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The best wireless earbuds for 2022

When it comes to figuring out the best wireless earbuds, it's OK to be a little overwhelmed. There are, conservatively, something like seventy-bajillion wireless earbuds out there. And surprisingly, many of them are just fine for everyday use. Some are even quite good.

But if you're looking for the best wireless earbuds, the ones that really stand out from the crowd in terms of value, performance, or features, we've assembled them right here. No more browsing that bajillion-deep pile.

At the top of our list is the Jabra Elite 7 Pro. Not because they're the best at any one thing, but because they do a great job at everything that matters and they do it for $200 -- a price that is roughly the midway point between the most and least expensive models you can buy.

But you'll also find the second-gen Apple AirPods Pro in this list, of course, alongside Google's own Pixel Buds Pro, which are the new standard for Android die-hards. And Samsung's Galaxy Buds 2 Pro have earned a spot on the list, as well.

And check back often — we'll update this list as new models are released.

Want a set of true wireless earbuds that are guaranteed to not break the bank? Check out our selections for the best cheap true wireless earbuds with plenty of models all under $100.

Jabra Elite 7 Pro
Jabra Elite 7 Pro
The best overall value
Jump to details
Sony WF-1000XM4
Sony WF-1000XM4
Outstanding sound and ANC
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Soundcore Space A40
Soundcore Space A40
The best budget earbuds
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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Impressive noise cancellation
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Master & Dynamic MW08
Master & Dynamic MW08
The best sound for audiophiles
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AirPods Pro 2
Apple AirPods Pro 2
The best for Apple fans
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Google Pixel Buds Pro
Google Pixel Buds Pro
The new standard for Android users
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Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Excellent until they're not
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Technics EAH-AZ60
Technics EAH-AZ60
The best sound and ANC for under $250
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Final Audio ZE3000
Final Audio ZE3000
The best sound for under $200
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Jabra Elite 7 Active
Jabra Elite 7 Active
The best for sports and athletes
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Apple AirPods 3
Apple AirPods (3rd gen)
The best semi-open fit earbuds
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Sony LinkBuds
Sony LinkBuds
The best for staying aware of your surroundings
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HyperX Cloud Mix Buds
HyperX Cloud Mix
The best for gamers
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Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW
Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW
The biggest bass and battery life
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UE Fits
UE Fits
A custom-molding process guarantees a good fit
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jabra elite 7 pro review 00018
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Jabra Elite 7 Pro

The best overall value

Pros
  • Super comfortable
  • Great sound quality
  • Excellent call quality
  • Very good ANC and transparency
  • Good battery life
  • Wireless charging
  • Tons of customization options
  • Excellent water/dust protection
Cons
  • None

While there's no denying that Sony's WF-1000XM4 are fantastic, Jabra has pulled off a minor miracle with the Elite 7 Pro by creating a set of earbuds that do everything really well and cost considerably less than the XM4. They're so good that we gave them a very rare 10/10 score.

Why are we so bullish on the Elite 7 Pro? Let's start with comfort and fit. They're the smallest buds Jabra has ever made, and that translates into the most comfortable buds it has ever made. We'd argue that they're some of the most comfortable earbuds, period. The UE Fits (below) are slightly more comfortable, but they lack active noise cancellation (ANC) and many other features.

Speaking of ANC, the Elite 7 Pro are fantastic at dealing with unwanted noise. So good, in fact, that the WF-1000XM4 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (see below) are only a hair better. Transparency is also very good, and you can switch between these modes almost instantly with a press of a button.

Despite not being aimed at the sporty crowd per se, the Elite 7 Pro are actually hardier than most earbuds, with an IP57 rating that makes them completely waterproof. Jabra even offers a free upgrade on its water and dust warranty, giving you two years of coverage.

Sound quality, while not as nuanced as the Master & Dynamic MW08 or the WF-1000XM4, is nonetheless superb. Bass is pronounced without being overpowering, and there's lots of clarity and precision throughout the rest of the frequencies, so vocals are never drowned out by the beat. Lots of EQ adjustments within the Jabra Sound+ app are available if you need them.

