Best wireless earbuds 2021 | Laptop Mag

The best wireless earbuds afford you many of the same perks that an elite pair of wired or wireless headphones would, maybe even more. They free you of cables, letting you consume music on the go without being physically tethered to your portable devices: smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Even better, they pack lots of performance – great sound, call quality, and special features – into a compact design.

As the category continues to grow in popularity, so does the demand for wireless earbuds, especially with modern smartphones slowly doing away with the headphone jack. Le sigh. Nonetheless, this hasn’t stopped tech staples like Sennheiser, Samsung, and even Apple from releasing stellar cordless buds. We’re also seeing other popular electronics brands such as Jabra and Anker jump on the wireless earbuds’ bandwagon, releasing superior products that hold their own against the top dogs.

In compiling a list of the best wireless earbuds, we take many variables into account, from battery life to connectivity to design to sound. Other notable hallmarks such as mobile app support, setup, and special features are factored into the equation as well.

After testing the market’s top offerings, we’ve ranked the best wireless earbuds based on budget, performance, and style. Scroll down to see which ones best suit your listening needs.

What are the best wireless earbuds?

The Apple AirPods Pro currently stands as the best wireless earbuds due to their enhanced fit, seamless iOS/MacOS functionality, and surprisingly good active noise cancellation. We’ve found these cordless danglers to be the ideal companion for all Apple devices. They also work with Android and Windows devices via Bluetooth, though the setup process can be a bit arduous.

Coming in a close second on our best wireless earbuds list is the recently launched Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, for its unbeatable noise cancellation and great sound. As mentioned in our review, Bose “managed to gather all of the winning qualities of its flagship headphones, shrink them down and put them in a pair of truly wireless earbuds.” The design and control scheme are also major improvements from what was delivered on the company’s last truly wireless model, the SoundSport Free.

If money is no object, then we highly recommend putting the Bowers & Wilkins PI7 at the top of your wish list. Grade A sound combined with powerful noise cancellation and a striking design makes these buds splurge-worthy. The PI7 even has a cool feature that no other model has – its charging case doubles as a wireless adapter that can plug into an analog audio output and stream music in aptX. B&W’s companion app makes it simple to adjust ANC and ambient-listening levels as well.

Those on the hunt for Android- and Galaxy-friendly wireless earbuds may want to look at the all-new Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. They have some great audio features like Gaming Mode and 360 Audio, which produces theatrical-like sound, similar to the AirPods Pro’s spatial audio mode. The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 blends excellent sound and powerful noise cancellation into a clean, minimalist design, while the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2 is a relatively affordable option with superb sound and acceptable ANC.

Whether you’re a business traveler who requires complete silence in flight or just an avid music lover who wants amazing sound in a tinier form, there’s a model on our list of best wireless earbuds tailored to your ears.

Scroll down to see our ranking of the best wireless earbuds money can buy!

The best wireless earbuds you can buy today

1. Apple AirPods Pro

The best wireless earbuds overall

Size: 1.2 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches | Weight: 0.19 ounces (per bud) | Battery life (Rated): 4.5 hours, 24 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 800 feet | Special features: Active noise cancellation, “Hey Siri” voice activation, spatial audio

Effective active noise cancelation

Adaptive EQ

Clean, balanced sound

Superb call quality

Lower battery life than the AirPods 2

No companion app

Apple made almost every change necessary to make the AirPods Pro the best wireless earbuds that money can buy. Fans wanted active noise cancellation and got just that, which is superbly effective, thanks to Apple’s multi-mic system that uses two mics on each bud to analyze ambient sound and cancels it out before reaching the soundstage. The technology is intuitive and blocks out about 85% of street noise.

The included ear tips also make a world of difference in fit and sound. They create a comfy, tight seal around the canal that ensures the Pods don’t slip out when rushing to catch the bus. Gym rats and gamers who sweat profusely no longer have to worry about damaging their buds either, as Apple made the AirPods Pro water and sweat resistant. It’s this personalized fit, along with Apple’s all-new Adaptive EQ, that also makes music sound fuller. Not to mention Apple has introduced an all-new spatial audio feature in iOS 14 that helps create a 3D soundscape for listeners.

