The Best True Wireless Earbuds for 2021

Need a new pair of true wireless earbuds for the summer?  There are a ton of choices, and it’s easy to get swayed by all of the five-star reviews on Amazon.

We’ve had a chance to listen to virtually all of the major models and, right now, our top pick is the Sony WF-1000XM4. As Sony’s latest flagship, they excel at just about everything, including noise cancellation, sound quality, and battery life.

We think the WF-1000XM4 are the best choice for most people, but they’re not exactly the most affordable earbuds. If your budget can’t stretch that far, or you’re looking for earbuds for specific activities, we’ve found lots of excellent alternatives.

Want a set of true wireless earbuds that won’t break the bank? Check out the best cheap true wireless earbuds.

Best true wireless earbuds at a glance:

The best true wireless earbuds: Sony WF-1000XM4

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They’re absolutely packed with awesome features and their noise-cancellation is among the best we’ve tested.

Who they’re for: Those who want the best overall combination of features and quality in a set of noise-canceling true wireless earbuds.

Why we chose the Sony WF-1000XM4:

Sony’s flagship true wireless earbuds — the WF-1000XM4 — are the latest in a long line of excellent earbuds. Their predecessor, the WF-1000XM3 (which Sony still sells) were a previous top pick in this roundup, but they lacked a few features like a compact design and wireless charging and they were eventually replaced with the Jabra Elite 85t.

The Jabras are still superb, but now that Sony is back with the WF-1000XM4, they’re the new king of the hill. Here’s why.

The earbuds are now 10% smaller, while their charging case is 40% smaller and now features wireless charging. They no longer stick so far out from your ear, but those who have smaller ears may have trouble with the fit. That small critique notwithstanding, the XM4 benefit from bigger and more accurate touch controls, and their memory foam ear tips create a great seal.

As you might expect, their sound quality is stellar. It’s especially impressive in the lower frequencies, where the XM4 exhibit the kind of detail that lets you appreciate nuances amid the powerful, punchy bass. Occasionally this creates a tradeoff where the high-frequency response can be a little less energetic than the previous version,

If your Android phone supports it, the XM4 now work with Sony’s LDAC Bluetooth codec. When listening to lossless music (from Apple Music for instance) LDAC can preserve much more of the original quality than you’ll get with the standard SBC and AAC codecs.

Active noise cancellation (ANC), as well as transparency, are both improved, putting the XM4 only a hair’s breadth away from the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. They will excel in all kinds of noisy places from airplanes to coffee shops.

Sony has also added its speech-sensing tech from the over-ear WH-1000XM4, which means that the moment you start talking, the earbuds will automatically switch to transparency mode and pause your tunes.

There’s also a new convenience feature for Android users: A choice of hands-free access to Alexa or Google Assistant, something we’ve seen in only one other product: The JBL Tour Pro+.

With excellent battery life and IPX4 protection from water, the WF-1000XM4 are an exceptional set of true wireless earbuds.

Read our in-depth Sony WF-1000XM4 review

The best noise-canceling true wireless earbuds: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds


Why you should buy them: They’re the gold standard for noise cancellation and call quality, and they sound terrific, too.

Who they’re for: Those who want to silence the world around them while enjoying premium sound quality.

Why we picked the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds:

If you know anything about Bose, you know that noise cancellation is kinda the company’s calling card. Bose was the first to debut the technology in a set of headphones, and we’ve been waiting patiently for what we knew would one day come: A set of Bose true wireless earbuds that could perform the same magic.

It took a few years, but make no mistake: The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are exactly what we were hoping for. Their ANC is the new best in class for a set of true wireless earbuds, beating out even the venerable AirPods Pro because of their uncanny ability to mute both low- and high-frequency sounds — something that most ANC products struggle to do.

They’re also no slouches in the sound quality department. For this price, you should expect excellent audio, and the QuietComfort Earbuds deliver. Our reviewer gushed over their ability to produce “a generous helping of detail, lightning-fast transient response, and punchy bass that can start and stop on a dime.”

Call quality, as you might predict, is enterprise-grade. These are the buds you want if phone calls are an important part of your day.

Battery life is on the lower end of the true wireless spectrum: Six hours per charge, with an additional 12 hours in the wireless charging case. You can quick-charge the earbuds, which earns an extra two hours after 15 minutes.

The shape of the QuietComfort Earbuds may be their most controversial quality. They’re big — especially when compared to the Elite 85t or AirPods Pro — as is their charging case. And, they use a silicone ear tip with an integrated earfin for greater stability. Not everyone is going to like how that feels, and there’s no way to remove it. You do, however, get used to them with time.