Battery life is a very impressive 7.5 to 8 hours on a charge, even with ANC on, and the case (which can charge wirelessly) brings your total playtime to 30 hours. A fast charge of five minutes will buy you an extra hour of use if you need a quick boost.

If you spend a lot of time on Zoom or voice calls, the Elite 7 Pro could be your new best friends. Call quality is excellent, even in very noisy conditions, thanks to Jabra's use of voice-sensing bone conduction microphones that are able to separate your voice from other sounds.

There are tons of extras too, like device location, auto-pause for music, microphone muting while on calls, and a fit test to ensure you've chosen the right size of silicone ear tips. When the Elite 7 Pro launched in 2021, the lacked Bluetooth Multipoint, but with a January 2022 firmware update, even this minor drawback has been addressed.

Jabra Elite 7 Pro
Jabra Elite 7 Pro
The best overall value
sony wf 1000xm4 review featured
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Sony WF-1000XM4

Outstanding sound and ANC

Pros
  • Great sound quality
  • Good battery life
  • Great noise cancellation
  • LDAC Bluetooth codec
  • Wireless charging
  • IPX4 water resistance
Cons
  • May not fit small ears
  • Slightly lacking in high-end detail
  • No Bluetooth multipoint

It's hard to beat Sony's flagship WF-1000XM4 earbuds for an overall superb listening experience. Sony has thrown the kitchen sink at these buds, making them even better than their predecessors, the WF-1000XM3. Now with proper water resistance for workouts, wireless charging, and Sony's own LDAC Bluetooth codec for wireless hi-res audio performance, they're the whole package.

Sound quality has always been a Sony strength, and the XM4 continue this tradition with even richer bass. There's a warmth and resonance to the low end on these buds that benefits a variety of music genres, especially with string instrument- and drum-centric styles like jazz, classical, and even EDM. Sony made the decision to equip the XM4 with foam eartips as opposed to the usual silicone style. This increases comfort and provides an excellent and secure seal, but it also has a slight tendency to rob the high frequencies of precision. Unless you did a direct comparison with the XM3, you probably wouldn't even notice it.

The Sony Headphones app gives you deep control over all settings, like EQ, ANC, transparency, and touch controls, and includes an option to customize both the earbuds and your music apps (like Tidal, Deezer, and Amazon Music) for use with Sony's 360 Reality Audio (360RA) immersive music format.

Active noise cancellation is superb, as is transparency mode, but Sony throws in a cool new feature: Voice sensing. Simply start talking and the XM4 will automatically shift into transparency while dropping the volume of your tunes. Speaking of, well, speaking, the WF-1000XM4 are some of the few true wireless earbuds that give you hands-free voice access to your choice of Google Assistant (Android only) or Amazon Alexa (iOS and Android).

Battery life, at eight hours of playtime with ANC turned on and 12 hours when it’s off, is excellent, although total playtime — at 24 hours — is pretty standard. A fast charge will get you an additional hour for just five minutes of charging.

Our only critiques of the WF-1000XM4 are small: Their size and shape might simply be too big to fit some ears, and we wish Sony had included simultaneous wireless connections via Bluetooth Multipoint. If this feature matters to you, check out the Jabra Elite 7 Pro, Elite 7 Active, and both Technics EAH-AZ60 and AZ40 models, below.

Sony WF-1000XM4
Sony WF-1000XM4
Outstanding sound and ANC
soundcore space a40 review 00019
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Soundcore Space A40

The best budget earbuds

Pros
  • Compact and comfortable
  • Good sound quality
  • Very good ANC/transparency
  • Good call quality
  • Excellent battery life
  • Wireless charging
  • Bluetooth multipoint
Cons
  • No wear sensors
  • So-so wireless range

Anker's Soundcore brand continues to wow us with its wireless earbuds. They always deliver exceptional value for the price and these are no exception.

