The 9 Best Earbuds of 2023

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Finding the best earbuds for you can be a challenge. There are so many different styles that it's easy to get confused. Do you want super high quality? Do you want true wireless earbuds? There are plusses and minuses in each category. That's why we've laid out our favorite earbuds for you here.

in this article

Best Overall

Apple AirPods Pro (1st generation)

Apple - AirPods Pro (1st generation) with Magsafe Charging Case - White

Best Buy

What We Like
  • Great noise cancellation

  • Good sound

  • Transparency mode

What We Don't Like
  • Just OK for Android

If you have an iPhone, Apple's AirPods Pro earphones give you some of the best sound you can get in that ecosystem. These true wireless earbuds give you great noise cancellation and an optional transparency mode, allowing you to hear the outside world without taking the earbuds out. The sound stage is impressive, and the earbuds support all the latest codecs.

Pairing the AirPods Pro with your iPhone is as simple as holding them near one another. You can also say "Hey Siri" to access Apple's assistant. Things aren't quite as simple if you're on an Android phone, but they still work. You can pair the AirPods Pro like a standard set of Bluetooth earbuds. You won't get the same control on an Android phone, but they will still work and deliver excellent sound.

Type: True Wireless | Connection Type: Bluetooth | ANC: Yes | Water/Sweat Resistant: Both

Best Battery

Jabra Elite 75t Wireless Earbuds



What We Like
  • Great sound quality

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Tight, unbreathable fit

Jabra's Elite 75t earbuds have a great sound stage ranging from the lowest bass to the highest notes. They also have a passthrough function that lets you hear what's happening without removing the buds.

Battery life is pretty good with these earbuds. Jabra promises around 7.5 hours on a single charge, which will almost get you through a workday. You can expect up to 28 hours of listening along with the charging case, meaning the case has enough juice for another 2.5 charges before it gets plugged in. That's pretty impressive and could get you through a weekend trip without a cord.

Jabra Elite 75t

Lifewire / Jason Schneider 

Type: True Wireless | Connection Type: Bluetooth | ANC: Yes | Water/Sweat Resistant: Both

Best Wired

1More Quad Driver Earbuds



What We Like
  • Great audio

  • Neat unboxing experience

  • Cord stays tangle-free

  • Great fit

What We Don't Like
  • Only one color option

1More is a company worth paying attention to. It has produced high-quality earbuds for quite some time because it pays attention to details. From the first time you open the box, 1More gives you a quality experience. The Quad Driver Headphones are laid out inside the box along with many accessories, including quarter-inch jack adapters, a leather bag with a magnetic catch, and no fewer than eight sets of ear tips to help you get the perfect fit. The cords are made of oxygen-free copper and wrapped in Kevlar for durability.

The sound quality of these earbuds is superb. They are the first THX-certified headphones. While the Quad Drivers don't have noise-canceling technology, the numerous ear tips ensure excellent sound isolation, meaning the noise around you will disappear.

They're wired, which means your phone or audio player will need a headphone jack, so that's important to remember. The headphones also only come in one color option: gray.

1More Quad Driver

Lifewire / Yoona Wagener

Type: Wired | Connection Type: 3.5mm | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: No

Best for Workouts & Durability

Skullcandy Push Ultra



What We Like
  • Built-in Tile

  • 40 hours of battery life

  • Waterproof

What We Don't Like
  • Bass dropoff

  • No isolation

The Skullcandy Push Ultras are wireless earbuds meant for working out. They're waterproof up to 3.2 meters, which is not a feature you'll often see in headphones. Naturally, they're also sweat-proof, and the IP67 rating indicates they're also dust-proof. The earbuds also have built-in Tile functionality so that if you lose them, you can fire up the Tile app to locate them quickly.

The buds will last around 6 hours on a full charge, which is great for working out. The case holds an additional 34 hours of charge, meaning you can run these things for a while without worrying about power. The sound quality is not the best due to the earbuds' no-isolation design. The buds are designed to rest outside your ear canal, which is great for working out. You can remain aware of your surroundings in the gym or out on the road, but the result is a lack of punch to the sound, making it sound hollow.

