The true wireless earbuds market has never been more crowded than it is in 2021. With so many to choose from, finding the best earbuds can seem daunting. But the vast selection is actually a good thing: not only are there excellent picks for everyday buds to carry in your pocket, but you’ve also got a slew of options that prioritize things like noise cancellation, fitness, lengthy battery life, and comfort.
Even if you don’t consider yourself any kind of audiophile, it’s important to find a set of earbuds that sound good to you. This means different things depending on the person: do you want head-rattling bass or something more balanced with an immersive soundstage? You’ll want to find a pair with a good, reliable Bluetooth connection — all of the below picks check off that box — and enough battery life to last you through a normal day of intermittent listening.
Remember that getting the most out of earbuds requires a good seal in your ear. Always try the various ear tip sizes that come with whichever buds you purchase — and don’t be afraid to experiment with different sizes in each ear. Ears are funny like that. Many of these earbuds have apps you can install on your phone to further personalize their sound and controls the way you want.
If you’re looking for the overall best noise-canceling earbuds, you’ll be very happy with Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds. They have best-in-class noise cancellation and sound great.
But if you’ve got other priorities, there is a range of great options from Apple, Beats, Jabra, Sennheiser, and Ultimate Ears that won’t disappoint. This guide covers higher-end wireless earbuds. If you’re on the hunt for more affordable options, check out the best cheap wireless earbuds to buy.
Best noise-canceling earbuds
The QuietComfort Earbuds offer very powerful active noise cancellation, but what’s equally nice about them is how customizable the ANC is. You can choose between 11 different levels of noise cancellation (based on how much of the outside world you want mixed in) and set three favorites to cycle between when you double-tap the left earbud.
Bose’s premium earbuds put out fantastic audio with punchy bass. Their transparency / ambient mode is second only to Apple in how natural it sounds. And even the voice mics work well, so you really get the whole package — as you should for this kind of money.
Best wireless earbuds for the iPhone
There’s no beating the interplay between AirPods and Apple’s other devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. The AirPods Pro don’t offer the best sound quality of our top picks, but it’s perfectly satisfactory to many people. And the active noise cancellation is right up there with Bose.
But it really all comes together if you’re in Apple’s ecosystem and also own a Mac or iPad. The AirPods Pro can automatically hop between devices based on which one you’re using, and on iPhone or iPad, spatial audio delivers immersive surround sound when watching streaming video apps. They’re fantastic for making calls with, and Apple continues to pull ahead of competitors when it comes to ease of use.
Here’s a tip: if none of the included ear tips get you a perfect seal, I recommend a set of memory foam tips like those from Comply or Dekoni.
Best wireless earbuds for multitasking
Jabra is pretty much the only company making true wireless earbuds that support “multipoint” for two simultaneous Bluetooth connections. So you can pair them up with a phone and your laptop or tablet at the same time. Jabra’s mobile app offers a ton of customization over the controls, EQ, and even includes bonuses like white noise or nature sounds if you’ve got situations where they’d be handy.
The newer Elite 85t earbuds add more effective noise cancellation to the mix, but the 75ts are on sale so frequently that they’re still the go-to pick if multitasking is important to you. They pack a wallop when it comes to bass — but not to the point where it overwhelms the rest of the mix.
Jabra backs them with a two-year warranty in the event you experience any hardware issues. (I’ve had a 75t bud stop taking a charge out of nowhere, so it can happen.)
Best wireless earbuds for fitness
Nothing has managed to unseat the Powerbeats Pro as the best fitness earbuds since their release in 2019. Their ear hook design keeps them planted on your ears during intense exercise, they can endure your sweatiest workouts, and the nine hours of continuous battery life should get you through just about any marathon. And the sound quality is killer, with plenty of bass to keep you motivated and moving.
And since Beats is owned by Apple, the Powerbeats Pro can also take advantage of features like audio sharing, auto device switching (like the AirPods Pro), and a dead-simple pairing process.
Best wireless earbuds for battery life
They can last 11 hours on a single charge. That’s what I consider marathon battery life for true wireless earbuds, and few other companies have managed to keep up with the longevity of Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Plus. They lack active noise cancellation, so that helps them keep playing for longer, but even then, 11 hours is quite a feat. Like the Jabras, these are often on sale and easy to grab at a discount.
Best wireless earbuds for sound quality
Sennheiser’s second swing at true wireless earbuds improve on the original Momentums with a more comfortable fit and the addition of active noise cancellation. But everything about these earbuds is second fiddle to their sound quality: the Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds put out dynamic, expressive, and wonderfully detailed audio. They’re the sort of buds that will bring out things in your favorite music you haven’t noticed before.
But that upgraded sound quality comes for a hefty $300 price. If you want arguably the best sound that true wireless earbuds can deliver, these are it. But all of these other picks sound plenty good in their own right.
Best wireless earbuds if comfort is everything
If you often have difficulty finding ear tips that fit your ears comfortably, it doesn’t really get better than the UE Fits. These earbuds include special tips that mold to the shape of your ear during a 60-second fitting process that you activate with UE’s app. They get warm during molding (but not uncomfortably so) and you can feel them adapting to the contours of your ear canal.
Once the process is done, you’re left with custom earbuds with a fit that’s as close to perfect as you’ll ever find — unless you visit your local audiologist for a professional mold, and that gets expensive fast. Ultimate Ears has a fit “guarantee” and will send you a second set of tips should your first molding attempt go awry. The UE Fits are quite good, last for up to eight hours of continuous playback, and they’re rated IPX4 for water resistance.
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