Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2
Best noise canceling with top-notch sound
Earfun Air Pro 3
Best new budget noise-canceling wireless earbuds
Apple AirPods Pro 2
Even better Apple noise-canceling wireless earbuds
Beats Fit Pro
Best wireless sports earbuds for everyday use
Earfun Air S
Value noise-canceling earbuds with good sound
Bowers & Wilkins PI7 S2
Best-sounding wireless earbuds with small updates for 2023
JBL Tour Pro 2
Best wireless earbuds with a touchscreen display in their case
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
New Sennheiser flagship wireless earbuds
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX
Best-sounding wireless earbuds with stems
Sony LinkBuds S
Compact Sony wireless earbuds with big sound
Google Pixel Buds Pro
Excellent wireless earbuds for Android users
Nowadays when we talk about the best wireless earbuds, we’re primarily talking about true-wireless buds, which ditch the cord between the buds and are truly wireless. With each new iteration of Bluetooth — we’re currently up to Bluetooth 5.3 — and the upgraded Bluetooth audio chipsets that go along with it, we continue to see improvements to performance and battery life.
Some wireless earbuds are equipped with ear tips, while others like the standard AirPods have an open design without tips. Those are best for people who don’t like to have ear tips jammed in their ears and want to allow some sound in from the outside world. For the most part, only “noise-isolating” earbuds with silicone or foam ear tips offer active noise canceling — or noise cancelling (with a double l), as Bose and Google spell it — a feature that was once a rarity but has now become standard. But you can get decent sound quality from either style.
What are the best wireless earbuds overall?
There’s a lot of debate around this question, and it’s hard to name one single model as the best overall true-wireless earbuds. But a few models do stand out a bit from the rest of the pack, which is why we’ve given them our prestigious CNET Editors’ Choice Award. From 2022, these include the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 and Apple AirPods Pro 2 and I’m sure we’ll see some worthy Editors’ Choice candidates arrive in 2023, including the rumored next-generation Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds (the WF-1000XM4, available now, also earned an Editors’ Choice award, along with the Beats Fit Pro). These earbuds not only offer excellent ambient noise-muffling capabilities but a comfortable fit, very good sound and strong voice-calling performance. Those are the key factors I evaluate when determining which products end up on this list. Pricing is also a consideration for value picks.
I’ve fully reviewed or had hands-on listening time with all the devices on this best wireless earbuds list. My recommendations are updated regularly as I test the new models hitting the market and while the top true-wireless earbuds can be pricey, you can get surprisingly good ones for $100 — or even less. Keep scrolling to see the best earbuds 2023 has to offer.
Best wireless earbuds for 2023
Battery Life Rated Up to 6 HoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless EarbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX4 — Splash-Proof)
Bose’s second-generation QuietComfort Earbuds 2 are not only about 30% smaller than their predecessors, but their case is about 40% smaller and truly pocketable. They feature best-in-class noise canceling and improved sound, thanks to Bose’s new CustomTune sound calibration system that customizes the sound for your ears. Voice-calling performance is also significantly better than that of the original QuietComfort Earbuds.
The other big change is to the ear tips. Bose has ditched its one-piece StayEar wing tips for a two-piece Fit Kit system that features separate ear tips and “stability bands” in three size options, giving you more flexibility to get a secure fit and tight seal.
The buds initially ship in the triple black color with the sandstone color to follow later in the year.
Earfun has put out a series of wireless earbuds over the last couple of years with one important commonality: They’re very good values, made more so by frequent discounts. The company’s new-for-2023 Earfun Air Pro 3 earbuds feature the latest Qualcomm QCC3071 system-on-a-chip with aptX Adaptive for Android and other devices that support the new LE Audio standard and LC3 audio codec, which is superior to the SBC codec (they also support AAC for Apple devices).
Lightweight and comfortable to wear — I got a good seal with the largest ear tip size — these aren’t a huge upgrade over the Earfun Air S, but they are better. They have slightly larger wool-composite drivers (11mm versus 10mm), slightly improved noise canceling and better battery life (up to seven hours with noise canceling on, according to Earfun).
In short, the Earfun Air 3 deliver strong performance for their modest price, with robust bass, good clarity and a relatively wide soundstage. They also pack in a lot of features, including a wireless charging case and “multidevice” connectivity. (I could pair them to two devices simultaneously but had to pause the music on one device and hit play on the other for the audio to switch.) They’re IPX5 splash-proof and also work well (though not exceptionally well) as a headset for making calls.