For $100, the Space A40 pack virtually every feature you could ask for: wireless charging, ANC, transparency mode, adjustable EQ and controls, and IPX4 protection from sweat and water.

And yes, we think they sound great. There's plenty of bass for those who love to feel every beat, yet the midranges and high frequencies remain balanced and clear. They even work with Sony's LDAC hi-res Bluetooth codec if you have an Android phone to pair them to.

Battery life is especially great: You get 10 hours of life per charge with ANC and transparency turned off, and a huge 50 hours when you include the charging case. Those numbers drop to eight hours/40 hours respectively when you engage ANC or transparency — but that's still far more than you'll get from Apple's AirPods Pro 2, which cost more than double what you'll pay for the Space A40.

The only downsides to these earbuds are their lack of wear sensors (which you can get in the step-up Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro) and call quality that is only so-so, and best kept to indoor calls. But these are small critiques of what are otherwise superb and affordable wireless buds.

Soundcore Space A40
Soundcore Space A40
The best budget earbuds
bose quietcomfort earbuds ii review 00013
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Impressive noise cancellation

Pros
  • Very comfortable
  • Very good sound quality
  • Outstanding noise cancellation
  • Very good transparency
  • Adjustable EQ modes
Cons
  • No wireless charging
  • No Bluetooth multipoint
  • Poor outdoor call quality

If you know anything about Bose, you know that noise cancellation is kind of the company's calling card. Bose was the first to debut the technology in a set of headphones and has been refining the science of silence ever since.

Now, we have the second-gen QuietComfort Earbuds (QCE II) and they're a marvel when it comes to keeping the outside world at bay. They do a better job of it than any of the company's headphones (or any other company's headphones) and with the possible exception of the second-gen AirPods Pro, you can't get better ANC in a set of earbuds either.

Thanks to ActiveSense, even transparency mode (Bose calls it Aware Mode) is improved with the ability to scan for and reduce the volume of really loud sounds.

Better yet, Bose managed to do this while making the QCE II way smaller than the first-gen and that goes for their charging case too, which is now small enough to fit in a pocket.

Sound quality remains very good and Bose has even added a few EQ presets so you can dial in the sound you want – something the original QCE didn't offer. Indoor call quality is also excellent, though we did notice that the earbuds struggled a bit when outside.

Battery life is on the lower end of the true wireless spectrum: Six hours per charge, with an additional 18 hours in the charging case. You can quick-charge the earbuds, which earns an extra two hours after 20 minutes. Unfortunately, Bose has eliminated wireless charging on the QCE II.

Like the WF-1000XM4, there is no Bluetooth multipoint pairing. On a less expensive set of earbuds, or perhaps a set that isn't as clearly targeted to travelers as the QuietComfort Earbuds II, we might look the other way on this oversight, but we think it's a missed opportunity.

These caveats aside, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are easily some of the best true wireless buds you can buy, and a must-have for those who crave quiet.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II
Impressive noise cancellation
master and dynamic mw08 review 00007
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Master & Dynamic MW08

The best sound for audiophiles

Pros
  • Gorgeous design and materials
  • Very comfortable
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Really long battery life
  • Effective transparency mode
  • Good call quality
  • Easy and intuitive controls
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Limited customization
  • No wireless charging
  • No EQ adjustments
  • Weak ANC performance

Master & Dynamic (M&D) has been making awesome true wireless earbuds for several years, and its latest model, the MW08, are seriously great buds for sound quality.

We were huge fans of their predecessors, the MW07 Plus, and the MW08 are even better. Battery life is now around 12 hours on a single charge if you disable active noise cancellation (ANC), and their slick, stainless steel charging case packs an additional 30 hours — that's near the very top for true wireless earbuds.

The buds themselves are compact and comfortable, and M&D has used ceramic and aluminum parts to give the MW08 a luxurious, high-end look and feel.

We weren't especially impressed with their noise-canceling chops — you'll get superior ANC from the Jabra Elite 85t, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, and Sony WF-1000XM4 — but when it comes to sound quality, we think the MW08 are the current cream of the crop.

