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Best wireless earbuds under $200

You can pretty much get everything for less than $200, but which suits you best?
June 13, 2022
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
By Samsung
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro in black against a white background.
Check price
Good sound
IPX7 rating
Fast and wireless charging
Touch controls are very sensitive
Some Samsung-exclusive features
The Bottom Line.
If you want proof that Samsung has arrived as a manufacturer of earbuds, here's the proof. The Galaxy Buds Pro supplies premium features like wireless charging and ANC at a reasonable price.Read full review...
Apple AirPods Pro
By Apple
The Apple AirPods Pro in white against a white background.
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H1 chip
Decent ANC
Sound quality is good with Apple products
Better fit
Apple-exclusive features
The Bottom Line.
AirPods Pro is a refinement of a formula devised by Apple, taking everything you liked about the original AirPods and making it actually good.Read full review...
Grell Audio TWS 1
By Grell Audio
The Grell Audio TWS 1 earbuds and case in black against a white background.
Check price
Great sound quality
Noise cancelling with Noise Annoyance Reduction (NAR)
Foam ear tips provide a comfortable fit
SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive, and LHDC
SoundID integration
Bulky earbuds and case
No auto play/pause
Possible connection dropouts
The Bottom Line.
Audiophiles who are on the go, look no further than Grell Audio.Read full review...
Bose Sport Earbuds
By Bose
The Bose Sport Earbuds in black against a white background.
Check price
Secure fit
Quick charge
Good sound quality
Active EQ not adjustable
AAC and SBC only
The Bottom Line.
For the exercise fiend who wants an effortless listening experience with good awareness of the surroundings, try the Bose Sport Earbuds.Read full review...
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)
By Amazon
The Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) in black against a white background.
Check price
Useful ear tip fit test
Smart assistant integration
IPX4 rating
Good ANC
Average sound quality
Short wireless range
Average battery life
The Bottom Line.
Get the most value for your money with the feature packed Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen). It's not the best at anything, but it does a lot of everything.Read full review...

True wireless earbuds, aka wireless earbuds, look like the future. In fact, they look like the kind of future with jetpacks and hoverboards that actually work, and now that wireless tech has matured, you can snag a pair of buds on any budget. With improvements to Bluetooth stability and ergonomics, it’s no wonder folks are shedding cables, before ditching wheels. These are the best wireless earbuds under $200 that can bring the future to you today.

Editor’s note: this list of the best wireless earbuds under $200 was updated on July 13, 2022, to include charts for Apple AirPods Pro, Bose Sport Earbuds, and Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen), as well as update formatting, and add a FAQ.

Why is the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro the best wireless earbuds under $200?

If you have an Android phone, there’s a good chance it’s a Samsung phone. Much like how iPhone users default to the AirPods Pro (more on that below), it should follow that Samsung users get the Galaxy Buds Pro. For one, you benefit from the Samsung Scalable Codec which constantly adjusts for quality and stability. All other users get their pick of AAC or SBC.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
A man holds open case of Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro in hand over colorful game.Man holding Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro charging case viewed from the front.The glossy back of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro in focus as man holds it up.A single Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro earbud in hand over a game.The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro true Wireless earbuds sit on a white shelf in front of a reflective black surface, with one earbud in the case.An active noise cancelling chart for the Samsung Galaxy Buds Ori3 true wireless earbuds, which shows a decent degree of passive isolation and good noise cancellation.The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro frequency response (cyan) relative to the SoundGuys consumer curve V2.0 (pink).
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
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A battery of 4 hours and 48 minutes with the (pretty darn good) active noise cancellation (ANC) enabled means the Galaxy Buds Pro suits a commute well. With the case, you get an additional 13 hours of life. Meanwhile, the sound profile works well with most music. It has a reasonable dose of bass and a strong emphasis on higher frequencies, making it consumer-friendly. The app also includes EQ presets, so you can find one for your tastes.

