We’ve tested more than 250 sets of Bluetooth earbuds to date, so we can’t list every competitor here in this earbud review—but we do keep notes. If you’re curious about a specific pair, feel free to reach out to our team with questions. Also, for gym headphones, be sure to check out our guide to the best workout headphones, as we discuss a lot more sport-specific models there. For noise-cancelling earbuds, look to our guide to the best noise-cancelling headphones, in which we focus on the ANC feature. And if you’re budget-conscious, try our guide to the best earbuds under $50, in which we help you avoid wasting your money on junk.
1More’s Colorbuds are small and should fit most ears, and we liked the tiny charging case. However, the only controls are play/pause and call answer/end. The sound profile is just okay, as the high frequencies have a sibilant edge that could use some lower-end oomph to balance them out. At the original asking price of $100, we would have liked to see more features, especially considering the Skullcandy Sesh Evo’s capabilities.
1More’s Piston Buds have very simple and limited controls (only play/pause and digital assistant activation) so everything else will need to be controlled by your device. The sound quality is marred by bass notes that are very blurry, causing everything else to sound muffled and dull. Even vocals sound like they were recorded too close to the microphone. In addition, the earbuds themselves don’t seem to power down without the case, which could be an issue since this pair only has 3.5 hours of life per charge. The microphones sound clear enough, but can’t handle wind noise.
Amazon’s Echo Buds earbuds will appeal to folks who primarily rely on the Amazon ecosystem. When they’re connected to your phone, the Echo Buds’ always-listening Alexa function makes them an Echo device you can wear. They are small and comfortable to wear, the sound quality is good, the controls are easy to use, and the price is reasonable. You can use each bud independently, and music pauses automatically when you remove one or both earbuds. They get a respectable 5 hours of battery life when fully charged, and the case provides an additional 15 hours of playback. The downsides are that you must leave the Alexa app open on your phone for Alexa to function, and the earbuds lack physical volume controls. The Bose noise reduction will diminish the low hum of an air conditioner or plane, but it isn’t as powerful as the noise cancellation you get with the Bose 700 headphones on the highest setting.
The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 has stems that, depending on your face shape, can press against your cheek. The sound quality wasn’t our favorite, either, as the high frequencies had an unnatural feel that caused snare hits to sound like a click rather than a rounded snap.
The Apple AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds are a major step up over the basic AirPods, in both sound quality and versatility. However, a good number of folks have experienced rattling in one or both earbuds. From what we’ve seen, Apple is responding to these issues with prompt replacements of the earbuds themselves, but it’s still a bummer. (We contacted Apple but did not receive a response as to what is causing the problem) Although the AirPods Pro earbuds are good for Apple fans, they may not be worth the price for everyone else. While better than the basic AirPods in sound quality, the Pros are equaled by less-expensive options like the Jabra Elite 75t. The active noise cancellation is decent, but it may cause “eardrum suck” for some people (you can read more about this phenomenon in our best noise-cancelling headphones guide). With battery life of four and a half hours, they won’t last a cross-country flight or a full workday without a charging break. The Pro earbuds are water resistant, but the design is far less secure for high-impact activities than that of the Powerbeats Pro and less durable than that of the IP55-rated Jabra Elite 75t. While we like that Apple did away with the tap-based controls, the squeeze controls are fiddly (we often play/paused when we wanted to skip tracks) and still lack volume controls (which both the Jabra Elite 75t and Powerbeats Pro have). In the end, we don’t dislike the AirPods Pro; we just like using other earbuds a little better.
The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC300TW true wireless pair does a decent job of reducing noise, but the larger shape of the earbud chassis and the lack of stabilizing wings may cause a fit challenge for folks with more petite ears, despite the inclusion of four sizes of silicone tips and one pair of Comply tips. The buttons are easy to use for track and volume control, though we couldn’t suss out how to activate a digital assistant, and there was no mention of it in the manual. Sound-wise, the forward bass and spiked treble make drums sound unnatural, as though the impact and resonant aspects are disconnected. And for sensitive listeners, consonants can become fatiguing over longer listening sessions. None of these downfalls make the 300TW bad, but given their initial asking price of $230, we didn’t feel the performance matched the more premium cost.
