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Ranking the Best Wireless Earbuds of 2020

Wireless earbuds allow you to listen to music, stream your favorite show, or talk on the phone wherever you find yourself. They’re lightweight, compact, and comfortable enough to wear all day without issue. Even better, battery life and sound quality have shot through the roof over the last several years.

Our list below includes the very best wireless earbuds you can find, encompassing both top-of-the-line models and some tremendous value-priced options.

Rankings 

1. Sony WF-1000XM3

Sony WF-1000XM3

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The Sony WF-1000XM3 are active noise canceling wireless earbuds from one of the biggest names in the consumer electronics world. They were designed from the ground up to be the best and most comfortable earbuds on the market, and there’s an excellent argument to be made that they succeeded.

Why we like it: High-quality in every aspect, there’s no other way to describe the WF-1000XM3’s than as high-end earbuds that include all the very best features you could ask for in a comfortable and easy to wear package. These are the earbuds for the well-heeled traveler or audiophile willing to splurge on the best.

Flaws: Effectively no water/sweat resistance. These aren’t the earbuds to wear if you’re planning to run a marathon or walk in a rainstorm.

2. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

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The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 is an improved version of Sennheiser’s original wireless earbuds. They’re a premium earbud from a company well known for making some of the very best (and most expensive) HiFi audio equipment in the world. This version keeps everything that was great in the original Momentum True Wireless and adds on longer battery life and active noise cancellation.

Why we like it: Hands down the best audio quality you’ll find in a wireless earbud. Everything about them oozes quality, from the soft finish on the charging case to the velvety smooth yet secure fit in your ear.

Flaws: The touch controls are bafflingly difficult as laid out. We’ve tried a lot of different control schemes and found few that come out of the box in such an awkward configuration. Thankfully you can customize the controls through the app, but it’s an annoying first impression.

3. Jabra Elite Active 75T

Jabra Elite Active 75T

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The Jabra Elite Active 75T is the newest version of the company’s popular wireless earbuds. Its predecessor, the Elite Active 65T, was widely considered one of the best all-around earbuds of the last generation and by all indications, the 75T has built on that success. The active version of the earbuds is slightly more expensive but offers more effective water resistance.

Why we like it: Just about the best sport-focused and general use wireless earbuds you can find. They’re robust, offer a long battery life, are comfortable to wear for longer periods, and provide sound quality most wouldn’t expect from a sport-focused offering.

Flaws: It lacks ear fins or similar stabilization options for high-intensity exercise. We had no problems with the earbuds falling out but can see how someone going full tilt while running or cycling may have a different experience.

4. Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro

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The Apple AirPods Pro are the latest in a highly-sought after line of stylish wireless earbuds. They offer features like active noise cancellation not seen on many other wireless earbuds. Even better, they’re a true generalist earbud with good music, streaming, and chat settings.

Why we like it: The perfect combination of the iconic Apple style with features and functionality you used to only be able to get from major audio companies. The AirPods Pro offers some really nice features, especially when paired with a high-end iPhone.

Flaws: Very expensive, especially when you compare their feature-set to those of other top-of-the-line earbuds.

5. Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

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Cambridge Audio is a name any audiophile will recognize instantly. They’re well known for their high-end studio equipment and other audio products, including premium headphones. Melomania 1 is their first-ever wireless earbud and incorporates some unique components and features that help it stand out from the pack.

Why we like it: The Melomania 1 offers some of the best battery performance and sound quality for a fraction of competitors’ prices. The audio quality is shockingly clear and vibrant for something at this price point, and the tech behind it is nothing to sneer at.

Flaws: The shape and size of the ear tips don’t work for everyone. Of all the earbuds we tried out, these were the most polarizing, with some people loving the fit and others finding them instantly uncomfortable.

6. Samsung Galaxy Buds+

Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus

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The Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus are the latest wireless earbuds from the South Korean electronics powerhouse. Designed as a companion product to their wildly popular Galaxy line of Android smartphones, they wow with their blend of high-quality audio and an excellent mix of physical and digital features.

Why we like it: Long battery life, excellent customizable features, and intuitive controls make these some of the best Android earbuds out there. They have a nice mic that’s perfect for taking calls and lets you come through clearly without picking up background noise.

Flaws: The Bluetooth tech under the hood is subpar at best, especially for earbuds at this price point. They lack aptX and generally suffer more from issues like latency and lagging.

7. Google Pixel Buds

Google Pixel Buds

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The Google Pixel Buds are the companion earbuds to the company’s line of Pixel smartphones. They’re designed to maximize the virtual assistant features of your Android phone while also providing a beautiful set of earbuds.

Why we like it: Excellent feature set, gorgeous styling, and seamless integration with Android phones, especially Pixel phones. They fit like a dream and are some of the most intuitive controls available.

Flaws: Battery life is iffy, especially given its high price point. Even worse, the sound quality shows low but noticeable hints of static interference.

