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Monday, May 27, 2024

Best Wireless Earbuds to Buy in 2023

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Wired earbuds were cool and all back in the day, but they were so easy to have yanked out of your ears by every doorknob you walked past. Enter Bluetooth. The wireless connectivity standard has begun to show up in some of the best headphones, and now there's no shortage of amazing wireless headphones. It took a little time for Bluetooth to work its way into compact earbuds, but now it's everywhere.

You can find almost too many options when it comes to Bluetooth earbuds, with some that still link each earbud with a tether. But, the snazziest options ditch cables altogether. All the options make it hard to be sure you're getting a good pair, though. You'll see mentions of noise-canceling thrown about even by devices that only passively isolate sound, and some earbuds can have unstable connections that will make you long for a wired set.

We're here to steer you in the right direction. We've picked out excellent, truly wireless earbuds that run the gamut from affordable and basic models to hi-fi gear with powerful noise-cancelling. So, if you want quality earbuds, you'll find them below. (If you want to explore cheaper options, see our best budget wireless earbuds list).

TL;DR – These are the Best Wireless Earbuds:

Jabra Elite 5

Best Wireless Earbuds

Jabra Elite 5Jabra Elite 5

For a perfectly balanced, expressive audio experience in a comfortable and sturdy pair of earbuds, you can’t go wrong with the Jabra Elite 5. Pair with up to two devices using Bluetooth Multipoint, and once connected, Jabra’s intuitive Sound+ app lets you play around with EQ settings and ANC sound modes. That hybrid noise cancellation does a decent job of drowning out an airplane’s engine or muffling voices at a coffee shop, though it does struggle with high-pitched sounds.

While you enjoy a pleasant listening experience, others will appreciate the six microphones that make your voice super clear on calls, even on windy days. Answering those calls is simple thanks to the button control on each earbud, which also gives you access to playback and Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, along with some other functions that can be assigned using the app. And you won’t need to worry about breaking a sweat or getting stuck in the rain thanks to the earbud's IP55 dust and water resistance.

Jabra Elite 3

Best Budget Wireless Earbuds

Jabra Elite 3Jabra Elite 3

The Jabra Elite 3 offers everything you could want in a pair of wireless earbuds at a reasonable under $80 price. They sound great with balanced audio you can further tweak in the custom equalizer. Although they don't feature noise-canceling, the sound isolation is so good you basically don't need it even when walking through a crowded city street. Thanks to running on the latest Bluetooth 5.2 connection, we hardly encountered any wireless interference or signal drops.

With 7 hours of battery life in each earbud, you’ll easily get through a cross-country flight. You also get four additional charges in the case (an extra 28 hours total), so you'll rarely need to plug everything in every week unless you've been listening nonstop. The earbuds are even rated for IP55 dust and water resistance, so they easily survive in almost every environment you take them, whether it be the gym or the great outdoors.

Sony LinkBuds S Wireless Earbuds

Best Noise-Cancelling Wireless Earbuds

LinkBuds S Sony LinkBuds S

Sony’s exceptional WH-1000XM series of over-ear headphones has set the high bar for noise-cancelling technology for years. And with the Sony LinkBuds S Wireless Earbuds, the same great noise-cancellation in a light, compact form factor. Its ANC eliminates sounds like an airplane engine or noisy air conditioner. But you’re probably still going to notice incidental sounds like a car horn or dog barking, though it’ll definitely come through more muffled thanks to the impressive passive sound isolation due to the tight fit of the earbuds. An ambient sound mode is also supported, which gives you 20 different options on what external sounds you can hear, providing an ideal listening experience catered to you.

The earbuds themselves offer up to six hours of battery life even with noise-cancelling running, and there’s an extra 14 hours of charge out of the carrying case. That means you take advantage of these earbuds on the longest work and travel days. It’s even possible to enjoy higher resolution audio with LDAC and AAC codec support over Bluetooth 5.2. You also get on-ear controls to adjust volume, skip tracks, answer calls and activate voice assistants. And thanks to modest water resistance, you can use these earbuds to tune into your music while you’re working out and tune out everything else.

Beats Fit Pro

Best Wireless Earbuds for Sports

Beats Fit ProBeats Fit Pro

If you’re looking for a solid pair of earbuds that you can sweat out at the gym with or take along on a jog, then the Beats Fit Pro are for you. These headphones are designed to stay in your ears no matter what you’re doing thanks to wingtips that tuck into your upper ear and three different ear tip options to ensure a snug fit. There’s no need to worry about accidentally knocking one into the dirt during a trail run or interrupting a lifting session to put the device back in your ear. Plus, the IPX4 rating means it’ll hold up great against sweat and rain, just maybe don’t bring the earbuds along for a swim.

