What are the best true wireless earbuds?
Best wireless earbuds: True wireless headphones are hugely popular and 2020 has seen a flood of new earbuds enter the market.
To help you sort the wheat from the chaff we’ve chosen only the best options from premium priced earbuds to affordable true wireless. Whether you’re after the ultimate in wireless sound, need a pair that can do noise-cancelling well or are after a cheap pair that sound good, there’s plenty to choose from on this list.
Directly below is a summary of our top picks. Scroll down for a more in-depth guide to each entry as well as links to our reviews.
- Best wireless earbuds: Sony WF-1000XM3
- Best sounding wireless earbuds: Grado GT220
- Best sounding wireless earbuds: Sennheiser Momentum TW 2
- Best budget wireless earbuds: Cambridge Melomania 1
- Best true wireless connection: Shure Aonic 215
- Best true wireless battery life: Lypertek Tevi
- Best true wireless build quality: Technics EAH-AZ70W
- Best Apple wireless earbuds: Apple AirPod Pro
- Best rugged wireless earbuds: SoundMagic TWS50
- Best affordable ANC earbuds: Urbanista London
The best overall earbuds
- Great musical sound quality
- Super noise cancellation
- Snug, comfortable fit
- Rock solid wireless connectivity
- Great with all types of music
- Adaptive Sound Control can be intrusive
- No aptX
The WF-1000XM3 are a great-sounding pair of headphones, and while subsequently released have bested them in the audio arena, as a complete package the Sonys have proved hard to beat.
And that’s in part due to their impressive sound performance that’s balanced in its tone and musical in its approach. Give them any type of genre and they’ll refused to be flustered by anything you throw at them, revealing plenty of detail in the midrange and necessary ‘oomph’ in the bass regions to give tracks impact.
The ANC is still the best we’ve experienced on a true wireless so far, and battery life with ANC on is a steady 24-hours. Wireless connectivity is an improvement over the first-gen pair, though the omission of aptX is a disappointment.
- read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review
Super-sounding wireless earbuds
- Accomplished at every aspect of music-making
- Light and (eventually) comfortable
- Good battery life
- Don’t look or feel £250-worth
- Some gaps in specification
- Can be tricky to position
The GT220 are the first from illustrious headphone brand Grado, and given their pedigree in the audio field, these wireless earbuds live up to the brand’s bar for high-quality sound.
At £250 they incur a premium and they lack some of the features that come to define expensive true wireless earbuds such as active noise cancellation. They also look surprisingly plain – aside from the Grado branding they verge on the anonymous. But they’re fairly lightweight to place in the ear and they’re comfortable to wear once a good fit has been found. Battery life is 36 hours so these earbuds should be able to last a good while.
Really, the GT220 are all about the sound and in terms of fidelity and musical enjoyment, we’d rate none finer than the Grados at this moment in time. Tonally they’re impeccable: bright at the top end, lathered with detail in midrange and offering deep bass, they are a super-sounding pair of wireless earbuds.
- read our Grado GT220 review
Sennheiser Momentum TW2
- Expressive, lush sound
- Good fit
- Robust feature set
- ANC and Transparency Mode tax battery life
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 are the German audio brand’s second stab at a premium true wireless, and they improve in several ways over the original with the inclusion of active noise cancellation, improved battery life, and a more ergonomic design.
The inclusion of ANC is a welcome addition, by it’s not as strong as some other efforts on this list. It reduces traffic and voices to a less noticeable hum, but the ANC is reliant on achieving a good fit and setting the volume appropriately for it to have the impact required. Battery life is 28-hours, although using ANC and bud’s Transparency Mode can noticeably tax the length of battery life available.
The audio is what you’ll be buying the MOMENTUM TW2 for. It’s capable of delivering a rich and expressive sound, with bass deeper and warmer than other alternatives, top-end frequencies expressed with detail and clarity. There are more ‘attacking’ sounding pairs of earbuds available, but few entertain as much as these do.
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
Excellent affordable earbuds
- Great battery life
- Comfortable fit
- Poised, energetic sound
- Grey finish is a bit austere
- Touch controls take some getting used to
The bullet-shaped design and grey finish of the Melomania 1 mean they’re not the most attractive of looks (they do come in black), but the sound is much more compelling than their aesthetics.
Battery life is excellent at nine hours off a single charge and 45 in total. They come toting aptX HD for high-quality Bluetooth streaming, a feature even some premium wireless earbuds don’t bother with. The controls can take some getting used to as there’s only one button and you’ll need to learn the various taps to operate it.
At this price point they Melomania 1 produce an accomplished and convincing sound with great integration across the frequency range. These earbuds hit the sweet spot of performance and price.
- read our Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 review
Shure Aonic 215
Excellent audio performance
- Open, balanced, detailed, punchy and all-around splendid sound
- Decent battery life
- Robust wireless connection
- Flat-out odd looks
- App updates can’t come soon enough
The Aonic 215 have a rather unique look with their rather bug-like antennae. Though the design may raise a few eyebrows, they deliver when it comes to audio quality these are superstars.
With SBC, AAC and more pertinently aptX, the Aonic 215 can deliver on the promise of high-quality playback. battery life is 32 hours, more than enough to get through at least a week of use. The design takes a while to get used, the controls house on the bulbous end of the stem and the earbuds using an over-ear hook with a snug and comfortable fit.
Music shines with the Aonic 215 providing deep bass and treble that offers plenty of shine and bite. The soundstage is broad and well-defined and dynamically they lap up shifts from high to low and vice versa. If you can past the looks, they’re an impressive true wireless pair.
