21st September 2020

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ALLinOnE PorTaL

Best-sounding true wireless noise cancelingSennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

David Carnoy/CNETED I T O R S ’ C H O I C EMAR 2020

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof).

The second-gen Momentum True Wireless 2, available now for preorder and shipping in April, aren’t cheap at $300, but they’re better all around than the originals, with a slightly smaller, more comfortable design, active noise canceling that rivals that of the AirPod Pro, improved battery life (up to 7 hours versus the original’s 4) and better noise reduction during calls. And, if you don’t like them in black, a white version is slated to follow later this year. Most importantly, though, the Momentum True Wireless 2 have the same stellar sound — for true wireless earbuds, anyway — offering clearly superior sound quality to the AirPods Pro. That makes this wireless headphone arguably the best true wireless earbuds on the market today and earns them a CNET Editors’ Choice Award.

These use Bluetooth 5.1 with support for the AAC and AptX codecs (for devices that have AptX, such as Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones).

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof).

Samsung’s Buds Plus look essentially the same as the original Galaxy Buds, but this earbud’s battery life is rated at 11 hours for music playback (up from 6), and they pack dual drivers for better sound and an additional microphone in each bud to help with external noise reduction while making calls.

These headphones have great sound. It’s detailed and smooth, with deep, well-defined bass. The sound is richer and more spacious than that of the original Galaxy Buds. Well-respected Austrian audio company AKG, which Samsung acquired when it bought Harman, is behind the audio. While the original Buds were also “tuned” by AKG, these are a nice upgrade over the originals — and right there with what you get with the Jabra Elite 75t, if not even a touch better. They use Bluetooth 5.0 and support for AAC (there’s now an app for iOS users) and Samsung’s scalable codec, which is similar to aptX but is proprietary to Samsung Galaxy phones. Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review.$139 AT AMAZON$143 AT ABT ELECTRONICS$105 AT BEST BUYTop noise-canceling headphoneSony WH-1000XM3

Juan Garzon/CNETED I T O R S ’ C H O I C ENOV 2019

Sony’s WH-1000XM3, the third generation of Sony’s excellent wireless noise canceling headphones, has a more comfortable fit and features even better performance than its predecessor, perfect audio quality for listening to music. These headphones also have a great, comfortable ear cup. And finally, with a strong battery life, these over-ear wireless headphones are currently our top-rated pick for noise canceling, edging out the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which are more expensive. Read our Sony WH-1000XM3 review.$348 AT CRUTCHFIELD$348 AT AMAZON$350 AT BEST BUYBest designed true wireless noise cancelingApple AirPods Pro

Sarah Tew/CNETED I T O R S ’ C H O I C ENOV 2019

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof).

Even if they don’t sound as magical as you’d hope a $249 model would, the Apple AirPods Pro still manage to be a great example of a true wireless in-ear headphone. That’s largely due to their winning design and fit, improved bass performance and effective noise canceling. They’re an excellent choice when you want to make a call or listen to music during your workout. Yeah, they’re expensive at $250, but the good news is you’ll use them so much you’ll probably wear the battery down — it does degrade over time and isn’t replaceable — and have to buy a new pair in 18 to 24 months if you don’t lose them first. Read our Apple AirPods Pro review.$249 AT APPLE$234 AT AMAZON$250 AT BEST BUYBest noise-canceling headphones for making callsBose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor to its Quiet Comfort 35 II models, may not be a quantum leap forward but these wireless headphones offer slightly better sound quality, call and noise-canceling quality. Alas, these over-ear headphones cost $400, but they’re strong all-around performers with up to 20 hours of battery life for listening to podcasts, music and more. I prefer the Sony WH-1000XM3’s design and fit (and lower price tag), and while you can argue about which pair of headphones sounds better, one thing is certain: This model works significantly better as a headset for making calls. For some people that may be worth the extra cost. Read our Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review.$339 AT AMAZON$339 AT HP$339 AT ABT ELECTRONICSExcellent all-around true wirelessJabra Elite 75t

ED I T O R S ’ C H O I C ENOV 2019

Water-resistantYes (IP55 rating — can withstand heavy sprays of water).

At first glance, the Elite 75t, which was originally supposed to cost $200 but now sells for $180 (£170 or AU$299), seemed more like an evolutionary upgrade from the Elite 65t. But the updates turned out to be a little more substantial than I first thought. The Elite 75t’s smaller size (the pair of earbuds and case are 20% smaller than the Elite 65t’s), its boosted battery life and USB-C charging are significant upgrades. And then there are the smaller changes, like the new charging case design with magnets inside it that make it easier to open and close and to keep the buds inside. While the Elite 75t isn’t quite as comfortable to wear as the AirPods Pro and doesn’t have active noise canceling, it does sound better for listening to your music, with clearer overall sound and better bass definition, so long as you get a tight seal. Just note that the Jabra Elite Active 75t arrives in February, adding slightly better water resistance for $20 more. Read our Jabra Elite 75t review.$150 AT AMAZON$150 AT BEST BUY$150 AT WALMARTBest true wireless under $100Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2

Sarah Tew/CNETED I T O R S ’ C H O I C ENOV 2019

Water-resistantYes (IPX5 rating — can withstand heavy sprays of water).

If you can’t afford the AirPods Pro, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 is a good alternative and a top model for making calls or listening to your music playlist. Like the AirPods Pro, they do a remarkably good job of muffling ambient noise (callers said they could hear me fine even with a lot of street noise around me). While they don’t have active noise canceling, they sound nearly as good, have a comfortable fit and their noise-isolating design passively seals out a lot of ambient noise and white noise. They only cost $100Read our Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 review.$100 AT AMAZON$100 AT BEST BUY$90 AT WALMARTTop-notch true wireless soundSony WF-1000XM3

Sarah Tew/CNET

Water-resistantNo (lacks IPX certification).

Thanks to the WF-1000XM3, Sony has finally become a player in the true wireless (AirPod-style) headphone arena. While this pair of headphones isn’t cheap, as far as sound quality, they’re the best wireless earbuds at this price, matching and perhaps even exceeding the quality and performance of pricier competitors from SennheiserBeatsMaster & Dynamic and Bang & Olufsen. It also has a feature that those wireless earbuds don’t have: active noise-cancellation technology to reduce ambient noise.

It’s not stellar for making calls (their noise-reduction capabilities should be better) and the earbuds aren’t rated as sweatproof or waterproof. That said, I’ve used them for light workouts with a bit of a sweat at the gym without a problem. They use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC but not aptX. Read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review.$178 AT AMAZON$178 AT ABT ELECTRONICS$178 AT CRUTCHFIELD

Watch this: The best true wireless earbuds available now 10:03Best true wireless under $50EarFun Free

Sarah Tew/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX7 rating — fully waterproof).

