Skip to main content

Best true wireless earbuds 2022: these are the top AirPods alternatives today

best true wireless earbuds including airpods pro, sony wf-1000xm4, and cambridge audio melomania 1 plus on a red background.
(Image credit: TechRadar)

The best true wireless earbuds include some of the most advanced audio tech we've ever heard – and these days, ditching the wires no longer means sacrificing sound quality. Some of the earbuds here even rival our pick of the best over-ear headphones when it comes to audio quality; the only thing they can't do is deliver that 'I'm wearing big headphones, don't talk to me' look. 

The best true wireless earbuds, sometimes referred to as TWS earbuds (True Wireless Stereo), are slightly different from the best wireless earbuds. That's because true wireless are completely cable-free: there's nothing physically connecting one bod to the other. That makes them much more convenient and flexible, although the downside is that they're also easier to lose. But tech has a solution to that too. However, if you're looking for the best running headphones or the best workout headphones, you may still want to consider something with a cable. 

We've tested hundreds of earbuds before picking out the best choices for you, your needs, and your budget. 

Some of the best true wireless earbuds in the list below are rather, ahem, high-end (ie. with a similarly premium price tag) however, the growing market of cheaper wireless earbuds means that some more wallet-friendly models are creeping into this list. If you're keen to get the maximum audio bang for the smallest amount of money, take a look at our best budget wireless earbuds guide for some excellent options..

The true wireless earbuds below collectively offer a very wide range of great features. These can include hands-free voice control, active noise cancellation and support for Hi-Res Audio codecs such as aptX, aptX HD and aptX Low Latency. 

If you're only interested in the very best sound quality, we recommend you check out models such as the Bowers & Wilkins PI7, Grado GT220 and the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus, which are there to cater to your inner audiophile.

Still not sure if you should buy Apple's latest Apple AirPods 3? We recommend you check out the competition first. Of course, the noise-cancelling AirPods Pro are also a great shout, but there are plenty of fantastic AirPods alternatives below too if Apple doesn't appeal. 

The best true wireless earbuds

The Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds on a white background.

(Image credit: Sony)
The best true wireless earbuds you can buy today

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 7.3g
Frequency response: 20-40,000Hz
Drivers: 6mm
Battery life : 8 hours (earbuds) 16 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Rapid, full-bodied and eloquent sound
+
Truly useful features
+
Impressive call quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Unremarkable battery life
-
No aptX support

Sony is largely responsible for the rude health of the active noise-cancelling earbuds market, and with the WF-1000XM4, the company has combined performance, ergonomics, and build quality more effectively than ever before. 

Compared to their predecessors, the Sony WF-1000XM3, we found that the new wireless earbuds offer enough quality-of-life features to make them worth upgrading to, even if they are more expensive. 

A more compact design means that the WF-1000XM4 are more comfortable than their predecessors, while their accompanying control app makes it easy to adjust their EQ settings for a personalized sound. 

The audio quality is among the best you'll get from a pair of wireless in-ear headphones, and DSEE Extreme upscaling means you'll get an approximation of high-resolution sound from standard-definition digital audio files.

While some other true wireless earbuds surpass the Sony WF-1000XM4 in particular areas – noise cancellation, for example – no other model comes close to offering such excellent quality across the board. That’s why the Sony WF-1000XM4 are hands-down the best true wireless earbuds you can buy today.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM4 review

Divider line to separate content.

The cambridge audio melomania 1 plus true wireless earbuds, with the earbuds on the left and the charging case on the right

(Image credit: Cambridge Audio)
The ideal true wireless earbuds for audiophiles

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 9.2g
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 5.8mm
Battery life (on-board): 9 hours (earbuds) 41 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning audio performance
+
Great app
+
Easy controls

Reasons to avoid

-
No ANC

Cambridge Audio may be best known for its high-end audio equipment, but in recent years the British company has branched out into the world of true wireless earbuds. Its first offering, the Melomania 1, earned a place among the best wireless earbuds thanks to their stellar sound quality. And the newer Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus are better still, putting many other earbuds in the shade with their audio performance, battery life, and ease of use. 

While the design of the Melomania 1 Plus hasn’t deviated too far from its predecessors, there’s a clear step up in terms of audio performance, with levels of detail and clarity that rival some of the best over-ear headphones. 

