Best True Wireless Earbuds of 2021 – Buyers Guide

How we chose the best true wireless earbuds of 2021?

Choosing the best true wireless earbuds is a tough process, so we have decided to put together this list of our favorite models on the market right now.

We have been getting sent lots of these truly wireless earphones that have no cables, and we have quickly come to realize that a lot of them aren’t everything they are claimed to be. There are some very awful products on the market and some excellent ones. Choosing the right ones can be confusing but let us try to clear that up a bit.

I will be sincere in my opinions of the current state of the wireless earbud market. Within this buyer’s guide, I will only recommend those that I feel are worthy of purchase and offer good value for money to the buyer.

Most tech sites write these articles to generate ad revenue, and they also notice list earbuds that they have never actually tried. They are just trying to find an earphone to slot it in at a certain price point and generate revenue for their site.  I won’t be doing that here because if I don’t want you to get ripped off at the end of the day, I want you to get the most bang for your buck and be happy with your purchases. 

Companies need to make these sorts of products better, and there is no point in being an early adopter if the earphones don’t sound as good, feel as good, or last as long as a similarly priced set of Bluetooth headphones with a connecting wire or neckband.

There are very few good true wireless earbuds on the market right now, but there are some amazing ones that I have enjoyed testing over the past few months, and I am starting to be sold on the idea of a life without cables. Of course, having no cables is a very freeing experience so let’s get on with the list of the 10 best true wireless earphones you should buy in 2020.

True wireless earbud technology has evolved!

OK, so there are good products on the market, but there is a whole host of re-branded OEM junk for the most part. These are an absolute waste of your money and should be avoided. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell which is which; that’s the main problem. 

Let me explain. 

Ever since Apple was released, the Airpods other companies have jumped into the market with barely passable products to get a slice of the action.  There are all sorts of issues with these earphones ranging from poor connectivity, short battery life, and sometimes the sheer size. 

In this list, we want to recommend wireless earbuds that actually work. However, unlike other headphones and earphone review sites, we have actually tested all these earbuds listed below. We will call out the ones you should buy based on our criteria for sound quality, features, functionality, and price.

Why are we doing this?

Many people who don’t know better are buying these things from the brand name and amazon ranking and thinking they must be good when they really aren’t.

Audiophile On will always take the readers’ side, even if that paints us in a bad light with brands. This site is for the benefit of the readers and not earphones and headphone companies. If a company wants a positive review, then all we ask is they make a good earphone…. It’s that simple.

Now onto why many true wireless earphones are not worth buying. It really comes down to size. Companies are trying to fit a whole lot of tech in a tiny space and, in doing so, are running into issues. Unfortunately, we are still at the early stages of this type of product lifecycle. More people are shifting away from wired earphones due to mobile manufacturers removing the 3.5mm headphone jack from their flagships. After an initial barrage of low-quality products, I feel the market is now pretty robust, and there are many good wireless earphones to buy in 2020.

Things to consider when buying true wireless earbuds!

There are a few areas that really stand out to me when buying this type of earphone. Of course, none of the earphones I have tested to date are perfect, but if you can find a good balance in these areas, you should have an excellent user experience.

SIze & Comfort

First of all, you want something that fits. 

A lot of truly wireless earbuds are massive and barely fit inside the ear. Apple got this right on the Airpods by hanging the battery and receivers from that weird-looking pole that hangs down from your ears. Other companies, for some reason, decided to build outward,s and that meant wide profiles and poor balance. 

Overly bulky earphones will be hard to fit, especially if you have small ears, and the distribution of the weight at the back end makes them kind of hard to keep in place if you are doing anything more strenuous than sitting still.

I suggest you look for a nice ergonomic design that will fit snugly in your ears, create a good seal, and not fall out under movement. If you want to see a poor example of design and one of the worst fitting earphones on the market, look no further than the Master & Dynamic MW07. Conversely, if you want something with an amazing fit, then the Kinera YH623 earphones.

Sound Quality

Over the past two years, I have tried around 60 pairs of wireless earbuds, and 50% of them have sounded absolutely shocking. It is bad by audiophile standards, and how anyone could notice that the sound is horrible. Weak and thin bass is the most common thing and is often combined with a drawn-out thin overall sound.

