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The best true wireless earbuds for 2021

Need a new pair of true wireless earbuds for the summer?  There are a ton of choices, and it’s easy to get swayed by all of the five-star reviews on Amazon.

We’ve had a chance to listen to virtually all of the major models and, right now, our top pick is the Jabra Elite 85t. They feature a small and comfortable earbud, great sound quality, excellent active noise cancellation (ANC), and a wealth of customization options. They’re also less expensive than several of the leading competitors.

We think the Elite 85t are the best choice for most people, but if your budget can’t stretch that far, or you’re looking for earbuds for specific activities, we’ve found lots of excellent alternatives.

Want a set of true wireless earbuds that won’t break the bank? Check out the best cheap true wireless earbuds.

Best true wireless earbuds at a glance:

The best true wireless earbuds: Jabra Elite 85t

Jabra Elite 85t
Jabra

Why you should buy them: They tick more boxes than any other true wireless earbuds we’ve tested so far.

Who they’re for: Those who want great sound, good battery life, tons of customization, and superior ANC in a compact package.

Why we chose the Jabra Elite 85t:

In the ever-growing world of true wireless earbuds, you will find a few sets with better sound quality than the Elite 85t. You may find some that have better noise cancellation. You’ll probably find quite a few that offer more protection from dust and water. But you won’t find any that boast the Elite 85t’s impressive quality and their array of features at any price — which makes their $230 asking price quite reasonable.

The Elite 85t pick up where the Elite 75t and Elite Active 75t left off. They’re compact — far smaller than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds or the Sony WF-1000XM3 that used to be in our top spot — and that means they’re going to fit more people. The ergonomic shape is also one of the most comfortable for long listening sessions.

A single physical button for each earbud means you never have to wonder if you tapped correctly, thanks to a satisfying click. By default, these buttons can be used to control every major function, but you can also change what they do using the Jabra Sound+ app. Our favorite feature is the one-click mode change between HearThrough (Jabra’s name for ambient sound) and noise cancellation. It’s fast and easy and you never have to remove an earbud to chat with someone. If you do remove one or both buds, your music automatically pauses and resumes when you replace them.

The Elite 85t employ a semiopen design, which means that some air is allowed to make its way into your ear through tiny openings. It keeps the earbuds from creating that blocked-ear feeling that so many true wireless buds tend to do. Comfort aside, the semiopen structure also imbues the audio with a much wider soundstage than you get on the Elite 75t, albeit at a cost: The 85t are only rated at IPX4 for water resistance, while the 75t are IP55.

The Sound+ app gives you tons of EQ settings to play with, but out of the box, the Elite 85t sound fantastic. They possess all of the low-end power that blew us away on the Elite 75t, but deliver bass response in a far more balanced way. Now, instead of being profoundly aware of the low-end boom, you’re aware of how well anchored and warm the sound feels. The midranges and highs are equally well rendered, with plenty of definition and separation. Vocals pop, but they’re never harsh.

Call quality is excellent and you can adjust the amount of sidetone (how much of your own voice you hear), for a natural-sounding experience. Noise cancellation is also very good — we’d say this is one of the only sets of ANC buds that can do battle with the awesome AirPods Pro. It’s also adjustable inside the app, in case it’s too aggressive.

The wireless-charging case helps the 85t deliver almost exactly the same battery life as the 75t: 5.5 hours per charge with ANC on, 7 hours with it off (25 or 31 hours when you include the case). That’s not going to set any endurance records but it’s more than enough for a day’s worth of listening.

It’s also worth noting that Jabra products are some of the few that offer multipoint Bluetooth: The ability to keep the Elite 85t paired with two devices simultaneously.

If you have small ears or simply want to spend less money, the Jabra Elite 75t remain an excellent alternative, but we think the Elite 85t offer a premium experience that helps justify their higher price.

Read our in-depth Jabra Elite 85t review

The best noise-canceling true wireless earbuds: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Bose

Why you should buy them: They’re the gold standard for noise cancellation and call quality, and they sound terrific, too.