With a superbly tight bass response, incredibly detailed midranges, and crystal-clear highs, these are the earbuds for those who want a true wireless way to sit back and explore their favorite tracks with stunning fidelity.

Because of their vented design, which lets a little air circulate through the sound tubes, they possess an open airiness that produces a much wider soundstage than earbuds that use a fully closed architecture.

The physical controls are highly intuitive and give you access to every feature you could want, from volume adjustments and triggering your phone's voice assistant to managing phone calls.

Speaking of calls, the MW08 are some of the best earbuds we've found for call quality. They avoid the compression of your voice normally associated with earbud calls and do an admirable job of canceling out background sounds.

$299 is certainly a high price to pay, but if you want a set of true wireless earbuds that don't compromise on sound quality, style, or battery life, you can't go wrong with the Master & Dynamic MW08.

Looking for something with a similar profile for sound quality, but at a lower price? The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 sound almost as good, plus they're smaller and offer a better fit, and they have wireless charging — something you'll have to pay $50 more for on the MW08.

Master & Dynamic MW08
Master & Dynamic MW08
The best sound for audiophiles
apple airpods pro 2 review 00025
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Apple AirPods Pro 2

The best for Apple fans

Pros
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Top-notch transparency
  • Very good sound quality
  • Great call quality
  • Fun charging case features
Cons
  • Not ideal for Android
  • Still no EQ adjustments

With the original AirPods Pro proving to have been one of the most successful wireless earbuds of all time, Apple needed to show it could do it again with the second-gen model. It did.

The AirPods Pro 2 are exactly what we were hoping for: the same great design, the same comfortable fit, but now with improvements in everything from ANC to battery life. And they don't cost a cent more than the first-gen.

Active noise cancellation is shockingly good. These are the only buds to give the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II some real competition, and our reviewer argues that in some ways, the AirPods are now better. Transparency — always a high point for the AirPods Pro — is also improved through a feature called Adaptive Transparency. Just like Bose's ActiveSense, it keeps loud sounds from causing you discomfort and it works like a champ.

These advancements, courtesy of the new Apple H2 chips in each earbud, also yield better call quality that handily kills off any background sounds that might interfere with your voice being heard.

Sound quality is better too, with more detail and depth, and with excellent bass response. They're still not critical listening tools and there are still no EQ adjustments, but if you love music, you'll love the way the AirPods Pro 2 sound.

Battery life now stands at six hours per charge, with 30 hours total when you include the charging case – which, by the way, now has a built-in speaker, IPX4 protection, a lanyard loop, and an Apple U1 chip for ultra-precise location reporting via Find My.

Really like the Apple AirPods Pro but would prefer to spend a little less? Here are the best AirPods Pro alternatives.

AirPods Pro 2
Apple AirPods Pro 2
The best for Apple fans
google pixel buds pro review 00012
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Google Pixel Buds Pro

The new standard for Android users

Pros
  • Compact and comfy
  • Very good sound quality
  • Very effective ANC/transparency
  • Wireless charging
  • Bluetooth Multipoint
Cons
  • No real EQ adjustments
  • No high-quality/low-latency codecs
  • Still no iOS Pixel Buds app

Apple has its AirPods Pro, and Google has answered with its first "Pro" earbuds. The Pixel Buds Pro build on their lesser cousins with the addition of Active Noise Cancellation that's just a hair's breadth away from Apple's.

The Pixel Buds Pro are comfortable, they look good (and come in four colors), and the starting price actually undercuts AirPods Pro by $50. The multipoint connection works great with multiple devices, and Google's got a little extra AI available for Android users, with the goal to better predict what you need to hear from which device at what time. It's not quite magic, but it works very well.

That's not to say that you can't find serious competitors in the space for a little less money. You can. But the Pixel Buds Pro absolutely are a strong winner from Google, and that means extra software features if you're also using an Android phone.

