Scroll in exclusive partnership with
This guide was written by the editorial staff of Wirecutter (A New York Times Company). The products in it are independently reviewed. Scroll.in may earn a commission when any of the products are purchased online through the links below.
After putting 85 models through more than 40 hours of testing by our expert listening panel, we’ve chosen the Jabra Elite 65t as the best set of Bluetooth earbuds for most people. Music sounds fantastic, calls are clear to both the wearer and the caller and the fit is comfortable. Plus, this pair is a fantastic value, with better performance and features than you can get from headphones that cost twice as much.
The Jabra Elite 65t is the first pair of true wireless earbuds we love enough to make our overall earbuds pick. They sound great, they feel comfortable and they offer the overall experience you might expect from standard Bluetooth earbuds with the bonus of no wires running between your ears. Unlike most true wireless earbuds, this pair has both volume and track controls as well as the ability to call up your digital assistant (These features, along with better fit, are why we prefer the Jabra to the Apple AirPods). The four-microphone array keeps your voice sounding exceptionally clear over phone calls. The Elite 65t earbuds block out most of the noise around you but have a transparency mode so you can choose to hear your surroundings with a simple double tap. Their five-hour battery life per charge is at the higher end of listening time for true wireless headphones, and their storage case holds two additional full charges – however, that’s still far shorter than the life of standard Bluetooth earbuds.
If you need better call quality than sport headphones can provide but don’t care for the bulky collar design of some other models, the BeatsX is a great option – especially if you’re an iPhone owner. Unlike the stiff collars on other models, the BeatsX’s flexible neckband can easily coil up into a pocketable package. In addition to being more portable, the BeatsX has a W1 Bluetooth chip (the same chip as in Apple’s AirPods), which makes pairing with Apple devices easy and also slightly improves switching between paired devices. The average battery life of eight hours should get you through most days, but these headphones don’t work while charging. However, Apple fans will appreciate that they charge via Lightning cable – one fewer cable type to bring while travelling. The sound quality on the BeatsX was great in our tests with the exception of a boosted and somewhat blurry bass-frequency region. We usually like the fun of extra bass – it’s just that the BeatsX’s thump sounded a little more like a thud. This pair has some other downsides, too: the microphone quality, for starters, is about what you’d get from a corded set of earbuds, so your calls will sound okay, but the mic will pick up more background noise than our pick’s mic will.
Who should get this
These headphones are for music lovers who want to listen wirelessly while at (or commuting to) work or school, but who also need Bluetooth earbuds that can take calls clearly – something that wireless workout headphones struggle with. Whether you’re sitting at your desk or in a plane, train or the back of an automobile, any of these picks should offer a reliable way to get great-sounding music to your ears and clear-sounding voice to your phone-call recipients. On- or over-ear headphones are also capable of hitting these points, but they can get in the way of glasses and are quite bulky next to even the largest collar-based earbud designs.
Many of the headphones in this category are resistant to water or sweat, but none of them are primarily designed for high-impact activities, so you likely won’t want to use them for more than light weightlifting and walking.
If you don’t care so much about playback quality, if you’re just getting your podcast fix on, or if you want to spend a lot less, you can turn to the guide to the best cheap Bluetooth earbuds, but know that when it comes to Bluetooth earbuds, you very often get what you pay for. And lastly, although we did take active noise cancelling into account as a bonus feature for the models in this guide, if you fly a lot or need earbuds with the very best noise cancelling possible, you can also look to the guide to noise-cancelling in-ear headphones.
How we picked
To find the best wireless earbuds for daily use, we took into account every Bluetooth earbud model from more than 100 reputable manufacturers that put their focus on audio quality and mic quality. But that was simply too many to test, even for our dedicated panellists. So we narrowed down the list using some key criteria:
- As always, great sound quality and a comfortable fit are of utmost importance for headphones you’ll use throughout the day. We noted which earbuds got the worst reviews from pros and passed on those that had consistently poor reviews.