Maybe that's not the most significant concern if you're looking for good workout buds that last a while. But if you're more of an audiophile, that can be problematic.

Type: True Wireless | Connection Type: Bluetooth | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: Both

Best for iPhones

Apple AirPods (2nd Generation)


Best Buy

What We Like
  • Easy connection to an iPhone

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • No noise isolation

AirPods are Apple's original true wireless earbuds. When they debuted, they had all the features that still make them great today, most notably their easy pairing with iPhones. Just hold them up to the iPhone, and they'll connect. It's really how all earbuds should be, but Apple got us there first. The AirPods have no noise isolation, which can deteriorate sound but also helps you stay aware of your surroundings.

The AirPods will last you around 5 hours on a single charge with an extra 20-24 hours in the charging case. This was pretty amazing when they first came out. Since then, however, others have caught up, so 24 hours remains average. But AirPods give you that extra-premium build quality that Apple brings. If you have an iPhone and the AirPods Pro are a bit out of your budget, these are a good alternative.

Apple AirPods

Lifewire / Jason Schneider

Type: True Wireless | Connection Type: Bluetooth, NFC | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: No

"If you love and use Apple exclusively across your devices, the AirPods will fit right into your life; but if you need the best possible sound quality and don’t mind mucking with Bluetooth menus, look elsewhere." — Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Best Cheap Wired

Linklike Classic 2



What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Carrying pouch

  • Balanced sound

What We Don't Like
  • Unwieldy cord

The Classic 2, Linklike's latest wired headphones, offer an excellent, balanced sound on a budget. These buds have a pointed style of fit that rests on the outskirts of your ear canal but still provides a decent seal, making them a bit more comfortable than shoving silicon tips into your ears. Plus, they come with a nice little carry pouch to help avoid tangles when rolled up.

The earbuds' attached cable is long, approaching 4 feet in length, making it a bit unwieldy for day-to-day use. However, this could be useful for gaming — if you're plugging your earbuds into your controller, that extra length can be a blessing. But if you're strolling down the street or trying to run or work out, that extra length can quickly get in the way.

Linklike Classic 2

Lifewire / Yoona Wagener 

Type: Wired | Connection Type: 3.5mm | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: No

"The Linklike Classic 2 isn’t a flashy product, but they combine the traditional sensibility of wired earbuds with technology that offers a well-balanced listening experience overall." — Yoona Wagener, Product Tester

Best AirPods Alternative

Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 In-Ear Headphones



What We Like
  • Good sound quality

  • Good price point

What We Don't Like
  • Uncomfortable fit

  • Some Bluetooth setup trouble

For good sound from your true wireless earbuds without having to spend too much cash, Anker's Soundcore Liberty Air 2 might be a good choice for you. These earbuds bring excellent quality and isolation to your ears, even if the fit is tight. The earbuds' design is such that the ear tips go inside your ear canal with the stem sticking out, but the angle might not work so well with some ears.

The Liberty Air 2 offer solid Bluetooth connectivity, which is excellent. However, our reviewer did run into trouble when attempting to connect the earbuds to a second device. Bluetooth 5.0 should support that feature, but the earbuds didn't switch between devices as seamlessly as the technology should allow. This is primarily a niche case, but worth mentioning. Otherwise, you'll get good sound and rock-solid connectivity, all you can ask for in Bluetooth earbuds.

Soundcore Liberty Air Review

Lifewire / Jason Schneider 

Type: True Wireless | Connection Type: Bluetooth | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: Water

"The Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 offers a great feature set and sound quality for the price. It’s hard to go wrong if you’re looking for true wireless earbuds." — Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Best for Android Smartphones

Samsung Galaxy Buds+



What We Like
  • Great fit

  • Really nice sound

  • Ambient Aware

  • Qi wireless charging

What We Don't Like
  • No noise cancellation

Samsung introduced its successor to the Galaxy Buds as the Galaxy Buds+, and these buds are about as good as you can get, with one notable exception: No noise cancellation. They fit well, and due to their design, they don't protrude from your ear, making it hard to tell you're wearing them. It's a design choice that makes them very understated.