Still in the works, however, is the inclusion of spatial audio. For now, we'll wait on the firmware update.

Google Pixel Buds Pro
Google Pixel Buds Pro
The new standard for Android users
samsung galaxy buds 2 pro review 12

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

Excellent until they're not

Pros
  • Terriffic fit and feel
  • Great sound profile
  • Good noise cancellation
Cons
  • Spatial audio is sub-par
  • Head tracking needs work

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are a great set of all-around earbuds. They're small, they fit great and feel nearly invisible. And, probably most important, they sound really good whether you're just listening to music or podcasts at home, or cranking through sets at the gym.

The active noise-cancellation works just fine, too, without making you feel like you're stuck in a vacuum. Samsung's Android-compatible app keeps all the settings and features at your fingertips (unless you're using these on iOS), and lets you keep the firmware up to date, too.

A couple of the tentpole features fall flat, however. Spatial audio sucks too much of the range out of music, though it does do a good job of separating channels. And the head-tracking feature leaves much to be desired.

The case charges wirelessly or with USB-C and gives you another 18 hours of playback on top of the five hours the buds themselves promise.

Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Excellent until they're not
technics eah az60 review 00008
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Technics EAH-AZ60

The best sound and ANC for under $250

Pros
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Hi-res audio support
  • Hands-free Alexa
  • Bluetooth multipoint
Cons
  • No wireless charging
  • No in-ear sensors

For the price, we are hard-pressed to think of a set of earbuds that offer a better combination of sound quality and ANC performance than the Technics EAH-AZ60 — they are superb. But the best part is that these qualities are really just the starting point for a set of buds that might fly under a lot of people's radars.

They're very small and ergonomically shaped — a big improvement over the older AZ70 — and we'd argue they're almost as comfortable as the Jabra Elite 7 Pro, which is saying something. The AZ60s lack some of Jabra's features, like full waterproofing (the AZ60s are sweat- and splash-proof), wireless charging, and wear sensors, but they justify their higher price through their amazing sound, and absolutely killer noise cancellation and transparency modes.

Like the WF-1000XM4, they support Sony's LDAC Bluetooth codec, which will give you as close to lossless, hi-res audio as you can get right now in a set of wireless buds (as long as your Android phone supports it). Android users also get the option of hands-free access to Amazon Alexa, which is a helpful feature.

Battery life is very good at seven hours per charge and they'll last for a total of 24 to 25 hours when you include their charging case. But my favorite feature is Technics' inclusion of Bluetooth multipoint on the EAH-AZ60 — which lets you stay connected to two devices at once — perfect for those of us who need to juggle Zoom calls on our computers and voice calls on our phones.

If you like the idea of wireless hi-res audio via the LDAC codec, the 1More Evo are an excellent alternative, at a significantly lower price. They can't quite match the AZ60's ANC performance, but given how they sound, you may not care.

Technics EAH-AZ60
Technics EAH-AZ60
The best sound and ANC for under $250
final audio ze3000 review 00016
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Final Audio ZE3000

The best sound for under $200

Pros
  • Unique design
  • Comfortable, secure fit
  • Excellent sound quality
  • IPX4 water resistance
  • Good battery life
  • Good codec support
Cons
  • No active noise cancellation
  • No transparency mode
  • No wear sensors
  • No wireless charging

With features like ANC, transparency mode, wear sensors, and wireless charging now showing up on wireless earbuds for as little as $100, can we really justify recommending a set that has none of these options, yet still cost $149? Yes, as long as that set is the Final Audio ZE3000.

The ZE3000 may lack a lot of bells and whistles — in fact, they're missing just about every feature we can think of – but they excel in one area that matters above all else for music lovers: Sound quality. With an impressive amount of accuracy and detail, these earbuds offer the best sound quality you'll find under the $200 mark, and we'd argue they even hold their own against many models that are more expensive than that.

The ZE3000 have a warm but still very balanced EQ that lets each frequency come through clearly and distortion-free, which provides the perfect sonic platform for a huge array of music genres. We think they perform their best with jazz, classical, and vocals-intensive tracks, but their energetic mids and highs make them just as enjoyable for pop, rock, and EDM.

