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Article updated on March 25, 2024 at 8:41 AM PDT

Best Earbuds for Phone Calls for 2024

We've tested a bunch of earbuds, and here are our top picks for crystal-clear calls.

Our Experts

Written by 
David Carnoy
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Nook e-books and audiobooks.
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What to consider

Budget

Fit

Return Policy

Our Picks

$249 at Apple
Image of Apple AirPods Pro 2 (USB-C)
Best Apple noise-canceling wireless earbuds
Apple AirPods Pro 2 (USB-C)
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$190 at Samsung
Image of Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Best Samsung wireless earbuds
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
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$179 at Amazon
Image of Status Between 3ANC
Best wireless earbuds with triple drivers
Status Between 3ANC
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$149 at Amazon
Image of Apple AirPods 3rd Generation
Best open earbuds for calls
Apple AirPods 3rd Generation
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$278 at Amazon
Image of Sony WF-1000XM5
Best Sony earbuds
Sony WF-1000XM5
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$139 at Amazon
The Pixel Buds Pro are available in 4 colors
Best wireless earbuds for Android users
Google Pixel Buds Pro
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$135 at Amazon
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Best affordable Wireless Earbuds from Samsung
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2
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$150 at JBL.com
Image of JBL Live Pro 2
Best AirPods Pro alternative for less
JBL Live Pro 2
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$200 at Best Buy
Image of Sony Pulse Explore
Top gaming earbuds with excellent sound
Sony Pulse Explore
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$170 at Amazon
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Best wireless earbuds from Beats
Beats Studio Buds Plus
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$129 at Apple
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AirPods on a budget
AirPods 2nd Generation
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What are the best overall earbuds for making calls?

Most true-wireless earbuds work reasonably well for making calls. But some work better than others, and the truth is only a handful offer top-notch voice-calling performance. What do I mean by top-notch? Well, the best earbuds for voice-calling greatly reduce background noise while also managing to pick up your voice clearly. That involves not only the buds' onboard microphones but sophisticated noise-reduction software algorithms and sometimes even voice accelerometers that can detect when you're speaking.

If I had to pick one as the best option, I'd go with the AirPods Pro 2. Updated last September with USB-C charging, Apple's flagship noise-canceling earbuds are very good at picking up your voice clearly while minimizing background noise (I test voice-calling performance in the noisy streets of New York, which is a real torture test).

Mostly, I recommend noise-isolating earbuds for phone calls because of their ability to block out sound so you can hear callers better. Not everyone likes to have tips in their ears, though, so we do have a few open earbuds on the list as well. We also consider features like sidetone, which allows you to hear your voice in headphones and earbuds as you talk (so you don't shout), and multipoint Bluetooth pairing, which lets you pair your headphones or earbuds with two devices at the same time for added flexibility.

We also have a list of the best headphones for working from home, but that roundup includes more work- or business-oriented headphones, which you're more likely to use at home with not only your phone but also a computer. Some of those headphones feature a retractable boom microphone. 

Read more: Best Wireless Earbuds of 2024

Best Earbuds for phone calls for 2024

$249 at Apple

Best Apple noise-canceling wireless earbuds

Apple AirPods Pro 2 (USB-C)

Apple not only swapped in USB-C for Lightning connectivity in its new iPhone 15 models, but it made the switch with the AirPods Pro (2nd generation). The new AirPods Pro 2 with MagSafe (USB-C) are nearly identical to their Lightning predecessor, delivering the same excellent sound, noise canceling and voice-calling performance. That said, they offer some other small upgrades, including additional dust resistance and a new acoustic architecture that allows for Lossless Audio with the Vision Pro, Apple's upcoming wearable headset that is coming in February 2024 and costs $3,499. Is it possible that new acoustic architecture makes the buds sound subtly different with current devices like the iPhone? Maybe, maybe not. Either way, the AirPods Pro 2 (USB-C) are easy to recommend to Apple users despite their high price. Pro tip: Don't pay more than $190 for these, which is the online sale price at which they're now frequently available.