The other fault I see is a lack of volume. Some of these earphones do not get loud enough to make your music sound enjoyable. It can be quite frustrating to have your volume-limited; I want earphones that can go a little up from my usual listening volumes, and I don’t’ want to be running my earbuds at 100% due to the obvious drain on the batteries resources.

This year we have seen the sound being taken very seriously. The drivers’ standards to produce the sound have greatly improved and a better focus on the tuning.

Please connect (aka Bluetooth connectivity weakness)

Finally, you might have pairing issues. Yes, some companies have actually sent me earphones where one of the earbuds lags slightly behind the other during playback. For the record, they get crazy when we refuse to write a review or recommend them to our readers. 

At this point, our response has been pretty standard.  If you want a good review of your headphones, make good headphones. Do not just do the bare minimum and expect a positive reaction.

The good true wireless earphone companies have really stepped up their game in this area, and it has been a revelation. Bluetooth 5.0 is fast becoming the standard of this technology, and many manufacturers have started offering a low latency mode. Low latency is important if you watch a lot of videos. Latency, in this case, is described as the lag between what you see on the screen and what you are hearing. So your earphones should be up to time and in sync with low latency enabled when watching a movie, youtube, or gaming.

Battery Life

Battery life on wireless earbuds has always been an issue. You have a minimal product that is doing an awful lot yet still has to remain small and light enough to fit in your ears.

Run time is about 6-8 hours, with further portable playback coming from the integrated charging cases in which you charge the earphones. This works well for most situations, but you might run out of juice on a long-haul flight or extended camping trip, etc.

Audiophile On’s Best True Wireless Earbuds Buyers Guide

  1. Sony WF-1000XM3
  2. Apple Airpods Pro
  3. Jabra 85t
  4. Sabbat E12 Ultra
  5. Bose Quietcomfort
  6. Asimom True Wireless Earbuds
  7. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
  8. Creative Outlier Air 2

1. Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds
Sony WF-1000XM4 – The best wireless earbuds of 2021 test winners

Best Features:

  • Comfort – Average
  • Sound Quality – Excellent
  • Battery Life – 6 Hrs (ANC enabled) 8hrs (ANC off) – Quick charge 10 mins for 90 mins playback

Recommendation – Buy (A++) Leaders in tech and innovation

I used to hate the original Sony WF-1000X. An earphone with many grand ideas but didn’t even come close to pulling them off. They were fiddly to sit in your ears, the sound was bad, and the battery sucked. A few years later, we have the gen 4 version, and they are brilliant, for lack of a better word.

Sony has aggressively positioned itself right across the premium tech market with TVs, cameras, and high-end headphones. For the first decade and a half of this century, they looked like a company that had lost its way. But when it comes to audio, they are up there with the best.

The WF-1000XM4 should be considered by anyone seeking the best true wireless earbuds because they don’t just have a lot of features; they are class-leading in most of those features as well.

The noise-canceling is exceptional, and while not on a par with their own full-size headphones, they are the best I have ever heard from an in-ear model. They also have touch controls, passive modes, bass modes and support 24-bit high-resolution audio.

The only downside here is the price tag; with an RRP, they are one of the most expensive models on the market. However, if you want a set of TWS earbuds and don’t want to compromise, then I highly suggest checking them out.

2. Apple Airpods Pro

Apple Airpods Pro
The Airpods Pro are still the best wirless earbuds for users of Apple devices

Best Features:

  • Comfort – Excellent
  • Sound Quality – Very Good
  • Battery Life – 4 hours (tested), 1-hour quick-charge from 5 mins in case.
  • Extra Features – Noise-canceling, touch controls, integrated sensors.

Recommendation – Buy (A+)

Apple went big on the latest iteration of the companies’ hugely popular Airpods. The original airpods were iconic but were certainly flawed. Apple has changed that, and if you have an iPhone, these are the best earbuds you can buy right now.

The pro model’s design is the biggest change as, for the first time, the airpods come with an in-ear shell meant to be used with eartips. Using these is a huge step up from the original as they feel comfier and stay in your ears a whole lot better.