With a very good microphone and IPX7 rating, you can pretty much do anything and go anywhere with the buds. From professional Zoom calls to jogging in the rain, Samsung has it figured out. Samsung’s buds even have touch controls, though they’re a bit sensitive for our liking. The Galaxy Buds Pro is akin to the AirPods Pro and outperforms Apple’s famed earbuds when it comes to ANC and fit, for some. However, there are plenty of other options if you don’t care for the design or mic quality.

The Galaxy Buds Pro has a good microphone for quiet environments but speech intelligibility takes a hit when you try and talk from a windy or noisy environment.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro microphone demo (Ideal):

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro microphone demo (Street):

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro microphone demo (Wind):

How does the microphone sound to you?

9198 votes

The Apple AirPods Pro is the best pair of wireless earbuds for iPhone owners

Apple popularized the wireless earbud revolution with the (not so amazing) AirPods(2nd generation) and (3rd generation), but don’t confuse those for the AirPods Pro, which comes with ANC and silicone ear tips so you can find a good fit. If you have an iPhone, the efficiency of the H1 chip along with fast pairing and easy device switching makes the AirPods Pro a good choice. iPhone owners also get the benefit of battery optimization, Spatial Audio and head tracking, hands-free Siri access, and more.

Apple AirPods Pro
A man wears the Apple AirPods Pro against a gray background.Top-down shot of the eartips on a white iPhone X.The Apple AirPods Pro true wireless earbuds in the case being held by a man's left heand.The Apple AirPods Pro in a man's left hand (foreground) with an iPhone and the AirPods Pro wireless charging case in the background.The Apple AirPods Pro touch settings on an iPhone.The AirPods Pro in the open case rest next to an iPhone that displays a pairing request pop-up notification.This shows the SoundGuys ANC and isolation chart for the Apple AirPods Pro.This chart depicts the Apple AirPods Pro frequency response (cyan) relative to the SoundGuys Consumer Curve V2.0 (pink), which the AirPods Pro closely follows.

Apple smartened up and got the AirPods Pro an IPX4 rating, so you can go to the gym wirelessly. The frequency response sounds pretty decent with a pleasant amount of bass and audible mids. The microphone is quite good and the stemmed design helps with that. If you want something that just works, try the AirPods Pro. If you don’t mind the Apple tax, at least you know what you get isn’t a gamble.

The AirPods Pro has a pretty good microphone system, even in loud environments. You’ll notice a decline in voice quality but will always be able to hear what the person is saying.

AirPods Pro microphone demo (Ideal):

AirPods Pro microphone demo (Office):

AirPods Pro microphone demo (Street):

How does the microphone sample sound to you?

17167 votes

The Grell Audio TWS 1 sounds as great as it looks

Former Sennheiser chief headphone engineer Axel Grell has a new project: the Grell Audio TWS 1 active noise cancelling wireless earphones. If you’re an audiophile who wants Bluetooth earbuds that put sound quality first, the TWS 1 is a solid contender. Right out of the box these earphones sound great and you can take the sound quality a step further with the SoundID app. Not only can you let Sonarworks’ software create a custom sound built around your hearing abilities, but you can also create a granular custom EQ of your own.

Grell Audio TWS 1
Grell Audio TWS 1 earbuds splashed in water.Grell Audio TWS 1 ear tipsGrell Audio TWS 1 earbuds in case next to a paper airplane cutout.Grell Audio TWS 1 earbuds laying on a wood tableGrell Audio TWS 1 ANC chartGrell Audio TWS 1 frequency response chart

Sound quality aside, these earbuds have a beautiful design with Gorilla Glass-covered touch panels that allow you to control playback and field calls like most wireless earphones. The large panels make for an easy target so you shouldn’t have to deal with misfires often. The charging case is fairly large to accommodate the earphones though, which may be a turn-off to those with particularly small bags or pockets.

Grell Audio’s active noise canceling and “noise annoyance reduction” (NAR) effectively combats background noise but it isn’t technically the most effective ANC on the market, which is purposeful. NAR constantly adjusts the ANC intensity based on how loud your environment is so that it sounds more natural and less jarring, which some listeners experience with other top-tier ANC headsets. The foam ear tips do a great job of handing frequencies higher than 1kHz, so you shouldn’t hear much in the way of generic room noise like chatter.