Not only are the Beats Fit Pro designed to stay in your ear, but they also sound great, too. Spatial audio and active noise cancellation are supported, so you’ll be fully immersed in your music no matter the environment you find yourself in. And, the six hours of battery life with ANC on plus 18 additional hours with the compact charging case means these headphones are the perfect travel companion, as well. With on-device controls, you won’t need to worry about taking out your phone to change songs or answer calls, either. The earbuds even rock an Apple H1 chip for hands-free help from Siri.

Jabra Elite 7 Pro

Best Premium Wireless Earbuds

Elite 7 ProJabraElite 7 Pro

If you want a pair of wireless earbuds that offers it all – great sound, noise-cancellation, long battery life, and more – the Jabra Elite 7 Pro is it. These are some of the smallest earbuds on the market, but they pack an incredible audio punch you can tweak to your specific hearing profile. The noise-canceling is also excellent and they specifically do a fantastic job of drowning out the sound of engines or train wheels, making them perfect for commuters. On the flip side, the Jabra Elite 7 Pro has the most natural HearThrough mode we've ever heard, making it feel as if we weren't wearing earbuds at all and had naturally heightened hearing.

You get a decently long battery life of eight hours, but the real treat is the four extra charges in the case. Plus popping them into the case for five minutes gives you back an hour of charge. The case also works with Qi charging so juicing up the whole package is easy as plopping it onto a wireless charger. At $200, it's one of the more expensive wireless earbud options on your list, but it doesn't reach into the upper stratosphere of cost the way the Sony or Master & Dynamic options do.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)

Best Wireless Earbuds for iPhones

AirPods Pro AppleAirPods Pro

Apple’s second-generation AirPods Pro looks the same as its predecessor, but almost everything inside has been re-engineered and runs on the H2 chip to amp up performance. For starters, the active noise cancellation has improved at dampening sounds in your environment, while a new adaptive transparency mode does a solid job at minimizing louder sudden sounds like a plate breaking at a restaurant or a loud siren passing by. The audio on these earbuds is also more dynamic, bringing you a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience, though you still don’t get the support for higher-res audio files.

There’s plenty of other tech going on with these wireless earbuds, including Spatial Audio which uses head tracking to create a sound profile tailored to you. Apple also makes it easy to adjust the media you’re listening to on your iPhone with voice control using “hey, Siri” or tap controls on the earbuds that feature a new swipe functionality to adjust the volume. The AirPods offer good battery life, too, with up to six hours on the buds and another 24 hours in the MagSafe charging case, and that case even has tracking for those prone to misplacing it.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

Best Wireless Earbuds for Android Phones

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

Samsung has an upgrade for your ears with the Galaxy Buds 2. These step up from the Galaxy Buds+ and pull in some of the capabilities of the Galaxy Buds Pro. These are Samsung’s lightest-weight earbuds, making them extra comfortable for extended use. And you’ll certainly get extended use out of them, as the earbuds can run for 7.5 hours at a time or 5 hours with active noise cancelling on. With the battery case, you can get an extra 15 hours of runtime with ANC on.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 offer solid connectivity with your smartphone thanks to their use of Bluetooth 5.2. And, when you need to make a call, they can continue to use their microphones to cut down on background noise while using a dedicated Voice Pickup Unit to hear what you’re saying.

1More Evo

Best Audiophile-Grade Wireless Earbuds

1More Evo1More Evo

The fact that they're small doesn't mean earbuds are doomed to have poor sound quality, and the 1More Evo earbuds are a testament to that. These combine quality, well-balanced sound with some active noise-cancelling goodness, so you can really drown out your surroundings and enjoy your audio. Now, the four different modes of ANC won’t be as impressive as the Sony LinkBuds S, but you’re still eliminating some outside noise distractions. And if you need to hear the world around you, they also feature two handy transparency modes.

The 1More Evo earbuds offer an accurate, rich sound with crisp highs and deep bass using a combination of 10mm hybrid dynamic drivers and support for higher quality audio codecs. The result is a slightly heavier and bulkier earbud than most others on this list, but there are always tradeoffs for greatness. Beyond that, the earbuds can run for an impressive 8 hours, and the charging case can extend that by an extra 20 hours. And, if you have a wireless charger, it'll be easy to remember to keep the case topped up, as it supports Qi wireless charging.