A helpful app, easy controls, and excellent connectivity made us love them even more, and the only real downside for us was the lack of active noise cancellation – but when you experience the sound quality here we don't think you'll mind, not least because a permanent price cut means these are even more affordable than before. They cost $139.95 / £119.95 at launch, but the audiophile-friendly earbuds have now been reduced to $99.95 / £99.95 – a fixed discount of $40 / £20.

Read the full review: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review

JLab Go Air Pop in blue on white background

(Image credit: JLab)
The best earbuds you'll find at this price point

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 3.7g
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 6mm
Battery life (on-board): 8 hours (earbuds) 32 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight and comfortable
+
Sounds better than similarly-priced rivals

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the greatest sound you'll ever hear
-
Odd charging cable

Let's be clear. These are not the best wireless earbuds in the world today. But we're pretty sure they're the best wireless earbuds you can get for under twenty bucks (or pounds if you're reading this in the UK). It wasn't so long ago the only buds you'd get for that price were fake ones from a market stall when you were on holiday.

The headline here is really: cheap but not nasty. The sound is impressive for the price tag, the battery life is better than anything Apple's currently offering and their lightweight construction means they're very comfortable too. There are some surprising inclusions - on-earbud controls on a pair this cheap? – and the built-in mics are decent enough for phone and video calls. 

The downside is the codecs: these use SBC, the least good kind of Bluetooth audio; there's no support for aptX, LDAC or the like. But they're perfectly good for audiobooks and podcasts, and while they might not be as clearly musical as their more expensive rivals they're not bad either. 

Read more: JLab Go Air Pop review

The Sony WF-1000XM3 wireless earbuds in black

(Image credit: Sony)
Formerly the best true wireless earbuds for everyone

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 7g
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 6mm
Battery life : 6 hours (earbuds) 18 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Efficient noise cancellation
+
Inconspicuous looks
+
Great fun to listen to

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for sports

For nearly two years, the Sony WF-1000XM3 were best true wireless earbuds you could buy – until they were usurped by the WF-1000XM4. But while they're still available to buy, they're definitely worth considering: you can usually find them discounted to around $170 / £150 / AU$200. 

The Sony WF-1000XM3 manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that's exceedingly good for a pair of earbuds, and they also have fist-pumping musicality, a sleek design, and a decent battery life. 

They may not be the best for using while participating in sport, but their unobtrusive design will appeal to anyone who's unconvinced or unimpressed by the look of Apple AirPods. We also found that they're also comfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Google Assistant and Alexa support means you're covered if you want to control the buds using your voice alone, though the on-ear controls are easy enough to use. 

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3 review

Divider line to separate content.

1More Evo earbuds in black on white background

(Image credit: 1More)
1More finally arrives in the true wireless earbuds arena

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 5.7g per earbud
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 10mm Dynamic Driver + Balanced Armature
Battery life : 5.5 hours (earbuds) 20 hours (case) with ANC on

Reasons to buy

+
Great sound quality for the level
+
LDAC hi-res codec support
+
Adequate ANC

Reasons to avoid

-
Bit bulky
-
Limited touch controls

1More is one of those audio specialists that has been around for a while without ever quite achieving the greatness it perhaps should have. But the good news is that it feels like the tide has finally turned for this likeable brand with its latest 1More Evo. Packed full of useful perks such as ANC, wearer detection and app support – all of which mostly work very well – plus LDAC support, IPX4 protection and some great sound quality, the 1More Evo are a tempting proposition indeed.

They excel in terms of sound quality and the SoundID profiling (where its companion app figures out what you will like most), is useful and adds value. 

The ANC isn't perfect – although if you're prepared to invest a bit of time, it isn't too shabby either – so if complete silence is golden to you, you may be better served elsewhere. But for sound-per-pound music quality and hi-res LDAC support, 1More has come up trumps here. 

Read the full review: 1More Evo


The Nuratrue true wireless earbuds in black wth a white logo

(Image credit: Nura)
The perfect true wireless earbuds for customization

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight : 7.4g (each bud)
Frequency Response: N/A
Drivers: N/A
Battery life (onboard) : 6 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent sound
+
Highly personalized
+
Noise cancellation

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn’t use latest Bluetooth version
-
Battery life could be better

The NuraTrue are perhaps the most personalized wireless earbuds you can buy today – and they’re among the best-sounding, too. 

They’re the first true wireless earbuds from Australian audio brand Nura, following in the footsteps of its NuraLoop earphones – which are our pick for the best wireless earbuds available right now.