Read our full Apple AirPods Pro review.

2. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

The best noise-cancelling wireless earbuds

Size: 1.54 x 1.02 x 1.06 inches | Weight: 0.3 ounces (per bud) | Battery life (Rated): 6 hours, 12 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Adjustable ANC, hybrid ambient listening, Self Voice mode

Unbeatable ANC and call quality

Solid audio performance

Responsive touch controls

Bluetooth 5.1

Bulky, heavy case

Bose did the unexpected, which was take the excellent active noise cancellation of the Bose 700 and carry it over onto the all-new QuietComfort Earbuds. Nothing short of an engineering feat, this model blocks out a vast amount of ambient sound and does so with half the mics of its over-the-ear brethren. This same mic array is what allows for fantastic call quality and digital assistant use across all platforms as well. Even more impressive is how the buds manage to blend both ANC and Transparency modes, allowing you to hear ambient sounds more clearly for improved awareness. Bose’s Active EQ technology and proprietary drivers also give these buds a sound curve similar to the 700, resulting in warm, relatively balanced audio.

Our one gripe about the QuietComfort Earbuds is battery life, which could be longer. The massive charging case doesn’t hold as much portable power either in comparison to other models, plus it’s huge and cumbersome to carry around.

Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review.

3. Bowers & Wilkins PI7

Luxe wireless earbuds with rich ANC and sound

Size: N/A | Weight: 0.24 ounces | Battery life (Rated): 4 hours (ANC on), 20 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Adaptive ANC, adjustable ambient listening mode, wireless adapter functionality

Hi-fidelity sound

Eye-catching design

Better ANC than the AirPods Pro

Charging case doubles as a wireless adapter

Low battery life

Steep MSRP

We already know what you’re thinking: isn’t $400 a bit expensive for wireless earbuds? Answer: Yes. However, that shouldn’t stop anyone with the funds from owning these stunners. B&W spared no expense to give its flagship buds the best audio representation, from Dual Hybrid Drive units with individual amplifiers to aptX Adaptive codec support. What you get is best-in-class sound that is even better when streaming music on hi-res platforms like Qobuz and Tidal. However, it’s the charging case that steals the show, doubling as a wireless adapter that can plug into any audio jack and retransmit audio to the buds. Oh yea, noise cancellation is only second to the QuietComfort Earbuds too.

There are some common features missing (sleep mode, Find My Buds), plus the steep price point should grant you more functionality like multipoint technology or even an EQ. Then again, no one said excellent sound and noise cancellation that is only second to the QuietComfort Earbuds would come cheap.

4. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

The best Samsung wireless earbuds

Size: 0.8 x 0.7 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 0.22 ounces | Battery life (Rated): 5 hours with ANC on (18 hours with charging case), 8 hours with ANC off (28 hours with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 35 feet (10 meters) | Special features: 360 Audio, Gaming mode, wireless charging

Robust feature set

Good audio quality

Improved ANC

Conventional and discrete design

Disappointing battery life

Second time is a charm for Samsung, as the Galaxy Buds Pro isn’t just one of the best wireless earbuds available, but also the brand’s best entry in the true wireless space. This includes an enhanced and more traditional design for optimized fit, smarter controls, stronger ANC, and one of the best transparency modes out there. Audio is where these buds truly put in work, pumping out deep bass and clear mids. Granted, Galaxy device owners get the best listening experience, thanks to Samsung’s proprietary Scalable Codec, the minimal loss in quality doesn’t affect audio performance too much on other Android devices and iPhones.

Samsung also gives the Galaxy Buds Pro their own set of special features, though the most popular ones (e.g., Auto Switch, Gaming Mode) are reserved for current Galaxy smartphones, while 360 Audio is only available on the upcoming Galaxy S21 models. However, poor battery life is the more concerning issue on these buds; a full charge realistically gets you 4.5 hours of use with ANC on.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review.

5. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

ANC and Sennheiser sound for a premium

Size: 3.02 x 1.72 x 1.3 inches | Weight: 0.2 ounces (per bud) | Battery life (Rated): 7 hours, 28 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 800 feet (243 meters) | Special features: Active noise cancellation, ambient listening mode, customizable EQ

Superb audio performance

Clean, minimalist design

Longer battery life than its predecessor

Strong active noise cancellation

More expensive than the AirPods Pro

Uncomfortable for smaller ears

Basically, Sennheiser repackaged its popular wireless earbuds with a bigger battery and active noise cancellation, and the end product is undeniable. The Momentum True Wireless 2’s ANC performance is up there with the AirPods Pro, using a single mic on each bud to minimize ambient sound at high levels; loud TVs and noisy neighbors will go unnoticed. Playtime has been increased from 4 to 7 hours, with the gorgeous slate gray fabric charging case housing an extra 3 charges. These buds also retain the beautiful sound of the original, delivering sumptuous audio with precise detail, which can also be personalized via Sennheiser Smart Control app, though the default profile is great as is.

Those with small ears and pockets will find the Momentum True Wireless 2 less enticing, as the buds don’t provide the best comfort or fit for tiny ear holes, while the upscale price tag ($300) makes them one of the more expensive options in the category.

See our full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review.

6. Anker Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2

The best ANC wireless earbuds value

Size: 1.5 x 0.9 x 0.9 inches | Weight: 0.4 ounces (per bud) | Battery life (Rated): 6 hours (with ANC on), 6.5 hours (with Transparency Mode on), 7 hours (all modes off), 26 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 35 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Active noise cancellation, customizable EQ, wireless charging

Strong audio performance

Adequate ANC and ambient listening modes

Stable battery life

Excellent connectivity

Finicky touch controls

Anker was destined to release noise-cancelling wireless earbuds at some point, but we didn’t see the company hitting a home run on their first at-bat. The Liberty Air Pro 2 is an amazing upgrade to what was already a solid-performing (and affordable) model, the Liberty Air 2. This time around, Anker fine-tuned its sound profile, employing PureNote Driver technology to achieve rich, punchy audio that lends itself well to many music genres. You still have access to a plethora of presets and a custom EQ via Soundcore app, along with some cool new features like the LÜM music service and Tip Fit Test for optimal fit. Four ANC modes are available as well, each one engineered to deal with ambient noise in different environments. Most importantly, these modes work well compared to the noise cancellation several other competitors offer in the same price class.

However, Anker does continue to struggle with one key area: controls. Not only are the touch panels on the Liberty Air Pro 2 limited to two-tap and hold gestures, but there is also latency with input and on-ear detection.

Read our full Anker Soundcore Liberty Air Pro 2 review.

7. Klipsch T5 II

Superior performance in a stylishly retro package

Size: 1.97 x 0.79 x 1.97 inches | Weight: 0.17 ounces (per bud) | Battery Life (Rated): 8 hours, 32 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth Range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Ambient listening mode, customizable EQ, water resistance

The most attractive charging case in its class

Clear, detailed sound

Strong battery life

Extensive control scheme

Missing modern features

They say looks can only get you so far, but in the case of the Klipsch T5 II, it’s just one of many hallmarks that make these wireless earbuds an underrated gem. Klipsch’s audio is exceptional, giving you the perfect blend of bright and warm sound. You can tweak the soundstage via mobile app, though the default is perfect as is. A full charge gets you about 7.5 hours more or less, which is highly sufficient. Then there is the star of the show, the Zippo lighter-inspired charging case, a durable aluminum block that beautifully displays and stores the buds and holds an additional 24 hours of playtime.

While it’s easy to get caught up in the nostalgic beauty that is the T5 II, you’re quickly reminded of the model’s limited feature set, which could have benefited from more modern functionality. This includes active noise cancellation, wireless charging, and, yes, a Find My Buds mode.

Read our full Klipsch T5 II review.