The Audio-Technica ATH-CK3TWBK earbuds have extra bass and boosted highs. It doesn’t sound natural, and our panel found the lows to be a bit too loud in the mix, occasionally blurring male vocals on bass-intense tracks. We also noticed a spike in the highs that could make piano sound a bit tinny and harsh. That said, if you’re a fan of the ATH-50x sound, you’ll like these. Our panelists found the fit comfortable and the controls easy to use, but we wish the microphones didn’t pick up so much external noise during phone calls.
While the design of the true wireless Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TW is comfortable and easy to use, that’s where the compliments for this pair end. When playing bass-intense tunes, the amount of bass borders on ridiculous—way too much for us to find these enjoyable.
We found the Aukey EP-B33 earbuds comfortable to wear. Though they have three sound profiles to choose from, the options range from a bit too bass-heavy (which leads to dull-sounding male vocals) to a bit too much of a spike in the highs (so vocals have a sibilant, lispy quality). None of the options are terrible, however. These earbuds are a solid choice, especially if you can find them for $60 or less. They just aren’t quite as fantastic to use as our picks.
The Aukey Key Series T10 has several small flaws that add up to a dismissal. The case is really big, and getting the buds in and out is tricky. In our tests, this pair had a spike in the highs, so “s” sounds were piercing, and every word with that sound in it stuck out terribly and uncomfortably. And the T10 doesn’t have the ability to power off without the case, so if you leave the case somewhere, you have to let the earbuds sit idle for five minutes to power off.
The Beats Powerbeats (2020 release) is a solid pair of earbuds for Apple or Beats fans who aren’t into the true wireless style. It’s easy to get a comfortable fit because the over-the-ear hooks are flexible and hold their shape, plus Beats includes four sizes of silicone tips. The traditional design isn’t as freeing to wear as true wireless earbuds, but the cable connecting the earbuds is remarkably good at avoiding noise transfer. The Powerbeats pair offers 15 hours of battery life per full charge, and five minutes of charging provides you with an hour of listening time. The sound is a little bass-heavy for our taste, and on bass-intense hip-hop, male vocals can sound a little recessed, though not completely lost. They’re IPX4-rated, but we’d still exercise caution using them at the gym if you’re someone who sweats profusely. We liked them overall, but for a little more money, you could get the feature-packed Jabra Elite 75t instead.
We like the fit, the durable IP57 rating, and the easy-to-use controls on Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay E8 Sport. The sound quality is somewhat over-boosted in the bass and highs, which means cymbal and snare hits can become fatiguing for sensitive listeners and the bass will seem louder than usual. The hear-through feature sounds sibilant and distractingly unnatural, so it wasn’t something we’d leave on for situational awareness—but for a brief conversation, it’s fine. Over phone calls, voices can sound a bit tinny to callers, and the mic picks up sounds around you. Overall the flaws aren’t massive, but for $350 we expect better performance than our top pick, which costs half as much.
B&O had a lot of good ideas for the Beoplay E8, but the execution on all of them was off. The touch controls and transparency mode didn’t work well for us, and none of the EQ settings made the sound quality fantastic. At best, we got metallic, sibilant highs and a shallow soundstage that didn’t come close to what we expect from a $300 set of headphones. The Motion version costs $350 and has the same sound but adds water resistance and stabilizer wings.
Bose’s QuietControl 30 offers excellent noise cancellation and is clearly built to last, but if noise reduction isn’t your top priority, you’ll likely be better served by other options. In our tests, the sound quality was good but a little dull. You can’t use a cord to listen, so if you fly a lot and use in-flight entertainment, you’re out of luck.
With the Bowers & Wilkins PI3, the high frequencies can be icy and fatiguing, and the lows are loud and bloated. With so much competition, the PI3 just didn’t make the cut.
Although the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 pair sounded good and came with a neat optional silicone carry sleeve for the charging case, we had difficulty getting the tips to seal, and the control buttons clicked loudly in our ears when we pressed them. The Melomania 1 also produced a noticeable latency delay that made watching videos on a device less enjoyable.
The Cleer Ally has no track or volume controls, and in our tests this set produced blurry and smeared lows that were a little too soft in the mix, so it lost some of the oomph in basslines. Plus, people with larger ear canals may have trouble getting the tips to fit properly.
The Cleer Ally Plus has solid active noise cancellation and an impressive 10-hour battery life, but the design and fit make these difficult to keep in place for larger and smaller ear canals. The sound quality is decent, but not perfect—a little bloated in the bass, with a somewhat lispy aspect to consonants. The Plus also lacks track controls. If you want true wireless for long-haul flights and find that most earbuds fit you easily, the Plus will probably work for you. But folks with trickier-to-fit ears may want to look at other options.