Bass is beautifully balanced with the rest of the frequency spectrum, but this is one area where some folks may find the ZE3000 lacking — if you want chest-pounding low-end, you should consider the Technics EAH-AZ40 instead.

With an IPX4 rating and seven hours of battery life (35 in total), the ZE3000 can join you on any adventure, and in quiet environments they have stellar call quality. As long as you can forgive their lack of other features, these earbuds will reward you with fabulous sound for the money.

Final Audio ZE3000
Final Audio ZE3000
The best sound for under $200
best true wireless earbuds jabra elite 7 active 1
Jabra

Jabra Elite 7 Active

The best for sports and athletes

Pros
  • Comfortable and secure fit
  • Great sound quality
  • Good noise cancellation and transparency
  • Wear sensors
  • IP57 dust and water protection
  • Customizable controls and EQ
  • Wireless charging
  • Bluetooth Multipoint
  • Very good battery life
Cons
  • No earhooks for added stability

Jabra keeps knocking it out of the park when it comes to fully-featured true wireless earbuds that are priced well below the competition. The Elite 7 Active are an ideal choice for fitness buffs who don't want to compromise on any aspect of the true wireless experience. As such, these buds possess nearly every feature of the Elite 7 Pro, plus a special rubberized outer coating that keeps the earbuds locked into place, without the use of ear hooks or ear wings/fins.

Sound quality is very good, with plenty of low-end bass for powering your workouts. Equally good are Jabra's ANC and transparency modes which you can toggle between very quickly with a press of a button. Speaking of buttons, the Elite 7 Active's physical controls are among the best you can get: Easy to use, precise, and totally customizable within the Jabra Sound+ app. You can even press them while wearing gloves — something that touch controls rarely offer.

Battery life is an excellent eight hours per charge and you'll get up to 30 hours of time with the included charging case's capacity. A five-minute quick charge adds another hour of life if you need it. Within the Sound+ app, you'll find loads of customizations. A full equalizer with presets lets you adjust the sound profile, there's a fit-test to make sure you've selected the right size of ear-tips, and you can adjust the ANC calibration to suit your specific hearing and preferences.

The only thing the Elite 7 Active were missing was Bluetooth multipoint, but as of a January 2022 firmware update, that too has been added.

Jabra Elite 7 Active
Jabra Elite 7 Active
The best for sports and athletes
apple airpods 3 review 00017
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Apple AirPods (3rd gen)

The best semi-open fit earbuds

Pros
  • Very good sound quality
  • Wireless MagSafe charging
  • Head-tracking spatial audio
  • IPX4 water resistance
Cons
  • Not great in noisy environments

If you love the comfortable fit and easy simplicity of Apple's original AirPods, you owe it to yourself to consider getting the 3rd-gen AirPods, which you'll sometimes see listed as AirPods 3. The new design takes some of the best features of the AirPods Pro, like a more secure fit, better sound quality, and physical pinch controls on the stems, while keeping the semi-open shape that AirPods fans have enjoyed for years.

The AirPods 3 come with wireless charging as a standard feature (it used to be a $50 upgrade on the second-gen units) and the case is compatible with both Qi-standard chargers as well as Apple's MagSafe chargers. Battery life has also been improved, with six hours per charge and 30 hours of total play time with the case — giving these AirPods the best stamina of any of Apple's iconic white buds.

Like the other AirPods models, the 3rd gen have wear sensors that can auto-pause your tunes when you remove a bud, plus Apple has added head-tracking spatial audio, a feature that was previously reserved for the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max. The feature only works with Dolby Atmos Music and multichannel movies from select streaming apps like Apple Music and Apple TV+, but it's a fun and very immersive way to enjoy movies and music.

