The best wireless earbuds available in 2020
Best buds overallCheck PriceRead reviewNext level noise cancellingDetailed audio and balanced bass
Best buds for batteryCheck PriceRead reviewBest bass and battery in the wireless bizDeep canal tips are uncomfortable
BlueAnt Pump Air 2
Best budget budsCheck PriceRead reviewGreat value and lightweight form factorRegular connection oddities
Apple AirPods Pro
Guest's best budsCheck PriceRead reviewGreat sound quality and noise cancellationA little expensive at $399 RRP
Smartphone manufacturers are making it more and more challenging to have a simple wired audio solution for your daily earbuds. So punters are looking to ditch the adapters and dongles and cut the cord completely. And while it’s a need born from inconvenience, we could all do with fewer wires.
Now that we’ve spent months researching and reviewing the latest and greatest earbuds, we’re devoutly wire-free and can confidently recommend your best options if you’re looking to jump on the bandwagon and cut the cord.
Best Wireless Earbuds Overall
Sony WF-1000XM3 specs
- Battery life (earbud): 6 hours
- Battery life (case): 24 hours
- Weight (earbud): 8.5g each
- Weight (case): 77g
- Full charge time (case): 3.5 hours
- Connection: USB-C
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
- Best noise-cancelling in wireless buds
- Detailed audio with just enough bass
- Great fit despite the size
- A little chunky
For overall sound quality, Sony’s WF-1000XM3 buds are still unbeatable in our books. Without getting too deep into the technical stuff, Sony’s wireless earbuds offer balanced bass that’s not quite as punchy as Audio-Technica’s true wireless (which will suit most people). Sony’s measured approach to quality in-ear bass paves the way for super crisp mid and high-range frequencies, resulting in a sound profile that’s a pedigree above the rest.
Sony’s superior in-ear noise-cancellation elevates the experience. Noise cancellation is a tough nut to crack with such a confined space to cram all that tech. Most premium wireless earbuds opt for passive noise isolation, a hardware solution that relies on the shape and seal of the silicone tips. A few primo picks have tried their hand at full-blown noise cancellation, but Sony’s tech is still leagues ahead of the competition.
Anyone who has used Sony’s latest over-ear headphones will be familiar with the surreal experience of switching on noise-cancellation. The WF-1000XM3s aren’t quite up to scratch with Sony’s over-ear line, but the experience is no less intimate. It feels like dunking your head underwater, drowning out all surrounding office chatter.
All that fancy tech under the hood comes at a price, the chunky wingnut form and the uncomfortably large case aren’t going to be for everyone, but it was a compromise we were willing to make for Sony’s leading sound and noise-cancellation. Each bud weighs 8.5g, which makes it one of the largest earbuds on the market. Its whopping case weighs in at 77g, which is only beaten by Bose SoundSport Free’s gigantic 80g case.
The other barrier here is the price. The recommended retail price of $399.95 RRP is going to be a massive deal-breaker for many punters, but at the time of writing, there are regular deals below $290 through merchants like Kogan and Catch.
Best Budget Buds
BlueAnt Pump Air 2
If your tastes in music are a little mainstream and you don’t invest too much stock in the finer details of audio technology, save yourself some cash and opt for some budget buds.
BlueAnt’s Pump Air 2 buds are a super lightweight (4g per earbud), entry-level pair of wireless earbuds that you can nab for under $100.
At a technical level, the BlueAnt Pump Air 2s sport 6mm dynamic drivers, Bluetooth 5.0, and IP54 splash and sweat resistance. You’re not missing out a lot when it comes to the essential features, but it’s in the finer, everyday details where you start to make a few concessions.
The BlueAnt Pump Air 2s don’t have volume control or voice assistant features, and the battery life is below average, with the buds offering four hours of playtime and an extra eleven hours in the case.
The other downsides are the somewhat muddy sound quality and funky connection issues. However, we can turn a blind eye to these issues at the generous asking price.
Best buds for battery
If you’re all about that bass, and all about that battery life, it’s hard to pass Audio Technica’s take on true wireless. The heavy-duty ATH-CKS5TWs boast fifteen hours of playback per earbud, and an extra 30 hours of charge in the case. That’s by far the most impressive battery life out of all the buds we’ve tested.