Who they’re for: Those who want to silence the world around them while enjoying premium sound quality.

Why we picked the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds:

If you know anything about Bose, you know that noise cancellation is kinda the company’s calling card. Bose was the first to debut the technology in a set of headphones, and we’ve been waiting patiently for what we knew would one day come: A set of Bose true wireless earbuds that could perform the same magic.

It took a few years, but make no mistake: The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are exactly what we were hoping for. Their ANC is the new best in class for a set of true wireless earbuds, beating out even the venerable AirPods Pro because of their uncanny ability to mute both low- and high-frequency sounds — something that most ANC products struggle to do.

They’re also no slouches in the sound quality department. For this price, you should expect excellent audio, and the QuietComfort Earbuds deliver. Our reviewer gushed over their ability to produce “a generous helping of detail, lightning-fast transient response, and punchy bass that can start and stop on a dime.”

Call quality, as you might predict, is enterprise-grade. These are the buds you want if phone calls are an important part of your day.

Battery life is on the lower end of the true wireless spectrum: Six hours per charge, with an additional 12 hours in the wireless charging case. You can quick-charge the earbuds, which earns an extra two hours after 15 minutes.

The shape of the QuietComfort Earbuds may be their most controversial quality. They’re big — especially when compared to the Elite 85t or AirPods Pro — as is their charging case. And, they use a silicone ear tip with an integrated earfin for greater stability. Not everyone is going to like how that feels, and there’s no way to remove it. You do, however, get used to them with time.

Unlike the Elite 85t, there is no Bluetooth multipoint pairing. On a less expensive set of earbuds, or perhaps a set that isn’t as clearly targeted to travelers as the QuietComfort Earbuds, we might look the other way on this oversight, but we think it’s a missed opportunity.

These caveats aside, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are easily some of the best true wireless buds you can buy, and a must-have for those who crave quiet.

Read our in-depth Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review

The best-fitting true wireless earbuds: Earin A-3

Earin A-3 true wireless earbuds
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They’re tiny, super-comfortable earbuds that don’t stick a wad of silicone in your ear canal.

Who they’re for: Those who have struggled to find a comfortable set of true wireless earbuds.

Why we chose the Earin A-3:

In the true wireless earbud world, there are two major types of earbuds: Those that seal your ear canal with silicone ear tips, and those that simply sit inside your outer ear. The silicone tip version usually produces better sound and deeper bass because of its tight seal, but a lot of folks don’t like the way they feel.

But the alternative, epitomized by Apple’s AirPods, can suffer from poor sound quality and a loose, easily dislodged fit. Earin’s A-3 is an attempt to create the best of both worlds, and for the most part, they succeed.

The A-3 look like someone took a pair of AirPods and then radically altered them, discarding the iconic golf-tee stems and painting them black. It’s a set of design changes that manages to accomplish two key improvements: The A-3 are now the smallest and lightest earbuds you can buy, but they’re also impressively secure once placed in your ear.

Earin has also compensated for the A-3’s “open” design by installing big and powerful dynamic drivers, which go a long way toward closing the sound quality gap. The A-3 may not sound as good as the Elite 85t or AirPods Pro, but they’ve got punchier bass and better overall sound than the AirPods with wireless charging.

All of this adds up to a set of earbuds that balance comfort, security, and sound quality like no other earbuds we’ve seen so far. The A-3 are also no slackers when it comes to extra features. Their sleek and small aluminum-wrapped charging case is beautifully designed and can be wirelessly charged. The Earin A-3 app lets you tweak the controls and update the firmware. And there’s no need to make sure you’ve put the correct earbud in each ear — the A-3 can automatically sense which ear they’re in.

The only thing missing from the A-3 is active noise cancellation (ANC). That would be nice to have, but if the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are any indication, open designs and ANC are still not a very effective combo.

Read our in-depth Earin A-3 review

The best true wireless earbuds for iOS: Apple AirPods Pro

Apple AirPods Pro

Why you should buy them: They keep all of the best features of the original AirPods and add better sound, active noise cancellation, and water resistance.

