Whether you like it or not, Bluetooth earbuds are here to stay. Whether we like it or not, at this point they’re a necessity—unless you want to live a life stumbling over dongles. Both Apple and Google have done away with the 3.5mm headphone jack, and though Samsung owners laugh now, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Samsung do away with it in the next S-phone. Have no fear, though; we’re here to make your search for the best wireless earbuds an easy one.
Related: Best true wireless earbuds
The best wireless earbuds are the Sennheiser HD-1 in-ears
If we had to pick a “one size fits most” option, we’re going with the Sennheiser HD-1’s. #Donglelife aside, an omission of the headphone jack on the latest flagship phones means that you’re going to be using your wireless headphones a lot more than you’re used to. Naturally, they need to meet certain requirements. For one, you need them to be comfortable. As a pair of neckbuds made of sheepskin leather, these shouldn’t give you any problems.
Any personal audio product also needs to sound good, and Sennheiser has that on lock down. Of course, they won’t measure up to the best wired offerings from the company, but as far as wireless Bluetooth headphones go, the HD-1 are a competent offering. For the purists, the HD-1 supports aptX and AAC codecs. This means that as long as your source device is compatible, you’ll be able to take full advantage of those high-bitrate codecs.
Another super important thing to think about is battery life. Again, the neckband comes to the rescue: where other headphones tend to eschew a big battery in favor of design and other features (looking at you, Google), the Sennheiser HD-1 promise a solid 10 hours of constant playback. The average tends to be around 7-8 and that extra three hours could be the difference between a normal commute home and a silent one.
Who are these for?
The HD-1 are for the person who always listens to music on her commute and occasionally takes a call or two. The smart design won’t look out of place in a classroom or a corporate environment, and you can just leave them around your neck as you go about your day. You’ll get discreet playback controls along the inside of the neckband, which let you skip between tracks, pause or play music, and answer phone calls without getting in the way of the minimal design.
Long-lasting earbuds for the professional commuter
If you’re looking to buy a pair of Bluetooth headphones that will last you, these are the way to go. There’s always cheaper Bluetooth options out there, but the experience you get is usually reflected in the price you pay. Though the HD-1 sounds better than most, it’s still Bluetooth. So anyone looking for audiophile quality will probably have to lower their standards a bit.
For the best connection, get started with the active noise-cancelling Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC
If you self-identify as a corporate desk jockey, there’s a good chance that your employer has outfitted each cubicle with a Plantronics Bluetooth headset. Familiarity tends to breed one of two things either 1) contempt or 2) credibility. In the case of the Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC, it’s the latter. There’s a reason that the Plantronics brand is so salient in professional settings: the company’s products are reliable and they work—hence why they deserve to be recognized as one of the best pairs of Bluetooth earbuds on the market.
Plantronics Voyager 6200 UCFull Review
The Voyager 6200 UC allow for the simultaneous connecting of two devices due to multipoint technology. Additionally, you can pair up to eight devices, which may sound like overkill but we’re inundated with Bluetooth gadgetry and can easily run up a log of eight Bluetooth-enabled devices in an office setting.What’s more, Class 1 Bluetooth permits 30 meters of connectivity—three times the average wireless earbud range. While testing, I never experienced a dropped connection, pops, or hisses.
Class 1 Bluetooth gives these a 30-meter connectivity range. If cogent connectivity is your top priority, these need to be on the top of your list.
Connectivity aside, this headset is decked out with—count them—four microphones for optimal voice transmission. Though, full-disclosure, the omnidirectional mic setup is nearly impossible to differentiate between the dual-mic system found on the Bose Soundlink On-Ear Wireless. Though the mic quality falls short of high expectations, the active noise-cancelling noticeably improves the earbuds’ sound quality. There are still more features included with the Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC; to get a more comprehensive look, make sure to read the full review.
Is style what you want? Go for the BeatsX
If you don’t want to stick out in a crowd, you might want to take a look at the BeatsX earbuds. They have a minimal design that you can wear all day whether you’re in the office or just around the house. The wire attached to the two earbuds is also lightweight and extremely flexible, and you shouldn’t have a problem with comfort. Though to be fair, we’d recommend swapping out the included earbuds with a pair of Comply memory foam ones for a better fit.
Beats by Dre BeatsX
You can expect to get around eight hours of constant playback and because of Apple’s W1 chip the connection strength is damn near perfect if you’re on an iOS device. Even if you’re on an Android device, it’s above average. Beats is also known for overemphasizing the lower notes in the frequency range, but it actually isn’t so bad on the BeatsX. Compared to something like the Powerbeats3, the BeatsX are a better option for everyday use.
“What are the best sounding Bluetooth earbuds?”
Go with the ADV.Sound Model 3 in-ears. Not only do these headphones sound great, but they also also can switch between wired and wireless thanks to MMCX connectors that let you pop off the earbuds. On top of that they’re less than $100, so you won’t be breaking the bank either.
ADV.Sound Model 3Full Review
If you haven’t heard of these before, let’s just jump to the coolest part about them: the interchangeable cable. These come with both a standard 3.5mm cable and a special necklace-like cable that lets you enjoy wireless sound (kind of). Wireless in the sense that it’s not connected to your phone, but you do have to wear it around your neck. Still, it’s worth it considering the sound these are capable of producing. When using them wirelessly, you get aptX and AAC support as well as a custom DSP that ADV.Sound threw on top to really push these to their limits.
