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Best invisible earbuds
Are you trying to hide that you’re listening to your favorite podcast at work? Maybe you just think stems on earbuds look silly. Either way, we’ve compiled the best invisible earbuds, or nearly invisible earbuds, so you can get on with your day without people detecting you’re listening to anything.
Editor’s note: this list was published on January 23, 2023, and is the first version of the article. Updates will follow as the market changes.
Why is the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini the best invisible earbuds?
Sometimes invisibility can be achieved with just downsizing your earbuds. The 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini comes in basic white, black, and red colors, but due to its minute size of 17 x 15 x 13mm per bud, and only 3.7grams, it can disappear easier than stemmed Apple AirPods. Obviously, choosing red will make it more noticeable, unless you have long red hair.
Its discreet dimensions aside, the ComfoBuds Mini also cancels noise quite well for under $100 USD, although, the small size means it might not isolate as well as earbuds with better seals. These IPX5 rated buds reach 5 hours, 19 minutes to a single charge with active noise cancellation (ANC) on. Without ANC on the ComfoBuds Mini has a nice sound without undue exaggerations in any frequency, though strangely when ANC is on frequencies below 600Hz see a significant boost in volume. It still sounds good, but can make trebly sounds seem a bit quiet. The app has no EQ, but rather uses an algorithm determined by your fit aims to optimize what 1MORE dictates is the best sound.
Lastly, 1More ships the ComfoBuds Mini with the basic options of AAC and SBC codecs over Bluetooth 5.2. In terms of striking a balance of price, function, and size, the 1More ComfoBuds Mini is a solid choice in a rather new market of invisible earbuds. If you want something with an equalizer, more codecs, or other color options, take a look at some of the other picks below.
The mic on the ComfoBuds Mini is not amazing. When you pack microphones into a tiny housing sitting that far from your mouth sacrifices occur, such as difficulty differentiating noise from speech. Take a listen below and let us know what you think.
1MORE ComfoBuds Mini microphone demo (Ideal):
1MORE ComfoBuds Mini microphone demo (Street):
1MORE ComfoBuds Mini microphone demo (Office):
How does the microphone sound to you?
The Beats Fit Pro x Kim Kardashian is subtle for Beats
We are breaking ground here with the first mention of Kim Kardashian on SoundGuys, and her collaboration on the Beats Fit Pro combines the positives of the Fit Pro in three subdued colors. Sure, many folks won’t match any of the three perfectly, but the tones (Moon, Dune, and Earth) will certainly blend in better with most people’s skin than the grey colorway with a green “b,” for instance.
Apple users will benefit from the H1 chip to gain the best performance out of the AAC or SBC only earbuds, as well as spatial audio. You can use the Fit Pro with Android too, but it’d be nice to have a better codec selection for all users, like aptX. 6 hours and 22 minutes of battery life with ANC on is more than enough for most. An ear fit test and IPX4 rating help the Fit Pro to suit your lifestyle. The adaptive ANC itself doesn’t beat out the best, but it’s certainly quite good.
You might’ve noticed the Beats Fit Pro isn’t the smallest set of earbuds around with that silicone stabilizer. It lands on the list due to the colors, and that the form and function offering some flexibility for users. That it has a consumer friendly sound and Apple users gain some extra utility count as added reasons to qualify the Kim Kardashian x Beats Fit Pro.
If you don’t expect perfect noise rejection, the Beats Fit Pro mic works fine. For the price, we’d like to see something more accurate with improved noise rejection. As an example, you’ll hear keyboard strokes easily alongside your speech. Let us know what you think.
Beats Fit Pro microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Beats Fit Pro microphone demo (Office conditions):
Beats Fit Pro microphone demo (Windy conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
The JLab GO Air TONES matches a lot of skin tones
If noise cancelling isn’t your priority, you can find the surprisingly good value of the JLab GO Air TONES and its wide variety of colorways to match skin tones as a solid pick. The GO Air TONES is essentially a colorway expanded version of the JLab GO Air POP, which we like for its pleasant frequency response and straight forward utility. It doesn’t hurt that that the price is around $25 USD.