Who they’re for: AirPods fans who have been itching for something better. A lot better.

Why we chose the Apple AirPods Pro:

AirPods have become the poster child for the true wireless earbuds revolution thanks to their iconic design, ease of use, and tight integration with the iPhone and other iOS devices. But they’re far from perfect. Middling sound quality and no sweat- or water-resistance have been among the top criticisms.

That’s why the AirPods Pro are so welcome: They address both of these concerns, and up the ante even further by adding active noise cancellation, an in-ear design that’s more snug and secure, and an intelligent EQ system that automatically adjusts to each users’ ears. We were frankly blown away by both the improvement in sound quality and the effectiveness of Apple’s noise-canceling tech.

Meanwhile, all of the features that Apple fans have come to rely on like Siri connectivity, intuitive touch controls, and accelerometers that recognize when the buds are in or out of your ears to pause and play sound automatically, are all preserved. Battery life is unchanged at 5 hours of music streaming per charge — a number that is less impressive now than it once was — but you get a wireless charging case that would normally cost you $50 more than the price of a regular set of AirPods.

Another plus for iPhone and Apple TV 4K owners: The latest versions of iOS and tvOS have enabled spatial audio on the AirPods Pro, making movies with surround sound soundtracks an even more immersive experience.

If you’re an Apple fan, there’s a lot here to love except perhaps the price. Apple debuted the AirPods Pro at $249, putting them near the top of the true wireless earbud market.

Really like the Apple AirPods Pro but don’t want to deal with the long delivery times? Here are the best AirPods Pro alternatives.

Read our in-depth Apple AirPods Pro review

The best true wireless earbuds for Android: Google Pixel Buds 2

Google Pixel Buds
Nick Woodard/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: Google’s second-generation Pixel Buds have a wide set of features, a new design, and greatly improved sound quality.

Who they’re for: Specifically, Pixel smartphone or Android mobile device owners that want to seamlessly add a pair of true wireless earbuds.

Why we picked the Google Pixel Buds 2:

Two generations of Samsung Galaxy Buds previously sat atop this category, but no longer. With the recent release of the Google Pixel Buds 2, there’s a new king in this corner.

They won’t outwardly say it, but Google seemed to make the Pixel Buds 2 almost exclusively for Pixel and Android users. It starts as soon as you pull them out of their charging case, with Google’s Fast Pair on Android feature immediately starting the process.

From there, the possibilities are near endless with the Pixel Buds/Android combination. The Pixel Buds 2 are the first Google Assistant hotword-enabled buds, meaning you can call on Google’s own A.I. with just your voice, no buttons needed. It works as flawlessly as you’d expect, allowing you to change tracks, hear notifications, and control connected smart home devices among a ton of other perks.

Then there’s Google Translate, Google’s unique feature that lets you navigate different languages with the help of the Google Translate app, or just the buds themselves. It may not be a feature that’s needed during the age of social distancing, but when we’re clear to travel abroad once more? It will be an incredibly intuitive tool to have.

Aside from the Android-specific features, the Google Pixel Buds 2 were given a near-total overhaul, with a comfortable new design and above-average sound quality. Essentially, these were made to be Android’s version of the AirPods. Mission accomplished.

Read our Google Pixel Buds 2 hands-on review

The best true wireless earbuds for working out: Sony WF-SP800N

Sony WF-SP800N

Why you should buy them: Great sound, secure fit, big battery, ANC, and water-resistant — what more could you ask for?

Who they’re for: Anyone who likes to listen to music while working out.

Why we picked the Sony WF-SP800N:

When it comes to true wireless earbuds for workouts, the Powerbeats Pro get a lot of attention. That’s fair: They’ve got a huge nine-hour battery life, great bass response, and built-in ear hooks for a secure fit. But at $250, they’re very expensive for what you get. Sony’s $200 WF-SP800N cost less, and we think they’re even better for those who want to power their workouts with motivational audio.

