If the QuietComfort 20 earbuds are out of your price range and you want something that’s a little more sleep-focused, the CozyPhones are an affordable option. It’s essentially a headband, but one with removable speakers that are only one-eighth of an inch thick, and a 52-inch cable you connect with your music device. The band provides a little bit of noise insulation, but the real draw here is the comfortable shape, useful for those who sleep on their sides as well as those who want to pull the band over their eyes to block out light. Plus, the price is low enough for everyone to give them a try.
Surprisingly, many of these wire-free models can be used at the gym and even get wet, despite the fact that each earpiece has an exposed charging contact on the inside. Check the IP rating of these; some workout-friendly earphones are only IPX4-rated, so they can stand up to sweat but might be hard to wash. Others are IPX7-rated, which means they can survive getting rinsed and dunked.
The other headbands and sleep masks we’ve highlighted are excellent products, but they do require wires, which can be annoying when you are trying to sleep. If you really don’t like the idea of dealing with a cable, this headband is wireless, with a battery that lasts around 10 hours. You will still need to tuck the receiver under your pillow, but it’s a good option if you need to go wire-free, especially if you like to roll over a few times before falling asleep.
We have been consistently impressed with JBL's recent offerings, and these headphones—designed in collaboration with Under Armour—are no exception. Our reviews editor Jeffrey Van Camp notes that these are probably best for people with medium- to larger-sized ears. They also don't allow an air gap, which can make music sound muffled if you don't adjust them. But they have a decent five hours of battery life and great features like TalkThru, which lets you lower the music and amplify ambient sound to talk to your workout buddies.
Comfort is important too, but there are a lot of variabilities there. Not all of our observations are going to hold true for everyone. Consequently, we didn’t spend a ton of time waxing poetic about this feature, because your experiences will differ from ours; you have different ears, after all! Additionally, there remain some third party foam tip options for you to consider—offering even better isolation and fit than the standard silicone tips. Good ear tips will make even the best earbuds sound even better.
At $300 (£279, AU$499), Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless are more expensive than Apple AirPods, Jabra's Elite 65t true wireless earbuds and the Elite Active 65t and Bose SoundSport Free wireless earbuds. But they sound superior to those models, with better bass and cleaner, more detailed audio. They also feature quality performance for making phone calls, with solid noise cancellation, and offer a generally comfortable fit, though they're bigger than the Jabras and stick out of your ear a little more. Their only significant downside is that they gradually lose their charge in the charging case and can end up completely dead after four days or so if you don't recharge the case.
Today they are typically used only in in-ear headphones and hearing aids, where their high efficiency and diminutive size is a major advantage. They generally are limited at the extremes of the hearing spectrum (e.g. below 20 Hz and above 16 kHz) and require a better seal than other types of drivers to deliver their full potential. Higher-end models may employ multiple armature drivers, dividing the frequency ranges between them using a passive crossover network. A few combine an armature driver with a small moving-coil driver for increased bass output.
Unfortunately, more and more phones are ditching the standard headphone jack in favor of USB-C. Besides not being able to charge and play music at the same time, this also means that your options are fairly limited if you want a good pair of earbuds to use every day. Of course, you could always use any of the earbuds on this list with a dongle, but if dongles aren’t your style then don’t worry. We have a list of the best USB-C earbuds you can get so make sure to check that out if none of these piqued your interest.
With small extrusions emerging from otherwise understated wireless in-ears, Jabra’s Elite Active 65t look like miniature versions of the Bluetooth headsets that helped put the brand on the map. But don’t be fooled by the looks — with sweatproofing, excellent sound quality, and a myriad of useful features, these little guys beat out every other pair of headphones on the market as the best workout headphones.
If you can't afford the AirPods Pro, the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 is a good alternative and are a top model for making 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 don't have active noise canceling, they sound nearly as good, fit comfortably and their noise-isolating design passively seals out a lot of ambient noise. They only cost $100.
Though the sound quality definitely favors the low-end, it’s not an overbearing experience. They keep the fun sound that many of us like without overdoing it—or forgetting about the mids and the highs. The treble, in particular, has good detail but they do get kind of harsh at high volume. Luckily they also get pretty loud. Just don’t crank them up too loud if you want to avoid noise-induced hearing loss.