Note that while the list price of these buds is $80, if you click the instant $10-off coupon on their Amazon product page and then apply the code EAP3CNET at checkout, you get an additional 20% off, bringing the buds’ price down to $61.
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Battery Life Rated up to 6 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless earbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)
The new AirPods Pro (2nd generation) are powered by Apple’s new H2 chip, which delivers more processing power while being more energy efficient, according to Apple. The new chip, combined with new low-distortion drivers, allows for improved sound that offers better clarity and depth. The noise canceling is also improved — Apple says the new AirPods have “double” the noise canceling of the original AirPods Pro. Additionally, the new AirPods add an extra hour of battery life, up from five to six hours with noise canceling on. Plus, a speaker in the case that emits a sound that helps locate your buds via Find My should they decide to hide from you.
Note that while Apple has discontinued the original AirPods Pro, they’ll remain on sale at discounted prices until supplies are exhausted. However, most people should get this newer model if they can afford it.
Battery Life Rated up to 6 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless earbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)
Hot on the heels of the third-generation AirPods, Apple has another new set of earbuds, this time from its subsidiary audio company, Beats. Technically, the new Beats Fit Pro ($200) aren’t AirPods, but they’re built on the same tech platform as the AirPods Pro. Unlike Beats’ earlier and less expensive Studio Buds, the Beats Fit Pro include Apple’s H1 chip and have most of the AirPods Pro’s features, including active noise canceling, spatial audio and Adaptive EQ. I’d venture to call them the sports AirPods you’ve always wanted. And for some people, they might just be better than the AirPods Pro.
In the past, we’ve recommended Earfun’s AirPro SV and Air Pro 2 as excellent budget noise-canceling earbuds choices (they’re still good values). But the new-for-2022 Earfun Air S may be the best of the trio, with multipoint Bluetooth pairing, the latest Qualcomm QCC3046 SoC (system on a chip) with the aptX audio codec for Android and other devices that support it. It has the same 10mm wool drivers as the AirPro SV and features surprisingly impressive sound for its modest price point. They also work well as a headset for making calls with decent background noise reduction.
The buds have an IPX5 water-resistance rating, which means they’re splashproof and can withstand a sustained spray of water. Note that the earbuds cost as low as $49 with the current discount at Amazon and you apply the CNET-exclusive discount code EFAIRS07 at checkout.
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Bowers & Wilkins has upgraded its fantastic-sounding PI7 noise-canceling earbuds. The new S2 model has better battery life and Bluetooth range, now up to 25 meters (double the previous range). Additionally, the buds now integrate into the new Bowers & Wilkins Music app for iOS and Android and have a much improved setup experience.
While not a major upgrade from the originals, the PI7 S2s, which feature a dual-driver design, are easily among the very best-sounding true-wireless earbuds. The step-down PI5 S2s, which have a single driver design, don’t sound quite as good but are more affordable.
Battery Life Rated up to 30 hoursNoise Canceling YesMultipoint YesHeadphone Type Over-ear wireless headphonesWater-Resistant No IP rating
No earbuds are perfect, of course, and not everybody will love the fit of the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds or be able to afford their high price. But if you’re looking for great-sounding earbuds with active noise cancellation, solid voice-calling capabilities and good battery life, these buds check all the boxes. They’ve been on sale lately as rumor has it Sony will launch the next-generation WF-1000XM5 earbuds this summer.
The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro offer improved noise canceling along with very good sound and voice-calling performance, plus support for high-resolution wireless audio streaming if you’re a Galaxy device owner with the right setup. That said, their biggest upgrade may be their new design and smaller size, which make them a better fit for more ears. Aside from their somewhat high price, their only drawback is that some of their key features only work with Samsung Galaxy devices.
While their sound isn’t quite up to the level of higher-end buds like Apple’s AirPods Pro 2 and the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 that cost significantly more, the Soundcore by Anker Liberty 4 earbuds have a strong set of features, including a spatial audio mode with head tracking, multipoint Bluetooth pairing, up to nine hours of battery life, wireless charging and support for Sony’s LDAC audio codec that can offer sound improvements if you have the right setup.
Compared to top-sounding buds I’ve reviewed, they lack a bit of overall clarity, accuracy and bass definition. But most people will think they sound quite good — they play plenty loud and deliver strong bass — and you can tweak their sound profile in the app or create a personal HearID Sound profile (it’s also for noise canceling).
