Tech

The 21 best wireless earbuds for 2021

The marketplace for a real wi-fi earbud has exploded over the previous couple of years. Certain, Apple’s AirPods and AirPods Pro stay bestsellers within the class, however there’s extra to a pair of earbuds than the model. Loads of wonderful rivals can be found, a number of of that are new for 2021, and provide superior audio high quality, battery life and efficiency. And a few of these buds are extra suited to Android customers who cannot reap the benefits of the AirPods’ and AirPods Professional’s Apple-only options equivalent to hands-free Siri and spatial audio with head-tracking, within the case of the AirPods Professional. 

The most effective wi-fi earbuds have an ergonomic design that not solely creates a safe match but additionally makes the buds comfy to put on over lengthy durations. A good seal in opposition to the ear canal can be essential for optimizing sound high quality and noise-canceling efficiency should you’re utilizing noise-isolating earbuds with ear suggestions just like the AirPods Professional (the usual Apple AirPod has an open design). If you cannot get a cosy match with in-ear headphones, you may doubtless really feel dissatisfied and ripped off, which is why I recommend shopping for your wi-fi earbuds from a vendor with an honest return coverage, equivalent to Amazon. This additionally helps if the earbuds do not meet your expectations with regards to something from noise cancellation (and discount of ambient noise throughout calls) to how effectively the contact controls work or how lengthy the buds final on a single cost. 

It may be a bit overwhelming should you’re not utterly positive what you are in search of. Fortunately, CNET has acquired you coated with this break-down that highlights the most effective options of every choice so you will get the earbuds which might be best for you. This record focuses on the general finest wi-fi earbuds. We even have lists for wireless headphones, the best-sounding true wireless earbuds and the best cheap true wireless earbuds under $100. I will replace this record recurrently as we evaluate new wi-fi earbuds.

David Carnoy/CNET

No earbuds are excellent, in fact, and never all people will love the match of the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds or be capable of afford their excessive value. However should you’re in search of great-sounding earbuds with nice noise canceling, stable voice-calling capabilities and good battery life, these buds examine all of the bins.

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splash-proof).

Read our Sony WF-1000XM4 review..

 

(Watch this: Beats Match Professional are the sports activities AirPods you have at all times needed).

David Carnoy/CNET

Sizzling on the heels of the third-generation AirPods, Apple has one other new set of earbuds, this time from its subsidiary audio firm, Beats. Technically, the brand new Beats Match Professional ($200) aren’t AirPods, however they’re constructed on the identical tech platform because the AirPods Professional. In contrast to Beats’ earlier and cheaper Studio Buds, the Beats Match Professional embody Apple’s H1 chip and have many of the AirPods Pro’s options, together with lively noise canceling, spatial audio and Adaptive EQ. I would enterprise to name them the sports activities AirPods you have at all times needed. And for some folks, they could simply be higher than the AirPods Professional. 

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splash-proof).

Read our Beats Fit Pro review.

 

Drew Evans/CNET

Obtainable in 4 colour choices, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 hew extra intently to the newer Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy Buds Live, each of which have eye-catching shiny curved designs and the identical compact charging case as this new mannequin. In reality, it is the Buds 2’s design and match — they’re 15% smaller and 20% lighter than the Buds Plus — that make them a probably extra likable various to the marginally better-sounding Buds Professional.

Just like the Buds Professional, the Buds 2 are geared up with lively noise canceling. Meaning all the most recent Galaxy Buds fashions now function some type of lively noise canceling, although it is slight with the Buds Dwell, which have an open design sans ear suggestions. Whereas the Buds 2 look extra like shrunken variations of the Buds Professional, I discovered them extra akin to the Buds Dwell in that they barely stick out of your ears and are pretty discreet. As a result of they sit extra flush together with your ears — and have that curved design — in addition they decide up much less wind noise. 

Water resistantSure (IPX2 score — sweat-resistant).

Read our Galaxy Buds 2 review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Even when they do not sound fairly as magical as you’d hope a $249 mannequin would, the Apple AirPods Pro nonetheless handle to be an awesome pair of true wi-fi earphones with noise cancellation. That is largely attributable to their successful design and match, improved bass efficiency, efficient noise canceling and spatial audio, a virtual-sound mode for watching films and TV exhibits (solely works with iPhones and iPads working iOS 14 or greater).