Unlike the Elite 85t, there is no Bluetooth multipoint pairing. On a less expensive set of earbuds, or perhaps a set that isn’t as clearly targeted to travelers as the QuietComfort Earbuds, we might look the other way on this oversight, but we think it’s a missed opportunity.

These caveats aside, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are easily some of the best true wireless buds you can buy, and a must-have for those who crave quiet.

Read our in-depth Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review

The best-fitting true wireless earbuds: Ultimate Ears (UE) Fits

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: Their ergonomically shaped ear tips become even more comfortable after the customization process.

Who they’re for: Those who have struggled to find a comfortable set of true wireless earbuds.

Why we chose the UE Fits:

On paper, the UE Fits aren’t especially remarkable. They don’t have ANC. They don’t have a transparency mode. There are no wear sensors to automatically pause and resume music. And they don’t have wireless charging. That’s a lot of items in the cons column, especially give the UE Fits’ regular price of $249.

But the one thing they do have — the thing that might justify buying them even if they cost more than this — is their superb comfort and fit.

The earbuds come with special gel-filled silicone ear tips that fill your entire outer ear and yet they don’t fill your ear canal — one reason why they’re so comfy. But the secret sauce is the way these ear tips can be molded to the shape of your ear through the application of light and a bit of heat.

The entire process takes place with the earbuds in your ears — there’s no special device or fluids or trips to the audiologist needed. Just 15 seconds, a pleasant warming sensation, and that’s it.

Now, when we say the ear tips end up molded to your ear shape, it’s not like a perfect, 3D scan or a medical-grade fit. But it’s close enough that when you put the finished product back in your ear, you realize that this is what all earbuds should feel like. No pressure points, and no sensation of having something shoved in your ear canal.

Unfortunately, that great, secure fit is the only standout feature. Not that the other aspects of the UE Fits are bad. Sound quality is good, as is call quality. Battery life, at eight hours between charges, is actually very good, even if their 20-hour total time isn’t especially impressive.

Our biggest concern with the UE Fits is their poor touch control responsiveness. A significant amount of the time, taps just failed to be recognized.

But perhaps none of this matters if you have tried and failed to get a good fit from other earbuds. After all, what’s the point of having the best ANC, sound quality, and battery life if you feel the need to rip them out of your ears after 15 minutes?

From this one point of view at least, the UE Fits absolutely rock.

For an excellent alternative to the UE Fits, check out the Earin A-3. They don’t have the Fits’ customized ear tips — in fact, they have no ear-tips at all — but they’re so small and light, they don’t need them.

Read our UE Fits hands-on review

The best true wireless earbuds for iOS: Apple AirPods Pro

Why you should buy them: They keep all of the best features of the original AirPods and add better sound, active noise cancellation, and water resistance.

Who they’re for: AirPods fans who have been itching for something better. A lot better.

Why we chose the Apple AirPods Pro:

AirPods have become the poster child for the true wireless earbuds revolution thanks to their iconic design, ease of use, and tight integration with the iPhone and other iOS devices. But they’re far from perfect. Middling sound quality and no sweat- or water-resistance have been among the top criticisms.

That’s why the AirPods Pro are so welcome: They address both of these concerns, and up the ante even further by adding active noise cancellation, an in-ear design that’s more snug and secure, and an intelligent EQ system that automatically adjusts to each users’ ears. We were frankly blown away by both the improvement in sound quality and the effectiveness of Apple’s noise-canceling tech.

Meanwhile, all of the features that Apple fans have come to rely on like Siri connectivity, intuitive touch controls, and accelerometers that recognize when the buds are in or out of your ears to pause and play sound automatically, are all preserved. Battery life is unchanged at 5 hours of music streaming per charge — a number that is less impressive now than it once was — but you get a wireless charging case that would normally cost you $50 more than the price of a regular set of AirPods.

Another plus for iPhone and Apple TV 4K owners: The latest versions of iOS and tvOS have enabled spatial audio on the AirPods Pro, making movies with surround sound soundtracks an even more immersive experience.

If you’re an Apple fan, there’s a lot here to love except perhaps the price. Apple debuted the AirPods Pro at $249, putting them near the top of the true wireless earbud market.

Really like the Apple AirPods Pro but would prefer to spend a little less? Here are the best AirPods Pro alternatives.

Read our in-depth Apple AirPods Pro review

The best true wireless earbuds for Android: Google Pixel Buds A-Series

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They pack almost all of the Google Pixel Buds’ features at a way more affordable price.

Who they’re for: Specifically, Pixel smartphone or Android mobile device owners that want to seamlessly add a pair of true wireless earbuds.

