The Best True Wireless Headphones

The ear sets that won’t tie you down.

Various earbuds in their cases.
Rozette Rago

This post was published in partnership with Wirecutter, the site devoted to finding the best gear and gadgets. Every product is independently selected by the Wirecutter team. We update links when possible, but note that deals may expire and are subject to change. If you buy something through our links, Slate and Wirecutter may earn an affiliate commission.

After our tests of 26 sets of true wireless in-ear headphones, the Jabra Elite 65t is the only pair we wholeheartedly recommend. We found that most totally wireless earbuds remain a first-generation technology with a few kinks to work out—every other pair we tested had flaws in fit, functionality, convenience, compatibility, or a combination of all four. But the Jabra Elite 65t performed as well as or better than standard Bluetooth earbuds, with the added convenience of a totally cable-free experience.

Our Pick

Jabra Elite 65t.
Rozette Rago

The Jabra Elite 65t is the first set of true wireless earbuds that we actually love because they sound great, they’re comfortable, and they give you all the experience you expect from standard Bluetooth earbuds, with the bonus of no wires. Unlike many other true wireless earbuds, this pair has both volume and track controls as well as the ability to trigger your digital assistant. The four-microphone array works well to keep your voice sounding crystal clear over phone calls. The Elite 65t earbuds block out most outside noise but have a transparency mode so you can choose to hear your surroundings. Their five-hour battery life per charge is at the higher end of listening time between charges for this category—but still far shorter than the life of standard Bluetooth earbuds.

Best true wireless headphones
BUY: Jabra Elite 65t
$170, Amazon


Apple Airpods.
Kyle Fitzgerald

Apple’s AirPods pair extremely easily to Apple devices (they’ll automatically pair to phones, tablets, and computers where you’re signed in with your Apple ID) and let you swap between those devices automatically. They also offer clear performance on phone calls and sound as good as Apple’s wired EarPods—whether you consider that good or bad is up to you. Like the Jabra Elite 65t, they need to be recharged every five hours or so. Most important, they’ve held up well for us over the past year of long-term testing, and they have a decent track record for reliability. However, they lack the music and volume controls you might be accustomed to in wired earbuds. Although their Apple-specific features, such as Siri and custom tap controls, make them great for people with Apple phones and laptops, they’re a poor value for non-iPhone owners.

Best for iPhones
BUY: Apple Airpods
$145, Amazon

Why You Should Trust Me

I spent several years in terrestrial radio before moving on to become a professional voice actor in Los Angeles, a job I still do and love. In other words, I’ve been in and out of top recording studios for over a decade. I also have reviewed high-end home audio equipment for publications such as Home Entertainment, Home Theater Magazine, and Sound & Vision. My articles have been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, and Time, and on Good Morning America and the BBC World Service.

I have a bachelor’s degree in both music performance and audio production from Ithaca College, and I’ve tested literally hundreds of headphones while working for Wirecutter. In other words, I’ve got a pretty good handle on what’s out there and what’s worth your time and hard-earned money, and I am committed to finding gear that will make you happy.

What are “True Wireless Headphones,” and Who are They For?

What we call “true wireless” headphones are in-ear Bluetooth headphones (earbuds) that don’t have a cord connecting them either to your music device or to each other. They look a little like hearing aids, held in place in your ears by fit alone, without any distracting wires to be found. Mics are built in, as are any controls, since no cable is available to support a traditional in-line remote. Because these headphones are small, most sets don’t have more than a five-hour battery life. However, they can recharge in their carrying case, generally taking around 20 minutes to charge for an hour of listening.

With any pair of in-ear headphones, fit is everything—it can affect not only comfort but also sound quality. True wireless headphones up the fit ante, since they depend on fit to stay in your ears at all. If a true wireless earbud falls out while you’re on the go, it’s just one wrong bounce away from being gone for good. Furthermore, the pieces are small enough that they may pose a serious choking hazard for small children—you won’t want to leave them lying around where little ones could get their hands on them. In other words, you’ll need to use extra care to keep track of this style of headphones.

