Everybody wants true-wireless earbuds that sound good, but what if you want true-wireless earbuds with exceptional sound quality? Well, this is the list for you.
Earbuds with the best sound tend to be on the bigger side and may not fit some ears. And many of the top-sounding in-ear headphones are pretty pricey, though I've included a few value picks. I should also note that to get optimal sound quality (and bass performance, in particular), it's crucial to get a tight seal. Ear tips make a big difference and, unfortunately, they don't always fit quite as well as they should. You can buy third-party ear tips () but hopefully, you can get a tight seal with one of the sizes of tips included with the earbuds.
Bowers & Wilkins flagship noise-canceling PI7 earbuds sound terrific. They're arguably the best sounding true-wireless earbuds out there right now but cost a whopping $400. The step-down noise-canceling PI5 buds retail for $249.
Aside from stellar sound and very good noise canceling, the PI7 buds have a few bonus features that may help you rationalize paying $400 for them. For starters, they're the first earbuds I've encountered where the wireless charging case converts into a transceiver, so you can plug the case into the headphone port on an airplane's inflight entertainment system and wirelessly stream audio from the case to the earbuds.
Additionally, the PI7 supports Qualcomm aptX Adaptive wireless transmission (which includes the aptX HD codec) from compatible mobile devices, allowing for "high-resolution music transmission from suitable streaming services, such as Qobuz."
They're IPX54 splash-proof and have 4 hours of battery life with noise canceling on (that's a little disappointing), plus an extra four charges from the case. Read our Bowers & Wilkins PI7 first take.
The Earfun Air Pro SV have a few things going for them. First, they sound shockingly good for a set of earbuds in this price range. They feature big, open sound with well-defined bass and good clarity. They're also lightweight and comfortable to wear, their noise-canceling is effective and they have a fairly natural-sounding transparency mode that allows ambient sound in if you want to hear the outside world around you for safety reasons.
Earfun is highlighting how you can see the buds' squared-off stems through the case -- there's a little window -- but aside from the stems, the buds themselves have a similar shape and design to the AirPods Pro. While the case offers wireless charging, the buds are missing a sensor that pauses your music when you take them out of your ears (you can use a single bud if you want) and resumes playback when you put them back in. They're IPX5 splash-proof, and battery life is rated at 6 hours with noise-canceling turned on. There's also a low-latency gaming mode and touch controls that work reasonably well, and you can upgrade the buds' firmware and tweak sound settings in a companion app for iOS and Android.
Earfun talks about them having "six professional mics for a stunning call experience" -- and they work decently enough for calls -- but I was slightly disappointed with the noise reduction while using them in the streets of New York City. Aside from that small gripe, they're a very good value, particularly now that Earfun is offering them for $54 when you input the code SUMMER40 (40% off) at checkout on its site.
Bang & Olufsen's Beoplay EX buds are the company's best true-wireless earbuds yet. They feature a comfortable, secure fit (except perhaps for those with really smaller ears), top-notch build quality, great sound, good noise canceling and improved voice-calling performance over B&O's EQ buds, with three microphones in each earbud they help with reducing background noise while picking up your voice. While they're out of most people's price range, they're arguably the best earbuds out there with stems and offer superior sound to the AirPods Pro with better clarity, deeper more powerful bass and richer, more accurate sound.
Battery life is rated at 6 hours at moderate volume levels with noise canceling on and there's an extra 14 hours of juice in the brushed aluminum charging case (wireless charging is supported). The buds have an IP57 water-resistance rating, which makes them waterproof and dust-resistant. They feature Bluetooth 5.2 and multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect to two devices at the same time, such as a computer and smartphone. You can use a single bud independently and the earbuds have ear-detection sensors so your music pauses when you remove them from your ears.
The buds support AptX Adaptive for devices like Android smartphones that support Bluetooth streaming with the AptX HD audio codec (AAC is also supported). They're available in the gold tone pictured as well as a graphite color.