But the big upgrade for AirPods fans is the third-gen's sound quality. It's a big leap from the first and second-gen products, and when you're in a quiet room, they can sound every bit as good as the more expensive AirPods Pro. The new buds also get an IPX4 rating for water resistance, something that previous AirPods lacked. When combined with the AirPods 3's more secure fit, they're now a gym-ready companion.

Apple AirPods 3
Apple AirPods (3rd gen)
The best semi-open fit earbuds
sony linkbuds review 00008
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Sony LinkBuds

The best for staying aware of your surroundings

Pros
  • Unique, sound-permeable design
  • Very good "open" sound quality
  • Excellent for voice and video calls
  • Wide Area Tap feature
  • Wear sensors
  • EQ and control customization
  • IPX4 water resistance
Cons
  • Poor battery life
  • Not good for noisy environments
  • Not very secure and may not fit some ears
  • No wireless charging
  • No Bluetooth Multipoint

Wireless earbuds are great for sound quality and for blocking out the outside world, especially when they're equipped with ANC — like the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds or the Technics EAH-AZ60. But these models are so good at blocking noise, they need a transparency mode so that you can hear what's going on when you need to. Since constantly switching between ANC and transparency can be a hassle, if you need to stay aware of the real world while you listen to music or make calls, the Sony LinkBuds are a truly unique and effective solution.

Using a special speaker design that has a hole right through its middle, the LinkBuds block no sound at all. This lets you wear them continuously throughout your day as you switch between video calls, listening to music, or talking to those around you, all without needing to reach for a button.

Despite this unusual design, the LinkBuds sound surprisingly good — like the earbud equivalent of a set of open-back headphones. As long as you're in a relatively quiet location, they're fun and well-balanced, for a wide variety of genres, though bass lovers may want to consider one of our other picks.

They're very light, and as long as you don't have tiny ears, they fit comfortably for hours at a time. Don't think of them as workout partners, though. They have IPX4 water protection, but we found they simply don't fit securely enough for running or other high-impact activities.

Sony has also added in some fun extras: Wake-word access to Amazon Alexa, auto-muting when the buds detect that you're speaking, and the ability to tap on your cheek instead of the earbuds to control things like play/pause and call answer/end.

The LinkBuds certainly aren't for everyone, but they're perfect for those who want to use earbuds without blocking out the world.

Sony LinkBuds
Sony LinkBuds
The best for staying aware of your surroundings
hyperx cloud mix earbuds review 04
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

HyperX Cloud Mix

The best for gamers

Pros
  • Excellent battery life
  • Comfortable
  • Solid sound quality in games
  • Work with virtually any device
  • Great microphone quality
Cons
  • Frustrating touch controls
  • Expensive
  • No ANC

With the comfort and convenience of wireless earbuds, you'd think they'd be a natural choice for gamers, but most gamers stay as far away from wireless headphones and earbuds as they can.

Why? It turns out that Bluetooth connections introduce an unacceptable amount of lag — the delay between when an in-game sound is generated (like a foot-fall or a rifle shot) and when you actually hear it. It's a big enough problem that many serious gamers consider it a liability that can harm their results.

That's where the HyperX Cloud Mix Buds find their niche. They're Bluetooth wireless earbuds that work like any other set of wireless buds on this list. They connect to your phone or laptop and let you listen to music and take calls. But they also have a feature you won't find on the other models listed here: They come with a special USB adapter that provides a nearly lag-free wireless connection for those times when the game is afoot, and you're playing for keeps.

A small switch on the adapter lets you seamlessly move between that dedicated wireless link and a normal Bluetooth connection, so convenience is still maintained. The Mix Buds may not have advanced features like ANC or wireless charging, and bass response can't quite compare to the best full-size gaming headphones, but you do get a strong set of EQ adjustments and DTS:X surround sound processing.

When you take that into consideration, with their 30-hour total battery life and dedicated wireless connection for gaming, the HyperX Cloud Mix Buds start to look like a great option for gamers who also want to take their tunes on the road.