It’s not just been an aesthetic upgrade either the Airpods pro is brimming with technology that puts them on par with many other flagship earphones on this list from well-known brands.

You now get integrated touch controls that allow you to play, pause, and skip tracks, as well as accessing Siri and activating the noise canceling. Sadly there is no way to control the volume from the earphones, so for that, you still need to use your phone or laptop.

Yes, I did say noise canceling; the Apple Airpods Pro is one of the first ANC earphones that offers significant ambient sound reduction benefits. Apple even went as far as creating pressure equalization on the earphones, so you don’t get the sucked-out hollow discomfort associated with this technology’s cheaper interactions.

The sound is the best Apple has to offer, its tight and punchy bass is great, and the overall tuning is pleasantly smooth and resolves good detail—Apple’s best earphone to date and one that simply works with little frustration.

Link: Official Apple Airpods Pro Webpage



3. Jabra Elite 85t

Jabra 85t wireless earbuds

Best Features:

  • Adjustable ANC allowing for 11 customization modes
  • Sound Quality – Excellent
  • Battery life – 5.5 hours and 1hour playback from 15min charge when flat
  • Qi wireless charging

Recommendation – Buy (A)

The Jabra Elite earphones have been a trendy alternative to Bose and Sony over the past few years, and with each new model, they seem to add the sort of refinements people are asking for.

Jabra’s current flagship TWS is the Jabra 85T earphone that is full to the brim with state-of-the-art technology and a solid reputation.

The 85t is built off the back of the very successful Jabra 65t, and the refinements take them to the next level. This model is 20% smaller overall, and the awkward protrusion of the 65t antenna has been rounded into the 85t housing in a more ergonomically pleasant manner.

The sound is excellent and surpasses that of the Airpods pro. It’s clear and clean with good detail and a fairly wide soundstage. The bass hits hard when it needs to but does so only when necessary, meaning that voices don’t come across overly boomy during calls.

This is the best and clearest sounding headset we tested on the subject of calls, thanks to the 4 microphones reducing ambient noise and increasing clarity.

The Jabra does not feature noise cancellation, but with the excellent performance and fairly affordable price, we think this is a great buy, especially if you take many calls through your earphones.

 


4. Sabbat E12 Ultra

Sabbar E12 Ultra earphones
Sabbat E12 Ultra – The best budget wireless earphones 2021

Best Features:

  • Comfort – All-day comfort and secure fit
  • Sound Quality – Fantastic deep, punchy bass
  • Battery Life – 6-8 hour
  • Recommendation – Definitely buy if you are on a budget
  • For those who might not be in the know, Sabbat is one of the highest regarded budget true wireless earphones on the market in 2021. Over the past few years, the company has had great success in delivering audio products that punch well above its weight.

The latest earphone from Sabbat is the E12 Ultra which builds on the companies early designs, and for the money, it is simply unbeatable.

The earphones sound incredible, easily good enough to compete with wireless earbud 3 times the price, and you compromise very few areas. You can read our full review to see why we recommend them so highly but to cut things short, here’s a quick summary of the best features.

Build quality is great, featuring resin shell with metal nozzles. They feature Bluetooth 5.0 and have a turbo mode to reduce latency when gaming or watching movies. Each earphone has an integrated touch control pad to allow you to skip, play pause, etc. The sound is excellent, and they use high-quality drivers.


5. Bose Quietcomfort Earbuds

Bose Quietcomfort Wireless Earbuds

Best Features:

  • Comfort – Excellent ergonomic design
  • Sound quality – Above Average
  • Outstanding noise cancelation makes them great for commuting

Recommendation – A decent buy on par with the Sony and Apple models

There was a lot we liked about the Bose Quietcomfort earbuds and whilst we would recommend them I don’t personally like them as much as the Sony. 

The sound was fantastic and they actually managed to display some decent bass response but the detail was lacking. The highs are nice and smooth and it’s one of the few earphones on our test that displayed clarity here.

Comfort is up there with the best thanks in part to the companies Truegrip ear tips that keep them well seated in the ear canal. We did have issues with the left earpiece cutting out at times though and looking online it seems others have experienced similar (although occasional) dropouts.