8. Amazon Echo Buds 2

Best noise-cancelling wireless earbuds value

Size: 0.8 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 0.2 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 5 hours (ANC on), 6.5 hours (ANC off), 15 hours (with charging case), 19.5 hours (with charging case and ANC off) | Bluetooth range: 35 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Active noise cancellation, adjustable ambient listening mode, built-in fitness tracker

Excellent Alexa integration

Effective ANC

Wireless charging

So-so battery life

Vocals lack crispness

Amazon managed to make its flagship buds 40 percent smaller and improve ANC performance, while also launching them at a lower price than the original Echo Buds. The new three-mic array (two external, one internal) was designed to cancel out an adequate number of ambient noises. If you want to hear more of what’s transpiring in your vicinity, there is a Passthrough mode to adjust the level of noise you want to let in. But what makes the Echo Buds 2 one of the best wireless earbuds available is Alexa integration, which operates smoothly and places a myriad of skills at the tip of your tongue via hands-free voice activation.

The neutral sound profile has been given a slight boost in bass, though vocals lack crispness and have a buzz effect to them, specifically on low-fi recordings. Amazon could have also prioritized battery life; you’re only given 30 minutes more than the AirPods Pro. All in all, the amount of functionality stuffed into these buds makes them well worth the investment, especially for Alexa conformists.

9. Beats Powerbeats Pro

The best wireless workout earbuds

Size: 1.1 x 1 x 0.9 inches | Weight: 0.7 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 9 hours; 24 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Automatic switching, Fast Fuel charging, sweat resistance

Lengthy battery life

Well-balanced sound

Comfortable, stable fit for running

Bulky charging case

Wind resistance on calls isn’t great

Apple isn’t making a fitness version of its popular AirPods, or so we think. Until then, the PowerBeats Pro is the closest thing you’ll get to a pair of true wireless workout earbuds from the brand. These sporty buds pack great performance in a durable, water-resistant shell. The company’s even gone as far as to include the new H1 chip, making seamless integration with all iDevices even faster. Automatic switching has been added as well via iOS 14 update.

Audio is crucial for any pair of sports headphones, and fortunately, Apple has toned down the Beats’ bass-heavy sound signature. The Powerbeats Pro have a more balanced presentation that blends emphatic lows together with tighter mids and highs. Those who constantly complain about the AirPods poor battery life can breathe easy knowing these buds hold nearly double the amount on playtime a full charge: 9 hours. The charging case, while not the most portable-friendly, gets you about two extra charges on the go as well.

10. Master & Dynamic MW08

Fancy wireless buds with appealing sound and design

Size: 0.8 x 0.8 x 1 inches | Weight: 0.31 ounces (per bud) | Battery life (Rated): 10 hours (ANC on), 12 hours (ANC off), 42 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Hybrid active noise cancellation, two-level ambient listening mode, Bluetooth 5.2

Top-notch audio

Premium craftsmanship

Lengthy battery life

Very expensive

Limited features

The MW08 is a celebrated upgrade that brings forth enhanced sound quality and impressive noise cancellation, while retaining the fancy look and construction of its predecessor. M&D stuffed 11mm drivers into these buds to give the neutral soundstage more oomph. There are two ANC modes available – Max and All Day ANC – each one engineered to handle different levels of ambient noise, though the former is the strongest and best option for blocking out most distractions. Battery life is where the MW08 earns the most praise, generating nearly 10 hours of use when enabling ANC, which is some of the highest in the category.

For its high price ($299 isn’t exactly cheap), we would have liked to see more features, and though an EQ isn’t required since M&W’s default sound profile is awesome, it wouldn’t have hurt to include it.

See our full Master & Dynamic MW08 review.

11. JBL Live Pro Plus

Dynamic audio meets powerful noise cancellation

Size: N/A | Weight: 0.35 ounces. | Battery life (Rated): 6 hours (ANC on), 7 hours (ANC off), 28 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 40 feet (12 meters) | Special feartures: Three-level active noise cancellation, ambient listening mode, customizable EQ

Energetic, customizable sound

Quality ANC

Long battery life

Spotty connectivity

Bass can be too aggressive

Another successful launch from the popular audio brand, the Live Pro Plus is a solid entry in JBL’s line of wireless earbuds that blends strong sound and noise cancellation into a familiar design. The sound profile might lean heavily on the warm end of the audio spectrum, but it provides enough room for crisp mids and highs to do their thing. Being able to fine-tune the soundstage through the JBL Headphones app is greatly appreciated; you can pick from multiple presets or create your own sound profile. There are three different ANC levels to choose from, each engineered for different environments, and JBL’s Ambient Aware setting has been vastly improved to gain better awareness of your surroundings.