HyperX Cloud Mix Buds
HyperX Cloud Mix
The best for gamers
audio technica ath cks50tw review 00020
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW

The biggest bass and battery life

Pros
  • Great sound with massive bass
  • Huge battery capacity
  • Very good noise cancellation
  • Bluetooth Multipoint
  • IPX4 water resistance
  • aptX Adaptive
Cons
  • No wireless charging
  • No wear sensors
  • Bulky charging case

The Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW are big and chunky and so is their charging case, but if size and style aren't major concerns for you, these earbuds are chock-full of rewards and come at an unbeatable price.

Let's start with their battery life. With ANC turned off, the earbuds will last for 20 hours before dying — a huge leap over the previous battery life king, the JVC HA-XC90T, which maxed out at 15 hours. Better yet, when you add in the case's capacity, it takes you to an enormous 50 hours. Yup, more than two full days of continuous use before you need to go in search of a charging cable.

Sound quality is also superb, as you might expect from a brand with Audio-Technica's reputation. In particular, bass heads will revel in the absolutely monstrous low-end that these earbuds can pump out. This isn't just bass you hear — you feel it too. If it's too much, there's plenty of control within the companion app, where you can also adjust the control buttons to suit your tastes.

ANC is excellent, with the ability to hush most unwanted outside sounds, and the transparency mode will help you keep tabs on what's going on around you if you need it. Calling on the CKS50 is equally good, but we recommend you look for quieter places for your chats to get the best sound quality for your callers.

These earbuds aren't perfect — there's no wireless charging and no wear sensors for auto-pause, but these are small omissions that are easily compensated for by the CKS50's many positive attributes, and their terrific price.

Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW
Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW
The biggest bass and battery life
ue fits review featured
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

UE Fits

A custom-molding process guarantees a good fit

Pros
  • Ultra comfortable and secure fit
  • Very good passive sound isolation
  • Sweat resistant
  • Customizable EQ and controls
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No ANC or transparency modes
  • No wireless charging

Some folks have a really hard time finding a set of wireless earbuds that fit their ears. Regardless of the number of included ear tips, comfort and security prove elusive. But the UE Fits might just be the answer if this has been your experience.

Ultimate Ears (UE) has dipped into its extensive experience of providing custom-fit wired earbuds for audio professionals in order to create a product that does the same thing — at a fraction of the price – for the rest of us. No trips to the audiologist and no waiting for molds to be created.

Instead, the UE Fits use a combination of UV light and heat to turn a blank set of silicone ear tips into moldable inserts that fully conform to the shape of your outer ear in just a few minutes. The result is a set of earbuds that fit like a glove and stay securely in place no matter what you do.

Unfortunately, most of the price of the UE Fits has gone into the customization process. They are otherwise fairly basic. You won't find ANC, wireless charging, transparency mode, or any other extras. But sound quality and call quality are both good, and battery life, at six hours per charge is perfectly serviceable.

We don't necessarily recommend the UE Fits for everyone, but for those who simply can't find a comfortable fit with off-the-shelf products, these could be the perfect solution.

UE Fits
UE Fits
A custom-molding process guarantees a good fit

Research and buying tips

Can wireless earbuds connect to a PC?

Yes, as long as the PC has Bluetooth. Some have Bluetooth by default, but if yours doesn't, you can add it with an affordable USB adapter.

Can wireless earbuds be used on airplanes?

Yes. You can enable most devices' Bluetooth radio while in airplane mode.

Can wireless earbuds connect to game consoles?

Yes, but the details are a bit different for each console:

Can wireless earbuds connect to a TV?

Only if your TV has Bluetooth transmission, or via an external device like this.

Are wireless earbuds better than wired?

Not usually for sound quality, but they are for convenience, especially now that many phone makers have stopped including a headphone jack.

Do wireless earbuds always have a charging case?

Not always, but the vast majority do come with a charging case. If they don’t come with a case, we strongly recommend you don’t buy them.

Are wireless earbuds good for working out?

Yes, they are awesome for workouts, as long as they have waterproofing or an IP rating and fit snugly in your ears.

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