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Best audiophile earbuds

Cutting through the noise to spotlight the earbuds worthy of an audiophile's praise.
By

Published onMay 13, 2024

Grell Audio TWS 1
MSRP: $199.00
8.1
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Positives
Great sound quality
Noise canceling with Noise Annoyance Reduction (NAR)
Foam ear tips provide a comfortable fit
SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive, and LHDC
SoundID integration
Negatives
Bulky earbuds and case
No auto play/pause
Touch controls are not the most reliable
Possible connection dropouts
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4
MSRP: $299.95
8.5
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Positives
IP54
Auracast and LE Audio support
Sound quality
ANC performance
aptX Lossless
Wireless charging
Negatives
Mic performance is sub-par
Price
Sony WF-1000XM5
MSRP: $299.99
8.3
Check price
Positives
Excellent ANC and Isolation
Comfortable
SBC, AAC, and LDAC support
Great app support
Great battery life
Negatives
Price
Default sound too bassy
Creative Aurvana Ace 2
MSRP: $150.00
7.9
Check price
Positives
xMEMS drivers that deliver great sound
Latest and greatest Bluetooth tech
Unique design
Lightweight and comfortable
Negatives
Mediocre noise canceling
No auto play/pause
Master & Dynamic MW09
MSRP: $349.00
7.9
Check price
Positives
Premium design and build quality
Latest Bluetooth tech
Good comfort with a wide range of ear tip options
Best-in-class battery life and fast charging
Excellent at blocking out noise
Negatives
Default sound over-emphasizes bass
Heavier than most wireless earbuds
Price

Those who demand the best listening experience on the go, such as music enthusiasts and audio purists, are always searching for the best audiophile earbuds. Unlike the majority of earbuds that prioritize portability and affordability, these earbuds are engineered to deliver exceptional sound quality and equalizing control, allowing listeners to appreciate the nuances and intricacies of their favorite recordings. After hours of testing and listening, here are our recommendations.

Editor’s note: this list was published on May 13, 2024, and is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.

Best audiophile earbuds overall: Grell Audio TWS 1

Grell Audio TWS 1 earbuds laying on a wood table
The foam ear tips provide a strong amount of passive noise isolation.

The main reason to get the Grell Audio TWS 1 earbuds is for their exceptional sound quality without an overbearing price. Designed by Axel Grell, the former chief headphone engineer at Sennheiser, these earbuds boast a frequency response that closely follows our target curve, which we think most listeners will prefer. They deliver a well-balanced sound with a slight emphasis on bass, neutral mids, and detailed highs, resulting in an enjoyable listening experience across genres.

Grell Audio TWS 1 frequency response chart
Closely following our ideal frequency response for consumer headphones, the Grell Audio TWS 1 sounds great.

What sets the TWS 1 apart is the integration with the SoundID app, which provides an unparalleled level of sound customization. Users can take a hearing test and a listening preference test within the app, and it will create a personalized EQ setting tailored to their unique hearing abilities and preferences. Alternatively, users can manually adjust the EQ or opt for a studio reference (flat) sound profile.

Despite a few quirks like a bulky case and potential connection dropouts, the Grell Audio TWS 1 delivers top-tier sound quality and advanced sound customization options, making it a compelling choice for audiophiles seeking an exceptional listening experience from a pair of true wireless earbuds, especially considering its relatively affordable price point compared to competitors like Sony, Bose, and Apple.

Grell Audio TWS 1Grell Audio TWS 1
Grell Audio TWS 1
Great sound quality • Noise canceling with Noise Annoyance Reduction (NAR) • Foam ear tips provide a comfortable fit
MSRP: $199.00
Best-in-class sound without an overbearing price.
The Grell Audio TWS 1 has a frequency response that most people will enjoy, plus some extra features via SoundID integration. These might just be the best-sounding true wireless earbuds you can buy right now.

Best features for audiophile earbuds: Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 4

A close-up photo of the Sennheiesr MOMENTUM True Wireless 4's earbud on a wooden table.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The latest in Bluetooth tech is packed into this earbud, futureproofing the product for a few years.

The Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 4 earbuds deliver exceptional sound quality that lives up to Sennheiser’s reputation for premium audio. They reproduce audio with great detail, clarity, and an impressively wide soundstage that allows you to accurately place virtual sound sources.

What sets these earbuds apart is their precise tuning, which provides a well-balanced sound signature with a slight emphasis on bass that adds punch without overpowering the mids and highs. The result is an engaging listening experience that brings out the best in various music genres, from funk and rock to more intricate indie tracks.

