Best Wireless Earbuds

True wireless earbuds are hugely popular among headphone buyers and 2021 will likely bring even more options to the market.

To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, we’ve chosen only the best. We’ve put these earbuds through their paces, testing their connectivity and features, as well listening to all kinds of music to understand how well they’ll work with various genres.

This selection ranges from affordable true wireless to premium priced earbuds, so whether you’re after the ultimate in wireless sound; need a pair that can do noise-cancelling well or want something cheap that sounds good, there’s plenty to choose from.

How we test headphones

Not just anybody can review a pair of headphones. You don’t need superhuman hearing to tell what’s good, but you do need to know what to listen out for.

Our headphone tests are done by some of the best and most prolific reviewers in the industry, with years of experience listening to everything from the plasticky freebie earbuds that come with your smartphone, to five-figure beasts of glass and marble. We love music and we want your tunes to sound good, too.

So we listen every pair of headphones we can get on or in our ears. We use a variety of sources, from basic MP3s playing on a laptop to high-quality tracks on dedicated hi-res audio players.

Our test tracks are wide-ranging to give headphones a thorough challenge. They’re also familiar, so we know every track backwards, and we know which bits might trouble the lesser performers.

We listen again and again, and we do that for weeks in case the sound changes – because it usually does. Then we’ll listen to similarly priced rivals and come up with a verdict that reflects the performance and features for the money.

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Pros

  • Astonishingly good sound
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Improved design
  • IPX4 rating
  • Smaller case
  • Comprehensive feature set

Cons

  • Is the noise cancelling the best?
  • More expensive than before
  • Call quality suffers in noisy areas

The XM4 knocks the XM3 off the top spot and does so with an improvement in all areas. Some improvements are rather subtle, such as the design, but they reap dividends with cushier, more comfortable wearing experience. More obvious are the new smart features in Speak-to-Chat and improvements to Ambient smart Control that personalise your audio experience without getting in the way.

ANC is again terrific, suppressing noise for an even smoother and quieter noise-cancelling experience, and the sound is terrific, taking the performance of the previous over-ears and refining it in a way that makes the XM3 sound rather dated. The XM4 are Sony’s best true wireless so far.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WF-1000XM4

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Pros

  • Tremendous noise cancelling
  • Neutral sound quality
  • Comfortable fit
  • Excellent transparency mode

Cons

  • Rather average battery life
  • No higher quality Bluetooth codecs

Bose have outdone themselves with the QuietComfort Earbuds. They are a staggeringly good pair of wireless earbuds.

The noise cancelling is the most superior we’ve heard to date. The Sony WF-1000XM3 were fantastic but the Bose live up to the QuietComfort name, the amount of noise they eradicate makes for an eerily quiet experience. The strength of the noise-cancelling affects their stamina, the 18 hours of battery life is less we’d like from an earbud that costs north of £200.

Nevertheless, the excellent ANC is matched by an excellent sound. The Bose delivers sharp treble response, bags of detail, and a confident bass performance. We’d sum the performance up as being very natural in tone, versatile in terms of handling music genres and superbly engaging. No doubt about it, Bose has served up a classic in the QuietComfort Earbuds.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

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Pros

  • Great musical sound quality
  • Terrific noise cancellation
  • Snug fit
  • Solid wireless connectivity
  • Great with all types of music

Cons

  • Intrusive Adaptive Sound Control
  • No aptX

The WF-1000XM3 are a great-sounding pair of headphones, and while newer earbuds have bested them in some ways, as a complete package the Sonys are hard to beat.

And that’s in part due to their impressive sound performance that’s balanced in tone and musical in its approach. Give them any type of genre and they’ll refused to be flustered, revealing plenty of detail in the midrange and necessary ‘oomph’ in the bass regions to give tracks impact.
The ANC is still the best we’ve experienced on a true wireless so far, and battery life with ANC is a steady 24-hours. Wireless connectivity is an improvement over the first-gen pair, though the omission of aptX is a disappointment.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sony WF-1000XM3

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Pros

  • Expressive, lush sound
  • Reasonable good ANC
  • Good fit
  • Robust feature set

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Battery taxed by heavy ANC and Transparency Mode usage

The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 are the German audio brand’s second stab at a premium true wireless, and they improve in several ways over the original with the inclusion of active noise cancellation, improved battery life, and a more ergonomic design.

The inclusion of ANC is a welcome addition, by it’s not as strong as some other efforts on this list. It reduces traffic and voices to a less noticeable hum, but the ANC is reliant on achieving a good fit and setting the volume appropriately for it to have the impact required. Battery life is 28-hours, although using ANC and bud’s Transparency Mode can noticeably tax the length of battery life available.