The NuraTrue headphones have unbeaten levels of customization that allow the earbuds to be tuned to your ears exactly. The accompanying app even analyzes how well the buds fit into your ears, adjusting the sound accordingly.

The end result is outstanding audio performance that reveals superb levels of detail in your music, and a wide soundstage that enables every instrument to sing. Listening to Princes' Gang Gang Dance, for example, we were impressed by the space afforded to each element of the track and by the power of the very low-frequency bass lines.

These earbuds aren't just made with only audio in mind. They also have similar features to popular models such as the AirPods Pro and the Sony WF-1000XM4: effective noise cancellation, an IPX4 water-resistance rating, fast charging, and support for hi-res audio too. 

Read the full review: NuraTrue review


Divider line to separate content.

The Sennheiser CX true wireless earbuds in their charging case

(Image credit: Sennheiser)
The best Sennheiser TWS earbuds

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 6g (single earbud) 37g (charging case)
Frequency response: 5 hz - 21,000 Hz
Drivers: TrueResponse Transducer Sennheiser 7mm dynamic driver
Battery life : 9 hours (earbuds) 18 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Rich bass lines
+
Improved battery life
+
Upgraded connectivity

Reasons to avoid

-
Uncomfortable for smaller ears
-
No noise cancellation

The Sennheiser CX True Wireless are the latest wireless earbuds from the German audio giant. Picking up where the CX 400BT before them left off, they’re cheaper than their predecessors, despite including a host of upgraded features that comprises a longer battery life and better connectivity. 

In our tests we found that the audio quality was as good as you’d expect from Sennheiser, with a wide soundstage, clear mids, detailed trebles, and powerful bass frequencies. While audiophiles may prefer a less pronounced low end, we were still surprised by how good these earbuds sound across multiple genres of music. Hi-res audio support is included, too, for those who want to eke out every last bit of detail from their music.

We found the controls and accompanying app very easy to use, and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity ensured a stable connection with our device without problems or dropouts.. 

Thanks to a recent firmware update, you can now customize the touch controls via the Sennheiser Smart Control app, which is a handy feature that makes these buds feel a little more personal.

Our only real bugbear is the CX True Wireless’ design, which we think are too bulky for smaller ears; while we're sure most people won't be troubled by their size, we felt they were too big for us.

Read the full review: Sennheiser CX True Wireless review


The Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 true wireless earbuds and charging case

(Image credit: Lypertek)
The best affordable true wireless headphones out there

Specifications

Acoustic design: : Closed
Frequency response: : 20Hz - 20kHz
Drivers:: Graphene, 6mm dynamic
Battery life: : 10 hours (earbuds) 70 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent sound
+
Great price
+
Top-notch battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Ambient mode is poor

When we first reviewed the original Lypertek PurePlay Z3 true wireless earbuds (then known as the Lypertek Tevi), we were blown away. We're just as impressed by their successors, the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 true wireless earbuds. 

These earbuds are very similar to the originals and include several key improvements, but the price has remained impressively low at $99 / £99.

That relatively modest price gets you everything we loved about the original PurePlay Z3 including a detailed, well balanced sound, and a whopping 80-hour total battery life from its petite USB-C charging case. And it also brings you the new features: wireless charging, a powerful new LDX Audio mode, improved app functionality and a hear-through ambient mode.

That's the good news. The less good news is that we found the app's connectivity to be pretty patchy, and the ambient hear-through mode didn't impress us: when you compare it to Sony's WF-1000XM4 it's not even in the same zip code. But the sound quality is excellent and if you don't need the ambient mode these earbuds are worthy rivals to models two or even three times their price. 

Read the full review: Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 review

Divider line to separate content.

The grado gt220 wireless earbuds with the charging case lid open to reveal the earbuds inside

(Image credit: Grado)
The ideal TWS earbuds for sound performance

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: N/A
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 8mm
Battery life : 6 hours (earbuds) 36 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Hugely impressive sound in every respect
+
Responsive touch- and voice-control
+
Light and fairly comfortable

Reasons to avoid

-
No active noise-cancelling

On paper, the GT220 seem to have their work cut out. $259 / £250 / AU$365 for small, humdrum-looking true wireless in-ears with no active noise-cancelling and no control app? But the story here isn't what you see on the spec sheet. It's what you hear in your ears. And these earbuds are confident, assured and deliver a sound that's better than the majority of earbuds we've tested.

