There are three main classes of wi-fi headphones: true wireless earbuds equivalent to AirPods and AirPods Professional, full-size wi-fi noise-canceling headphones (led by Bose and Sony), and all of the budget wireless headphones that dominate the best-seller list at Amazon — as a result of there are many shoppers who cannot afford the extra high-end fashions and are seeking an affordable wi-fi headphone that delivers good worth and nice sound for decrease costs.

Granted, with so many choices, it is exhausting to slim issues down right into a best-of-the greatest wi-fi headphones record, particularly because it’s unattainable to overview each mannequin available on the market. However I am going to give it a shot. These are our present favorites (with waterproofing rankings included for earbud fashions). I’ve thought-about components like sound high quality, lively noise cancellation and the comfiness of the ear cup. Simply be aware that in 2020, we anticipate to see a deluge of new models, lots of which we noticed previewed at CES back in January, and we’ll be updating this record as new wi-fi headphones arrive. 

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Sony’s earlier WH-1000XM3 mannequin was nice. But when it had a weak spot, that was its voice-calling capabilities, significantly in noisier environments. The brand new WH-1000XM4 improves in that space and in addition provides multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you may join to 2 units — equivalent to your cellphone and PC — on the similar time. That implies that if a name is available in when you’re utilizing the headphones along with your laptop, the audio will swap to your cellphone while you reply the decision.

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 most likely nonetheless have a slight edge for voice calls, however the 1000XM4 headphones are arguably a tad extra comfy and now have another slight enhancements to noise cancellation and sound that make this mannequin a fantastic all-around selection.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM4 review.

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Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splashproof).

The second-gen Momentum True Wi-fi 2, accessible now for preorder and transport in April, aren’t low cost at $300, however they’re higher throughout than the originals, with a barely smaller, extra comfy design, lively noise canceling that rivals that of the AirPod Pro, improved battery life (as much as 7 hours versus the unique’s 4) and higher noise discount throughout calls. And, for those who do not like them in black, a white model is slated to comply with later this yr. Most significantly, although, the Momentum True Wi-fi 2 have the identical stellar sound — for true wi-fi earbuds, anyway — providing clearly superior sound high quality to the AirPods Professional. That makes them arguably the best true wireless earbuds available on the market as we speak and earns them a CNET Editors’ Alternative Award.

These use Bluetooth 5.1 with help for the AAC and AptX codecs (for units which have AptX, equivalent to Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones).

Read our Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review.

Learn extra: Best on-ear headphones for 2020

Learn extra: The best true wireless earbuds of 2020  

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Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splashproof).

Even when they do not sound as magical as you’d hope a $249 mannequin would, the Apple AirPods Pro nonetheless handle to be a fantastic pair of true wi-fi earphones with noise cancelation. That is largely attributable to their successful design and match, improved bass efficiency and efficient noise canceling. They’re a wonderful selection while you wish to make a name or take heed to music throughout your exercise. Yeah, they’re costly at $250, however the excellent news is you will use them a lot you will most likely put on the battery down — it does degrade over time and is not replaceable — and have to purchase a brand new pair in 18 to 24 months for those who do not lose them first.

Read our Apple AirPods Pro review.

Learn extra: Best wireless headphones for working at home in 2020

Most modern new design

Samsung Galaxy Buds Reside

galaxy buds live 23

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Water resistantSure (IPX2 score — sweat-resistant and protects towards mild splashes).

Say what you’ll in regards to the Samsung Galaxy Buds Reside’s bean-shaped design — sure, they’re affectionately referred to as the Beans — however they could simply be essentially the most modern new true wi-fi earbuds of the yr. Like the usual Apple AirPods, they’ve an open design — you do not jam an ear tip into your ear — they usually’re fairly comfy to put on and match my ears extra securely than the AirPods (that stated, they will not match all people’s ears equally effectively). Moreover, they’re discreet and principally sit flush along with your ear with no little white pipe extending out from them.

They ship good sound and work effectively as a headset for making calls, with good background noise discount so callers can hear you clearly even while you’re in noisier environments. Whereas they function lively noise canceling, it is delicate in comparison with the noise canceling in earbuds which have a noise-isolating design. In different phrases, purchase them for his or her design and sound, not their noise-canceling options.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review.

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Water resistantSure (IPX7 score — totally waterproof).

The Mpow X3 wi-fi earbuds sound shockingly good for his or her low value of $60, with good readability and highly effective bass, they usually even have lively noise cancellation that is pretty efficient.

Mpow appears to be often tweaking its earphones, and the X3 earbuds have been briefly taken off Amazon, earlier than returning with an replace. “The brand new model upgraded the quantity management and optimized its lively noise-canceling perform and name impact,” the corporate advised me. “It additionally added the supersoft ear caps, which [are] extra comfy to put on for a very long time.”

