The 10 Best Earbuds of 2020

Shop for the best budget, exercise, and sound quality earbuds

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Best Overall: Bose SoundSport Wireless at Amazon

"A pair of Bluetooth buds our reviewers rate highly for the dreamy sound signature on which Bose made its name."

Best for Running: Sennheiser CX Sport at Amazon

"You can swap between four sizes of ear tips and three different ear fins, giving you ample flexibility to find your perfect comfort level."

Best Sound Quality: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 at Amazon

"With a pair of graphene-based 5.8mm drivers, the earbuds provide a crisp soundstage with meaty bass."

Best for iPhone: AirPods Pro at Amazon

"Almost any pair of wireless earbuds work with the iPhone, but none are this perfect."

Runner-Up, Best for iPhone: AirPods at Amazon

"Battery life here is actually better than the AirPods Pro at a rated five hours, with another 24 hours available from the case."

Best AirPods Alternative: Anker Soundcore Liberty at Amazon

"Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air can deliver you to the true wireless promised land for less cash."

Best for Android: Samsung Galaxy Buds at Amazon

"A pair of true wireless earbuds from Android’s biggest smartphone maker."

Best Cheap Wireless: Ylife ST-BE18 at Amazon

"Produce solid sound that you might expect out of something more expensive."

Best Wired: 1More Quad Driver at Amazon

"Built to last, sound great, and won’t fail you where wireless earbuds can."

Best Cheap Wired: Linklike Classic 2 at Amazon

"A quality pair of buds at an ultra-affordable price."

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Bose SoundSport Wireless

4.3
What We Like
  • Classic Bose sound

  • Comfortable to wear

  • Water resistance

What We Don't Like
  • Volume could be louder

The original Bose SoundSport were some of the best earbuds you could stick in your ears. Now they’ve resurfaced with a wireless makeover in the SoundSport Wireless, a pair of Bluetooth buds our reviewers rate highly for the dreamy sound signature on which Bose made its name. They also enjoyed how comfortable they were. You can thank the various StayHear+ Sport ear tips Bose provides for that, of which the fins and oblique shape provide more ergonomic value than the typical perfect circle-shaped tips many others use. The secure fit and an IPX4 water resistance rating make these earbuds workout-ready.

One knock on the SoundSport Wireless is that they’re kind of big, and you’re not exactly getting a proportional increase in battery life for the added size. They can run for a respectable six hours before they need charging, which takes just under two hours to go from 0 to 100 percent. Setup is also dead simple, with an NFC pairing process that doesn’t require you to flip through your phone’s settings menu. You can grab the SoundSport Wireless in Aqua, Black, Citron, Green/White, or Power Red.

Best for Running: Sennheiser CX Sport

What We Like
  • Tons of fitting options

  • Water resistance

What We Don't Like
  • No alternate colors

Sennheiser’s CX Sport earbuds can turn heads with their sharp color scheme alone, a mesmerizing intersection of mustard and lime, but there are many more reasons they impress. Our favorite? Their modularity. You can swap between four sizes of ear tips and three different ear fins, giving you ample flexibility to find your perfect comfort level. The other reason you buy Sennheiser is sound. The CX Sport use custom German-engineered drivers with a frequency response range of 17-21,1000 hertz. That should translate to a well-balanced sound with easily distinguishable mids and highs and not-so-overpowering bass.

The Sennheiser CX Sport support six hours of battery life, and though they take 90 minutes to fully charge, you’ll get an hour of playtime from ten minutes of charging. The buds feature an inline remote for controlling volume and playback and come equipped with light water resistance to keep them safe against specks of sweat and rain. The package also includes a neat carrying case in the box which should help you better keep track of the CX Sport when they’re not draped across your neck.

Best Sound Quality: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

What We Like
  • Amazing battery life

  • Super fast charging

  • Top-notch audio quality

  • Microphone ANC

What We Don't Like
  • Kind of big

Like many others, UK-based premium audio brand Cambridge Audio entered the true wireless game to address a growing demand, but it didn’t stop at slapping some electronics and plastics together. The Melomania 1 earbuds come to market for a fair price carrying features normally found in products that cost substantially more. With a pair of graphene-based 5.8mm drivers, the earbuds provide a crisp soundstage with meaty bass.