What’s most impressive about the EarFun Free is the features: Bluetooth 5.0, both USB-C and wireless charging, and full waterproofing (IPX7), according to their specs. Do they sound fantastic? No, but these Bluetooth headphones sound pretty good. They don’t have the clarity of higher-end true wireless earbuds that cost $150 or more, but they do have plump bass and enough detail to avoid sounding dull. They’re also pretty solid for making calls. An excellent value at less than $50. Read our EarFun Free review.$45 AT AMAZONBest new audiophile headphonesV-Moda M-200

Sarah Tew/CNET

V-Moda’s M-200 ($350) is a wired-only headphone and currently the only wired headphone on this list. Released in late 2019, these clean and detailed sounding over-ear headphones have excellent bass response, and the cushy ear cups mean they’re also comfortable to wear. Featuring 50mm drivers with neodymium magnets, CCAW voice coils and fine-tuning by Roland engineers — yes, V-Moda is now owned by Roland — the M‑200 is Hi‑Res Audio certified by the Japan Audio Society (JAS). Other V-Moda headphones tend to push the bass a little, but this set of headphones has the more neutral profile that you’d expect from a studio monitor headphone. It comes with two cords, one of which has a built-in microphone for making calls. It would be nice if V-Moda offered Lightning or USB-C headphone cables for phones without headphone jacks.$350 AT AMAZONBest cheap noise cancelingAnker Soundcore Life Q20

Sarah Tew/CNET

I’m not a fan of cheap noise-canceling headphones. I’ve actually been struggling to put together a list of models for a best noise-canceling headphones roundup because there are so few that I’d recommend buying. But Anker’s Soundcore Life Q20 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones are an exception. They’re quite decent for their regular list price of $60 and they’re frequently on sale for $10 less.

No, the Life Q20 doesn’t sound as good as premium models such as the Sony WH-1000XM3, but it sounds pretty good, which is all you can ask for at this price. It’s fairly well balanced with a reasonable amount of clarity and plump bass that’s not bloated or muddy (there’s a bass boost or BassUp mode if you want an extra helping of bass). It’s also comfortable to wear, the noise canceling is acceptably effective, it’s solid as a headset for making calls and battery life is good at 40 hours. A simple carrying pouch is included.$60 AT AMAZONBest value for premium true wireless soundAnker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro

Sarah Tew/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof).

Anker is known more for its value headphones, but it’s trying to step into more premium territory with its Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds, which carry a list price of $150. From a design standpoint, they share some similarities with Sony’s WF-1000XM3, although this model doesn’t have active noise cancellation. Anker says they have large 11mm drivers combined with Knowles Balanced Armature, with up to eight hours of battery life on a single charge (32 total hours of playtime with the case) and noise-cancellation microphones to help reduce ambient sound so callers can hear you better. They charge via USB-C and also support wireless charging.

They don’t sound quite as good as the Sony WF-1000XM3, but they certainly sound like premium true wireless earphones, with rich sound that includes powerful bass performance and lots of detail. Some people may have some quibbles over the fit — I had to supply my own XL tips to get a tight seal and found the Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air 2 a little more comfortable — but the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro are a good value. Whether you want to use them as travel headphones or workout headphones, they’ll do the job. They also work very well for making calls (they do a good job reducing background sound).

They use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC and aptX.$150 AT AMAZON

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Discuss: The best headphones of 2020

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Best wireless headphones for 2020

With many different wireless headphones to choose from, which ones are the best of the best? Here’s a look at CNET’s top picks — from full-size noise-canceling models to tiny wireless earbuds.

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David CarnoyAug. 5, 2020 8:00 a.m. PT

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There are three major categories of wireless headphones: true wireless earbuds such as AirPods and AirPods Pro, full-size wireless noise-canceling headphones (led by Bose and Sony), and all the budget wireless headphones that dominate the best-seller list at Amazon — because there are plenty of consumers who can’t afford the more high-end models and are in search of a cheap wireless headphone that delivers good value and great sound for lower prices.

Granted, with so many choices, it’s hard to narrow things down into a best-of-the best wireless headphones list, especially since it’s impossible to review every model on the market. But I’ll give it a shot. These are our current favorites (with waterproofing ratings included for earbud models). I’ve considered factors like sound quality, active noise cancellation and the comfiness of the ear cup. Just note that in 2020, we expect to see a deluge of new models, many of which we saw previewed at CES back in January, and we’ll be updating this list as new wireless headphones arrive. Best-sounding true wirelessSennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

David Carnoy/CNETED I T O R S ’ C H O I C EMAR 2020

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof).

The second-gen Momentum True Wireless 2, available now for preorder and shipping in April, aren’t cheap at $300, but they’re better all around than the originals, with a slightly smaller, more comfortable design, active noise canceling that rivals that of the AirPod Pro, improved battery life (up to 7 hours versus the original’s 4) and better noise reduction during calls. And, if you don’t like them in black, a white version is slated to follow later this year. Most importantly, though, the Momentum True Wireless 2 have the same stellar sound — for true wireless earbuds, anyway — offering clearly superior sound quality to the AirPods Pro. That makes them arguably the best true wireless earbuds on the market today and earns them a CNET Editors’ Choice Award.

These use Bluetooth 5.1 with support for the AAC and AptX codecs (for devices that have AptX, such as Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones). Read our Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review.$284 AT AMAZON$300 AT BEST BUY

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Read more: Best on-ear headphones for 2020Top noise-canceling headphoneSony WH-1000XM3

Juan Garzon/CNETED I T O R S ’ C H O I C ENOV 2019

Sony’s WH-1000XM3, the third generation of Sony’s excellent wireless noise-canceling headphones, has a more comfortable fit and features even better performance than its predecessor, perfect sound quality for listening to music. With a strong battery life, these over-ear wireless headphones are currently our top-rated pick for noise canceling, edging out the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which are more expensive. While these list for $350, these over-ear headphones frequently get discounted for closer to $280. Just note that a next-gen model of this pair of wireless headphones has already been seen making the rounds on Twitter. Read our Sony WH-1000XM3 review.$348 AT CRUTCHFIELD$348 AT AMAZON$350 AT BEST BUY

Read more: The best true wireless earbuds of 2020  Best true wireless noise cancelingApple AirPods Pro

Sarah Tew/CNETED I T O R S ’ C H O I C ENOV 2019

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof).

Even if they don’t sound as magical as you’d hope a $249 model would, the Apple AirPods Pro still manage to be a great pair of true wireless earphones with noise cancelation. That’s largely due to their winning design and fit, improved bass performance and effective noise canceling. They’re an excellent choice when you want to make a call or listen to music during your workout. Yeah, they’re expensive at $250, but the good news is you’ll use them so much you’ll probably wear the battery down — it does degrade over time and isn’t replaceable — and have to buy a new pair in 18 to 24 months if you don’t lose them first. Read our Apple AirPods Pro review.$249 AT APPLE$234 AT AMAZON$250 AT BEST BUY

Read more: Best wireless headphones for working at home in 2020Souped-up Samsung budsSamsung Galaxy Buds Plus

Angela Lang/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof).

Samsung’s Buds Plus look essentially the same as the original Galaxy Buds, but their battery life is rated at 11 hours for music playback (up from 6), and they pack dual drivers for better sound and an additional microphone in each bud to help with external noise reduction while making calls.