All the extras you get with these buds make them pretty great. Not only do you get surround sound, but you also get Ambient Aware, which is what Samsung calls its passthrough technology that allows you to hear what's going on around you. Another nice perk is Qi wireless charging, which works well with reverse wireless charging on Samsung phones. Overall, this is an excellent package from Samsung and should be near the top of any shopping list for wireless earbuds.

Samsung Galaxy Buds+

Lifewire / David Kukin

Type: True Wireless | Connection Type: Bluetooth | ANC: No | Water/Sweat Resistant: No

"Their new, more compact build and longer runtime will pay dividends when competing against other true wireless earbuds like the Jabra Elite 75t and Apple Airpods Pro." — Ajay Kumar, Tech Commerce Editor

Best True Wireless

Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro



What We Like
  • Active noise cancellation

  • THX certified

What We Don't Like
  • Battery life is bad

Razer's wireless earbuds are designed for gaming to go along with its line of other gaming hardware, including laptops and mice. The earbuds have awesome THX audio-certified sound, excellent noise cancellation, and "quick attention," which is Razer's version of passthrough audio. Those are all great for earbuds, but there's one area where these headphones come up short: battery life.

A single charge of these earbuds will get you just four hours of listening time. If you have a long meeting, these buds won't even make it to lunch on an average workday. Along with the case, you get 20 hours, which is still below average for this industry. But these are a good option if you're looking for great sound and don't mind the short battery life.

Type: True Wireless | Connection Type: Bluetooth | ANC: Yes | Water/Sweat Resistant: No

What to Look For in Earbuds

Earbuds come in various styles, brands, and types and come in prices ranging from less than five bucks to several hundreds of dollars. With so many options at prices all over the map, how do you decide which earbuds to buy?

Aside from the cost, factors such as design, battery life, charging, audio quality, noise-canceling, controls, range, water resistance, and compatibility may all play a role when choosing the best earbuds for you. We break down everything you need to know in this earbuds-buying guide.

Battery Life

Battery life on wireless headphones is crucial. Many true wireless headphones have two battery life ratings—battery life on a single charge and the combined battery life in the charging case (if applicable). It's important to note both factors and decide if the headphones' performance will meet your requirements in a single session and over the long term.


How your headphones connect to your music player is crucial to your experience. If you want a wired connection, ensure your music player has a headphone jack. If you want a wireless connection, ensure the range is good and the codecs your music player supports are the same as those in the headphones. Only one of them has to match in that regard.


Pay attention to comments on how the earbuds fit. Some earbuds go into the ear canal, others rest on your earlobes, and others combine both scenarios. The shape of your ears will largely determine your comfort with a given set of headphones.

Earphones vs. Earbuds

Earbuds sit outside the ear canal while you gently insert earphones (or in-ear headphones) into your ear canal. Despite this difference, some brands will market earphones as earbuds or “in-ear earbuds.” Although you may see earphones labeled as earbuds, there’s a clear distinction in the design of the two. Earphones usually fit more securely in the ears, and they may produce better audio quality, while earbuds are easier to clean and may offer benefits in terms of durability.

Wired Earbuds

Wired earbuds have a cord you plug into your phone or device. The other end of the cord will have some connector, like a 3.5 mm audio jack or a lightning cable that plugs into your device.

Wired earbuds offer several benefits over their wireless competitors, including a lower price point, better audio quality, compatibility benefits, and the ability to operate without a battery. On the other hand, wired earbuds have the drawback of dealing with cords that can tangle and leave you tethered to your device. You can’t set your device down and walk away from your phone while listening to wired earbuds like you can with a good pair of wireless earbuds.

True Wireless Earbuds

Bluetooth is the most common wireless technology for earbuds, and Bluetooth earbuds and in-ear headphones come in different styles. You can find neckband-style earphones with a thick band around the back of the neck and wires connecting to each in-ear headphone or earbud. You can also find earbuds that connect with a thin wire, but they connect to your device via Bluetooth. The neckband style is popular among runners and gym-goers because the band or wire can help promote additional stability. Also, many users say they don’t notice the thin connector wire once they get used to it.

Although these neckband-style earphones and earbuds are wireless, they don’t connect to your device with a wire; they’re not true wireless earbuds. True wireless earbuds have no external wires, and you get a separate earbud for each ear. These are Apple AirPods, Samsung GalaxyBuds, and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless Earbuds.