OnePlus Buds Pro

Best AirPods Alternative

OnePlus Buds ProOnePlus Buds Pro

Picture Apple’s AirPods, but make them look and sound better. That’s what you’ll get with the OnePlus Buds Pro. These earbuds have a chic, minimalist aesthetic that’s accented with a classy metallic stem. And, where you’d have to upgrade to the AirPods Pro for many features, OnePlus offers them up at its $149 price.

The OnePlus Buds Pro feature 11mm dynamic drivers to pump out the audio coming in. And, with support for LHDC and AAC codec, you can get a high-quality audio signal, not to mention Dolby Atmos on top of that if you’re using a recent OnePlus flagship. The buds offer a seven-hour battery life with an extra 31 hours available in the charging case. That charging case also supports wireless charging, and the earbuds themselves support active noise cancellation.

Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus

Best High-End Wireless Earbuds

Master & Dynamic MW07 PlusMaster & Dynamic MW07 Plus

If you don't mind a bigger pair of earbuds for the sake of quality, then the Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus are for you. They've upgraded the original model with some serious improvements. For one thing, they now offer up a 10-hour battery life for the earbuds, which will get you through a long work day. And, with 30 hours of charge in the case, they're ready for the whole week. If you need extra time, the case can fully recharge in 40 minutes, and the earbuds can get up to five hours of playtime in just 15 minutes.

Android users will get a little extra out of these earbuds, as they support the aptX codec for higher-quality audio transmission. That'll help the 10mm Beryllium drivers really sing. For all the features and upgrades, the case for these earbuds actually managed to get a little bit smaller than its predecessor, making them better and more portable at the same time.

Apple AirPods (3rd Generation)

Best Basic Wireless Earbuds for iPhones

Apple AirPods (3rd Generation)Apple AirPods (3rd Generation)

Apple's AirPods are by far the easiest to use wireless earbud solution for iPhone users—they'll work with Android too. Your iPhone easily detects the AirPods making setup and listening a breeze. And with Apple’s latest third-gen iteration, you get a new design, better sound, and improved features. Plus, a bit more peace of mind comes with it thanks to the IPX4 rating, so the earbuds are ready to handle a little sweat or rain.

The newest AirPods feature shorter stems, similar to the AirPods Pro, though you don’t get the customizable ear tips like you do with its more expensive counterpart. Thus, these headphones fit loosely and lightly in your ear, which some love. This does mean you’re prone to outside noise distractions, but it also allows you to be more aware of your surroundings. Speaking of sound, the driver and amp have been redesigned, so you’ll find it has a richer more dynamic audio experience than its predecessors. Spatial audio and Adaptive EQ should further improve your listening experience. And, you get a little more listening time, with six hours of playback plus an additional 24 hours of juice from the case.

What to Look for In Wireless Earbuds

When shopping for a pair of wireless earbuds, there are a few things you should consider:

  1. The first is in regards to Bluetooth. It has improved dramatically with every iteration, however, Bluetooth still can't carry a strong signal through objects such as walls, people, or your own pants, which in turn leads to interference and the signal being dropped. The Bluetooth signal can also be scrambled by intense areas wireless signals you might encounter in the city. If the music, podcast, or video you're listening to starts cutting in and out, simply move your source (likely a smartphone or tablet) closer to your earbuds, and that should clear things up in most cases.
  2. The second thing you should look for is decent battery life, which in this case means six hours and above. Currently, eight hours or more is the high benchmark for the best battery life on wireless earbuds and 10 hours is the absolute best we've seen thus far. It might seem short, but unless you're flying on a cross-country or international flight, you probably won't be wearing your wireless earbuds for extremely long stretches of time.
  3. Planning to exercise with your wireless earbuds? Be sure to find something with at least some level of water-resistance. You'll typically see an IP rating attached to the specifications of any wireless earbuds you're looking at. Breaking down IP ratings, like IPX5 or IP55, is simple. The first number denotes how dust-resistant an object is while the later digit refers to how water-resistant a product is. Most wireless earbuds aren't rated for dust-resistance, so they'll have an IPX rating where you only have to focus on the last number.

For working out, you'll want to find something with at least an IPX4 that certifies protection from water splashes for at least 5 minutes. IPX6 gives you even better protection from splashing and rain. Once you reach IPX7, it means your wireless earbuds are safe to submerge if you decide to go swimming with them, just know they'll only survive in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes. Also, if you're taking them under underwater, be sure that the charging port is fully sealed shut.

Feel like we missed anything? Throw down your own suggestions for wireless earbuds in the comments below. We'll check them out and consider nominating them in our list.

Kevin Lee is IGN's Hardware and Roundups Editor. Follow him on Twitter @baggingspam

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