You can now find relativelythat sound pretty decent -- and we've got a list of those of if that's what you're looking for. But if sound quality is your top priority, you're going to have to spend more -- and in some cases, a lot more.
Alas, many of the best-sounding true wireless earphones do cost a lot. They also tend to be on the larger side because size does seem to matter when it comes to the sound quality of true wireless earphones. And that's where the one big caveat to all this comes into play: To get optimal performance, these earphones have to fit right -- and you do have to get a tight seal. If you can't get the snug fit, you'll be sadly disappointed and think you got ripped off, which is why I suggest buying from a store -- like Amazon -- with a good return policy. I'll update this list as I test new models.
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Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless: $300Sarah Tew/CNET
At $300 (£279, AU$499), Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless are more expensive than Apple AirPods, Jabra's Elite 65t and Elite Active 65t and Bose SoundSport Free. But they sound superior to those models, with better bass and cleaner, more detailed sound. They also feature very good performance for making calls and offer a generally comfortable fit, though they're bigger than the Jabras and stick out of your ears a little more. Their only significant downside is that they gradually lose their charge in the charging case and can end up completely dead after four days or so if you don't recharge the case.
I've used these in the gym, but they don't fit quite securely enough in my ears to run with them. Battery life is rated at 4 hours, and you get two extra charges from the carrying case. These use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC and aptX and a firmware update has improved their performance slightly.
Master & Dynamic MWo7 True Wireless: $300Sarah Tew/CNET
The Master & Dynamic MW07 True Wireless may not fit everyone's ears equally well, but they certainly have a distinct look, as well as very good sound if you can get a tight seal. Master & Dynamic headphones are known for more of an audiophile sound profile, with smooth, well-balanced sound and well-defined bass, and the MW07 delivers that kind of sound.
Available in a variety of color options for $300, they include a swanky chrome charging case that comes with a secondary pouch for safekeeping (yes, the case can get scratched up if you leave it in a bag). Battery life is rated at 3.5 hours, which is a little on the short side, and the case gives you an additional three charges (it charges via USB-C). These use Bluetooth 4.2 with support for AAC and aptX and have an extended range of more than 20m, according to Master & Dynamic.
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 2.0 True Wireless Earphones: $350Sarah Tew/CNET
The Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8 2.0 True Wireless Earphones ($350, £300) feature some of those extra design touches that'd you expect -- and end up paying for -- with Bang & Olufsen products. The charging case for these guys is arguably the most aesthetically pleasing of any charging case out there (like the new AirPods' wireless charging case, this one also features wireless charging) and feels like a case you'd get at Tiffany.
They also sound very good, with clear, well-balanced sound. The bass has good definition but doesn't have quite as much energy or oomph as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless' bass. As a result, I wouldn't say these are the true wireless earphones for bass lovers (look to the Beats for that), but they do sound impressive with well-recorded tracks. While they're the most-expensive earphones in this roundup, they come in a variety of color options, some of which cost less than $300.
Note that with version 2.0 of these earphones, Bang & Olufsen improved the battery life to 4 hours (plus three additional charges from the case) and added USB-C and wireless charging. These use Bluetooth 4.2 with support for AAC but not aptX.
Beats Powerbeats Pro: $250Sarah Tew/CNET
Yes, the Powerbeats Pro's jumbo charging case is a notable drawback. But the combination of incorporating all the features that make Apple's AirPods great while delivering richer sound and better battery life in a design that won't fall out of your ears ultimately is a winning proposition. Just make sure you buy them somewhere that has a good return policy in case you're in the small minority that has ears that aren't quite a match for them.
The use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC but not aptX.
Jabra Elite 65t: $170 - $190CNET
The Elite 65t ($170, £150 or AU$300) and slightly enhanced Elite Active 65t ($190, £170 or AU$350) are our current top picks in the true wireless category because they sound better than Apple's AirPods, offer just as good or even better performance for making calls, and they fit a lot of ears securely.
Their sound isn't quite as rich or clean as the more-expensive earphones above them on this list (the bass lacks a little kick), but it's still a very good sounding set of true wireless earphones. Since they've been on the market awhile, they're frequently discounted, so wait till you see a deal on them before buying.
These use Bluetooth 4.2 (AAC but no aptX).
1More Stylish True Wireless: $100Sarah Tew/CNET
I don't really know how stylish the 1More Stylish True Wireless earphones are (yes, that's their name), but they do sound good. With a list price of $100, they're the least expensive of any of the models on this list. 1More made a name for itself with its wired earbuds, the Triple Drivers, which sound great and were a good value when wired headphones were still a thing. The same clear, balanced sound found in that headphone is present in 1More's first true wireless earphones (they don't sound as good as the Triple Drivers, but they sound very good for true wireless).
These have more of an audiophile sound profile, with more "accurate" sound, so bass lovers may be a little disappointed, but I liked them. Of course, it helped that I was able to get a tight seal with one of the included ear tips. However, the stabilizer fin did nothing for me (I just jammed the tip into my ear to get a secure fit).
Their battery life is rated at up 6.5 hours (expect closer to 5 if you listen to your music at higher volumes), with an extra 17 hours or so of battery life available from the charging case. These use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC and aptX.
UA True Wireless Flash Engineered by JBL: $170Sarah Tew/CNET
JBL and Under Armour bill their new True Wireless Flash ($170) as totally wireless sports earphones "designed for runners by runners." They're technically the first truly wireless earphones from the duo, and as far as truly wireless sports earphones go, they're quite good, although some of their allure is tempered by a rather large charging case that's probably three times the size of Apple's AirPods' charging case.
With relatively clean, well-balanced sound and meaty bass that's pretty well-defined (read: not boomy), they sound on par and even slightly better than other true wireless headphones in this price class. They've got better bass than the Jabra Elite 65t, but the Elite 65t may fit more ears comfortably.
The earphones are fully waterproof and use Bluetooth 4.2 (no aptX).