Why we picked the Google Pixel Buds A-Series:

Sometimes, a product hits all the right notes, but when you consider its price, it just doesn’t compare well with its competitors. Such was the case with Google’s revamped Google Pixel Buds, a set of compact true wireless earbuds that worked incredibly well with Android phones. But at $179, they came out of the gate missing features like ANC and transparency mode, which many other earbuds were already offering.

So Google pivoted, and removed a few features like wireless charging and then cut the price by $80, thus giving us the Pixel Buds A-Series. At just $99, it’s impossible not to love these earbuds. They still fit the same, sound the same, and have the same battery life — all of which were good or great and didn’t need to change.

More importantly, Google was able to preserve things like Fast Pair, for one-tap pairing, hands-free access to Google Assistant, and even the quirky but cool real-time translation feature.

Yes, there are still weaknesses: Wireless range isn’t great, call quality is only average, and because of their semi-open design and lack of ANC, loud traffic sounds can sometimes drown out your podcasts or music despite Google’s clever adaptive sound system which attempts to compensate for these situations.

The one group of folks who should still probably avoid the Pixel Buds A-Series are iPhone users. The A-Series will work with iOS devices, but none of their special tricks like hands-free Google Assistant are supported.

Read our Google Pixel Buds A-Series hands-on review

The best true wireless earbuds for working out: Sony WF-SP800N

Why you should buy them: Great sound, secure fit, big battery, ANC, and water-resistant — what more could you ask for?

Who they’re for: Anyone who likes to listen to music while working out.

Why we picked the Sony WF-SP800N:

When it comes to true wireless earbuds for workouts, the Powerbeats Pro get a lot of attention. That’s fair: They’ve got a huge nine-hour battery life, great bass response, and built-in ear hooks for a secure fit. But at $250, they’re very expensive for what you get. Sony’s $200 WF-SP800N cost less, and we think they’re even better for those who want to power their workouts with motivational audio.

They don’t have ear hooks, but the included silicone wing-tips and ear tips provide a very secure fit — these buds won’t be going anywhere unless you want them to. Those same ear tips also do a heck of a good job of passively isolating your ears from external sounds. So good, in fact, you may not even need their ANC.

But if you do use ANC, you’ll be pleasantly surprised — these Sony earbuds easily diminish external sounds to the point where you’ll hardly notice them. Between their ambient and quick-listening modes, you’ll never be out of touch with your world if you need to know what’s going on.

As you might expect, the WF-SP800N have been tuned with a pronounced bass response, courtesy of Sony’s ExtraBass feature, something that any workout buds worth their price simply must offer. Unlike some other workout earbuds, if that bass is too much, or your podcast addiction calls for an emphasis on vocals, the Sony Headphones app gives you lots of control over low, mid, and high frequencies.

They also have a huge list of additional features like auto-pause/play, the ability to use either Google Assistant or Alexa instead of the voice assistant on your phone, customizable controls, and a big nine-hour battery life (with ANC) that jumps to a huge 13 hours when ANC is off.

The only thing missing is wireless charging. We’d also love it if Sony let WF-SP800N users decide which functions they want to control, instead of making us choose from preset function families like volume or ANC.

For a very similar set of features and an even lower price, check out JBL’s Reflect Mini NC.

Read our in-depth Sony WF-SP800N review

The best true wireless earbuds for sound quality: Master & Dynamic MW08

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They’re the best-sounding true wireless earbuds available today, with exceptional battery life and solid features.

Who they’re for: Those who want the best sound possible in a long-lasting, sleekly designed set of noise-canceling buds.

Why we chose the Master & Dynamic MW08:

Master & Dynamic (M&D) has been making awesome true wireless earbuds for several years and its latest model, the MW08 are seriously great buds for sound quality.

We were huge fans of their predecessors, the MW07 Plus, and the MW08 are even better. Battery life is now around 12 hours on a single charge if you disable active noise cancellation (ANC), and their slick, stainless steel charging case packs an additional 30 hours — that’s near the very top for true wireless earbuds.

The buds themselves are very compact and comfortable, and M&D has used ceramic and aluminum parts to give the MW08 a very luxurious, high-end look and feel.

We weren’t especially impressed with their noise-canceling chops — you’ll get superior ANC from the Jabra Elite 85t, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, and Sony WF-1000XM3 — but when it comes to sound quality, we think the MW08 are the current cream of the crop.

With a superbly tight bass response, incredibly detailed midranges, and crystal-clear highs, these are the earbuds for those who want a true wireless way to sit back and explore their favorite tracks with stunning fidelity.