They did match me comfortably and securely and I acquired a decent seal from one of many units of XL ear ideas. They’re totally waterproof (IPX7) and stand up to 7 hours of battery life at reasonable quantity ranges with USB-C charging. (The charging case appears to be like like a fats model of the usual AirPods case.) Name high quality is nice — they’ve a sidetone function that permits you to hear your voice within the earbuds — however I’ve used different earbuds with higher noise discount throughout calls. I observed a contact of audio lag after I streamed a YouTube video however no issues when streaming iTunes films.

The contact controls take some getting used to — they’re somewhat wonky — and it did not assist that the directions within the field appeared to be for the previous X3 mannequin. (I discovered the current instructions online, which helped me determine issues out.) Other than a number of minor downsides, Mpow’s X3 earbuds are a fantastic worth. 

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Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splash-proof).

Samsung’s Buds Plus look basically the identical as the unique Galaxy Buds, however their battery life is rated at 11 hours for music playback (up from 6), they usually pack twin drivers for higher sound and an extra microphone in every bud to assist with exterior noise discount whereas making calls.

I used to be impressed with the sound. The audio high quality is detailed and easy, with deep, well-defined bass. The sound is richer and extra spacious than that of the unique Galaxy Buds. Nicely-respected Austrian audio firm AKG, which Samsung acquired when it bought Harman, is behind the audio. Whereas the unique Buds have been additionally “tuned” by AKG, these are a pleasant improve over the originals — and proper there with what you get with the Jabra Elite 75t, if not even a contact higher. They use Bluetooth 5.zero and help for AAC (there’s now an app for iOS customers) and Samsung’s scalable codec, which is analogous to aptX however is proprietary to Samsung Galaxy telephones.

Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Plus review.

Learn extra: Best headphones for running in 2020

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Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor to its Quiet Comfort 35 II, will not be a quantum leap ahead however these wi-fi headphones provide barely higher sound high quality, name and noise-canceling perform. Alas, these over-ear headphones price $400, however they’re robust all-around performers with as much as 20 hours of battery life for listening to podcasts, music and extra. I want the Sony WH-1000XM3’s design and match (and cheaper price tag), and when you can argue about which pair of headphones sounds higher, one factor is definite: This mannequin of noise-cancelling headphones works considerably higher as a headset for making calls. For some individuals which may be value the additional price for the wi-fi earphones.

Read our Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review.

Learn extra: Best wireless earbuds and headphones for making calls

Water resistantSure (IP55 score — can face up to heavy sprays of water).

At first look, the Elite 75t, which was initially presupposed to price $200 however now sells for $180 (£170 or AU$299), appeared extra like an evolutionary improve from the Elite 65t. However the updates turned out to be somewhat extra substantial than I first thought. The Elite 75t’s smaller dimension (the pair of earbuds and case are 20% smaller than the Elite 65t’s), its boosted battery life and USB-C charging are vital upgrades. After which there are the smaller modifications, like the brand new charging case design with magnets inside it that make it simpler to open and shut and to maintain the buds inside. Whereas the Elite 75t is not fairly as comfy to put on because the AirPods Professional and does not have lively noise canceling, it does make your music sound higher, with clearer total sound and higher bass definition, as long as you get a decent seal. Simply be aware that the Jabra Elite Active 75t provides barely higher water resistance for $20 extra.

Read our Jabra Elite 75t review.

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Water resistantSure (IPX4 score — splashproof).

Google’s Pixel Buds 2 are worthy contenders within the premium true wi-fi earbuds enviornment, significantly for Android telephones. That includes hands-free Google Assistant (for Android), they provide a snug, safe match and excellent sound high quality for true wi-fi. Moreover, they’re good for making calls and their contact controls work fairly effectively. 

At 5 hours, their battery life is not pretty much as good as some new fashions which are hitting the market, nevertheless it’s on par with the AirPods Professional’s battery life and the well-designed wi-fi charging case provides you an extra 19 hours (there’s a quick-charge function). The Pixel Buds 2 will finally be accessible in 4 colour choices (white, black, mint and orange), however at launch you may solely get them in white.

This true wi-fi earbud choice makes use of Bluetooth 5.zero with help for the AAC codec however not aptX. 

Read our Google Pixel Buds 2 (2020) review.

Juan Garzon/CNET

Sony’s WH-1000XM3 — the third era of Sony’s glorious wi-fi noise-canceling headphones — earned an Editors’ Alternative award from CNET and was arguably the highest noise-canceling headphone mannequin till the WH-1000XM4 got here alongside. Its successor is 15%-20% higher, with barely improved sound efficiency and noise cancellation, plus multipoint Bluetooth pairing (you may concurrently pair two units, equivalent to a PC and smartphone, with the headphones for straightforward switching) and upgraded microphones for voice calling. However the WH-1000XM3 headphones are nonetheless nice and their value has dropped, making them a greater worth.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM3 review.

Learn extra: Best workout headphones in 2020

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Water resistantNo (lacks IPX certification).

Because of the WF-1000XM3, Sony has lastly turn out to be a participant within the true wi-fi (AirPod-style) headphone enviornment. Whereas this pair of headphones is not low cost, so far as sound high quality, they’re the most effective wireless earbuds at this value. They match and even perhaps exceed the standard and efficiency of pricier opponents from SennheiserBeatsMaster & Dynamic and Bang & Olufsen. It additionally has a function that these wi-fi earbuds do not have: lively noise-cancellation expertise to scale back ambient noise.

It is not stellar for making calls (their noise-reduction capabilities ought to be higher) and the earbuds aren’t rated as sweatproof or waterproof. That stated, I’ve used them for mild exercises with a little bit of a sweat on the fitness center with no downside. They use Bluetooth 5.zero with help for AAC however not aptX.

Read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review.

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I’m not a fan of cheap noise-canceling headphones. I’ve actually been struggling to put together a list of models for a best noise-canceling headphones roundup because there are so few that I’d recommend buying. But Anker’s Soundcore Life Q20 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones are an exception. They’re quite decent for their regular list price of $60 and they’re frequently on sale for $10 less.

No, the Life Q20 doesn’t sound as good as premium models such as the Sony WH-1000XM3, but it sounds pretty good, which is all you can ask for at this price. It’s fairly well balanced with a reasonable amount of clarity and plump bass that’s not bloated or muddy (there’s a bass boost or BassUp mode if you want an extra helping of bass). It’s also comfortable to wear, the noise-canceling is acceptably effective, it’s solid as a headset for making calls and battery life is good at 40 hours. A simple carrying pouch is included.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX4 rating — splashproof).

Anker is known more for its value headphones, but it’s trying to step into more premium territory with its Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds, which carry a list price of $150. From a design standpoint, they share some similarities with Sony’s WF-1000XM3, although this model doesn’t have active noise cancellation. Anker says the earbuds have large 11mm drivers combined with Knowles Balanced Armature, with up to 8 hours of battery life on a single charge (32 total hours of playtime with the case) and noise-cancellation microphones to help reduce ambient sound so callers can hear you better. They charge via USB-C and also support wireless charging.

They don’t sound quite as good as the Sony WF-1000XM3, but they certainly sound like premium true wireless earphones, with rich sound that includes powerful bass performance and lots of detail. Some people may have some quibbles over the fit — I had to supply my own XL tips to get a tight seal and found the Anker’s Soundcore Liberty Air 2 a little more comfortable — but the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro are a good value. Whether you want to use them as travel headphones or workout headphones, they’ll do the job. They’re also good for making calls (they do a good job reducing background sound).

They use Bluetooth 5.0 with support for AAC and aptX.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Water-resistantYes (IPX7 — fully waterproof and sweat-proof).

Jaybird got off to a bumpy start in the world of true wireless — that’s “AirPod-style headphones” — when it released its Jaybird Run workout headphones back in October 2017. Updated to the wireless in-ear Jaybird Run XT earlier this year, the Jaybird Run earbuds were well designed but had some small performance issues that held them back from being great. But their wireless successor model, the Jaybird Vista (cue the Windows Vista jokes), include design, battery life and performance improvements that make them the quality product I’d hoped the Jaybird Run would be — and simply the best wireless earbuds for runners.

At $180 (£160, AU$280), these sweat-proof earbuds are a little more expensive than they should be, but they’re among the better true wireless earbuds to hit the market last year. They’ll appeal to those looking for a more discreet set of totally wireless sports earbuds that feature full waterproofing.

Read our Jaybird Vista review.

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Water-resistantYes (IPX7 rating — fully waterproof).

TaoTronics’ SoundLiberty 79 list for $60 but sell for around $50 (or even less). I don’t love their looks — the little chrome accent isn’t my thing — but they fit my ears well and sound decent for the money, with just enough definition and ample bass. All that said, where they really stand out is how they perform as a headset for making calls. They are five stars in that department, with excellent noise-reduction (people had no trouble hearing me on the noisy streets of New York). The company’s “Smart AI noise-reduction technology” does work. 

They are fully waterproof (IPX7 certified) and you can get up to eight hours of battery life at moderate volume levels. The charging case, which provides an extra 32 hours of juice on the go, feels a little cheap, but it’s compact and has USB-C charging.

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David Carnoy