Doing away with cables – or at least minimizing them – was one of the best wireless earbuds 2023 and advances in modern headphones. Another is good active noise cancellation, which makes wireless headphones incredibly useful for noisy situations like an outdoor office or traveling.
Apple’s AirPods are probably the most well-known set of wireless earbuds, but there are plenty of other great pairs as well. This can make deciding on a set difficult, especially since wireless earbuds vary widely in price and features. Some may be better for audiophiles, while others are better suited for active sports.
Our picks for the best wireless earbuds cover all the bases, so you can easily find a pair that meets your specific needs. And if you’re looking for more help on choosing wireless headphones, read our guide that follows our top recommendations.
Updated on 9/21/22 to add the Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro as our top value pick, replacing the Anker Soundcore Spirit Dot 2 that previously held that spot.
Strong active noise cancellation
Clean, neutral sound
Easy equalization customization
Highly portable case
Physical control buttons
Less battery life than rival buds
Super-compressed microphone output
Fit angled towards smaller ears
People with smaller frames will find the Jabra 85t to be an extremely attractive set of true wireless earbuds – this set combines excellent sound and excellent active noise cancellation in a compact package, whilst fitting snugly in your ears.
The Jabra 85t also has physical buttons for controls, making them much less prone to accidental commands. Furthermore, these buttons are highly customizable in every aspect. If you make a lot of phone calls or need some battery life, other headphones might be a better match, but otherwise this set is a great option.
Read our full Jabra 85 review
2. Apple AirPods Pro – Best for iPhone Users
Excellent fit and comfort
Compact Wireless Charging Case
Good active noise reduction
The sound quality is a bit lackluster for the price
Battery life is just ok
You don’t buy AirPods (or AirPods Pro) because they offer the best listening experience. You buy them because they sound good, provide good active noise cancellation, and are super easy to connect to all your Apple gear. Oh, and they’re compact, work hands-free with Siri, and are incredibly comfortable.
It’s not hard to find wireless headphones that do one or two things better than the AirPods Pro, but for Apple product users, it’s very difficult to find headphones that do so many things so well.
The AirPods Pro live in the sweet spot of comfort, ease of use, features, and sound quality.
3. Apple Powerbeats Pro – Best for Runner-Up iPhone Users
Good sound quality
Epic battery life
The case is too big for your pocket
Powerbeats Pro are Beats’ first true wireless earbuds and perfectly combine the AirPod experience for an active lifestyle. Featuring the same H1 chip as the second-generation AirPods, these buds provide the same pairing and syncing experience, as well as “Hey, Siri” hands-free capabilities — all in a similar design to the Powerbeats 3, just a little smaller and lighter .
The sound quality is very good, as is the battery life – better than AirPods, thanks to the rubber tips that fit perfectly in your ears. The Powerbeats Pro also offer better bass response than AirPods, without overdoing it like other Beats gear. They’re also splash- and sweat-proof, and stay in your ears during all types of rigorous physical activity.
4. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds – Best for Active Noise Canceling
Excellent active noise cancellation
Extremely clean and neutral sound
Good touch controls
Simple EQ customization
Easy-to-use companion app
Huge charging case
Less battery than advertised
Just one customizable touch input
Looking for true wireless earbuds with the best active noise cancellation? Bose QuietComfort headphones are what you’re looking for. Noisy environments fade into the background with these headphones. You also get excellent audio for music playback that separates different elements well. If you prefer neutral sound profiles, you’ll love these buds.
Its main weakness is its size – both the earbuds and the charging case are large, and the latter doesn’t fit comfortably in pockets. But if you can live with that sacrifice, you’ll appreciate these stellar buds.
Read our full review of the Bose QuietComfort headphones
5. Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus – Best for Audiophiles
Excellent sound quality
Tailor-made materials and excellent build quality
Control buttons are easy to find and use
Bluetooth 4.2 – aptX
Impeccable connectivity during testing
The battery case is a scratch and fingerprint magnet
When we reviewed the original Master & Dynamic MW07, they had a pretty short battery life. But that didn’t stop us from selecting it as our favorite pair of truly wireless earbuds for audiophiles. Offering excellent auditory separation and a surprisingly wide soundstage, the MW07 filled our ears with rich, punchy bass, clear mids, and crisp high-frequency audio. Everything we heard about them sounded great, and most people could find a good seal and comfortable fit.