I was impressed with the sound. The audio quality is detailed and smooth, with deep, well-defined bass. The sound is richer and more spacious than that of the original Galaxy Buds. Well-respected Austrian audio company AKG, which Samsung acquired when it bought Harman, is behind the audio. While the original Buds were also “tuned” by AKG, these are a nice upgrade over the originals — and right there with what you get with the Jabra Elite 75t, if not even a touch better. They use Bluetooth 5.0 and support for AAC (there’s now an app for iOS users) and Samsung’s scalable codec, which is similar to aptX but is proprietary to Samsung Galaxy phones. Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review.$139 AT AMAZON$143 AT ABT ELECTRONICS$105 AT BEST BUY

Read more: Best headphones for running in 2020Best noise-canceling headphones for making callsBose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Sarah Tew/CNET

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor to its Quiet Comfort 35 II, may not be a quantum leap forward but these wireless headphones offer slightly better sound quality, call and noise-canceling function. Alas, these over-ear headphones cost $400, but they’re strong all-around performers with up to 20 hours of battery life for listening to podcasts, music and more. I prefer the Sony WH-1000XM3’s design and fit (and lower price tag), and while you can argue about which pair of headphones sounds better, one thing is certain: This model of noise-cancelling headphones works significantly better as a headset for making calls. For some people that may be worth the extra cost for the wireless earphones. Read our Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review.$339 AT HP$339 AT ABT ELECTRONICS$339 AT CRUTCHFIELD

Read more: Best wireless earbuds and headphones for making callsExcellent all-around true wirelessJabra Elite 75t

ED I T O R S ’ C H O I C ENOV 2019

Water-resistantYes (IP55 rating — can withstand heavy sprays of water).

At first glance, the Elite 75t, which was originally supposed to cost $200 but now sells for $180 (£170 or AU$299), seemed more like an evolutionary upgrade from the Elite 65t. But the updates turned out to be a little more substantial than I first thought. The Elite 75t’s smaller size (the pair of earbuds and case are 20% smaller than the Elite 65t’s), its boosted battery life and USB-C charging are significant upgrades. And then there are the smaller changes, like the new charging case design with magnets inside it that make it easier to open and close and to keep the buds inside. While the Elite 75t isn’t quite as comfortable to wear as the AirPods Pro and doesn’t have active noise canceling, it does make your music sound better, with clearer overall sound and better bass definition, so long as you get a tight seal. Just note that the Jabra Elite Active 75t adds slightly better water resistance for $20 more. Read our Jabra Elite 75t review.$150 AT AMAZON$150 AT BEST BUY$150 AT WALMARTBest true wireless under $50EarFun Free

Sarah Tew/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX7 rating — fully waterproof).

What’s most impressive about the EarFun Free is the features: Bluetooth 5.0, both USB-C and wireless charging, and full waterproofing (IPX7), according to their specs. Do they sound fantastic? No, but these Bluetooth headphones sound pretty good. They don’t have the clarity of higher-end true wireless earbuds that cost $150 or more, but they do have plump bass and enough detail to avoid sounding dull. They’re also pretty solid for making calls. An excellent value at less than $50. Read our EarFun Free review.$45 AT AMAZON

Read more: Best workout headphones in 2020Best AirPods Pro alternative

Sarah Tew/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — sweat-resistant and splashproof).

The Libratone Track Air Plus has been out for several months in Europe, but only recently went on sale in the US (it lists for $200 but it’s currently selling on Amazon for $190 with a discount coupon for $10 off). It doesn’t sound quite as open to the ear as the AirPods Pro, but the audio is clearer and it has well-defined bass. You can choose between neutral, bass boost and treble settings in the companion app. The noise-canceling is also decent — maybe not quite on par with the AirPods Pro, but close. I liked the fit of these — the in-ear buds stayed in my ear well (I was able to run with them) and the case is only a little bigger than the AirPods Pro’s case.

The Track Air Plus works well as a headset for making calls, and a firmware upgrade did improve headset performance. That said, the noise reduction on these in-ear headphones isn’t quite as good as that of the AirPods Pro. People said they could hear me clearly and loudly, but the earphones didn’t muffle background noise quite as well as the AirPods Pro. 

These use Bluetooth 5.0 and have support for AAC and aptX. 

Note that Libratone also makes the Track Air, which is $150 (Amazon is currently discounting it by $10 with a coupon) and doesn’t have noise-canceling features but is otherwise similar.$190 AT AMAZONBest true wireless under $100Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2

Sarah Tew/CNETED I T O R S ’ C H O I C ENOV 2019

Water-resistantYes (IPX5 rating — can withstand heavy sprays of water).

If you can’t afford the AirPods Pro, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 is a good alternative and a top model for making calls or listening to your music playlist. Like the AirPods Pro, they do a remarkably good job of muffling ambient noise (callers said they could hear me fine even with a lot of street noise around me). While they don’t have active noise canceling, they sound nearly as good, have a comfortable fit and their noise-isolating design passively seals out a lot of ambient noise and white noise. They only cost $100Read our Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 review.$100 AT AMAZON$100 AT BEST BUY$90 AT WALMARTTop-notch true wireless soundSony WF-1000XM3

Sarah Tew/CNET

Water-resistantNo (lacks IPX certification).

Thanks to the WF-1000XM3, Sony has finally become a player in the true wireless (AirPod-style) headphone arena. While this pair of headphones isn’t cheap, as far as sound quality, they’re the best wireless earbuds at this price. They match and perhaps even exceed the quality and performance of pricier competitors from SennheiserBeatsMaster & Dynamic and Bang & Olufsen. It also has a feature that those wireless earbuds don’t have: active noise-cancellation technology to reduce ambient noise.

It’s not stellar for making calls (their noise-reduction capabilities should be better) and the earbuds aren’t rated as sweatproof or waterproof. That said, I’ve used them for light workouts with a bit of a sweat at the gym without a problem. They use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC but not aptX. Read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review.$178 AT AMAZON$178 AT ABT ELECTRONICS$178 AT CRUTCHFIELD

Watch this: The best true wireless earbuds available now 10:03Best cheap noise-cancelingAnker Soundcore Life Q20

Sarah Tew/CNET

I’m not a fan of cheap noise-canceling headphones. I’ve actually been struggling to put together a list of models for a best noise-canceling headphones roundup because there are so few that I’d recommend buying. But Anker’s Soundcore Life Q20 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones are an exception. They’re quite decent for their regular list price of $60 and they’re frequently on sale for $10 less.

No, the Life Q20 doesn’t sound as good as premium models such as the Sony WH-1000XM3, but it sounds pretty good, which is all you can ask for at this price. It’s fairly well balanced with a reasonable amount of clarity and plump bass that’s not bloated or muddy (there’s a bass boost or BassUp mode if you want an extra helping of bass). It’s also comfortable to wear, the noise-canceling is acceptably effective, it’s solid as a headset for making calls and battery life is good at 40 hours. A simple carrying pouch is included.$60 AT AMAZONBest value for premium true wireless soundAnker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro

Sarah Tew/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof).

Anker is known more for its value headphones, but it’s trying to step into more premium territory with its Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds, which carry a list price of $150. From a design standpoint, they share some similarities with Sony’s WF-1000XM3, although this model doesn’t have active noise cancellation. Anker says the earbuds have large 11mm drivers combined with Knowles Balanced Armature, with up to 8 hours of battery life on a single charge (32 total hours of playtime with the case) and noise-cancellation microphones to help reduce ambient sound so callers can hear you better. They charge via USB-C and also support wireless charging.

They don’t sound quite as good as the Sony WF-1000XM3, but they certainly sound like premium true wireless earphones, with rich sound that includes powerful bass performance and lots of detail. Some people may have some quibbles over the fit — I had to supply my own XL tips to get a tight seal and found the Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air 2 a little more comfortable — but the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro are a good value. Whether you want to use them as travel headphones or workout headphones, they’ll do the job. They’re also good for making calls (they do a good job reducing background sound).

They use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC and aptX.$150 AT AMAZONBest for runnersJaybird Vista

Sarah Tew/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX7 — fully waterproof and sweat-proof).