EarFun’s Air earbuds have small stems similar to the AirPods Pro design. Our panelists who generally choose large ear tips had trouble getting a seal with this pair because the stem prevented the earbuds from seating deeply enough into the ear canal. When the pieces were properly fitted, the sound quality was quite good for the price, with just a little too much energy in the consonant and cymbal range of high frequencies, which could make high-hat hits sound tinny. We also missed having a control to go back a track, especially since the Air has a track-skip function.
Google’s Pixel Buds 2 earbuds are to Pixels what AirPods are to iPhones. If you’re an operating-system purist, it is nice to have the easy setup with your Pixel phone—but beyond that, these earbuds are middle-of-the-road. Though the buds themselves fit comfortably, the supplied tips are rather small, and two of our panelists needed to use third-party tips to get a seal. The sound quality is balanced once you get the proper fit, but the “vented” design means that there isn’t much isolation from noise around you. The touch controls are easy to use, but we found ourselves inadvertently triggering music when trying to get them initially positioned in the ear. If you’re a Google fan, you’ll likely be happy with these, but there really isn’t any other reason to get them.
Folks with smaller ears may have a tough time with the Grado GT220. The sound tubes are rather long and sit deeper in your ear canal than most other earbuds, which some folks may find uncomfortable and others may find hard to keep in place. If you can get the GT220 to stay in place, they have great sonic separation, so despite the purposefully boosted bass and high frequencies, there isn’t any muddying or muffling. There is, however, an icy-to-sibilant edge to higher frequencies that emphasizes piano key depression sounds, the letter S, and the stick-click aspect of drum hits. For the most part, the touch controls work properly, though they can be inadvertently activated when you adjust the buds in your ears.
Harman Kardon’s Fly BT earbuds feature a more bass-emphasized version of the Harman curve, so they don’t sound neutral, but they do sound very fun. Unlike with many cheap earbuds, the bass has pitch (even on very low notes) and doesn’t boom or blur. The highs have a small spike in the consonant range of frequencies that can leave the midrange sounding a touch recessed, but also helps to balance the intensified lows. Overall, we really enjoyed listening to hip-hop and electronic music on these. The trouble is that the large earbuds have no wings or hooks for stability, which means people with medium or small ears may have trouble getting a secure fit. The fabric-wrapped cable can transfer some movement noise as it rubs on your shirt when you turn your head, and the 8-hour battery life is middling, especially for non-true-wireless earbuds.
Harman Kardon’s Fly TWS true wireless earbuds sound great but are hampered by a large earbud size and a buggy app. Out of the box, the Fly TWS has extra bass and highs that sound like a hyped Harman curve. However, we can’t complain about the sound, as the drivers are of quality, and the tuning can be adjusted with the app. The issues we had were with larger earbuds that didn’t fit our medium or small panelists securely, controls that aren’t very intuitive, and a hear-through feature that is so quiet, it’s largely useless. The included app crashed several times during our testing process, which didn’t help matters. Though it could be fixed with updates, the app is a downside worth considering, as it’s necessary to get the full functionality of the Fly TWS.
The Happy Plugs Air 1 Plus earbuds have touch controls that are easy to set off when you adjust the earbuds in your ear, as well as a lackluster sound quality. Shushing highs and boomy bloated lows don’t flatter any recordings.
The Helm Audio True Wireless 5.0 had a bloated, smeared bass range that overwhelmed male vocals in our tests, and its control buttons jammed the earbuds uncomfortably into our ears when we pressed them.
HiFiMan’s TWS800 earbuds come with eight pairs of tips, but the earbuds themselves are so large that many ears will struggle to keep them in place for long periods of time. The looks are certainly impressive, with the metal case and earbuds, but the bass response is decidedly less impressive. Mids and highs sound pretty great, but the reduced presence of low frequencies cause hip-hop, rock, and jazz music to sound unsupported.
House of Marley’s Champion earbuds are admirably packaged in and made with more-sustainable materials than other earbuds use. However, we were disappointed that only two pairs of eartips were included, and folks with larger ear canals may have a tough time getting a seal. Additionally, the sound quality has diminished bass with highs that sound unpleasantly sizzly in a way that makes cymbals sound like jingle bells.