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While the audio performance is the standout feature, the MOMENTUM True Wireless 4 also boasts a robust feature set, including IP54 water resistance, support for Hi-Res codecs like aptX Lossless and the latest LE Audio technology, wireless charging convenience, and a feature-rich companion app for sound personalization.

At $299, these earbuds don’t come cheap. Still, they justify the premium with their exceptional sound tuning, immersive audio capabilities, cutting-edge connectivity, and a comprehensive set of features, making them a compelling choice for discerning audiophiles seeking a top-tier true wireless audio experience.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 4
IP54 • Auracast and LE Audio support • Sound quality
MSRP: $299.95

Best ANC audiophile earbuds: Sony WF-1000XM5

Sony WF-1000XM5 charging case open on the table with the earbuds placed behind the case
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The Sony WF-1000XM5 are among the best noise canceling headphones on the market — but they don’t come cheap.

The Sony WF-1000XM5 delivers outstanding active noise cancelation (ANC) performance, making it an excellent choice for frequent flyers, commuters, or anyone looking to block out ambient noise. With upgraded processors and microphones, these earbuds provide excellent low-frequency noise attenuation of over 30dB, combined with impressive passive isolation from the redesigned flexible foam ear tips.

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The WF-1000XM5 also impresses with its sound quality. Thanks to Sony’s 8.4mm drivers and a well-tuned default sound profile, these earbuds offer a balanced, detailed audio experience with a slight emphasis on bass that adds punch without overwhelming the mids and highs. The wide soundstage and precise instrument separation further enhance the immersive listening experience. They also boast impressive battery life, an IPX4 water-resistance rating, support for Hi-Res LDAC codec, and a feature-rich companion app that allows for customization of the sound, ANC levels, and touch controls.

Sony WF-1000XM5Sony WF-1000XM5
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Sony WF-1000XM5
Great ANC • Improved sound quality • Comfortable fit with four ear tip options
MSRP: $299.99
The Sony WF-1000XM5 have even better noise canceling than the WF-1000XM4. Sony made these its most comfortable earbuds by shrinking them and including XS-L memory foam ear tips. The WF-1000XM5 support advanced features like multipoint connectivity and spatial audio with head tracking. You also get plenty of customization options through the free mobile app.

Best value audiophile earbuds: Creative Aurvana Ace 2

Creative Aurvana Ace 2 earbuds in charging case held above a black table.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
Beyond it’s flashy design, the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 also performs exceptionally well.

The Creative Aurvana Ace 2 offers exceptional value for audiophiles seeking high-fidelity wireless audio on a budget. Despite their relatively affordable $150 price tag, these earbuds deliver outstanding sound quality thanks to Creative’s innovative xMEMS driver technology and support for high-resolution codecs like aptX Lossless.

While they may lack some of the extra features found in more expensive flagship models, the Aurvana Ace 2 excels in delivering exceptional audio performance, cutting-edge connectivity options like Bluetooth 5.3, LE Audio, and multipoint pairing, as well as a user-friendly companion app with a parametric EQ for sound customization.

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For audiophiles on a tighter budget, the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 presents an unbeatable value proposition, offering a combination of premium sound quality, advanced wireless technology, and a robust feature set at a fraction of the cost of many competitors, making them an attractive option.

Creative Aurvana Ace 2Creative Aurvana Ace 2
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Creative Aurvana Ace 2
xMEMS driver • aptX Lossless • Customizable app
MSRP: $150.00
Anyone interested in the best audio quality should consider the Creative Aurvana Ace 2.
With an xMEMS driver and the latest Bluetooth technology, the Creative Aurvana Ace 2 is making waves in the audiophile community.

Best premium audiophile earbuds: Master & Dynamic MW09

Master & Dynamic MW09 earbuds in charging case held above a table.
Austin Kwok / SoundGuys
You get what you pay for with these premium earbuds.

The Master & Dynamic MW09 are built to last. These earbuds exude luxury with their eye-catching aluminum, Kevlar, and sapphire glass designs. But the MW09 isn’t just about looks – it delivers exceptional performance as well.

The MW09 boasts class-leading battery life, lasting nearly 16 hours on a single charge, with the earbuds alone providing over 30 additional hours via the charging case. Fast charging lets you top up quickly, too. The earbuds also integrate the latest Bluetooth 5.4 technology with support for high-quality codecs like LDAC.

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While the default sound signature emphasizes bass frequencies, the companion app offers comprehensive EQ adjustments, including preset and custom 5-band equalizer options to tune the sound to your preferences. There’s even an “audiophile” EQ preset that is (unsurprisingly) closer to our preference curve.

Noise cancelation performance is also very impressive, effectively hushing environmental sounds. Of course, all this quality comes at a premium price of $349. But for discerning listeners who want the absolute best in design, build, battery life, and sound quality tuning from wireless earbuds, the Master & Dynamic MW09 is worth the investment.