They have been on the market for some time now and I feel that while the Bose is still a very good set of earbuds they are missing some features we find on other models. They are not a bad buy by any means but I think at this point there are some better options available.


6. Asimom True Wireless Earbuds

Asinom wireless earbuds

Best Features:

  • Comfort – Extremely comfortable
  • Sound quality – Good (Basshead focussed)
  • Battery life – 7 hours with 1.5 hours charging to 100%
  • Low price but excellent performance

Recommendation – No frills yet solid budget wireless earphone

These are my own personal pick for the best budget TWS earphones. Out of testing maybe 100 true wireless models over the past few years, I think I know a thing or two about getting a good fit. What I can say is the Asimom is one of the best fitting, most secure, and most comfortable true wireless earphones I have ever used.

No matter what I do with them in they just never come loose. A lot of that comes down to the uniquely designed ergonomic body that seems to just fit in the ear and disappear. The seal keeps them well seated in your outer ear.

The battery life is great at 7 hours and the carry case is good for three charges and is incredibly small. The sound is very bass orientated which makes them great for the gym, a run, or a workout but less so if you are a fan of a more transparent listening experience.

Overall these are my favorite TWS right now and the added bonus is they don’t break the bank.


7. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Sennheiser Momentum 2 true wireless earbuds

Best Features:

  • Comfort – Excellent
  • Sound Quality – Very Good
  • Battery Life is ok but not class-leading

Recommendation – (B+) Great quality but very expensive and have a high latency

Did you think we were going to list a bunch of earphones like other sites? No, we also want to warn you of the bad ones. For me, the current generation Sennheiser Momentum wireless 2 is not worth recommending when there are so many better-featured earphones on the market.

The Sennheiser does a lot of things right. They are very comfortable earphones that I was able to wear for hours with little to no discomfort. The sound is also excellent. However, there were several issues that I can’t in good conscience accept.

Firstly the real battery life test results we were getting were closer to 5 hours than the suggested 7. The next is they have to be one of the worst delayed earphones when it came to our movie tests. I found that the latency was so high it made it very frustrating getting through a movie, and worse, they were almost impossible to game with.

Finally, there is the price stage with RRP set by Sennheiser around the $300 mark. They simply aren’t worth the money when they are outperformed by Sony, Apple, and Jabra’s earphones on this list.


8. Creative Outlier Air V2 True Wireless Earbuds

Creative Outlier Air Earbuds

Best Features:

  • Cheap
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Comfortable Design

Recommendation: Buy – One of the best earbuds on this list regardless of price.

I have to admit I was blown away by the Creative Outlier true wireless earbuds. I had gotten into the upcoming review, unsure what to expect but have been more than pleasantly surprised because, for the money, these little things just cannot be beaten.

The sound is up there with the best we have tested with nice smooth mids and punchy lows that remain free from distortion even when the music is pushed very loud. The connection is the best we have tested, and we were able to walk up to 16 ft without losing the wireless connection.

Battery life is outstanding, with earphones running for up to 10 hours from a single charge, and you get 20 hours when used in combination with the carry case. An Excellent earphone that is well worth consideration.


Conclusion 

True wireless earphones are a great concept but still need time to mature.  I feel that far too many of these styles of earphones have been released to meet a deadline and not because they actually improve the user experience. If I were going to buy any, it would either be Apple Airpods, Huawei Freebuds, or the Jabra Elite. 

That is if I had to choose. In reality, I wouldn’t use any of these as they are significantly outperformed dollar for dollar by Bluetooth and wireless earphones with neckbands. It’s certainly an area I will continue reviewing and looking into in the future, but right now, they just don’t enhance my user experience to justify the expense.

Audiophile Onhttp://www.audiophileon.com
Audiophile On is a website dedicated to high-end audio products. With over 15 years as a reviewer, all articles are hand-written by one person to allow the comparison of products. Headphones, earphones, speakers, amplifiers, or DAC's we cover here.

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

1,208FansLike
7,246FollowersFollow
2,535SubscribersSubscribe

Latest Articles