The GT220s extract every shred of information from digital files of your favorite music and deliver it with such authority, and in such a complete and coherent manner, that it sounds fresh even if you’ve heard it a thousand times before.

As there's no control app there's no way to fiddle around with the EQ settings, but we didn't miss this feature as the GT220 sound so good as they are. 

The large surface area of the earbuds' housings mean that the touch-sensitive controls are easy to use, and they allow you to control your music playback, adjust the volume, and summon your device's voice assistant, whether you use Google Assistant or Siri. 

A 36-hour total battery - while not as impressive as the Lypertek Pure Play Z3 2.0 - means the GT220 have enough staying power to get you though a week's worth of commuting. 

Read the full review: Grado GT220 review

Divider line to separate content.

The sennheiser momentum true wireless 2 in black with silver housings showing the Sennheiser logo

(Image credit: Sennheiser)
Excellent noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 6g
Frequency response: 5 - 21,000Hz
Drivers: 7mm
Sensitivity: N/A
Battery life (on-board): 7 hours (earbuds) 28 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible sound
+
Sleek design
+
Support for Hi-Res Audio

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than rivals

The sound quality, battery life, and design of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 are truly brilliant – and they're a really good alternative to the Sony WF-1000XM4, particularly if you prefer a more flashy design when it comes to the best true wireless earbuds for you.

We think Sennheiser pretty much knocked it out of the park with these earbuds, serving up a compelling mix of great noise cancellation, smart, sophisticated looks and stunning sound. There's support for hi-res audio support via the aptX codec, and Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity means the Momentum True Wireless 2 are super easy to pair with your devices and stay paired.

We liked the fabric covered charging case, which feels well-made and robust enough to properly protect the earbuds - that case provides 21 hours of battery life, and you get seven hours from the buds themselves. But like the CX True Wireless we describe above, the housings are on the big side so we wouldn't recommend these for people with small ears. But if you have room, extensive discounting means the Momentum True Wireless 2 are even better value than before and well worth consideration.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review

Divider line to separate content.

The bowers & wilkins pi7 truly wireless earbuds in black and gold with the eartips pointing downwards

(Image credit: Bowers & Wilkins)
The most luxurious true wireless earbuds

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 8g
Frequency response: 10 - 20,000Hz
Drivers: 9.2mm
Battery life : 4 hours (earbuds) 16 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible sound
+
Clever charging case

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than rivals
-
Battery life could be better

Here's a mystery: how can the Bowers & Wilkins PI7, with their sky-high price-tag, a control app that’s more style than substance, an incomplete suite of touch controls, and humdrum active noise-cancelling and battery life get a nearly five-star review? The answer is that they sound incredible.

Their thoroughly engaging and convincing sound makes the PI7 a pleasure to listen with, and aptX Adaptive support means you get smooth synchronization between audio and video as well as support for hi-res audio files.

They’re a genuinely unique pair of wireless earbuds too, with a charging case that doubles as an audio retransmitter. It’s a remarkable facility, bringing wireless connectivity to all kinds of previously unavailable sources: an in-flight entertainment system, for instance, or some games consoles.

As you might expect from a pair of buds that cost $399 / £349 / AU$599, we found the build quality of the PI7 to be outstanding, and they look and feel like a premium product. 

However, they do fall down when it comes to their active noise cancellation feature, which we don't think is as impressive as rival models such as the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds or the Sony WF-1000XM4. And their 20-hour battery life also leaves a lot to be desired, too, as even the Apple AirPods do better than that. Oh, and the inability to adjust the volume of your music using the on-ear controls is quite the oversight.

And yet, and yet. Put them in your ears and put on your favourite music and you'll forgive them anything.

Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins PI7 review

Divider line to separate content.

The Bose QuietComfort earbuds in white sat side by side

(Image credit: Bose)
The best noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds

Specifications

Acoustic Design: Closed
Weight: 0.3 oz each
Frequency Response: N/A
Drivers: N/A
Battery: 6 hours (earbuds) 12 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Best-in-class ANC
+
Rich, clear sound
+
Secure, comfortable fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks on-board volume control
-
Case could offer more charge

These are Bose’s second attempt at a set of true wireless headphones, and we're pleased to say that the QuietComfort Earbuds are leaps and bounds better than the older SoundSport Free. 

Not only is the design a lot better, but the noise cancellation is also exemplary. We think these are the best noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy right now. That's because Bose has taken a leaf out of its Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 playbook and added 10 levels of ANC to the QC ‘Buds to cover every kind of noisy environment. And at maximum, you’re practically cut off from the rest of the world, encased in a cocoon of sound that’s made entirely up of your favourite tunes. 

