The 10 Best Earbuds of 2021

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
These true wireless earbuds give you great active noise cancellation and an optional transparency mode.
They have a great sound stage ranging from the lowest bass to the highest notes.
The cords are made of oxygen-free copper and wrapped in Kevlar for durability.
Our reviewer said he was able to wear these headphones for awhile without the typical fatigue you'd feel after long sessions.
Best for Workouts & Durability:
Skullcandy Push Ultra at Amazon
They're sweat and waterproof, and the IP67 rating indicates that they're dust-proof as well.
Best for iPhones:
Apple AirPods at Amazon
The Apple AirPods' most notable feature is their easy pairing with iPhones: Just hold the case up to your phone to connect.
Best Cheap Wired:
Linklike Classic 2 at Amazon
The Classic 2, Linklike's latest wired headphones, offer a nice, balanced sound on a budget.
Best for Android Smartphones:
Samsung Galaxy Buds+ at Amazon
They fit really well, and due to their design, they don't protrude from your ear, making it hard to tell you're wearing them.
You'll get really good sound and rock-solid connectivity, which is all you can ask for in Bluetooth earbuds.
The earbuds have awesome THX audio-certified sound, great noise cancellation, and passthrough audio.

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 definitely plusses and minuses in each category. That's why we've laid out our favorite earbuds for you here.

Regardless of what you're looking for, you'll find a set of earbuds for you in this list. We've got all sorts of styles from wired to true wireless earbuds, and everything in between. If you're on the go, or just chilling at home, you'll find a great pair of earbuds to check out your favorite music or podcasts. While a wired headset will almost always give you better sound, there's nothing quite like the freedom of true wireless earbuds. Here are our picks of the best out there.

Best Overall: Apple AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro
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 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 really amazing, 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 simply say "Hey Siri" to access Apple's assistant. If you're on an Android phone, things aren't quite as simple, but they still work. You can pair the AirPods Pro like a normal set of Bluetooth earbuds. You won't get the same kind of 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

Jabra Elite 75t
What We Like
  • Great sound quality

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Tight, unbreathable fit

Jabra is something of a rising star in the earbuds industry, having originally made its bones with headsets. Since making the transition to consumer audio, however, Jabra's been killing it, and the Elite 75t earbuds are the brand's latest offering. They have a great sound stage ranging from the lowest bass to the highest notes. They also have a passthrough function that allows you to hear what's going on without taking the buds out.

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. Along with the charging case, you can expect up to 28 hours of listening, meaning the case has enough juice for another 2.5 charges before it needs to get plugged in. That's pretty impressive, and could get you through a weekend trip without needing a cord.

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

"For my money, these are possibly the best on the market when it comes to Bluetooth connectivity." — Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Jabra Elite 75t

Lifewire / Jason Schneider 

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 a plethora of accessories, including one-fourth inch jack adapters, a leather bag with a magnetic catch, and no less than eight sets of ear tips to help you get the perfect fit for your ears. 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, which confirms the amazing sound you're getting. While the Quad Drivers don't have noise-cancelling technology, the numerous ear tips ensure great sound isolation, meaning the sounds around you will disappear, leaving you in your own sonic oasis.

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

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

"If you want top-notch sound quality, the Quad Driver provides considerable value for less." — Yoona Wagener, Product Tester

1More Quad Driver

Lifewire / Yoona Wagener

Best for Comfort: Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones

What We Like
  • Good build quality

  • Very comfortable fit

  • Premium audio

What We Don't Like
  • A little on the quiet side

  • Battery life isn't great

Bose has built its reputation on comfort, and the Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones definitely live up to that quality. Our reviewer said he was able to wear these headphones for awhile without the typical fatigue you'll feel after long sessions. The earbuds come with a number of different-sized ear tips and wings, but the wings are attached to the tips.

The sound quality is really great, especially the bass. Unfortunately, these great sounds max out at a volume that isn't as high as some other options. If you plan to wear these buds in loud environments, that could be problematic.

The battery life is rated only at 6 hours, which is fine if you're going to wear these while working out, but not so much if you're going to wear them at work, or when relaxing at home. Typically, earbuds with a connecting wire have better battery life, so we expected more here. But if you're OK with shorter listening sessions, these will give you great sound across the spectrum.

