How we review wireless earbuds

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Alex Choros
Group Reviews Editor
Read More
July 31, 2022
2 min read

When we review earbuds, broadly speaking, we're looking at five main considerations:

  • Sound: Obviously. Do they sound good? 
  • Comfort & Design: Are they nice to wear? 
  • Features: Is the battery good? Is the connectivity reliable? What's the noise-cancelling like?
  • Vibe: What's the overall experience like? 
  • Value: Are they good for the money?

While audio products can be quite subjective for many reasons, we have standardised testing procedures across the team designed to help us look at the category in a consistent way, and give you the best earbud recommendations possible. 

Check out some of the earbuds we've reviewed below: 

Product
Rating
Active noise-cancelling
Water resistance
Availability
Nothing ear (1) earbudsNothing Ear 1
4 out of 5 stars
4
From
$149
4.5 hrs (buds)
34 hrs (case/total)
propro
Apple AirPods 3
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5
From
$279
6 hrs (buds)
30 hrs (case/total)
conpro
Pixel Bud ProGoogle Pixel Buds Pro
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
From
$299
7 hrs (buds)
20 hrs (case/total)
propro

Disclaimer: Pricing and deal information only accurate as of the last page update. 

Sound Quality

Sound quality is naturally an important part of testing when it comes to earbuds. In addition to listening to tracks we love and are familiar with, we review every audio product using a standardised testing playlist to help us better work out the best of the best.

The playlist covers a wide range of genres, spanning from saccharine pop to progressive death metal. These songs have been carefully curated to test certain sonic characteristics. 

Smash the button below to check out the playlist. It slaps, if I do say so myself. 

Microphone quality is also important, so we take microphone samples from every pair of earbuds we review, and make them available on our Soundcloud for easy comparison.

Comfort & Design

Comfort and design are also important considerations in our testing process. After all, you want your earbuds to stay in your ears - and feel good while doing so. 

Some of the questions we consider as part of our editorial testing include:

  • Do they pass the headbang bang test? 
  • Are there on bud controls and are they any good?
  • How big is the case? 

Features

Nothing Ear 1

When it comes to more general functionality, we look at a broad range of features we'd expect earbuds to include and benchmarks they should pass. 

  • How long is the battery? 
  • Is there noise cancelling and is it any good? 
  • Is connectivity reliable? 
  • Do they have an ambient mode? 
  • Are they splash-resistant? 

Vibe

In addition to more concrete factors, we also consider a product's vibe. It's overall energy, it's aura. The parts that you can't just encapsulate through a checklist of features. The overall experience of using it. A good vibe doesn't fix a bad product, but it can further elevate an already solid device. 

Value

Value is ultimately the final lens we evaluate earbuds through. The question is never just if earbuds are good. It's whether they're good for the money. Not everyone needs or wants an expensive pair of earbuds, so we always make sure more affordable options are considered on their own merits. For the true wireless earbud category, we consider a budget pair to be under $200.

When looking at price during the review process, we always refer to retail price as a baseline - even if there might be temporary discounts available. 

Alex Choros
Written by
Alex Choros
Alex Choros is the Group Reviews Editor for Clearlink Australia's local websites - Reviews.org, Safewise, and WhistleOut - and the Managing Editor for WhistleOut Australia. He's been writing about consumer technology for over eight years and is an expert on the Australian telco sector, to the point where he knows far too many phone and internet plans by heart. He also contributes to Gizmodo and Lifehacker, and makes regular appearances on 2GB. Outside of tech, Alex loves long hikes, red wine, and death metal.

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