The best wireless earbuds offer high-end sound quality but also come laden with clever features like noise cancelling, extended hours of battery life and specially moulded silicon tips to make sure they stay put.
The best earbuds are also easy to carry and to wear, and have accurate and responsive controls. Having a great phone app to support your earwear is becoming an important factor too as this optimises the sound performance and features over time, and gives you detailed control of the audio performance.
Our list now includes both true wireless buds and the increasingly old-fashioned neckbuds which connect with a cable behind the head. Whatever your style, on this list you'll find a great pair of buds to suit you.
True wireless earbuds
Best true wireless earbuds
- Sony WF-1000XM4
- Sony WF-1000XM3
- Sennheiser Momentum TW 2
- Jabra Elite 85t
- Jabra Elite 75t
- Beats Studio Buds
- Apple AirPods Pro
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
- Beats PowerBeats Pro
- B&O Beoplay E8 2.0
- Sennheiser CX 400BT True Wireless
- Sony WF-SP800N
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
Sony is largely responsible for the rude health of the active noise-cancelling wireless 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, the new wireless earbuds offer enough quality-of-life features to make them worth upgrading to, even if they are more expensive.
While other 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 wireless earbuds you can buy today.
Read more: Sony WF-1000XM4 review
For nearly two years, the Sony WF-1000XM3 were best true wireless earbuds you could buy – until they were usurped by the WF-1000XM4.
However, the Sony WF-1000XM3 are still worth considering, not least because you can usually find them discounted to around $170 / £150 / AU$200.
The Sony WF-1000XM3 still manage to offer a level of noise-cancellation that's exceedingly good for a pair of earbuds, fist-pumping musicality, a sleek design, and a decent battery life.
Read more: Sony WF-1000XM3 review
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-1000XM3, particularly if you prefer a more flashy design to adorn your ears.
We did find that those with smaller ears sometimes find them a little uncomfortable, however, and their high price just stops them from taking the top spot of this round up.
Otherwise? Sennheiser has pretty much knocked it out of the park with these buds, offering great noise cancellation alongside smart looks and stunning sound.
Read more: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review
While they don’t quite cut it like their predecessors the Jabra Elite Active 75t buds do owing to a slightly bulkier design, the Elite 85t deliver impressive performance thanks to some great audio quality, effective noise cancellation and decent battery life.
Audio has been vastly improved 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. This, alongside even deeper bass, adds more depth to your favorite tunes.
Read the full review: Jabra Elite 85t review
[Update: The Jabra Elite 75t now have active noise cancellation thanks to a firmware update – which could make them a potential rival for the AirPods Pro, and a cheaper noise-cancelling alternative to the Elite 85t.]
The Jabra Elite 75t improve upon their predecessors, the Jabra Elite 65t, in just about every way – except for tonal balance.
The headphones and charging case are much smaller, battery life makes an immense jump, catching up to the competition, and the customization features we enjoyed in the 65t remain.
While they don't have the best sound quality and they lacks active noise cancellation, neither stops the Jabre Elite 75t from being a solid pair of true wireless earbuds to use, especially if you make frequent calls with your headphones on.
Read the full review: Jabra Elite 75t review
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. Chief among them is their lackluster call quality and lack of an H1 Wireless Chip. Battery life with either ANC or Transparency mode turned on is a little short at only five hours (15 hours with the case), and their noise cancellation isn’t exactly class-leading, either.
Saying that, they're cheaper than the AirPods Pro and their predecessors, the Powerbeats Pro, making them a more budget-friendly option if you want to buy a pair of Beats earbuds.
Read more: Beats Studio Buds review
Apple has launched its new true wireless earbuds, bringing active noise cancellation, a (finally) much better fit, and an improved design, in a bid to lure more iPhone users into the true wireless fold.
However, at $249 / £249 / AU$399, they’re pretty pricey too, and as such can’t be called the very best wireless headphones out there.