They don’t have ear hooks, but the included silicone wing-tips and ear tips provide a very secure fit — these buds won’t be going anywhere unless you want them to. Those same ear tips also do a heck of a good job of passively isolating your ears from external sounds. So good, in fact, you may not even need their ANC.

But if you do use ANC, you’ll be pleasantly surprised — these Sony earbuds easily diminish external sounds to the point where you’ll hardly notice them. Between their ambient and quick-listening modes, you’ll never be out of touch with your world if you need to know what’s going on.

As you might expect, the WF-SP800N have been tuned with a pronounced bass response, courtesy of Sony’s ExtraBass feature, something that any workout buds worth their price simply must offer. Unlike some other workout earbuds, if that bass is too much, or your podcast addiction calls for an emphasis on vocals, the Sony Headphones app gives you lots of control over low, mid, and high frequencies.

They also have a huge list of additional features like auto-pause/play, the ability to use either Google Assistant or Alexa instead of the voice assistant on your phone, customizable controls, and a big nine-hour battery life (with ANC) that jumps to a huge 13 hours when ANC is off.

The only thing missing is wireless charging. We’d also love it if Sony let WF-SP800N users decide which functions they want to control, instead of making us choose from preset function families like volume or ANC.

For a very similar set of features and an even lower price, check out JBL’s Reflect Mini NC.

Read our in-depth Sony WF-SP800N review

The best true wireless earbuds for sound quality: Master & Dynamic MW08

Master & Dynamic MW08
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They’re the best-sounding true wireless earbuds available today, with exceptional battery life and solid features.

Who they’re for: Those who want the best sound possible in a long-lasting, sleekly designed set of noise-canceling buds.

Why we chose the Master & Dynamic MW08:

Master & Dynamic (M&D) has been making awesome true wireless earbuds for several years and its latest model, the MW08 are seriously great buds for sound quality.

We were huge fans of their predecessors, the MW07 Plus, and the MW08 are even better. Battery life is now around 12 hours on a single charge if you disable active noise cancellation (ANC), and their slick, stainless steel charging case packs an additional 30 hours — that’s near the very top for true wireless earbuds.

The buds themselves are very compact and comfortable, and M&D has used ceramic and aluminum parts to give the MW08 a very luxurious, high-end look and feel.

We weren’t especially impressed with their noise-canceling chops — you’ll get superior ANC from the Jabra Elite 85t, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, and Sony WF-1000XM3 — but when it comes to sound quality, we think the MW08 are the current cream of the crop.

With a superbly tight bass response, incredibly detailed midranges, and crystal-clear highs, these are the earbuds for those who want a true wireless way to sit back and explore their favorite tracks with stunning fidelity.

Because of their vented design which lets a little air circulate through the sound tubes, they possess an open airiness that produces a much wider soundstage than earbuds which uses a fully closed architecture.

The physical controls are highly intuitive and give you access to every feature you could want, from volume adjustments to triggering your phone’s voice assistant, to managing phone calls.

Speaking of calls, the MW08 are some of the best earbuds we’ve found for call quality. They avoid the compression of your voice normally associated with earbud calls and do an admirable job of canceling out background sounds.

$299 is certainly a high price to pay, but if you want a set of true wireless earbuds that don’t compromise on sound quality, style, or battery life, you can’t go wrong with the Master & Dynamic MW08.

Great alternatives to the MW08:

Read our in-depth Master & Dynamic MW08 review

The best true wireless earbuds for bass: JVC HA-XC90T

JVC HA-XC90T true wireless earbuds
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They have the best battery life of any earbud we’ve tested, they’re water-resistant, and they’ve got huge amounts of bass.

Who they’re for: Those who want workout-friendly earbuds with incredible stamina and unworldly levels of bass response.

Why we chose the JVC HA-XC90T:

Some true wireless earbuds attempt to be all things to all people. Not so with the JVC HA-XC90T (which we’ll simply refer to by their more friendly and memorable alias, the JVC XX). These earbuds are the equivalent of cramming a home theater-style 2.1 channel system in your ears, complete with the subwoofer. Yes, they produce that much bass.