Cambridge advertises active noise cancelation, but note that this only applies to the microphone, and not playback. And we can’t talk about these without mentioning the impressive battery life: you can vibe out for nine hours straight per charge. You’ll get about four more charges out of the case as well, which takes 30 minutes to reach full capacity — the fastest you’ll find anywhere. The charging case itself gets a full top-up after two hours. The earbuds feature intuitive tap controls for volume, playback, and call controls, plus calling on your virtual assistant. You also have both silicone and memory foam options for replaceable tips in the box.

Best for iPhone: AirPods Pro

4.5
What We Like
  • Active noise cancelation

  • Interchangeable ear tips

  • Water resistance

What We Don't Like
  • Battery could be better

Almost any pair of wireless earbuds work with the iPhone, but none are this perfect. AirPods Pro build on the original by adding in replaceable ear tips, noise cancelation, water resistance, and vastly improved sound quality. In testing, we noticed sharper highs and surprisingly potent bass. Apple’s engineering wizardry also allowed for a venting system that doesn’t hamper the effectiveness of active noise cancelation. The silicone seal has a lot to do with the sound improvements over AirPods 2, as does the H1 audio chip they debuted.

Setup is easy if you’re an iPhone user. Just open up the AirPods case while it’s near your phone. After setup, you’ll have one-touch access to Siri, volume and music controls, and an ambient mode that allows sound from your environment to break through the noise vacuum.

Perhaps the biggest downfall here is the battery, which lasts just 4.5 hours on a single charge. These are true wireless earbuds mind you, but similarly sized products from competing brands can go as high as six to seven hours, and even Apple's own AirPods 2 last a bit longer. The battery case should make life easier, though, with up to five more charges available at full capacity.

Runner-Up, Best for iPhone: AirPods

4.3
What We Like
  •  Better battery than AirPods Pro

  • Works perfectly with iPhone

What We Don't Like
  • One-size-fits-all

The AirPods Pro are great, but they’re expensive. If you’re Team iPhone and still want AirPods, then the AirPods 2 are not a bad buy right now. You’ll miss out on neat features like water resistance, active noise cancelation, and silicone tips, but you’ll get a much cheaper price tag. You should expect audio quality to be a step below the AirPods Pro, which use the same H1 audio chip but add noise cancelation and the silicone seal for a more pure sound. 

We're not sure what sort of drivers Apple used here, but the bass response on the AirPods 2 suffers a bit from the lack of aforementioned qualities. Still, the listening experience is comparable to the stringed EarPods, our reviewers say. Battery life here is actually better at a rated five hours, with another 24 hours available from the case. The fun stuff is all here, too, including Siri functionality and touch controls. We’d recommend increasing your budget for the AirPods Pro if you can, but the AirPods 2 are the next best thing.

Best AirPods Alternative: Anker Soundcore Liberty

What We Like
  • Powerful graphene drivers

  • Mimics AirPods design

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • No noise cancelation

Look, we get it: AirPods are expensive. Not everyone has room in their budget for a pair of AirPods Pro, or even the considerably cheaper AirPods 2. But that doesn’t mean you should have to go without a pair of quality earbuds. Anker's Soundcore Liberty Air can deliver you to the true wireless promised land for less cash. And it’s not just the hanging pipe design that makes them great AirPods alternatives. They're a hit for sound quality thanks to dual 5.8mm drivers made of graphene. The lightweight material responds more accurately to vibration, making for a more full and accurate sound. 

The Soundcore Liberty Air even have a leg up on the AirPods 2 with a silicone seal that provides a comfortable, secure fit and helps keep noise out. Unfortunately, there is no active noise cancelation for listening, but Anker includes dual noise-canceling microphones for voice calls and virtual assistant needs. Touch controls are included to help you manage those calls and music playback. You’ll get about five hours out of the Soundcore Liberty Air before you need to drop them into the case, which adds up to 15 more hours. Again, you'll have all this for significantly less than you'd pay for AirPods.

Best for Android: Samsung Galaxy Buds

What We Like
  • AKG sound

  • Water resistance

  • Comfortability

What We Don't Like
  • Best features require Galaxy phone

If you have an Android phone, it might be worth considering a pair of true wireless earbuds from Android’s biggest smartphone maker. Samsung's Galaxy Buds are fine earbuds on their own and they’ll work with any standard smartphone with a Bluetooth radio. However, they’re especially sweet for Samsung Galaxy users, who will enjoy the pain-free pairing process of opening the case near a Galaxy smartphone. 

