The 5 best true wireless earbuds in 2021 for listening on the go and at home

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The best wireless earbuds balance portability, sound quality, comfort, and features.
  • Jabra’s Elite 85T manage to do all that for a great price, making them our top pick overall.

True wireless earbuds are headphones that fit neatly in your ear and are completely without wires. Because they’re so small and wire-free, these earbuds can be easily transported and stored in small charging cases when you’re not wearing them, not to mention they’re more comfortable and lightweight than on-ear or over-ear headphones.

There’s no shortage of true wireless earbuds available, making any buying decision difficult. The sheer convenience of this type of headphone makes them suitable for everyday use, on-the-go listening, workouts, and noisy environments. The best models offer the right balance of comfort, cost, and battery life.

After testing and comparing several pairs of true wireless earbuds, we’ve selected the best models you can buy in 2021. Our picks cover a variety of needs and budgets, offering recommendations based on overall value, sound quality, specific platforms, and more.

Here are the best true wireless earbuds:

How we test wireless earbuds

We take product testing seriously, and we aim to use consistent, reproducible testing methods. For audio products like headphones and wireless earbuds, we assess their sound quality by listening to a wide range of music genres. To replicate the most likely scenario that our readers would be using wireless earbuds, we stream music from common mobile devices, both iOS and Android, with popular music streaming services. We also test the ease of setup and use. 

An extra note on sound quality on wireless earbuds: We don’t base our assessment on how “accurate” their sound is. “Accurate” headphones tend to be studio-grade or monitor headphones that have flatter sound signatures, and they aren’t very pleasing for general listening. Those kinds of studio-grade headphones tend to be designed for audiophiles or professionals. We’re making recommendations for “most of us” who simply want a good, convenient pair of wireless earbuds we can use with our computers and mobile devices. 

For noise-cancelling performance, we find common noisy environments and try new models against our top picks one after the other in the same testing period. 

We are currently devising a way to validate the battery life claims that companies make about their wireless earbuds and headphones. However, we haven’t found that any claims have been dramatically inaccurate so far.

The best wireless earbuds overall

An open case of the Jabra Elite 85T with one outside of the case on a white background

The Jabra Elite 85T have high-end audio quality and noise-cancelling performance for a great price.

Pros: Great audio quality, good noise cancellation, customizable sound, Bluetooth Multipoint, comfortable fit, wireless charging case, water resistant

Cons: Can be prone to interference (very rare) 

Jabra’s Elite 85T are the first headphones that pop into my mind when someone asks me what wireless earbuds they should buy. 

That’s largely because they’re such good all-rounders that do almost everything well for a good price. Audio quality and noise cancellation are very good, they fit well, they come with a wireless charging case, and they’re water-resistant. 

Battery life is fairly average at five and half hours for the buds with ANC activated, but the wireless charging case holds 19.5 hours of charge, making for a total of 25 hours. You can get up to 31 hours with ANC turned off. 

Phone calls are fine, but they’ll struggle in noisy environments, where my test calls were disjointed and full of “can-you-hear-mes.” That’s par for the course in noisy places with most wireless earbuds and even full-size headphones — you need to spend more and get the Sony WF-1000XM4, or full-size WH-1000XM4 or Bose 700 if this is a priority for you. 

There was one instance during testing where the Elite 85T faced interference — they hated being next to a TV in an office waiting room, and they crackled to the point that it was better to simply take them off. This was the only instance I encountered this issue, so it’s likely isolated.

The best premium wireless earbuds

The Sony WF-1000XM4 outside of their case on a glass table

The Sony WF-1000XM4 are best-in-class for sound quality and noise cancellation, but they’re best suited for those willing to pay their high price. 

Pros: Superb audio quality and noise cancellation, customizable sound, long battery life, comfortable ear tips, wireless charging case, good phone call quality, water resistant

Cons: Pricey, lack Bluetooth Multipoint, app could be easier to use

If you’re looking for the best pair of wireless earbuds and you’re willing to spend up to $280, Sony’s WF-1000XM4 come highly recommended. 

Audio quality and noise-cancelling performance are only rivaled by the Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds, but for the same price as the Bose, we’d rather recommend the Sony WF-1000XM4 for their slightly better battery life. Sony also has excellent EQ settings in the Sony Headphones app that helps you get the best out of the earbuds. 

