Welcome to What Hi-Fi's Australian buying guide for the best wireless earbuds available in 2020.
As Bluetooth becomes an increasingly viable way to transmit audio from devices that continue to lose their headphone port, the market has exploded with awesome options.
These compact alternatives to over-ear headphones utilise a variety of methods to ditch the headband and severely reduce the overall size and weight of your audio companion. This includes the regular variety with a cable connecting each earpiece, the neckband headset which uses a stiff band to sit around your collar, and the increasingly popular true wireless buds which require not physical connection between each earbud whatsoever.
This liberating design is not only great to cut down on the kit you lug around with you, but is ideal for those wanting to take music with them on a job or a workout session. Earbuds dedicated to this kind of user will often come with some kind of sweat resistance as well, and a generally more rugged design.
One of the latest trends to take off – largely thanks to industry leaders, Sony – is the notion of noise-cancelling, true wireless earbuds. These aren't so much designed for athletes but are better suited for those that regularly commute, make calls, and want comfortable listening in a tiny package.
As you can see, there's plenty on offer to choose from, so we've gone through and selected the cream of the crop across all these categories, no matter your budget.
Sony's second ever pair of true wireless earbuds, the WF-1000XM3s offer solid and stable Bluetooth connectivity and stellar noise-cancelling, which is a clear cut above the competition.
The fit is excellent, as is battery life and the all-important sound quality. They come with more tip sizes than most rivals, feature intuitive touch controls and sound wonderfully musical. Despite their tiny proportions, there's a good sense of scale. Instruments sound natural and authentic, with plenty of detail and composure to the performance.
You get six hours of playback as standard, while the case has enough power for an extra three charges, giving a total of 24 hours when using Bluetooth and noise-cancelling. Plus there's a fast-charge function: 10 minutes of charging breathes 90 minutes of life into these buds.
Quite simply, these 2019 What Hi-Fi? Award winners are the best wireless earbuds we've ever tested.
Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3
Whether you consider yourself a serious athlete or just enjoy a weekend jog in the park, the Jaybird Vista wireless earbuds should be on your shortlist. They're true wireless, so it's an earbud for each ear and the fit is extremely secure (aided by tips with integrated fins). IPX7 water- and sweat-proofing means they'll withstand intense training sessions and the odd downpour, too.
Power up the clever Jaybird app and besides pairing you can also customise their sound for your ears and also customise the controls on each earbud. There's USB-C charging - a five minute 'super-charge' will give you one hour, while a full charge gives you six hours plus an additional 10 thanks to their charging case.
All this is topped off with an exciting, entertaining sound and a big dollop of bass. What they lack in detail, they make up for in sheer enthusiasm. They might not sound as refined as some competition out of the box, but add some of your own EQ and the Vistas are a superb choice for your everyday listen and for workouts alike.
Read the full review: Jaybird Vista
JBL is a heavy hitter when it comes to wireless sports earbuds – and with the Under Armour Flash as its predecessor, the JBL Reflect Flow is a value-packed entrant to the flourishing true wireless earbuds market.
The Reflect Flows are very good indeed, especially if you desire a bass-heavy sound for the gym without resorting to on-ear or over-ear headphones. You get 10 hours of battery in the buds plus an extra 20 hours from the case, and JBL promises a quick 10-minute charge will provide an hour's playback.
With the right tip and fin combination, they produce a stable fit that holds them securely in place when tackling all manner of athletic pursuits, while that extra helping of deep but accurate bass should see you over the finish line.
One notable feature is the ambient mode: press the left bud and the volume decreases, allowing you to hold a conversation without removing the buds. It's worth comparing these to the sporty five-star Jaybird Vistas (above) as they're similarly priced and featured.
Read the full review: JBL Reflect Flow
The Momentum Frees are essentially a streamlined version of the Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless – the design has been pared back a bit, and the battery life dropped from 10 hours to six.
Crucially, sound quality hasn't been compromised one bit – there's real weight and purpose here, coupled with bags of clarity and detail. Even with more compressed tracks, these earbuds refuse to get bogged down and still manage to carve out bass, mids and highs with expert precision.
Design is simple and unfussy, with a single short length of cable running between the two earpieces. You can adjust the length via the attached slider, and opt to run the cable behind your neck or under your chin.
Said cable also plays host to an in-line mic and controls for music playback and volume. A long press on the top or bottom buttons skips track and a short one changes volume. And build quality is as solid as we've come to expect from Sennheiser.
If you can put up with the slightly shorter battery life this is a great pair of wireless buds at a very tempting price.
Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum Free
Comfortable, great-sounding, splashproof and weather-resistant for sweaty outdoor workouts... these wireless earbuds have it all. They're more versatile than most thanks to their wing tips to keep them in your ears, meaning you can head for a run and not worry about them falling out.
Sound is superb, full of punchy, powerful bass that should get you running that bit faster. They're reliable too, with no issues with the wireless signal and easy-to-use controls. The neckband cable incorporates a remote housing part-way down, but the power pack appears to live in the earpieces, which may explain the modest six hours battery life.
On the upside, they're IPX4 rated, meaning they can’t be submerged in water but will handle sweat and splashes better than normal earphones. The addition of NFC tech means they're particularly easy to pair with Android devices.
If the rather average battery life isn't a deal-breaker, you'll like these buds – they're comfortable, sound great and enjoyable to use.
Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Wireless
They might not sound quite as peachy as the true wireless earbuds at the top of the list, but these Bose's still come with plenty to recommend. They don't burrow into your ears, so are comfortable to wear for extended periods.
Designed with sporty types in mind, the SoundSport Free in-ears are both sweat- and water-resistant, and have a suitably rugged feel to them. The earbud-mounted controls are very useful and save you taking your phone out when pounding the pavement. Talking of which, the earpieces are neatly held in place by Bose’s StayHear tips which feature little wings that rest against the inside of your ear for extra stability.
Five hours of battery life should be enough for a workout, but the solid plastic charging carry case serves up an extra ten hours of power.
Despite all the sporty touches, the SoundSport Frees have more than enough sonic appeal to satisfy commuters. Sound is bold and balanced, with rich, weighty bass and crisp highs. These sporty, feature-packed buds sound great and tick all the boxes.
Read the full review: Bose SoundSport Free
If you think some gym accessories are as appealing as a middle-aged man in lycra, check out the Sennheiser CX Sport. Sure, they have neon yellow accents, but they're not 'all the gear no idea': they sound satisfyingly solid, with a powerful delivery that should get you going for one more squat.
Sporty touches include a choice of rubberised ear fins which help lock the buds in place for a secure fit, plus an IPX4 rating, meaning they're splash and sweat-resistant. Handy if your buds tend to be flung in the bottom of a wet gym bag.
Battery life is six hours and the CX Sports take around one and a half hours to reach full capacity. A ten-minute quick charge via Micro USB will breathe an hour of life back into them.
Sonically, these earbuds deliver Sennheiser’s traditional in-ear sound – so expect plenty of clarity and enough pumping bass to keep you going through a tough workout. Rivals offer a more dynamic sound, but these hardwearing wireless earbuds should please active types who like to 'go hard or go home'.
Read the full review: Sennheiser CX Sport
The AirPods Pros sit above the standard AirPods you'll find lower down this list. They're pricier, but you do get better sound quality, an improved level of comfort and the addition of Apple's own noise-cancelling technology, which is up there with the best at this money.
Unlike the standard AirPods, the Pros come with a choice of silicone tips. Once you've achieved a good seal, you'll enjoy some of most effective noise-cancelling we've ever experienced (Apple claims its adjusted 200 times per second for maximum effect).
Each bud has a force sensor on the stem – squeeze it to activate Siri, answer calls, skip a track, etc. The only disappointment is that Siri is the only method for adjusting volume without reaching into your pocket for your phone.
Battery life is a claimed five hours for the earphones with another 19 hours from the charging case. In a hurry? A five minute charge will give you another hour of listening.
The AirPods Pro earbuds are sweat- and water-resistant, albeit to a lesser degree than sporty rivals, and they don't sound as good as the Sony WF-1000XM3s. But if you're an iPhone user, you're going to want to give these superb wireless earbuds an audition. They're a joy to use.
Read the full review: Apple AirPods Pro
Considering these are Sennheiser's debut in the field of true wireless earbuds, they're very impressive. The design is suitably no-nonsense (as we would expect from Sennheiser), while they boast a healthy feature set and respectable four hour battery life. Best of all, sound quality is very balanced, highlighting nuances that others tend to miss.
They come with their own USB-C charging case – a compact, fabric covered box with secure magnetic slots to hold the earpieces. The buds pair automatically when you remove them. and the case provides two extra charges, extending the battery life to a total of 12 hours. The Smart Control app shows you the exact percentage of power left in each earpiece, which is a nice touch.
Build quality is good and the design is clean and uncluttered, with metallic rings on the exterior surface of the buds that double as touch sensitive controls.
But while these four-star wireless earbuds sound great and boast some killer features, we had a few issues with their charging case and their ability to hold a charge.
The original, truly wireless Apple AirPods were a tech marvel let down by distinctly average sound quality. This second-generation version sounds better and packs in the features, meaning pairing and switching connections is now effortless,.
These Bluetooth 5.0 buds are powered by Apple's new H1 chip and you've got the option to splash out on a wireless charging case. The big news, though, is there's been a boost in the audio department, pushing the AirPods into hi-fi territory. They produce a louder and more sophisticated sound that benefits from a natural, fairly neutral sonic balance.
Battery life is excellent: five hours of listening and another 19 hours available via the supplied (non-wireless) charging case. The launch of iOS13 added Audio Sharing, a nifty feature which allows a second pair of AirPods to connect, and listen, to a single iPhone. And thanks to Siri, you can now reply to incoming messages using your voice.
Downsides? There's no interchangeable ear tips so you'll just have to hope that 'one-size-fits-all'. But if you're an Apple fan, there's plenty to like here.
Read the full review: Apple AirPods (2019)
Sennheiser’s Award-winning Momentum family has gone from strength to strength, as evidenced by these impressive wireless in-ears. The neckband design keeps them stable and houses the battery and Bluetooth receiver. This means that the battery life is an impressive 10 hours, and the earpieces themselves are less bulky that a true wireless pair.
The main section of the neckband is covered in soft sheepskin nappa leather, so it feels both comfortable and lightweight (53g). The controls – a cluster of easy-to-use buttons – are built into the left arm of the neckband, and there's USB audio support so you can connect directly to your laptop and listen to music.
Sound is very good indeed, with a sense of space and openness that few wireless earbuds can match. If you can get on with the neckband design, these will reward you handsomely. And if not, check out the very similar Momentum Frees (above) instead.
Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear Wireless