Best wireless earbuds: Free yourself from the tyranny of cords

Earbud makers have been busy doing away with wires—a good thing whether or not your phone still has a headset jack. At most, Bluetooth earbuds might have a wire that connects the buds themselves to each other—a nice option if you’re prone to misplacing small objects, or you want in-line controls. This is often the more affordable option too, although that is changing over time.

So-called true wireless earbuds are just that, free of any wire whatsoever. Apple AirPods are the standard bearer of this category, but there are plenty of alternatives—some more worthy than others.

That’s just one decision you have to make. Wireless earbuds also vary on price, sometimes greatly, and some might be better for audiophiles while others are better for sports. Our picks for best wireless earbuds run the gamut, so you can easily find a pair that meets your needs. Read our guide on what to look for in wireless earbuds below our recommendations.

Best wireless earbuds 2020

AirPods Pro

Best overall + true wireless

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You don’t buy AirPods (or AirPods Pro) because they deliver the ultimate listening experience. You buy them because they sound good, are super easy to connect to all your Apple gear, are incredibly compact, work hands-free with Siri, and are incredibly comfortable.

It’s not hard to find wireless earbuds that do one or two things better than the AirPods Pro, but for users of Apple products, it’s really hard to find earbuds that do so many things so right.The AirPods Pro live at the sweet spot of comfort, ease of use, features, and sound quality. 

Pros: 

  • Excellent fit and comfort
  • Compact wireless charging case
  • Good active noise cancellation

Cons:

  • Sound quality is a little bland for the price
  • Battery life is just okay

Monoprice True Wireless Earbuds (model 30878)

Budget option + true wireless

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MSRP $49.99

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None of the really inexpensive wireless earbuds are without their foibles, but at only $50, the Monoprice True Wireless Earbuds (model 30878) really punch above their weight. Their sound quality is far superior to most others around the same price, and they provide excellent comfort and fit.

Battery life isn’t as long as some more expensive options, and the microphone is just serviceable, nothing more. But the earbuds themselves sound great, maintain their connection well, and do a great job of automatically reconnecting as soon as you pop them out of the case (a lot of cheap earbuds don’t).

Pros: 

  • Cheap price
  • Strong sound
  • Solid Bluetooth connectivity

Cons:

  • Shoddy on-board mic
  • 4-hour battery life
  • Slow recharging

Powerbeats Pro

Good for working out + true wireless

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MSRP $249.99

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The Powerbeats Pro are Beats’ first true wireless earbuds, and they’re just the thing for people looking for the AirPod experience, tailored for an active lifestyle. They use the new H1 chip found in the second-generation AirPods, so you get the same pairing and syncing experience as with AirPods, and hands-free “Hey, Siri” capabilities.

Beyond that, they resemble Beats more than AirPods. The design is similar to Powerbeats 3, only slightly smaller and lighter, angled for a better fit and better look, and of course without the cord between them.

Sound quality is quite good—better than AirPods, thanks to the rubberized tips that fit snug in your ears. In particular, you get much better bass response than with AirPods, though these aren’t as bass-overheavy as some Beats brand gear. They’re splash and sweat proof, and stay put in your ears through all sorts of rigorous physical activity.

Battery life is exceptional, too. The earbuds last for up to nine hours playing music, or six hours of phone calls.

Pros:

  • Good sound quality 
  • Comfortable fit
  • Epic battery life

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Case is too big for a pocket

Master & Dynamic MW07

Audiophile option + true wireless

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MSRP $299.00

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With 3.5 hours of battery life, per charge, the Master & Dynamic MW07 aren’t the longest lasting truly wireless earphones that we’ve tested. But that didn’t keep us from selecting it as our favorite pair of truly wireless earbuds for audiophiles. Simply stated, they’re the best-sounding pair that we’ve ever tested.

Offering excellent aural separation and a surprisingly wide sound stage, the MW07 will fill your ears with rich, punchy bass, clear mids, and crisp high-frequency audio. Everything we listened to on them sounded great. Master & Dynamic includes five different sizes of silicon ear tips with the MW07, so finding a good seal and comfortable fit should be achievable for most people.

Pros:

  • Outstanding sound quality
  • Bespoke materials and excellent point quality
  • USB-C charging

Cons: 

  • Underwhelming battery life
  • Battery case is a scratch and fingerprint magnet
  • Expensive

JayBird X4 Sport Wireless Earphones

Good for working out

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$129.48MSRP $130.00

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Jaybird’s X4 wireless sports earphones are reasonably priced, sound great, and boast enough features that most people will find a lot to like about them. (Read our full review here.) With their IPX7 rating, they can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes and still come out swinging. The silicone ear caps and ear fins that ship with with make them crazy comfortable to wear and allow for a measure of situational awareness. Alternatively, you can use a set of included Comply foam ear tips with the X4s for some serious passive noise cancellation.

The Jaybird X4s make most types of music sound great. Thanks to Jaybird’s free MySound iOS app, users can tune the sound of the earphones to suit their particular tastes. The only knock against them is that the X4s use a proprietary charging cable to connect to its waterproof pogo port—but that’s a small issue for a largely outstanding set of earphones.

Pros

  • Sounds great under most circumtances
  • IPX7: can be submerged in one meter of water for 30 minutes
  • Ship with Comply foam ear tips

Cons

  • Proprietary charging cable required
  • Audio becomes muddy at maximum volume
  • Audio call quality could be better

Aukey EP-B40 Latitude Wireless Headphones

Budget option + workouts

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$29.99MSRP $29.99

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If you’re looking for a set of inexpensive earphones that won’t leave you embarrassed or frustrated, Aukey’s EP-B40 Latitude wireless earbuds are your huckleberry. Available for under $30, these surprisingly solid earbuds boast sound quality that bests headsets three times their price. Their subtle, mature styling belies their low price and, provided your audio source supports it, they’ll let you listen to your music using Qualcomm’s aptX technology. For the price, the EP-B40s’ audio performance can’t be matched.

Just keep in mind that these low-cost earbuds only provide between six and seven hours of use between charges. Additionally, we experienced a few minor connectivity problems during testing. As the EP-B40s only cost $28, though, these are easy issues to forgive.

Pros

  • Surprisingly good sound for the price
  • Sweat and splash resistant
  • AptX compatible for supported devices

Cons

  • Poor passive noise cancellation
  • Extra EQ settings don’t do much for their sound
  • Bluetooth can be unstable when connected to more than one device simultaneously

Shure SE535-V+BT1 Wireless Sound Isolating Earphones

For audiophiles

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$399.00MSRP $499.00

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Because no two pairs of ears are identical, we note how many different sizes of interchangeable ear cups each set of earphones comes with. If they come with a neckband, we determine whether that band is appropriate for a wide variety of body types.

Comfort

They might fit and sound great, but if your new true wireless cans hurt your ears, you won’t wear them. We wear the earbuds for at least three hours a day for a week and note if a particular set becomes uncomfortable after a few hours of use.

Connectivity

Wireless earbuds use Bluetooth to connect to your audio device, and to each other in the case of true wireless. Connectivity issues can affect battery life, range, and sound quality. We evaluate for signal interruptions between the earbuds and their audio source, and also note if audio drops from the left or right side during playback.

Features

At minimum, a good pair of true wireless earbuds should be able to accept calls as well as play and pause music. If a pair offers additional features beyond the basics, those functions should work well and be easy to use.