$190 at Samsung

Best Samsung wireless earbuds

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offer improved noise canceling along with very good sound and voice-calling performance, plus support for high-resolution wireless audio streaming if you're a Galaxy device owner with the right setup. That said, their biggest upgrade may be their new design and smaller size, which make them a better fit for more ears. Aside from their somewhat high price tag, their only drawback is that some of their key features only work with Samsung Galaxy devices.

$179 at Amazon

Best wireless earbuds with triple drivers

Status Between 3ANC

Status Audio's earbuds aren't exactly the sleekest or most attractive earbuds you can buy, but if you don't mind their utilitarian look and giant stems, you are getting an excellent sounding set of earbuds. The Between 3ANC, the company's first noise-canceling earbuds, also do a good job muffling ambient sound, though they aren't up to the level of the Bose QuietComfort 2 earbuds for noise-canceling prowess. They did perform very well in my voice-calling test, reducing much of the background noise around me in the streets of New York while picking up my voice clearly, or so callers told me.

While they have multipoint Bluetooth pairing -- you can pair them to two devices simultaneously -- they are missing a few features, including ear-detection sensors, and they only support the AAC audio codec (they're equipped with Bluetooth 5.2), not LDAC or aptX. Some people with Android devices that support those codecs may not be thrilled with that, but, as I said, they sound quite good using AAC, offering clean sound with punchy bass and good clarity. That's in part due to their driver design, and why the buds are on the larger side -- they feature two balanced armature drivers, plus one 10mm dynamic driver in each earbud. 

Despite being heavier than earbuds like Apple's AirPods Pro 2, they fit my ears comfortably and securely. Their case charges wirelessly and battery life is very good at up to 8.5 hours with ANC on. There's also a transparency mode that sounds only OK, not great (a physical button on the earbuds activates it) and they have an IPX5 water-resistance rating, which means they can withstand a sustained spray of water. The companion app for iOS is fairly basic, but you can upgrade the firmware and tweak the sound profile with a customizable EQ option.

$149 at Amazon

Best open earbuds for calls

Apple AirPods 3rd Generation

Take one look at the new design of the third-gen AirPods ($179), and the first thing you'll probably think is: "Those look like the AirPods Pro without ear tips." You wouldn't be wrong. While they're more fraternal than identical twins, the AirPods 3 are shaped like the AirPods Pro, with the same shorter stems and same pinch controls as those of the Pro. Aside from the design change, which should fit most ears better than the AirPods 2nd Generation (though not very small ears), the biggest change is to the sound quality: It's much improved. Also, battery life is better, and the AirPods 3 are officially water-resistant.

Since they're open earbuds, they let some sound in, so they're not as good as the AirPods Pro 2 for both listening and making calls in noisy environments. But they do a nice job reducing background noise during calls and picking up your voice clearly.

$278 at Amazon

Best Sony earbuds

Sony WF-1000XM5

When Sony's WF-1000XM4 earbuds came out in 2021, we awarded them a CNET Editors' Choice. And while they're excellent, we had some quibbles -- they're on the large side and aren't a good match for certain ears. Clearly, Sony took those gripes to heart when it set out to design its next-generation WF-1000XM5 flagship noise-canceling earbuds. Not only are the XM5s smaller, but they also offer improved performance pretty much across the board, with better noise canceling, sound and voice calling. Are the XM5s perfect? Not quite. And at $300 -- $20 more than their predecessor -- they're costly, too. But overall they're really impressive -- easily among the very top earbuds on the market.

$139 at Amazon

Best wireless earbuds for Android users

Google Pixel Buds Pro

The Pixel Buds Pro are Google's first earbuds to feature active noise canceling. While it's nice that they finally have a feature that a lot of true-wireless earbuds have had for a while, what ultimately sets the Pixel Buds Pro apart and makes them worth considering -- particularly for Android users -- is their distinct design and winning fit. That helps enhance their performance on both the sound quality and noise-canceling fronts. While not quite elite for voice-calling, they did perform well as a headset for making calls. A couple of features were missing at launch -- spatial audio and a five-band equalizer -- but both have now been added with firmware updates.