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

"If you have the money and don’t need a ton of volume headroom, the Bose Soundsport wireless headphones are a reliable, decent-sounding choice for commuters and gym goers." Jason Schneider, Product Tester

Bose SoundSport Free

Lifewire / Jason Schneider

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 true wireless earbuds meant for working out, as they're waterproof up to 3.2 meters, which is not something often seen in headphones. Naturally they're also sweat-proof, and the IP67 rating indicates that they're dust-proof as well. The earbuds also have built-in Tile functionality so that if you lose them, you can just fire up the Tile app to easily locate them.

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 charge these things forever. The sound quality is not the best, and that's due largely to the no-isolation design of the earbuds. 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 biggest concern if you're looking for a good set of workout buds that last forever. 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

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 earbud. 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, however, 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, but since then others have caught up, so 24 hours remains about the 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.

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

Apple AirPods

Lifewire / Jason Schneider

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 a nice, balanced sound on a budget. These buds have the pointed style of fit that rests on the outskirts of your ear canal but still provide 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 they're rolled up.

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

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

Linklike Classic 2

Lifewire / Yoona Wagener 

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: There is no noise cancellation. They fit really 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 though 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 a great package from Samsung and should be near the top of any shopping list you have for true wireless earbuds.

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

Samsung Galaxy Buds+

Lifewire / David Kukin

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

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

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

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

Soundcore Liberty Air Review

Lifewire / Jason Schneider 

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 true 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, great 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, and that is in 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 a total of 20 hours, which is still below average for this industry. But if you're looking for great sound, and don't mind the short battery life, these are a good option.

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

Final Verdict

Overall, we have to give our nod to the Apple AirPods Pro (view on Walmart). The sound quality, isolation, and noise cancellation are all top-notch. Although they are designed to work with Apple devices, they work with Android phones through normal Bluetooth parking procedures.


Our runner-up is also very straightforward: the Jabra Elite 75t earbuds (view on Amazon). Jabra has been making strides over the past few years, with each product generation getting better and better. The 75ts are the culmination of that progress, boasting great sound, active noise cancellation, a great battery, and more. You just can't go wrong.

How We Tested

Our expert reviewers and editors evaluate earbuds based on design, audio quality, comfort, and features. We test their real-life performance in actual use cases—exercising, commuting, and working at home or in an office setting. We also consider each unit as a value proposition—whether or not a product justifies its price tag, and how it compares to competitive products. All of the models we reviewed were purchased by Lifewire; none of the review units were furnished by the manufacturer or retailer.

About Our Trusted Experts

Adam Doud has been writing in the technology space for almost a decade. When he's not hosting the Benefit of the Doud podcast, he's checking out all the earbuds and headphones he can get his head between. That's not as weird as it sounds.

Jason Schneider has been reviewing audio products for over a decade. With a degree in Music Technology and previous publication in Greatist and Thrillist, he's our premier audio expert and has covered just about everything from earphones and speakers to earplugs and keyboards. He's like both the Bose Soundsport Wireless and the original Airpods for their solid audio quality and easy pairing.

Yoona Wagener has a background in content and technical writing. She has written for BigTime Software, Idealist Careers, and other small tech companies.

Ajay Kumar is a Tech Commerce Editor for Lifewire. He joined Dotdash in November 2018 and brings with him nearly a decade of experience in tech journalism, consumer electronics, and digital publishing.

FAQs

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.

What to Look For in Earbuds

Earbuds come in a variety of different styles, brands, and types, and they also 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-cancelling, controls, range, water resistance, and compatibility may all play a role when choosing the best pair of 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 that comes 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.

Connectivity

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

Fit

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 on the outside of the ear canal, while you gently insert earphones (or in-ear headphones) into your ear canal. In spite of 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

You know those wired EarPods you get when you buy an iPhone, like an iPhone 8 or iPhone XR? Those are wired earbuds. You’ll also see wired earbuds where the bud portion is circular instead of shaped to fit the geometry of the ear. Wired earbuds have a cord you plug into your phone or device. The other end of the cord will have some sort of 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 come with the drawbacks of having to deal 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 that have a thick band that goes around the back of the neck, and wires that connect to each in-ear headphone or earbud. You can also find earbuds that connect to each other 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 even notice the thin connector wire once they get used to it.