8. Jaybird Vista

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The Jaybird Vista’s, like most of Jaybird’s product line, are sport focused wireless earbuds. They offer some of the best sound quality of sport style earbuds and have a reasonable battery life plus USB-C charging capability.

Why we like it: The Vista’s are lightweight, comfortable, and rugged. They have an IPX7 rating, enough for short term immersion in water, and come in a compact and pocketable charging case. 

Flaws: The Vista doesn’t have a way to let ambient sound in while in use. This is a severe oversight considering they shine as workout earbuds where you may frequently find yourself doing activities outside where you need to hear what’s happening around you.

9. Anker Soundbuds Curve

Anker Soundbuds Curve

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The Anker Soundbuds Curve is an updated version of the well-known electronics accessory company’s first wireless earbuds. They aren’t true wireless earbuds in that they still connect to one another, but they don’t get tangled up between your phone and ears. They offer excellent battery life and performance that’s hard to believe given their low price point.

Why we like it: For the money, you can’t beat them. The Soundbuds Curve cost less than graphic accessories for some of the other earbuds on our list yet still provide reliable and acceptable performance, especially for working out.

Flaws: You get what you pay for. The Soundbuds Curve is far and away the best value on our list, but they’re still noticeably lower quality than earbuds four to eight times their price.

10. AfterShokz Aeropex

AfterShokz Aeropex

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The AfterShokz Aeropex are wireless bone conduction headphones designed for exercise and sporting use. Rather than actual earbuds, they deliver audio directly through your cheekbones. The audio isn’t quite as crisp and rich as with other earbuds, but it gets the job done.

Why we like it: Their specialized design makes them inherently more water/sweat resistant than other earbuds. You can wear them rain or shine while participating in even the heaviest of sporting activities.

Flaws: They don’t offer any noise isolation/cancellation. This gives you excellent spatial awareness but does limit their usefulness outside workout settings, and especially for people like frequent fliers.

Who should buy Wireless Earbuds? 

While anyone who enjoys listening to music, podcasts, or streams on the go can benefit from wireless earbuds, the groups below will see a really significant benefit to picking up a pair.

High-intensity athletes – If you’re more likely to find yourself pedaling down a twisty mountain road or pushing to hit that last mile of a marathon, wireless earbuds are the way to go. Modern earbuds are designed to stay in your ear even with the most intense movements and cut the dangling cord entirely out of the equation.

That leaves you with lighter, better sounding, and more comfortable earbuds that don’t hinder your movements at all.

Frequent fliers/travelers – If you’re a business traveler, you know all too well what a few extra ounces in your backpack can feel like. Big, high-end headphones are fabulous for sound quality and noise reduction, but they aren’t nearly as easy to carry as quality wireless earbuds.

Even better, the best modern wireless earbuds are designed to provide passive noise isolation that physically blocks outside sound. This helps reduce the sound of that annoying baby a few rows over and dulls the constant roar of the engine, all without adding a bulky pair of headphones to your bag (1).

Minimalists – If you’re someone who likes to keep your everyday carry items to a sleek minimum, wireless earbuds are the way to go. They offer extraordinary sound quality in a package that’s about as stripped down as you can get.

High-quality wireless earbuds are approaching the sound quality you once could only get from high-end over-ear headphones yet take up a tiny fraction of the space.

How we ranked 

We ranked our earbuds based on five key factors. These were sound quality and fidelity, battery life, comfort, portability, and affordability. 

Sound quality and fidelity – Sound quality and fidelity are two of the most important factors when considering a pair of wireless earbuds. Given the small size of the drivers involved, you won’t get true HiFi quality except at the top of the market, but you can get near crystal clarity and a good range of mids and bass that don’t overpower one another.

This also touches on the connection method used, with different Bluetooth tech providing clearer or more distorted audio.

Battery life – For true wireless earbuds, the battery life comes down to the earbuds themselves and the added power of the charging case. The charging case generally offers around two to three charges of earbuds on top of the fully charged earbuds themselves.

Comfort – It doesn’t matter how great earbuds sound if you can’t wear them for long without ear pain. We considered weight, shape, tip style, and material, as well as more specialized things like the contour of the earbud itself and the distribution of the various speakers and mics.

Portability – The central benefit of any earbud is its size and portability. For wireless earbuds that’s doubly true. Here we’re really looking at the portability of the charging case they come in.

Some really nice, really compact earbuds are ruined by a clunky charging case that takes up too much space in your pocket or bag.

Affordability – As with most consumer electronics, there’s a wide price band in wireless earbuds. While spending more will usually get you better sound quality, battery life, portability, or all three, there are definitely some value-priced gems out there.

We included both top-of-the-line models at top-of-the-line prices and less expensive options that offer great value for your money.

We weighted each of these factors in order of importance while making our list. All the wireless earbuds above offer excellent quality and value.

FAQ 

Q: Don’t some wireless earbuds actually have wires?