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JBL’s Tour Pro 2 earbuds have received a lot of attention for bringing something new to true-wireless earbuds: a full color touchscreen display embedded in the case that allows you to access the earbuds’ key features and control playback as well as adjust volume levels. It’s a bit of a gimmick but also useful.
While the buds could sound slightly better for their list price, overall the JBL Tour Pro 2s are very good earbuds that offer a good fit, a robust feature set, strong battery life, plus solid noise canceling and voice-calling performance.
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Coming in at 16% smaller than the Elite 75t, the Elite 7 Pros are Jabra’s top-of-the-line earbuds in its new range and include the company’s new MultiSensor Voice technology with a bone-conduction sensor, four microphones and intelligent algorithms to deliver new “ground-breaking call quality,” Jabra says. The voice calling performance doesn’t quite live up to the hype, but Jabra has updated the buds’ firmware, adding multipoint Bluetooth pairing and slightly improving sound quality, noise canceling and headset performance. It took a while but they’re now excellent all-around buds.
These have adjustable active noise cancellation, Jabra’s HearThrough transparency mode and Bluetooth 5.2. They offer up to nine hours’ play time at moderate volume levels with noise canceling on, and nearly three additional charges in the charging case — total battery life is rated at 35 hours. The charging case has wireless charging capabilities.
The earbuds’ IP57 rating means they can be submerged in up to 1 meter of water. For those who like to use only a single bud, you can also use either bud independently in a mono mode.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds have excellent sound, improved noise canceling and voice-calling performance as well a smaller, more refined design with stabilizing fins (so the earbuds stay in your ears more securely). They’re among the best new true-wireless earbuds for 2022. They’re also one of the best true-wireless earbuds overall, giving the Sony WF-1000XM4 a run for the money.
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Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay EX buds are the company’s best true-wireless earbuds yet. They feature a comfortable, secure fit (except perhaps for those with really smaller ears), top-notch build quality, great sound, good noise canceling and improved voice-calling performance over B&O’s EQ buds, with three microphones in each earbud they help with reducing background noise while picking up your voice. While they’re out of most people’s price range, they’re arguably the best earbuds out there with stems and offer superior sound to the AirPods Pro with better clarity, deeper more powerful bass and richer, more accurate sound.
Battery life is rated at six hours at moderate volume levels with noise canceling on and there’s an extra 14 hours of juice in the brushed aluminum charging case (wireless charging is supported). The buds have an IP57 water-resistance rating, which makes them waterproof and dust-resistant. They feature Bluetooth 5.2 and multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect to two devices at the same time, such as a computer and smartphone. You can use a single bud independently and the earbuds have ear-detection sensors so your music pauses when you remove them from your ears.
The buds support aptX Adaptive for devices like Android smartphones that support Bluetooth streaming with the aptX HD audio codec (AAC is also supported). They’re available in the gold tone pictured as well as a graphite color.
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Battery Life Rated up to 9 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless EarbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)
Unlike the “open” LinkBuds, the LinkBuds S are traditional noise-isolating earbuds with tips you jam in your ears. They’re more compact and lighter than Sony’s flagship WF-1000M4 and also feature Sony’s V1 processor. While their sound and noise canceling don’t quite measure up to the WF-1000XM4’s, they’re close and cost less. They’re the Sony buds for people who can deal with larger buds like WF-1000XM4 but want 80 to 85% of those buds’ features and performance for $80 less.
Battery Life Rated up to 11 hoursNoise Canceling Yes (ANC)Multipoint YesHeadphone Type Wireless earbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)
The Pixel Buds Pro are Google’s first earbuds to feature active noise canceling. While it’s nice that they finally have a feature that a lot of true-wireless earbuds have had for a while, what ultimately sets the Pixel Buds Pro apart and makes them worth considering — particularly for Android users — is their distinct design and winning fit. That helps enhance their performance on both the sound quality and noise-canceling fronts. While not quite elite for voice-calling, they also performed well as a headset for making calls. A couple of features are missing at launch — spatial audio and a five-band equalizer — but are due to arrive later in 2022, according to Google.
Battery Life Rated up to 6 hoursNoise Canceling NoMultipoint NoHeadphone Type Wireless earbudsWater-Resistant Yes (IPX4 — splash-proof)
Take one look at the new design of the third-gen AirPods ($179), and the first thing you’ll probably think is: “Those look like the AirPods Pro without ear tips.” You wouldn’t be wrong. While they’re more fraternal than identical twins, the AirPods 3 are shaped like the AirPods Pro, with the same shorter stems and same pinch controls as those of the Pro. Aside from the design change, which should fit most ears better than the AirPods 2nd Generation (though not very small ears), the biggest change is to the sound quality: It’s much improved. Also, battery life is better, and the AirPods 3 are officially water-resistant.