Various earbud cases.
Unlike standard Bluetooth earbuds, true wireless models charge in their case, so you don’t want to leave home without it.
Rozette Rago

Most of these cost at least $100 more than traditional Bluetooth headphones but don’t upgrade the sound, battery life, or available features. Some models automatically pause when you remove them from your ear, or offer speech-intelligibility enhancements or voice control, but as of now, other than the lack of a cable running behind your head, true wireless headphones provide no real additional everyday usability advantages over standard in-ear Bluetooth headphones.

One last catch: Because the audio signal has to transmit to one earbud and then sync to the other, all true wireless headphones so far have a delay when you’re watching video. In some cases, it’s barely perceptible; in others, the latency creates a noticeable delay in the audio from what you see on screen.

Our pick: Jabra Elite 65t

The Jabra Elite 65t is the first pair of true wireless earbuds we actually love using. These earbuds do everything that standard Bluetooth earbuds can, with the bonus of being completely cord-free. They’re comfortable in the ears, they sound great, they’re fantastic for phone calls, and they’re seamless to use throughout the day.

This pair uses Bluetooth 5.0, which in our experience improves both connection strength and data speed, so you shouldn’t encounter the frequent dropped calls or stuttering music that has plagued much of the competition. In our tests, I could walk three walls away from my phone and not experience drops. I even left my phone downstairs and jogged up one flight to get something upstairs, and the Elite 65t didn’t drop my call. Of course, pipes, water, and other factors can affect your experience, but we were very happy with the stability of the connection inside, outside, and in interference-prone areas like the gym and subway.

Man wearing the Jabra Elite 65t.
Rozette Rago

Unlike many true wireless earbuds we tested, the Elite 65t pieces feel very secure. They’re lightweight and small, and they won’t dangle, stick out, or fall out every time you move too quickly.

Jabra uses a four-microphone system in the Elite 65t, two on each bud; the second mic serves to provide a signal with more of the audio from the world around you to drive the noise-cancelling system. This design helps you sound very clear during calls and video meetings, and it provides wind-noise reduction while you’re listening, a function we found to be fairly effective in our testing. Although my call recipient could hear a slight high-pitched whoosh when I was walking directly into the breeze and speaking, every word I said was intelligible. We also found that the Elite 65t didn’t pick up any wind noise when I wasn’t speaking, and the mics picked up only my speech, not trucks going by or other street noise. And in quieter office environments, several of our test callers were surprised to learn I was using a headset at all, saying that the clarity was on a par with that of someone speaking directly into the phone itself.

The Elite 65t design also offers more controls than many true wireless earbud models. Not only do you get the ability to play, pause, and call up a digital assistant, but you can also adjust the volume, change tracks forward or back, and answer or end calls. The controls are physical buttons that are easy to locate by feel, and unlike with many of the touch-sensor-based earbuds we tested, they are intuitive and don’t trigger accidentally if your hand happens to brush one of the earbuds. The Elite 65t pair works with both iOS and Android, and is Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant certified.

The Elite 65t has a sealed design that is rather isolating, which is great if you want to block out noise. But if you need to have a conversation or want to stay safe when walking outside, just double-tap the button on the right earbud—this move activates “transparency mode,” which uses the mics to allow you to hear the world around you. Via the included Jabra app, you can set this action to either pause your music or continue it, letting you hear a mix of your music or call and external noise. The transparency mode is especially handy, as it means you don’t need to take the earbuds out to communicate in person.

Hand holding the Jabra Elite 65t case open.
Rozette Rago

Jabra claims the Elite 65t has a five-hour battery life per charge, which should get you to lunchtime without charging. In our testing, I got more than five hours of listening time if I made only a few brief phone calls. Of course, your volume level and call duration could affect your results somewhat. The charging case is small enough to fit in a jeans coin pocket, yet capable of giving you an additional 10 hours of battery life. Plus, the earbuds have an initial rapid charge that gives you 1.5 hours of use after just 15 minutes in the case.

Music fans will be happy to know that the sound quality on tunes is also quite good. This set produces a minor harsh edge on “s” sounds, as well as a bit of a bump in the mids, which can make bass guitars sound minimally louder in the mix than you may be accustomed to hearing. However, you can adjust the EQ in the Jabra app, and the settings stay with the earbuds: Once you find your favorite sound, the Elite 65t saves it, and you don’t need to play your music through the app to get the extra bass or boosted vocals you crave.