They’re a wonderful Apple machine selection if you wish to make a name or take heed to music throughout your exercise. Yeah, they’re costly at $250, however the excellent news is they have an inclination to promote for $200 or much less. And the up to date model provides MagSafe compatibility, so these persist with magnetic wi-fi chargers.

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splash-proof).

David Carnoy/CNET

In some ways, Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds are wonderful true wi-fi earbuds, significantly with regards to their nice sound and noise canceling, which is among the finest on the market proper now in a set of earbuds. Efficiency-wise, they clearly have a leg up on Apple’s best-selling AirPods Pro. Nonetheless, the AirPods Professional’s smaller design, considerably extra comfy match and superior voice-calling capabilities make it arduous to declare the Bose the straight-up champ. In the end, it is dependent upon what your priorities are.

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splash-proof).

Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review.

 

David Carnoy/CNET

Take one take a look at the brand new design of the third-gen AirPods ($179), and the very first thing you may in all probability suppose is: “These seem like the AirPods Pro with out ear suggestions.” You would not be unsuitable. Whereas they’re extra fraternal than similar twins, the AirPods 3 are formed just like the AirPods Professional, with the identical shorter stems and similar pinch controls as these of the Professional. Apart from the design change, which ought to match most ears higher than the AirPods 2nd Era (although not very small ears), the largest change is to the sound high quality: It is a lot improved. Additionally, battery life is healthier, and the AirPods 3 are formally water resistant.  

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splash-proof).

Read our AirPods 3rd Generation review.

 

David Carnoy/CNET

Bang & Olufsen’s earlier Beoplay E8 earbuds have been good however underwhelming for his or her excessive value. The brand new Beoplay EQ are additionally fairly costly, however at the very least they’re among the many perfect true wi-fi earbuds out there proper now, with top-notch sound and adaptive noise canceling, together with a natural-sounding transparency mode. Multipoint Bluetooth pairing means you possibly can join them to a smartphone and pc concurrently. They’ve three microphones on every bud and are good for voice calling although not exceptionally good. 

For sure, the premium design components are right here — the aluminum-shelled case opens and closes with exact smoothness, and the buds themselves have their very own aluminum accent on the outer floor the place the contact controls dwell.

The buds are pretty giant and do stick out of your ears like premium buds from Sony and Sennheiser. They match me comfortably and securely and are appropriate for sporting actions, with an IP54 splash-proof score. Battery life is rated at round 6.5 hours at reasonable quantity ranges, and also you get an additional two fees from the case, which has USB-C and wi-fi charging.

The sound is huge and dynamic with deep, well-defined bass and a large soundstage. The mids sound pure, and the treble has good sparkle to it. They seem to be a pleasure to take heed to and among the many best-sounding true wi-fi earbuds. I did not expertise any listening fatigue over longer listening periods. AptX is out there for gadgets that assist the AptX audio codec; these have AptX Adaptive and use Bluetooth 5.2. 

Are they higher than the Sony WF-1000XM4, which value $120 much less? The reply to that can rely partially on simply how effectively they suit your ears and simply how good a seal you get from the included ear suggestions. I personally ended up getting the most effective match utilizing Sennheiser’s giant suggestions, which work finest for my ears. They’re an awesome set of earbuds should you can afford them. Simply purchase them from a retailer that has a superb return coverage in case you are not utterly glad.

Water resistantSure (IP54 score — splash-proof). 

David Carnoy/CNET

After a protracted wait, Bowers & Wilkins has lastly launched a few units of true wi-fi earbuds — the PI7 ($399) and PI5 ($249) — each of that are wonderful and have lively noise canceling together with a transparency mode. The flagship PI7 has a unique driver design and sounds barely extra detailed and refined with somewhat extra bass vitality. They each sound wonderful, however should you’re in search of the very best sounding set of earbuds, the PI7 are arguably simply that, besting the Sony WF-1000XM4 by a small margin. (In addition they sound barely higher than the superb Sennheiser Momentum True Wi-fi II and Grasp & Dynamic MW08.)

Whereas the PI7’s noise canceling is kind of first rate, the Sony’s noise canceling is superior. I additionally thought the Sony did higher with voice calling (it has higher noise discount so folks can hear you higher in a noisier environments) and it has higher battery life.