The sound quality is also really very good – albeit a touch less bassy than the Sonys – with superb clarity. 

We found these earbuds incredibly comfortable and well balanced too, even though they look rather bulky. And we liked the selection of earths, each of which has a flexible fin that holds the buds in place very effectively.

Unfortunately, the battery life of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds isn't as impressive as their other features. You get a respectable six hours of playback from the buds themselves, but only two further charges from the charging case for an 18-hour total battery life. That's far less than most of the true wireless earbuds in this guide, so it's worth bearing that in mind if you routinely forget to top up your buds.

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review

Divider line to separate content.

The Sony WF-C500 true wireless earbuds in black

(Image credit: Sony )
The best Sony true wireless earbuds for those on a budget

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed, dynamic
Weight: 10.8g
Frequency response: 20Hz-20,000Hz (44.1kHz sampling)
Drivers: 5.8 mm
Bettery life: 10 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Informative, organized and lively sound
+
Neat and comfortable design
+
Proper control app

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life is nothing special
-
Could sound both deeper and wider

If you like Sony earbuds but can't afford the WF-1000XM4, the Sony WF-C500 are a good and affordable alternative. 

Costing just $79 / £89 / AU$149.95, these earbuds cost less than many of the models in this guide, but refreshingly, Sony hasn't made too many concessions to achieve this lower price. We liked their rapid, detailed and thoroughly engaging sound, even though the soundstage is a little narrow for our tastes. The bass is a little light too, so if audio performance is your top priority it might be worth spending a bit more.

The WF-C500 are light and comfortable to wear even for long periods, and despite their small size the touch-sensitive housings are easy to use, enabling you to adjust your music playback, take calls, and summon your device's voice assistant.

If you prefer, control is also available via Sony’s exemplary ‘Headphones Connect’ app. This enables you to adjust EQ settings, set your Bluetooth priorities, let the app have a good look at the shape of your ears (the WF-C500 are compatible with Sony’s ‘360 Reality Audio’ spatial audio algorithm) and toggle the Digital Sound Enhancement Engine on or off. 

At 20 hours, the all-in battery life is a little disappointing. But 10 hours of playback from the buds alone isn’t all that bad and will suit anyone who enjoys long listening sessions.

Read the full review: Sony WF-C500 review

Divider line to separate content.

A closeup of the AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Apple)
The perfect earbuds... for Apple fans

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 5.4g
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: Dynamic
Battery life: 5 hours (earbuds) 24 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Good noise cancellation
+
Better fit than AirPods (2019)

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than better rivals
-
USB-C charging cable in box

Apple's noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds, the AirPods Pro, deliver a much better fit and an improved design compared to the original AirPods.

However, at $249 / £249 / AU$399, they’re pricey too, and as such can’t be called the very best true wireless earbuds in terms of value for money – but they may be the best true wireless earbuds for Apple fans, and they're among the easiest buds to use that we've ever tested.

These snug-fitting earbuds deliver great sound, and the additional microphones provide strong noise-cancelling (particularly when commuting), as well as a useful Transparency mode, which really does let the outside world in.

The Apple AirPods Pro have recently become even better, too. A slew of new upgrades have come to the earbuds since the iOS 15 update in September 2021. 

Those upgrades include Conversation Boost, which is designed to help you hear face-to-face conversations more clearly when you’re using them, as well as the ability to announce notifications with Siri, and integration with Apple's Find My app, among many others.

Rumors continue to swirl regarding a new AirPods model, most likely called AirPods Pro 2, but in the meantime these are Apple's best earbuds. Just make sure you get a good price: there's some decent discounting on these earbuds now at third party retailers.

Read the full review: Apple AirPods Pro review

Divider line to separate content.

The beats studio buds in red, with the earbuds popping up out of the charging case

(Image credit: Beats)
The best-sounding Beats earbuds... with a few caveats

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 5g
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: N/A
Battery life : 8 hours (earbuds) 16 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Great sound quality
+
Comfortable to wear

Reasons to avoid

-
ANC could be stronger
-
Lackluster call quality

The Beats Studio Buds are rock-solid true wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation and support for Apple’s Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos format. They sound great, with a lively sound quality that elevates the highs and lows of your music, and feel supremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time. 