A continuous issue with JBL headphones is connectivity, as exemplary on the Live Pro Plus, which has a tendency of disconnecting and reconnecting sporadically. You will also want to be mindful of song selections, as bass-heavy recordings do experience minor distortion.

Read our full JBL Live Pro Plus review.

12. Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro

Best wireless earbuds for gaming

Size: 2 x 1.1 x 1 inches | Weight: 0.2 ounces | Battery life (rated): 4 hours (with ANC on), 20 hours (with charging case | Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Special features: Active noise cancellation, Ear Fit Test, Low Latency Game Mode

Rich, clean sound

Decent ANC and an even better Transparency Mode

Companion app with special features

Touch controls need work

Low battery life

Avid mobile gamers searching for an AirPods Pro alternative to call their own may want to put their cash towards Razer’s latest flagship wireless earbuds. Sound quality has been enhanced on the Hammerhead True Wireless Pro, thanks to a new partnership with THX that feeds listeners rich, balanced sound across all media platforms (e.g., music, movies, podcasts, video games).  Gaming Mode returns and reduces audio latency when gaming on smartphones; sound effects and vocal synchronization are spot-on. ANC is also good enough to block out common distractions at home or when commuting to work.

Battery life can make these buds a tough sell for those who live on their smartphones, as 4 hours of a single charge is below standard, plus the charging case doesn’t hold as much playtime as other competitors. The touch controls aren’t very reliable either, in particular, single-tap gestures.

Read our full Razer Hammerhead True Wireless Pro review.

How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you

Battery life is most crucial when searching for the best wireless earbuds. Most models offer 4 to 8 hours on a single charge. Make sure the buds come bundled with a charging case too, so to keep them charged and stowed away during commutes. Charging cases can provide multiple charges and hold anywhere between 12 to 40+ hours of additional playtime.

Design is just as important. Ideally, you want a pair of buds that offer personalized fit and comfort, along with multiple ear tips to accommodate different ear shapes. Durability and water-resistant protection shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Next up is audio, which applies to all media formats (e.g. music, videos, games) and phone calls. Explore models with powerful drivers and customization settings that allow you to tweak sound profiles to your liking.

Let’s not forget wireless functionality. Many wireless earbuds come programmed with Bluetooth 5.0, which gives users faster connectivity, increased range (est. 120 meters max), longer battery life, and multipoint pairing to connect to two audio sources simultaneously. Digital assistant support (Siri, Google, and Alexa) falls under this section as well.

We’re seeing more wireless earbuds boast advanced features like an adaptive EQ and active noise cancellation. These are features well worth spending on extra on, if engineered properly, and will be more common as the category evolves.

How we test the best wireless earbuds

When testing for the best wireless earbuds, Laptop Magazine evaluates several factors: design, comfort, sound, and value just to name a few. Our reviewers also compare these models to similar products in the category in terms of features, fit, and pricing.

Wireless earbuds are worn over the course of a week for 2 to 3 hours at a time. During this period, we assess comfort, ease of use, and audio quality. We listen to several sample tracks across a number of music genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, and classical, while analyzing clarity, depth, and volume. Audiobooks, games, podcasts, and videos are also taken into consideration.

Our reviewers also test battery life, Bluetooth range, digital assistant support, ease of setup, and any app-enabled features compatible with laptops, desktops, and all portable devices like smartphones and tablets.

Furthermore, we test streaming music services that offer hi-res audio. To learn more about how these services can improve the sound quality on your laptops and mobile devices, here is an expert audio codec FAQ on everything you should know about FLAC files, MP3s and all other audio file codecs.

Once our testing is completed, every model is rated based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). Any product that is truly exemplary is awarded an Editor’s Choice.

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