to offer, the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro earbuds represent the best option available. Seamless connecting means that once you pair the Pro to a device that is signed in with your Samsung account, all other Samsung devices to which you’re signed in will automatically be paired. The microphone quality is impressively clear, even in wind. The sound quality, though a touch on the bass-heavy side, is enjoyable. The hear-through mode can be triggered by speaking, but if you stop talking to listen to your conversation partner, it shuts off after 15 seconds, which is mildly annoying. The controls are limited: Play/pause, track skip, and answering calls are always accessible, but you must choose between ANC on/off, Bixby, Spotify, or volume control. Both the case and earbuds are very small, but the included tips run on the smaller size, so people with large ear canals may have to buy third-party tips to get a seal. The noise cancellation is minimal, and the earbuds themselves don’t isolate very well.

    If you want voice activation that isn’t tied to a certain phone’s OS: The Skullcandy Grind Fuel earbuds have a bunch of innovative features, such as Skullcandy’s earbud-based voice-assistant system, which doesn’t require an internet connection to function (though you do need to leave the Skullcandy app open in your phone while using the earbuds). It also offers voice-activated Spotify and (most nifty of all) the ability to use the earbud button as a remote to take a picture with your phone’s camera. We were able to get these earbuds to sound pretty good using their combination of hearing-test-based EQ and manual adjustments. Unfortunately, the voice-activation system can be fussy in windy conditions, so folks who dream of verbally changing tracks while biking or whizzing down a ski slope may be disappointed. Also, the microphone sounds a little compressed and quiet over calls and is prone to wind noise. And although the fit is comfortable, these earbuds were not as stable in our ears as our picks are. Still, for folks who want the hands-free digital assistant experience usually reserved for owners of Galaxy Buds, Airpods, and Google Buds headphones, the Grind Fuel offers a more-affordable Wi-Fi–free alternative that could be especially valuable to people with dexterity and mobility challenges.

    If you have wired in-ear monitors with detachable cables that you want to use wirelessly: FiiO’s UTWS3 is technically not a pair of earbuds; it’s an adapter. But it’s worth considering if you already have wired in-ear monitors with detachable cables that you love. You can read more in our guide to the best wired earbuds.

    Sustainability and environmental impact

    We’ve discussed the sustainability issues related to wireless earbuds before. Unfortunately, until manufacturers create earbuds with rechargeable batteries that can be easily replaced by owners, or third-party companies offer broader refurbishment systems akin to the Airpods-specific program The Swap Club, most wireless earbuds—especially true wireless earbuds—are trash once the batteries die. The companies that responded to our questions about battery life said their devices have about 400 to 500 charge cycles before they start to lose capacity. As a result, how often you use your earbuds will determine how frequently you need to replace them.

    As convenient as wireless earbuds can be, wired models are the more sustainable option. Wireless earbuds and headphones that can work with an optional cable have lifespans that extend beyond the life of the battery. While a dead battery means power-based features like voice control and active noise cancellation will cease to function, at least the headphones themselves can still be useful. Corded listening is more common in over-ear headphones than wireless earbuds.

    Before you give up on a pair of headphones that seem to be on the fritz, there are a few things you can try to eke out a longer lifespan. Proper care and cleaning of earbuds can address some sound-related issues. Replacement eartips can address loss or fit issues. And when it really is the end of the road for your headphones, we recommend taking your expired devices to a local electronics recycler or to Best Buy for safer disposal.

    What to look forward to

    Amazon quietly introduced a new 40 set of Echo Buds for those who want hands-free access to Alexa at a lower price than the 2nd-gen Echo Buds. The new pair has a semi-open design, tap controls, and dual-device connectivity. But it lacks noise cancellation, and the claimed battery life is only five hours, while the charging case holds an additional 15 hours.

    The JBL Tour Pro 2 wireless earbuds come with a control-panel case that duplicates app functionality without a phone. We’ve been impressed by JBL’s sound and adaptive active noise cancellation in other recently released earbuds, so we hope this pair will meet our expectations. The Pro 2 offers an average of nine hours of battery life per charge, with three more full charges in the case (which supports wireless charging). Adjustable ambient awareness, an IPX5 rating, and six microphones for phone calls round out the notable features.

    Technics’s EAH-AZ60M2 and EAH-AZ80 are both noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds with a unique multipoint connection that allow for wireless connection to three devices simultaneously. They have wireless charging cases, seven hours of playback per charge, and two ambient modes––natural ambient and “attention” mode (which emphasizes voices). The only difference between the two is the size of the drivers, with the pricier AZ80 housing larger drivers. We have these on hand and will report back with our thoughts as soon as possible.

    At CES 2023, we saw a sample of the new JLab JBuds Mini. These true wireless earbuds are among the smallest we’ve seen, and we’re curious to see if they will fit people with very small ears who frequently struggle to keep true wireless earbuds in place. The JBuds Mini will have six hours of battery life per charge, and the pair features dual-device connectivity and background-noise-reducing microphones. JLab expects the Mini to cost 40 when it releases this spring.

    JLab has also introduced the Work Buds true wireless earbuds with a detachable boom mic. The earbuds can take calls with or without the background-noise-reducing mic, which can attach to either earbud. The earbuds can be used as a pair or individually, and feature Bluetooth multipoint for easy switching between connected devices. Battery life is listed as 10 hours for music and five hours for calls. The USB-C charging dock stores both the earbuds and boom mic and can charge the Work Buds fully around three more times.