A: You’re right; the term ‘wireless earbuds’ can be a bit misleading. Some of the top-ranked wireless earbuds out there actually have a wire connecting the individual earbuds. There are benefits and downsides to this design, with the benefits most obvious during activities like running, cycling, or other high-intensity training and exercise. ‘True’ wireless earbuds are those that have individual earbuds with no wires at all. 

Our list includes both.

Our pick for best true wireless earbuds are the Sony WF-1000XM3.

Our pick for the best wireless earbuds are the Anker Soundbuds Curve.

Q: Are wireless earbuds worth it?

A: Definitely! The convenience factor that wireless earbuds provide is hard to beat. You can wear them basically anywhere, at any time, all without wires to catch or snag. We don’t know about you, but there’s nothing we like less than trying to enjoy our music and having an earbud unceremoniously yanked free from our ear by a passing elbow.

Even better, prices have been dropping on all but the very highest end earbuds, giving you a range of reasonably priced yet high-quality earbuds to choose from.

Our top pick for value-priced wireless earbuds was the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1.

Q: What wireless earbuds have the best sound quality?

A: Several wireless earbuds are competing for the title of best sound quality, but in the end, there could only be one. Our pick for wireless earbud with best sound quality was the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2.

Q: How long is the battery life of wireless earbuds?

A: Battery life varies depending on the earbuds in question, but you should expect to get at least four to five hours per charge. That generally refers only to the earbuds themselves, with the charging case adding an additional two to three charges in most cases. The best wireless earbuds are pushing total battery lives of nearly 50 hours.

Q: How’s the bass on wireless earbuds?

A: While it’s impossible for something the size of a wireless earbud to truly simulate the base of top quality headphones, they can get pretty close. This is especially true as we approach the top-of-the-line offerings from old-school HiFi companies. 

Our top pick for wireless earbuds with bass was the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2.

Q: Are wireless earbuds good for working out?

A: Yes! Wireless earbuds, and especially sport-focused ones, are just about the best audio option while working out. They’re designed to stay snugly in your ear while you move around and free you up from those pesky wires. Even better, you can set your phone down nearby entirely so you aren’t dealing with it in your pocket. 

Or top pick for best wireless earbuds for working out was the Jabra Elite Active 75T

Q: Are wireless earbuds allowed on planes?

A: Yes. There are currently no TSA restrictions against wireless earbuds, nor do most airlines prohibit their use during flight. You can still connect them to your phone, tablet, or other device using Bluetooth without having to worry about violating any regulations (2).

Q: What are the best wireless earbuds for Android phones?

A: While pretty much any wireless earbuds will work with your Android phone, there are specific models that work a lot better and tap into a lot more functionality. The best wireless earbuds allow you to use your phone’s voice assistant, place calls or send texts and perform other advanced functions.

Our pick for the best wireless earbuds for Android phones are the Google Pixel Buds (2nd Generation).

Q: What are the best wireless earbuds for an iPhone?

A: Apple’s iPhone has been the number one selling smartphone in the world for over a decade and has a dedicated legion of fans. Finding the best wireless earbuds to use with your iPhone really comes down to what you’re looking for. From the perspective of instant pairing and intuitive controls, the Apple AirPods Pro are undoubtedly the way to go.

The downside to this is that they don’t offer the best comfort, fit, or audio quality and cost about the same as earbuds with substantially better specs. Unless you truly need to have the matching set of Apple goods, we recommend the Sony WF-1000XM3 as our top pick for quality, performance, and comfort.

Q: Are wireless earbuds good for gaming?

A: Yes, and no. They’re perfectly capable of providing excellent sound stage and crystal clear audio for even the highest-spec games, but the majority of consoles aren’t equipped to connect with them. None of the top consoles, be it the Xbox, Playstation, or Switch, will connect via Bluetooth to your earbuds. If you’re playing on a smart tv there may be a workaround, but you won’t be able to use them with your Switch in portable mode, just as an example.

Q: Are there waterproof wireless earbuds?

A: It depends. There are plenty of water- and sweat-resistant wireless earbuds out there, but very few that are truly waterproof. The waterproof models are highly specialized and generally intended to be used by swimmers and others who need earbuds that can handle full immersion for substantial periods of time. Look for IPXX ratings to see just how water-resistant they are. IPX7 is about the best you’ll find for regular wireless earbuds (3).

Our top pick for water-resistant wireless earbuds are the Jabra Elite Active 75T.

Q: Can I use one of my wireless earbuds without the other?

A: Yes. Most of the top-of-the-line wireless earbuds allow you to use a single earbud as an old-school Bluetooth headset for taking calls. Lots of people love this arrangement when they’re exercising or walking and want to enjoy their music or podcast but don’t want to lose all their outside hearing or use ambient sound features.

Our top pick for wireless earbuds you can use independently, also our overall #1 pick, are the Sony WF-1000XM3.

Recap

Wireless earbuds are lighter, smaller, more affordable, and offer both better sound quality and battery life than ever before. They’re one of the best options out there for anyone who likes to take their music with them wherever they go.

For Hastings #1 wireless earbud recommendation, click here.

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