Best Wireless (Bluetooth) Headphones and Earbuds
Wireless headphones free you from the cords that tether you to your music. And now that smartphones are ditching the headphone jack, they're more useful than ever. But with a plethora of wireless headphones available, which are worth a spot on your ears? Is it the Sol Republic Shadow Wireless earbuds, our current favorite wireless earbuds or the Onexelot Icarus our choice for best truly wireless earbuds for under $60? We tested the most popular and well-known wireless headphones to find the ones that are best for you.
What Wireless Headphones Cost
Features like active noise cancelling can affect your headphones' price just as much as the design. For instance, you can snag a solid pair of wireless headphones for as little as $8 while mid-range cans and buds can range between $150-$250 while audiophile-grade headphones can cost upwards of $1,000.
What to Look For
- The most important thing to look for in a pair of wireless headphones is battery life. Most devices have an expected battery life, or the number of hours the company says the device can last on a charge. Most wireless earbuds are rated for 6 to 8 hours, while wireless headphones can last about 25 hours.
- Another important factor is design — depending on how you like to wear them, you may want to go with on-ear, over-ear or in-ear wireless headphones.
- If you're interested in a pair of truly wireless buds, makes sure they come with a charging case. Since they have shorter battery life, there's a great likelihood you'll have to charge them on the go.
News and Updates (December 2017)
- We've reviewed the Pixel Buds, which feature near-instantaneous pairing with a Pixel phone and instant access to Google Assistant. The Pixel Buds can also do real-time translations in up to 40 languages. However, the sound quality isn't great, and the design and charging case are both awkward.
- The new Bragi Dash Pro earphones can translate over 40 languages in real time. The buds will also track your heart rate and steps, store up 1,000 songs and last five hours on a charge.
How We Test Wireless Earbuds
To help you separate the wheat from the chaff when shopping for headphones, Tom's Guide evaluates the following criteria: design, comfort, features, performance and value. We employ a rigorous review process, comparing products with similar fit, features and pricing.
Each pair is worn over the course of a week for 2 hours at a time. During this testing period, the staff is evaluating comfort, ease of use and, of course, audio quality. We listen to several predetermined sample tracks that span a number of genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical and R&B, and we evaluate the volume, clarity and fullness.
In terms of features, we test the effectiveness of active noise cancelling, Bluetooth range and battery life. For the fitness-focused models, we test to see how they stand up to vigorous workouts, evaluating both how securely they fit while we exercise and how well they handle ambient noise from things like falling weights and gym machines. We test every feature for app-enabled headphones along with ease of setup.
Once we complete our testing, we rate headphones based on our ten-point system (1 = worst, 10 = best). If a product is truly exemplary, it's awarded an Editors' Choice.
And now that more streaming music services are offering high-resolution resolution audio, be sure to read our audio codec FAQ for everything you need to know about FLAC files, MP3s and everything in between.
See Also : 20 Best Music Apps
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