Master & Dynamic MW09Master & Dynamic MW09
SoundGuys Editors Choice
Master & Dynamic MW09
High-quality design and build • Bluetooth 5.4 • ANC
MSRP: $349.00
Premium wireless earbuds available in a luxurious aluminum or kevlar design.

What about the Denon PerL Pro?

The case of the Denon PerL Pro offers wireless charging.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The case of the Denon PerL Pro offers wireless charging.

Some audiophiles may be surprised to see the Denon PerL Pro earbuds absent from our top recommendations. After all, these $349 earbuds support Hi-Res aptX Lossless audio and offer extensive customization options through Denon’s app. However, in our testing, the PerL Pro failed to deliver satisfying sound quality out-of-the-box.

Despite allowing you to personalize the sound profile and finely tune the EQ, we found the PerL Pro’s default tuning to be overly bassy and lacking in clarity. Objective audio analysis also revealed subpar scores for timbre (frequency reproduction) and distortion. While firmware updates could potentially improve performance, the PerL Pro currently demands too much tweaking effort from the user for the premium price paid.

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For audiophiles seeking stellar sound without the hassle, we recommend looking elsewhere among earbuds that provide excellent audio tuning from the start. The Denon PerL Pro’s customizability is appealing, but its out-of-the-box performance falls short of expectations for discerning listeners. Perhaps a future iteration will better realize Denon’s audiophile ambitions for these earbuds.

Denon PerL ProDenon PerL Pro
Denon PerL Pro
Fit • Comfort • IPX4 rating
MSRP: $349.00

Who Should Buy the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)?

A hand holding the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)
The AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) might have USB-C, but they are still best for iPhone owners.

The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) are an excellent choice for iPhone owners looking to upgrade to Apple’s latest and greatest wireless earbuds. As an iPhone user, you’ll be able to take full advantage of all the Apple-exclusive features like Spatial Audio with personalized head-tracking, Find My support for locating lost earbuds or case, and Hands-free “Hey Siri” voice commands.

While you can use the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) with Android devices, you’ll miss out on many of the key features that make them compelling for Apple users. The lack of a companion app also means no EQ customization. If you’re already invested in Apple’s ecosystem and want premium, truly wireless earbuds with tight iOS/macOS integration, the AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) is an easy recommendation. Just be aware that Android users will have a severely limited experience.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)
Impressive ANC • Comfortable fit • Wireless charging
MSRP: $249.00
One of the best true wireless earbuds for iOS users.
The Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) modestly improve upon the first-generation AirPods Pro and feature the same iconic look. Apple's upgraded H2 chip begets better noise canceling and battery life, while the case's U1 chip and integrated speaker let you precisely locate the case. If you own an iPhone, the AirPods Pro 2 are an obvious choice.

Who should buy the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?

On a tropical themed outdoor blanket the open case of the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro rests with the lid open.
The buds are prominent and bulb-shaped, making it easier to grasp them and perform touch commands.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are an excellent choice for Samsung smartphone owners looking for premium wireless earbuds with tight ecosystem integration. As a Samsung user, you’ll benefit from exclusive features like support for the Samsung Seamless Codec for high-quality wireless audio, 360 Audio surround sound, and wireless PowerShare to charge the buds from your Samsung phone.

Beyond the Samsung-specific perks, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offers impressive active noise cancelation (ANC) that effectively hushes low-frequency environmental sounds. The comfortable fit and IPX7 water resistance also make them well-suited for active use.

While other Android users can still use the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, they’ll miss out on some of the proprietary Samsung features and codec support. iOS users will have an even more limited experience without a Samsung-made companion app.

Ultimately, if you’re deeply entrenched in the Samsung ecosystem and prioritize ANC performance, the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are an excellent wireless earbud option tailor-made for your needs. Just be aware of their limitations with customization options and Android/iOS devices outside of Samsung’s offerings.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 ProSamsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Comfortable fit • Enhanced noise-cancelling technology • Satisfying battery life
MSRP: $229.99
Samsung's reliable earbuds upgraded
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro earbuds provide great sound and feature active noise canceling. They meld a great fit and comfort with a vast range of ear tips. Efficient ANC and five hours of battery life sweeten the deal.

The JLab Epic Lab Edition are one of the first earbuds to implement the Knowles curve

The HLab Epic Lab Edition sits atop a wooden desk, with its case open.
Christian Thomas / SoundGuys
The JLab Epic Lab Edition is a surprisingly solid choice.

The JLab Epic Lab Edition earbuds are unique in that they are one of the first consumer products serving as a testbed for Knowles’ latest balanced armature driver technology and their preferred tuning philosophy.