The PI7’s case does remodel right into a Bluetooth transceiver, so you possibly can plug it into your laptop computer for AptX streaming or an in-flight leisure system. That is a pleasant bonus function (the PI5 would not have it), however the Sony is the general higher worth. Nonetheless, if sound high quality is your precedence, the PI7 is price contemplating should you can afford them. Hopefully they arrive down in value over time.

The PI5 buds additionally sound wonderful and are a contact lighter than the PI7. At $250, the PI5 competes instantly with the $280 Sony 1000XM4. As with all in-ear headphones, it’s important to strive them to see how they suit your ears. Bowers & Wilkins’ buds might suit your ears higher than Sony’s and vice versa. 

Water resistantSure (IP54 score — splash-proof). 

Read our Bowers & Wilkins PI7 first take.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The second-generation Momentum True Wi-fi 2 are among the many best-sounding earbuds, have a barely smaller, extra comfy design and earned a CNET Editors’ Selection Award in 2020. They record for $300 however at the moment are promoting for nearer to $200 as we await the arrival of Momentum True Wi-fi 3 (they will probably flip up in 2022).

These use Bluetooth 5.1 with assist for the AAC and AptX codecs (for gadgets which have AptX, like Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones).

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splash-proof).

Read our Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review.

 

David Carnoy/CNET

The Beats Studio Buds look quite a bit just like the rumored stemless AirPods we have been ready for. Geared towards each iOS and Android customers, they’re lacking just a few key options on the Apple facet of issues (there is no H1 or W1 chip), however they’re small, light-weight buds which might be comfy to put on and provide actually good sound. Whereas their noise canceling is not nearly as good because the AirPods Professional’s they do have a transparency mode they usually’re first rate for making calls. In the end, their match and sound high quality are their strongest promoting factors — and they’re about $50 cheaper than the AirPods Professional.

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splash-proof). 

Read our Beats Studio Buds review.

 

David Carnoy/CNET

Anker makes a number of earbuds that value lower than $100. However its Soundcore Liberty Professional is its “high-end” mannequin that options premium sound, in addition to assist for Sony’s LDAC audio codec with appropriate gadgets (largely Android telephones).

Obtainable in 4 colour choices, the third-gen Liberty 3 Professional have up to date twin drivers and are about 30% smaller than their predecessor. They match my ears considerably higher than the Liberty 2 Professional buds, which I did not love as a lot as some folks. This new model is improved and a superb worth in comparison with different so-called premium buds. 

The Liberty 3 Professional ship a stable noise-canceling expertise (in addition they have three totally different transparency modes) and have Anker’s HearID ANC that “analyzes your ears and degree of in-ear strain to create a tailor-made profile that optimizes noise discount and reduces exterior sound to fit your ears.”

The earbuds additionally carry out effectively — although not exceptionally — as a headset for making calls. They’re IPX4 splash-proof and ship as much as 6 hours of battery life with noise canceling on and as much as 8 hours with it off. The case fees wirelessly, and I appreciated how the ideas of the buds are illuminated by a pair of LEDs on the within of the case when the buds are charging.

In contrast to with the Liberty Air 2 Professional, I had no drawback getting a good seal with the included ear suggestions, and I discovered the sound to be on par with different premium earbuds that value extra. They’ve huge, open sound with a number of vitality within the bass and good element. Whereas they’ve an inventory value of $170, they’re sporadically on sale for $20 much less. In the event you’re not fairly keen to step as much as the Sony WF-1000XM4 or different high-end fashions, the Liberty 3 Professional are price contemplating.

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splash-proof). 

Read our Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro review.

 

David Carnoy/CNET

Sennheiser final 12 months launched the CX 400BT True Wireless, a extra reasonably priced various to its wonderful Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds. I appreciated the CX400BT however thought the $200 record value was excessive and felt there was some room for reductions primarily based on their construct high quality. Certain sufficient, their value rapidly dropped to $150, then sporadically hit $100 on Amazon, and bottomed out at $80 for Prime Day 2021. Now we get the brand new Sennheiser CX, which have primarily the identical design as their predecessors however provide some small enhancements, together with a decrease $130 price ticket. They sound superb for his or her value level however do stick out of your ears somewhat greater than some buds. 