KZ ATE copper in-ears: If you’re not looking to spend too much but prioritize sound quality over all else, then these might do it for you. The Kz ATE Copper in-ears are not going to outperform your favorite pair of expensive ‘buds, but for less than $20, they’re good enough. This means that you can leave your expensive headphones at home. Better yet, just leave these in your bag for when you forget your main pair and know that you have something solid to fall back on.
Beyond battery life and performance, the Galaxy Buds come with a number of cool features that help secure their hold as the top choice for Android users. Their customizable touch controls can be set to change volume or skip tracks from within the Samsung Wear app. The app also allows you to pick between five different equalization settings, letting you tailor the sound of the headphones for your ears and musical tastes.
Bluetooth headphones - Bluetooth headphones provide a two-way connection to the user’s cellphone or other Bluetooth device using Bluetooth. Fitting in one ear only, the part that is pressed slightly into the ear canal typically comes with a removable small, medium, or large tip. The Bluetooth headphones have a range of 30 feet from the device. These headsets can usually connect to multiple devices at the same time.
There really is no answer to what the best type of earbuds is for you and it should come down to a range of factors to help make your decision. If you want full freedom of movement buy true wireless earbuds. If you want to not be shackled to your phone buy wireless earphones. If you don’t want to worry about charging your earbuds all the time go wired.
Newer models manage to strike a balance between operability and layout. Some use actual tactile buttons to control playback, call management, track navigation, and volume. Some others cleverly divide controls between the two earpieces with touch panels—tapping the left ear, for instance, will skip a track backward, while tapping the right will skip forward. Despite needing to do a little more thinking before you tap, eventually the division of controls between the two earpieces reveals itself to be intuitive. So on-ear control panels are getting more creative and user-friendly, but there's still a ways to go before they catch up with traditional wireless models.
Electrostatic drivers consist of a thin, electrically charged diaphragm, typically a coated PET film membrane, suspended between two perforated metal plates (electrodes). The electrical sound signal is applied to the electrodes creating an electrical field; depending on the polarity of this field, the diaphragm is drawn towards one of the plates. Air is forced through the perforations; combined with a continuously changing electrical signal driving the membrane, a sound wave is generated. Electrostatic headphones are usually more expensive than moving-coil ones, and are comparatively uncommon. In addition, a special amplifier is required to amplify the signal to deflect the membrane, which often requires electrical potentials in the range of 100 to 1000 volts.
Sony’s Waterproof Walkman is an all-in-one device that doesn’t need to be connected to a phone or other playback source; instead, it has 4GB of storage to hold your music, and you can load up songs and playlists on your PC via the included USB cable just like in ages past. Sure, 4GB might not sound like much space, but that adds up to about 1,000 to 2,000 tracks, depending on their file size. All playback is controlled with tiny buttons on the sides of each earbud. Speaking of charge, the W-Series Walkman will last up to 12 hours per charge, and Sony claims you’ll be able to charge them in no time via their quick-charge feature.
Bose’s QuietComfort 20 aren’t specifically designed to be sleep earbuds, but they’re so good at their job that they’re also one of the best choices when your head hits the pillow (you can also use them equally well at work or play, which is handy). The active noise cancellation will help get rid of annoying environmental noises so you can get to sleep more easily, while the “Aware” button allows you to tap back into surrounding noises in case someone is calling your name or you need to listen to announcements. The tips also do a great job of staying in your ears without being too obtrusive. If necessary you can also take calls on the earbuds, but make sure you pick the model that corresponds to your phone, iPhone or Android.
Headphones connect to a signal source such as an audio amplifier, radio, CD player, portable media player, mobile phone, video game console, or electronic musical instrument, either directly using a cord, or using wireless technology such as Bluetooth, DECT or FM radio. The first headphones were developed in the late 19th century for use by telephone operators, to keep their hands free. Initially the audio quality was mediocre and a step forward was the invention of high fidelity headphones.