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

When it comes to finding a pair of true wireless earbuds, you have a few different style options. If you like the bud and stem look, you can find several true wireless earbuds that have a similar style to AirPods, where they have the 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 go with a smaller design, like Samsung Galaxy Buds. These are rounded with no stem, so they’re more inconspicuous when you’re 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 common with in-ear headphones, you can find earbuds in this design as well, 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 they 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 are also including inline microphones).

Sony WH-1000XM3
Lifewire / Jason Schneider

Sound Quality

When shopping for earbuds, you’ll see a few specifications that can help determine sound quality.

Driver Size

The driver is primarily responsible for converting the signal coming from your device into audible vibrations. It’s basically a loudspeaker composed of a voice coil, magnet, and diaphragm. Earbud drivers usually range in size from around 4 mm to 15 mm. Larger drivers are generally more powerful 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 even 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.” Stereo sound mode means it has a right and a left sound channel, so it gives the audio depth. Mono means it only has a single channel, so you’re hearing the same sounds in each ear. If a pair of headphones has a “surround sound” mode, this means it sounds like it has several channels (5.1 or 7.1), so you can hear several layers of sound and even more dimension than you can with 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

Impedance measures resistance, and lower numbers are generally better because it means 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.

Sensitivity

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 basically 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 cancelling (ANC) technology, this means 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 a pair of 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, but newer Bluetooth versions are backward compatible, so most Bluetooth earbuds will work with most phones. You’ll also want to be mindful of the earbuds’ 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 (stands for compression/decompression) tells you how Bluetooth is transmitted from your phone to your earbuds. It’ll say something like AAC and/or SBC, and 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 sort of volume controls, as well as 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

Typically, wireless earbuds will indicate the battery capacity in milliampere hours, or mAh. This is a formula that determines a battery’s storage capacity, and it’s the time a battery lasts times the discharge current. To use a real-life example, the Jaybird - RUN XT Sport True Wireless In-Ear Headphones have an 80 mAh battery and the battery 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 an extended battery life, or devices that come with a charging case.

Charging Cases

If you plan on using your earbuds regularly, it’s a good idea to find a pair of earbuds that come with a charging case you can take with you on-the-go. These cases provide an additional two or more full charges without connecting to an outlet, so you can charge your buds while you’re away from home. You can find a number of earbuds that include a charging case like Apple AirPods, Samsung Galaxy Buds, and even earbuds from a number of 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, this means the earbuds can resist heavy-pressure sprays of water. Once you get up to IPX7 water resistance, this means 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 to you at all times, you may want to go with a pair of 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

Brands and Manufacturers

You have countless options when it comes to choosing a brand of earphones or earbuds. Here are a few of those options, and what they have to offer.

Off-brand Earbuds

Earbuds are different from other tech-like phones and tablets because you can actually get a pretty good pair of off-brand earbuds for a very low price. The lower-priced earbuds may even offer similar features and functionality to the higher-priced options. You may not get the latest features like a voice-assistant, but you can get touch controls, water resistance, and noise isolation in a pair of earbuds or earphones that cost less than $50. On the other hand, shelling out a bit more cash may promote longevity and better overall quality. Let’s not forget about style either. Earbuds have become a trend, and having the right pair of earbuds—a pair that looks good—is key for some people.

Apple

Apple AirPods and Apple AirPods Pro have become extremely popular for their style and ease of use with the iPhone. However, AirPods are costly, especially when you compare them to competitors that offer similar features at a lower cost.

Google

Google Pixel Buds are small and stylish with decent battery life. You can take Google Assistant everywhere you go and ask the assistant to turn up your music when you don’t have a free hand. The latest Pixel Buds can even translate conversations in real-time. However, the new Pixel Buds have some design quirks, and the controls aren’t very intuitive.

Jabra

Jabra makes several different earbud and in-ear headphone models, including the Jabra Evolve 65t, Jabra Elite 65t, the Jabra Elite Sport, and more. Jabra products are generally well-built, and most of their earbuds have pretty good battery lives. Some of the higher-end Jabra earbuds even have Alexa built-in, but you’re going to pay a pretty penny for the best Jabra earbuds.

Accessories

You may see some earbuds, earphones, or over-the-ear style buds that come with additional ear tips, ear hooks, or cases. Sometimes the manufacturer will offer different sizes of ear tips or ear hooks, so you can get the best possible fit. You can also purchase aftermarket accessories, like a strap to connect your AirPods or an extra charging case.

Conclusion

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.

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