What makes these Soundpeats Air3 Deluxe HS buds special is that they sound surprisingly good for open earbuds — they’re pretty close to what you get from Apple’s AirPods 3 for sound. On top of that, they support Sony’s LDAC audio codec for devices that offer it. Not too many cheap open earbuds have good sound but these Soundpeats have good bass response and clarity. They’re also good for making calls and have a low-latency gaming mode. Battery life is rated at five hours at moderate volume levels, and these are IPX4 splash-proof.
Apply the code DCCNETSP at checkout to get an additional 13% off, bringing the price down to $34 — a very good deal if you’re looking for open-style earbuds.
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Over the years, JBL has put out some decent true-wireless earbuds, but nothing that really got me too excited. That’s finally changed with the arrival of the Samsung-owned brand’s new Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 buds. Both sets of buds — the Live Pro 2 have stems while the Live Free 2 have a pill-shaped design — offer a comfortable fit along with strong noise canceling, very good sound quality and voice-calling performance, plus a robust set of features, including multipoint Bluetooth pairing, an IPX5 splash-proof rating and wireless charging.
The Live Pro 2 and Live Free 2 are equipped with the same 11mm drivers, six microphones, oval tubes and oval silicon tips. Aside from the design, the biggest difference between the two buds is battery life; the stemless Live Free 2 is rated for up to seven hours, while the Live Pro 2 is rated for 10 hours. The Live Pro 2 is available in four color options.
Other wireless earbuds we’ve tested
Beyerdynamic Free Byrd: Beyerdynamic may be late to the game, but it’s finally introduced its first true-wireless earbuds, which feature active noise canceling, up to 11 hours of battery life (with noise canceling off) and impressive sound quality. Read our Beyerdynamic Free Byrd review.
Master & Dynamic MW08: These buds may not fit everyone’s ear equally well, but they certainly have a distinct look, as well as excellent sound and a great listening experience if you can get a tight seal (I was able to get a secure fit with the largest tip). They deliver more of an audiophile sound profile, with smooth, well-balanced sound and well-defined bass.
Sony Linkbuds: The LinkBuds are, in a sense, Sony’s answer to Apple’s standard AirPods. While they don’t sound as good as Sony’s flagship WF-1000XM4 or the Linkbuds S noise-isolating earbuds, they offer a discreet, innovative design and a more secure fit than the AirPods, as well as decent sound and very good voice-calling performance. Like the third-gen AirPods, their open design allows you to hear the outside world — that’s what the ring is all about. Read our Sony Linkbuds review.
JBL Live Free 2: Like the Live Pro 2, JBL’s new Live Free 2 buds are surprisingly good. With 11mm drivers, six microphones, oval tubes and oval silicon tips, they combine a comfortable fit along with strong noise canceling, very good sound quality and voice-calling performance. Features include multipoint Bluetooth pairing and wireless charging, and they’re rated for up to seven hours with IPX5 water-resistance (splash-proof).
Beats Studio Buds: The Beats Studio Buds look a lot like the rumored stemless AirPods some people have been waiting for. Geared toward both iOS and Android users, they are missing a few key features on the Apple side of things (there’s no H1 or W1 chip), but they’re small, lightweight buds that are comfortable to wear and offer really good sound. While their noise canceling isn’t as good as the AirPods Pro’s, they do have a transparency mode and they’re decent for making calls. Read our Beats Studio Buds review.
Sennheiser CX: If you can’t afford Sennheiser’s flagship Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds, the CX are a good alternative. They feature very good sound, plus decent noise canceling and voice-calling performance. The only issue is they stick out of your ears a bit and may not fit some smaller ears. This model, which often sells for less than $100 on Amazon, doesn’t feature active noise canceling but the step-up CX Plus does (the CX Plus is also a good value, particularly when it goes on sale).
How we test true-wireless earbuds
We test true-wireless earbuds based on five key criteria, comparing similarly styled and priced models. These criteria are design, sound quality, features, voice-calling performance and value.
- Design: We assess not only how comfortable the earbuds fit (ergonomics) but their build quality and how well the controls are implemented. We also look at water- and dust-resistance ratings.