Jaybird got off to a bumpy start in the world of true wireless — that’s “AirPod-style headphones” — when it released its Jaybird Run workout headphones back in October 2017. Updated to the wireless in-ear Jaybird Run XT earlier this year, the Jaybird Run earbuds were well designed but had some small performance issues that held them back from being great. But their wireless successor model, the Jaybird Vista (cue the Windows Vista jokes), include design, battery life and performance improvements that make them the quality product I’d hoped the Jaybird Run would be — and simply the best wireless earbuds for runners.

At $180 (£160, AU$280), these sweat-proof earbuds are a little more expensive than they should be, but they’re among the better true wireless earbuds to hit the market last year. They’ll appeal to those looking for a more discreet set of totally wireless sports earbuds that feature full waterproofing. Read our Jaybird Vista review.$180 AT AMAZON$180 AT CRUTCHFIELD$180 AT BEST BUYBest under $50 for making callsTaoTronics SoundLiberty 79

David Carnoy/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX7 rating — fully waterproof).

TaoTronics’ SoundLiberty 79 list for $60 but sell for around $50. I don’t love their looks — the little chrome accent isn’t my thing — but they fit my ears well and sound decent for the money, with just enough definition and ample bass. All that said, where they really stand out is how they perform as a headset for making calls. They are five stars in that department, with excellent noise-reduction (people had no trouble hearing me on the noisy streets of New York). The company’s “Smart AI noise-reduction technology” does work. 

They are fully waterproof (IPX7 certified) and you can get up to eight hours of battery life at moderate volume levels. The charging case, which provides an extra 32 hours of juice on the go, feels a little cheap, but it’s compact and has USB-C charging.$50 AT AMAZON

More headphones on CNET

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Discuss: Best wireless headphones for 2020

Be respectful, keep it civil and stay on topic. We delete comments that violate our policy, which we encourage you to read. Discussion threads can be closed at any time at our discretion.CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

Best wireless earbuds and Bluetooth headphones for phone calls

Looking for a wireless headphone that’s great for voice calling? Here are our current top picks.

David Carnoy headshot

David CarnoyAug. 10, 2020 6:31 a.m. PT

Show more (13 items)

Working from home during the coronavirus pandemic? Yeah, us too. When we started working from home, we quickly discovered that one of the must-have items for keeping up productivity was a good set of headphones for all those video conferences and conference calls. We also found that the best headphones for making calls weren’t necessarily the same ones we used for listening to music. 

So, what makes a pair of headphones good for making calls? First, Bluetooth. The best Bluetooth headphones are able to reduce ambient noise even in loud environments (like when you’re trying to talk with your boss and your toddler discovers how much noise a spoon and pot make when you bang them together). Sound quality is also imperative, you need to be able to hear people clearly, especially when taking project notes or nailing down the specifics of a contract. As you continue to narrow down what you’re looking for, you should also consider ensuring your new headphones have a great battery life, look good and are super comfortable for long calls.

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To that end, we’ve tested a bunch of Bluetooth headphones specifically for their audio quality during calls. Here are our current top picks for the best Bluetooth headphones for calls. We’ll be updating it regularly as we review new products.Built to make callsBose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 cost $400, which is $50 more than the QC35 II headset and the Sony WH-1000XM3 headset, CNET’s current top-rated noise-canceling headphone. (The latter has recently sold for $300 or less, in fact.) But leaving aside the debate over the new design and higher price tag for a moment, I’ll say this: The Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 sound and perform better than their predecessor, and between the two, they shine as the best Bluetooth headset for calls. And the ear cups are definitely comfy enough that you will want to wear these outside of only noisy environments. Read our Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review.$339 AT HP$339 AT ABT ELECTRONICS$339 AT CRUTCHFIELD

Watch this: Bose’s new Noise Cancelling 700 Headphones live up to… 4:49Lightweight in-ear true wirelessApple AirPods Pro

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Even if they don’t sound as magical as you’d hope a $249 model would, the AirPods Pro still manage to be a great pair of true wireless earbuds. That’s largely due to their winning earpiece design and fit, improved bass performance, effective noise canceling and excellent call sound quality. Yeah, these noise-canceling wireless buds are expensive, but the good news is you’ll use them so much you’ll probably wear the battery and maximum battery life down — they does degrade over time and aren’t replaceable — and have to buy a new pair in 18 to 24 months if you don’t lose them first (keep them in their carrying case when you’re not using them! We can’t say it enough!). Read our Apple AirPods Pro review.$249 AT APPLE$234 AT AMAZON$250 AT BEST BUYSouped-up SamsungSamsung Galaxy Buds Plus

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Samsung’s Buds Plus look essentially the same as the original Galaxy Buds, but their battery life is rated at 11 hours for music playback (up from 6), and they pack dual drivers for better sound and an additional microphone in each bud to help with external noise reduction while making calls. They’re comfortable to wear and also have a feature that allows you to hear your voice in the earbuds while making calls (it’s a setting in the app under “advanced”). 

Previously, these were more geared toward Android users (and Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners in particularly), but now there’s an iOS app that gives Apple users most of the same features as Android users. 

I was impressed with the sound. It’s detailed and smooth, with deep, well-defined bass. The sound is richer and more spacious than that of the original Galaxy Buds. Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review.$139 AT AMAZON$143 AT ABT ELECTRONICS$105 AT BEST BUYBest under $50 for making callsTaoTronics SoundLiberty 79

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TaoTronics’ SoundLiberty 79 list for $60 but sell for around $50. I don’t love their looks — the little chrome accent isn’t my thing — but these Bluetooth earbuds fit my ears well and sound decent for the money, with just enough definition and ample bass. All that said, where they really stand out is how they perform as a headset for making calls. They are five stars in that department, with excellent noise-reduction (people had no trouble hearing me on the noisy streets of New York). The company’s “Smart AI noise-reduction technology” really does work. 

They are fully waterproof (IPX7 certified) and you can get up to eight hours of battery life at moderate volume levels. The charging case, which provides an extra 32 hours of juice on the go, feels a little cheap, but it’s compact and has USB-C charging.SEE AT TAOTRONICSAll-around performerJabra Elite 85h

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Jabra’s new premium noise-canceling headphone, the Elite 85h ($300), is an excellent all-round noise-canceling headset model that’s top-notch for calls. This wireless headset is right there with the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and clearly beats the Sony WH-1000XM3 on the communications front. Read our Jabra Elite 85h review.$248 AT AMAZON$250 AT BEST BUY$250 AT WALMARTNext-gen Jabra true wirelessJabra Elite 75t

ED I T O R S ’ C H O I C ENOV 2019

Jabra’s Elite 75t, which has an improved, more compact design and better battery life, isn’t quite on par with the AirPods Pro and Anker Liberty Air 2 for calls but it’s better than most true wireless earbuds for communications. While it doesn’t do a stellar job quieting ambient sound around you, it does offer some noise reduction and the mic does pick up your voice well. They also have a sidetone feature that allows you to hear your voice in the wireless earbuds (so you don’t talk too loud). Read our Jabra Elite 75t review.$150 AT AMAZON$150 AT BEST BUY$150 AT WALMARTBest-sounding true wirelessSennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

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The second-generation Momentum True Wireless 2, available now for preorder and shipping in April, aren’t cheap at $300, but they’re better all around than the originals, with a slightly smaller, more comfortable design, active noise canceling that rivals that of the AirPod Pro, improved battery life (up to seven hours versus the original’s four) and better noise reduction during calls.