The buds are geared up with Bluetooth 5.2 and presumably an upgraded chipset. Battery life is as much as 9 hours at reasonable quantity ranges (the marginally cumbersome charging case shops a further three fees) versus seven hours for the earlier mannequin. The CX additionally provides an additional microphone on every bud, which does enhance the voice-calling expertise and makes it simpler for callers to listen to you converse, even in noisy environments. To be clear, nonetheless, these usually are not lively noise-canceling earbuds, they merely provide noise discount for calls. 

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splash-proof).

Read our Sennheiser CX first take.

 

Samsung

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Professional are barely superior to the brand new, barely extra reasonably priced Galaxy Buds 2 — at the very least with regards to sound, noise-canceling efficiency and water-resistance (they’re totally waterproof). In addition they have a few options lacking from the Buds 2, together with Samsung’s new 360 Audio digital encompass function that is much like Apple’s spatial audio (360 Audio solely works with sure Galaxy gadgets, however the record is rising). 

The Buds Professional are largely spectacular, though simply how good you suppose they’re will finally depend upon how effectively they suit your ears. For some folks, the smaller Galaxy Buds 2 would be the higher match — and better option. 

Water resistantSure (IPX7 score — totally waterproof).

Read our Galaxy Buds Pro review.

 

David Carnoy/CNET

Edifier has just a few totally different new true-wireless earbuds and most, together with the TWS 330NB, are superb values. Whereas the TWS 330NB buds are lacking a sensor that robotically pauses your music if you take them out of your ears, they function superb sound high quality for the cash, first rate lively noise canceling with a transparency mode, and stable voice calling (they’ve three microphones in every bud for noise canceling and noise discount throughout calls).

They match my ears effectively — they’re primarily AirPods Professional clones — and whereas the contact controls are somewhat restricted, they’re programmable utilizing the Edifier Join app for iOS and Android (it’s also possible to set their degree of contact sensitivity). They’ve an IP54 score, which implies they’re splash- and dustproof, and battery life is rated at 4 hours with noise canceling on and 5 hours with it off (at reasonable quantity ranges). That is solely OK, however you do get a further two fees by way of the charging case. They’re additionally out there in black. 

Water resistantSure (IP54 score — splash-proof).

David Carnoy/CNET

Grasp & Dynamic’s earlier MW07 and MW07 Plus delivered top-notch sound for really wi-fi, however they have been somewhat missing within the options division and weren’t so nice for making calls. The brand new-for-2021 MW08 provides some vital enhancements, together with the addition of stable noise canceling and name high quality, that make it one of many high fashions for 2021. Alas, they’re costly at $299.

Battery life has improved a bit (as much as round 12 hours of battery life at 50% quantity versus 10 hours for the MW07 Plus), and the earbuds are geared up with Bluetooth 5.2, lively noise cancellation with three microphones on every earbud (noise discount throughout calls is not as much as the extent of the AirPods Professional, however general name high quality has improved). The noise-canceling on the MW07 Plus was fairly weak; the MW08’s is far more efficient.

You possibly can go for two ranges of noise cancellation within the new M&D Join app for iOS and Android, in addition to two ranges of transparency that allow you to hear the surface world to various levels. The app at present has no method to tweak the sound profile (I am OK with that as a result of the sound profile is simply high quality for my tastes). Every earbud has a bodily button to regulate playback, not contact controls.

These buds might not match everybody’s ear equally effectively, however they actually have a definite look, in addition to wonderful sound and an awesome listening expertise if you will get a good seal (I used to be capable of get a safe match with the most important tip). They ship extra of an audiophile sound profile, with easy, well-balanced sound and well-defined bass. This mannequin has new 11mm drivers, which add a little bit of punch to the bass and a contact higher readability. The MW08 works effectively with all genres of music.

Obtainable in quite a lot of colour choices for $300, like their predecessors, the MW08 features a swanky stainless-steel charging case (it fees by way of USB-C) that is compact however carries extra weight than your typical buds case. I desire the matte finishes of the instances that include the black and blue variations, and also you additionally get a secondary pouch for safekeeping (sure, the charging case can get scratched up should you go away it in a bag).

These really wi-fi earbuds now assist each the AptX and AAC audio codecs and have an prolonged vary of greater than 20 meters, in keeping with Grasp & Dynamic.

Water resistantSure (IPX5 score — withstands sustained spray).