- Voice-call quality is also key for daily-use earbuds, since you’ll likely be taking a lot of calls on them both on the go and at your desk. In this regard, they should ideally match or beat the corded earbuds that came with your phone.
- Full-workday battery life is another must-have feature in a set of Bluetooth earbuds you’ll use every day. That means at least seven hours, but the more the better.
- You should also be able to listen while charging so the earbuds aren’t totally useless when they run out of battery power – say, in the middle of a long-haul flight.
- They should also be splash- and sweat-resistant. Although these headphones aren’t designed for working out, you never know when you’ll get caught in a heat wave or a downpour on your commute.
After establishing the above criteria, we looked at professional reviews from outlets such as CNET and PCMag, as well as customer and fan reviews on the sites of Amazon, Best Buy, and Head-Fi. This process left us with 25 contenders for our expert panel to test.
Our panel evaluated each pair’s sound quality, ease of use, fit and comfort to rank their top picks. I then took those favourites and tested the microphones over phone calls in both quiet and noisy areas via a voice-recorder app. I checked the Bluetooth signal drop by wandering a good distance away from my phone, putting it in a pocket or bag, walking outside and going several rooms away. And, of course, we tested battery life to make sure that the actual use time lined up with each manufacturer’s claims. Once we had a sense of how each set of headphones performed, we took price and extra features into account and then chose our final winners.
Our pick: Jabra Elite 65t
The Jabra Elite 65t is the first pair of true wireless earbuds we love using. These earbuds have all the features of standard Bluetooth earbuds with the bonus of being completely cable-free. They’re comfortable in the ears, they sound great, they’re fantastic for phone calls and they’re effortless to use throughout the day.
The Elite 65t set utilises 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 beyond three walls from my phone and not experience skipping music or 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, large metal beams and other factors can affect your experience, but we were very happy with the stability of the connection inside, outside and even in interference-prone areas like the gym and subway.
Unlike many true wireless earbuds we tested, the Elite 65t pieces feel 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 array in the Elite 65t, two on each earbud – the second mic assists internal software in removing wind and external noises. This design helps you to sound very clear during calls and video conferences, and it provides wind-noise reduction for your voice signal, 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 – the mics picked up only when I was actively talking, not just any sound of trucks going by, for instance, 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 par with someone speaking directly into the phone or computer itself.
The Elite 65t also supplies more controls than many other true wireless earbuds. Not only can you play, pause, and call up your digital assistant, but you can also adjust the volume, skip 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 is compatible with both iOS and Android, and it is Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant certified.
The Elite 65t has a sealed, rather isolating design, which is great if you want to block out noises around you. But when you need to have a conversation or prefer to hear your surroundings when walking outside for safety, just double-tap the button on the right earbud – this move activates “transparency mode”, which uses the mics to send the sound of world around you through the earbuds themselves. In conjunction with the free Jabra app, you can set this action to either pause your music or continue but lower its volume, letting you hear a mix of your music or call and the external noise. The transparency mode is especially handy, as it means you don’t need to take the earbuds out to communicate in person.
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 personally got more than five hours of listening time if I listened at moderate volume and made only a few phone calls under 10 minutes. Of course, your volume level and call duration could mildly affect your results. The charging case is petite enough to fit in a jeans coin pocket yet capable of providing an additional 10 hours of battery life. Even better, the earbud batteries have an initial rapid charge that gives you one and a half hours of use after just 15 minutes docked in the case.
Music fans will be happy to know that the audio sound quality is also quite good. In our tests this set produced a minor harsh edge on s sounds and a mild bump in the mids, which could 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 your settings are saved in the earbuds: once you find your personalised sound, the Elite 65t stores it, so you don’t need to play your music through the app to get the extra bass or intense vocals you prefer.