Because of their vented design which lets a little air circulate through the sound tubes, they possess an open airiness that produces a much wider soundstage than earbuds which uses a fully closed architecture.

The physical controls are highly intuitive and give you access to every feature you could want, from volume adjustments to triggering your phone’s voice assistant, to managing phone calls.

Speaking of calls, the MW08 are some of the best earbuds we’ve found for call quality. They avoid the compression of your voice normally associated with earbud calls and do an admirable job of canceling out background sounds.

$299 is certainly a high price to pay, but if you want a set of true wireless earbuds that don’t compromise on sound quality, style, or battery life, you can’t go wrong with the Master & Dynamic MW08.

Great alternatives to the MW08:

Read our in-depth Master & Dynamic MW08 review

The best true wireless earbuds for bass: JVC HA-XC90T

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They have the best battery life of any earbud we’ve tested, they’re water-resistant, and they’ve got huge amounts of bass.

Who they’re for: Those who want workout-friendly earbuds with incredible stamina and unworldly levels of bass response.

Why we chose the JVC HA-XC90T:

Some true wireless earbuds attempt to be all things to all people. Not so with the JVC HA-XC90T (which we’ll simply refer to by their more friendly and memorable alias, the JVC XX). These earbuds are the equivalent of cramming a home theater-style 2.1 channel system in your ears, complete with the subwoofer. Yes, they produce that much bass.

You can turn the XX’s bass boost function on and off, but even in their off mode, these earbuds are still very bass-forward. Amazingly, all of that bass doesn’t destroy the other frequencies which remain clear and precise. It would be nice to be able to adjust this EQ using an app, but JVC hasn’t built one for the XX.

There’s no ANC on the XX, but we found that the fit is so snug once you find the right eartips, you probably won’t need it. They do such a good job of passively isolating sound, it’s a good thing they have a “touch and talk” feature, which simultaneously pipes in outside sounds and lowers the volume of your music so that you can have a conversation without removing the earbuds.

Their battery life is flat-out insane, at 15 hours per charge, with two full charges in the charging case. That’s a whopping 45 hours in total — almost enough to keep them running for two days without needing a cable. A quick charge feature gives you 90 minutes for 10 minutes of socket time.

With an IP55 rating, the JVC XX should be able to handle anything you throw at them short of a dunk in the pool.

Great JVC HA-XC90T alternatives:

  • Beats Powerbeats Pro
  • Jabra Elite 75t
  • Tronsmart Apollo Bold

Read our JVC HA-XC90T hands-on review

The best stylish true wireless earbuds: Klipsch T5 II True Wireless

Riley Young/Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: These earbuds are one of the few that sound as good as they look, and we think they look awesome.

Who they’re for: Those who want truly wireless earbuds that sound great, last long, and make a design statement.

Why we chose the Klipsch T5 II True Wireless:

With the Klipsch brand, the bar tends to get set pretty high when it comes to sound quality. Thankfully, the company’s true wireless earbuds are no exception. In fact, these earbuds are bested by only a few buds we’ve tried, including the Sennheiser Momentum 2 True Wireless. The superlatives continue, too, with 8 hours of battery per charge and an additional 24 hours of juice on-tap in the charging case.

Let’s take a moment right now and give proper admiration to that charging case: It looks like (and opens like) a Zippo lighter, and we think it imparts the same cool factor on anyone who carries it. It’s a tad heavy, but those curved corners and metal finish make it all worthwhile.

Usability is excellent thanks to the T5 II’s built-in controls for volume, track control, play/pause, and voice assistants, though they take some getting used to — there are a lot of button-click combinations to memorize.

Call quality is one of the only weaknesses we could find. It’s perfectly adequate for short, casual calls, but your callers will likely notice a compressed, tinny tone to your voice. If calls are key, it’s worth spending a bit more to get the Bose QuietComfort Ear Buds.

You may recall that we featured the earlier, first-gen T5 in this spot for over a year. But now that we’ve tried the T5 II, with their smaller, more comfortable design and better durability (IP67 vs. IPX4) we think they’re the better buds overall. They also come with a bigger selection of silicone eartips, which is the key to getting a great fit and the best possible sound. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that now the T5 II are available, you can find some incredible deals on the original T5 while they’re still in stock. The refurbished T5 are an even better price.

Read our in-depth Klipsch T5 II True Wireless review

The best true wireless earbud hearing-aid alternatives: Nuheara IQbuds2 Max

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: They not only make your tunes sound stellar, but they can also amplify the sounds around you, for a much cheaper alternative to hearing aids.

Who they’re for: Those who want a little help hearing the world around them but aren’t quite ready for hearing aids.