You don’t need to worry about being caught in the rain, either, because these earbuds are IP55 rated, which means they can take dust, rain, and some light sweat without breaking. You can take the Elite 65t to the gym if you are doing a mild workout, such as walking, but if you sweat heavily you may want to consider our workout headphones pick instead, Jabra’s Elite Active 65t, which has an IP56 rating. Although Jabra backs the Elite 65t with a two-year warranty against water and dust damage, this model isn’t covered for heavy sweating. The Active edition is more sweat and dust resistant.

BUY: Jabra Elite 65t
$170, Amazon

Flaws but Not Dealbreakers

Gif of man putting the Jabra Elite 65t in ear.
Rozette Rago

Although we love most everything about the Jabra Elite 65t, we did encounter a few minor flaws. First, when you depress the buttons on the left earbud that control tracks and volume, you can end up pushing the earbud into your ear. It isn’t uncomfortable, but it is a little annoying. However, we found that if you hold the tiny arm that contains the mics with two fingers to stabilize the earbud while pressing the buttons, it completely eliminates the problem. You can do this one-handed, and it’s a minor enough irritation that we can overlook it.

The other two issues are problems that plague all true wireless headphones at this point: low battery life and minor latency. Because bigger battery life means bigger batteries, five hours before charging is the maximum we’ve seen any true wireless headphones offer. We would love to have more battery life, but that isn’t a possibility yet with current battery technology.

As for latency, these headphones do produce a very slight delay when you’re watching video. In our testing, that delay was slightly more pronounced when we used the YouTube app as opposed to watching video in other apps or in the browser screen. Most of the time the effect was barely noticeable, but in the YouTube app, video and audio sync could be off noticeably. If you want headphones only for watching video on your phone, this drawback may be worth considering, but we think for most people it’s not a big problem.

Runner-up: Apple Airpods

Of all the true wireless headphones we tested for this guide, the Apple AirPods are by far the easiest to set up and use with Apple devices. (They will pair with non-Apple devices, too, just not as seamlessly.) The AirPods connect via Apple’s proprietary W1 chip, which means they automatically pair with devices that are signed in to your Apple account, so you don’t need to add devices manually. Following that, they will switch to your nearest paired devices automatically, but other headphones, like the Jabra Elite 65t, do that as well—it’s mostly the pairing process that’s more onerous with those. In our testing the W1 chip also seemed to give the AirPods better connectivity than what we got from a good number of the standard Bluetooth competition. For example, I haven’t experienced frequent drops in my long-term testing of the AirPods, and I can get several rooms away (three walls) from my iPhone 7 without losing the connection. Of course, your results may vary depending on your home’s setup.

The AirPods use a combination of microphones and jaw movement to detect when you are speaking, so phone calls sound great to the person on the other end. The unsealed design means you can hear your surroundings, which is good if you need to hear co-workers or the street around you to be safe, but isn’t great for the sound quality. Like corded EarPods, the AirPods lack any low bass. At $30, that’s no big deal. At about $150, we’d like better sound. Unlike many true wireless earbuds, they produce only a slight latency when you’re watching video; most people won’t notice or care that the sync is off a teeny bit. However, because the AirPods are not noise isolating, you will need to listen at a higher volume in busy environments (the subway, city streets, cafés, offices), and that can be bad for your hearing health.

The fit is pretty comfortable—the AirPods feel just like corded EarPods, but depending on your ear shape and activity level, they likely won’t feel as secure in your ears as our top pick. The AirPods will fit most people, but not everyone. And unlike with most earbuds, you have no way to adjust the tips to find a better fit. If you know that the corded EarPods that came with your iPhone don’t fit you, the AirPods won’t either.

Additionally, the controls on the AirPods are limited. Although you can individually assign a function (play/pause, trigger Siri, skip to next track, or skip to previous track when double-tapped) to the left and right pieces, you have to choose just one function per bud. You need to do everything else via your phone, your Apple Watch, or Siri voice commands. So, for example, if you choose the skip-track function, you can’t call up Siri. Plus, volume controls are not an option at all. “Hey Siri” does work, but it can feel a bit awkward in public.