We also prefer the foam ear tips on the WF-1000XM4, as they make for a more secure ear-plug-style fit that ensures a tighter seal. The Bose may be more comfortable in the ears, but users who have difficulty getting earbuds to fit properly may have more trouble getting a proper seal with them. 

You also get a long eight-hour battery life with ANC activated on the buds themselves, and the wireless charging case’s 16 hours makes for a total of 24 hours of battery life. You can get up to 36 hours with ANC turned off. The WF-1000XM4 are also water-resistant, and offer good phone call quality with some ability to reduce ambient noise, so the person you’re calling can hear you better.

The best mid-range wireless earbuds

Amazon’s new Echo Buds (2nd generation) offer plenty of features and customization

Amazon’s Echo Buds 2 offer almost everything you’d want in wireless earbuds for a little less than most competitors.

Pros: Good sound quality and noise cancellation for the price, customizable sound, sleek and comfortable design

Cons: Not as much bass as pricier earbuds, sometimes feel loose while exercising without wing tips, no multi-device connectivity

If $180 for our overall top pick — the Jabra Elite 85T — is a little out of budget, Amazon’s Echo Buds 2 are a great alternative. They offer good sound that can be customized, noise cancellation, and water resistance for a cheaper price.

The Echo Buds 2 come with four different tips compared to the usual three you get with most earbuds, so you’re likely to find a great fit. Plus, the optional included wingtips add security to the fit for workouts.  

Battery is about average at five hours for the buds with ANC enabled, or six and a half hours with ANC off. With the case, you get 15 hours total with ANC on, and 19.5 hours with ANC off. For $20 extra, Amazon offers a model with a wireless charging case.

The best budget wireless earbuds

The Belkin SoundForm Earbuds in an open case on a white background

Belkin’s Soundform wireless earbuds deliver impressive sound for the money, and they’re water-resistant, too.

Pros: Impressive sound for price, touch controls, water resistance 

Cons: No ANC, microUSB charging case 

At such a budget-friendly price, we’d be too nitpicky to say anything wrong about the audio quality on the Belkin Soundform. Sure, it’s not quite as rich and bass-y as pricier earbuds, but you’re still getting good clarity, and they don’t sound hollow — a common trait in cheaper earbuds. And they certainly have some punch, too. 

You’re not getting noise cancellation, but the ear-plug-style ear tips do a decent job at muffling ambient noise. You do get IPX5 water resistance, which is great to see on such an affordable pair of earbuds. Combined with their lighter weight, they’d make an ideal pair for working out, as well as daily use. 

You get touch sensors for media controls, volume control, and picking up phone calls. They can even summon Siri on iOS devices. Battery life is rated at five hours for the buds themselves, and the charging case holds 19 hours of charge, making for 24 hours of total battery life.

To charge the case, the Soundform use microUSB — a fading standard that’s being replaced by the more modern USB-C connection. That’s not a big deal, especially considering the affordability of these wireless earbuds.

The best wireless earbuds for Apple users

airpods pro

Apple users who want to get the most out of Apple’s ecosystem should consider the AirPods Pro.

Pros: Integrate with the Apple ecosystem, decent sound and noise cancellation, water resistant, wireless charging case, comfortable and more universal fit than standard AirPods

Cons: Inferior earbud battery life compared to competition

The vast majority of wireless earbuds will work on any Apple device with a Bluetooth connection, and you’ll find better sound quality, noise cancellation, and battery life for the price. But no other wireless earbuds complement your Apple devices like the AirPods and AirPods Pro

The AirPods Pro pair seamlessly with iPhones and Apple Watches, and they can connect to Macs simultaneously to switch back and forth to various Apple devices automatically. As expected, Siri is fully supported, and you can take advantage of Apple’s Audio Sharing feature that lets you share what you’re listening to with another user’s pair of AirPods. 

Anyone who’s had fitting issues with the standard AirPods will find solace with the AirPods Pro and their silicone tips, which fit deeper in your ear canal, but don’t quite have an ear-plug fit. As a result, they’re comfortable and light in the ear. Their water resistance also makes them a suitable option for working out. 

And if the AirPods Pro are a little over budget, the cheaper standard AirPods also come with seamless Apple ecosystem support. You just lose noise cancellation and water resistance, and audio quality isn’t as good.