They're not without some drawbacks, though. We weren't impressed by the lackluster call quality, and we miss the absent H1 Wireless Chip that makes other Beats earbuds work so well within the Apple ecosystem. However, that does mean these Studio Buds are suitable for Android users as well as iPhone owners - so don't feel as though you can't buy these buds if you're not an Apple lover.

We loved the design of Studio Buds. They're small and sleek, and we like the addition of a bright red color as well as the usual black and white options, which really helps them to stand out from the crowd.

Battery life with either ANC or Transparency mode turned on is pretty disappointing at only five hours (15 hours with the case), and their noise cancellation isn’t exactly class-leading, either. But they're cheaper than the AirPods Pro and their Beats predecessors, the Powerbeats Pro, so they're a good budget-friendly option if your heart's set on buying Beats.

Read the full review: Beats Studio Buds review

Divider line to separate content.

the apple airpods 3rd generation

(Image credit: Apple)
The best AirPods without noise cancellation

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 4.28g
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: N/A
Battery life : 6 hours (earbuds) 24 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive spatial audio
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
No active noise cancellation
-
No interchangeable eartips

The Apple AirPods (3rd generation) represent a big step up from their predecessors in terms of audio performance, connectivity, and design.

They're a little pricier than the AirPods 2 (which have been given a permanent price cut), but cheaper than the AirPods Pro. The main tradeoff here is that the AirPods 3 don't come with active noise cancellation, and their semi-open design means you'll hear quite a lot of your surroundings while wearing them. If you like the outside world to go away when you study, work or commute, these aren't the buds for you.

One of the killer features in these buds is the combination of Spatial Audio support and Adaptive EQ, which create 3D audio and analyse your ear canals to optimise the sound respectively. Spatial Audio is particularly impressive, giving our music, films, and TV shows a much more immersive feel  – and if you don't like your music to be spatialized, you can turn this feature off. We found it worked best in fairly sparse pop and acoustic music but wasn't quite so affective in metal and heavier rock genres.

While the AirPods 3 do look like the original AirPods, a more subtle, contoured design with shorter earstems makes the new buds look slightly more sophisticated than their predecessors. The new design also brings force capacitive sensors to the true wireless earbuds, allowing you to control your music by squeezing the stems.

These are good earbuds for Apple users, but we wouldn't recommend them for Android owners: the AirPods 3 are optimized for use with Apple devices, and Android users don't get the extra features that set them apart from other true wireless earbuds on the market.

Read the full review: Apple AirPods (3rd generation) review

Divider line to separate content.

the sony linkbuds earbuds in white and silver on a white background

(Image credit: sony)
The best true wireless earbuds for hearing ambient sounds

Specifications

Acoustic Design: Open
Weight: 4.1 g x 2
Frequency response: 20Hz -20,000Hz
Drivers: Dynamic
Battery life: 17.5-hour battery life

Reasons to buy

+
Spacious sound
+
Clever controls
+
Tiny design

Reasons to avoid

-
Bass could be stronger
-
No wireless charging

The Sony LinkBuds are the strangest true wireless earbuds we’ve ever tested. They’re the world’s first open-ring in-ear headphones, a design that leaves your ear canals totally free to hear your environment while you enjoy music, listen to podcasts, or take phone calls. They're designed to be a great option for listening on-the-move to stay aware of your surroundings, or in a shared office space.

These are also Sony’s smallest earbuds to date, and they're much daintier than the Sony WF-1000XM4. Their ingenious controls mean you don’t have to fumble with the miniature housings to adjust music playback. Instead, you can tap your face to skip tracks, change the volume, and take calls.

The audio quality is exceptional, delivering a remarkably wide soundstage that gives every instrument in your favorite songs the room they need to shine. Detail, clarity, and rhythmic accuracy are also excellent. 

The open fit does come with some drawbacks, though; we'd have liked more bass, and their open design means background noise can be intrusive. But Sony already makes lots of really good noise cancelling options; these are designed for a different kind of listener. 

Read the full review: Sony LinkBuds Review


The jabra elite 85t true wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Jabra)
A worthy successor to the Elite 65t TWS earbuds

Specifications

Acoustic design: Semi-open
Weight: 7g
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: 12mm
Battery life: 7 hours (earbuds) 31 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Adjustable active noise cancellation
+
Elegant design

Reasons to avoid

-
Much bulkier than the 75t
-
Fit isn’t perfect

The Jabra Elite 85t deliver impressive performance thanks to some great audio quality, effective noise cancellation and decent battery life. 