The TWS/1 performs well in ideal conditions but you can hear a bit of background noise come through in sub-optimal environments. Even still, this microphone quality is better than most embedded mics found in true wireless earphones.

Grell Audio TWS 1 microphone demo (Ideal):

Grell Audio TWS 1 microphone demo (Office):

Grell Audio TWS 1 microphone demo (Street):

How does the microphone sound to you?

201 votes

The Bose Sport Earbuds is a comfortable set of workout earbuds

If you want something that just works for your workouts, the Bose Sport Earbuds has you covered. It lacks a few features like Bluetooth multipoint, and custom EQ adjustment. On the other hand, it’s tried and true, with a stable connection, IPX4 sweatproof, and has a decent noise-reducing mic system.

Bose Sport Earbuds
The Bose Sport Earbuds true wireless workout earbuds in the charging case, adjacent to a pair of yellow rock-climbing shoes.A woman opens the Bose Sport Earbuds charging case with one hand.A woman wears the Bose Sport Earbuds true wireless workout earbuds with a biking helmet in the background.The Bose Sport Earbuds true wireless workout earbuds sit outside of the closed charging case, all objects are covered in sprinkles of water.A chart compares the Bose Sport Earbuds (cyan) frequency response to our house curve (pink), and reveals that the Sport Earbuds somewhat under-emphasizes sub-bass tones.
Bose Sport Earbuds
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Importantly, the StayHear Max ear tips ensure a comfortable grip on your ears. This means you can do all the Zumba or parkour you want to whatever music you desire. With a 5-hour and 17-minute battery life, the Sport Earbuds keeps up with most people’s needs. Like most Bose wireless products, the buds only support the AAC and SBC codecs.

The frequency response does not egregiously exaggerate or under-emphasize any frequencies, save for a bump around 10kHz. In other words, you won’t be getting blasted by bass. You also might like it if you dislike the more common bass-forward frequency responses in exercise-oriented products. It also does not have any ANC onboard, so that might rule it out for some.

The Bose Sport Earbuds microphone is pretty good from a controlled, quiet space but it amplifies background noise quite a bit. This can be distracting to the person on the other line. Listen below.

Bose Sport Earbuds microphone demo (Ideal):

Bose Sport Earbuds microphone demo (Wind):

How does the microphone sound to you?

3146 votes

The best bang for your buck is the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)

If you want the most for your money, landing well below the $200 USD mark is the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen). Unique to the Echo Buds is the genuinely helpful Ear Tip Fit Test. Fans of Amazon’s Alexa can enjoy the easy integration with things like Amazon Music HD. Using the Alexa app you have access to EQ, find my device, ANC settings, and a host of stats for the data happy. You can also switch your voice assistant to Siri or Google Assistant (though, neither third-party assistant supports hands-free access). The battery rates as average with 4 hours and 42 minutes of life, so most people shouldn’t run out of juice in one session.

Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)
The Amazon Echo Buds 2nd Generation earphones sitting on a wooden desk, with case and plant in background.The Amazon Echo Buds (Gen. 2) and their included sleeves.The Amazon Echo Buds (Gen. 2) and their several ear sleeve options.A man wears the left earbud of the Amazon Echo Buds (Gen. 2).The Amazon Echo Buds (Gen. 2) sit atop a wooden table.This chart shows the Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen) compared with SoundGuys ideal, and the Echo Buds matches well in the highs but under-emphasizes mids and sub bass.A plot showing the isolation and active noise cancellation of the Amazon Echo Buds (Gen. 2).
Amazon Echo Buds (2nd Gen)
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Sporting an IPX4 rating, you can easily take your Echo Buds to the gym. However, lacking an extensive wireless range, you may need to keep your phone nearby. With AAC and SBC support and in our tests some sizeable latency, video may occasionally have sync issues. As always, this can be difficult to predict because it varies from one device to another. Using the ear tip fit test helps ensure that ANC in combination with isolation effectively quiets the world.

