Gone are the days when listening to music or podcasts on your mobile device meant having to deal with a tangle of wires to connect via standard audio jacks. Also gone are the days when audiophiles would fear losing significant sound quality when going wireless.
While it is true that there was a time when listening to Bluetooth headphones was an experience akin to listening to albums recorded inside a tin shack, this is no longer the case.
Bluetooth technology has now been around for more than two decades, and it has vastly improved since it was named after a Nordic king who was able to unite communities fractured by Viking conflicts.
As long as you obtain the right Bluetooth headphones for your personal computing devices, you do not have to worry about sound quality, and you also have the choice of wireless earbuds, which work with a different kind of connectivity protocols. The choice is yours in this regard, but you should consider a few factors before committing to a purchase.
Best Bluetooth Earbuds: What to Look For
First things first: although they are used for the same purpose, Bluetooth headphones and truly wireless earbuds are not the same. The latter take advantage of radio frequency waves to deliver sound to your ears while the former transmit data that is encoded as audio files and decoded into sound.
Bluetooth connections also involve radio waves, but software connections are made and processed by a computer chip embedded into the hardware; wireless headphones make use of transmitters.
In terms of range, wireless headphones are your best deal because they can transmit to a distance of 30 meters, which is about a third of a city block or 100 feet.
With Bluetooth headsets, your range drops to about nine meters or 30 feet, which makes more sense when you intend to listen to playlists or podcasts stored on your mobile device.
As for sound quality, you no longer have to fear Bluetooth coming up short; in fact, this is a technology that often surpasses the audio quality offered by wireless headsets.
Here are a few recommendations to get you started with Bluetooth and wireless headphones that deliver excellent audio quality to your voice conversations, podcasts or streaming music sessions.
- Best Choice – Jabra Elite
When it comes to wireless audio products, Jabra is a brand name you can trust, and the Jabra Elite Active 65t earbuds are proof of this reputation. This is a true wireless product packed with great features such as:
- Four microphones
- Accelerometer sensor that can be used with wearable fitness apps
- Graphic audio equalizer you can configure through the Jabra Sound+ app
- Charging case that can deliver 15 hours of battery life
Jabra Elite Active 65t Review
Configured to be used with smart digital assistants and smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri and the Google Assistant. As its name suggests, the Jabra Elite Active is ideal for fitness activities thanks to its IP55 rating, which means that it can withstand sweat.
- Perfect fit
- Good noise isolation
- Outstanding Bluetooth connectivity
- Durable design
- Micro USB charging port only
- Flimsy case
- Premium Pick – Bose QuietControl 30
It took a few years for Bose, a company that is synonymous with quality audio equipment, to get into the wireless headphones segment, but products such as the Bose QuietControl 30 are certainly worth the wait.
If you are undecided about whether to go Bluetooth or wireless, QuietControl is the way to go because it provides both levels of connectivity.
- Advanced noise cancelling technology that allows listeners to actually control the level of sound they wish to allow from the outside world.
- Immersive audio quality that puts you closer to the sound sources.
- Lithium-ion battery provides 10 hours of continuous listening at maximum volume.
- Near-Field Communication (NFC) connectivity for seamless pairing with modern devices.
- Dual microphone system with background noise reduction.
- Bluetooth connectivity.
- Discreet earbuds that are very stylish.
Bose QuietControl 30 Review
If you are looking for some of the best wireless listening experience in the market, you cannot go wrong with the QuietControl line from Bose, and this means that you will have to pay a bit more for this experience.
- Great noise-cancelling
- Good Bluetooth range
- Crisp sound quality
- No charging case
- Best Value – Samsung Galaxy Buds
Needless to say, this is a product that would ostensibly sound better when connected to a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, but the reality is that the Samsung Galaxy Buds will work perfectly with just about any personal computing device equipped with a Bluetooth transmitter.
Compared to the AirPods, the Galaxy Buds look and feel better, although they suffer from the same “I’m sure I will lose them shortly after I buy them” feeling.
- Discreet and lightweight profile.
- Powerful battery that provides 13 hours of continuous playback.
- Amazing sound.
- Noise cancelling mode is included.
- Stylish carrying case.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Review
These earbuds are often referred to as being true wireless headphones, but they only offer Bluetooth connectivity. One problem with this product is that Samsung underestimated demand, which resulted in selling out very quickly.
The South Korean electronics giant is reportedly coming out with an improved version of these earbuds, which are expected to go on sale sometime in the year 2020.
- Instant pairing
- Ear size customization
- Nice looking and discreet
- Wireless charging
- Great sound
- Comfortable fit
- Only for Android-based devices
- Best Sound Quality – Apple AirPods
As you can imagine, the best way to enjoy Apple AirPods is when they are included as a product bundle deal with an iPhone or an iPad; nonetheless, these peculiar-looking earbuds have a lot to offer, including:
- A stylish wireless charging case
- Impressive audio quality
- Seamless and smart pairing mechanism with Apple devices
- Intuitive touch controls allow you to double-tap the earbuds to play the next track or skip forward within a podcast
- Native access to the Siri digital assistant
Apple AirPods Review
The first and second generation of this product are essentially the same; the main difference is the ability to interact with Siri. The audio quality is a major draw to these earbuds, which look very strange but are phenomenal when paired with your iPhone and Apple Music account.