And lastly, while Apple claims that the AirPods are designed to take the same stress as the EarPods, neither design is rated for sweat or water resistance, so we wouldn’t use these headphones for serious exercise. If they break because of sweat exposure, you might void the warranty. Apple says a light misting rain is fine. Just be sure to dry your AirPods before charging.

BUY: Apple Airpods
$145, Amazon

Most Promising, but Not for Most People: Bragi The Dash Pro

Woman wearing the Bragi Dash Pro while in a pool.
Rozette Rago

Bragi’s The Dash Pro is one of the coolest hardware offerings we’ve come across in years. These earphones include features such as gesture control (head nods), 4 GB of internal music storage, adjustable situational awareness as on the Jabra Elite 65t, integrated translation software, heart-rate monitoring, and the ability to swim while listening to music stored in the earbuds. They try to do a lot—and they are surprisingly successful. It’s easy to imagine The Dash Pro as representing the future of headphones. If you live for the latest thing and you have an extra $330 to $600 in your pocket, The Dash Pro is undeniably rad, but you should be prepared to endure some of the bugs that come with early adoption.

I swim-tested The Dash Pro and was astounded at how well these headphones worked.
You upload your songs to the earbuds themselves—no streaming from your device—because Bluetooth can’t go through water. However, the waterproofing is good in up to only 3 feet of freshwater—sorry, surfers. If you want a more secure fit to keep The Dash Pro off the bottom of the pool, you’ll need to shell out a grand total of $600 for the custom-fit edition by Starkey, plus the cost of an audiologist to take your ear impressions, which can run $50 to $150. The standard pair can tolerate the water, but quick movements like flip turns can start to make the universal fit come loose.

The translation software, powered by iTranslate, requires you to be paired to your phone, costs a monthly fee after the initial free trial, and can be less than accurate when it comes to idioms. (For example, if you are an English speaker in a business meeting and want to express in Spanish that the temperature is too high, you might say, “I’m hot.” The software will spit out “Soy caliente,” which roughly translates to “I’m feeling sexy.” Not exactly what we were looking for. The correct phrase in this case is “Tengo calor.”)

As for other problems, the auto-activity tracker logged my sit-ups as a swim. Pairing with your device has a learning curve. And it can be difficult to know for certain whether the earbuds are charging in the case. Most of these kinds of problems are software related, however, and with all the power in The Dash Pro, updates and firmware upgrades are sure to improve the experience over time.

Despite their promise and surprising functionality, these headphones are just a bit too buggy and costly to be a pick at this time. However, Bragi is releasing new software features regularly, so this situation could change in the future.

BUY: Bragi The Dash Pro
$130, Amazon

What to Look Forward To

Sony has released a new pair of wireless earbuds, the Xperia Ear Duo. Sony claims they can last four hours on a single charge, and that the included case can charge the earbuds up to three times. The earbuds also support Siri and Google Assistant and can automatically adjust their volume based on the level of ambient noise around you.

During the CES 2018 trade show, Sony introduced the WF-SP700N. According to The Verge, these earbuds feature noise cancellation and are rated to be splash and sweat resistant. They’re also supposed to last for three hours outside of their charging case, which holds enough power for two additional charges. The WF-SP700N is available now for $180.

JVC also released new true wireless headphones at CES 2018. The company’s HA-ET90BT set is aimed at athletes. The headphones have a water-resistance rating of IPX5, and are sold with two types of earpieces in three different sizes. A full charge reportedly provides three hours of listening, and the charging case holds two full charges’ worth of power. These headphones cost $150.

During Apple’s 2017 iPhone event keynote, the company announced its new, second-generation AirPods with Qi wireless-charging capabilities. At the time, we expected them to be available in early 2018 along with the new AirPower multidevice charger. But as of WWDC in June 2018, neither has materialized. We’ll let you know more as we find out.

The Competition

808 EarCanz Tru: The lack of a charging case means you’ll need to find a USB port every three hours. As if that weren’t annoying enough, these headphones sounded terrible (blurry, muddy, muffled, and coarse) in our tests and felt huge in our ears. Not even a very affordable price can overcome the downsides.