The buds themselves are pretty small, so even if you can’t get an exact match it should blend better than say, bright yellow. Equipped with an IPX4 rating, the JLab GO Air TONES ought to survive your workout, or a stressful Zoom meeting. It only uses the SBC codec over Bluetooth 5.1, which is pretty basic. That JLab includes EQ at all is a welcomed surprise at this price point, even if it’s rudimentary.
In our testing of the JLab GO Air POP it lasts an impressive 11 hours and 4 minutes, and considering the specs are exactly the same besides the color, you can expect similar performance from the GO Air TONES. If microphone quality is high on your priority list, it might not be the ideal choice. Some fussy command inputs will also be something to expect, as the budget shows itself in such instances. Still, if cosmetics companies have taught us anything, it’s that most people aren’t exactly going to match one of seven skin tones, but it’s a start, and frankly an impressive selection for the price.
To the surprise of probably nobody, the mic on $25 USD earbuds is not its greatest asset. Because the JLab GO Air TONES is the same as the JLab GO Air POP except for the color, we’ve included the demos and mic chart for the latter. You can still use the mic for phone calls and such, it just won’t sound perfectly accurate, nor will it filter out external noise especially well. Use it indoors and avoid wind. Listen and decide.
JLab GO Air POP microphone demo (Ideal):
JLab GO Air POP microphone demo (Wind):
How does the microphone sound to you?
What about the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro?
Sometimes fairly small does a good enough job of being unnoticeable, which is why you might consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro. With its matte, unadorned finish and simple round shape it’s easy to not really take much notice of these very capable earbuds. Measuring 17.0 x 20.9 x 21.1mm, the earbuds are larger than the 1MORE ComfoBuds Mini, but the Samsung buds also have some other features that perform a bit better too.
In particular Samsung device users will get a suite of benefits from teaming up with the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, such as the Samsung Seamless Codec. Other Android owners have to make do with AAC and SBC, but still gain access to the useful app where you can adjust commands and get updates. Onboard ANC ranks as one of the highlight features on the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro, as it’s some of the best we’ve tested. That the buds sound pretty good is just another bonus.
The battery life is okay, lasting 4 hours and 50 minutes to a single charge with ANC. You’re limited to Graphite, White, and Bora Purple, so the subtlety of design is the main selling point here as “invisible” earbuds.
You can toggle on Ambient sound mode while you’re on a call to mimic a sidetone effect. On the whole, the mic sounds alright, although it can artificially make your voice sound like it has a lisp depending on how high or low your voice is. Have a listen below.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro microphone demo (Ideal conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro microphone demo (Office conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro microphone demo (Street conditions):
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro microphone demo (Windy conditions):
How does the microphone sound to you?
Who should buy the Bose Frames Tempo?
Sometimes the most invisible earbuds are the ones right in front of your face. Considering that plenty of folks wear sunglasses, the Bose Frames Tempo can generally pass as just normal sunglasses. Yes, you’ll be donning sunglasses, but they won’t look like earbuds. Clearly, sunglasses aren’t ideal in some situations, such as at night or indoors (for most of us), which are inherent limitations.
The upshot here is that you’ll also be able to hear your surroundings too, which if you’re trying not to look like you’re listening to music rates as a benefit. On the other hand, the Frames Tempo doesn’t offer up the best sound, so you’ll have to weigh up your priorities. Plus, not everyone looks good in the same sunglasses.
Hide your music in plain sight with the NOVA H1 Audio Earrings
First off, the NOVA H1 Audio Earrings are not invisible, rather, the freshwater pearl earrings are quite noticeable. However, at a glance pretty much nobody would suspect the NOVA H1 plays music. Available as a clip on, or stud (for pierced ears) in silver or gold plated (nickel-free) metal, the viability of the NOVA H1 Audio Earrings depends more on your wallet’s depth (demanding €595 to €695) and personal style, than whether anyone notices you’re listening to music.