The default frequency response of the Echo Buds looks a tad wonky, with an under-emphasized bass response and strong emphasis on the highs. This is a great opportunity to try your hand at adjusting the, albeit limited, equalizer in the Alexa app. Like nearly all bang-for-your-buck deals, the Echo Buds is not perfect, however, it offers quite a lot of value and opportunities to customize the experience.

Hold up! Something’s different:

Some of our picks’ frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements, isolation performance plots, and standardized microphone demos. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white). Each new mic sample begins with the phrase, “This is a SoundGuys standardized microphone demonstration …”

Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.

Should you get the Jabra Elite 7 Active?

Jabra Elite 7 Active next to Jabra Elite 7 Pro
Similarities between the Jabra Elite 7 Active and Jabra Elite 7 Pro run deep.

Equipped with an IP57 rating, the Jabra Elite 7 Active withstands dust and a half-hour dunk in a meter of water and is one of the toughest headsets around. You get two Bluetooth codecs to stream over (SBC and AAC). By default, the Elite 7 Active sounds quite good and follows our house curve rather closely with some minor emphasis on sub-bass and treble notes. This bump shouldn’t be too noticeable, but if you can perceive it, go ahead and EQ it down in the Jabra app. One of the reasons we like Jabra products is because the app experience is so well thought out. You get a custom equalizer, important firmware updates, and the option to remap the button controls.

Jabra, like many other true wireless earbud manufacturers, includes active noise cancelling on the Elite 7 Active. While the ANC isn’t the best we’ve tested, it is quite good and can make low frequencies sound half to one-quarter as loud as they’d sound sans noise cancelling. Not only will this make your music sound better but it could help protect you from noise-induced hearing loss. For the best ANC earbuds, we have some ideas.

Jabra Elite 4 Active earbuds on wood surface.
The 6mm driver in each earbud delivers pretty good sound that hews closely to our house curve.

Yes, the Jabra Elite 4 Active costs a little more than $100 USD and delivers good sound, solid noise cancelling, and extreme durability (IP57 rating). You get a very solid in-app experience with the Jabra Sound+ app (Android and iOS), where you can equalize the sound, adjust the ANC intensity, find your earbuds, and more. Like many other noise cancelling wireless earbuds, the Elite 4 Active has a HearThru listening mode that lets you hear your surroundings. This is good if you’re exercising outside but still want to listen in stereo mode.

Battery life is very good with the Elite 4 Active, lasting just over 7 hours on a single charge with an additional three charges from the USB-C case. You don’t get wireless charging here. If that’s important to you, you’ll need to save a bit more for the Jabra Elite 7 Active or the Elite 7 Pro.

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 is a great alternative to the Galaxy Buds Pro

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 noise cancelling true wireless earbuds with one 'bud out of the open, angled charging case.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 has slightly better ANC than the Buds Pro.

While we love the Galaxy Buds Pro, the fact of the matter is that the Galaxy Buuds 2 has slightly better noise cancelling and a more affordable price. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles of the Buds Pro, like the IPX7 rating or Samsung 360 Audio, we recommend saving for this equally competent headset. You can read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro vs Galaxy Buds 2 article for a closer look.