Aside from improved call quality (they have a sidetone feature), the Momentum True Wireless 2 have the same stellar sound — for true wireless earbuds, anyway — offering clearly superior sound quality to the AirPods Pro. That makes them arguably the best true wireless earbuds on the market today and earns them a CNET Editors’ Choice Award.

These use Bluetooth 5.1 with support for the AAC and AptX codecs (for devices that have AptX like Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones).  Read the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review.$300 AT AMAZONGood valueAnker Liberty Air 2

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If you can’t afford the AirPods Pro, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 ($100) are a good alternative and a top model for calls. Like the AirPods Pro, they do a remarkably good job of muffling ambient noise (callers said they could hear me fine even with a lot of street noise around me). While they aren’t technically noise-canceling earbuds, they sound nearly as good as those that are, fit comfortably and their noise-isolating design passively seals out a lot of ambient noise. The only thing missing is a sidetone feature so you can hear your voice in the buds.$100 AT BEST BUYTop-notch true wireless callingPlantronics BackBeat Pro 5100

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Plantronics’ new premium true wireless earbuds, the BackBeat Pro 5100 ($170), are among the handful of true wireless headphones that are very good for calls. For calling, they’re on par with the AirPods (they have good noise reduction) and sound better for listening to music and audio. Read our Plantronics BackBeat Pro 5100 preview.$130 AT AMAZONStrong sound for the moneyAnker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro

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Anker is known more for its value headphones, but it’s trying to step into more premium territory with its Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro wireless earbuds, which carry a list price of $150. From a design standpoint, they share some similarities with Sony’s WF-1000XM3, although this model doesn’t have active noise cancellation. Anker says they have large 11mm drivers combined with Knowles Balanced Armature, with up to 8 hours of battery life on a single charge (32 total hours of playtime with the case) and noise-cancellation mic to help reduce ambient sound so callers can hear you better (they’re excellent for calls — easily superior to the Sonys). They charge via USB-C and also support wireless charging.

I’m not sure they sound quite as good as the Sony WF-1000XM3, but they certainly sound like premium true wireless earphones, with rich sound that includes powerful bass performance and lots of detail. Some people may have some quibbles over the fit — I had to supply my own XL tips to get a tight seal and found the Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air 2 a little more comfortable — but the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro are a good value. SEE AT AMAZONThe popular pickApple AirPods (2nd gen)

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The AirPods’ look may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they do work really well as a headset. The new second-generation version features greater noise reduction, which helps callers hear you better when you’re outside in noisier — and potentially windier — environments. It also adds hands-free (always-on) Siri. Read our Apple AirPods 2019 review.$159 AT APPLE$135 AT AMAZON$140 AT BEST BUYBest sports earbuds for making callsBeats Powerbeats Pro

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Apple owns Beats, and one of the pluses of that relationship is that much of the technology that went into the AirPods also went into Beats’ true wireless earphones, the Powerbeats Pro. Like the AirPods, these true wireless earbuds with ear hooks are excellent for calls, and with a noise-isolating design, they keep more ambient sound out so you can hear callers (and music and audio) better. Read our Beats Powerbeats Pro review.$200 AT APPLE$200 AT AMAZON$200 AT BEST BUYBest audio glasses for making callsBose Frames

Sarah Tew/CNET

Believe it or not, you too can be listening to music and audio on glasses. Yes, the Bose Frames ($200) are both sunglasses and headphones — and they sound surprisingly good for sunglasses headphones. What’s also impressive about them is how good they are for calls. 

The Frames are available in two models: the Rondo and Alto. You can only get them in black for now. Read our Bose Frames review.SEE AT BEST BUYBest Alexa-enabled budsAmazon Echo Buds

Amazon’s Echo Buds could use a little more polishing (they are a first-generation product for Amazon), but they’re a decent set of true wireless earbuds for the money and one of the better true wireless models for calls partially because they’re equipped with Bose noise-reduction technology. They also feature always-on (hands-free) Alexa so you don’t have to press a button to access Amazon’s voice assistant. Read our Amazon Echo Buds review.$130 AT AMAZONPremium soundSennheiser Momentum Wireless 3

Sarah Tew/CNET

While a pricey headset at $400, the third-gen Momentum Wireless headphone features improved noise cancellation, excellent sound quality for music and audio and voice calling. Read our Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 3 preview.SEE AT AMAZONLast year’s true wireless standoutJabra Elite 65t

CNET

Jabra’s Elite 65t, which soon may get overshadowed by the new Elite 75t, feature a dual mic in each bud and a sidetone feature that allows you to hear your voice in the wireless earbuds as you talk. They work quite well as a stereo headset for calls. I have even worn them under a ski helmet and callers said they could hear me fine as I skied! Read our Jabra Elite 65t review.$100 AT BEST BUY$170 AT HSN$108 AT WALMARTBusiness-class neckband-stylePlantronics Voyager 6200 UC

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When it first launched the Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC was $300. It’s down to $200, which is still pretty pricey, but it delivers business-grade voice calling performance. Read our Plantronics Voyager 6200 UC preview.$205 AT AMAZON$201 AT ADORAMA$228 AT WALMARTDesigned for the open officeLogitech Zone Wireless

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While Logitech calls its Zone WIreless a headset, it’s really an on ear active noise-canceling headphone with an integrated boom mic. What makes it unique is that you can set it on a Qi wireless charging pad to juice up its battery, which is rated for up to 15 hours of battery life talk time or music listening. The headset also charges via micro-USB.

I found it to be a comfortable fit, especially for an on ear headphone, and it’s great for making calls, with a sidetone feature that lets you hear your voice inside the headset so you don’t speak too loudly while having conversations. Its only drawback is that the headset sounds just OK for music and audio listening, not great. But if communications is a priority at work, this is a good choice for a headset (it’s not really meant to be a mobile headphone though you can walk around with it just fine). Read the Logitech Zone Wireless hands-on evaluation.$260 AT AMAZON

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Discuss: Best wireless earbuds and Bluetooth headphones for phone calls

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Best over-ear headphones for 2020: Sony, Bose and more

Looking for a set of over-ear cans? These are CNET’s current top picks.

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David CarnoyAug. 10, 2020 9:27 a.m. PT

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Headphones vary widely in size and shape, but if you’re an audiophile looking for the best sound, you’ll want to focus on full-size around-ear or over-ear headphones, rather than listening via earbud. In the past, this list would have included many wired headphones, but more consumers now tend to prefer wireless headphones, so most — but not all — of the over-ear headphone models on this list are wireless and feature active noise-canceling technology to drown out ambient sound.

So, with apologies to audio purists (but not really, because these all offer great sound quality and a top-notch listening experience without tethering you by an audio cable), here’s a look at our current top picks for best over ear headphones. We considered factors like noise isolation, battery life and the comfort of the ear cup into this list (as well as audio quality, of course), and we’ll update it regularly as we review new products.

Best all aroundSony WH-1000XM3

Juan Garzon/CNETED I T O R S ’ C H O I C ENOV 2019

Sony’s WH-1000XM3, the third generation of Sony’s excellent wireless noise-canceling headphones, has a more comfortable fit (the adjustable headband helps enormously, and the ear pads are very cushy) and features even better headphones sound and music performance than its predecessor. Battery life is important, and with a strong battery life, it’s currently our top-rated audio headphone with noise cancellation, edging out background noise and the Bose headphones on some key points.