The House of Marley Liberate Air 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.
A former top pick, the Jabra Elite 65t is still a fantastic choice, with solid audio quality, full volume and track controls, a five-hour battery life per charge (with 10 additional hours when you include the case), and very clear phone calls. However, the Elite 75t ups the ante with longer battery life per charge, a smaller form, simpler controls, better microphone wind-noise cancellation, and a slightly smaller charge case.
The JBL Live 300TWS earbuds sound pretty great, but have a fit that likely won’t work for most people. The sound tubes (the pipe-like part that aims the sound and the silicone tips slip onto) penetrate surprisingly deep into the ear canal and are wide at the base. As a result, half of our panel found the 300TWS very uncomfortable. These are best suited to larger ears. If they fit you, the tap-based controls work well, and the sound, while a touch sizzly on the highs, is largely balanced and pleasant to listen to.
While the JLab JBuds Air Executive isn’t as good as the Jabra Elite 75t or the Beats Powerbeats Pro, it 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 top picks, the sound was somewhat blurry in the lower ranges, the “hear through” option 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.
Everything about the JLab JBuds Air Icon is fantastic except the sound. These earbuds pair easily, fit comfortably, and have an intelligently designed charging case with a USB cable built in. They’re water and sweat resistant, too. But even with three EQ options, they can’t compete with our picks sonically. In our tests, the “balanced” mode produced soft and blurry bass and sibilant highs, the “bass boost” option was crazy-loud and reverby in a way that obliterated every other instrument, and the “signature” mode had bloated, woofing bass that covered male voices. If you listen only to podcasts, these earbuds are excellent, but music fans would likely be disappointed.
We love that the Klipsch T5 II comes with six sets of earbud tips, which makes it very easy to find a pair that will seal. Unfortunately, unlike the sport version of the T5 II, these don’t have any sort of stabilizing wings, so the larger earbud chassis may not feel as secure in your ears. (We didn’t have issues wherein the T5 II fell out while we were stationary, but we’d keep a hand on them if we had to break into a jog to catch a bus.) The controls are triggered by large buttons on both earbuds, which require a bit of force to depress so they can smoosh the earbuds into your ear canals more than we’d like. As a result, we found ourselves using phone controls rather than those on the earbuds. Like a lot of the earbuds we’ve tested, these have a peaked high- and boosted low-frequency spike that some folks may like, but we found it to be a bit too hyped.
The Lypertek Tevi earbuds were praised by TechRadar and for good reason—they’re solid earbuds for under $80. The sound is quite balanced, with restrained bass. The highs can add a twang to piano and a harsh edge to cymbals, but for the price, that’s forgivable. The fit should be comfortable on medium-to-large ears, though the shape of the chassis may cause smaller-eared folks to struggle to keep these in place. What kept these from being a pick are the controls that mash the buds uncomfortably into the ear. When you need to triple press to change tracks, it can become annoying enough that you want to avoid using the buttons at all.
The LinearFlux HyperSonic are small earbuds that feel secure thanks to their rubberized fins. The sound is average, with a somewhat overzealous amount of bass and highs that sound mildly undefined and scratchy. The control buttons take a good amount of force to activate and can mash into your ears uncomfortably, and the case clamps shut in a way that is challenging to pry open. The mic quality was not up to par, either: Our callers said we sounded quiet and distant, as though we were talking through a speakerphone across the room.
At an original price of $300, the Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus is one of the priciest pairs of true wireless earbuds available. Although these earbuds feel very well built, they have some flaws that we might be more inclined to overlook in less-expensive options. The ANC is minimally effective. The metal case, while pretty, is heavy in a pocket. And although the drivers sound like they are of high quality, the tuning is just a little too boosted in the lows and highs. Those drawbacks don’t make the MW07 Plus a bad pair of earbuds, but they may make it not worth the price tag.