$135 at Amazon

Best affordable Wireless Earbuds from Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

Available in four color options, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 hew more closely to the newer Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy Buds Live, both of which have eye-catching glossy curved designs and the same compact charging case as this new model. In fact, it's the Buds 2's design and fit -- they're 15% smaller and 20% lighter than the Buds Plus -- that make them a potentially more likable alternative to the slightly better-sounding Buds Pro. 

Like the Buds Pro, the Buds 2 are equipped with active noise canceling. That means all the latest Galaxy Buds models now feature some form of active noise canceling, though it's slight with the Buds Live, which have an open design sans ear tips. While the Buds 2 look more like shrunken versions of the Buds Pro, I found them more akin to the Buds Live in that they barely stick out of your ears and are fairly discreet. Because they sit more flush with your ears -- and have that curved design -- they also pick up less wind noise. 

I found the Buds 2 to be very good for voice calling, with excellent noise reduction during calls. While they don't have pipes sticking out of them like the AirPods Pro, their microphones manage to pick up your voice well. They're IPX2 sweat-resistant.

$150 at JBL.com

Best AirPods Pro alternative for less

JBL Live Pro 2

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.

$200 at Best Buy

Top gaming earbuds with excellent sound

Sony Pulse Explore

There are a lot of new gaming earbuds out there, but what makes the Sony Pulse Explore earbuds special is that they feature planar magnetic drivers, a speaker technology typically found in high-end over-ear audiophile headphones but rarely in earbuds. While they're missing some other features found in typical premium earbuds (noise canceling and ear-detection sensors), that they're as good as they are for listening to music and making calls is a revelation. In fact, they sound clearer and more articulate than Sony's flagship WF-1000XM5 earbuds, and have tight, powerful bass. That doesn't necessarily mean they sound better than XM5s, which sound a little fuller. But I wasn't expecting them to compete at all with the XM5s for music listening.

$170 at Amazon

Best wireless earbuds from Beats

Beats Studio Buds Plus

Alas, for those of you who bought the original Beats Studio Buds, which remain on the market for now, I'm sorry to report that these new Plus buds are significantly improved, with better sound, noise canceling and battery life. Additionally, they now deliver top-notch voice-calling performance.

The transparent version is getting a lot of attention (who doesn't like transparent electronics?), but the big changes are on the inside. Beats says 95% of the components are new and improved, and the buds' "acoustic architecture" has been revised. The speaker drivers remain the same, but the Studio Buds Plus are powered by a new, more powerful custom chipset and have three new microphones in each bud, which are three times larger and more sensitive than the ones found in the Beats Studio Buds.

$129 at Apple

AirPods on a budget

AirPods 2nd Generation

The third-gen AirPods are a nice upgrade over the second generation. That said, the AirPods 2, which came out in 2019, are now selling for around $100 and sometimes a little less. While they don't sound as good as the AirPods 3 and have a longer stem, they fit some people's ears better (those with smaller ears may prefer these older AirPods due to their slightly smaller design). As for voice calling, they remain in the upper echelon for earbuds.

Other wireless earbuds we've tested

Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS: What makes the Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS buds special is that they sound surprisingly good for open earbuds -- they're pretty close to what you get from Apple's AirPods 3 for sound. On top of that, they support Sony's LDAC audio codec for devices that offer it. Not too many cheap open earbuds have good sound but these Soundpeats have good bass response and clarity. They're also decent for making calls and have a low-latency gaming mode.

Sony WF-1000XM4: Released in 2021, Sony's WF-1000XM4 earned a CNET Editors' Choice Award. They're still excellent earbuds, but Sony has now released the next-gen WF-1000XM5. They may be a good option if you find them at a good discount. 

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd: Beyerdynamic may be late to the game, but it's finally introduced its first true-wireless earbuds, which feature active noise canceling, up to 11 hours of battery life (with noise canceling off) and impressive sound quality. Read our Beyerdynamic Free Byrd review.

