Top 3 True Wireless Earbuds 2020
We Tested the Best Earbuds in the U.S.
One of the most obvious refinements to earbuds has been the minimization, if not outright elimination, of wires—a good thing even if your phone still has a headset jack. Using Bluetooth, today’s top earbuds might have, at most, a wire that connects the two buds to each other—this can be a nice option if you’re prone to misplacing small objects, or you want in-line controls. A wired pair of Bluetooth earbuds is sometimes a more affordable option too, although that’s less so now than it was in the early days of “true wireless” options.
True wireless earbuds are just that, free of any wire whatsoever. Think of Apple’s AirPods as the standard bearer of this category. There are also plenty of AirPod alternatives—some more worthy than others.
Whether to go fully wireless is just one decision you have to make. Wireless earbuds vary on price, sometimes greatly, and capabilities—some might be better for audiophiles while others are better for sports.
Our team spent 16 days, and tested 28 popular pairs of wireless earbuds on the market. Our picks for best wireless earbuds cover all the bases, so you can easily find a pair that meets your particular combination of needs. Read our guide on what to look for in wireless earbuds below our recommendations.
Apple Airpods Pro
Best Earbuds Under $300
Great but pricy.
A Buyer's Guide - How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you
When you’re looking for a good pair of wireless earbuds, you need to start by figuring out what’s best for you. Do you live a lifestyle which is constantly on-the-go? Do you typically find yourself in situations where there’s a lot of background noise interfering with your ability to enjoy the soundtrack of your life?
As it turns out, there are wireless earbuds which might be able to help with both of those situations. First things first, though: What do we mean when we talk about ‘true wireless’ earbuds?
Wireless earbuds refer to Bluetooth-enabled earphones which don’t require a physical connection to the device playing your music. However, there are two main types of wireless earbuds: True wireless, and connected.
Connected wireless earbuds have a cable that string the two separate earpieces together. It’s nice to have a cohesive unit, sometimes, and it can help if you’re prone to losing small pieces.
True wireless earbuds, on the other hand, aren’t connected to anything—even each other. Each set of wireless earbuds comes with two pieces, one for each ear.
Features that you might want to keep an eye out for when selecting earbuds might include active or passive noise cancellation, long battery life, the type of AI assistant system a pair of earbuds might be primed to work with, or Bluetooth range. If you’ll be using your earbuds for exercise or in areas where environmental factors may be a concern, select a pair that are dust, water, or sweat-resistant.
Keep an eye out for the quality of the drivers in your earbuds, as well. Drivers are the way earbuds get the sound physically to you by driving the sound waves toward your ear canal. Their quality will have a huge effect on your listening experience. From electrostatic drivers to more innovative planar magnetic ones, each earbud needs a high-quality piece to produce good sound. Taking a look at the machinery (however minute) that makes up your earbuds is a great idea before you click ‘add to cart’.
Finally, you may be interested to know that not all earbuds come in utilitarian black or silver colours! Several of our favourite earbuds come in subtle, attractive colourways that make them as much a fashion accessory as an audio listening device.
Factors to Consider When Buying Bluetooth Earbuds
Deciding on one of the three common form factors—in-ear, on-ear, or over-ear—should be your first step. Generally, in-ear headphones are the most portable and convenient, over-ear headphones are the most comfortable, while on-ear headphones are somewhere in between. Check out our guide to the pros and cons of each form factor. Selecting a style of headphone comes down to many factors, including comfort, portability, and stylishness.
Do you want wireless headphones? A pair of Bluetooth headphones will let you unplug from your source device, while a set of “true wireless” earbuds are even more minimalist, offering totally wire-free listening. If you’re looking for an experience that won’t tether you to your phone, tablet, or laptop, Bluetooth headphones are what you need—and fortunately, they’re ubiquitous enough these days that you can find them in every style and price range.
- Active Noise Cancellation
Noise-canceling headphones, i.e those with active noise cancellation (ANC) aren’t just for frequent flyers. Originally developed for pilots, these headphones reduce the volume of ambient noise around you. Over the last several years they’ve become a mainstay for travelers, public transit commuters, gym-goers, and those working in distracting environments in the office or at home. If you already know you’re looking for noise-canceling headphones, check out the best ones we’ve tested.
- Transparency mode
This feature goes by many names, including hearthrough mode, ambient sound mode, etc. All of these phrases refer to the same technology, which uses tiny microphones on the exterior of your headphones or earbuds to filter in sound from your environment. The purpose is to keep you aware of your surroundings, letting you play tunes while you jog or hike, while still being conscious of dangers or alerts. Not all transparency mode is created equal, though, and how a headphone’s hardware and software handle things like wind gusts can make a serious difference in the feature’s utility.
Last but not least, this niche kind of over-ear headphone is a style that’s especially preferred by people mixing and mastering audio. Unlike traditional “closed-back” headphones, open-back headphones have, literally, open backs, allowing some of the sound to escape into the room around you (and vice versa). While these headphones are primarily meant for audio professionals and audiophiles, it’s worth knowing about them if only to decide if they’re something you want to consider.
It almost goes without saying that if you pay a premium for earbuds, they should sound spectacular. If a pair of headphones sound great and don’t cost much? Even better!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best sounding true wireless earbuds?
The best sounding true wireless earbuds need to feature audio codecs like AAC, SBC, aptX, etc. to maintain a high-quality sound reproduction. Check out the frequency response that also affects sound quality and define bass, treble and mids sounding.
What are the most comfortable wireless earbuds?
The most comfortable wireless earbuds should come with accessories that allow tailoring the ear size to the headset. Also, the comfort depends on the IPX water-resistance rating and the build of earbuds.
Do true wireless earbuds fall out?
True wireless earbuds may fall out if they do not provide a secure, tight seal inside the ear canal. Or, the build of the buds make them fall out during sudden movements.
What are the best wireless noise cancelling earbuds?
The best wireless noise cancelling earbuds may feature the passive or active noise cancelling technology. Each might work ideally for a specific activity. However, the most powerful one is considered the active noise cancellation.
Why Trust Us?
Even if you don’t know anything about wireless earbuds, you can still make a smart buying decision with the right information in hand. At Body Winning, we perform extensive research in every product category. To avoid bias, we always decline offers from manufacturers for “free” samples. We want to be your go-to source for honest, thorough product reviews you can trust.