What else we considered

We also tried out the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, and they actually come highly recommended in the premium category, next to the Sony WF-1000XM4. Their audio quality and noise-cancelling performance are comparable to the WF-1000XM4, and they come with nearly identical features like water resistance. The main reason the Bose didn’t quite make it to the top of the list is because the sound profile is very much Bose’s, and it’s harder to sculpt the sound to the way you like it.

We also tried the Jabra 75T, the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+, and the Beats Studio Buds, all of which are in the $120 to $150 price range. These are all great options, and they would be worthy alternatives to the Amazon Echo Buds 2. Just note that the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ don’t have noise cancellation. 

We also tried the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, which we loved at first. However, their value proposition has diminished since we’ve tested more capable and better-priced wireless earbuds.

The best deals on wireless earbuds from this guide

Apple AirPods are one of the most sought-after wireless earbuds on the market. However, they don’t fit all needs. They may be convenient for everyday listening with an iPhone, but other brands are a better fit for Android devices or specific uses, like working out. Most of the year, our picks are discounted to a little less than retail price; the AirPods Pro and Galaxy Buds Pro are often $20 off, for example. During Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Prime Day, they’ll likely be down even more. 

Below, we rounded up the best deals on wireless earbuds from top brands, including Sony, Apple, and Jabra.

Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

Check out our other headphone buying guides

Bose 700 headphones lifestyle in office
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The 5 best over-ear headphones in 2021 for audiophiles, wireless users, and budget shoppers

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Over-ear headphones tend to offer better sound performance than earbuds.
  • The perfect pair of over-ear headphones blend impressive audio quality with a comfortable design.
  • That’s why we think the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro are the best over-ear headphones you can buy.

Over-ear headphones are the ultimate in comfort and sound quality, but they aren’t always very portable like wireless earbuds.

If you decide that over-ear headphones are the right choice for you, then there are a few key things you should look for before you buy any old pair. For starters, you’ll want to think about whether you want a wired or wireless pair. Wired headphones generally sound better, though the difference might not be noticeable for most people, while wireless headphones are more convenient, because you cut the cord out of the equation.

You’ll also want to consider the type of driver inside the headphones. This won’t matter for most people, but audiophiles who want a ton of clarity and detail might want to consider a pair of planar magnetic or electrostatic headphones for the best performance.

Perhaps the most important thing to think about when looking for a new pair of headphones is budget. Audiophiles will be the first to tell you that it’s easy to spend thousands on a great pair of headphones, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a quality model for much less. With all this in mind, we’ve rounded up the best over-ear headphones for a variety of price points.

Here are the best over-ear headphones you can buy:

The best over-ear headphones overall

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO

The Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO headphones may not be cheap, but the sound quality of these cans makes them absolutely worth the price.

Pros: Amazing sound quality, extremely comfortable

Cons: Expensive, bulky, not wireless, open-back design lets in outside sound

If you’re simply looking for the best over-ear headphones out there and don’t care too much about anything else, then the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO headphones are the way to go. These headphones may be a little pricey, but they’re built with the recording studio in mind, and they’re made specifically to deliver a powerful yet natural sound.

There are a few reasons these headphones sound so good. For starters, unlike most headphones these days, the DT 1990 PRO feature an open-back design. That means outside noise can get in, and your music can be easily heard by those around you, but it also helps create a much more natural sound with a wide soundstage. Open-back headphones are perfect for those who plan on listening to music at home by themselves.

On top of the open-back design, the headphones feature plenty of padding, replaceable and removable cables, and more. The sound-quality on these headphones, however, is where they really shine. They’re slightly bass-forward with plenty of midrange support and a ton of detail in the high-end. With more detail, instruments sound defined and separate, which makes for an awesome listening experience.

So what’s the downside? Well, the main one is price. They’re also a little bulky, though considering they’re really built for home use, that may not be an issue.

The best wireless over-ear headphones

sennhesier momentum 3

The Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 headphones are the complete package, offering excellent sound quality, a comfortable fit, and wireless support.

Pros: Excellent design, wireless, great sound quality, comfortable, noise cancellation

Cons: Expensive, noise cancellation isn’t on par with models from Sony and Bose

Sennheiser is known for building some of the best headphones on the market, and the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 headphones are no exception to that rule. The headphones are beautifully designed, super comfortable, sound great, and even offer noise cancellation.