You don’t need to worry about being caught in the rain, either, because these earbuds are IP55-rated, which means they can tolerate dust, rain and some light sweat without breaking. You could take this pair to the gym if you’re doing a mild-intensity workout such as walking, but if you sweat heavily, you may want to consider the workout headphones picks instead: although the Elite 65t will stay in place through active movements, this pair isn’t designed for sweat resistance. And even though Jabra backs the Elite 65t with a two-year warranty against water and dust damage, sweat isn’t covered.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Although we adore nearly everything about the Jabra Elite 65t, we did notice a few minor flaws. First, when you depress the buttons on the left earbud that control track and volume, you can end up pushing the earbud into your ear. The result isn’t uncomfortable, but it is a bit annoying. However, we found that if you hold the tiny arm that contains the mics with two fingers to stabilise the earbud while pressing the buttons, it completely eliminates the problem. You can do this one-handed, and the nuisance is minor enough that we can overlook it.
The other issues are troubles that plague all true wireless headphones at this point: low battery life and minor latency. Because longer battery life means larger batteries, the Elite 65t’s five hours before charging is the maximum we’ve seen any true wireless headphones offer. We would love to have extended battery life, but that isn’t a possibility yet with current battery technology.
These headphones do produce a very slight delay when you’re watching video. In our testing, that delay was slightly more pronounced when we were viewing on the YouTube app as opposed to watching video in other apps or within the browser screen. Mostly the delay was barely noticeable, but in the YouTube app, video and audio sync could become off in a way that made speaking look poorly dubbed. Restarting the app often reduced the effect for us, but that’s a pain. If you want headphones solely for watching video on your phone, this drawback may be worth considering, but we think it’s not a big problem for most people.
Also great: BeatsX
If you’re an Apple fan, you’ll like the BeatsX. They pair easily thanks to Apple’s W1 chip, charge via a Lightning connector, have a fun bass-boosted sound. Also, a single charge will last a full workday.
The BeatsX contain the same W1 chip used in Apple’s true wireless AirPods, so they have the same smooth Apple-pairing-process – but the BeatsX sound better, charge faster, have a longer battery life and are able to control your music, calls and volume without having to resort to using Siri voice commands, which AirPods can’t do. And because you can use your choice of ear tips, they are likely to fit a wider range of people. They fold up into a silicone case, so the BeatsX can fit in your pocket just as easily as the AirPods.
Credit where credit is due: Beats headphones in general have come a long way in terms of sound quality. Gone are the days of loud and poorly defined bass that smears and muffles everything else in a song. The BeatsX has a treble- and bass-boosted sound profile that in our tests brought a little pop to consonants and cymbals – it also added an extra oomph to basslines that paired nicely with modern pop, hip-hop and electronic music. Is the result a neutral or audiophile sound? No, but it is a lot of fun.
In our tests the mids were well represented, though some of the upper range of a bass guitar could get lost in dense rock. That’s because the bass boost, although exciting, could come across as ever so slightly blurry and bleed into other parts of a song. As a result, the thump we expected from a kick drum ended up landing more like a thud, almost as though someone had left on too much reverb.
It offers a standard-sounding microphone, a standard three-button remote and, if you aren’t pairing it to an Apple device, a standard Bluetooth-pairing experience. The stated eight-hour battery life should be enough for an average day, depending on your use. But if the battery dies, you’re out of luck: although these headphones charge quickly via a Lightning cable, they don’t function while charging. This limitation is pretty standard for Bluetooth earbuds, but it’s worth noting if you plan to use your set on a long flight.
The one undeniable advantage the BeatsX has over similar headphones is its ability to smoosh down to fit into an easily pocketable carrying case. The included case is about the same size and feel as the rubber squeezy coin purse your grandparents might have used.
For most people, other options sound as good and offer more features for less money. But if you covet the nifty Apple W1 pairing experience and aren’t bothered by the price tag of these headphones, you won’t regret paying the premium for the BeatsX.
How our picks compare
- Jabra Elite 65t
The Jabra Elite 65t pair sounds great, and you can adjust the EQ to your personal preferences.