So when Master & Dynamic released the MW07 Plus, which extended battery life by hours and added active noise cancellation, it only improved that choice. If you want to experience all your media to the fullest, this is the pair for you.
6. Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro – Best Value
Clean, well-balanced audio
Good active noise cancellation
Highly customizable controls
Mediocre multipoint Bluetooth support
Occasionally the call drops when switching audio devices
Anker’s Soundcore line of headphones takes its name seriously. The Liberty 3 Pro, in particular, delivers clean, crisp audio, pleasant bass, and solid active noise cancellation. And you get all of this for $100 less than top-tier buds. Of course, this accessibility comes with some sacrifices, but you can easily get around them. You probably won’t even bother doing this, as the Liberty 3 Pro delivers where it counts.
Read our full Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro review
7. Sony WF-1000XM4 – Honorable mention
Warm, well-balanced sound
Strong battery life
Customizable EQ Settings
Decent active noise cancellation
Easy to use application
Sensitive touch controls
A good in-ear seal can be a little difficult
Ambient sound mode can be disorienting
Weak active noise cancellation against road noise
The Sony WF-1000XM4’s improvements over the previous generation keep them as a top contender among active noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds. They provide warm, well-balanced audio, good battery life, and decent ANC, and Sony’s app makes it easy to adjust sound profiles or level of noise cancellation to your liking.
One of the WF-1000XM4’s strongest standout features is its compact size. Its charging case fits into the smallest pockets with ease, while still providing multiple charges. Most people looking for a highly portable set of TWS buds with good overall performance will find it a solid choice.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM4 review
What to Look for in Wireless Headphones
Sounding good is the main goal of a set of headphones. When you invest in a new pair of wireless headphones, it’s fair to assume they should make everything sound better, especially considering the cost of true wireless models.
Our sound tests span different genres and feature strong, layered performances. When we play music, we pay attention to low-, mid-, and high-frequency performance and whether they provide a wide, rich soundstage. We also heard any signs of distortion at low or high volumes. We use the headphones in our daily lives for a minimum of three hours a day over the course of a week or more, making sure to watch at least one TV show or movie. (This allows us to check how well the audio keeps in sync with the video we see.) Finally, we pay attention to the quality of incoming and outgoing calls to ensure we can hear and be heard easily.
Not all headphones meet all categories with best-in-class performance. And how well they do is influenced by price – you can’t expect first class when paying bottom of the barrel. But in general, you should look for clear audio reproduction with good separation, minimal distortion at high volume, and microphone performance that accurately reproduces your voice.
A set of headphones may look amazing, but you’ll never know if they don’t fit well. Well-fitting headphones provide a good seal, providing passive noise cancellation (or the muffled silence that falls when you put on a pair of headphones or earplugs). If you’re in a noisy airport, adjusting your environment is a plus, but it’s less than ideal if you’re rushing for safety reasons. We take this into account when evaluating headphones designed for exercise.
Since no two pairs of earbuds are identical, we looked at how many different sizes of interchangeable eartips come with each set of earbuds. We also paid attention to the inclusion of wings or ear hooks, which are important when a more secure fit is needed. If they come with a neckband, we determine whether that neckband is appropriate for a wide range of body types. When you’re deciding between true wireless earbuds or wireless earbuds held together by a single cable, these details can make or break your experience depending on your choice.
They might fit and sound great, but if your new true wireless buds hurt your ears, you won’t use them. We use the headphones for at least three hours a day for a week and note whether a particular set becomes uncomfortable after a few hours of use.
Wireless headphones use Bluetooth to connect to your audio device and to each other in the case of a true wireless connection. Connectivity issues can affect battery life, range, and sound quality. We assess signal dropouts between the headphones and your audio source, and also note whether the audio drops to the left or right side during playback.
At the very least, a good pair of wireless headphones should be able to accept calls as well as play and pause music. If a pair offers additional features beyond the basics, those functions should work well and be easy to use. Active noise cancellation is a common inclusion in higher-end buds these days, though maximum effectiveness can vary. Also look for good battery life on the buds and charging case. Compact charging cases are a plus.
It almost goes without saying that if you pay a premium for headphones, they should sound spectacular. If a pair of headphones sounds good and doesn’t cost much? Even better. That said, when looking at true wireless earbuds under $100, you won’t get as many features, so the focus will primarily be on sound quality. As you increase in price, you should expect better sound quality, better battery life, and the inclusion of features like active noise cancellation and customization.