Alpha Skybuds: After a three-hour software update via Bluetooth between my phone and the case, we found that the sound of this pair was lackluster—thudding bass, sizzling highs, with a hole in between. These earbuds also seemed to have a barely perceptible sync issue on occasion, which made everything sound … off. The fit was light and nice, however.

Altec Lansing True EVO Wireless: The True EVO come with lots of tips, so getting a secure fit isn’t an issue, and they feel stable in your ear. However, overall these do the bare minimum to qualify as acceptable. There’s limited controls: only play/pause and digital assistant. The sound is just okay. The mids and highs are pretty good, and acoustic guitar is nice-sounding. But the lows are blurry and too quiet. There also seems to be a low mids dip, so the vocals feel unsupported. If you must have true wireless headphones for less than $100, fine. Otherwise, we’d spend the extra bit of money for our picks.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8: B&O had a lot of good ideas for the E8, but the execution on all of them was off. The touch controls don’t always respond on the first try. The effects of the transparency mode for letting in environmental sounds range from weird-and-tinny with paused music to a completely indecipherable cacophony of muffled surroundings and music. None of the EQ settings manage to make the sound quality fantastic. At best, you get metallic and sibilant highs and a shallow soundstage that doesn’t come close to what you might expect from a $300 set of headphones—and then the Bluetooth connection starts hiccuping. Overall, we expect far more from a premium brand like Bang & Olufsen.

Bose SoundSport Free: These earphones don’t seal out external noise, so they’re not ideal for use in a loud gym environment. I tested this pair on a busy Monday night at my local 24 Hour Fitness, and between the music, the machine buzz, and the lifter grunts, I needed to turn the volume up way higher than is safe for hearing health. As such, this set isn’t our top pick for workout use. It has a few other minor downsides, too. In our tests, the sound quality was a bit dull, lacking detail on consonants, though not offensive. And if the appearance of Apple’s AirPods or single-ear mobile headsets makes you feel self-conscious, the size of the SoundSport Free may do so as well. The pieces are about as large as a dollar coin, and reminiscent of ear gauges.

Bragi The Dash: So cool looking, so many neat features, so frustrating to use. We had connection-issue nightmares. The left earbud kept disconnecting and refusing to re-pair. And the signal dropped after I spent only 15 minutes on a treadmill with the phone sitting 1 foot in front of me at eye level.

Bragi The Headphone: Previously The Headphone was one of the only true wireless headphone sets in the $150 price range, but now it has a lot more competition. The pieces are tough to get to stay comfortably in place, and the control buttons hurt to press, as they cause the earbud to mash into your ear. However, these headphones have only a very small delay when you’re watching a video, they’re sweatproof, and they offer more controls than many other earbuds in this category.

Earin: We had constant connection problems, plus changes in volume resulting in one earbud being louder than the other for a bit before they balanced out. Boom-and-sizzle sound quality.

Erato Apollo 7: Great sound quality—balanced and clear, with a nice low end. Overall these earbuds sound like a good $100 pair of corded in-ear headphones. However, the Apollo 7 is the most expensive of the headphones in this category, around twice the price of Apple’s AirPods. We didn’t love the microphone; callers may think you sound a bit distant. And the Apollo 7 produces a nearly half-second latency delay when you’re watching video, so everything will feel like a badly dubbed kung fu movie.

Erato Muse 5: A tricky and less-than-stable fit, stiff control buttons that hurt your ear when you press them, and a cheap-feeling charging case overshadowed this pair’s affordable price and decent-for-true-wireless sound quality.

Erato Rio 3: This set is affordable, but the pieces look as if you’re wearing two single-ear Bluetooth headsets. No charging case, just Mini-USB. And the hooks over the ears are inflexible, so they won’t fit everyone well.

Erato Verse: The single-button controls on the Verse are nice, and the small charging case is appealing. The sound is good: decent lows, a little bloated, but the mids are clear enough, and the highs, while slightly edgy sounding and coarse, aren’t fatiguing. However, the fit is the problem, as the bullet-shaped tips don’t feel overly secure and can chafe. In my tests, if I yawned or made larger facial expressions, the Verse earbuds began to come loose. And depending on your ear shape, the plastic chassis can rub your outer ear.