The best wireless earbuds under $200 USD: Notable mentions

A head on shot of the Shure AONIC Free buds with the open case displaying the buds.
Not the smallest buds out there, but they feel comfortable for a few hours.
  • Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2: Shockingly, you can get aptX (and AAC) for less than $100 USD. Perhaps this pair of buds doesn’t have the best frequency response, but if you like bass for workouts and an IPX5 rating, try this gem.
  • Beats Powerbeats Pro: Beats workout earbuds have an IPX4 rating, secure ear hook design, and battery life (10 hours, 52 minutes). You need a Lightning cable to charge the case, which may be frustrating for those who don’t use Apple products. Still, the Powerbeats Pro is generally for iPhone owners since it has the same H1 chip as the AirPods Pro.
  • Bose Sport Open Earbuds: This is for the person who does not want, or need, ANC. In fact, this person wants to hear everything. With such a niche set of earphones, the Bose Sport Open keeps you aware while you exercise, and provides a stable fit. It’s AAC and SBC codec support only and the case doesn’t provide any battery charging.
  • Denon AH-C830NCW: This pair of earbuds from Denon has excellent ANC that rivals pricier options. Each earbud has a stem that helps guide the buds into the case for charging. You don’t get any kind of companion app with this, so what you see is what you get, which is part of its charm.
  • Google Pixel Buds A-Series: This headset is ideal for Google Pixel phone owners and Android phone owners at large. You get a pretty consumer-friendly sound when you enable the boosted bass EQ mode, and the default frequency response is great for spoken word content like audiobooks or podcasts.
  • Jabra Elite 7 Pro: Durable noise cancelling earbuds with tons of customization from the Jabra Sound+ app. The Jabra Elite 7 Pro checks almost all the right boxes.
  • Jaybird Vista 2: If you plan on running over your earbuds while dunking them in mud, the Vista 2 sports IP68 and MIL-STD-810G certifications. The price teasingly sits just below the $200 mark, which is why it’s here. However, you get good sound quality and a comprehensive app. Great isolation and above-average ANC makes the Vista 2 a solid alternative.
  • OnePlus Buds Pro: If isolation and great ANC are not a priority, you might like the Buds Pro. It has the usual AAC and SBC, and also supports LHDC (a low latency, higher resolution codec). OnePlus also imbued the Buds Pro with waterproofing, dustproofing, and even waterproofed the case. The sound quality and frequency response aren’t bad either.
  • Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless: This pair of wireless earbuds brings grade-A noise cancelling at a reasonable price. You don’t get many extras with these earbuds, but Sennheiser makes sure that all music sounds good through this headset with its neutral-leaning frequency response.
  • Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3: Third time is the charm with the MTW line of earbuds from Sennheiser. On this go, Sennheiser includes stabilizing wing tips and support for aptX Adaptive. This is a great pair of earbuds for listeners who value sound quality and ANC but its $249 USD price makes it a bit cost-prohibitive.
  • Shure AONIC Free: If you don’t like noise cancelling or just don’t want it, the AONIC Free from Sennheiser is a great headset. These earbuds feature narrow-diameter nozzles and comfortable memory foam ear tips. The headset does a great job of blocking out noise without the need for ANC. You still get great Sennheiser sound and build quality along with an excellent software experience on any mobile OS.
  • Sony WF-C500: This fresh pair of wireless earbuds from Sony features active noise cancelling, DSEE upsampling, and an IPX4 rating. Listeners get many of the same bells and whistles as the premium Sony WF-1000XM4 for less than half the price.
The Beats Fit Pro noise cancelling true wireless earbuds in the open case and next to the two extra pairs of ear tips, all of which are in the purple variant.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
Beats includes three pairs of ear tips for its wing-tipped workout buds.

The Beats Fit Pro is a great set of workout earbuds but its unstable performance is what holds it back, currently. We have had months and months of trouble with the Fit Pro and its ANC performance, or rather, its inability to get ANC functioning properly at all. Upon our initial review period, the ANC worked just fine but when it came time to perform objective measurements, ANC stopped working for no apparent reason. If you’re going to pay this much money for noise cancelling earbuds, we think the least you can expect is for the ANC to work even if it doesn’t work well. Until Apple releases an update for the headset that resolves this issue, we can really only recommend it to athletes who are willing to take on the risk of the ANC ceasing to work. This is quite a bummer because it’s a great pair of earphones that works with Android and iOS.

What you should know about wireless earbuds under $200

How long do wireless earbuds last?

OnePlus Buds Z2 on rock
Placing the OnePlus Buds Z2 earbuds into the case for just 10 minutes provides five hours of listening.

This seemingly simple question has a few answers. On average, most wireless earbuds have a standalone battery life between four and six hours, with the charging case providing an extra two or three charge cycles. In other words, you can get anything from 12 to 24-plus hours of battery out of your true wireless earbuds and the case before you need to recharge it.

While the battery life is still the Achilles’ heel of any wireless product, some manufacturers have an ace up their sleeves. Many cases can quickly charge your earbuds. You’ll commonly see specs like 10 minutes of charging provides 60 minutes of listening. Some manufacturers like OnePlus go above and beyond with their fast charging speeds, but most stick to the “10 minutes yields one hour” standard. It’s a stat worth checking because you want to listen and not wait around for your buds to charge.