- Jabra Elite 65t
If phone-call quality is your biggest concern, the Jabra set takes the cake. Clear and crisp, with wind reduction, these earbuds make you sound like you’re speaking directly into your phone. The BeatsX, in contrast, provides no improvement over basic earbuds when it comes to what you sound like to your callers.
Ease of use:
- BeatsX (especially for Apple fans)
- Jabra Elite 65t
The basic controls and W1 chip of the BeatsX make pairing that set with Apple devices a snap. Although our other pick isn’t any more difficult to use than any other Bluetooth earbuds available, the Apple W1 pairing process is especially streamlined.
What to look forward to
Several new pairs of wireless earbuds have been announced including Klipsch’s leather-clad R5 neckband-style earbuds and the “earth-friendly” House of Marley Uprise earbuds, which are sweat-proof and weather resistant up to IPX5.
- The 1More iBFree added an unpleasant hissing edge to consonants, cymbals and snares. Testers also didn’t like that the hard stem connected to the cable could occasionally jab at their faces.
- The Apple AirPods pair with Apple devices easily, sound great on phone calls and are comfortable to wear. However, they lack bass, playing only the overtones of bass notes, can fall out of larger ears easily and lack most basic controls, meaning you’ll need to keep your device accessible or use voice commands if you want to skip a track or change the volume.
- The Aukey EP-B60 earbuds don’t sound quite as good as our budget Bluetooth pick, and the remote is a little more awkward than that of our budget workout pick, so this pair missed our list of recommendations in both of our Bluetooth-earbud guides. Overall the sound was a little blurry and dull, but the fit was fine, and this pair is relatively cheap.
- The Aukey EP-B48 headphones were lightweight, but the bulbous tips wouldn’t stay in our panellists’ ears. The noise cancelling was minimal at best, and the sound quality was coarse, with blobby lows and unrefined highs.
- The pretty build quality of the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H5 could not distract our panel from the cable noise, clumsy lows and uneven high frequencies. It seemed to have a boost around 8 or 9 kHz that made everything sound sibilant, and the dull lows didn’t help. Add in a high price and a weird charging method (it’s a cube dock that doesn’t fit in a case or pocket), and all signs pointed to pass.
- Beem’s BeActiv E300 pair is well-built and comfortable, with small earbuds and thin cables that are lightweight and unobtrusive. The sound was rather good, with boosted bass and extra sibilance in the highs that some people might enjoy but others may find piercing. Although these earbuds are recommendable, our picks bested them in sound and bonus features.
- Beyerdynamic’s Byron BT and the similar Byron BTA model (below) both suffered from the same sound issues, namely boosted low frequencies and a sibilant peak in the syllable range. Our panellists also struggled to find a good fit.
- The Beyerdynamic Byron BTA earbuds were a bit better balanced than the BT set, but their highs were still icy in a fatiguing way. The fit also gave us the same problems as the BT pair, despite the smaller remote and mic – turn your head, and the earbuds can tug loose.
- Bose’s QuietControl 30 offers the best ANC out there and is clearly built to last, which is why it’s our wireless top pick for the best noise-cancelling in-ear headphones, but if noise reduction isn’t your top priority, you’ll likely be better served by other options. In our tests, the sound quality was good but a little dull. You can’t use a cord to listen, so if you fly a lot and use in-flight entertainment, you’re out of luck.
- The Fiil Driifter set had a somewhat unnatural sound, with highs that were a little coarse and lows that could blur on bass-heavy songs. The build quality felt plasticky, too. Although the Driifter isn’t terrible, there’s too much good competition for us to make this set a pick.
- The Focal Spark Wireless has a massive, unwieldy remote and Bluetooth transmitter. Even using the included shirt clip doesn’t keep the added cable weight from tugging at the earbuds. And in our tests, this set produced woofy, blurry bass.