The audio is what you’ll be buying the MOMENTUM TW2 for. It’s capable of delivering a rich and expressive sound, with bass deeper and warmer than other alternatives, and top-end frequencies expressed with detail and clarity. There are more ‘attacking’ sounding pairs of earbuds available, but few entertain as much as these do.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

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Pros

  • Accomplished at every aspect of music-making
  • Light and (eventually) comfortable
  • Good battery life

Cons

  • Don’t look or feel £250-worth
  • Some gaps in specification
  • Can be tricky to position

The GT220 are the first from illustrious headphone brand Grado, and given their pedigree in the audio field, these wireless earbuds live up to the brand’s bar for high-quality sound.

At £250 they incur a premium, and they lack some of the features that have come to define expensive true wireless earbuds such as active noise cancellation. They also look surprisingly plain – aside from the Grado branding they verge on the anonymous. But they’re fairly lightweight to place in the ear, and they’re comfortable to wear once a good fit has been found. Battery life is 36 hours, so these earbuds should be able to last a good while.

Really, the GT220 are all about the sound, and in terms of fidelity and musical enjoyment, we’d rate none finer than the Grados at this moment. Tonally they’re impeccable: bright at the top end, lathered with detail in midrange and offering deep bass. They are a super-sounding pair of wireless earbuds.

Reviewer: Simon Lucas
Full Review: Grado GT220

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Pros

  • Open, balanced, detailed, punchy and all-around splendid sound
  • Decent battery life
  • Robust wireless connection

Cons

  • Flat-out odd looks
  • App updates can’t come soon enough

The Aonic 215 have a rather unique look with their rather bug-like antennae. Though the design raises a few eyebrows, they deliver when it comes to audio quality.

With SBC, AAC and aptX, the Aonic 215 deliver on the promise of high-quality playback. Battery life is 32 hours, more than enough to get through at least a week of use. The design takes a while to get used with the controls on the bulbous end of the stem, though the over-ear hook design offers a snug and comfortable fit.

Music shines as Aonic 215 provides deep bass and a treble performance that offers plenty of shine and bite. The soundstage is broad and well-defined and dynamically they lap up shifts from high to low and vice versa. If you can get past the looks, they’re an impressive true wireless pair.

Reviewer: Simon Lucas
Full Review: Shure Aonic 215

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Pros

  • Good, clean sound
  • Excellent fit
  • Effective noise cancellation

Cons

  • Better-sounding options available
  • ANC not as thorough as rivals
  • Reduced IP rating

The Elite 85t carries on from the Elite 75t, being the first in Jabra’s true wireless range to support built-in noise cancellation.

The ANC performance isn’t as effective as a Bose or Sony but it’s effective enough to provide a sense of isolation. It comes with plenty of features, from its Qi-charging to its Soundscapes feature that adds further isolation by replicating sounds from nature such as waterfalls.

We found they sounded very good, the 85t taking a measured approach with a balanced, clear, and detailed sound. There are better alternatives and that, ultimately, proves to be their undoing. They’re recommended, especially for the fit and comfort they offer, which makes you forget they’re in your ear most of the time.

Reviewer: Kob Monney
Full Review: Jabra Elite 85t

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Pros

  • Much improved design over original AirPods
  • Excellent noise cancellation
  • Well integrated with the Apple ecosystem
  • So comfortable

Cons

  • ANC strength can’t be manually altered

Without the original AirPods there might not be a true wireless market as we know it. And despite being one of the first to market, we’ve never been particularly satisfied with what Apple has produced. At least until the AirPods Pro.

The AirPods Pro fulfil their promise better than the standard AirPods ever did. They’re comfortable to wear, slotting into the ear rather than hanging off. That said the capacitive controls could used improving – grabbing the stem literally loosens the grip, and there aren’t any controls for volume unless you ask Siri or pull out your phone.

Battery life is 24-hours, and active noise cancellation is very good, though it lacks any way to customise it. Transparency Mode is a handy feature, offering a way to listen to the world around you. With deeper bass, and better detail in the midrange area, the Pro aren’t to be discounted when it comes to sound. Their warm tone is appealing, though several other earbuds offer more fidelity. If you’re an Apple user, they are a no-brainer.

Reviewer: Max Parker
Full Review: Apple AirPods Pro

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Pros

    Cons

      For music fans, Technics’ first pair of true wireless earbuds are an excellent option. The design is fairly unassuming, but they look sleek and build quality is solid for the price.

      Battery life is decent with 19.5 hours in total, though you can get more elsewhere. Like many other premium earbuds, the Technics boast noise-cancelling and it proves to be reliable, fending off sounds to leave you with your music.

      The sound is well-balanced, detailed and dynamic, with good separation of the various frequencies. The low end is precise, there’s good detail in the midrange and the treble reproduction is well defined.

      Reviewer: Alastair Stevenson
      Full Review: Technics EAH-AZ70W

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      Pros

        Cons

          The middle are of the wireless earbud market is one that’s oft forgotten, but you can find a few gems in there such as these Sennheisers.