Then there’s the utterly bombastic bass. The ATH-CKS5TWs boast such thunderous lows that it should come with a warning sticker. The punchy bass profile won’t be for everyone, but we were blown away by Audio-Technica’s ability to produce such a powerful sound in such a tiny package.
The Audio-Technica ATH-CKS5TWs could have knocked Sony off its true wireless if it weren’t for one glaring issue: comfort. In our time reviewing the CKS5TWs, the discomfort of the deep-canal silicone tips became so unbearable that we had to have a few days respite from using them. Now that won’t be the case for everyone, but if you already struggle to find a pair of earbuds that fit, you might want to opt for something less intrusive.
Best wireless earbuds for sport
For sportier sound-junkies, we can’t recommend the Jaybird Vistas highly enough.
First, there’s Jaybird Vista’s cosy case. At just 32g, the Vista’s charging case is significantly lighter than most of the earbuds we’ve reviewed. And the slim form factor doesn’t impact overall battery life.
The Vista will give you 6 hours of playback per bud, and 16 hours of charge in the case.
Compare that to the Bose SoundSport Free case, which weighs at a whopping 80g and only offers 15 hours of charge in total.
As a little bonus, the case features a wrist strap that you can tie around your backpack or belt loop when jogging or riding. It’s a simple perk but such a sensible design choice.
Then there’s the Vista’s top-tier water resistance. With an IPX7 rating, the Vista can handle one meter depths for thirty minutes at a time. That’s more rugged than any pair of wireless earbuds we’ve tested.
Sennheiser True Wireless Momentum
On paper, the Sennheiser Momentum’s specs don’t look like much. The four-hour battery life for the earbuds, and the twelve-hour total from the case is almost unforgivable (even our budget pick lasts longer). There’s also no active noise-cancellation, and in our review, we experienced some odd quirks connected to the charging case.
But after the Sony WF-1000XM3 buds, the Momentum TWs are the next best for a crisp, rounded audio profile. It’s also one of the smartest we’ve dealt with when juggling multiple connected devices. Connecting to your desired device couldn’t be smoother. In the odd case, when there is a conflict, the intuitive Sennheiser app lets you take control of your smartphone.
However, the Sennheiser Momentum TW’s real saving grace is its classy design. Discretion is a rare commodity in the world of wireless, but the Momentum TWs are sleek enough that they don’t draw the eye. When they do, you get a professional black and silver finish with a fabric-covered charging case that’s easy on the eye (and easy to grip).
Apple AirPods Pro
If you’re after a premium pair of wire-free buds, it’s hard to go past the AirPods Pro. The AirPods Pro build on the already excellent AirPods formula with improved sound, a comfier fit, and noise-cancellation.
The AirPods Pro are the best all-round wire-free buds right now, touting great sound, surprisingly good noise-cancellation, a comfortable fit, and seamless connectivity.
While you can’t expect miracles from a tiny pair of earbuds, the AirPods Pro can cancel out a surprising amount of noise. They make the world just a little bit quieter.
As you might expect, AirPods Pro work best with other Apple products, but you can still use them with Android smartphones or tablets.
Guest pick from Alex Choros, editor at WhistleOut.com.au.
For Alex’s full thoughts on the Apple AirPods Pro, check out his review.
How we chose the best wireless earbuds
We’ve taken price, battery life, sound quality, technology, and all the trimming into consideration when coming up with our top recommendations.
First thing’s first; wireless buds aren’t cheap. Based on the 14 models we’ve reviewed so far, you should expect to pay an average premium of $300 to $350 for quality.
Then there’s battery life. When you’re looking for a pair of wireless buds, the form factor is a huge consideration. If you’re going to be carrying it on your person for most of the day, you’re going to want the package to be as compact as possible. But typically, the smaller the package, the shorter the battery life. Realistically, most of the buds below will give you enough juice to get you through the day, but the models with a little more endurance will be better for folks who don’t want another device to charge every night.
Lastly, there’s the sound quality. Now, we can tell you the driver size, type, and material of some models, but ultimately, our audio quality rating is a matter of opinion. It’s less about the technical specs and more about how we think each model stacks up against the next.