If you use them wired, you’ll be able to take full advantage of their high-res certification, meaning the frequency response can go up to 40kHz. The downside to these headphones is that the battery life is only about 5 hours which means you’ll probably end up charging them at some point if you plan on using these all day. But if you’re looking to really enjoy your music these are worth it.
The Creative Outlier One provide the best value
Sometimes we don’t need the best of the best, we need the best value that we can find. Well, as far as the best Bluetooth earbuds are concerned, the Creative Outlier One are the best bang-for-your-buck that you can get without sacrificing too sound or build quality.
Creative Outlier OneFull Review
These are IPX4-certified, and if you have yet to catch our full feature on IP ratings, that means that they can withstand omnidirectional splashes, making them fully sweat-resistant. And though these are wireless, they’re not true wireless—so you’re going to have to put up with the cable that runs from the left earbud to the right. Thankfully, Creative elected to use a flat, tangle-resistant cable. Cheap earbud veterans know that a flat cable goes a long way in extending the life of a given product.
|IPX1||✓||Dripping water (1 mm/min)
Limit: vertical drips only
|IPX2||✓||Dripping water (3 mm/min)
Limit: Device max tilt of 15° from drips
Limit: Device max tilt of 60° from sprays
|IPX5||✓||Water jets (12.5 L/min)
Example: Squirt guns
|IPX6||✓||Strong water jets (100 L/min)
Example: Powerful water guns
Limit: 1 m. for 30 min.
Limit: 3 m. for 30 min.
Not only are they durable, but the Creative Outlier One also have excellent battery life. While Adam was testing them, he was able to achieve 9 hours of playback time with the volume levels set to 80 percent. Unless you’re looking to blowout your eardrums, you’re best off limiting volume to 50 percent, which will likely extend your battery life to the full 9.5 hours. On a related note, because the Outlier One are able to effectively isolate noise, you shouldn’t find yourself compelled to crank up the volume to drown out your surroundings since the hardware is intelligently designed to do so.
Related: Best wireless headphones for running.
How we picked
Choosing which product is best changes depending on what the category is. If you’re searching for the best headphones, we might focus more of our efforts on sound quality instead of cool extra features. On the lopsided, if you’re looking for the best waterproof speakers, chances are we’re going to prioritize a strong, durable build over something like sound quality.
For this particular list, there are a few things that take priority. Top priority? Comfort. Plenty of us rely on a favorite pair of cheap earbuds that can be rolled up and thrown into a pocket. Not only do our picks have to be comfortable, but they also have to be convenient and comfortable when you’re not using them, too. You’ll find plenty a few neckbuds on this list for that reason: when you’re done listening to music, you can just keep them around your neck.
Second priority for this list is sound quality. It would’ve been first, but if the headphones hurt when you wear them, who cares if they sound good? So we made sure to find headphones that on top of being comfortable, have a sound that wouldn’t make you want to throw them in the garbage. That is admittedly difficult to do, considering that Bluetooth inherently has some limitations, but even still, we feel confident that our picks are the exceptions to that rule.
— Sound Guys (@realsoundguys) October 9, 2017
The third feature we focused on was one that you all voted on in a recent Twitter poll. If you didn’t get to voice your opinion make sure to follow us on Twitter so you don’t miss out next time! But the feature that most people care about after comfort and sound quality is battery life, which makes sense considering that a dead battery means no music.
- Google Pixel Buds: Another solid option are the Pixel Buds, which have more of an emphasis on the Google Assistant. Full review
- LG Tone Platinum: LG was one of the first companies out of the gate with Bluetooth earbuds in the “neckbud” design, and the Tone Platinum’s are probably one of the better pairs they’ve ever come out with. Full review
- Bose Quietcontrol 30: If you want active noise cancelling, the Bose Quietcontrol 30 earbuds are one of the best you can get. If it wasn’t for the high price and the subpar sound these definitely would have made this list. Full review
- V-Moda Forza Metallo Wireless: The Forza Metallo wireless were previously on this list for best design mainly because you can buy fashionable accessories to add to it, but it might be a little too much for most people. We felt the minimal style of the BeatsX were more fitting, but the V-Moda Forza Metallo are still a solid buy if you don’t mind spending a little more. Full review
- Shure SE215-CL-BT1 Wireless: The Shure SE215 earbuds are arguably one of the best in-ears around, and the wireless option is just as reliable.
What you should know
When picking Bluetooth headphones there are some things that are worth knowing. For example, what results in the best sound quality for audio? Well, the means by which Bluetooth audio is transferred from your source device to your headphones hasn’t changed in quite some time. What has improved are the codecs. If you want a complete understanding of how they affect your music, head over to our in-depth article.
Why you should trust us
I’ve been working for Sound Guys for almost three years, and in that time I’ve been lucky enough to listen to more headphones and speakers than I ever thought I would. Comparing sound is a great way to learn what your preferences are. There’s nothing like a good ‘ol A/B test to figure out what sounds better. Of course, everyone has different taste in sound, so take my opinions on it with a grain of salt (as you should any reviewer). But you can at least be certain that my taste in sound is consistent.
Then you’ve got Chris who between his years at Reviewed.com and USA Today has built up a giant resume of audio products that he’s reviewed and tested. His knowledge of exactly how audio works (and all the other useful stuff he knows as well) still makes me question whether he’s human or a robot. When it comes to techy know-how and devising new and accurate ways of testing products, he’s the guy you want on your team.
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