The Monolith by Monoprice M-TWE features a clever EQ program by Sonarworks that uses both a hearing test and sound-preference quiz to adapt the sound to your personal needs and likes. Though we recommend getting your hearing evaluated by a professional to avoid any risk of hearing damage, this program is as good as we’ve seen at helping you find your EQ needs without guesswork. The downside is that, despite getting 0 dB of hearing adjustment and a sonic preference profile of “I-Type: balanced across all the spectrum,” I still found that the bass was a bit too boosted into the upper lows and the 5-6 kHz range was a bit forward, adding a sizzly quality to the highs. It’s not by any means bad, but after spending so much time taking quizzes and tests trying to get the sound to be perfect, it was a bummer to end up with results that still wanted to tweak a bit—and at present, it isn’t possible to adjust them manually. Aside from the sound, the swipe/touch controls work well enough, but the up and down for volume may cause the earbuds to move in your ears a smidge, and there are no track controls.
The Monoprice True Wireless Plus Earphones (38542) are fine but a bit overpriced for what they give you. We found that the controls caused the earbuds to push into our ears a bit, which made the multi-click controls annoying to use. Male vocals got somewhat veiled by the bloated bass, and high frequencies had a shushing quality rather than crispness, but the effect was not the worst we’d heard. Overall, this pair isn’t bad, but we’d like to see it cost under $50.
Oddict’s Twig earbuds look really sleek and modern but don’t feel like they’ll stay in place. Although you can adjust the EQ via the ODDICT app, the drivers have to aim directly at your ear canal to get the best clarity and bass response. This is problematic because the tap-based controls can cause the sound tubes to be misaligned with your ear canal. Unfortunately, the app’s target-like EQ adjustment tool blurs the male vocal range when you bring the bass up to compensate or reduces the bass when you try to add extra detail on top.
For those who use non-OnePlus phones, the OnePlus Buds are not worth considering. The only controls are call answer and track skip. You can swap controls if you have a OnePlus phone, but there are so many other inexpensive earbuds that allow full controls for a similar price. The unsealed design ensures that you won’t get enough bass in your music, and your tunes will be competing against outside noise if you’re in a busy location. These earbuds are comfortable to wear but lacking in the features we’d like to see in a pick.
Panasonic’s RZ-S300W earbuds pair quickly and will fit most ears comfortably. But they have touch-based controls that can be a little fussy, and a sound quality that muffles male vocals, gives cymbal crashes a tinny feel, and adds a twang to piano notes. The environmental-awareness feature sounds as if you were listening to the world with seashells over your ears.
The Poly (formerly Plantronics) BackBeat Go 410 reduces a decent amount of noise, sounds pretty good, and fits comfortably. The flexible collar that connects the two earbuds is lightweight and comfortable, and it folds up easily into the included pocket-sized bag. The rated eight-hour battery life with noise cancelling activated (10 hours with ANC off) isn’t as long as we’d like, but it will get you through a long flight or a full workday. Unlike the vast majority of Bluetooth earbuds, the BackBeat Go 410 also supports a wired connection to your device (the charging cable doubles as a wired ⅛-inch jack), so you can keep using these earbuds when the battery runs out. However, the active noise cancellation won’t work when you’re using them in wired mode.
In our tests, the Poly (formerly Plantronics) BackBeat Pro 5100 sounded bass-heavy with shushing highs. The midrange felt distant and blurry. The result wasn’t bad, just lacking in clarity and detail. The tap-based touch controls have a lot of configuration options, but we wish we didn’t have to sacrifice volume controls to get them.
Raycon’s newest earbuds, the E25 Pro, is the updated version of the company’s Everyday E25 earbuds, adding Qi charging to the case and a new sound profile. While the E25 Pro sounds more balanced between the highs and lows, the bass notes have a smeared quality, so the bass guitar range (and lower) has a tendency to sound as though one note blurs into another. Acoustic guitar and vocals sound quite good, however. Over phone calls, the microphone reduces some background noise, but the sound quality is unnaturally digitized and clipped. The E25 Pro is rated IPX6, but the included manual says to avoid rain, so we’d urge caution in wet conditions, just in case you need to make a warranty claim. The claimed 6-hour battery life is respectable, especially considering that the earbuds themselves are very tiny. And most folks should be able to get a good fit. Overall, these are decent earbuds for $80, but they lack the features of our top pick and the affordability of our budget pick.
Raycon’s Performer E55 true wireless earbuds are a fantastic first offering from a new company. The design is very well done, with comfortably small buds and a tiny attractive charge case. However, in our tests, the control buttons clicked loudly in our ears, the bass frequencies muffled male vocals, and the uneven high frequencies lent a shushing quality to the consonants. The sound quality made us want to turn the volume up to hear the vocals more clearly, but instead we got more kick drum. The microphones are functional for call quality but nothing special. Overall, the Performer E55 is a decent enough pair of earbuds if you’re set on the looks, but they are outshone by other earbuds in a very competitive field.