In our tests we found that the audio quality has been vastly improved compared to the Elite 75t. That's thanks to a new pair of 12mm in-built speakers, which are twice the size of those on the 75t buds and offer a wider and more well-balanced soundstage as well as better, deeper bass.

Unfortunately, the larger drivers in these earbuds does mean that they are much more bulky than their predecessors and don't fit as snugly as we'd like.

Battery life comes in seven hours from the buds themselves, which can be extended to 31 hours with the charging case. Bear in mind, though, that playback time does drop to a 25-hour combined battery life if you have the active noise cancellation feature switched on. 

Jabra often updates its wireless earbuds, so they have longer lifespans than many of their rivals – in fact, a recent update for the Jabra Elite 85t allows you to turn off ANC when you want to tune into your surroundings. 

They're also discounted fairly often, especially now that they've been usurped by the Jabra Elite 7 Pro (which we're yet to review). We'd still heartily recommend the Jabra Elite 85t, though – especially if you're on a budget. 

Read the full review: Jabra Elite 85t review

Divider line to separate content.

The beats powerbeats pro in navy

(Image credit: Beats)
Impressive-fitting workout ‘buds from Beats

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: N/A
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: N/A
Battery life : 9 hours (earbuds) 16 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Easy pairing with iOS
+
Immaculate fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Case is fairly bulky
-
Limited noise isolation

The PowerBeats Pro true wireless Beats headphones are something special – they’re supremely comfortable, sound decent and no matter how much jumping around we did, they stayed firmly put in our ears.

They might not be the best true wireless earbuds in Apple's audio arsenal now that the AirPods Pro are here, but they are Apple’s most premium play into the world of running headphones, and they're the buds we'd recommend to most workout enthusiasts.

If we had to choose between wearing these and the original AirPods around the house, office, or gym, these are what we’d wear. That's because these earbuds have a pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole, excellent sound quality and impressively long battery life. They come in a huge range of colors, too, including pink, red, blue, yellow, black, ivory, moss, and navy.

The Powerbeats Pro launched at $249 / £219 / AU$349, but now that they're a little older, they're often discounted, so are worth checking out if you're looking for a good deal. 

A new model is on the way – the Powerbeats Pro 2 are the rumored follow-up to these Beats true wireless earbuds, although it's been a bit of a long wait so far – so make sure you get a good deal if you're buying the existing model.

Read the full review: Beats PowerBeats Pro review

Divider line to separate content.

the microsoft surface earbuds true wireless earbuds in white

(Image credit: Microsoft)
The best earbuds for Microsoft fans

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 7.2g
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 13.6mm
Battery life : 8 hours (earbuds) 16 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Eloquent, detailed sound
+
Comfortable, secure fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Design is... distinctive
-
Battery life isn't class-leading

The Surface Earbuds deliver most – but not all – of the features we’ve come to expect from a premium pair of true wireless in-ears: they have app-based adjustable EQs, they have aptX Bluetooth connectivity, and they responsive touch controls. 

Plus, they play impeccably nicely with virtually the entirety of Microsoft’s hardware and software ranges. They don’t have active noise-cancellation, though, and the way they fit means they let ambient sound leak in.

Sound is served up by relatively large full-range drivers. Of course, ‘relatively large’ could, in another life, be the Surface Earbuds’ official model name: a 25mm diameter is big by in-ear standards, 7.2g is heavy by in-ear standards and their charging case isn't exactly slim, either.   

Despite these big numbers, though, we found the Surface Earbuds to be comfortable and secure for hours on end. The ‘twist-to-fit’ arrangement keeps them nicely steady, and we found they stayed put during mild exercise.

Battery life is an okay 24 hours all-in (eight hours in the Earbuds themselves, plus two more full charges from the case). That's better than some of  Microsoft's competition in this space, but many true wireless earbuds in this guide last far longer.

The Surface Earbuds are a very welcome addition to the ever-increasing list of worthwhile true wireless in-ears, and while their distinctive looks won’t be for everyone, they deliver in two areas that count: functionality and sound quality.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Earbuds review

Divider line to separate content.

The Earfun air pro truly wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Earfun)
The best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 5.3g
Frequency response: N/A
Drivers: 10mm
Battery life : 9 hours (earbuds) 23 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Pleasing audio balance
+
Effective noise cancellation

Reasons to avoid

-
No app for EQ adjustments
-
Case is a little bulky

On their own merits, the Earfun Air Pro buds are accomplished. And when you factor in their super-low price, they're a steal. Amid a sea of similarly priced efforts on Amazon, they stand out thanks to their superior design and excellent audio chops, and they show a high level of competence in almost all other areas. That's quite rare at this price point.