    The Poly Voyager Free 60 is a hybrid design that combines true wireless earbuds with an office headset, plus a unique Smart charging case that has app functionality built in. Simply swipe the case’s screen to view battery life, connect with Microsoft Teams, toggle the active-noise-cancelling modes, and more. If your computer lacks wireless capabilities, a USB-A or USB-C Bluetooth dongle is included and sits comfortably in the case, so it’s always with you. Or, if you want to listen to in-flight entertainment, the case also has an included analog cable and doubles as a Bluetooth transmitter. It does more than most office headsets, adding adaptive ANC (automatically adjusting the level of noise cancellation based on the environment) and an IP54 rating, meaning it’s splash and dust resistant.

    The competition

    We’ve tested more than 400 sets of Bluetooth earbuds to date, so we can’t list every competitor here—but we do keep notes. If you’re curious about a specific pair, feel free to reach out to our team with questions.

    1 Aero: This pair has extremely limited controls, and we found the spatial-audio/head-tracking feature to be more distracting than useful. However, the noise cancellation was decent, especially on low frequencies.

    1 EVO: The ANC is middling, and this pair has limited physical sound isolation. Out of the box, the bass has a mushy quality that is exacerbated when the ANC is on. The EVO uses the SoundID system to adjust the sound to your preferences. Despite our best attempts, we never were able to get the tuning we wanted. Also, forget about controlling volume or tracks.

    1 True Wireless ANC: This is a previous pick in our guide to noise-cancelling headphones. This pair was one of the first true wireless earbuds to offer decent reduction in the airplane Band—enough to be useful on a plane or the subway. The moderate earbud size and inclusion of six sets of silicone tips (plus three sets of wings) help ensure a secure fit for a variety of ear sizes and shapes. The sound quality is on the sibilant side, but folks who prefer an extra boost in the consonant range may not mind this too much. If you prefer physical buttons to touch controls, these may still be worth considering, but newer earbuds have smaller cases and better noise cancellation, so these have been moved to the competition.

    Amazon Echo Buds (2nd generation): The biggest benefit of the second-generation Amazon Echo Buds is the ability to access Alexa hands-free. If you are a die-hard Amazon fan, there are no other earbuds offering this feature. However, the Echo-specific benefits like voice product ordering, access to Amazon Prime Music, and so forth are accessible via the Alexa app in your phone, regardless of what earbuds you choose—and the voice-activated features require you to leave the Alexa app open on your phone at all times. The noise cancellation is average, and despite the stabilizing wings and four pairs of tips included, the buds themselves might be a little large for smaller ears. The controls are limited, and the five-hour battery life is middling.

    Apple Airpods (3rd generation): These have a few of the features of the Airpods Pro (Qi charging, spatial audio, and a shorter stem) but no noise cancellation. Like the original Airpods, this pair has limited physical controls and very little bass. At this point, most people have encountered Airpods somewhere, so you pretty much know what you’re getting here. If you liked the way previous Airpods fit and sounded, you’ll like the improved battery life and water resistance of the 3rd-gen set. But for Apple-friendly earbuds, we prefer the overall experience of the Beats Fit Pro.

    Airpods Pro (2nd generation): This is a slightly updated version of the original Airpods Pro. There are a few neat features for Apple fans (like the ability to charge the case with your watch charger cable), but most of the major specs—including six hours of battery life, always-listening Siri voice control, head-tracking spatial audio, and an IPX4 water-resistance rating—are similar to that of the Beats Fit Pro, which has a smaller design, a more secure fit, easier-to-use controls, and a lower price. We were initially pleased that Apple added volume controls to the stems, a long-requested feature, but overall the controls are still frustrating to use compared to the more-straightforward button design you get on the Beats Fit Pro. Apple says the new version has “2x the active noise cancellation”; through our measurement process, we determined that this pair reduces double of decibel amount in the same frequency ranges as the previous version. Despite this increase, the overall ANC performance isn’t nearly as effective as that of our top noise-cancelling picks. The hear-through mode sounds remarkably natural, but that’s largely because this pair has vents that allow in some external sounds. That means, while the hear-through mode is technically limited to a maximum volume of 85 decibels, louder sounds can still get in. Watch this video for more details. (In short, it’s great for walking past a construction site briefly but not for protecting your ears over a longer duration, like at a concert.) We only recommend these earbuds for people who use Apple devices exclusively and who prioritize the niceties of staying in the Apple ecosystem above all else. Otherwise, there are better options for the money.

    Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TW: These true wireless earbuds do a decent job of reducing noise, but the larger chassis and lack of stabilizing wings may cause a fit challenge for folks with petite ears. We couldn’t suss out how to activate a digital assistant, and there was no mention of it in the manual. The forward bass and spiked treble make drums sound unnatural, and we just didn’t feel the performance matched the more premium cost.

    Beats Studio Buds : The upgraded version of the Studio Buds, this pair offers better battery life (9 hours), Android customization, and noise cancellation compared with the original—and a stylishly transparent shell. But the core earbud design remains the same. This is a solid pair of earbuds overall and shares a lot of iOS-friendly features with the Beats Fit Pro set—but we like the Fit Pro earbuds better because they’re more secure in the ears, they still offer better noise cancellation, and their button design is more ergonomic. We think that’s worth spending the extra 30.

    Beyerdynamic Free Byrd: This pricey pair is only worth considering if you have larger ears. The larger earbud design and lack of stabilizing wings may leave people with medium or small ears feeling as though the earbuds are slowly being squeezed out. This pair uses a hearing-test-based EQ program in the app to customize your sound, and we had mixed feelings about the results. Some panelists loved the resulting tuning, while others found they wanted to be able to adjust the sound further. The noise cancellation isn’t impressive, but the call quality and wind reduction are. For the original 300 price, we’d prefer a more superlative experience.

    Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II: This pair is our pick for best wireless noise-cancelling earbuds. Read more about them in our noise-cancelling guide.

    Bowers Wilkins PI5 and PI7: These true wireless noise-cancelling earbuds are similar. Both look elegant and are made of high-quality materials. Both feature IP56 dust/water resistance and multiple microphones for clearer phone calls—the PI5 has two in each earbud, the PI7 has three in each. And both feature the rich, bass-forward sound that BW is known for. The PI7 has adaptive noise cancellation and a case that doubles as a Bluetooth transmitter—but the audio quality via the case transmitter was poor. The onboard controls are touch-based, have the tendency to misfire, and lack volume capabilities. In order to use the hear-through feature, you need to access the app on your phone, which is more cumbersome than taking an earbud out. We were disappointed that such promising earbuds could be ultimately derailed by poor user-interface choices. Our panelist Brent Butterworth agrees.

    Cambridge Audio Melomania Touch: These earbuds come with three wing sizes and six sets of tips, so most everyone should be able to get a good fit. The sound quality out of the box wasn’t our favorite, but we were able to adjust the EQ in the app to make them sound very good. The claimed battery life of eight to nine hours per charge is also impressive, and the charging case is small enough to fit in your But the touch controls are easy to inadvertently activate when you adjust the earbuds in your ears, and the microphone is rather quiet, so you may find yourself speaking loudly when answering phone calls. Also, they lack noise cancellation.

    Campfire Audio Orbit: This is the first set of wireless earbuds from Campfire, a company known for its higher-end in-ear monitors. Unfortunately, this pair has some room for improvement. The included tips are not big enough for people who usually wear large or extra-large tips in other brands. Even if you can get this pair to fit, the sound out of the box is dull, with a dip in the vocal range. Sadly, the app-based EQ doesn’t offer adjustments in frequency ranges needed to compensate. For a pair priced at 250, we would have liked to see the inclusion of hear-through capabilities and/or noise cancellation.

    Cleer Ally Plus II: These true wireless earbuds feature adaptive ANC that is very effective. However, the sound quality isn’t the most appealing: Low notes are too forward and bloated, while high pitches have a sizzling quality to them. Unfortunately, the app-based EQ doesn’t help adjust the sound in the necessary ways. We also wish the onboard controls weren’t so limited. The 11-hour battery life per charge is impressive, but the solid battery life and good noise-reduction performance aren’t enough to make the Plus II a top pick.

    Cleer Arc: The Arc is essentially a pair of small speakers that rest on top of your ears, a design that allows unencumbered situational awareness but is not ideal for a noisy environment where you want to block out the noise. The hinged earbud design squeezes the upper ear, which can become uncomfortable after 20 minutes or so. And the microphones sounded distant and muffled over phone calls in our tests.

    Cleer Roam Sport: Although the stabilizing wings on this pair are pliable and comfortable, the shape of the earbuds is such that several testers (who use medium and large tips) were unable to get the earbuds deep enough into their ears to achieve a seal, which negatively impacted both the active noise cancellation and the sound quality. Even when used with third-party tips that fit our ears properly, the Roam Sport’s noise cancellation wasn’t exceptional. If the earbuds happen to fit you, the hear-through mode is surprisingly natural, and the sound quality is decent.

    Dirac Sudio E2: These, sadly, were a total miss. The sound out of the box was bizarre, with a narrow range of bass boosted in a way that meant descending bass lines seemed to diminish in volume as they dropped in pitch. When we turned on the Dirac spatial processing, we found the effect to be heavy-handed and vaguely incongruous, like riding a 3D amusement park ride that’s slightly out of alignment. For instance, finger snaps that were mixed to be directly in the center kept ping-ponging from one side to another. We admire folks trying something new, but this sadly wasn’t what we hoped it would be.

    EarFun Air Pro 3: This true wireless set is acceptable for the original 80 price, but it lacks any one exceptional attribute that would elevate it to pick status. The sound is pretty good, especially if you adjust the EQ in the app. The ANC is decent, but not impressive enough to warrant a recommendation for someone prioritizing noise cancellation. Also, the passive isolation isn’t great, so you can’t use these to block out voices. The microphones do a good job of picking up your voice and reducing background noise a bit, but everything sounds slightly mushy. The nine-hour battery life per charge and the wireless charging case are nice features, as is the IPX5 water resistance.

    EarFun Air Pro SV: Out of the box the sound is incredibly bass heavy, so this pair benefits from some liberal adjustments in the app-based EQ. The ANC is quite effective, but the physical sound isolation is lacking. What definitely impressed us was the noise-reduction microphone processing, which did a wonderful job of identifying when we were speaking and shutting off the mic when we stopped talking. This can be helpful for reducing street noise. However, your caller can still hear background sounds when you are speaking, so the effect is somewhat like listening to segments of audio that have been cut up. Though the cut-hole case design looks nifty, we question how well it will protect your earbuds from lint or crumbs in a bag or

    EarFun Air S: The active noise cancellation on this pair is quite good. Out of the box, the sound is bass heavy, with a somewhat cheap, tizzy quality to the highs that cause “s” sounds to have a whistle-like quality. The bass can be adjusted in the EQ, but the highs never quite escape the coarseness. The hear-through mode is pleasant to use, and the microphone ensures you’re loud and clear to callers, though it adds a compressed quality to your voice. We like that the Air S has full controls, but we wish they weren’t so frustrating to use. They’re overly sensitive, so the slightest bump or brush can trigger them. If you can get past that annoyance, these are otherwise a good, affordable pair of noise-cancelling earbuds.