That said, if you’re an iPhone user looking for some well-fitting earbuds with strong sound quality, you could do a lot worse than the new AirPods - the redesign means they’re far less likely to fall out, 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 sound quality of the AirPods Pro has certainly improved since the previous iteration – there’s a notable emphasis on vocals and bass, meaning these earbuds are better for pop fans than those that enjoy a more natural presentation that lends itself to classical music or more orchestral sounds.
Apparently, there's a new AirPods model on the horizon to join the original buds and the newer Pros. The AirPods Pro Lite are rumored to be a new, cheaper variant of the company's popular true wireless earbuds, and they could be released this year.
Read more: Apple AirPods Pro review
The latest true wireless buds from Samsung are a big step up from the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live. These new Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro offer better sound and microphone quality with multipoint pairing and spatial audio support.
It's worth nothing that they don’t offer the same level of noise cancellation as over-ear headphones or the sound quality of some of the other high-end earbuds on this list, but for their price they offer just enough of both to be competitive and deserving of a place on our best wireless earbuds list.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review
The new PowerBeats Pro true wireless Beats headphones aren't exactly the earbuds analysts have been predicting, sure, but they are something special – they’re supremely comfortable, sound decent and seem to never, ever fall out.
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 are the buds we'd recommend to most workout enthusiasts.
That's thanks to features like the pressure-reducing micro-laser barometric venting hole, their long battery life and good sound quality. If we had to choose between wearing these and the original AirPods around the house or office, these are what we’d wear.
Read more: Beats PowerBeats Pro review
Let’s get one thing out of the way – the B&O Beoplay E8 are some of the best-looking and most expensive wireless earphones you can buy at $350 / £300 (around AU$570).
Audio quality is undeniably excellent, and you can tweak the sound to your liking using the accompanying Beoplay app on Android and iOS.
Even without tinkering around with ToneTouch, the E8 2.0s sounds crisp and clear, with punchy bass frequencies. So, the Bang & Olufsen E8 2.0 truly wireless earphones look great and sound great, although the touch-sensitive buttons are a little too sensitive at times, and there's no active noise cancellation.
However, it's hard to not find these earphones appealing, and if you want your true wireless earbuds to look as good as they sound, they could be the perfect model for you.
Read more: B&O Beoplay E8 2.0 Wireless Earphones review
Having established its credentials as a high-end true wireless earbud front-runner with two generations of its Momentum True Wireless, Sennheiser’s now turned its attention to the less rarefied area where Apple, Microsoft, Sony and all the rest duke it out. At £169 / $199 / AU$299, the CX400BT are pitched right into the thick of the action.
Happily, the CX400BT are specified to compete. They have aptX Bluetooth connectivity, with SBC and AAC codecs catered for too; they have app-based EQ adjustment; they have responsive touch-controls (which can be customized in the app); and they can be operated using Google Assistant or Siri.
Read more: Sennheiser CX 400BT review
Sony's latest true wireless earbuds, the Sony WF-SP800N, are a triple-threat. They’re IP55-rated to be sweatproof and dustproof, but they’re also pretty good for commuters because they have active noise cancellation built in – which is rare for a workout pair of earbuds – and work well for demanding music lovers thanks to their support for Sony’s new spatial audio format, 360 Reality Audio.
They can be a little uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time, however, and the bass is bit muddy for our liking – still, these true wireless earbuds are well worth a look.
Read more: Sony WF-SP800N review
Samsung's two previous true wireless offerings, the Icon X and the Galaxy Buds, fell short of expectations. While the sound was decent they suffered from connectivity issues and poor voice quality on calls. These upgraded buds are similar only in appearance, but has much better tech throughout.
They do look almost identical to the predecessor: a mid-sized bud with a snug fit thanks to the little wing which tucks into the folds of the ear. We found them extremely comfortable and secure. The audio setup is much improved, courtesy of Samsung subsidiary and audio specialist AKG. It's a dual driver design, does provide superior frequency separation and a good overall sound, but these could still use more bass.
Connectivity and voice issues seem to have been largely resolved and, together with the much improved sound and new iPhone compatibility, they earned a place on our list.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus
Wireless neckbuds vs true wireless: what's the difference?
True wireless earbuds have no cord whatsoever. Having two separate buds, one in each ear, is quickly becoming the new normal.