No earbuds are perfect, of course, and not everybody will love the fit of the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds or be able to afford their high price. But if you're looking for great-sounding earbuds with brilliant noise canceling, solid voice-calling capabilities and good battery life, these buds check all the boxes.
For me, the traits of excellent sounding wireless headphones involve such adjectives as accurate, articulate, well-balanced, dynamic and smooth. These exhibit those traits and their sound is up there with the best-sounding models. They're also splash-proof, with an IPX4 rating.
I A/B tested these with the Bowers & Wilkins PI7, which arguably have the slight edge -- the PI7 may just be the best-sounding true-wireless earbuds out there right now. But the Sony WF-1000XM4's noise canceling and headset performance is superior, and they cost around $120 less. So you may see the PI7 come down in price to compete with the Sony because it's hard to justify spending the extra dough on the PI7, even if its charging case doubles as a Bluetooth transceiver and supports the aptX Adaptive format. Read our Sony WF-1000XM4 review.
Featuring excellent sound, improved noise canceling and voice-calling performance as well a smaller, more refined design that includes stabilizing fins (so the earbuds stay in your ears more securely), the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 are among the best new true-wireless earbuds for 2022. They're also one of the best true-wireless earbuds overall, giving the Sony WF-1000XM4 a run for the money.
Hot on the heels of the third-generation AirPods, Apple has another new set of earbuds, this time from its subsidiary audio company, Beats. Technically, the new splash-proof Beats Fit Pro ($200) aren't AirPods, but they're built on the same tech platform as the AirPods Pro. Unlike Beats' earlier, less expensive Studio Buds, the Beats Fit Pro include Apple's H1 chip and have most of the AirPods Pro's features, including active noise canceling, spatial audio and Adaptive EQ. I'd venture to call them the sports AirPods you've always wanted. And for some people, they might just be better than the AirPods Pro.
South Korea-based Astell & Kern, known for making high-end digital music players, has released its first true-wireless earbuds, the UW100, and they're among the best-sounding buds out there. Featuring Knowles balanced-armature drivers and a 32-bit DAC, they offer clean, articulate sound with fast, well-defined bass. While the Qualcomm QCC5141 chip that powers them supports active noise canceling (and Bluetooth 5.2), the company has yet to enable it, relying instead on a tight seal from the included ear tips providing good passive noise isolation. They support the AAC and aptX Adaptive audio codecs (mostly Android devices support aptX streaming).
Like some other audiophile earbuds on this list, the UW100 are a little beefy and may not fit small ears. For sound, they measure up well against the Sony WF-1000XM4 and other top-sounding earbuds and arguably offer slightly better clarity than the Sonys. As for using them to make calls, they don't reduce background noise as well as earbuds like the AirPods Pro, but they work reasonably well as a headset for making calls. They also offer multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can simultaneously pair them to two devices, like a computer and smartphone. Wear sensors detect when the earbuds are in your ears and pause your music when you take them out.
They probably offer some level of water resistance, but they currently don't have an IPX rating, which means I can't recommend them for anything but nonsweaty workouts at the gym. Battery life is rated at 6 hours at moderate volume levels, with an additional three charges from the somewhat large but sturdy charging case.
Anker makes several earbuds that cost less than $100. But its Soundcore Liberty Pro is its "high-end" model that features premium sound, as well as support for Sony's LDAC audio codec with compatible devices (mostly Android phones).
Available in four color options, the third-gen Liberty 3 Pros have updated dual drivers and are about 30% smaller than their predecessor. They fit my ears significantly better than the Liberty 2 Pro buds, which I didn't love as much as some people. This new version is improved and a good value compared with other so-called premium buds.
The Liberty 3 Pro deliver a solid noise-canceling experience (they also have three different transparency modes) and feature Anker's HearID ANC, which "analyzes your ears and level of in-ear pressure to create a tailored profile that optimizes noise reduction and reduces external sound to suit your ears."