We get that these are among the more expensive headphones, but for people looking to make an investment in quality, these are really good earphones to spend your money on.  Read our Sony WH-1000XM3 review.$348 AT CRUTCHFIELD$348 AT AMAZON$350 AT BEST BUY

Watch this: Sony’s WH-1000XM3 dethrones Bose QuietComfort 35 II as… 2:48Excellent for making callsBose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

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Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor to its QuietComfort 35 II models, may not be a quantum leap forward, but they offer slightly better sound, call and noise cancellation quality for an optimal listening experience. Alas, these Bose headphones cost $400, but they’re a strong all-around audio performer with up to 20 hours of battery life on a single charge. That’s a lot of battery life! Read our Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review.$339 AT HP$339 AT ABT ELECTRONICS$339 AT CRUTCHFIELDBest new audiophile headphonesV-Moda M-200

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V-Moda’s M-200 is a wired-only headphone and one of the few wired over-ear headphones on this list. Released in late 2019, these clean and detailed sounding over-ear headphones have great sound and excellent bass response, and the cushy ear cups mean they’re also comfortable to wear. Featuring 50mm drivers with neodymium magnets, CCAW voice coils and fine-tuning by Roland engineers — V-Moda is now owned by Roland — the M‑200 is Hi‑Res Audio-certified by the Japan Audio Society. Other V-Moda earphones tend to push the bass a little, but this has the more neutral sound profile that you’d expect from a studio monitor headphone. These studio-quality headphones come with two cords, one of which has a built-in microphone for making calls. It would be helpful if V-Moda offered Lightning or USB-C headphone cables for smartphone users.$350 AT AMAZONImpressive soundSennheiser Momentum 3

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When it comes to premium noise-canceling headphones, Bose and Sony have been the dominant sound players over the last few years. But now Sennheiser has turned up with its new Momentum 3 Wireless and it deserves some attention, particularly from folks who are fans of the Momentum line. It’s available to buy now for $400 (£369) — the same price as Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

Not only does it feature enhanced audio quality with improved noise-canceling features (goodbye, external noise) and excellent sound and audio for listening to music, but it also performs well as a headset for making calls on your iPhone or Android. While its noise cancellation and comfort level doesn’t quite measure up to the noise cancellation and comfort of Sony WH-1000XM3’s, it has well padded ear cups covered with sheep leather and I had no trouble rocking it for a two-hour music listening session, to say nothing of the battery life. Read our Sennheiser Momentum 3 first take.$400 AT AMAZONBest under $200JBL Live 650BTNC

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While its noise canceling and comfort aren’t quite on par with competing models from Bose and Sony, JBL’s Live 650BTNC measures up well in terms of sound — the best over ear headphones if you don’t want to spend more than a few hundred dollars. The listening experience is still very good, the ear pads are comfortable and very little ambient noise leaks through. These over-ear headphones are worth considering if you don’t want to spend $300 or more on noise-canceling headphones. We like the sound of that. Read our JBL Live 650BTNC review.$200 AT AMAZONLuxury looks, Luxury soundBowers & Wilkins PX7

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I liked Bowers & Wilkins’ original PX noise-canceling over-ear headphones, but they were slightly lacking in the comfort and noise-canceling departments. The company’s new PX7, released in the fall of 2019, improves on both fronts, with excellent sound, four noise-canceling settings (Automatic, Low, High and Off) and a well padded ear cushion in a sturdy, eye-catching design. There’s also an adjustable ambient “transparency” mode that allows you to hear the outside world.

The headphones are a tad heavy at 10.7 ounces (304 grams), but the build quality is top-notch — and it better be, considering these are a little pricey at $400. Bowers & Wilkins also makes a more compact on-ear model, the PX5, which costs $100 less and is also quite good. But this model does sound a little better.  

The sound is rich and detailed with deep bass that remains well defined even at high volumes. This is a pretty dynamic headphone, with a touch of extra energy in the mid-highs. It’s not laid-back like the earlier PX5 Wireless and its most direct competitor is probably the Sennheiser Momentum 3 above. That Sennheiser is arguably superior for making calls, but this B&W probably wins on design. 

These Bluetooth headphones support AAC and aptX, use Bluetooth 5.0, charge via USB-C and have up to 30 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels. Its noise canceling isn’t quite at the level of the Bose or Sony, but it’s not far off — as I said, it’s improved from the original PX’s noise canceling.  $400 AT AMAZONBest newcomerJabra Elite 85h

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When Jabra first announced its new Elite 85h ($300, £280) over-ear headphones, it touted how it would be equipped with always-on (hands-free) voice assistant control using Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. Alas, that feature didn’t make it into the final product — apparently it affected battery life too much, and battery life is critical — but the Elite 85h is nevertheless an excellent noise-canceling headphone that makes music and other audio sound good. It’s comfortable to wear and also works well as a headset for making calls — important for over-ear headphones. Read our Jabra Elite 85h review.$248 AT AMAZON$250 AT BEST BUY$250 AT WALMARTOldie but goodieSony MDR7506

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Introduced way back in 1991, the Sony MDR-7506 has long been a favorite headphone of recording engineers and other sound professionals (yes, this is a wired headphone). The origins of its design date even further back, since the MDR-7506 is, in fact, a refresh of the Sony MDR-V6 that rolled out in 1985. Both models were designed for the pro sound market, but remain hugely popular with consumers.

While the two headphones have the same design and are very comfortable, they don’t sound identical. Both offer very well-balanced sound and excellent clarity for their modest prices — and both are great overall values. But the V6 makes a little more bass and sounds more laid-back and mellow, while the 7506 is leaner with a more accentuated treble range, which makes it a little crisper and livelier. Read our Sony MDR 7506 review.$95 AT AMAZONOpen-back designGrado Prestige Series SR325e

Sarah Tew

Another audiophile favorite, Grado’s Prestige Series SR325e has been around for a while — we reviewed these over-ear headphones back in 2014. It’s an open-back wired model, which means it leaks sound (don’t use it in an open-office environment), but it delivers some of the most open, detailed sound you’ll find at this price. 

Grado, which is based in Brooklyn, New York, and builds most of its products there, has not changed the iconic exterior design of the headphones and like its SR325 predecessors (the previous model was the SR325i), his model has the same firm, bowl-shaped foam pads that apply a little more pressure to the outer edges of your ears than the more simple foam pads of the step-down SR80e, which are arguably more comfortable. The SR80e headphones are significantly lighter, but not of the same build quality as the SR325e model. Some people like Grado’s earpads (they’re user-replaceable), but overall we’d say this model’s comfort level isn’t up to the level of its sound quality: Comfort is good but not great. Read our Grado Prestige Series SR325e review.$295 AT AMAZON$295 AT CRUTCHFIELDSwankiestBang & Olufsen Beoplay H9 (3rd gen)

Amazon

Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay H9 doesn’t get mentioned much in the discussion of top noise-canceling headphones because at $500, it’s a really pricey pair of headphones. The latest third-generation version has been upgraded in a few significant ways that make it better than the earlier H9i. Battery life for this version has improved over the previous version to 25 hours, there’s now a dedicated button for your voice assistant, the padding on the ear cushions and headband is cushier and the touch controls have been tweaked. The sound is still good.$500 AT AMAZONBest for sportsPlantronics BackBeat Fit 6100

Some people, particularly weightlifters, like to work out in full-size headphones, and the BackBeat Fit 6100 over-the-ear wireless headphones are a very solid choice for both the gym and everyday use. The adjustable sport-fit headband has an IPX5-rated water-resistant and sweat-proof design, 40mm angled drivers and noise-isolating ear cups with an “Awareness” mode. Battery life is rated at 24 hours. They sound quite good and really stay on your head securely — you can adjust the tension in the headband, which is innovative and ideal for exercise headphones. 