You have a few different style options when finding a pair of true wireless earbuds. If you like the bud and stem look, you can find several true wireless earbuds similar to AirPods, where they have a small bud that sits in the ear and then a stem that hangs down and may include a microphone. If you like more subtle earbuds, you can use a smaller design, like Samsung Galaxy Buds. These are rounded with no stem, so they’re more inconspicuous when wearing them. If stability is your top priority, and you don’t want to worry about your buds falling out of your ears, you may want to go with an over-the-ear design. Although the over-the-ear design is more familiar with in-ear headphones, you can also find earbuds in this design, like the JLab Audio JBuds Air Sport True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds.

True Wireless Earbuds vs. Bluetooth Headsets

Wireless earbuds come in a pair and are optimized for sound quality and music playback. Bluetooth headsets are optimized for conversation and often come as a single earpiece that goes in one ear. Also, a Bluetooth headset will always have a microphone, while earbuds may or may not have a microphone (though more and more earbuds also include inline microphones).

Sony WH-1000XM3
Lifewire / Jason Schneider

Sound Quality

You’ll see a few specifications to help determine sound quality when shopping for earbuds.

Driver Size

The driver is primarily responsible for converting the signal from your device into audible vibrations. It’s a loudspeaker with a voice coil, magnet, and diaphragm. Earbud drivers usually range in size from around 4 mm to 15 mm. Larger drivers are generally more potent than smaller drivers, but a larger driver doesn’t necessarily mean better sound quality. Other factors, like tuning, materials, and build quality, all impact sound performance. Sometimes, the manufacturer won’t indicate the driver size, but that’s OK. You can use other specs to help determine your earbud’s sound quality.

Sound Mode

The sound mode will say something like “mono” or, most often, “stereo.” The stereo sound mode has a right and a left sound channel, giving the audio depth. Mono means it only has a single channel, so you hear the same sounds in each ear. If a pair of headphones has a “surround sound” mode, it has several channels (5.1 or 7.1), so you can hear several layers of sound and even more dimension than stereo sound.

Frequency Response

Frequency response measures the earbuds’ ability to reproduce high and low tones. Sub-bass and bass frequencies are between 20 and 250 Hz, while higher tones are in the kHz ranges. The Jabra Elite Sport True Wireless Earbuds have a minimum frequency response of 20 Hz and a maximum frequency response of 20 kHz, which covers the full range of human hearing.


Impedance measures resistance, and lower numbers are generally better because the earbuds require less power and amplification to produce a clean sound. You’ll usually see an impedance number of around 16 ohms for earbuds. It may go higher for headphones.


This is a measure of efficiency. It indicates how much sound the earbuds can produce with a given amount of power. If the earbuds or earphones indicate a sensitivity rating, it will often be 100 decibels or higher.

Sound Isolation

If the earbuds or earphones have sound isolating, this means they have some means of blocking outside noise. It’s a type of noise canceling. By blocking off your ear canal from other sound waves, it focuses on the sound coming from the earbud or earphone.

Active Noise Cancelling

If the earbuds have active noise canceling (ANC) technology, they produce sound waves to counteract background noise and cancel out the external sound. If noise canceling is a priority, you may want to seek out earbuds with ANC.

Bluetooth Connectivity and Codecs

When you examine the connectivity specifications for earbuds, you’ll often see information on the Bluetooth version and codec. Typical wireless earbuds will be Bluetooth versions 4.0, 4.1, 4,2, or 5.0; newer Bluetooth versions are backward compatible, so most Bluetooth earbuds will work with most phones. You’ll also want to be mindful of the Bluetooth range, which tells you how far you can travel away from your phone while wearing your earbuds and still experience a stable connection.

The codec (compression/decompression) tells you how Bluetooth is transmitted from your phone to your earbuds. It’ll say something like AAC and SBC; most earbuds will have a compatible codec for Android phones and iPhones.