    Edifier TWS NB2 Pro: These earbuds are a decent choice if you want good active noise cancellation but don’t care about earbud-based controls. Each earbud can only have two assigned controls (so play/pause or track forward or ANC mode), and this pair doesn’t power down without the case. However, we did appreciate that you can adjust the touch-control sensitivity in the Edifier app. The sound is boosted in the low frequencies in a way that can muddy male voices, but has lovely mids and highs on less bass-heavy songs. Our voices sounded clear over phone calls, though the right earbud picked up wind noise in blustery conditions. Also, the textured coating means that the stem that extends from the earbuds can transfer some noise if you have long or thick hair that brushes against them, which can be especially pronounced in hear-through mode.

    Google Pixel Buds A-Series: These true wireless earbuds sound quite good, and the always-listening assistant makes this pair worth considering for people who use Google voice features heavily on their Android devices. However, even the largest tips can’t really be described as that—two of our panelists needed third-party tips to get a seal—and the stabilizing winglets are best suited for medium-size ears or smaller. You won’t get much noise isolation from this pair, and though the A-Series can be customized to adjust the volume automatically when you’re in louder or quieter environments, we would’ve gladly traded that feature for more controls. The Pixel Buds only offer play/pause, call answer/end, and the ability to call up Google Assistant.

    Google Pixel Buds Pro: These are colorful, true wireless earbuds that feature ANC, spatial audio, dual-device connectivity, a hear-through mode, and always listening “Hey Google” capabilities (on Google devices.) The earbuds themselves are IPX4 water resistant, and the case is IPX2-rated. The battery life of 11 hours of listening time (up to seven hours with ANC turned on) is impressive for true wireless earbuds. However the earbud design, while smooth and comfortable in larger ears, will be tricky for people with medium to small ear canals to keep in securely—and the touch-control sensor is easy to activate accidentally when pushing the earbuds back into place. The sound is decent, but we found the peak in the cymbal and consonant range to be fatiguing, especially when the volume is turned up a bit. Overall if you have bigger ears and want to stay in the Google ecosystem, these are fine but not superlative. One caveat for Google fans: If you have a Smart speaker that uses Google Assistant, your “OK/Hey Google” wake word will default to the speaker and not these earbuds—so you may want to reduce the sensitivity of the home speaker and just be sure to speak with a booming stage voice when you’re aiming for the speaker to respond.

    House of Marley Liberate Air: The earbuds are unique-looking and made with some sustainable parts, which we appreciate. But the earbud shape and smallish tips may not fit folks with larger ears. When we did get them to fit, the sound quality was decent, with balanced low and mid frequencies but somewhat sibilant and sizzling highs. Overall, we didn’t dislike this pair, but we loved other options more.

    House of Marley Redemption ANC 2: This true wireless pair has middling noise cancellation, six hours of playtime per charge, IPX5 water resistance, and a useful but somewhat unnatural-sounding hear-through mode. We tried to find a control for play/pause in the manual, but it seems the only way to stop/start music is to take an earbud out of your ear, which is inefficient. The main differentiating characteristic of this set is that they are made with a combination of bamboo and recycled materials and ship in plastic-free, 100% recyclable packaging. We love the environmental effort—but only if the earbuds meet your needs.

    HyperX Cloud Mix Buds: This true wireless pair is really designed to be a gaming headset. The controls handle play/pause and track skip/reverse, but nothing else. These earbuds don’t have a hear-through feature or noise cancelling, but they do have a mute button and a USB-C 2.4 GHz wireless adapter for less latency than a Bluetooth connection. serious gamers will want to look at our gaming headset guide.

    ISOtunes Lite: These earbuds come with earplug tips that are NRR-rated. Unfortunately, the long, conical shape meant that none of our testers could get them to fit comfortably.

    Jabra Elite 3: This set is the most affordable of Jabra’s earbuds. We loved this pair’s ergonomic fit, but we were less impressed with the sound. None of the EQ presets were without flaws, and the hear-through mode was occasionally too quiet to compete with the occlusion effect—and it isn’t adjustable. Although the Elite 3 is a decent pair of earbuds, the EarFun Free 2 is often half the price and almost as good.

    Jabra Elite 4 Active: We love the fit, high water/dust resistance, and controls, but the dual-device connectivity is fussy, the microphone sounds muffled on calls, and the active noise cancellation is middling. If these were 80, the positives might outweigh the downsides. But for 120 or more, we want a more seamless experience.

    Jabra Elite 5: This true wireless pair is a good option for people who take frequent phone and video calls. The fit is super comfortable, the Bluetooth connection is stable, the controls are easy to use, and the microphone quality is excellent. Microsoft swift pair is a plus for office use, and these earbuds are operating system agnostic, which means you can switch between Apple and Android devices without losing functionality. But the noise cancellation is subpar, and the male vocal range sounds muffled, which was enough for the Elite 5 to be surpassed by our picks.

    Jabra Elite 7 Pro and Elite 7 Active: Both of these pairs are incredibly comfortable on a broad range of ear shapes, the sound quality is great with a little EQ adjustment, and the microphones are clear for phone calls, especially if you have a deeper-pitched voice. (We noticed that high-pitched voices can sound harsh, which may be due to the microphone sensitivity or the background noise reduction software.) When we initially tested these, we had some concerns with their spotty connectivity and ANC effectiveness. After a spring 2022 firmware update, we re-tested them to see if the changes resulted in better performance. It seems the update addressed the stutters and dropped calls that gave us pause during our first round of testing. But, as with many Bluetooth headphones, dual-device connectivity can still cause some hiccups, especially when using these earbuds for app-based video meetings like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams. Many of the issues can be resolved if you adjust the settings in those apps, but it’s nonetheless frustrating and worth mentioning. The noise cancellation, though mildly improved after the firmware update, is still less than we’d hoped for the price.