Here One: When the Doppler Labs Here One headphones debuted, they represented an amazing advancement in noise cancellation. This is the type of technology we hope to see advance even further, and we are hopeful that such tech improves personal sound amplification products as well as true wireless headphones. Unfortunately, Doppler Labs ceased operations in late 2017, and the Here One headphones are no longer available.

Jabra Elite Sport: The physical buttons require you to mash the earbuds into your ears, which gets fatiguing and even painful after a while. And they won’t fit a lot of ear shapes comfortably. The large size of the earbud design can mean a difficult fit, despite the myriad of included tips and wings.

Jam Audio Transit Ultra: While the ability to use the charging case as a spare phone charger is cool, the rest of the Ultra’s features are pretty meh. Our panel found the fit okay, but not high-impact-workout secure. The sound was somewhat bassy and muddy, but not terrible. Although the earbuds were supposed to power down when we placed them in the case, that happened only about half the time.

Jaybird Run: Nearly everything about the Jaybird Run is perfect for the gym. These earbuds seal out external noise really well and feel very comfortable and secure. The controls are easy to use. The pairing process is a breeze. The gym-short-pocket-sized case externally displays the charging status and confirms that both of the earbuds are stored properly. You can use either earbud individually in circumstances when you want to hear your surroundings better. The only criticisms we have are that the fit can create a suction feeling in your ears, especially when you use the button controls. Also, we wish the Run had more control options, as you can choose volume or Siri/play pause, but not both. It’s for those reasons this pair didn’t end up as a pick. But if they appeal to you, they are solid true wireless earbuds.

JBL Free: Folks who own this pair have complained of signal drop, latency issues, and fit problems.

JLab Epic Air: The touch controls are easy to bump when you’re adjusting the pieces in your ears. Despite the over-ear hooks, our panelists weren’t able to get a secure fit. This may have happened because the hooks didn’t bend to adjust, so for several of us the hooks just hovered rather than resting securely behind the ears like the arms of a pair of sunglasses. Additionally, the large tips prevented the earbuds from seating in the included charger properly, so we had a tough time getting them to stay put and charge.

JVC HA-ET90BT: Although the fit is pretty secure, the lack of controls and lackluster sound quality with both sealed and unsealed tips were enough to keep these from our picks.

LG Tone Free: All the downsides of true wireless, with all the inconvenience of neckband-style Bluetooth earbuds. The Tone Free pieces can charge in a case rather than on the included neckband, but that’s an additional purchase. Our panelists had a difficult time getting a secure or comfortable fit, and an even tougher time getting the Tone Free to power off.

Motorola VerveOnes/VerveOnes+: Blobby bass despite several EQ settings. We also disliked the confusing menus, the absence of volume controls on the earbuds, and the significant delay when we watched videos.

Nuheara IQ Boost: We cover a model from Nuheara more in-depth in our Personal Sound Amplifier Guide, but we also wanted to check these out for use as earbuds. These are not for the average person; the sound quality wasn’t optimal, the app a tad challenging to learn. But what concerned us the most was the fact that the earbuds can feed back loudly into your ears if you touch the microphone while the earbuds are powered on and in your ears. After making this mistake, I ended up with my left ear ringing for 20 minutes. That was deeply concerning, as well as unpleasant.

Onkyo W800BT: In our tests this set had decent bass, but a recessed male vocal range and a slight lack of high-frequency detail made the sound quality meh. The only control is call answer, and using it presses the piece uncomfortably into your ear. Otherwise, play/pause, track control, and volume adjustment all require you to pull out your phone. Plus, the price was extremely high at the time of our research and testing.

Optoma Nuforce Be Free5: Although the affordable price and secure fit are appealing, the control buttons on the Be Free5 click loudly and need to be jammed uncomfortably into your ear to work. Additionally, the sound profile isn’t our favorite, with coarse highs and thudding, blurry lows. Save up and get one of our picks instead.