Gamers may love that the Razer Hammerhead True Wireless 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.
The RHA True Connect 2 earbuds feature IP55 water resistance, a 9-hour battery life, and an impressive three-year warranty. The myriad of included tips will get most ears a solid seal, but the shape of the earbuds themselves can make the Connect 2 feel less than secure. The tap controls work well enough, but the sound of multiple taps “thup thup thupping” in your ear canal can be somewhat annoying. This pair’s biggest bummer was its subdued bass and peaked highs that made drum hits have a clicking edge and emphasized the hiss of room noise in recordings.
The RHA T20 Wireless comes with tiny little screw-on filters that allow you to change the sound. This was a neat idea for analog headphones, but with digital EQ available, it seems silly, especially when the filters are so easy to lose. All of the choices had some flaws in the sonic balance in our tests. And then there’s the build: The remote has a metal panel, so it is a little heavy and can tug on the cable. The earbuds are detachable, but when you pull them off, the connectors can stick and lead to the cable ripping loose.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ features an impressive 11-hour battery life. We also love that this pair sounds great right out of the box. However, the touch controls are easy to accidentally trigger when adjusting the buds in your ears, and you need to choose between volume and ambient/digital assistant activation. Overall, if you need earbuds that are native to Samsung devices, the Buds+ is an okay choice, but we didn’t find that the added features were enough to outweigh the downsides.
Sennheiser’s CX 400BT 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. The sound profile is, like much of Sennheiser’s offerings lately, spiked in the high frequencies in a way that adds an intense sibilant quality to consonants. We found this fatiguing over time. Although the Sennheiser MySound app offers EQ, it’s very clunky to use and doesn’t address the problems effectively. The touch controls work well enough, but you must tap slowly and deliberately.
If you like extra bass, the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless has it, along with easy-to-use touch controls. But the earbud chassis is pretty big, so small or medium-size ears may feel overstuffed, and there’s no water resistance. In our tests, consonants sounded especially sibilant, piercing, and artificial, and the EQ on the app was clumsy and confusing to use.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 features the signature Sennheiser sound: mildly boosted bass with more intense and slightly sibilant highs that (over)emphasize consonants. The controls handle everything you expect in traditional Bluetooth earbuds, and while they aren’t immediately intuitive, with some practice, they’re easy enough to use. However, these earbuds aren’t worth the extra cost if active noise cancellation is your most important feature, as the reduction is mild at best.
The Shure Aonic 215 is an interesting blend of in-ear monitors and a true wireless Bluetooth adapter. If you are a fan of the wired 215, you may like these. The adapter can be used with other in-ear monitors that detach from their cables and have a similar MMCX connection. The 215 has a bit of a dip in the mids, so our panelists found themselves turning up the volume to hear male vocals, only to have the highs be too loud. In less expensive earbuds, this wouldn’t be a concern, but the 215 costs $230. The adapters sell separately for $180, but the charge case is very large (the circumference of a jar of pasta sauce), and the buttons don’t control tracks or volume.
Skullcandy’s Indy Fuel and Indy Evo are the same earbuds with one key exception—the Fuel’s case offers wireless charging. Despite having a stem, the Indy earbuds stay in your ears well thanks to optional stabilizing wings. Like almost all touch controls, you can accidentally trigger an action when putting the earbuds in. But once in place, the controls work well enough. The sound is perfectly acceptable for the price, with a little blurriness to the bass and some coarseness to the highs. One major flaw is that the wings, which some people may need to keep the Indy securely in their ears, makes the charge case nearly impossible to close fully.
The Skullcandy Push doesn’t come with large ear tips and wouldn’t seal for half of our panel. If you can get a seal, the Push earbuds are comfortable and seem to stay put in the ear well enough. However, the single-button controls are based on a series of taps, so it can be easy to accidentally pause when you want to change volume, for example, or to power down when you want to call up your digital assistant.
Our former budget pick, Skullcandy’s Sesh, is a great option for the budget-conscious person who wants a true wireless experience. They’ve been replaced in this guide by the new Sesh Evo, but we still recommend these in our best earbuds under $50 guide.