You can turn the XX’s bass boost function on and off, but even in their off mode, these earbuds are still very bass-forward. Amazingly, all of that bass doesn’t destroy the other frequencies which remain clear and precise. It would be nice to be able to adjust this EQ using an app, but JVC hasn’t built one for the XX.

There’s no ANC on the XX, but we found that the fit is so snug once you find the right eartips, you probably won’t need it. They do such a good job of passively isolating sound, it’s a good thing they have a “touch and talk” feature, which simultaneously pipes in outside sounds and lowers the volume of your music so that you can have a conversation without removing the earbuds.

Their battery life is flat-out insane, at 15 hours per charge, with two full charges in the charging case. That’s a whopping 45 hours in total — almost enough to keep them running for two days without needing a cable. A quick charge feature gives you 90 minutes for 10 minutes of socket time.

With an IP55 rating, the JVC XX should be able to handle anything you throw at them short of a dunk in the pool.

Great JVC HA-XC90T alternatives:

  • Beats Powerbeats Pro
  • Jabra Elite 75t
  • Tronsmart Apollo Bold

Read our JVC HA-XC90T hands-on review

The best stylish true wireless earbuds: Klipsch T5 II True Wireless

Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: These earbuds are one of the few that sound as good as they look, and we think they look awesome.

Who they’re for: Those who want truly wireless earbuds that sound great, last long, and make a design statement.

Why we chose the Klipsch T5 II True Wireless:

With the Klipsch brand, the bar tends to get set pretty high when it comes to sound quality. Thankfully, the company’s true wireless earbuds are no exception. In fact, these earbuds are bested by only a few buds we’ve tried, including the Sennheiser Momentum 2 True Wireless. The superlatives continue, too, with 8 hours of battery per charge and an additional 24 hours of juice on-tap in the charging case.

Let’s take a moment right now and give proper admiration to that charging case: It looks like (and opens like) a Zippo lighter, and we think it imparts the same cool factor on anyone who carries it. It’s a tad heavy, but those curved corners and metal finish make it all worthwhile.

Usability is excellent thanks to the T5 II’s built-in controls for volume, track control, play/pause, and voice assistants, though they take some getting used to — there are a lot of button-click combinations to memorize.

Call quality is one of the only weaknesses we could find. It’s perfectly adequate for short, casual calls, but your callers will likely notice a compressed, tinny tone to your voice. If calls are key, it’s worth spending a bit more to get the Bose QuietComfort Ear Buds.

You may recall that we featured the earlier, first-gen T5 in this spot for over a year. But now that we’ve tried the T5 II, with their smaller, more comfortable design and better durability (IP67 vs. IPX4) we think they’re the better buds overall. They also come with a bigger selection of silicone eartips, which is the key to getting a great fit and the best possible sound. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that now the T5 II are available, you can find some incredible deals on the original T5 while they’re still in stock. The refurbished T5 are an even better price.

Read our in-depth Klipsch T5 II True Wireless review

The best true wireless earbud hearing-aid alternatives: Nuheara IQbuds2 Max

Nuheara IQBuds2 Max
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They not only make your tunes sound stellar, but they can also amplify the sounds around you, for a much cheaper alternative to hearing aids.

Who they’re for: Those who want a little help hearing the world around them but aren’t quite ready for hearing aids.

Why we chose the Nuheara IQbuds2 Max:

Hearing aids are notoriously expensive and they’re only now being fitted with extra features like being able to listen to music. That’s what makes the Nuheara IQbuds2 Max so interesting. They’re essentially high-end true wireless earbuds, like many of the others on this list, but they pack hearing aid-inspired technology too.

This unique combination makes them the ideal companions for folks who need a little help hearing in situations like crowded restaurants or busy offices, but whose hearing loss isn’t severe enough to warrant actual hearing aids. Yes, they’re the most expensive earbuds on this list, but they’re still hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, less than hearing aids.