The earbuds also perform well -- though not exceptionally -- as a headset for making calls. They're IPX4 splash-proof and deliver up to 6 hours of battery life with noise canceling on and up to 8 hours with it off. The case charges wirelessly, and I liked how the tips of the buds are illuminated by a pair of LEDs on the inside of the case when the buds are charging.
Unlike with the Liberty Air 2 Pro, I had no problem getting a tight seal with the included ear tips and found the sound to be on par with other premium earbuds that cost more. They have big, open sound with lots of energy in the bass and good detail. While they have a list price of $170, they're frequently discounted on Amazon. If you're not quite willing to step up to the Sony WF-1000XM4 or other high-end models, the Liberty 3 Pro buds are worth considering.
Unlike the "open" LinkBuds, the LinkBuds S are traditional noise-isolating earbuds with tips you jam in your ears. They're more compact and lighter than Sony's flagship WF-1000M4 and also feature Sony's V1 processor. While their sound and noise canceling don't quite measure up to the WF-1000XM4's, they're close and cost less. They're the Sony buds for people who can deal with larger buds like WF-1000XM4 but want 80 to 85% of those buds' features and performance for $80 less.
Last year, Panasonic trotted out its venerable Technics brand and gave us a couple of pairs of very good-sounding true-wireless earbuds, including the flagship EAH-AZ70W, which once cost $250 but are down to around $160 on Amazon.
Now we get the Technics EAH-AZ60, which doesn't have quite as premium a feel as the EAH-AZ70W, but it sounds sweet with clean, well-balanced sound, well-defined bass and good detail. It features active noise canceling (it's good), a transparency mode, multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect to your computer and phone at the same time, and it has very solid voice-calling performance with good noise reduction. The buds are IPX4 splash-proof and are rated for up to 7 hours of battery life on a single charge at moderate volume levels.
They're missing a couple of features usually found at this price point: Namely, an ear-detection sensor that automatically pauses your music when you pull the earbuds out of your ears and wireless charging (the former feature is more important). The step-down EAH-AZ40 also sound good, but the EAH-AZ60 not only have larger drivers (8mm compared with 6mm), but they support Sony's LDAC audio codec and have two additional microphones for voice calling and noise canceling (the EAH-AZ40 doesn't have noise canceling).
Over the years, JBL has put out some decent true-wireless earbuds, but nothing that really got me too excited. That's finally changed with the arrival of the Samsung-owned brand's new Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 buds. Both sets of buds -- the Live Pro 2 have stems while the Live Free 2 have a pill-shaped design -- offer a comfortable fit along with strong noise canceling, very good sound quality and voice-calling performance, plus a robust set of features, including multipoint Bluetooth pairing, an IPX5 splash-proof rating and wireless charging.
The Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 are equipped with the same 11mm drivers, six microphones, oval tubes and oval silicon tips. Aside from the design, the biggest difference between the two buds is battery life; the stemless Live Free 2 is rated for up to seven hours, while the Live Pro 2 is rated for 10 hours. The Live Pro 2 is available in four color options.
Samsung-owned JBL has a couple of new sets of earbuds, the Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 that are surprisingly good. Both are equipped with the same 11mm drivers, six microphones, oval tubes and oval silicon tips. And they also combine a comfortable fit along with strong noise canceling, very good sound quality and voice-calling performance, plus a robust feature set, including multipoint Bluetooth pairing, an IPX5 splash-proof rating and wireless charging.
Aside from the design -- The Live Pro 2 has stems while the Live Free 2 is pill-shaped -- the biggest difference between the two buds is battery life. The stemless Live Free 2 are rated for up to seven hours, while the Live Pro 2 are rated for 10 hours.
The Live Free 2 fit securely in my ears and are smaller and superior to Samsung's Galaxy Buds Pro, particularly in terms of comfort level. The buds are available in three color options.
I prefer Bang & Olufsen's newer Beoplay EX earbuds but the Beoplay EQ buds also deliver top-notch sound and adaptive noise cancellation, along with a natural sounding transparency mode. Multipoint Bluetooth pairing means you can connect them to a smartphone and computer simultaneously. They have three microphones on each bud and are good for voice calling though not exceptionally good (the EX are superior for voice calls).