- Sound quality: We evaluate sound quality by listening to a set playlist of music tracks and comparing the earbuds to top competing products in their price range. Sonic traits such as bass definition, clarity, dynamic range and how natural the headphones sound are key factors in our assessment.
- Features: Some great-sounding earbuds aren’t loaded with features, but we do take into account what extra features are on board. These include everything from noise-canceling and transparency modes (ambient sound mode) to special sound modes to ear-detection sensors that automatically pause your music when you take the headphones off your ears.
- Voice-calling performance: When we test voice-calling performance, we make calls in the noisy streets of New York and evaluate how well the earbuds reduce background noise and how clearly callers can hear your voice.
- Value: We determine value after evaluating the strength of the earbuds against all these criteria and what the buds are able to deliver compared to other models in their price class.
Wireless earbuds FAQs
Wireless vs. true wireless: Are they different?
Before earbuds like the AirPods came along, wireless earbuds had a cord between the buds. They were wireless because they offered wireless Bluetooth streaming and didn’t have a headphone cable that plugged into your device. Some companies still make those types of wireless earbuds — the Beats Flex is one example — and some people like having a cord that allows the buds to dangle from your neck when not in use.
True wireless earbuds have no cord between them. They are entirely cord-free and link wirelessly to create a stereo pair. They are sometimes referred to by the acronym TWS, which stands for true-wireless stereo.
Are wireless earbuds worth buying?
In recent months there has been a bunch of articles about how Gen Z is making the “humble” wired headphone cool again, particularly Apple EarPods (you know, the headphones that used to be included in the box when bought an iPhone but no longer are). That’s fine — and we have nothing against wired headphones — but a cord can be a nuisance. When you’re working out or running, going totally wireless feels liberating. Also, most new phones these days don’t have a headphone jack so you need to go wireless unless you get a Lightning or USB-C headphone or use an adapter for a standard headphone with a 3.5mm plug.
You can get wireless headphones with a cord between the buds. Neckband-style earbuds are still a thing and some people like that style because you can let the cord dangle around your neck when you don’t have the buds in your ears. However, true wireless earbuds ultimately offer more freedom and are stored in a compact charging case that’s convenient to carry. And both the sound quality and reliability of their wireless connection have improved considerably over the last couple of years.
As far as prices go, while you can certainly find plenty of premium wireless earbuds, there are also lots of decent affordable models, some of which cost less than $50.
How do I keep true-wireless earbuds from falling out of my ears?
With wireless earbuds, it’s important that you get the right fit so they not only stay in your ears but so they sound and perform at their best (a tight seal is crucial for optimal sound and noise canceling if the earbuds have active noise canceling). If the buds come with silicone ear tips, you should use the bud that’s a little bigger rather than too small for your ear. Also, in some cases, like with the AirPods Pro, you can buy third-party foam ear tips that grip the inside of your ear better and keep your buds from falling out. Note that sometimes people have one ear shaped differently than the other, so you might use a medium tip in one ear and a large tip in the other.
AirPods have never fit all ears equally well, and a lot of people complain that they won’t stay securely in their ears. You can buy third-party wingtips — sometimes called sport fins — that lock the buds in your ears. But you have to take them off every time you use your buds because they won’t fit in the case.
If you have trouble keeping earbuds in your ears, your best bet is to look for a model that includes wingtips or actually integrates them into the buds’ design. You can also get earbuds that have ear hooks that wrap around the top of your ears. Several sports buds feature this design. It can be particularly appealing to bikers who can’t afford to have their earbuds drop out of their ears while riding at high speed.
What is considered good battery life for true-wireless earbuds?
A battery life rating of five hours is considered adequate but many of the latest buds offer six hours or more of battery life with noise canceling on. Battery life increases if you don’t use noise canceling. Some earbuds now deliver over 10 hours of battery life with noise canceling off.
How do I clean my wireless earbuds?
We have an article on how to clean your AirPods that also applies to other earbuds. But if you don’t want to read that, the condensed version is this:
Wipe down both the buds themselves and ear tips with a slightly dampened soft, dry, lint-free cloth (like the kind you use to clean glasses or your phone’s screen) and avoid using any soap or harsh cleaning liquids. A 70% isopropyl alcohol wipe or a Clorox disinfecting wipe is OK but avoid getting too much moisture in any ports or inside the buds themself. You can also use a toothpick for any little crevices or a Q-tip with a bit of alcohol on it. Avoid saturating the Q-tip with alcohol. Finally, wait a few minutes until any moisture evaporates before using the buds.