- Google’s Pixel Buds are a pair of wireless earbuds with built-in Google Assistant that launched alongside the Pixel 2 smartphone in November 2017. Their most touted feature – exclusive for people who have a Pixel phone – is a real-time Google translator. But the software that does the translation is in the phone, not in the earbuds – so, as we found, you can activate Google Translate without the Pixel Buds. I was also able to use other headphones with Google Assistant integration to activate the feature. In our tests, the Pixel Buds sounded pretty good for what they were, but overall they were disappointing, and we decided not to name them as a pick.
- Although we loved the flexible, packable neckband design of the House of Marley Smile Jamaica, the included ear tips were too small for even our panellists with medium-size ear canals, so a lot of people won’t be able to get a good seal. The poor fit might explain why the sound lacked the ability to reproduce low notes and had blurry mids and sizzling highs in our tests.
- Jabra’s Elite 65e earbuds are solidly built. The active noise cancelling, while not the best we’ve tried, did reduce some lower-frequency noise in our tests. Unfortunately, the controls were tricky to use, and even with the ability to use an app to adjust the EQ, the highs had a notably sibilant s quality that we couldn’t fix. With so much affordable competition, the Elite 65e just didn’t measure up.
- The collar of the Jabra Halo Smart felt narrow on most of us, and the thick cables curled in and almost hugged the neck in an uncomfortable way. Add to that sizzly highs and too much bass, and none of us were thrilled with these headphones. A pity, because the 17-hour claimed battery life is impressive.
- The low frequencies of the JBL E25BT were ill defined and too forward in the mix, so the result sounded muffled. The cable can be noisy if you wear a collar, and the transmitter widget that hangs behind your head can be annoying, even when clipped. Although these headphones are affordable, our top picks edge them out.
- JLab’s Epic Executive pair was comfortable and had pretty impressive active noise cancelling for the price. The sound quality was bass forward and similar to that of JLab’s workout headphones. We don’t mind that bassy feel in a set of sport headphones, but for day-to-day use we’d prefer less boomy bass and a more natural sound. The Epic Executive’s biggest flaw is the microphone. It’s atrocious – to callers you’ll sound quiet and muffled. For earbuds that you’d use daily, possibly at work (and with the Executive name, you might assume that’s where these headphones are intended to be used), that’s a dealbreaker.
- With a thick leather neckband and metal accents, the Klipsch X12 Neckband has an executive look. Although it is nice to have something other than plastic on your neck, the design is heavy, and I found it reminiscent of a yoke, the kind put on oxen to pull a wagon. Regardless of what you think of the looks, the leather can get hot when it’s warm outside, and the ear tips’ oval shape is not made for larger ear canals. The sound quality was good, but it imparted a little dullness to bass notes, which left the mids lacking in definition. At the suggested price tag, we expect stellar sound and more features than the X12 provides.
- The LG Tone Infinim III (HBS-920) comes with a nifty retractable cable that, provided it never breaks, offers a great way to keep cord tangles at bay. However, the very small included tips made it impossible for three of our four panellists to get a seal, and the earbuds felt as though they could fall out at any second.
- The LG Tone Studio is half headphones and half a Bluetooth speaker that you wear around your neck. Sadly, it does neither job particularly well. Too heavy to wear as neckband headphones, the design is unwieldy and clunky feeling on the neck. The speaker aspect, due to the size, lacks lows, so in our tests kick drums had a “puh puh” quality. Instead of the Tone Studio, you could purchase our pick and a small BT speaker and save a lot of cash.
- Moshi’s Mythro Air has a widget on the cable that’s the downfall of the design. It flops around when you walk, tugs and generally gets in the way. Although the set includes a shirt clip, that doesn’t really make the design less annoying. You can EQ the sound with the Moshi app, but in our tests the highs had a slightly icy, sibilant edge regardless of the setting.
- The Moshi Vortex Air, like the Mythro Air, comes with an enormous transmitter that requires clipping to your shirt. Unfortunately, it sits behind your head, so you need to clip it to the back of your shirt collar, which can be annoying when you’re in a high-backed chair. In our experience, the cable noise from the wrapped cords was really loud every time we moved, too. Aside from that, the lower mids were blurry and the bass lacked definition, so male voices got buried in the mix.