Needless to say, the premium design elements are here. The aluminum-shelled case opens and closes with precise smoothness, and the buds themselves have their own aluminum accent on the outer surface where the touch controls live.
The buds are fairly large and do stick out of your ears like premium buds from Sony and Sennheiser. They fit me comfortably and securely and are suitable for sporting activities, with an IP54 splash-proof rating. Battery life is rated at around 6.5 hours at moderate volume levels, and you get an extra two charges from the case, which has USB-C and wireless charging.
The sound is big and dynamic with deep, well-defined bass and a wide soundstage. The mids sound natural and the treble has a nice sparkle to it. They're a pleasure to listen to and among the best-sounding true wireless earbuds. I didn't experience any listening fatigue over longer listening sessions. aptX is available for devices that support the aptX audio codec; these have aptX Adaptive and use Bluetooth 5.2.
Are they better than the Sony WF-1000XM4, which cost $120 less? The answer to that will depend partially on just how well they fit your ears and just how good a seal you get from the included ear tips. I personally ended up getting the best fit using Sennheiser's large tips, which work best for my ears. They're a great set of earbuds if you can afford them. Just buy them from a retailer that has a good return policy in case you're not completely satisfied.
Master & Dynamic's earlier MW07 and MW07 Plus delivered top-notch sound for true wireless, but they were a little lacking in the features department and weren't so great for making calls. The MW08 model offers some significant improvements, including the addition of solid noise canceling and call quality, that make it one of the top models for 2022. Alas, it's expensive at $299 (the more durable MW08 Sport, which sounds the same, is $349).
Battery life has improved a bit (up to around 12 hours of battery life at 50% volume versus 10 hours for the MW07 Plus), and the earbuds are equipped with Bluetooth 5.2, active noise cancellation with three microphones on each earbud (noise reduction during calls isn't up to the level of the AirPods Pro, but overall call quality has improved). The noise canceling on the MW07 Plus was pretty weak; the MW08's is much more effective.
You can opt for two levels of noise cancellation in the new M&D Connect app for iOS and Android, as well as two levels of transparency that lets you hear the outside world. The app currently has no way to tweak the sound profile (I'm OK with that because the sound profile is just fine for my tastes), and the earbuds have a physical button on each bud to control playback, not touch controls.
The earbuds may not fit everyone's ear equally well, but they certainly have a distinct look, as well as excellent sound and a great listening experience if you can get a tight seal. (I was able to get a secure fit with the largest tip.) They deliver more of an audiophile sound profile, with smooth, well-balanced sound and well-defined bass. This model has new 11mm drivers, which add a bit of punch to the bass and a touch better clarity. The MW08 works well with all genres of music.
Available in a variety of color options for $300, like their predecessors, the MW08 includes a swanky stainless-steel charging case (it charges via USB-C) that's compact but carries more weight than your typical buds cases. I prefer the matte finishes of the cases that come with the black and blue versions, and you also get a secondary pouch for safekeeping. (Yes, the charging case can get scratched up if you leave it in a bag.)
The MW08s now support both the aptX and AAC audio codecs, with an extended range of more than 20 meters, according to Master & Dynamic. They have an IPX5 rating (splash-proof), and in April 2022, they added multipoint Bluetooth pairing via a firmware update so you can simultaneously pair them with two devices.
Earfun's Air Pro 2 not only features solid active noise cancellation, but its sound is also impressive for its relatively modest price, with overall well-balanced sound, decent clarity and solid bass performance. Some of Earfun's buds have had a bit too much treble push -- sometimes referred to as "presence boost" -- but these mostly manage to avoid that (they do sound better than the original Air Pro).