The “IP” in IP rating stands for ingress protection, essentially how protected a device is from dust and water damage. The higher the number that follows the IP rating, the more durable your product. Often, you’ll see earbuds with an IPX4 rating, the “X” is a placeholder for a dust-resistant rating and the “4” corresponds to a level of water resistance.

You can read our in-depth breakdown of IP ratings, but if you don’t have time, IPX2 is fine for light use every day. If you’re going to exercise in your earbuds, we recommend something with at least an IPX4 rating.

(Click the image to expand.)

What are Bluetooth codecs?

Bluetooth codecs help make the difference between an okay sound and a very good sound, and here’s your friendly reminder that the headphone jack is still the queen of quality. Codecs allow your smartphone or laptop to communicate with your headset. Every Bluetooth audio device supports SBC by default, so at the very least your earbuds can stream over that. If you’re steeped in the Apple ecosystem, all you need to know is AAC is your codec of choice.

A chart showing the frequency response performance of the AAC Bluetooth wireless codec.
Android phones don’t give you CD-quality playback with AAC. In the same chart you can see that besides iPhone, quality is often better over SBC.

For Android users, the situation seems more nebulous and dependent on both your device and your use case. If the earbuds in question only have AAC and SBC, sometimes you get better quality results with SBC. Otherwise, to reduce latency (which is a real bugaboo with Bluetooth and video) look for higher resolution options like aptX, or aptX-LL. Some manufacturers (similar to Apple) have chosen to optimize for their own ecosystem. Samsung’s proprietary codec works best with other Samsung products.

Basically, pay attention to codecs. SBC might be a one size fits all situation, but maybe you want some tailoring.

What is a frequency response?

Image shows SoundGuys frequency response curve and Under Armour Project Rock by JBL frequency response as chosen by Dwayne Johnson with exaggerated bass.
In this example, the blue shows the product’s notable bass emphasis. When set against our ideal (shown in pink), the under-emphasized bass, means you can hear other frequencies better.

If you’ve poked around our site enough you’ve probably seen frequency response charts. Basically, we measure how closely an audio product reproduces sound relative to our house curve (consumer or studio). In our updated frequency response charts, cyan represents the product in question and the pink line represents the SoundGuys curve. Although many people prefer a studio or “flat” response, most of us average listeners like a bit more bass and treble in our tunes. You can read more about the SoundGuys house curves, but the gist is that this is what works well for most people.

A good frequency response is one that does not unduly hide other frequencies by being too loud. In other words, if bass sounds are too loud, you probably can’t hear quieter sounds of other frequencies as well. That’s how human brains work. We just don’t process quieter sounds as well as louder ones. This often results in folks turning up the volume, and you want to keep your hearing, right?

Why does fit matter?

Jabra Elite 4 Active side profile in a persons ear.
Whether you wear headphones or earbuds, fit greatly impacts sound quality.

A contributing factor in finding the perfect true wireless earbuds has to do with fit. Fit matters because we can post about all sorts of awesome features, but none of them make a difference if the buds fall out of your ears. More often the topic of fit means something more subtle. Do the buds adequately seal your ear? A poor fit actually alters your perception of the frequency response.

Fortunately, most earphones ship with a selection of different sized ear tips, and when in doubt, try a third-party option. We also typically include measurements of ear tips when reviewing a product, so you can compare to what you already have.

Any product with an equalizer (EQ) is worth its weight in gold (which might not be much, considering truly wireless earbuds are fairly light). You can rescue a default frequency response you don’t like by using an EQ to make corrections—some products even feature a mobile app that has an EQ. If you hear too much bass, simply drop the EQ slider in the bass frequencies down to offset it.

What is isolation/active noise cancelling (ANC)?

The Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 noise cancelling true wireless earbuds in the open charging case while connected to the Galaxy Wearable app on a Samsung Galaxy S10e.
Lily Katz / SoundGuys
App support for ANC and other features is common in TWS earbuds near the $200 mark.