AirPods may feel rugged, but they are not recommended for jogging or working out; in fact, they are easy to lose.
- Great sound quality
- Fits in ear perfectly
- Super sleek
- Extended battery life
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Not water-resistant
- Best for Active Users – Bose SoundSport Wireless
As previously mentioned, Bose is known for its sophisticated approach to high-end audio products, and the Bose SoundSport Wireless headphones are no exception. Although this product is not as advanced as the QuietControl, it features a rugged profile for fitness activities.
- Extremely comfortable earbuds that are also discreet.
- StayHear+ Sport technology makes this product resistant to sweat and rainy conditions.
- Six hours of battery life with a reasonably fast recharge.
- Near-Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth connectivity for seamless pairing with modern mobile devices.
- Interaction with the Bose mobile app for saving audio profiles and switching between devices.
- Very attractive, functional and waterproof carrying case
- Great sound
- Solid battery life
- Remains in-place, even during intense exercise
- Larger earbud size compared to others
- Some initial “awkwardness” in feel
- Buttons pretty tough to press
- Most Impressive Sound – Beats X
Beats Electronics is a company founded by hip-hop mogul Andre Romelle Young, better known as Dr. Dre and also known to be a serious audiophile. Beats by Dre was purchased by Apple a few years ago, and things have been steadily improving ever since.
The Beats X wireless earphones are more impressive when they are paired with Apple products, but they will also work with Android devices as well as desktop and laptop computers.
- Very fast recharging means you only have to wait minutes to get two hours of solid playback.
- Flex-form cable means that these headphones will never tangle, and the entire device only weighs a couple of pounds.
- Quality microphone lets you take calls or issue commands to the Apple Siri digital assistant.
- Seamless Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
- Comes in three colors: silver, satin and black.
Beats X Review
If you are familiar with the Beats line of personal audio products, these earphones are a step above the urBeats3 and one step below the Powerbeats3 wireless headphones, but they are not meant for working out.
- High quality sounds
- Connects quickly
- Great fit
- Quick charging
- Easy to use
- Lacks bass quality
- Best in Features – Jaybird Tarah Pro
If you are looking for a set of wireless earphones that will not be damaged by sweat or while jogging in the rain, you should consider the Jaybird Tarah Pro Wireless Sport Headphones, which boast an IPX7 rating plus a sporty fit along with the following features:
- Sound equalizer through the intuitive Jaybird mobile app.
- Low profile style.
- Reasonably fast charging gives you an hour of playback after just 10 minutes connected to a power source.
- Makes good use of the Android Fast Pair protocol.
- IPX7 rating means that you can briefly drop these earbuds in a puddle of rain.
Jaybird Tarah Pro Review
These headphones are ideal for active users. If you plan on being at the gym for more than three hours, you can take voice calls, interact with the Google Assistant and listen to Spotify playlists without having to recharge.
- Great sound quality
- Outstanding noise cancellation
- Good Bluetooth range
- Not for small ears
- Occasional issue with connectivity
- Best Fit – Anker SoundBuds Curve
The Anker SoundBuds Curve wireless headphones are amazing not only because of their low price but also because they actually deliver quality audio to active users. These earphones do not look sporty; in fact, they look a bit dated in terms of profile, but they are sweat and splash proof thanks to robust encasing.
- Comfortable fit
- More than 12 hours of playtime or voice calls
- Multiple earphone tips that you can switch out for comfort or cleaning
- Leather carrying case
Anker SoundBuds Curve Review
If you are looking for a starter set of sports wireless earphones, the Anker SoundBuds is highly recommended. It is comfortable and also comes with multiple earphone tips that you can switch.
The leather carrying case is a plus, too, which comes with a sports clip to attach to your backpack. Plus, it is reasonably-priced for its quality.
- Very comfortable fit
- Good sound quality
- Great noise reduction
- Not quick-charging
- Occasional connectivity issue
Frequently Asked Questions: Bluetooth Earbuds
What are the best running earbuds?
For jogging and listening to music, you want a combination of audio quality, comfort and resistance; forget about the noise cancelling feature because it can be dangerous when used during a run.
How long do wireless headphones last?
Technology analysts believe that rechargeable battery technology will provide us with wireless headsets that provide 30 hours of continuous playback by the year 2025. The problem is that these devices are only as good as their batteries, which can last between four and six years.
Is sweat bad for wireless headphones?
The minerals you naturally exude in your sweat can cause a chemical reaction that can be devastating for the circuitry of your wireless earphones. To this effect, you want to look for an IP rating that is at least IPX7 or 1 ATM.