The Epic Lab Edition features a Knowles Preferred EQ preset that aims to provide Knowles’ reference implementation for how a hybrid balanced armature-dynamic driver setup should sound. Compared to typical consumer-tuned presets, the Knowles Preferred tuning deviates from our usual target curve, emphasizing a significantly bassier sound signature.

While the bass emphasis is quite pronounced, our objective measurements revealed impressive performance in key audio quality metrics like timbre reproduction. So, for audiophiles looking to get an early taste of where premium balanced armature driver tuning may be headed, the JLab Epic Lab Edition’s Knowles Preferred mode is definitely worth checking out.

JLab Epic Lab EditionJLab Epic Lab Edition
SG recommended
JLab Epic Lab Edition
Sound quality • Features • ANC/Transparency
MSRP: $199.99
JLab takes a swing at the kings of the earbuds ring.
The JLab Epic Lab Edition are the testbed for the latest generation of Knowles balanced armature drivers, and they make a compelling case. Great sound quality paired with most of the top-flight features we expect from high-end earbuds make this one of the best buys in the category.
See price at Amazon
JLab Epic Lab Edition true wireless earbuds
See price at JLab Audio
JLab Epic Lab Edition true wireless earbuds

What you should know about audiophile earbuds

The Sony Headphone Connect app's custom EQ with the WF-1000XM5 next to the phone.
Harley Maranan / SoundGuys
The Sony Connect app includes a six-band equalizer for fine-tuning your sound.

When it comes to audiophile earbuds, there are several key factors that set them apart from regular consumer earbuds:

Frequency Response

Audiophile earbuds aim for an accurate, flat frequency response across the entire audible spectrum. This ensures that music is reproduced as faithfully as possible, without any frequencies being over-emphasized or under-represented. As such, we picked the earbuds whose default sound best matches our preference curve or have the ability to be tuned to match.

Audio Codecs

Audiophile earbuds typically support high-quality Bluetooth codecs like LDAC, aptX, and AAC to ensure wireless audio transmission with minimal compression or data loss compared to the original source.

Isolation/ANC

Effective isolation or active noise cancelation (ANC) is crucial for audiophile listening, as it minimizes external noise interference that can color or mask the audio signal.

Durability

With their premium pricing, audiophile earbuds need to be built to last, often using high-quality materials like aluminum or Kevlar for added durability.

Software

Many audiophile earbuds come with companion apps that provide advanced sound tuning options, equalizers, and codec support to further enhance the audio experience.

How we test audiophile earbuds

Nothing Ear on a testing head.
Chase Bernath / SoundGuys
The Nothing Ear on our Bruel & Kjaer 5128 testing head.

At SoundGuys, we take audio product testing very seriously. Our rigorous testing process for audiophile earbuds involves objective measurements as well as subjective real-world listening tests. We use industry-standard equipment and software to analyze factors like frequency response, distortion, and noise isolation.

In addition, our team of audio experts spends significant time evaluating the earbuds across a variety of music genres, environments, and use cases to assess factors like detail retrieval, soundstage, and overall listening experience.

How we choose the best audiophile earbuds

When selecting the best audiophile earbuds, we take a holistic approach that considers both objective performance data and subjective listening impressions. Key criteria include:

  • Accurate, natural sound reproduction across the entire frequency range
  • Low distortion and noise levels
  • Effective noise isolation or ANC implementation
  • Build quality and durability
  • Comfort and ergonomics for extended listening sessions
  • Advanced audio codec support and software customization options
  • Overall value proposition based on performance per dollar

Ultimately, our goal is to recommend products that deliver an exceptional listening experience while justifying their premium pricing.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

At SoundGuys, we pride ourselves on our commitment to editorial integrity and objective, unbiased reviews. Our team has extensive experience in the audio industry, and we never accept payments or incentives from manufacturers in exchange for favorable coverage.

We purchase all the products we review at retail pricing, ensuring our evaluations are free from external influence. Our ethics policy prioritizes honesty, transparency, and serving the best interests of our readers above all else.

Frequently asked questions

Audiophiles typically use earbuds that prioritize accurate sound reproduction, low distortion, effective noise isolation, and support for high-quality audio codecs. You can see our top picks above.

Based on our extensive testing and audio analysis, some of the top brands offering the best high-end audiophile earbuds include Grell Audio, Sennheiser, Sony, Creative, and Master & Dynamic. These companies have consistently delivered exceptional audio products catered to discerning listeners who demand superior sound quality, build quality, and features like EQ customization and advanced codec support. While brand prestige matters, we make our recommendations based on each product’s performance merits after rigorous objective and subjective evaluation.

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