Remember know how fit matters for hearing things correctly? It also matters for achieving isolation. Isolation works much in the way that earplugs do: by creating a physical barrier between your ears and the noisy world. Inherently, some designs isolate better than others. Sometimes that’s so you can hear your surroundings out of safety. Isolation works best typically for higher-pitched incidental sounds, like clangs in a café.

Active noise cancellation uses microphones that detect your environmental surroundings and basically use the opposite soundwaves to cancel the noise out. Frequently there is a small delay while it detects the environmental noise. For that reason, ANC fights droning sounds best, because it is somewhat predictive in nature. A fast, brief burst of sound is typically too quick for ANC to dramatically quiet it, hence why isolation is the best tool for clangs. ANC is your friend for airplanes, as it typically works on repeating sounds that land in lower frequencies.

How we choose the best wireless earbuds under $200

A hand holds one of the Apple AirPods (3rd generation) to the ear of a head simulator.
Now, we use a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test head to perform isolation and frequency response tests, as seen with the AirPods (3rd generation).

At SoundGuys, we perform objective tests to measure things like frequency response, isolation, microphone quality, and more. In order to do so, we use a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 head and torso simulator (HATS) with an anatomically realistic ear canal and outer ear. We also use a standardized setup to test the microphone quality of products with pre-recorded phrases from a calibrated artificial mouth in our test chamber. This allows us to present standardized microphone samples to you so you can judge the quality of various products and compare them across the board. After we collect all of this data, we then score each product through a variety of objective and subjective measures.

Our team then confers with one another regarding the best products for a given category and we present our list to you. It’s not over after we hit “publish,” though. Instead, we treat every article as a living document that we update as new and worthy products come out.

Why you should trust SoundGuys

A man sits on a couch playing on a PlayStation 5 while wearing the Sony Pulse 3D Wireless Headset and holding a PlayStation DualSense controller.
Real world testing is part of how we assess each product we review.

We have no ulterior motives. All of our contributors abide by a strict ethics policy. This means none of us receives compensation from manufacturers, and we don’t do direct sales. Our site features no advertisements or “hit pieces.” SoundGuys only makes money when readers choose to purchase a product through a referral link to a retailer. Because of this model, we have no financial reason to suggest or prefer one product over another.

Our recommendations are based on our years-long industry experience and each product’s merit. We use review copies of products, but none of us can keep the products. Instead, we do giveaways or gift them to worthy causes. In other words, we do our best to provide accurate and fair content. We endeavor to correct our mistakes and constantly improve our testing methods. Our goal at SoundGuys includes making sure you are well-informed and can make the best decision for your needs.

Frequently asked questions about wireless earbuds

Yes, you can use any wireless Beats earbuds with an Android phone, but you may miss out on some features. For instance, you can’t directly access Google Assistant with your voice on Android the same way you can with Siri on an iPhone when you pair the Beats Powerbeats Pro or AirPods to your device.

Beats’ earbuds are trying to bridge the gap between iPhone and Android owners though, because the Beats Studio Buds and Beats Fit Pro work nearly as well on Android as they do on iOS. Note: the Beats Fit Pro has ANC issues that aren’t easy to resolve.

Both Jaybird and Jabra make very good wireless earbuds, and we think what it ultimately boils down to for most people is fit. The Jaybird Vista 2 housings are quite large and bulky, and the proprietary ear/wing tips make it hard to get a comfortable fit. Still, the Vista 2 stays in place during all kinds of movement, as long as you’re willing to put up with some discomfort an hour into wearing it.

The Jabra Elite 7 Active is one of our favorite earbuds to date because of the excellent app experience, compact case, solid microphone, and default frequency response. If you need the most durable thing on the market, however, we recommend the Jaybird Vista 2. Both the Jaybird case and earbuds merit durability certifications.

As is the case with most technology, mid tier products eventually receive most of the features the most expensive products have first. Grabbing the more expensive earbuds these days often means more effective ANC, better quality materials or build, surround sound, and more in app features like location based settings that automatically change when you leave or enter a space. Some buds under $200 have those features already, which is why it’s worth considering some of our picks. Basically, the latest and greatest is usually found in the premium earbuds first.