- The tips included with the Onkyo E200BT were too small for larger ear canals to get a seal, and the highs were sizzly. The BT antenna widget on the braided cord was heavy and pulled down the earbuds. Nobody was happy.
- Onkyo’s E300BT had the same antenna-widget fit issues as the E200BT. Although we liked the lows on the E300BT better than on the E200BT, the highs were still too forward for our taste, and snares had a whap quality. Despite that, the sound wasn’t good enough to overcome the poor design.
- Optoma’s NuForce BE6/6i missed low-end fullness. The mids and highs sounded unsupported and coarse. These earbuds were fine on acoustic guitar, but anything with low bass was lacklustre. The fit was bulky, and the earbuds stuck out of the ear canal a good bit. If the cable could thread over the ear, they might stay put better, but we found the cable too stiff for that to work well. Overall, this pair sounded less expensive than its price tag.
- The Phiaton BT 150 NC is fantastic. We loved the retractable earbuds, the easy-to-use swipe controls and the lightweight, comfortable neckband. In our tests, the sound quality was better than that of most earbuds in this range. The highs were delicate and lovely, with clear details on consonants, snare hits and strings, without the piercing, hissing or shushing qualities that plagued other earbuds of this style. We heard a noticeable bass boost that could blur male vocals on bass-forward hip-hop and electronic music, but half of our panel loved the extra low-end. Plus, like its predecessor, the BT 100 NC, the BT 150 NC offers ANC and the ability to work corded, which is great for flights. The ANC is middling in effectiveness but helpful for lower-pitched hums such as from plane engines. What’s keeping the BT 150 NC from being one of our top picks this go-round is twofold: first, we want to know how the retractable-earbud mechanism lasts over time – we need to see if it’s prone to jamming or breaking before we give our full endorsement. And second, our picks currently cost slightly less, sound just as good and work just as well. However, if the price drops or one of our top picks gets discontinued, the BT 150 NC could easily move up.
- The Plantronics BackBeat Fit 300/305 is almost great. For us, the fit was very comfortable and secure. The fabric-wrapped cord looked nice and felt quite sturdy. The sound wasn’t the best we’d heard, but it wasn’t objectionable. The highs had an icy edge that was especially noticeable on acoustic guitar, plus a boosted bass that was pretty intense yet avoided blurriness or muddiness. Overall, we’d say the Fit 300/305 headphones are good, except that the fabric-wrapped cable transfers noise like a tin-can-and-string telephone. Every time you turn your head, it scrapes noisily on your collar. Walk briskly or jog, and the cable thump-thump-thumps. It’s loud enough that when I was listening to an audiobook at moderate volumes, the cable noise made me miss a few words. Plantronics does include a shirt clip, but the cord isn’t long enough for you to clip it to your top without tugging, and the remote/BT transmitter is so large that it still makes a loud bang every time it taps your neck. If it weren’t for that noise, this pair might have been one of our picks.
- The Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC offers a comfortable fit and includes a handy USB Bluetooth transmitter dongle and a mic optimised for voice-to-text use. However, if you take a lot of video calls, note that the mic in our tests sounded compressed, distant and unnatural, which is off-putting for meetings. Additionally, the audio quality consisted of sloppy bass and hissing highs, so this set isn’t the best choice for music lovers.
- RBH’s EP-SB headphones sounded great in our tests, and they’re similar in build quality and comfort to our previous Bluetooth sport-earbud pick, the Jaybird X2. This pair had a little boost in the treble frequencies, but it wasn’t unpleasant, and many people will appreciate the extra detail in strings, fret noise, and consonants. But call quality was meh at best, and at the price, these earbuds just don’t offer enough features for non-sport use to compete.
- RHA’s MA650 Wireless headphones are beautifully designed, but the sound in our tests was a little thin, with weird jagged frequency spikes. It sounded as though someone had tried to use EQ to make the vocals louder, then lowered the guitar range and part of the bass and then turned up just the syllables.