Inside the Bluetooth 5.2 earrings is the NOVA Directional Sound, promising privacy. Similar to any unsealed fit, you’ll still hear quite a bit of your surroundings competing for your attention. Even so, if going undetected is your aim, the NOVA H1 Audio Earrings could be a novel solution.
The best invisible earbuds: Notable mentions
- Jabra Elite 5: Not the smallest earbuds out there, but the Jabra Elite 5 isn’t too flashy. It has the aptX codec, a boon for Android users too. You can find this nice set of earbuds for $119.99 at Amazon.
- Sony LinkBuds S: Another under the radar set of earbuds, the LinkBuds S won’t disappear in your ears, but at a glance it’s fairly nondescript. It sells for $148 at Amazon.
What you should know about best invisible earbuds
Obviously there aren’t any truly invisible earbuds out there—if there are, we haven’t seen them. Aiming for a discreet sized pair of earbuds without stems or over-ear hooks will help your earbuds disappear. Sometimes “invisible” just means small, which accounts for some of our picks.
Additionally, to hide your earbuds you can pick colors that approximate your skin tone, or your hair color if you have long enough hair to hide the buds underneath. Avoiding contrasting colors and boldly obvious logos is another key. Consider looking at colorways that aren’t meant to match anybody perfectly, but have a low contrast with your own coloring. If you have a warm complexion, look at warm colors, for example. You may want to avoid shiny and metallic housings too, as those tend to garner more visual attention than matte textures.
Choosing true wireless earbuds will also work wonders in avoiding having your earbuds detected, for the reason that the only truly invisible thing about your earbuds is the Bluetooth connection transmitting your audio from your device. Otherwise, all of the same qualities we look for in the best earbuds apply to invisible earbuds.
Invisible earbuds still need to sound good
What’s the use of having well-hidden earbuds if the earbuds have a poor sound? It’s important to consider the frequency response on any set of earbuds, invisible or otherwise. Most of our picks compare favorably to our house curve that we set every reviewed pair of earbuds against. A good sounding pair of earbuds will reproduce your audio without great exaggerations of any frequency, leaving each part sounding basically as intended and audible.
Some of these invisible earbuds come with apps that include an equalizer (or presets) so you can adjust the sound further too. Here the aim of tinkering is to reveal frequencies you can’t hear so well, and to tame those you hear too loudly. Alongside effective isolation and ANC, a frequency response that mirrors our house curve helps to keep your volume at a safe level, because you won’t be unconsciously turning up the volume to compensate for not hearing some frequencies as well as others.
How we test best invisible earbuds
We test all of our earbuds and headphones with the same objective tests that make use of our Bruel & Kjaer 5128. The objective measurements combine with our hands-on review process in real world scenarios to round out our methods. By subjecting each product to the same methodology we can make more precise comparisons between earbuds.
How we choose the best invisible earbuds
The picks for the best invisible earbuds article are informed by our reviews and objective measurements, as well as by our team’s expertise. This article is not one person’s opinion, but rather a cumulative effort. Here we’ve considered form, function, value, objective measurements, and real world tests. It should be noted that this niche market of discreet, or invisible, earbuds is young, and does not yet have a single answer that works for everybody. We look forward to updating our picks as the market matures.
Why you should trust SoundGuys
Individuals at SoundGuys receive no financial incentive to recommend one product over another product. While the company earns a portion of sales made through affiliate links, individuals do not. This means it makes no difference to our staff if you buy one item over another, except that we’ve assessed one as being sincerely the better choice based on how we test and review. Furthermore, our writing and editorial team is separate from our marketing team, and SoundGuys does not accept paid promotional items, and abides by strict journalist ethics. The team at SoundGuys has many years of experience with audio technology and the genuine desire to share that with our readers.
Frequently asked questions
Cleaning your earbuds is basically the same regardless of the model. You may need to take extra care with earbuds without, or with lower IP ratings, but otherwise it’s the same. You’ll need some cotton swabs, isopropyl alcohol, paper towels, and time. Here’s an article outlining how to clean Apple AirPods Pro, but it’s basically the same for all earbuds.