Wireless earbuds have been around since Bluetooth was invented. They have a cord connecting the left and right earbuds buds which usually lies on the back of neck, hence the more common name "neckbuds" to differentiate them from true wireless buds.
- Bowers & Wilkins Pi3
- Sennheiser CX Sport
- 1More E1001BT Triple Driver
- Beats X
- Bose QuietControl 30
- Beats Powerbeats
- 1More E1020BT Spearhead
The Bowers & Wilkins PI3 are the first neckband wireless earbuds for the company, and they're a great start. Well-designed, comfy, and simple to use, they sound really good, too.
Thanks to dual drivers, these buds sound fantastic, with crisp highs, lively mids, and plenty of powerful bass. Look past the fairly unremarkable battery life and limited features, and you'll be mostly very impressed by what these offer.
Read the full review: Bowers & Wilkins PI3 Wireless Headphones review
If the most important aspect of wireless earphones for you is the audio quality, these wireless earbuds from Sennheiser could be a fantastic choice.
With a lively, bass-heavy presentation, and a comfortable fit, the Sennheiser CX Sport wireless earphones are ideal running headphones, and can really bolster your workout through sound quality alone.
They have a battery life of six hours, which means they'll last you all day, whether you're wearing them on your commute or taking them out for a jog.
The wired triple driver buds from 1More hit the ball out of the park, and the Bluetooth version attempts to do the same. Using the exact same configuration of two balanced armature drivers and a single full range driver these develop the same wide soundstage and detail across all audio frequencies, with decent bass thump that's rarely achieved on earbuds.
Aside from the rousing audio performance these also look and feel like a quality product finished in metal with a soft rubber neckband and decent size buttons that are easy to master. Battery life tops out at around 6 hours, which is below average, but fortunately these recharge using USB-C so you won't need any extra cables.
The 1More Triple Driver BT looks classy and delivers sound far better than its price suggests, making them the ideal choice for audiophiles on a budget.
Read more: 1MORE Triple Driver BT
Beats haven't always gotten the best rap when it comes to audio performance, but the Beats X is trying to set the record straight. The Beats X hence make up for their slightly bassy, confined sound with a rock solid connection and a pairing process that, on iOS devices at least, is as painless as it's possible to be.
If you’re shopping for a no-fuss pair of Bluetooth earbuds that charge in 5 minutes, work well with iOS and don’t mind spending a little extra money on them, the Beats X are for you.
Read the full review: Beats X review
Life is full of compromises, and it's no different with the Bose QuietControl 30. On the positive side you get a level of noise cancellation that comes close to what's offered by the brand's over-ear headphones, but the concession here is on sound fidelity, which just isn’t on the same level as that of other wireless earbuds we've tested.
There's also that neckband which adds an unfortunate level of bulk to what should otherwise be a slimline pair of headphones.
Read the full review: Bose QuietControl 30 review
The new Powerbeats are a thoughtful evolution of Beats' wireless workout earbuds. They're missing a few niceties like active noise-reduction and may potentially feel less comfortable than some competitors, but by and large they're a decent cheap alternative to Apple’s higher-end in-ear headphones.
After spending some time with them, it's clear that the new Beats Powerbeats is a significant upgrade on the company's wireless workout earbuds, offering a sound quality lifted directly from the Beats Powerbeats Pro, an IPX4 rating and Apple’s H1 Wireless Chip that can summon Siri with the sound of your voice.
What we don't like about them is that the fit can be tough to get right and even slightly uncomfortable when you wear them for an extended period.
Read the full review: Beats Powerbeats review
We rate the 1More gaming E1020BT Spearhead as something of a sleeper hit. For one thing, while they work perfectly well as a gaming headset, when used for playing music they easily outperformed every other pair of Bluetooth neckbuds in this price range, making them our mid-range champions.
Dual drivers are made of titanium and graphene and deliver a balanced but exciting sound with a lot of toe tapping quality. They are made entirely of plastic but, rather than feeling cheap, they actually feel fantastically light and comfortable for all day use.
Wireless headphones vs true wireless earbuds: which design is best for you?