Optoma NuForce Be Free8: Pairing was easy enough for us, and the connection was relatively stable during our tests. We also appreciated that the control buttons weren’t painful to press, although they’re limited in function. The fit was somewhat divisive, with half of our testers feeling that the pieces were secure and the other half concerned that they might lose an earbud when jogging to catch a train. And in our tests, this pair sounded just okay; the highs were a little harsh and tizzy, and the lows lacked definition.

PSB M4U TW1: These headphones are very comfortable, and the hook design makes them very stable. The five-hour battery life is nice, and the sound in our tests was quite good: clear with a little extra mellow bass. However, the touch controls are finicky, and the lack of a charging case means you’ll need to find a laptop or USB outlet after your five hours are up (they charge via Micro-USB). These issues were just enough to keep the M4U TW1 out of contention for our top picks.

Samsung Gear IconX: Comfortable, with decent sound on a par with that of $70 corded in-ear headphones. But the touch controls are easy to bump and activate accidentally. All of the fitness features work only on Samsung devices too, and in our testing, the heart-rate monitors were hit or miss in accuracy. The range is also very short; we could get only one room away from our source device before signal drop began to occur.

Sol Republic Amps Air: The fit was insecure and uncomfortable. When our testers tried to call up Siri, they ended up in pairing mode. The sound was harsh and coarse, too, and we couldn’t always tell whether the earbuds were seated properly in the charging case, so often one would be charging and the other wouldn’t be. Pass.

Sony WF1000X: The best thing about the WF1000X is the textured, velvety-feeling rubbery tips. These earbuds have a lot of issues. We experienced significant signal drop in our testing, the active noise cancelling was minimal at best, and a sibilant sound quality made cymbal hits and “s” sounds fatiguing to listen to.

Sony WF-SP700N: With only three-hour battery life and signal drop being reported as a problem, we aren’t comfortable recommending these.

Soul Electronics X-Shock: Since these come with only two sizes of tips, none of our panelists was able to get a fit that was secure enough for working out. The control buttons also click very loudly in your ear, which is annoying. With so much competition, these just didn’t make the cut.

TRNDlabs Nova: The Nova’s small size and affordable price are definite pluses, but in our first testing, the outer chassis fell apart as we changed the silicone tips, exposing the electronics. An upgraded design fixed the build problems, but the sound was still tinny and lacking bass. Unless you plan to listen only to podcasts, we’d pass.

Yevo Labs Yevo 1: The Yevo 1 pieces have a decidedly luxe design, sleek with gold accents. The fit was relatively comfortable for us, though not stable enough for more vigorous activity than a brisk walk. The tap-based touch controls were easy to use but really loud in our ears, especially when we needed to triple-tap. (Thump! Thump! Thump!) Overall, the biggest flaw with the Yevo 1 was the sound quality: Despite the availability of multiple EQ settings via the free Yevo app, music sounded coarse, with either muddy or lacking bass, and highs exhibiting a hissing, sizzly quality.

Zolo Liberty: The Liberty pair comes with stabilization wings, but I was able to get a secure fit even without them. The single-button controls are basic: You can only skip tracks and answer calls or pull up your digital assistant. While the physical design is nice enough, your money is going almost entirely to the wireless technology—you get the sound quality of a $20 pair of Bluetooth earbuds for a nearly $100 price tag. The bass lacks definition, and everything sounds muffled, while the highs have a shushing quality and the mids are buried. We want more for our Benjamin.


David Carnoy, Jabra Elite Sport review: Worthy AirPod rivals are like a Fitbit for your ears, CNET, December 13, 2016
Christina Warren, Apple AirPods Are Too Simple for Their Own Good, Gizmodo, December 19, 2016
Sean O’Kane, Bragi Headphone Review: Finally, Wireless Earbuds Worth Buying, The Verge, November 22, 2016
David Pierce, Review: Bragi Headphone Wireless Earbuds, Wired, December 17, 2016
Samuel Gibbs, I tried every set of wireless earbuds until I found some that worked, so you don’t have to, The Guardian, December 16, 2016
David Pierce, Review: Motorola VerveOne Wireless Earbuds, Wired, June 20, 2016
Susie Ochs, AirPods review: They sound great, but Siri holds them back, Macworld, December 19, 2016
David Carnoy, Jabra Elite 65t review: Giving the AirPods a run for their money, CNET, February 17, 2018

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