The battery life is advertised at 25 hours in total with ANC on (seven from the buds and an additional 18 from the case), which is bumped up to 32 hours with this feature switched off. However, we found the battery life came in at about an hour less in all cases, though that's still a strong showing, especially for buds at this price. 

The buds provide an enjoyable listen for casual music fans, with warm, prominent bass and an energetic sound. The EarFun Air Pro will work easily across most genres, though those looking for reference or studio-quality audio will be better off looking at wireless earbuds intended for audiophiles.

If it weren’t for slightly fiddly gesture controls and – in our experience at least – a slightly uncomfortable fit, these would immediately earn our wholehearted recommendation. But if you're looking for budget ANC earbuds they're definitely worth considering.

Read the full review: Earfun Air Pro review

Divider line to separate content.

the bang & olufsen beoplay eq true wireless earbuds

(Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)
The best true wireless earbuds for luxury tastes

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 8g
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Drivers: 6.8mm
Battery life: 7.5 hours (earbuds) 20 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Luxurious build
+
Detailed sound

Reasons to avoid

-
No voice control
-
Cheaper alternatives

The Beoplay EQ are beautifully built and finished. The EQs are built from aluminum, polymer and silicone – but, because this is Bang & Olufsen, you won’t be staggered to learn it’s ‘spacecraft grade’ aluminum rather than anything ordinary.

The EQs are beautifully made and beautifully tactile too, with easy-to-use touch sensitive controls on the earbuds' housings. Inside there's a pair of electrodynamic 6.8mm full-range drivers that sounds as good as the EQs look. Wireless connectivity is via Bluetooth 5.2 for rock-solid stability and easy pairing, and the buds support SBC, AAC and aptX Adaptive codecs. That latter one is great for syncing audio and video.

There are six mics across the pair of earbuds, and their job is to deal with call quality and active noise-cancellation, but not voice-control – because Bang & Olufsen hasn’t included that particular facility.

There's a lot here to like but we felt that the EQs noise cancellation comes under the heading of ‘good’ rather than ‘great’. The EQ do a decent job on external sound, of course – but it isn’t as complete a job as the almost supernaturally quiet Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. 

While their large build and equally large price tag won't appeal to all, the BeoPlay EQ are an undeniably well-specced pair of earbuds, and their high quality finish makes them stand out from the other buds in this guide. They're perhaps not the most mainstream choice, but they fit well with the rest of the B&O family.

Read the full review: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EQ review

Divider line to separate content.

Jaybird Vista 2

(Image credit: Jaybird)
The best workout true wireless earbuds

Specifications

Acoustic design: Closed
Weight: 6g.7
Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz
Drivers: 6mm
Battery life: 8 hours (earbuds) 16 hours (charging case)

Reasons to buy

+
Great sound
+
Secure fit

Reasons to avoid

-
ANC could be better
-
Need to tinker with EQ for best sound

The Jaybird Vista 2 are true wireless successors to the original Jaybird Vista, which launched back in 2020 and swiftly took a spot on our guide to the best running headphones you can buy today. 

The goal here remains the same; to offer workout-friendly buds that promise a secure fit, deliver strong audio quality, and give you plenty in the way of battery life too. The big change is the addition of active noise cancellation, which has also bumped up the price. However we think that the ANC, plus improved audio, a longer battery life, and a more rugged design, makes them a worthy upgrade. 

Compared to the original Vista, the Vista 2's water resistance and dust resistance has been improved from IPX7 to IP68, so they can survive being submerged in water up to 1.5 meters deep for 30 minutes. That’s a higher rating than other sporty buds like the Jabra Elite Active 75t and Sony’s WF-SP800N buds. 

The app has EQ and presets to get a more tailored sound profile, and it also enables you to create personal EQ settings as you toggle sliders to adjust elements like bass, bass range, and low midrange. It pays to spend some time playing around with the EQ options to get a more rewarding sound profile that suits your ears.

While the active noise cancellation isn’t as good as other models, the combination of fit, low profile design, sound quality, and solid battery life still make the Vista 2 some of the best truly wireless earbuds for working out as well as listening at home or in the office.

Read the full review: Jaybird Vista 2 review