- read our Shure Aonic 215 review
Excellent budget performance
- Confident, lively sound
- Polished build quality
- Long battery life
- Comfortable to use
- Not much at this price
If you’re on a budget, we suggest you have a look at the Tevi. They’re one of more assured and confident listens you can find for less than £100.
They’re comfortable enough to wear for prolonged listens and at 70 hours if you include the charging case, the battery life is like the Energizer battery of wireless earbuds. While the original design is a rather simple and polished affair, they’re available in a more distinctive pink finish.
aptX support means they can handle higher-quality files and the sound they produce is smooth and lively. Dynamically they punch above their price point and detail is handled well with the Tevi uncovering as much as the can. Timing is excellent, and tonally they’re well-balanced calling up plenty of power when needed. The Tevi show that enjoyable wireless performance doesn’t have to cost the earth.
- read our Lypertek Tevi review
One for lovers of music
- Decent audio quality
- Solid battery life
- Effective noise cancellation
- Very chunky
For music fans, Technics’ first pair of true wireless earbuds are an excellent option. The design is fairly unassuming, but they look sleek and build quality is solid for the price.
Battery life is solid with 19.5 hours in total, though you can get more elsewhere. Like many other premium earbuds the Technics boast noise-cancelling and it proves to be reliable, fending off sounds to leave you with your music.
The sound is well-balanced, detailed and dynamic, with good separation of the various frequencies, with a precise low end, good detail in the midrange and detailed and defined treble reproduction.
- read our Technics EAH-AZ70W review
Apple AirPods Pro
A pricier, more feature-rich AirPod earbud
- Much improved design over original AirPods
- Excellent noise cancellation
- Well-integrated with the Apple ecosystem
- So comfortable
- ANC strength can’t be manually altered
Without the original AirPods there might not be a true wireless market as we know it. And despite being one of the first to market, we’ve never been particularly satisfied with what Apple has produced until the AirPods Pro.
The AirPods Pro fulfil the promise of a true wireless design better than the standard AirPods ever did. They’re comfortable to wear, slotting into the ear rather than hanging off the ear. That said the capacitive controls could used improvement – grabbing the stem literally loosens the grip, and there aren’t any controls for volume unless you ask Siri or pull out your phone.
Battery life is 24-hours, and active noise cancellation is very good, though it lacks any way to customise it. Transparency Mode is handy feature, offering a way to listen to the world around you. With deeper bass, and better detail communicated in the midrange area, the Pro aren’t to be discounted when it comes to sound. Their warm tone is appealing, though several other earbuds offer more fidelity. If you’re an Apple user, the Pro are a no-brainer.
- read our Apple AirPods Pro review
Likable and affordable
- Light, compact and comfortable
- Detailed, informative and coherent sound
- Convincing tonality
- Direct rivals offer better battery life
- Not the most out-and-out dynamic listen
SoundMagic have been putting out great budget headphones for years, and they’ve done it again with the TWS50, their first go at a true wireless.
We’ll admit that the tadpole-like design is a bit odd, but the TWS50 are a compact and comfortable fit. The rotating ‘shell’ case with its 80’s-like digital clock is also a bit odd, but we’ll accept it given battery is a lengthy 30 hours in full. With a Bluetooth 5.0 connection and aptX support, audio proves to be appealing with a detailed, well-defined and wide soundstage, punch rhythms and a convincing sense of tonality. The only real issue of note is their less than assuredness with dynamic variances.
- read our SoundMagic TWS50 review
ANC on a budget
- Solid sound
- Impressive noise cancelling
- Comfy fit and compact charging case
- Good range of features
- Better sound can be had for less
- Bluetooth connection can be a bit sporadic
- Can’t skip tracks on the earbuds
ANC is not often seen at budget prices, and the Urbanista London is the first time we’ve seen proper ANC feature on a true wireless this cheap.
And the Londons mark the occasion as the Urbanista’s best true wireless so far. Battery life meets expectations and the audio is solid: refined and clearer when ANC is activated. It’s not the most detailed of performances with a slight warmth to its tone, but it does carry a bit more low-end oomph than some others at this price are capable of.
The London’s ANC performance is surprisingly good for the price, suppressing plenty of noise as you walk through a city. One issue we’ve had is with the wireless connection, which depending on your device, can be rather spotty.
- read our Urbanista London review
How we test the best true wireless earbuds
We use every set of true wireless earbuds for at least a week before scoring. Not just anybody can review a pair of headphones. You don’t need superhuman hearing to tell what’s good, but you do need to know what to listen out for.
Our headphone tests are done by some of the best and most prolific reviewers in the industry, with years of experience listening to everything from the plasticky freebie earbuds that come with your smartphone, to five-figure beasts of glass and marble. We love music and we want your tunes to sound good, too.
So we listen every pair of headphones we can get on or in our ears. We use a variety of sources, from basic MP3s playing on a laptop to high-quality tracks on dedicated hi-res audio players.
Our test tracks are wide-ranging to give headphones a thorough challenge. They’re also familiar, so we know every track backwards, and we know which bits might trouble the lesser performers.
We listen again and again, and we do that for weeks in case the sound changes – because it usually does. Then we’ll listen to similarly priced rivals and come up with a verdict that reflects the performance and features for the money.
Still looking for a headphone to buy? If you’re interested in delving deeper into other types, here are other pages that go into greater detail.