They’re a little expensive at their list price of $180, but Amazon has them for $130, and sometimes the price dips closer to $100. They’re available in black, camo and gray.$130 AT AMAZON

More for audiophiles

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Best true wireless earbuds for 2020: Apple AirPods, Google Pixel Buds and more

True wireless earbuds are all the rage. Here are the top wire-free models you can buy right now.

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David CarnoyAug. 10, 2020 8:02 a.m. PT

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Apple’s AirPods aren’t necessarily the best wireless earbuds even though they’ve led the category of true wireless earbuds for the past few years in terms of numbers sold. Many competitors have popped up that offer better sound, battery life and performance, making the market for true wireless earbuds truly competitive, with more to come. Basically, you no longer have to have an Apple device to live the truly wireless earbuds dream.

This list identifies the best true wireless earbuds; we also have lists of the best cheap true wireless earbuds and the best-sounding true wireless earbuds. Remember that to get optimal performance, the best wireless earbuds need to have an ergonomic design and feel comfortable. They need to fit right, with a tight earbud seal. If you can’t get a snug earbud fit with in-ear headphones, you’ll be sadly disappointed and feel ripped off, which is why I suggest buying your pair of wireless earbuds from a vendor with a decent return policy, such as Amazon. This also helps if the earbuds don’t meet some other expectation, from ambient sound cancelling to touch control to how long they last on a single charge. We’ll update this list of best wireless earbuds regularly as we review new products.

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Read more: Best noise-canceling headphones of 2020

Watch this: The best true wireless earbuds available now 10:03Best-soundingSennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Sarah Tew/CNETED I T O R S ’ C H O I C EMAR 2020

The second-generation Momentum True Wireless 2, available now for preorder and shipping in April, aren’t cheap at $300. However, they’re better all around than the originals, with a slightly smaller, more comfortable earbud design, great audio quality, active noise canceling that rivals that of the AirPod Pro, improved battery life (up to seven hours versus the original’s four) and better noise reduction during calls. If you don’t like these active noise cancellation earbuds in black, a white version is slated to follow later this year. Most importantly, though, the Momentum True Wireless 2 have the same great sound — for true wireless earbuds, anyway — offering clearly superior sound quality to the AirPods Pro. That makes them arguably the best true wireless earbuds on the market today and earns them a CNET Editors’ Choice Award.

These use Bluetooth 5.1 with support for the AAC and AptX codecs (for devices that have AptX like Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones). 

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof). Read our Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review.$284 AT AMAZON$300 AT BEST BUYExcellent Android-centric earbudsGoogle Pixel Buds 2

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Google’s Pixel Buds 2 are worthy contenders in the premium true wireless earbuds arena, particularly for Android phones. Featuring hands-free Google Assistant (for Android), they offer a comfortable, secure fit and very good sound quality for true wireless. Additionally, they’re good for making calls and their touch controls work quite well. 

At five hours, their battery life isn’t as good as some new models that are hitting the market, but it’s on par with the AirPods Pro’s battery life and the well-designed wireless charging case gives you an additional 19 hours (there is a quick-charge feature). The Pixel Buds 2 will eventually be available in four color options (white, black, mint and orange), but at launch you can only get them in white.

This true wireless earbud option uses Bluetooth 5.0 with support for the AAC codec but not aptX. 

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof). Read our Google Pixel Buds 2 (2020) review.$180 AT BEST BUYBest wireless earbuds all-aroundApple AirPods Pro

Sarah Tew/CNETED I T O R S ’ C H O I C ENOV 2019

Even if they don’t sound as magical as you’d hope a $249 model would, the AirPods Pro still manage to be a great pair of truly wireless earphones. That’s largely due to their winning design and fit, improved bass performance, effective noise canceling and excellent call quality. Yeah, Apple AirPods are expensive at $250, but the good news is you’ll use these wireless earbuds so much you’ll probably wear the battery down — it does degrade over time and isn’t replaceable — and have to buy a new pair in 18 to 24 months if you don’t lose them first. 

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof). Read our Apple AirPods Pro review.$249 AT APPLE$234 AT AMAZON$250 AT BEST BUYBest wireless earbuds sequelJabra Elite 75t

ED I T O R S ’ C H O I C ENOV 2019

At first glance, the Elite 75t, which were originally supposed to cost $200 but now sell for $180 (£170 and AU$299), seem more like an evolutionary upgrade from the highly rated Elite 65t. But the updates turn out to be a little more substantial than I first thought. The Elite 75t’s smaller size (the buds and case are 20% smaller than the Elite 65t’s), their boosted battery life and USB-C charging are significant upgrades. Then there are the smaller changes, like the new charging case design with magnets inside that make it easier to open and close and to keep the buds inside. While the Elite 75t aren’t quite as comfortable to wear as the AirPods Pro and don’t have active noise canceling, they do sound better, with clearer overall sound and better bass audio quality definition, so long as you get a tight seal.

Water-resistantYes (IP55 rating — can withstand heavy sprays of water). Read our Jabra Elite 75t review.$150 AT AMAZON$150 AT BEST BUY$150 AT WALMARTSouped-up Samsung budsSamsung Galaxy Buds Plus

Angela Lang/CNET

Samsung’s Buds Plus look essentially the same as the original Galaxy Buds, but their battery life is rated at 11 hours for music playback (up from 6) and they pack dual drivers for better sound and an additional microphone in each bud to help with external noise reduction while making calls.

I was impressed with the sound. It’s detailed and smooth, with deep, well-defined bass. The sound is richer and more spacious than that of the original Galaxy Buds. Well-respected Austrian audio company AKG, which Samsung acquired when it bought Harman, is behind the audio. While the original Buds were also “tuned” by AKG, these are a nice upgrade over the originals — and right there with what you get with the Jabra Elite 75t, if not even a touch better. They use Bluetooth 5.0 and support for AAC (there’s now an app for iOS users) and Samsung’s scalable codec, which is similar to aptX but is proprietary to Samsung Galaxy phones.  

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof). Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review.$139 AT AMAZON$143 AT ABT ELECTRONICS$105 AT BEST BUYBest noise cancelingSony WF-1000XM3

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Sony hasn’t been much of a player in the true wireless (AirPod-style) headphone arena, though its new WF-1000XM3 model may change that. While this pair of headphones isn’t cheap, as far as sound quality, they’re the best wireless earbuds in this price range, matching and perhaps even exceeding the quality and performance of pricier competitors from SennheiserBeatsMaster & Dynamic and Bang & Olufsen. They also have a feature those wireless earbuds don’t have: active noise cancellation technology to reduce ambient noise.

The only drawback is the WF-1000XM3 earbuds aren’t rated as sweat-proof or waterproof headphones. That said, I’ve used them for light workouts with a bit of a sweat at the gym without a problem. They use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC but not aptX.

Water-resistantNo (lacks IPX certification). Read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review.$178 AT AMAZON$178 AT ABT ELECTRONICS$178 AT CRUTCHFIELDBest under $50EarFun Free

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What’s most impressive about the EarFun Free is the features: Bluetooth 5.0, both USB-C and wireless charging and fully waterproof (IPX7), according to their specs. Do they sound fantastic? No, but these earphones sound pretty good. They don’t have the clarity of higher-end true wireless earbuds that cost $150 or more, but they do have plump bass and enough detail to avoid sounding dull. They’re also pretty solid for making calls. An excellent value for less than $50.