Master & Dynamic MW08: These buds 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.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX: Bang & Olufsen's $399 Beoplay EX buds are the company's best true-wireless earbuds. 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 slightly superior sound to the AirPods Pro 2 with better clarity, deeper more powerful bass and richer, more accurate sound. 

Sony LinkBuds: The LinkBuds are, in a sense, Sony's answer to Apple's standard AirPods. While they don't sound as good as Sony's flagship WF-1000XM4 or the LinkBuds S noise-isolating earbuds, they offer a discreet, innovative design and a more secure fit than the AirPods, as well as decent sound and very good voice-calling performance. Like the third-gen AirPods, their open design allows you to hear the outside world -- that's what the ring is all about. Read our Sony LinkBuds review.

JBL Live Free 2: Like the Live Pro 2, JBL's new Live Free 2 buds are surprisingly good. With 11mm drivers, six microphones, oval tubes and oval silicon tips, they combine a comfortable fit along with strong noise canceling, very good sound quality and voice-calling performance. Features include multipoint Bluetooth pairing and wireless charging, and they're rated for up to seven hours with IPX5 water-resistance (splash-proof).

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Factors to consider when choosing wireless earbuds

Budget

Before anything else, you'll want to figure out how much you're willing to spend on new earbuds. Value priced earbuds continue to improve, so you can find good "cheap" buds for not too much money (less than $60). But if you're looking for premium buds from Sony, Apple and Bose, be prepared to spend a lot more. 

Fit 

It's key that the earbuds you buy fit your ears well. They should offer a comfortable, secure fit. If you don't get a tight seal with noise-isolating earbuds, sound quality and noise canceling can be dramatically impacted for the worse. Open earbuds don't have that issue, but they should be comfortable to wear and sit securely in your ears.

Return policy

Because the fit of your earbuds is so important, it's critical to buy your buds at a retailer that has a good return policy, in case the buds aren't a good match for your ears.

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How we test true-wireless earbuds

We test true-wireless earbuds based on five key criteria, comparing similarly styled and priced models. These criteria are designsound qualityfeaturesvoice-calling performance and value.

  • Design: We assess not only how comfortable the earbuds fit (ergonomics) but their build quality and how well the controls are implemented. We also look at water- and dust-resistance ratings.
  • Sound quality: We evaluate sound quality by listening to a set playlist of music tracks and comparing the earbuds to top competing products in their price range. Sonic traits such as bass definition, clarity, dynamic range and how natural the headphones sound are key factors in our assessment.
  • Features: Some great-sounding earbuds aren't loaded with features, but we do take into account what extra features are on board. These include everything from noise-canceling and transparency modes (ambient sound mode) to special sound modes to ear-detection sensors that automatically pause your music when you take the headphones off your ears.
  • Voice-calling performance: When we test voice-calling performance, we make calls in the noisy streets of New York and evaluate how well the earbuds reduce background noise and how clearly callers can hear your voice.
  • Value: We determine value after evaluating the strength of the earbuds against all these criteria and what the buds are able to deliver compared to other models in their price class.
Wearing the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2
Enlarge Image
Wearing the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2

Our reviewer David Carnoy testing voice-calling performance on the noisy streets of New York.

David Carnoy/CNET
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Earbuds for phone calls FAQ

How many microphones do earbuds with good voice-calling have?

More premium earbuds tend to have six microphones (three in each bud), with some dedicated to analyzing ambient noise and others dedicated to capturing your voice. Typically, there's at least one beamforming microphone on each bud to hone in on your voice.

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What are bone-conduction sensors?

Some earbuds have bone-conduction sensing technology that detects your jaw movement vibrations when you're talking. That helps the earbuds know when you're talking so they can focus on your voice while also reducing background noise. Sophisticated software also plays a role in filtering out background noise while the microphones are able to focus on your voice.

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Are earbuds with stems better for making calls?

Sometimes but not always. With earbuds that have stems like the AirPods and AirPods Pro 2, the microphones are a little closer to your mouth, which can help. But just because earbuds have stems doesn't mean they'll be very good for making calls. There are several buds on this list that are good for making calls that do not have stems.

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