    Jabra Elite 85t: These earbuds are very small and comfortable, with easy-to-use controls. They have adjustable noise cancellation (including variation between each ear), fantastic wind-resistant microphones for clear calls, IPX4 water resistance, a six-hour battery life, a useful hear-through mode, a very small charging case that’s Qi compatible, and a two-year warranty. However, this pair isn’t as good at reducing noise as the less-expensive 1 True Wireless ANC earbuds, and the included tips run on the smaller side, so our panelist Brent (who has larger ear canals) couldn’t get a seal at all. If the tips were a standard shape, we might not call this a dealbreaker, but the sound tube and tips are an unusual oblong shape that may make it difficult to find larger replacement tips.

    Jaybird Vista 2: We have serious reservations about this pair, and you can read more on why in our guide to workout headphones.

    JBL Endurance Peak 3: If you prefer earbuds that hook over the ear, this pair offers solid performance and a few nice bonus features. We like the adjustable side-tone for phone calls, the nimble EQ in the app that enabled us to adjust the sound to our liking, and the IP68 dust and water resistance. However, the charging case is quite large (similar in size to a bar of soap), and the Peak 3’s touch controls require you to choose between volume, hear-through mode activation, and track controls––you can’t have all three. The Peak 3 might be worthy of a nod in a workout headphone guide, but the similarly designed Tribit Movebuds H1 costs less, has a longer battery life, and includes a full suite of controls. You can read more about the H1 in our guide to workout headphones.

    JLab Go Air Sport: This affordable pair is our budget pick in our guide to workout headphones. The Go Air Sport earbuds hook over your ears to stay in place, they have an IP55 water-resistance rating, and they sound surprisingly decent for the price. But this pair lacks all-purpose features like noise cancellation and a hear-through mode, and the case is larger than would easily fit in a pants

    JLab Go Air Tones: If you’re looking for a budget dupe for the Kim Kardasian–branded Beats earbuds, these could be for you. For 25 (or less), you could do a lot worse. The sound is decent, and the microphone quality is good enough. Though these earbuds don’t feel overly secure in the ears, they stay put well enough to do low-impact activities. However, for a little bit more money, our budget pick offers a lot more functionality.

    JLab JBuds Air Executive: This pair is solid for the price. The microphones are quite clear for calls, the six-hour battery life between charges is good, and the diminutive charge case’s built-in USB cable is handy. However, we found that these earbuds didn’t feel as secure in our ears as our picks did, the sound was somewhat blurry in the lower ranges, the hear-through mode had a slight delay and a compressed sound that could be off-putting, and the touch controls were easy to trigger when we were adjusting the earbuds in our ears.

    JLab JBuds Frames: These aren’t technically earbuds. Instead, they’re small audio devices akin to tiny speakers that strap to the arms of your glasses and direct sound toward your ears. If you’re familiar with audio glasses like Bose Frames, the JBuds Frames are a similar concept but instead of being stuck with one pair of glasses or sunglasses, the JBuds Frames allow you to choose and change your own specs. The idea is a good one, especially for folks who dislike the feel of earbuds. While the JBuds Frames fit snugly and comfortably on several pairs of our glasses, the sound was a disappointment. The Frames lacked any bass response, and the highs were incredibly piercing. We do think they would be incredibly useful for those who benefit from audio guidance and yet still need to hear their surroundings clearly while navigating their environment, such as those with impaired vision.

    Linearflux HyperSonic 360: This is a power brick with earbuds attached. The earbuds are fine but unremarkable. However, if you want to charge/carry the earbuds without the power brick, you have to spend more money for a separate charging case. If the power brick were impressive, and this solved some sort of problem for you, we’d say “why not.” But our powering team said that the specs on this charger weren’t competitive with their picks, especially for the cost. Since the charger is the main reason you’d carry this around, we had to defer to their opinion and say to pass.

    Lypertek Pureplay Z5: While this pair isn’t quite as good as our picks, the Z5 is a solid pair of earbuds. The ANC is effective, on a par with that of the Beats Fit Pro. We appreciated the wide array of shapes and sizes of ear tips that are included in the box. Although the bass is a bit more forward and the highs a touch coarse compared to the Beats, we recognize that many people may not find that objectionable. The biggest concern was the very sensitive touch controls that can easily miss a tap, especially if you have long hair in the way.

    Marshall Motif ANC: This pair has above-average noise cancellation, and the hear-through mode sounds more authentic than that of most earbuds. But larger ears may have a tough time getting a seal due to the earbuds’ shape. We wish the controls included volume and voice-command options, and although the sound featured the warm mids and lows Marshall is famous for, the highs had a harsh edge that made strings sound edgy—as though amplified by a cheap speaker.

    Master Dynamic MW07 Plus: These earbuds feel very well built, but they have some flaws that we might be more inclined to overlook in less-expensive options. The ANC is minimally effective. The metal case is heavy. And the tuning is just a little too boosted in the lows and highs.

    Monoprice Horizon ANC: Though this pair has better-than-average noise cancellation, it doesn’t perform as well as the Soundcore Space A40, and it isn’t as affordable as the EarFun Free 2S. The sound is a little coarse, with detail missing in the highs and bass notes that lack definition. The hear-through mode sounds muffled and only provides a small improvement over just turning the noise cancelling off.

