10 Best Wireless Earbuds 2021 (Bluetooth, Wireless, In-Ear)
Outstanding battery life
Stellar sound quality
Active noise cancellation
No in-line remote
May not fit everybody’s ears
Let’s start out with the hottest cordless earbuds out there: the Apple AirPods. These aren’t your ordinary wireless earbuds because they literally cost a fortune, coming in at around $220.
But as expected from a wireless earbud that costs this much, they sound stellar. By that, I mean you don’t just hear the wholesome bass beats of Sean Kingston’s Fire Burning but you can also hear the nicely cut mid and treble notes of Bob Marley’s Turn Your Lights Down Low— not to mention the crispy backup instruments and backup voices.
You can only enjoy listening to music for up to 6 hours of use but with the portable charging case, it’ll last for more than 24 hours. It’s just unfortunate that these don’t have an official IPX rating, so there’s really no telling how they can resist environmental elements such as dust and water; we’d suggest being careful just in case.
On top of that, these earbuds don’t really have outstanding wireless range which we’ll also uncover ourselves soon.
As for controls, the AirPods don’t have any in-line buttons at your disposal. You do have Siri (which can be activated simply by saying “Hey Siri” and voice-activated functions to adjust the volume, answer calls, skip tracks, and perform other audio-related programs.
The Pros come with tips of varying sizes, and generally fit much better than the none Pro models.
Stellar audio quality
This would have been our #1 Bluetooth earphones on the list if not for the exorbitant price tag. Currently, these things cost around $300, and even if they sometimes go as low as $270, it’s still expensive! If money isn’t a problem, though, it’s hard to not recommend the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless since these are some of the best sounding wireless earbuds.
Starting off with the sound quality, it’s spectacular. Thanks to Sennheiser’s new 7mm driver and the Bluetooth 5.0 earbuds, it’s as if you’re there on the stage with the band. The instruments and the voices are crystal clear, and everything from the lows, mids, and highs sound so much better compared to Apple’s AirPods.
Yet another thing that makes this better than the Apple AirPod is the Transparent Hearing feature that records the outside noise and transmits it into your ears to keep you in touch with what’s happening around you.
And lastly, these are carefully designed to make volume and other adjustments work easily. Tapping the left bud according to its set pattern lets you control the volume and skip tracks while tapping the right activates the voice controls.
Great battery life
Stellar sound quality
Case and earbuds may slip easily
There’s no denying that Jabra Elite 65t is Apple AirPod’s strongest competition in the $150 price range.
Starting off with the design, Jabra’s Elite 65t has a more mature design; although, depending on the color, these can look a little business-y, which you might not like.
Like the above Sennheiser, each earbud has its own preset controls: the left earbud controls the volume/skipping tracks; the right earbud lets you activate your voice assistant. The right earbud does act as the master bud so take that if you wish to take calls with only one bud.
Unlike some of the other best rated wireless earbuds, this automatically turns on when you take them out from the case and also turns off when you put them back.
In terms of sound quality, it sounds almost identical to the AirPods– there’s balance, warmth, and clarity. That being said, we do think these win out by a hair.
One thing that truly sets it apart from the AirPods is its ability to clock tons of external noise, which can be adjusted via Jabra’s mobile app (available in both Android and iOS). It even has presets to fit various situations, such as relaxing or commuting.
Needless to say, it’s undeniably better than AirPods in a lot of areas and even built for intense workouts since it’s rated IP55, which means it can withstand both dust and and powerful waterjets (a detailed explanation of the IPX rates can be found further below). But keep in mind that it’s also a little bit more expensive.
Excellent battery life
Stellar sound quality
Case and earbuds may slip easily
The Jabra Elite Active 65t is very similar to the Jabra Elite 65t above. In fact, there are no major physical differences between the two– it even has the same slippery yet elegantly designed plastic material and the IP56 rating.
What makes the Elite Active 65t better is the fact that it has a slightly better IPX rating now (features IP56 instead of IP55), perfect for sport-centered individuals. On top of that, it also has a slightly better audio clarity and quality as well as an integrated motion sensor that tracks your steps via the companion app.
If we’re being honest here, you’re better off with a dedicated device that does so. So, unless you really want your Jabras to be fitness-focused, you can take a step back and get the Jabra Elite 65t instead, and save $20 to $30.