There are a ton of reasons to love these headphones, but the biggest reason is how great they sound. The headphones may not be the most accurate sounding headphones in the world, but they offer a fun listening experience.

For example, while there’s a little extra bass, it’s not too over-the-top. The mids are well-tuned, and the highs offer plenty of detail and clarity. They may not be as detailed as a pair of high-end wired headphones, but when it comes to wireless headphones in this price range, these are the best for audio performance. 

The headphones offer some great smart features too. They have noise cancellation, and while it’s not quite as good as Bose’s or Sony’s, it’s still effective. They even have Tile tracking built into them, so you shouldn’t ever lose them.

The best noise-cancelling over-ear headphones

Sony wh-1000xm4

Sony’s WH-1000XM4 are our go-to pair of headphones when we look for a balance of sound quality and noise-cancelling performance. 

Pros: Impressive sound quality, customizable sound, excellent noise cancellation, comfortable, long battery life, wireless

Cons: Expensive at full price

We picked the Sony WH-1000XM4 over the Bose 700 in this category because, while both headphones have similar noise-cancelling performance, the XM4s have a few advantages when it comes to portability. Most notably, the XM4s can fold up to make them easier to transport and they have longer battery life.

Don’t expect studio-grade accuracy here — the XM4s are meant to be a high-quality pair of headphones for “most people” to enjoy their music rather than audiophiles. With that in mind, they have a great range for bass, mids, and highs, and they handily produce clear and detailed sound. They’re also highly adaptable to your tastes thanks to adjustable settings via the app. 

Noise-cancelling performance is among the best you can find. The XM4s easily cancel unwanted noises in home and office settings, and they’re perfect for travel and commuting. 

With great quality and noise cancellation, however, comes a pretty high price tag for Bluetooth headphones. That said, the XM4s often get price cuts that bring them down closer to the $300 mark, and sometimes even lower. If you’re looking for a great pair of noise-cancelling headphones that won’t disappoint with audio quality, go for the Sony WH-1000XM4.

The best mid-range over-ear headphones

beyerdynamic

The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones may not be the prettiest around, but their sound quality is unrivaled in this price range.

Pros: Excellent sound quality, good value for money

Cons: Bulky, no removable cable, no wireless support

Beyerdynamic may claim the top spot on our list with the expensive Beyerdynamic DT 1990 PRO headphones, but it turns out the company makes some pretty great budget headphones, too. Case in point: The Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO headphones. This model features an affordable price and offers excellent value for the money.

While these headphones may not be wireless or have noise cancellation, they do offer fantastic sound quality. The DT 770 PRO boast plenty of bass without going too far over the top, a well-tuned midrange, and a good amount of clarity and detail in the high-end.

Of course, the headphones aren’t perfect. They’re largely suited for home listening rather than anything else, and they’re a bit bulky because of that. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s still something to keep in mind. The headphones also don’t have a removable cable, which is a little frustrating for some.

Still, despite those issues, most reviewers love the headphones. PCMag gave them 4.5/5 stars, while CNET gave them 8/10.

The best affordable over-ear headphones

Audi Technica headphones

The Audio-Technica ATH-M20x are an ideal choice for buyers who want a budget-friendly pair of over-ear headphones that still sound great.

Pros: Comfortable, 40mm drivers with excellent sound for the price

Cons: Bass response is lacking, no wireless support

Though they are a step down from our other picks, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x over-ear headphones perform remarkably well for their price.

The entry-level pair of studio headphones use an over-ear design with 40mm drivers. Bass isn’t particularly impactful, but the headphones offer impressive audio performance for their class, with pleasing high- and mid-range sound quality. Again, these aren’t audiophile level, but they get the job done very well for everyday listening.

Comfort and build are also strong thanks to the cushioned headband and padded ear cups. While the headphones don’t feature wireless connectivity or active noise cancellation, the cups actually provide solid noise isolation so outside sounds won’t bother you as much while listening.

As a brand, Audio-Technica is known for higher end headphone models, like the M50x and M70x, but for such a budget-friendly price, the Audio-Technica ATH-M20x provide a very nice value.

Check out our other headphone buying guides

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The best noise-cancelling headphones


The best earbuds


The best true wireless earbuds


The best cheap headphones

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