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II)
Lifewire / Don Reisinger

Earbud Controls

Most earbuds have some volume controls and controls for music functions like play, pause, previous, and next song. If the earbuds have a microphone built-in, you’ll also have buttons for answering and rejecting calls. Some of these buttons may double as more than one function. For instance, the “play” button may double as the “answer call” button, or the “decline call” may double as the “stop” or “pause” button.

Some earbuds have touch controls, while others have physical buttons. Many earbuds, like AirPods, are controlled by taps. Examine the controls, and see if the controls will be comfortable and easy to access.

Battery Life

Wireless earbuds typically indicate the battery capacity in milliampere hours or mAh. This formula determines a battery’s storage capacity. To use a real-life example, the Jaybird - RUN XT Sport True Wireless In-Ear Headphones have an 80 mAh battery that lasts for four hours. This means the headphones draw 20 milliamperes of power (80 mAh divided by 4 hours = 20 mA).

Wireless earbuds should take between 60 minutes and five hours to reach a full charge, and most earbuds last for between four and 12 hours on a single charge. Twelve hours or more is generally considered very good. However, you can find devices with extended battery life or devices with a charging case.

Charging Cases

If you plan on using your earbuds regularly, finding a pair with a charging case you can take with you on the go is a good idea. These cases provide two or more full charges without connecting to an outlet, so you can charge your buds away from home. You can find many earbuds, including a charging case, like Apple AirPods, Samsung Galaxy Buds, and even earbuds from several lesser-known brands.

Water Resistance

Water-resistant earbuds are particularly important for those who plan on using them outdoors or while exercising. Water resistance prevents the earbuds from getting destroyed when they come into contact with rain, sweat, or water splashes. If the earbuds are water or sweat resistant, you’ll see that feature in the product description. You should also see a water resistance rating, like IPX5, IPX6, or IPX7. The higher the number at the end, the more resistant the earbuds are to water.

A water resistance rating of IPX5 means the product can withstand sustained, low-pressure water jets. If it has a water resistance rating of IPX6, the earbuds can resist heavy-pressure sprays of water. Once you get up to IPX7 water resistance, the earbuds can be submerged in up to one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. However, because water resistance doesn’t mean waterproof, it’s probably not a good idea to go swimming with your earbuds, even if they have a water resistance rating.

Voice Assistants and Companion Apps

If you want a voice assistant available at all times, you may want to go with earbuds like Echo Buds or Google Pixel Buds. Many earbuds have a companion app where you can adjust the controls, enable and disable features, and even view wellness information. The Bose Connect App, for instance, lets you view your real-time heart rate.

Sennheiser PXC 550
Lifewire / Jason Schneider

When picking out a pair of earbuds, keep in mind how, when, and where you’re going to be using them. If you’re going to be working out or frequently using your buds outdoors, look for features like stability, a good water resistance rating, good build quality, and good battery life. If you’re listening to music and making calls, look for the best audio quality, noise-canceling, and advanced microphone technology.

Buying the most expensive pair of earbuds doesn’t guarantee you’ll be happy with your purchase. It’s best to carefully examine the design, features, and sound quality to determine the best buds for your individual lifestyle.

  • What's the difference between noise-canceling and isolation?

    Isolation refers to how well the earbuds physically block out sounds around you. Tips that go into your ear canal are much better at isolation than those that rest outside your ear canal. Noise cancellation often called Active Noice Cancellation or ANC is when an earbud generates a tone that is the inverse of the sounds around you, thus cancelling out the noise and giving you silence. Successfully removing noise usually requires a combination of both isolation and ANC.

  • What is an audio codec?

    Before Bluetooth transmits audio to your headset, it is compressed to make it as small and therefore as fast as possible. The Bluetooth headset then decompresses the audio and plays it into your ears. A codec is the software used to do that. Different headsets and devices use different codes, though many common ones are standard on all devices and headsets. This includes AAC, aptX, MP3, and more.

  • Which is better for audio, wired, or wireless?

    This comes down to preference, but in terms of pristine audio quality, wired will always be better. The question that then comes into play is, "Will your ears be able to detect the difference?" Audio quality over Bluetooth has gotten very good in recent years. That, and many smartphone manufacturers leaving off the headphone jack, have made wireless audio much more popular as of late. But at the end of the day, all other things being equal, you will always get a better signal through wired headphones.

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