    Motorola Buds S ANC: This pair has middle-of-the-road performance in all aspects. The noise cancellation takes the edge off, but it isn’t astounding. Music playback lacks low-frequency support, which can make hip-hop, pop, and electronic music sound like it’s lacking some oomph. The tap controls may not register double taps, so we frequently made music play when we meant to toggle the ANC.

    Motorola Moto Buds 100: We love how small the case is for this pair, but that is where the praise ends. This pair is cheap and feels that way. The plastic feels brittle. The sound is a wash of blurry bass and shushing highs that make vocals sound breathy. The microphone picks up a lot of room noise, and the case charges with a now-outdated Micro-USB cable.

    Nothing Ear 1: These earbuds have a futuristic look and quite good active noise cancellation, but the sound is less impressive. Despite the availability of a handful of EQ options, the bass notes had a mushy quality in our tests, lacking definition and clarity, and the highs had a jagged frequency response that caused an “s” to sound as though it were coming from between cupped hands. The microphones are quite good at reducing wind noise for callers, though we wish they had an option for sidetone. While the Ear 1 set has volume, play/pause, skip, and ANC/hear-through toggle controls, we missed having track reverse and digital-assistant call-up.

    Nothing Ear (Stick): If you prefer earbuds that don’t completely block your ear canal, or you’re looking for a more device-agnostic version of the Apple Airpods, the Nothing Ear (Stick) is a more affordable option. Like the Airpods, the Ear (Stick) rests in (without sealing) your ear, has a stem hanging down, and uses squeeze-based controls. Unlike the Airpods, the Ear (Stick) has full controls (including volume), IP54 dust and water resistance, and an app that allows you to adjust the EQ––but it lacks Apple niceties like always-listening Siri, “Find My” tracking, and spatial audio capabilities. As with all unsealed earbuds, the Ear (Stick) lacks bass response out of the box. This can be somewhat addressed by using the app-based EQ to set the bass to maximum, but bass lovers may still feel that music with electronic basslines lacks oomph. Because the earbuds can handle some sweat and the design allows you to hear your surroundings, these are a possible option for runners, but the fit isn’t incredibly secure. If you have a bouncy stride, you may be at risk of losing one. Unsealed earbuds also can be risky for your hearing health if you need to increase the volume to obscure sounds around you. The charging case is cylindrical, about the length of a lighter but thicker. It looks cool, but whether it’s easier to carry than other designs is a matter of opinion.

    OnePlus Buds Pro: If you have a OnePlus phone, you may like this pair for the “Hey Melody” functionality. The fit is comfortable. The ANC is quite good, though like many earbuds that lack strong physical sound isolation, higher-pitched sounds like clicks and voices make it through. If you need to FOCUS, the app provides multiple white noise sounds that can be pre-loaded before a flight. We listened to both the standard sound profile and the one suggested based on the One Plus Audio ID hearing test; both had extra bass, and we wished there were a manual EQ option to split the difference between the two high-frequency profiles. That said, both were pleasant, if not 100% authentic-sounding. The squeeze controls can be a little finicky when you need to triple or double squeeze them. Overall, this pair isn’t a favorite but is recommendable for OnePlus fans.

    OnePlus Buds Z2: A decent pair of earbuds. The noise cancellation is reasonably effective, but the controls are limited and the bass frequencies in music are overemphasized in a way that makes the male vocals sound recessed. These aren’t massive flaws, but in a competitive field they’re enough to keep these from being a pick.

    Phiaton BonoBuds: Although the ANC is quite good, this pair has other flaws. The earbuds, though lightweight, are a bulbous bean shape that would benefit from some extra stabilization to hold them securely in small ears. The entire outer surface of the earbud hosts touch controls, so adjusting the fit or taking the earbuds in and out can trigger music playback and/or ANC. The musical tuning has quite a lot of low-frequency boost, in a way that sounds as though the bass notes are being played through a massive car subwoofer just outside. You don’t lose clarity in the other frequencies, but there is a boomy, distant quality that may not appeal to everyone.

    Raycon The Work: These earbuds are average. Every EQ setting is flawed, but we found the “balanced” to be the most enjoyable, though still overly bloated and blurry in the bass frequencies. The touch controls can be a little fussy, and to call up your digital assistant requires four presses, which can feel a tad excessive. The hear-through function is pretty good, and the noise cancellation performs effectively on sustained low-frequency noises, but the silicone tips don’t isolate very well so you’ll still hear voices and higher-pitched sounds rather clearly. If that bothers you, Raycon includes three pairs of foam tips, which are more effective. The microphone is not wind resistant and is not as clear as your phone handset, but it works well enough in a quiet room.

    Razer Hammerhead True Wireless: Gamers may love that this pair has very little latency. But with the unsealed design, it also has very little bass. The tap-based touch controls are also a bit fussy.

    Samsung Galaxy Buds 2: These earbuds fit comfortably and securely. Out of the box, the sound was pretty good but a little dull. Unfortunately the EQ was heavy-handed and wasn’t able to address the lack of detail in the highs. We wish this pair had more controls, and we’re also kinda disappointed that you have to download a separate app on Galaxy phones—usually, seamless connectivity is the entire reason to buy earbuds in the same ecosystem as your mobile device.

    Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro: If this pair cost 180 or less, we might feel comfortable recommending it. But at the original 230 price, things get complicated. The fit is comfortable, the case is adorably small, and the sound is flawed but still pleasant. However, the noise cancellation is significantly less successful than we would expect at this price. The Buds2 Pro doesn’t offer dual-device multipoint connectivity. The touch controls are easy to inadvertently activate when adjusting the earbuds in your ears. And the voice-activated hear-through mode isn’t as seamless as that of the Sony Linkbuds S or WF-1000M4. There are a lot of little extras tossed into the Buds 2 Pro, like a reminder to sit up if you’re slouching, but these aren’t useful enough to ignore the ways in which this pair falls short.