Water-resistantYes (IPX7 rating — fully waterproof). Read CNET first take.$45 AT AMAZONBest wireless earbuds for runnersJaybird Vista

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Jaybird got off to a bumpy start in the world of true wireless — that’s “AirPod-style headphones” — when it released its Jaybird Run workout headphones back in October 2017. Updated to the wireless in-ear Jaybird Run XT earlier this year, the Jaybird Run earbuds were well designed but had some small performance issues that held them back from being great. But their wireless successor model, the Jaybird Vista (cue the Windows Vista jokes), include design, battery life and performance improvements that make them the quality product I’d hoped the Jaybird Run would be — and simply the best wireless earbuds for runners.

At $180 (£160, AU$280), this pair of sweat-proof earbuds are a little more expensive than they should be, but they’re among the better true wireless earbuds to hit the market last year. They’ll appeal to those looking for a more discreet set of totally wireless sports earbuds that feature full waterproofing.

Water-resistantYes (IPX7 — fully waterproof and sweat-proof). Read the Jaybird Vista review.$160 AT JAYBIRDBest AirPods Pro alternativeLibratone Track Air Plus

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The Libratone Track Air Plus has been out for several months in Europe, but only recently went on sale in the US (it lists for $200 but it’s currently selling on Amazon for $190 with a discount coupon for $10 off). It doesn’t sound quite as open to the ear as the AirPods Pro, but the audio is clearer and it has well-defined bass. You can choose between neutral, bass boost and treble settings in the companion app. The noise canceling is also decent — maybe not quite on par with the AirPods Pro, but close. I liked the fit of these — the in-ear buds stayed in my ear well (I was able to run with them) and the case is only a little bigger than the AirPods Pro’s case.

The Track Air Plus works well as a headset for making calls, and a firmware upgrade did improve headset performance. That said, the noise reduction isn’t quite as good as that of the AirPods Pro. People said they could hear me clearly and loudly, but the earphones didn’t muffle background noise quite as well as the AirPods Pro. 

These use Bluetooth 5.0 and have support for AAC and aptX. 

Note that Libratone also makes the Track Air, which is $150 (Amazon is currently discounting it by $10 with a coupon) and doesn’t have noise-canceling features but is otherwise similar.

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — sweat-resistant and splashproof).$220 AT GEEK BUYINGMuch cheaper AirPods Pro alternativeAnker Soundcore Liberty Air 2

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If you can’t afford the Apple AirPods Pro, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 are a good alternative and are a top model for making calls. Like the AirPods Pro, this pair of Anker Soundcore earbuds do a remarkably good job of muffling ambient noise (callers said they could hear me fine even with a lot of street noise around me). While these Anker Soundcore earbuds don’t have active noise cancelling, they sound nearly as good, fit comfortably and their noise-isolating design passively seals out a lot of ambient noise. They cost only $100

Water-resistantYes (IPX5 rating — can withstand heavy sprays of water). Read full review.$100 AT BEST BUYAirPods on steroidsBeats Powerbeats Pro

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Yes, the Beats Powerbeats Pro’s jumbo charging case with its built-in battery is a notable drawback. But incorporating all the features that make Apple’s AirPods great while delivering richer sound and better battery life in a design that won’t fall out of your ear is a winning proposition. Just make sure you buy these Beats Powerbeats earphones somewhere that has a good return policy, in case you’re in the small minority who have ears that aren’t quite a match for them.

They use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC but not aptX.

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof). Read our Beats Powerbeats Pro review.$200 AT APPLE$200 AT AMAZON$200 AT BEST BUYValue premium soundAnker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro

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Anker is better known for its value headphones, but it’s trying to step into more premium territory with its Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds, which carry a list price of $150. From a design standpoint, these bluetooth earbuds share some similarities with Sony’s WF-1000XM3, though this Anker Soundcore model doesn’t have active noise cancellation. Anker says they have large 11mm drivers combined with Knowles Balanced Armature, with up to 8 hours of battery life on a single charge (32 total hours of playtime with the case) and noise-cancellation microphones to help reduce ambient sound so callers can hear you better. They charge via USB-C and also support wireless charging.

I’m not sure they sound quite as good as the Sony WF-1000XM3, but they certainly sound like premium true wireless earphones, with rich sound that includes powerful bass performance and lots of detail. Some people may have some quibbles over the wireless earphone fit — I had to supply my own XL tips to get a tight seal and found the Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air 2 a little more comfortable — but the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro are a good value. They also work very well for making calls (they do a good job reducing background sound).  

They use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC and aptX.

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splash-proof). Read more.$150 AT AMAZON$150 AT BEST BUY$65 AT WALMARTMost compact — and top-notch for callsApple AirPods (2019)

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The second-generation Apple AirPods add a couple of small but key improvements to the original, including always-on voice recognition and a wireless charging case option. They’re also a quality device for making calls, indoors and out. 

The base model remains at $159 (£159, AU$249) while the version with the wireless charging case lists for $199 (£199, AU$319). However, you can often find both models for slightly cheaper online.

Water-resistantNo (lacks IPX certification). Read our Apple AirPods 2019 review.$159 AT APPLE$135 AT AMAZON$140 AT BEST BUYBest sound under $1001More Stylish True Wireless

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I don’t really know how stylish the 1More Stylish True Wireless earbuds are (yes, that’s their name), but they do sound good. With a list price of $100, they’re among the least expensive models on this list. 1More made a name for itself with its wired earbuds, the Triple Drivers, which sound great and were a good value when wired headphones were still a thing. The same clear, balanced sound is present in 1More’s first true wireless earbuds; they don’t sound as good as the Triple Drivers, but the audio quality is very good for true wireless.

These have more of an audiophile sound profile, with more “accurate” sound, so bass lovers may be a little disappointed, but I liked them. Of course, it helped that I was able to get a tight seal with one of the included sets of ear tips. However, the stabilizer fin did nothing for me — I just jammed the tip into my ear to get a secure fit. 

Their battery life is rated at up to 6.5 hours (expect closer to 5 battery hours if you’re listening to music at higher volumes), with an extra 17 hours or so of battery life available from the charging case. These use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC and aptX.

Water-resistantNo (lacks IPX certification). Read our 1More Stylish True Wireless review.$64 AT AMAZON$80 AT BEST BUY$100 AT WALMARTAudiophile soundMaster & Dynamic MW07 Plus

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The Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus are the second generation of the company’s MW07. This pair of earbuds features greatly increased battery life (10 versus 3.5 hours), Bluetooth 5.0 and active noise cancellation with two microphones on each bud. They may not fit everyone’s ear equally well, but they certainly have a distinct look, as well as very good sound and a great listening experience if you can get a tight seal. These in-ear headphones are known for more of an audiophile sound profile, with smooth, well-balanced sound and well-defined bass. 

Available in four color options, for $299, these wireless earbuds include a swanky chrome charging case that comes with a secondary pouch for safekeeping (yes, the case can get scratched up if you leave it in a bag). The case, with its built-in chargeable battery, gives you an additional three charges (it charges via USB-C). These have support for aptX (but not AAC) and have an extended range of more than 20 meters, according to Master & Dynamic.

Water-resistantYes (IPX5 rating — withstands sustained spray). Read more.$300 AT BEST BUY

More headphone recommendations

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Discuss: Best true wireless earbuds for 2020: Apple AirPods, Google Pixel Buds and more

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