- In our tests, the sound of the Samsung Level U Pro could be a bit piercing on high notes and consonants, which is what kept this pair from being a top pick, but this is an otherwise nice-sounding set of earbuds. If you’re a Samsung/Android device owner, you can get an Android app that lets you adjust the intense highs, but for other devices you’re out of luck. The Level U Pro has a light and comfy collar with dual microphones that ensure clear calls, in addition to a nine-hour battery life. The earbuds have magnets that pause your music when stuck together and auto-answer an incoming call when separated. If you can get this pair on mega sale, or if you have a Samsung device, go for it. Otherwise, we’d choose one of our picks.
- Sennheiser’s CX 7.00BT had about a 50-50 chance of fitting our panel. The shape of the earbuds meant some of our experts couldn’t even get a proper seal to evaluate the sound. But those of us who did get a seal found the high frequencies to be piercing and fatiguing and the lows to have a reverb-y quality. We weren’t huge fans.
- The Sennheiser HD1 In-Ear Wireless Headphones were very comfortable, but the high frequencies were forward and piercing. The s sounds on words were clear but painfully loud. Combined with a reverb-like quality to the bass frequencies, a segment of the mids in the bass guitar range felt veiled, which made us wish we could turn up the volume on just that segment of the recording. Although the HD1 had a fancy leather-wrapped necklace, we thought our picks were a better overall value.
- Shure’s SE112 Wireless is one the first Bluetooth in-ear models from Shure. Our panel thought the build was rather plasticky, and the highs made consonants, strings and snare hits sound harsh, icy and depending on the track, painful. Although the mids and lows were nice, we couldn’t forgive the treble-heavy effect.
- The Shure SE 215 Wireless is the Bluetooth version of the company’s legendary 215 in-ear monitor, long lauded among audiophiles as one of the best in-ear monitors available. Sadly, the Bluetooth version didn’t live up to the legacy of the corded version. The Bluetooth transmitter was heavy and clunky, and it got annoying when we moved around. High frequencies were intense and coarse, giving consonants a notably sibilant edge. We know Shure can do better, so we kept the SE 215 Wireless out of our top picks.
- The awesome rainbow-coloured tips aside, our overall experience with the Skullcandy Method Wireless was a mixed bag. The collar was snug, though not uncomfortable. Larger ear canals will have a tough time getting a seal with no larger-size tips available. And unfortunately, in our tests the bass was loud, muddy and formless, like a subwoofer with too much reverb.
- With the Sony H.ear In MDR-EX750BT, the lows were somewhat dull, and this set had a slight peak in the consonant range of the high frequencies, but overall our panel liked the sound. You can find other, significantly less expensive options that have similar sound quality, though. The dealbreaker: you have no way to call up voice commands or voice-dial out from the MDR-EX750BT unless the phone is unlocked and Hey Siri or Ok Google is active. Otherwise, you need to get your phone out of your pocket. If this pair were to be cheaper, it would be a great purchase.
- The Sony WI-1000X headphones are built solidly, and the ANC works pretty well. But a lot of the bonus features that could justify the price tag are completely dependent on Sony’s app, which regularly crashes. At the time of this writing, the app had two stars (out of five) on the Apple App Store, with people reporting connection issues and crashes. The WI-1000X’s ambient mode is designed to allow you to hear your surroundings without removing your earbuds, but it doesn’t pause what you are listening to, so you end up with a confusing mix of music and a tinny version of what’s going on around you. Add to that a sound quality that seems more like what you’d get from a significantly cheaper pair of headphones than such an expensive set, and you have a recipe for earbuds that fail to make our list of top picks.
- Our panel loved the lightweight design of the V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless and found these headphones to be very comfortable and easy to use. The main problem was the sound. The highs had a hissing, sizzly quality that made strings and snares sound boxy and inauthentic, and the mids felt dull and lifeless. Live recordings sounded two-dimensional.