    Sennheiser CX 400BT: These earbuds have a thick, blocky design that sticks out from your head more than most of the earbuds we’ve tested. Despite the large size, these earbuds are surprisingly comfortable, but we wouldn’t attempt vigorous movement while wearing them. As with many of Sennheiser’s offerings lately, the sound profile has a fatiguing spike in the high frequencies. Although the Sennheiser MySound app offers EQ, it’s very clunky to use and doesn’t address the problems effectively.

    Sennheiser CX True Wireless: These earbuds are blocky and large, which makes them difficult to fit in medium-to-small ears. Out of the box, the sound quality is blah—a massive bass boost covers male vocals, and a sizzling high end adds a metallic edge to strings, syllables of lyrics, and snare hits. The included app-based EQ presets and weird teeter-totter audio adjustment tool didn’t help. The microphone offers no sidetone when you’re on a call, and if you speak loudly, it seems to overload the microphone, so your voice will sound overmodulated. The most impressive aspect is the nine-hour battery life per charge.

    Sennheiser Momentum 3 True Wireless: These true wireless earbuds don’t do anything particularly poorly, but they don’t do anything really well to justify the price. We appreciate the full suite of touch-based controls, the ANC is effective, and the hear-through mode sounds natural enough to leave on for awareness. The microphones sound compressed but clear over phone calls, but these lack sidetone, so you may find yourself fighting the urge to talk too loudly. If you know you’re a fan of Sennheiser’s Momentum tuning, you’ll like the sound. The bass is broadly boosted, giving low notes a quality that fans call “immersive” but detractors find “blurry.” The highs have a few notable spikes that make vocals easier to understand, but it also adds a whistle-like quality to the letter “s” and a sizzling aspect to snare hits. The EQ adjustments lack the nuance to make meaningful changes. The earbuds’ cube shape is likely to pose a fit issue for small ears, and the included tips may not seal very large ear canals. Sennheiser fans may like these, but for most other folks, they aren’t compelling enough to merit the original 250 price.

    Shure Aonic Free: These are enormous earbuds with an enormous charging case to match. The earbuds are so big, they look like someone glued true wireless earbuds onto another pair of true wireless earbuds. Plus many folks, including us, have experienced pairing and durability issues. Fans of the “Shure sound” might be willing to ignore this pair’s impracticality, but everyone else will be happier with one of our picks.

    Skullcandy Mod: This true wireless pair includes an impressive amount of features for 60: customizable controls, EQ, IP55 dust and water resistance, dual-device connectivity, a 7-hour battery life with quick-charge abilities, and a surprisingly natural-sounding hear-through mode. However, the downside is that the case is large, as are the earbuds. People who have small ears or ears that stick out may find that their ears feel stuffed when wearing these. Even after adjusting the earbuds’ tuning, we found that the highs were either sizzly or dull and vocals sounded unnatural or muffled. We also had intermittent issues with the controls, which may have been a glitch on our pair.

    Skullcandy Sesh Evo: A former budget pick, this pair provides a fun, bass-forward sound, a comfortable fit, water resistance (with an IP55 rating), and easy-to-use controls, in addition to Tile integration. The battery life of five hours per charge is middle of the road for true wireless earbuds, but you do get 19 hours from the included charging case, which is small enough to fit in a We prefer the EarFun Free 2’s longer battery life, higher water resistance rating, and clearer microphone for calls, but if the Free 2 is unavailable or you want a sportier look, the Sesh Evo is still a solid pair of budget earbuds.

    Sony WF-1000XM4 and Sony LinkBuds S: It’s worth discussing these true wireless earbuds together because they share a lot of similar features, like always-listening Google/Alexa control and a speak-to-enable thear-through mode. What differentiates these two models (aside from price) is that the XM4 provides wireless charging and a longer 8-hour battery life but, due to its bulbous and sizable design, is less comfortable to wear long-term. The LinkBuds S is smaller and lighter, with an earbud shape that is more universal, but this pair has a shorter, 6-hour battery life and is less successful than the XM4 at isolating noise. The XM4 isn’t a pick because the large earbud size is cumbersome to wear, and the lack of included XL tips means that both smaller and larger ears may find these a challenge to wear comfortably. The LinkBuds S has middling noise cancellation, isolation, and sound quality, which makes the original 200 price feel steep. However, if you find these on sale and want a speak-to-enable hear-through mode, they’re both solid earbud pairs.

    Soul Emotion Pro: This pair fits comfortably in part because of the seven pairs of included tips. The hear-through mode sounded more natural than that of many competitors. However, the noise cancellation was only so-so, and the low frequencies were boosted too broadly. The sound had an Echo-like quality even when we played acoustic guitar, and the app-based EQ was unable to adequately adjust it.

    Soul S-Play: These earbuds have a broadly boosted bass range that causes male vocals to get a little lost in the mix. Finicky and unintuitive tap-based controls, a muffled hear-through mode, and a too-quiet microphone aren’t enough to make the S-Play bad, but it is enough to keep them from being a pick.

    Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro: This set has a lot of fantastic features, so we were extra disappointed when certain aspects fell short. First, the good: The ANC is quite effective, the wind-noise reduction is impressive, and the light-up case is honestly cool. We initially liked the stabilizing wings because the earbuds felt very secure, but after an hour of wearing, our ears began to ache. This pair also produced a sibilant edge to vocals that we couldn’t remove through EQ. And although this pair offers dual-device connectivity, we found that enabling it led to an excessive amount of connection stuttering.