Why we chose the Nuheara IQbuds2 Max:

Hearing aids are notoriously expensive and they’re only now being fitted with extra features like being able to listen to music. That’s what makes the Nuheara IQbuds2 Max so interesting. They’re essentially high-end true wireless earbuds, like many of the others on this list, but they pack hearing aid-inspired technology too.

This unique combination makes them the ideal companions for folks who need a little help hearing in situations like crowded restaurants or busy offices, but whose hearing loss isn’t severe enough to warrant actual hearing aids. Yes, they’re the most expensive earbuds on this list, but they’re still hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, less than hearing aids.

This hearing enhancement tech is fully customizable inside the IQbuds app, giving you options like Focus, which targets just the sounds coming from in front of you, or World EQ, which lets you pick the specific frequencies that you need help with.

These features arguably make the IQbuds2 Max the best transparency mode earbuds on the planet. But their active noise cancellation is also amazing — as good or better than anything made by Sony or Apple. Only Bose gives the IQbuds 2 Max real competition in this area. They’re also fantastic for phone calls.

We found the sound quality on the IQbuds2 Max to be equally impressive, but the lack of an adjustable EQ means that there’s no way to tweak the sound if it’s not to your liking.

You’ll also have to forego some newer features like wireless charging, quick-charging, USB-C compatibility, and the ability to use just one earbud at a time, but if you value the hearing enhancements, we doubt these will be deal-breakers. You should also be OK with only getting five hours of use on a single charge.

Read our in-depth Nuheara IQbuds2 Max review

The best true wireless earbuds for Amazon Alexa fans: Amazon Echo Buds 2

Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Why you should buy them: For a relatively low price, they offer a ton of features and very good sound quality, plus hands-free access to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant.

Who they’re for: Those who want an affordable set of quality earbuds that give them the same access to Alexa when out and about that they enjoy at home.

Why we chose the Amazon Echo Buds 2:

Amazon’s original Echo Buds really impressed us with their low price, decent sound, Bose noise reduction, and the ability to talk to Alexa without reaching for our phone or even a button on the earbuds. But they were on the bulky side — especially with their huge charging case — used Micro USB, and didn’t offer wireless charging.

The second-generation Echo Buds — which we refer to as the Echo Buds 2 for simplicity — are better in almost every way and Amazon has maintained a low price: $120 for the regular Echo Buds and $140 for the version with a wirelessly-charging case.

The new buds are smaller, lighter, and more comfortable, and with a generous array of silicone ear tips and wing tips, you can anchor them in your ears as securely as you need for your activities.

They sound really good, especially when it comes to the bass response which can vary between restrained and full-on club mode depending on how you adjust the three-band equalizer in the Alexa app.

Amazon has used its own active noise cancellation (ANC) in the Echo Buds 2, which replaces the Bose technology, and while it definitely works in killing unwanted external sounds, it’s not of the caliber you’ll find on the Jabra Elite 85t or Apple AirPods Pro.

Transparency and call quality, however, are excellent — unbeatable in fact, at this price.

Our only big disappointment is battery life. While five hours per charge for the earbuds is not great, it’s no worse than the Apple AirPods Pro, but even with the charging case, you’re limited to 15 hours of total play time, when ANC and hands-free Alexa are enabled. That’s well below what most true wireless earbuds offer these days.

When you include valuable extras like Find My Earbuds, workout tracking, and an ear-fit test, the Echo Buds 2 are a very compelling set of true wireless earbuds.

Read our in-depth Amazon Echo Buds 2 review

Research and buying tips

Can wireless earbuds connect to a PC?

Yes, as long as the PC has Bluetooth. Some have Bluetooth by default, but if yours doesn’t, you can add it with an affordable USB adapter.

Can wireless earbuds be used on airplanes?

Yes. You can enable most devices’ Bluetooth radio while in airplane mode.

Can wireless earbuds connect to the PS4 and Xbox One?

Not to the Xbox One, but check out our handy guide for connecting Bluetooth headsets to the PS4.

Can wireless earbuds connect to a TV?

Only if your TV has Bluetooth transmission, or via an external device like this.

Are wireless earbuds better than wired?

Not usually for sound quality, but they are for convenience, especially now that many phone makers have stopped including a headphone jack.

Do wireless earbuds always have a charging case?

Not always, but the vast majority do come with a charging case. If they don’t come with a case, we strongly recommend you don’t buy them.

Are wireless earbuds good for working out?

Yes, they are awesome for workouts, as long as they have waterproofing or an IP rating and fit snugly in your ears.

Editors’ Recommendations

Above article first published by . We curated and re-published.

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