This hearing enhancement tech is fully customizable inside the IQbuds app, giving you options like Focus, which targets just the sounds coming from in front of you, or World EQ, which lets you pick the specific frequencies that you need help with.

These features arguably make the IQbuds2 Max the best transparency mode earbuds on the planet. But their active noise cancellation is also amazing — as good or better than anything made by Sony or Apple. Only Bose gives the IQbuds 2 Max real competition in this area. They’re also fantastic for phone calls.

We found the sound quality on the IQbuds2 Max to be equally impressive, but the lack of an adjustable EQ means that there’s no way to tweak the sound if it’s not to your liking.

You’ll also have to forego some newer features like wireless charging, quick-charging, USB-C compatibility, and the ability to use just one earbud at a time, but if you value the hearing enhancements, we doubt these will be deal-breakers. You should also be OK with only getting five hours of use on a single charge.

Read our in-depth Nuheara IQbuds2 Max review

The best true wireless earbuds for Amazon Alexa fans: Amazon Echo Buds 2

Amazon Echo Buds 2
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: For a relatively low price, they offer a ton of features and very good sound quality, plus hands-free access to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.

Who they’re for: Those who want an affordable set of quality earbuds that give them the same access to Alexa when out and about that they enjoy at home.

Why we chose the Amazon Echo Buds 2:

Amazon’s original Echo Buds really impressed us with their low price, decent sound, Bose noise reduction, and the ability to talk to Alexa without reaching for our phone or even a button on the earbuds. But they were on the bulky side — especially their charging case which was huge, used Micro USB, and didn’t offer wireless charging.

The second-generation Echo Buds — which we refer to as the Echo Buds 2 for simplicity — are better in almost every way and Amazon has maintained a low price: $120 for the regular Echo Buds and $140 for the version with a wirelessly-charging case.

The new buds are smaller, lighter, and more comfortable, and with a generous array of silicone ear tips and wing tips, you can anchor them in your ears as securely as you need for your activities.

They sound really good, especially when it comes to the bass response which can vary between restrained and full-on club mode depending on how you adjust the three-band equalizer in the Alexa app.

Amazon has used its own active noise cancellation (ANC) in the Echo Buds 2, which replaces the Bose technology, and while it definitely works in killing unwanted external sounds, it’s not of the caliber you’ll find on the Jabra Elite 85t or Apple AirPods Pro.

Transparency and call quality, however, are excellent — unbeatable in fact, at this price.

Our only big disappointment is battery life. While five hours per charge for the earbuds is not great, it’s no worse than the Apple AirPods Pro, but even with the charging case, you’re limited to 15 hours of total play time, when ANC and hands-free Alexa are enabled. That’s well below what most true wireless earbuds offer these days.

When you include valuable extras like Find My Earbuds, workout tracking, and an ear-fit test, the Echo Buds 2 are a very compelling set of true wireless earbuds.

Read our in-depth Amazon Echo Buds 2 review

Research and buying tips

Can wireless earbuds connect to a PC?

Yes, as long as the PC has Bluetooth. Some have Bluetooth by default, but if yours doesn’t, you can add it with an affordable USB adapter.

Can wireless earbuds be used on airplanes?

Yes. You can enable most devices’ Bluetooth radio while in airplane mode.

Can wireless earbuds connect to the PS4 and Xbox One?

Not to the Xbox One, but check out our handy guide for connecting Bluetooth headsets to the PS4.

Can wireless earbuds connect to a TV?

Only if your TV has Bluetooth transmission, or via an external device like this.

Are wireless earbuds better than wired?

Not usually for sound quality, but they are for convenience, especially now that many phone makers have stopped including a headphone jack.

Do wireless earbuds always have a charging case?

Not always, but the vast majority do come with a charging case. If they don’t come with a case, we strongly recommend you don’t buy them.

Are wireless earbuds good for working out?

Yes, they are awesome for workouts, as long as they have waterproofing or an IP rating and fit snugly in your ears.

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