The earbuds have some extra features, like an ear-detection sensor (your music pauses when you take the buds out of your ears) and a case that has USB-C and wireless charging, which you don't often find at this price. Equipped with Bluetooth 5.2, they're splash-proof with an IPX5 rating and offer up to 7 hours of battery life on a single charge at moderate volume levels, though you'll probably get closer to 6 hours with noise canceling turned on.
There's also a transparency mode that lets ambient sound in. It actually sounds pretty natural and is closer than I thought it would be to the AirPods Pro's excellent transparency mode. Alas, there's no companion app that allows you to tweak the sound or upgrade the firmware.
Earfun talks up the Air Pro 2's voice calling capabilities -- they have three microphones in each earbud -- and I thought call performance was good. Still, these didn't reduce background noise as much as the new Soundpeats T3, which are also good for the money ($40). However, while the Soundpeats T3 are better for calls, the Earfun Air Pro 2's noise-canceling and transparency modes are superior, and the Soundpeats don't have the ear-detection sensor. Also, the Earfun Air Pro 2 buds sound better, with richer, more dynamic sound.
The Fokus Pro are Noble's second-generation premium true-wireless earbuds and feature a hybrid three-driver configuration, with a custom made 8.2mm dynamic driver and 2 Knowles balanced armature drivers. They sound great overall, delivering refined, articulate sound (also accurate) with well-defined bass and excellent detail.
That said, to get optimal sound quality -- and to really take advantage of what the buds have to offer from a sound standpoint -- you really need a device that supports aptX (many Android phones do) and a streaming service like that supports high-resolution streaming. Alternatively, you can also use a dedicated music device that supports aptX Bluetooth streaming. These connect fine to iOS devices, but you won't get optimal sound quality. (It's still very good, but the buds are overkill if you're just connecting them to an iOS device.)
The FoKus Pro use the Qualcomm SoC QCC3040 chip and Bluetooth 5.2. They support SBC, ACC, aptX and aptX Adaptive codecs. Fokus says the ergonomic shell is 3D printed with a semi-custom low profile shape, a designer faceplate and embedded touch sensor. Battery life is rated at up to 7.5 hours at 50% volume and the metal charging case has a 500-mAh battery (it's not as easy as it should be to get the buds out of their case).
From a features standpoint, these buds are pretty low frills. There are no ear-detection sensors, active noise canceling or transparency modes and voice calling performance is decent enough but not great. They're all about the sound (they fit my ears well, though these are true noise-isolating earbuds with tips you jam pretty deeply into your ear canal to get a tight seal). Companion Noble FoKus for iOS and Android features a 10-band equalizer with presets and the ability to create your own custom presets. The app also includes a hearing test function that will personalize your EQ settings based on the results of the hearing test.
A lot of people love Nura's original over-ear Nuraphones, which are uniquely designed with an in-ear component and personalized sound. I'm personally more fond of the company's new NuraTrue earbuds, which also have a fairly unusual design and give you the option to create a personalized hearing profile.
The buds look big but are lightweight. They fit a bit more like sport earbuds -- they include a couple of sizes of stabilizing fins -- and stick out of your ears a bit (they're not exactly discreet). I got a good seal and comfortable fit with one of the larger tips, and if you're able to get a good fit, these deliver excellent sound and decent noise-canceling performance. Nura has some of the best hearing personalization, and a quick 5-minute process, with no test tones involved, yielded good results for me with improved sound.
You can adjust the bass level with a slider in the "immersive" mode in the app and I found these delivered big sound with a wide soundstage. aptX audio codec support is available for compatible devices.
The NuraTrue also has a "social" transparency mode -- it's good but not quite up to the level of the AirPods Pro's transparency mode in terms of how natural it sounds. Battery life is rated at around 6 hours with noise canceling on at moderate volume levels. I thought the touch controls worked well, and these are splash-proof with an IPX4 rating. Call quality wasn't quite what I hoped it would be -- it's fine but some callers said my voice sounded unnatural and canned when noise reduction was engaged in the noisy streets of New York. There's a sidetone feature that allows you to hear your voice in the buds, which is good.