Say what you’ll concerning the Samsung Galaxy Buds Dwell’s bean-shaped design, however they could simply be probably the most revolutionary new true wi-fi earbuds of the previous 12 months. Like the usual AirPods, they’ve an open design — you do not jam an ear tip into your ear — they usually’re fairly comfy to put on and match my ears extra securely than the AirPods. That stated, they will not match all people’s ears equally effectively. These wi-fi buds are discreet and mainly sit flush together with your ear with out a little white pipe extending out from them.

They ship good sound and work effectively as a headset for making calls, with good background noise discount so callers can hear you clearly even if you’re in noisier environments. Whereas they function lively noise canceling, it is gentle in comparison with the noise canceling in earbuds which have a noise isolation design. In different phrases, purchase them for his or her design and sound, not their noise-canceling options.

Water resistantSure (IPX2 score — sweat-resistant and protects in opposition to gentle splashes).

Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review.

 

David Carnoy/CNET

At one time, we had the cheaper EarFun Free on this record, however the newer and extra feature-rich EarFun Free Professional buds are those I am utilizing extra for sporting exercise as of late. They’ve lively noise cancellation with a transparency mode, wi-fi charging and Bluetooth 5.2. Rated for seven hours of battery life with out the noise-canceling perform on, or about six hours with it on, they’re IPX5 water resistant, which implies they will face up to a sustained spray of water.

They sound superb for the cash, with comparatively clear, balanced sound and bass that has some kick to it — they’re fairly open-sounding. Light-weight and cozy to put on, they’ve little fins that assist maintain them securely in your ears, they usually’re pretty discreet-looking.

Do not count on them to cancel noise in addition to the AirPods Pro, however they do present some first rate muffling. It is price noting that you should utilize both the left or proper earbud independently and there is a low-latency mode for video watching (and presumably gaming). Name high quality was first rate, too: Callers stated they heard some background noise nevertheless it wasn’t intrusive they usually may hear my voice effectively. The contact controls have been responsive. 

Water resistantSure (IPX5 score — can face up to a sustained spray of water).

Whereas Jabra’s Elite 75t sequence has been out some time, they’re nonetheless among the finest true wi-fi earbuds on the market and have added noise canceling via a firmware upgrade. Earlier firmware updates improved voice-calling efficiency. 

The Elite 75t is not fairly as comfy to put on because the AirPods Professional, however they arguably sound a contact higher, with clearer general sound and barely higher bass definition, as long as you get a good seal. (The step-up 85t has extra highly effective bass).

The marginally extra rugged Elite Energetic 75t can be out there for about $20 extra, however with the brand new Elite 85t’s arrival we’re seeing some gross sales on the Elite 75t. 

Water resistantSure (IP55 score — can face up to heavy sprays of water).

David Carnoy/CNET

Google’s Pixel Buds A-Collection are form of uncommon, in that they are new however not precisely an improve. They appear and sound similar to final 12 months’s Pixel Buds 2, which debuted at $179 however at the moment are selling for less. Nonetheless, as an alternative of including new options — like lively noise canceling — they’ve really misplaced just a few. Why? They solely value $100: The “A” stands for affordability. That new cheaper price is the true story right here and what makes these a bonafide true-wireless worth, significantly for Android customers.

Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splash-proof).

Read the Pixel Buds A-Series review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Considered one of our high picks for runners, the Jaybird Vista is an effective set of true wi-fi sports activities earbuds that lock in your ears and are totally waterproof. Jaybird lately launched the Vista 2 ($200), which provides noise canceling and a transparency mode (their design and sound is much like the originals). With the Vista 2 arriving, the Vista is being discounted and often is the higher worth. 

Water resistantSure (IPX7 — totally waterproof and sweat-proof).

Read our Jaybird Vista review.

 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Sure, the Beats Powerbeats Professional’s jumbo charging case with its built-in battery is a notable downside. However incorporating all of the options that make Apple’s AirPods nice whereas delivering richer sound and higher battery life in a design that options ear hooks and will not fall out of your ear is a successful proposition. Simply be sure to purchase these Beats Powerbeats earphones someplace that has a superb return coverage, in case you are within the small minority who’ve ears that are not fairly a match for these Bluetooth headphones.

They use Bluetooth 5.0 with assist for AAC however not AptX.

Water resistant: Sure (IPX4 score — splash-proof).

Extra headphone suggestions

https://www.cnet.com/tech/cell/best-wireless-earbuds-2021-true-headphones-airpods-samsung-beats-buds/ | The 21 finest wi-fi earbuds for 2021

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