Samsung’s proprietary Scalable codec supports high-fidelity audio on supported phones. Non-Samsung smartphones only support limited, lower quality codecs like AAC and SBC. This hindrance is overcome by mostly pleasing AKG-tuned sound, though our reviewers found their bass response to be on the thin side. At a reasonable price, the robust Galaxy Buds include six-hour battery life (plus 13 hours from the case), tap controls, IPX2 water resistance for protection against sweat and rain, and an ambient awareness mode that lets you hear your surroundings. Even if you don’t own a Galaxy smartphone, the Galaxy Buds are an incredible value.

Best Cheap Wireless: Ylife ST-BE18

What We Like
  • Surprisingly potent sound

  • Massive battery case

  • Super cheap

What We Don't Like
  • Basic feature set

If you’re itching for a true wireless experience on a meager budget, put your trust in the Ylife ST-BE18. There aren’t a ton of bells and whistles at this price, but judging from reviews, the 6mm drivers produce solid sound that you might expect out of something more expensive. You’re also getting IPX5 water resistance, interchangeable tips, and tap controls for playback, calls, and voice assistant functionality. 

There’s not much else on the buds themselves, but the charging case holds an insane 3,500mAh battery, giving you enough juice to charge the Ylife ST-BE18, well, 18 times over. You’ll get five hours each time you top-up, which is very respectable and even better than the AirPods. Sure, there’s no find-my-earbuds feature, noise cancelation, or EQ control, but if your main concern is cutting the cord on the cheap, these’ll do the trick.

Best Wired: 1More Quad Driver

What We Like
  • Powerful quad drivers

  • Tangle-free cable with inline remote

  • Generous accessories package

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

Some people don't want to be bothered with wireless earbuds and the worries they bring, such as battery performance and the threat of losing them, especially if you’re rocking the true wireless variety. If that’s you, check out the 1More Quad Driver, named so for the four drivers sitting inside each ear. 1More includes what it calls a "diamond-like" carbon dynamic driver to serve as the main sound pusher, with three mini tweeters to handle the upper registers. According to critics, it’s a winning combination providing warm bass, crisp highs, and accurate detail throughout the stereophonic spectrum. 

With an inline remote and a tangle-free Kevlar fiber cable, they’re premium buds for sure, but a chunk of the cost also comes from extras in the box. Included are nine interchangeable ear tips, a leather carrying pouch, an airplane adapter, and a shirt clip, all inside stylish gift packaging. 1More’s Quad Driver earbuds are built to last, sound great, and won’t fail you where wireless earbuds can.

Best Cheap Wired: Linklike Classic 2

What We Like
  • Very cheap

  • Rich bass

  • Striking design

What We Don't Like
  • No alternate ear tips

You shouldn’t have to suffer if you’re not willing to spend a ton of money on a pair of headphones. Thankfully, it’s possible to get a quality pair of buds at an ultra-affordable price, such as the Classic 2 by Linklike. With quad drivers, they achieve powerful bass that doesn’t destroy the middle and upper registers. However, the star of the show is the 14.1mm dome-shaped carbon mycelium driver which features dual tweeters and dual woofers, plus a bunch of holes that somehow block extra noise from entering the audio path. 

The design is like Apple’s EarPods in that there’s a one-size-fits-all plastic ear tip, which will make or break them depending on your ear canal. The earbuds feature inline volume and track controls that run along a TPE-wrapped Kevlar cable. There’s also a microphone for making calls. Available in Bright Black, Rose Gold, and Silver, you’ll look good wearing the Linklike Classic 2, and you'll feel even better when you remember how much you paid for them.

Our Process

Our writers spent 75 hours researching and testing the most popular earbuds on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 10 different earbuds overall, screened options from 9 different brands and manufacturers, and read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

What to Look for in a Pair of Earbuds

Noise canceling - The noise-canceling feature doesn’t have to be left to over-the-ear headphones. Many earbuds also include this feature, which cancels out all extraneous noise. Be careful, though: If you’re using the earbuds primarily for working out, you’ll want to ensure a little outside noise sneaks in for your safety.

Sound quality - When it comes to sound quality, look at the drivers. Generally, earphone drivers measure between 8mm and 15mm and it’s thought that the larger the driver, the louder the sound it’s capable of producing. However, that also depends on how close the driver sits to your eardrum, which is why earphones can have smaller drivers.

Comfort - The most common complaint we hear about earbuds is that they don’t fit in listeners’ ears properly. And let’s be real: There’s nothing more annoying than constantly fiddling with them to find the right fit. While size and shape is really a matter of preference, most earbuds come with a slew of tips and wings so you can customize your comfort.