Initially, there were some complaints about the earbuds not playing loud enough, but a firmware update fixed that issue. I had no problem with the volume levels; the earbuds play plenty loud now, perhaps too loud for some people. Though fairly pricey, If these fit your ears well, they're among the better premium buds, particularly for sound quality. Hopefully, some firmware upgrades will make them even better over time.
It took Bose quite awhile to get them into stores, but the $279 noise-canceling QuietComfort Earbuds are finally here. In many ways, they're excellent true wireless earbuds, particularly when it comes to their sound and noise canceling, which is arguably the best right now in a set of earbuds.
The Bose are right up there with the best-sounding true wireless earbuds and go toe to toe with the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2. They work well for a variety of music genres but fans of hip-hop and EDM will find they have plenty of kick to their bass. They're splash-proof, with an IPX4 rating.
Shortly after the release of the CX, Sennheiser's second-generation midrange buds, the company followed them up with the CX Plus, which add noise canceling for a slightly higher price. They look nearly identical to the standard CX buds but have a glossy finish on the bud's exterior touch-sensitive surface, and come in black or white.
I like the CX for the money and the CX Plus delivers the same excellent sound while rounding out the feature set with active noise canceling and a transparency mode. Battery life is rated at up to 8 hours at moderate volume levels, and these are splash-proof, with an IPX4 rating. They do stick out of your ears a fair bit.
The noise canceling isn't quite as good as the Sony WF-1000XM4's noise canceling, but I thought it was quite effective, and headset performance was also decent, though not necessarily stellar. These are all-around solid noise-canceling earbuds that can count sound quality as their biggest strength.
Known for delivering good bang for the buck, 1More has released a more premium set of buds that are equipped with a 10mm dynamic driver paired with a balanced armature. They have support for Sony's LDAC codec for high-resolution wireless streaming over Bluetooth with music services like Qobuz or Tidal that offer high-resolution music files.
The Evo buds sound better than the company's other earbuds, offering better clarity and bass definition as well as a relatively wide soundstage. They also feature solid noise canceling, multipoint Bluetooth pairing, wireless charging, a transparency mode and an IPX4 splashproof rating. Battery life is rated at 5.5 hours with ANC on and 8 hours without it off. A 15-minute quick charge gives you 4 hours of juice.
While the earbuds have three microphones in each and tout excellent voice-calling performance, I'd rate it as decent but not great. The noise reduction isn't quite as good as what you get with some buds but that may improve with firmware upgrades (the 1More companion app is serviceable but could also be improved).
These are worth trying if you don't want to spend over $200 for some of the more expensive models on this list but still get excellent sound.
Known for its excellent sounding, retro-designed, open-back wired headphones, Grado has long been a favorite among audiophiles, earning extra points for building many of its headphones by hand in Brooklyn, New York, for over 60 years. But with the world moving to wireless audio, the company has slowly shifted into the Bluetooth headphone arena, first with its GW100 on-ear model (in 2018) and now with its first true wireless earbuds, the GT220 ($259). Grado says it's been working for two years to fit them with its "signature" mini-drivers and tune them accordingly. The good news is they sound fantastic -- for true-wireless earbuds anyway -- and perform well as a headset for making calls.
Their more penetrating fit (the buds have to be jammed into your ears), which provides very good passive noise-muffling, may not work for everybody. But if you're OK with it, these are easily among the best-sounding true-wireless earbuds out there -- and maybe even the best-sounding.
Audiophile headphones are often associated with more of a flat or neutral sound profile that delivers "accurate" sound. These are well-balanced, but they have a more exciting sound profile, with bass that's a touch more forward and nice sparkle in the treble. They are more revealing and articulate than Sennheiser's True Wireless Momentum II earbuds, which come across as warmer and a bit more open with slightly bigger sound.
These use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for the AAC and aptX codecs (for devices that have aptX, like Samsung's Galaxy smartphones). They have an IPX4 water-resistance rating, so they're splash-proof.