          Some may lament the lack of noise-cancellation but the CX 400BT delivers where it counts. Since its release it’s fallen further in price making these earbuds a steal. They’re rather plain looking but that’s not something we mind, and what they lack in aesthetics they make up with their reassuring and compact build quality. We found they fit well and were comfortable to wear over long periods of time.

          They share a similarly accomplished performance with the more expensive MOMENTUM TW2; the sound is transparent, revealing and well-judged. Vocals are handled with precision and clarity; the soundstage is big and expansive and the bass performance more confident than similarly priced earbuds we’ve heard. One issue is that they don’t go as loud as we’d like, but that’s one of few complaints we have.

          Reviewer: Kob Monney
          Full Review: Sennheiser CX 400BT

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          Pros

          • Sound quality benefits greatly from the ANC
          • The new textured touch pad is easier to use
          • Only £30 more than the FN6

          Cons

          • There are better examples of ANC out there
          • Not the best fit for workouts

          The HBS-FN7 are LG’s premium wireless earbud and their best effort so far. It sees LG and British hi-fi brand Meridian partner up yet again for the audio, its enhanced by the presence of active noise cancellation that brings a noticeable bass boost. Without it, we don’t hear much of a difference between it and the FN6.

          That said, the improved ANC sound allows the earbuds to be more versatile, especially when the various equaliser settings in the Tone Free app are engaged. Tweaks to the touch controls allow for easier control and the UVNano cleaning technology provides a certain peace of mind, vaporizing – according to LG – 99% of any bacteria when the earbuds are placed in the charging case.

          There are better earbuds for noise-cancellation and they’re not best suited for workouts, but they improve on the FN6 with just a modest bump in price.

          Reviewer: Tom Deehan
          Full Review: LG HBS-FN7

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          Pros

          • Light, compact and comfortable
          • Detailed, informative and coherent sound
          • Convincing tonality

          Cons

          • Direct rivals offer better battery life
          • Not the most out-and-out dynamic listen

          SoundMagic have been putting out great budget headphones for years, and they’ve done it again with the TWS50.

          We’ll admit that the tadpole-like design is a bit odd, but the TWS50 are a compact and comfortable fit. The rotating ‘shell’ case with its 80’s-like digital clock is also a bit odd, but we’ll accept it given battery is a lengthy 30 hours in total. With a Bluetooth 5.0 connection and aptX support, audio proves to be appealing, with a detailed, well-defined and wide soundstage, punchy rhythms and a convincing sense of tonality. The only real issue of note is their less than assured handling of dynamic variances.

          Reviewer: Simon Lucas
          Full Review: SoundMagic TWS50

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          Pros

          • Comfortable fit
          • Impressive battery life
          • Great audio quality

          Cons

          • Cheap looks

          Earfun are unlikely to compete with the likes of Apple and Bose, but they focus is on value and on that front the Air earbuds impress.

          The Air are the second Earfun earbuds we’ve sampled after the Free, and they boast improved audio over their cheaper siblings. Their tone is crisp, detailed and balanced, characteristics that aren’t always common with cheap true wireless, though we find they do come a cropper in terms of bass. If that’s not a big issue then we think you’ll like how they sound.

          Features are good for the price too, with an IPX7 rating to keep water and sweat away, quick charging and microphone noise-cancelling for calls that results in a relatively clean and clear performance. For the price the Earfuns are great value.

          Reviewer: Hannah Davies
          Full Review: Earfun Air

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          Pros

          • Solid sound
          • Impressive noise cancelling
          • Comfy fit and compact charging case
          • Good range of features

          Cons

          • Better sound can be had for less
          • Sporadic Bluetooth connection
          • Can’t skip tracks on the earbuds

          ANC is not often seen at budget prices, and the Urbanista London are the first time we’ve seen ANC feature on a true wireless this cheap.

          And the Londons mark the occasion as the Urbanista’s best true wireless so far. Battery life meets expectations and the audio is solid: refined and clearer when ANC is activated. It’s not the most detailed of performances with a slight warmth to its tone, but it does carry a bit more low-end oomph than some others at this price are capable of.

          The London’s ANC performance is surprisingly good too, suppressing plenty of noise as you walk through a city. One issue we’ve had is the wireless connection, which depending on your device, can be rather spotty.

          Reviewer: Kob Monney
          Full Review: Urbanista London

          What are the best budget wireless earbuds?

          If you’re looking for a very inexpensive pair of wireless earbuds, the Earfun Air are a good shot. Solid battery life, good sound and decent features for the asking price.

          What are the best earbud for iPhone?

          The Apple AirPods Pro are the best earbuds for the iPhone. They have features that allow them to work seamlessly with an iPhone that covers connectivity and features such as Spatial Audio.

          What are the best wireless earbuds for Android?

          Sony’s latest WF-1000XM4 true wireless feature fast-pairing with Android devices and also supports the ‘Find My’ feature in case they go missing. LDAC support also means they support higher quality music playback on Android devices.

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