Outstanding noise cancellation
The sound could be better for the price
We specifically want to feature the Bose QuietControl 30 because of how it excels with its noise cancellation feature. When I say noise-canceling headphones, you’ll probably think over-ear headphones that go on your ear and not inside your ear canal. However, that’s not actually the case and Bose shows us exactly why with this product. In fact, its noise canceling feature performs so well that it’s on par with the over-ear Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones II.
Unlike the other premium earbuds on this list, these have a unique neckband design that securely sits around the back your neck. This has its own set of pros and cons. You don’t really have to worry about losing this (until you take it off), and you can easily take the earbuds out without having to actually store them away.
Still, they’re always there, some people might find the band too large, small, or just that it clashes with their style. The band also makes it harder to store when you need to, like if it’s raining.
Unfortunately, you can get good Bluetooth headphones with better sound quality at cheaper price points. You still get a solid, punchy, low-frequency bass when listening to Lil Wayne’s A Milli but it fails to produce stellar high notes like some of its competitors in the $300 price range.
- IPX0 – No protection
- IPX1 – Protects from dripping water
- IPX2 – Protects from vertically dripping water
- IPX3 – Protects from sprays up to 60°
- IPX4 – Protects from splashing water, no matter the direction
- IPX5 – Protects from water jets in any direction
- IPX6 – Protects from powerful water jets
- IPX7 – Protects in water up to 3 feet (1 meter)
- IPX8 – Protects when immersed in water over 3 feet
- Noise isolation
- Volume limit
6 Must-Read Tips For Buying Wireless Earbuds
If at this point you’re still unsure which earbud is for you, consider reading the following tips to take the confusion away. This should give you a clear understanding which is best for you.
Honestly, this is pretty straightforward. Most earbuds give you about 4-6 hours of listening time. The earbuds which have the longest advertised battery lives are also the cheapest ones. Since budget is likely a larger factor, that will usually take care of itself.
It is worth noting that some of these come with cases that will charge them while in storage, like the Apple AirPods and Sennheiser Momentum True. This drastically increases your functional battery life.
Moreover, it is important to note that different activities use more battery life. For instance, phone calls use your battery life faster. Having the volume louder also depletes your battery faster.
People have their personal “taste” or standard when defining sound quality. But when it comes to Bluetooth and sound quality, it depends on the type of audio codec the sender and the receiver device uses. Basically, audio codec refers to the software that encodes and decodes the audio data stream.
Old versions of Bluetooth use the SBC (Sub-band Coding) audio codec, which compresses audio heavily to the point that the digital quality of the sound is greatly affected or decreased.
But newer devices– specifically, Android devices from the last few years– support newer and better audio codecs like aptX, which streams at 352Kbps with lower latency. These encode the audio data streams in a more efficient way to produce CD-like audio quality.
The aptX HD is basically an upgraded version of the aptX audio codec and streams at a higher bitrate of 576Kbps and a much lower latency.
On the other hand, Apple devices the like iPhone and iPad use the AAC sound codec. It’s basically an upgraded version of SBS and streams audio at 256Kbps. This audio codec is basically comparable to aptX, if not better when used efficiently.
Technically speaking, even if both devices use different codecs, you can still play music via Bluetooth. It’s just that you’ll hear the best audio quality if both devices use the same sound codec.
Comfort And Fit
The importance of a comfortable fit is immediately apparent, but finding one is often only accomplished through trial and error. That being said, there are a couple of things to keep an eye out for.
For instance, most Apple earbuds fit similarly; if you’ve tried one pair, then you know whether they fit you well or not. You might also want to watch out for other aspects of the earbud, like a hook design, or large pieces that stick out of your ear.
Range is something very few people will need to actually consider since 95% of the time you will just be connected to the phone that’s in your pocket. However, if you’re using a different connector, or– dare I say it– you let your phone out of your sight, then you might want to actually pay attention to this spec.
Does It Come With A Microphone?
Needless to say, wireless earbuds with microphones lets you do more than just listen to music. Some of these are made primarily for either music listening, communication, or entertainment while some are equipped with a 2-way microphone that controls what you hear by taking auditory information around you and using it to cancel out some of the obstructions.
Is It Waterproof?
Earbuds are given an IPX rating. This rating represents how resistant they are to environmental elements such as water. Basically, they are rated from IPX0 (no protection) to IPX8 (Protects when immersed in water over 3 feet).
See below to see the general overview of the IPX ratings:
Wireless earbuds offer varying features as seen on our product roundup. It also varies from one brand to another. Nevertheless, it usually revolves around the following areas: