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Best wireless earbuds 2022: budget and premium

Best wireless earbuds Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best wireless earbuds you can buy in 2022.

Wireless earbuds are everywhere, right? Walk down the street and it appears as though everyone's sporting a pair. The market has grown so rapidly and exponentially that it's now flooded with options at various price points.

The good news is you can now find a pair of wireless earbuds to fit every budget. Whether you want cheap wireless earbuds or a premium portable pair with noise-cancelling, the market (and our list below) has something for everyone...

How to choose the best wireless earbuds for you

One thing you will need to bear in mind is that everyone's ears are different, which means that whether or not a pair of earbuds are comfortable tends to come down to personal preference. We can give a bit of guidance in this area once we've tested them, but there's no substitute for sliding them into your own ears.

After comfort, you'll want to think about other factors such as when and where you're going to use them. Do they need to be water-resistant, sport-friendly earbuds or do they just need to pair to your smartphone and survive your daily commute?

Tied to this, of course, are other factors such as battery life. The best wireless earphones all have enough battery life for the average listening session but some do last longer than others. It's also worth noting the number of hours you get can vary depending on what other features you have enabled. Don't forget that wireless earbuds come with charging cases so they're kept topped up between outings.

Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) can increase battery drain, but it can come in handy if you want a more private listening experience, and some of the top pairs we've reviewed boast excellent noise-cancelling. Similarly, some sound processing modes can take a little bit extra out of your battery, but these can usually be turned off.

Other features you might want to consider include touch controls, which can come in handy if you want to skip tunes or change volume without having to take your phone out of your pocket. Many modern pairs also offer voice control via personal assistants like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri.

If you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of choice out there, don't be. You'll find the best true wireless earbuds to have passed through the What Hi-Fi? test rooms below. And if you want a bargain, don't forget to check out our pick of the best wireless earbuds deals too.

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Sony WF-1000XM4

Sony's XM4 earbuds are stunning all-rounders with excellent noise-cancelling. (Image credit: Sony)
Without doubt the best wireless earbuds you can buy right now.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: Yes
Bluetooth: AAC, LDAC, SBC
Battery life: 8hrs (+16hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: Yes
Waterproof: Water resistant
Finishes: Black, Silver

Reasons to buy

+
Clear, detailed bass performance
+
Wonderful sense of musicality
+
Comfortable
+
Class-leading battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Missing Sony’s Multipoint feature
-
Lacking ear tip choices
-
No aptX HD

The WF-1000XM4 produce one of the most dynamic, detailed and balanced performances we've heard from a pair of Bluetooth buds. Bass notes sound tight and textured, while vocals ooze refinement and sophistication. Their musical delivery keeps you coming back for more, and also makes you thankful for the eight hours of battery life, which is class-leading in this field.

The Sonys are comfortable to wear too. The new-look earpieces include touch-sensitive controls and a new ear tip design which helps with noise isolation. Combine this with the excellent noise cancelling provided by Sony's Integrated Processor V1 and you've got a pair of headphones that effectively block out the hustle and bustle.

IPX4 water resistance comes as part of the WF-1000XM4 package, as does Sony's clever Headphones Connect app for iOS and Android and clever features such as Quick Attention and Speak-To-Chat which both allow you to have a conversation without removing the earbuds. If you want the best in-ear wireless headphones on the market right now, look no further.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM4

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Panasonic RZ-S500W

Panasonic's affordable earbuds offer a lot of features and excellent audio. (Image credit: Panasonic)
Talented and affordable wireless earbuds.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: Yes
Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Battery life: 6.5hrs (+13hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: USB-C
Waterproof: Water resistant
Finishes: Black, White

Reasons to buy

+
Expansive detailed presentation
+
Excellent noise cancelling
+
Superb touch controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Fit could be an issue for some

Panasonic isn't a brand that immediately springs to mind when you think of the best earbuds. But perhaps it should be. The RZ-S500W are the company's first foray into the market and they're sensational performers for the money.

Specs are thorough, with noise-cancelling tech, an Ambient Mode, twin mics for voice calls, and battery life that totals 19.5 hours (6.5hrs from the buds and 13hrs from the charging case). A 15-minute USB-C quick-charge can deliver 70 minutes of playback. The touch controls on each bud are responsive and intuitive, allowing you to control your music and switch between noise-cancelling modes with zero fuss. 

You also get five sizes of ear tips to help with fit. We found this a little hit and miss, so we'd definitely experiment and consider mixing the sizes if it means getting a more secure fit.

Both noise-cancelling and sound quality are excellent. There's plenty of agility through the low end and loads of texture across the frequencies. Music sounds clear and there's a great deal of refinement on show, which is to be welcomed at this price level. To sum up, these Panasonic wireless earbuds are superb for the money.

Read the full review: Panasonic RZ-S500W

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Sony WF-C500

These Sonys offer a compact, water-resistant design and come in a range of colours. (Image credit: Sony)
Sony's cheap wireless earbuds really hit the spot.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: No
Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Battery life: 10hrs (+10hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: No
Waterproof: Water resistant
Finishes: Black, White, Green, Orange

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and comfortable design
+
Spirited, well-balanced sound
+
Fine control app

Reasons to avoid

-
Ordinary battery life
-
Slightly small-scale sound
-
Numerous serious rivals

Think of Sony's WF-C500 wireless earbuds as a no-frills version of the WF-1000XM4 found further up this page. They deliver a lot of what makes those wireless earbuds a success without cutting too many corners.

They're good for running and sports, thanks to their IPX4 rating, while you also get ‘fast pair’ connectivity with Android devices and ‘swift pair’ with Windows 10 PCs.

The sound is nicely balanced, there's loads of mid-range detail on show and it's presented in a cohesive and musical package.

Battery life is 10 hours from the buds themselves, which should be plenty for most, and the case provides another 10 hours. If you're looking for the best Bluetooth earbuds and don't want to spend a fortune, the Sony WF-C500 should be on your shortlist.

Read the full Sony WF-C500 review 

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus

No noise-cancelling but still a fine budget option. (Image credit: Cambridge Audio)
Another great pair of budget wireless earbuds.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: No
Bluetooth: AAC, aptX, SBC
Battery life: 9hrs (+36hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: No
Waterproof: Water resistant
Finishes: Black, White

Reasons to buy

+
Extra dynamic expression
+
Great clarity
+
Slick app support

Reasons to avoid

-
No noise cancelling

These affordable wireless earbuds hit the spot. They boast app support, customisable EQ settings and the British audio firm's innovative High-Performance Audio Mode. Your colour options are white and black.

The real selling point here (besides sound quality) is battery life. The 1 Plus provide a whopping nine hours from one charge, and you get an additional four charges from the carry case. That makes 45 hours of total run time. The fact there's no noise-cancelling onboard helps to explain the marathon battery life, as the tech can be a real drain.

The Melomanias deliver an impactful and expansive musical performance. They sound clear and more dynamic than their predecessors and there's a smidgen more detail too. If you want an affordable and accomplished pair that's up there with the best Bluetooth earphones, the Cambridge definitely warrant a closer look.

Read the full Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 Plus review

Best wireless headphones: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3

Those looking for a refined sound won't be disappointed by the Sennheisers. (Image credit: Sennheiser)
Sennheiser's latest premium wireless earbuds are its greatest yet.

Specifications

Bluetooth: aptX Adaptive, aptX, AAC, SBC
Noise-cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 7hrs (28hrs with charging case)
Charging: USB-C
Built-in mic and controls: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Spacious, refined and insightful sound
+
aptX Adaptive Bluetooth support
+
Nicely priced

Reasons to avoid

-
Earpieces slightly cheaper looking
-
Pick up wind noise

Sennheiser's Momentum True Wireless earbuds have performed consistently well in recent years and this third generation is its finest offering yet. The wireless noise-cancelling earbuds boast an improved performance that's right up there with the likes of the Sony WF-1000XM4 and Bose QuietComfort Earbuds that also feature on this list. The spec sheet is competitive and includes great battery life (28 hours) and Bluetooth codec support (aptX Adaptive), and includes the bonus of extra in-app personalisation. They're even priced cheaper than the old model.

The Sennheisers are nice and comfortable, deliver one of the most mature, spacious and refined performances in the market, and have the bonus of noise cancellation too.

Building on an already winning recipe with an improved feature set, decent step up in performance and sensible price tag, the Momentum True Wireless 3 are as competitive as ever. A brilliant pair of earbuds.

Read the full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review

Best wireless earbuds 2022: JBL Reflect Flow

The JBLs are a great entry-level option for anyone looking for a rugged pair of wireless earbuds. (Image credit: JBL)

6. JBL Reflect Flow

Some of the best (and cheapest) sporty wireless earbuds around.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: No
Bluetooth: SBC
Battery life: 10hrs (+20hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: No
Waterproof: Yes
Finishes: Black, Turquoise

Reasons to buy

+
Good detail
+
Strong bass depth
+
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be beaten for dynamics
-
Carrying case is a bit big

JBL is a heavy hitter when it comes to wireless sports earbuds, and the JBL Reflect Flow is a value-packed effort.

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 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 (below), but for fit and sound, we think the JBL Reflect Flows have the edge.

Read the full review: JBL Reflect Flow

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Shure Aonic Free

The Shures serve up an analytical sound but they're still fun to listen to. (Image credit: Shure)
Shure's first dedicated wireless earbuds are a huge hit.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: No
Bluetooth: AAC, aptX, SBC
Battery life: 7hrs (+14hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: No
Waterproof: No
Finishes: Graphite, Crimson Chrome

Reasons to buy

+
Accurate, clear presentation
+
Analytical and spacious
+
Intuitive app

Reasons to avoid

-
Case is bulky
-
No noise-cancelling

Look past the slightly bulky design and lack of noise cancelling and there’s plenty to love about Shure’s debut traditional wireless earbuds. 

The earpieces fit securely, with the aid of premium comply memory foam tips (which come in three sizes). Unlike other designs with touch-capacitive controls which can be hit and miss, there’s a single tactile button on the top edge of both earbuds here. The buttons are easy to find and the different combinations of single, double and triple-pressing make them easy to control. The accompanying ShurePlus Play App is slick, intuitive, reliable and offers more performance tweaks than we’re used to seeing at this level, too.

The Sony XM4s (above) sound a bit more fun, but the Shure Aonic Free sound precise and major in analysis. You're treated to an expansive, clear presentation across the frequencies. Music sounds layered, emotive and allows you to celebrate every nuance in your chosen source material.

Read the full review: Shure Aonic Free

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Google Pixel Buds A-Series

Google's wireless earbuds surprised us with their likeable, balanced sound. (Image credit: Google)
The latest Pixel Buds wireless earbuds get an A-grade from us.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: No
Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Battery life: 5hrs (+20hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: No
Waterproof: Water resistant
Finishes: Clearly White, Dark Olive

Reasons to buy

+
Well-rounded, clean sound
+
Comfortable
+
Reliable connection

Reasons to avoid

-
No volume touch control on buds
-
No noise-cancelling

Google's latest wireless earbuds are packed with features and come in at a very low price which is an attractive package in itself. But how do they sound?

They're light and comfortable, and while they don't offer noise cancelling, they do a good job of isolating you and are aided by rubber fins that keep them secure. They are vented, though, so some background noise inevitably creeps in, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Your colour choices are either white or 'Dark Olive'.

Battery life is okay at around five hours, plus another 20 or so from the carry case in four charges. The Pixel Buds A-Series pair with your device very easily indeed, too, especially if you're using an Android smartphone or tablet that boasts the Fast Pair feature. IPX4 water resistance means they should be ok for exercise too.

These wireless earbuds put in an admirable performance come music time, with a clean, balanced sound that doesn't lean too far into any part of the sonic spectrum. This is a great pair of wireless earbuds at a great price.

Read the full Google Pixel Buds A-Series review

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

These Bose earbuds boast some of the best noise-cancelling you can get at this level. (Image credit: Bose)
Fantastic wireless earbuds with some brilliant built-in tech.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: Yes
Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Battery life: 6hrs (+12hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: Yes
Waterproof: Water resistant
Finishes: Triple Black, Soapstone, Stone Blue

Reasons to buy

+
Exciting, entertaining sound
+
Superb balance
+
Impressive noise-cancelling

Reasons to avoid

-
Average battery life

If you want a rival to the excellent Sony WF-1000XM4 at the top of this list, look no further than these Bose. They feel lightweight enough for the average commute or exercise session (the QuietComfort are both sweat and weather-resistant) and they're great to live with. Battery life is a claimed six hours from a single charge, with the charging case supplying an extra two charges, making 18 hours in total – a decent reserve, but by no means class-leading. You can customise some features and controls, and adjust the excellent noise-cancellation, in Bose's handy companion app.

The sense of enthusiasm and excitement conveyed by the Bose buds is highly infectious. There’s power, poise and a fantastic sense of dynamism. Bass notes sound full-bodied, go deep and the QuietComfort Earbuds squeeze out lots of detail.

All in all, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are sensational all-rounders, capable of impressive musicality and topped off with excellent noise cancelling. These wireless earbuds are more than a match for any rival at this level, including the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, mentioned above.

Read the full review: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Sony WF-1000XM3

Shop around and you'll find some big savings on these excellent Sony earbuds. (Image credit: Sony)
A little long in the tooth, but still two-time What Hi-Fi? Award-winners.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: Yes
Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Battery life: 6hrs (+18hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: No
Waterproof: No
Finishes: Black, Silver

Reasons to buy

+
Musical sound
+
Good noise-cancelling
+
Excellent battery life
+
Snug fit

Reasons to avoid

-
No aptX HD support
-
Not sweat-resistant

The WF-1000XM3s offer solid and stable Bluetooth connectivity and stellar noise-cancelling, which places them above most of the competition (apart from their new siblings, the WF-1000XM4).

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 for playback and volume control 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.

They might have lost out to the newer WF-1000XM4, but these wireless earbuds represent sensational value for money and should still be on any shopping list.

Read the full review: Sony WF-1000XM3

Best wireless earbuds: JBL Reflect Flow Pro

Gym bunnies will get hours of enjoyment from these lively-sounding headphones. (Image credit: JBL)
These sporty wireless earbuds boast style and substance.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: Yes
Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Battery life: 8hrs (+20hrs from charging case)
Waterproof: Yes
Wireless charging: Yes
Finishes: Black, Pink, Blue

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable, lightweight, secure fit
+
Likeably lively, detailed sound
+
Decent battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Noise-cancelling is only OK
-
No aptX support

Yes, you can get wireless earbuds not geared towards sport that, for a similar price, deliver more detail and dynamic subtlety (look further up this list for inspiration). But, unlike these JBLs, they won’t have the finely-honed ergonomics or rugged design that's required to be hailed as ideal fitness buddies.

Within the context of wireless earbuds for exercise, the Reflect Flow Pro perform well across the board. They're waterproof, lightweight, comfortable and come with multiple ear tip fin options. Battery life is a very decent 10 hours (or eight with ANC on) while the wireless charging case stores an extra 20 hours. They also produce a lively, detailed sound that makes them easy to recommend.

Read the full review: JBL Reflect Flow Pro

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Bose Soundsport Wireless

A little long in the tooth, but these Bose buds still deliver the goods.
A fine-sounding pair of wireless earbuds, ideal for gym-goers.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: No
Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Battery life: 6hrs
Wireless charging: No
Waterproof: Water resistant
Finishes: Black, Aqua Blue, Citron Yellow

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable
+
Fun sound
+
Strong wireless performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Less-than-stellar battery life

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

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Earfun Air Pro

These Earfuns are cheap and cheerful earbuds with the added bonus of noise-cancelling. (Image credit: Earfun)
Excellent budget wireless earbuds with noise-cancelling.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: Yes
Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Battery life: 7hrs (+18hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: No
Waterproof: Water resistant
Finishes: Black, White

Reasons to buy

+
Solid, accurate bass weight
+
Effective noise cancelling
+
Classy build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Harsh upper midrange

Earfun builds on the success of its Earfun Air (below) by cramming even more features into a new ‘Pro’ variant, the main addition being active noise cancellation. There is now a 10mm driver and three mics per earpiece, too. But, considering the claims on the spec sheet, the price remains jaw-droppingly low.

They're a solid proposition for the money: they fit securely, connect easily, have reliable controls and feature basic but effective noise-cancelling profiles – for just a small premium on the Air model.

There’s also USB-C charging and wearer detection, plus the sound is pretty decent for the money – well-balanced, relatively transparent, taut and full through the bass, and musically pleasing overall. We haven't come across anything at this level that does everything these Earfuns do, as well as they do it.

Read the full review: Earfun Air Pro

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Sennheiser CX 400BT

The Sennheisers deliver impressive musicality in an affordable package. (Image credit: Sennheiser)
An affordable pair of wireless earbuds that sound great too.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: No
Bluetooth: AAC, aptX, SBC
Battery life: 7hrs (+13hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: No
Waterproof: No
Finishes: Black, White

Reasons to buy

+
Lively, detailed sound
+
Lightweight fit
+
Excellent value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life below the best
-
Not waterproof

The CX 400BT are a great option for anyone in the market for an affordable, yet extremely musical pair of wireless earbuds.

They're neither water- nor sweat-resistant but the Sennheisers do boast Bluetooth 5.1 support and a companion app. This means you're guaranteed solid Bluetooth connectivity, while the latter gives you EQ adjustment and the ability to customise their touch controls.

Tap the right earbud once to activate your phone’s voice assistant or accept incoming calls, twice to jump forward a track or rejects calls, or hold it down to increase volume. Battery life is seven hours, which is decent for the money but not class-leading.

But it's the sound quality where these Sennheisers excel. They produce an insightful and entertaining sound with bags of enthusiasm. For the money, they're difficult to fault.

Read the full review: Sennheiser CX 400BT

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Earfun Air

The Earfun Air are a cheap and cheerful option that offer plenty of bang for your buck.  (Image credit: EarFun)
Affordable and feature-packed wireless earbuds.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: No
Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Battery life: 7hrs (+28hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: Yes
Waterproof: Yes
Finishes: Black, White, Red

Reasons to buy

+
Punchy, expansive sound
+
Great feature set
+
Classy build and finish

Reasons to avoid

-
Treble needs more refinement

These wireless buds aren't from what you'd consider one of the larger, heavy-hitting brands, but they are ridiculously affordable and they sound great for the money too!

The Earfun Air Pro are also packed with features. Noise-cancelling is out of the picture at this price, but there's excellent noise isolation and these well-fitting wireless earphones feel comfy too. They're also waterproof to IPX7 standards (submersible in one metre of water for up to 30 mins), support virtual assistants and include Qi wireless charging if you've got a suitable charger to hand.

Calls sound clear, and the battery life is seven hours from the buds and a further 28 hours from the charging case. Amazingly it all feels fairly premium too. The Bluetooth 5.0 connection is solid and stable and for the money, the wireless earbuds offer an energetic and spacious sound.

If you’re after something fun-sounding and affordable, the Earfun Air wireless earbuds could be just the ticket.

Read the full review: Earfun Air review

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Superseded by the True Wireless 3 further up this list, but still highly recommendable. (Image credit: Sennheiser)

16. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

These pricey yet refined-sounding wireless earbuds are well worth a listen.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: Yes
Bluetooth: AAC, aptX, SBC
Battery life: 7hrs (+21hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: No
Waterproof: Water resistant
Finishes: Black, White

Reasons to buy

+
Refined, mature sound
+
Lightweight and comfortable
+
Nice to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Price
-
Timing can be bettered
-
aptX support but not HD

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2s produce one of the most refined sounds we've heard from a pair of wireless buds.

The earpieces are slim, so they don't protrude too much from your ears, and, more importantly, they're comfortable to have in place for long listening sessions. The noise-cancelling works extremely well and is pretty much on par with the Sony WF-1000XM3. They're nice to use too, with touch-sensitive pads on each earpiece which can be customised to control music playback and features.

Battery life is competitive too, with a single charge giving seven hours of playback and the charging case providing an additional three charges, bringing the total battery life at your disposal to 28 hours.

It's all positive and we haven't even touched on the sound quality, which is extremely refined and sophisticated for the money. Highs and lows are composed and controlled but dynamics aren't sacrificed. The Sennheisers present a detailed soundstage with impressive scale and authority. They're a little pricier than other wireless earbuds, but if your budget can stretch, your ears will be rewarded.

Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Sony WF-SP800N

There sporty Sony buds offer decent noise-cancelling and a lively sound, perfect for the gym. (Image credit: Sony)
A fine pair of wireless earbuds blessed with a dynamic sound.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: Yes
Bluetooth: AAC, SBC
Battery life: 9hrs (+9hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: No
Waterproof: Water resistant
Finishes: Black, Blue, White

Reasons to buy

+
Vibrant, buoyant sound
+
Good noise-cancelling
+
Comfortable fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Slightly coarse sound
-
Average battery life

The Sony WF-SP800N earbuds certainly try to please everyone. They want to please those who need accompaniment to their workout and also those who have a commute to endure. They aim to please those who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on some well-specified, wireless earbuds with active noise-cancellation, but also those who have spent enough on a Deezer or Tidal subscription to have access to 360 Reality Audio, Sony’s spatial audio format. And in a nutshell, they succeed.

These Sonys may have average battery life (18 hours total) and an arguably daft look (they aren't exactly discreet and do fill your lugholes), but their dynamic sound, decent noise-cancelling, and indisputable build combine to ensure they're front-runners in their field.

Read the full review: Sony WF-SP800N

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Apple AirPods Pro

The AirPods Pro are a solid blend of features, comfort and performance. (Image credit: Future)
Apple's noise-cancelling wireless earbuds put up a solid display.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: Yes
Bluetooth: AAC
Battery life: 5hrs (+14hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: Yes
Waterproof: Water resistant
Finishes: White

Reasons to buy

+
Comfortable fit
+
Impressive noise-cancelling
+
Balanced sound

Reasons to avoid

-
Noise-cancelling impacts timing
-
Key rivals sound better

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.

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. 

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 other wireless earbuds around the same price. 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

Best wireless earbuds 2022: Jaybird Vista

If you're a fan of exercise we think you'll be a big fan of these sporty earbuds. (Image credit: Jaybird)
Among the best wireless earbuds you can buy, especially for running.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: No
Bluetooth: SBC
Battery life: 6hrs (+10hrs from charging case)
Wireless charging: No
Waterproof: Yes
Finishes: Black, Blue, Grey

Reasons to buy

+
Lively, entertaining sound
+
Fullsome bass
+
Excellent fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most detailed

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. The fit is extremely secure (it's aided by tips with integrated fins), while they're also IPX7 water- and sweat-proof which should help them survive 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 earbuds further up this list, but if you’re tired of feeling your earphones slowly falling out of your ears when out running, the Vistas are a superb choice.

Read the full review: Jaybird Vista

Best wireless earbuds: Apple AirPods 3

The AirPods 3 are a solid option for anyone who lives in Apple's ecosystem. (Image credit: Apple)
The AirPods 3 are daily delights with a strong selling point in spatial audio.

Specifications

Noise-cancelling: No
Bluetooth: AAC
Battery life: 6hrs (+24hrs from the charging case)
Wireless charging: Yes
Waterproof: Water resistant
Finishes: White

Reasons to buy

+
Spatial audio support is a real bonus
+
Balanced, clear and detailed sound
+
Strong battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Beaten for transparency
-
Still no on-bud volume adjustment
-
Fit won't be for everyone

The third generation AirPods (2021) are a joy to use and offer some nice upgrades over their predecessors, the second generation AirPods (2019). The smaller stems are reminiscent of the AirPods Pro, the new "low distortion" driver brings improved sound and the IPX4 rating makes them water and sweat resistant.

If you're an Apple Music subscriber, you'll be excited to hear that the AirPods 3 now join the AirPods Pro and AirPods Max in exclusively offering the full spatial audio experience.

Battery life has been boosted from 24 hours to 30 hours (six hours from the buds themselves plus four full charges from the charging case). A five-minute ‘quick charge’ should give the AirPods 3 enough juice for an hour's playback. 

The AirPods Pro still justify their existence with superior sound, ANC and fit-friendly eartips. But the AirPods 3 are a great buy Apple users who aren't bothered about noise-cancelling.

Read the full Apple AirPods 3 review

How we test wireless earbuds

Before we put them in place we'll also experiment with any tips provided to make sure we've got a perfect seal pre-testing, and ensure that bass performance isn't affected.

We'll also start with a full charge and see how accurate battery life claims are and just how it's drained during day-to-day use.

Although we have dedicated testing facilities in London, Reading and Bath, the bulk of our wireless earbuds testing happens outside those facilities, whether that's on the street or in our busy office.

It's only when nailing down the finer details of audio quality, we head for quieter environments where we compare the wireless earbuds we're testing to price comparable models and current class-leaders at the money. This gives us the chance to come to solid conclusions and peg each pair on sound quality. 

Obviously, testing ANC wireless earbuds requires quite the opposite - here we venture outside to really put those noise-cancelling algorithms through their paces and also test any transparency mode to see how well it works.

We'll also test the call quality of the earbuds, to make sure the wearer can be heard in both calm and windy conditions (weather permitting, of course).

As with all headphones, we run wireless earbuds in for a number of hours before evaluating sound quality. We'll also download and fire up any Android/iOS apps that are available that can affect the user experience. How easy is it to use, what features does it offer, how useful are they and how well are they executed?

All our review verdicts are agreed upon by the team rather than an individual reviewer to eliminate any personal preference and to make sure we're being as thorough as possible, too. There's no input from PR companies or our sales team when it comes to the verdict, with What Hi-Fi? proud of having delivered honest, unbiased reviews for decades.

MORE:

Our pick of the best headphone deals

How to choose the right headphones

Andy Madden
Andy Madden

Andy is Deputy Editor of What Hi-Fi? and a consumer electronics journalist with nearly 20 years of experience writing news, reviews and features. Over the years he's also contributed to a number of other outlets, including The Sunday Times, the BBC, Stuff, and BA High Life Magazine. Premium wireless earbuds are his passion but he's also keen on car tech and in-car audio systems and can often be found cruising the countryside testing the latest set-ups. In his spare time Andy is a keen golfer and gamer.

  • Willhiro
    More and more I notice that the "Reasons to Avoid" are not the same for all earbuds. For example many fo them do not have AptX support, but it is only listed as "Reasons to Avoid " in only some of them. The same goes with volume. Should you guys use a list of features for all of them and clearly annotate whether the device has the features or not?
    Reply
  • hybridauth_Facebook_100000759563588
    Willhiro said:
    More and more I notice that the "Reasons to Avoid" are not the same for all earbuds. For example many of them do not have AptX support, but it is only listed as "Reasons to Avoid " in only some of them. The same goes with volume. Should you guys use a list of features for all of them and clearly annotate whether the device has the features or not?

    Trouble is they increasingly are commercialised - promoted reviews etc. etc. Sounds sensible to me but doubt they will employ that.
    Reply
  • nikolasch
    I bought the Sony WF-1000XM3 after reading your article. I asked the employee of the Sony store if they connect to a Samsung TV and he said no problem. Turns out they keep losing the connection between them and the one earbud keeps turning off and on on its own. Worse earbuds ever. Bought Jbl for a quarter of the price and they work perfectly.
    Reply
  • Bdoro
    Hello guys, have you forgotten the Jabra's? Usually you have good opinion but sometimes I wonder if you are correct in your choises based on biased contenders....
    Reply
  • Tootles
    I own the Sony buds and yes they do sound very good but they are horrible to the point of unusable for phone calls. Nobody can ever hear me. Truly awful in that respect and in no way should they be viewed as a five star product. Hugely flawed.
    Reply
  • gwarner
    I ordered the Sony WF-1000XM3 earphones, partly because off reviews like this, partly becoame I have their over ear headpones and they give a great sound.

    I was very happy with the sound on the earphones, but they have gone back. Why? Mainly because I found the touch control unusable. Repeatedly, I got the two-tap-skip-a-track result when I tapped once to pause/restart. Sometimes, I got the normal beep, but nothing else happened at all, unitl I stopped them and rerstarted. Moreover, while I really liked the feature that pauses playback when an earphone is removed, I found that sopmetimes it worked, but quite often it didn't. So I would end up with no way either to pause or to undo a false skip-forward, exept by getting the phone out.

    I tried them with three different devices, a Redmi Not 8T phone, and iPad and a Samsung Tab A6 tablet. Problams with all, so it was tthe phones, not the devices.

    I really tried to overcome this, because the sound and noise cancellation itself was great. I tried varing the force of my taps, tapping with different parts fingertips or flat of the finger/ I have never had any problem using multi-tap touch controls on any other device. I systematically experimented to see if I could make them work consistently. The performance seemed to vary while I was counting outcomes. Sometimes I got only one rogue skip in ten taps. At others, any tap, however light or careful, skipped tracks, or less frequently, did nothing burt cause a beep.

    And I returned the phones and got a second pair through my supplier, in case I had a faulty pair. No good - the touch controls were still too unreliable to use.

    This gives me no satisfaction. I really wanted these phones. The saound and noise cancellation impressed me. But they were just unusable in practice. What a shame.
    Reply
  • razorjack
    This comparison looks like a joke, you have many different models, all of them are described as 'excelent quality, best sound etc.', only few of them have AptX, nothing about ergonomics and available controls...
    WTF IS THAT ?
    Reply
  • Jmck
    Samsung conspicuous by its absence. Not only do they not make the top 20, but "key rivals sound better" than Apple Airpods. Just say Samsung.
    Reply
  • AgrusKosy
    Creative Labs got some mean buds last year. Sad not to see it on this list
    Reply
  • sensable
    Akg N400nc? Still best sounding wireless iem out now.
    Reply