    Soundcore Liberty 4: This true wireless pair has controls on the stem that you squeeze to activate (just like the Airpods Pro). We aren’t fans of that design, mostly because squeezing the stem can dislodge the earbud from your ear canal. Additionally, if you use the stem to push the loosened earbuds back in place, you’ll accidentally activate the control. The fit is comfortable, but larger ears may need bigger tips than the ones provided in order to get a seal, and we didn’t feel as though the Liberty 4 felt secure enough for vigorous workouts. This pair has a built-in heart rate monitor, which could be good if you’re new to getting up and moving, but the digital coaching feature is like the Tik Tok lady telling you to go take a brisk walk for three minutes.

    Soundcore Life P3: This is a mix of pros and cons. This pair sounds quite good for true wireless earbuds under 80. Out of the box, the highs are sibilant, but that can be adjusted using the equalizer tool in the Soundcore app. But the limited controls are a bummer. The microphones handle wind noise relatively well, but your voice will sound compressed to your conversation partner. The fit is comfortable, but these earbuds don’t feel as secure as they might with optional stabilizing wings.

    Soundcore Sport X10: The noise cancellation, hear-through mode, and fit are quite nice on this pair, but you’d likely want to do some serious tinkering in the app to adjust the sound, which in our tests was super bass-forward with sizzly high frequencies out of the box. We also don’t know why there isn’t an option to call up your digital assistant. Overall, these headphones had a lot of potential but are missing a few key elements.

    Technics EAH-AZ40: This set sounds quite good. It’s not quite as balanced as the KEF Mu3—we measured a small spike in the 8 to 9 kHz area that we couldn’t manage to adjust in EQ, but other folks may not mind the effect as much as we do. Microphone quality is very clear. The fit is comfortable, but the touch controls are too easy to accidentally trigger when you adjust the earbuds in your ears. Overall, these are a decent pair of earbuds, with just slight flaws.

    Technics EAH-AZ60: With larger earbuds than those on the AZ40, these may be tougher to keep in place for smaller ears. The sound is good, but the bass notes have a slightly resonant quality that we couldn’t get rid of with EQ, and similarly we weren’t able to reduce the 7 to 8 kHz spike that added an overemphasized sibilance to strings and vocals. The noise cancellation is very effective, as is the wind reduction for the microphone. If these fit you and you don’t mind slightly fussy touch controls, the AZ60 earbuds make for a solid choice.

    Ultimate Ears (UE) Drops: The idea of custom-molded true wireless earbuds is incredibly appealing. While bespoke buds may be the future, sadly the UE Drops pair isn’t quite up to the standards we’d expect for 450. We completed the at-home molding process twice yet ultimately had to rely on physical impressions completed by an audiologist to get a comfortable fit and complete seal. To Ultimate Ears’s credit, the company swapped pairs, listened to feedback, and made a sincere effort to get the fit correct. But the process was time-consuming and occasionally frustrating. Had the end result been stellar, we might even be able to forgive the flaws in the process. But the sound had a blurry, bass-forward quality that wasn’t correctable via EQ, and the passive noise isolation (what should be a perk of perfectly fitted earbuds) wasn’t as effective as we’ve gotten from UE’s wired in-ear monitors.

    Ultimate Ears UE Fits: This pair includes ear-tip gels that conform to your ear shape and harden into place after being bathed in UV light. The earbuds themselves perform this process, and it’s a nifty experience. Our panelists’ tips didn’t change shape all that dramatically, so these aren’t a perfect facsimile of traditional custom-molded monitors, but we all noted that the Fits felt very secure and comfortable in our ears after they were molded. The sound quality is quite good, and it’s adjustable in the UE app, should you want to tweak it a little. However, we found that we couldn’t dial in the sound precisely where we wanted it. The microphone call quality is fantastically clear, though you don’t get any of your own voice mixed into the sound, so you may find yourself wanting to speak loudly when on calls. The earbuds are IPX3 rated, which means you can briefly take these out in a drizzle but definitely not to the gym. The controls are tap-based, but you can choose only one action per ear: play/pause, call answer/hang-up, volume up/down, or track forward/back. For folks who very much want true wireless earbuds but have never found any that are comfortable, the UE Fits may be the answer. But for everyone else, you may wish you had more controls and better water resistance.

    Urbanista Phoenix: The most noteworthy aspect of this pair is the case, which can be charged via solar energy. However, the case is massive (the size of a deck of cards), and you need to leave it out in the sun for extended periods for it to charge in a meaningful way. Meaningful here means a gain of 1% battery after an hour in the sun. Though the case technically will charge if left directly under a light (like, 1 inch away from the bulb), the charge time is even slower and blocks your light source. If the earbuds were excellent, we might give these a nod simply for innovation. But the sound is bass-forward, with cheap-sounding highs and recessed vocals, and the ANC is middling.

    V-Moda Hexamove Lite and Hexamove Pro: These sound similar out of the box, with a ton of bass that can be on the boomy side. The charging cases are on the chunky side and have an odd plastic interior hinge that feels more fragile than we’d like for earbuds in this price range. Neither pair has full controls. The Pro’s sound can be adjusted in EQ, and once you reduce the bass, it sounds quite good, with a nice sense of space and detail in the mids and highs. The Pro also offers more customization, with optional wings, over-ear hooks, a tether cable, and “shields” that are like little end caps that change the look of the earbuds. The wings do add stability, but the other add-ons aren’t as effective, and the Pro’s charging case is shaped bizarrely to accommodate the various permutations of accessories.

    This article was edited by Adrienne Maxwell and Grant Clauser.



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