The Sol Republic Amps Air 2.0 has no ability to change tracks or volume, and the big physical buttons require you to jam the earbuds into your ears to press them. Sibilant highs mean “s” sounds have a whistling quality.
The Sol Republic Shadow Fusion has an attractive neckband that lies nicely on the neck and has easy-to-feel controls. However, in our tests the sound quality had a boomy, thudding bass and coarse highs.
Sony’s WF-1000XM3 true wireless earbuds sound quite good, but that’s where our praise ends. We found the pieces large and fatiguing to wear, and the active noise cancellation was barely effective. The controls are limited, too, and this set isn’t even a little water resistant—which is a problem if one of these pricey true wireless earbuds falls out of your ear and into a puddle.
Sony’s WF-SP800N true wireless earbuds have an impressive 9-hour battery life, but the earbud size is large and can feel a bit unstable, especially if you plan to wear them for their intended use: while working out. Although the controls are customizable, you can have only two button actions activated at one time, so you’re forced to choose among volume, track controls, digital-assistant activation, and ANC on/off. The sound out of the box is quite good and the noise cancelling is useful for reducing loud fan-like noises, but the interface and fit were enough to give us pause in making this pair a pick.
Soul’s ST-XX has a super-small case, but it’s made of a brittle-feeling plastic. The lid creaks, and it feels as though it could break easily. The controls lack the ability to adjust volume or go back a track. The sound quality is middling, with a coarseness to female vocals and consonants that compromises some details. Plus, the lows have a smeared quality, so basslines lack distinct attack and decay of individual notes. Microphone call quality is a little compressed, but clear enough to be understood.
If your phone runs out of power, the case for the Soul Sync Pro can double as a phone charger. That added battery also increases the size and weight—you may not be able to fit this case in your pants pocket. The sound quality on this pair is reminiscent of early models of Beats, with a bass that’s bloated and a bit too boosted. The touch controls can be a bit fussy, and they lack volume and track-reverse abilities, but the dual microphones will pick up your voice well enough. Overall, these don’t offer anything special over other similarly priced earbuds.
TaoTronics’ SoundLiberty 80 earbuds are a great option if you loved the original AirPods but didn’t want to pay the hefty price tag to replace them. The 80 has more bass than the original AirPods and also have swipe-based volume controls, which the original AirPods lack. However, like the AirPods, they feel unstable in the ears and the microphone, while good at reducing some background noise, can’t handle wind noise. The 80 has voice-activated controls, but rather than listening for your digital assistant wake word, you must say “Hey, TT” and one of a handful of actions (“volume up,” for example). The look can best be described as “80s-futuristic earrings,” which may be a good or bad thing, depending on your personal fashion sense.
The TaoTronics SoundLiberty 88 earbuds look and fit like first-generation AirPods, but unlike the original AirPods, they have volume controls, a USB-C charging port, and IPX8 waterproofing. The tap controls take some practice to get right—you have to double/triple tap slower than you think. There isn’t much bass to the sound, partly because of the unsealed design and partly because of the tuning, which can get piercingly sibilant at higher volumes. While we wouldn’t recommend these for music, if you are looking for something inexpensive and AirPods-like for podcast listening, these are fine.
We had a tough time getting the TCL SOCL500TWS to pair, then found that the buttons caused the earbuds to smash painfully into our ears when depressed. While the colors are fun, we found that using this pair was not.
Tranya’s Rimor earbuds are better suited to medium-size and larger ear canals, as the shape is a bit too much on the bulky side to be stable in diminutive ears. For the price, the sound quality was acceptable to us, but the balance definitely leaned to the bass side and lost some crispness and detail in the highs. The tap-based controls can be fussy, and the mic quality sounds pretty compressed and muffled.
The Ultimate Ears UE Fits 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, when we slightly boosted at 3.5 kHz and the bass frequencies, we heard some distortion. It’s not a dealbreaker, as the Fits sound good without the adjustments, but we found it frustrating that we couldn’t dial the sound in 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.
The UrbanEars Luma earbuds look like colorful versions of the original AirPods. Unsurprisingly, the unsealed design means that they offer very little bass, and your music is prone to competing with noises around you. The tap-based controls were very fussy in our tests; every time we tapped, we needed several tries to get the action we desired. These earbuds are lightweight, but they don’t feel especially stable in the ear. The microphones are pretty clear, but we aren’t sure that makes the Luma pair worth their original $100 asking price.