In-ears and earbuds are a lot more portable than bulky over-ear and on-ear headphones. Wireless earbuds, in particular, provide extra convenience, especially for athletes and commuters. However, as headphones get smaller, so does their capacity to create an open and spacious sound. Although you might have to sacrifice a bit of sound quality and soundstage for a more compact and portable design, there are quite a few wireless in-ear and earbuds that still deliver in the sound department.
So for those who refuse to compromise, below are our top recommendations for the best sounding wireless earbuds and in-ears to purchase in 2019. See also our recommendations for the best earbuds and in-ears, the best earbuds for bass, the best neckband headphones, and for the best truly wireless earbuds.
The best sounding wireless earbuds we've tested so far are the Bose SoundSport Free. They sound the most balanced out of all the truly wireless headphones we've tested and should cater well to all music genres and tastes.
These headphones have a very even, neutral sound. They have great bass, an excellent mid-range, and clear and present treble that doesn’t sound too sharp or piercing on higher frequencies. They also have a comfortable earbud design that most find a bit more comfortable than typical in-ears. They provide close to 5 hours of continuous playback, but you can get a total of up to 15 hours of battery life by storing them in their charging case throughout the day.
Unfortunately, they do not have the most compact design, especially since their charging case is rather bulky compared to those of other truly wireless earbuds. They also do not come with an EQ, so you can't customize their sound profile. If you prefer truly wireless earbuds with sound that you can EQ, take a look at the Jabra Elite Active 65t, but if you want more comfortable earbuds that sound good out-of-the-box, go with the Bose.
If you prefer being able to customize the sound of your wireless earbuds, get the Jaybird Tarah Pro. They’re not truly wireless like the Bose SoundSport Free, but their companion app provides a great parametric EQ along with a community presets for you to fine-tune their sound your way. They have a great design for sports and feature magnetic earbuds that clip together for improved cable management and to save battery life.
They have a pretty good 13-hour battery life, but they use a proprietary charging cradle that can be a bit restrictive. If you forget the charger at home, you won’t be able to just borrow a friend’s micro-USB cable to charge them, which is a bit inconvenient. If you prefer being able to charge your headphones via micro-USB, consider the JBL Reflect Mini 2; they have great neutral audio reproduction but aren’t customizable like the Tarah Pro.
If you like the earbud design of the Bose SoundSport Free and want something that sounds equally as good but cheaper, go for the Bose SoundSport Wireless. They don’t have truly wireless design like the SoundSport Free and aren’t as customizable as the Jaybird Tarah Pro, but they have a balanced sound that's very similar to that of the other Bose.
They’re one of the best sounding wireless earbuds we've tested, thanks to their near neutral mid-range, extended bass, and tapered highs. They reproduce most tracks accurately, have a decent battery life, and they're comfortable.
Unfortunately, they won't be ideal for noisy environments and commuting due to their somewhat open earbud design, but overall, they're a decent choice for most uses.
If you prefer more isolation, get the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air. They don’t sound quite as good as the Bose SoundSport Wireless, but they still have very good audio reproduction, especially for closed-back truly wireless earbuds. They also isolate significantly better than the Bose, which makes them a good choice for commuters who want to tune out the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
Unfortunately, they have limited controls that provide mediocre feedback. If you’d prefer a more traditional wireless design with better controls, consider the Beats Powerbeats3 Wireless. However, the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air isolate much better, which provides added versatility.
If being on a budget doesn’t stop you from having high sound quality standards, then get the JBL Endurance Sprint. Since they have a closed-back design, they don’t sound as open as the Bose SoundSport Wireless, but their audio reproduction is nearly as good. They have a sporty design with a rubberized matte finish and are rated IPX7 for waterproofing.
They have very accurate audio reproduction and a balanced, neutral sound that lends itself well to all music genres. They also have great isolation and block a very good amount of noise for headphones without active noise cancelling.
On the downside, they aren’t the most comfortable in-ears we’ve tested. Their earbuds protrude quite deeply into the ear canal and their twist-to-lock mechanism can be hard to get right. Those with smaller ears may also find their large ear-hooks uncomfortably bulky. If you prefer in-ears with a more low-profile design, consider the AKG N200; they sound just as good and are a bit more comfortable, but they don’t isolate as well as the Endurance Sprint.
If you find the JBL Endurance Sprint uncomfortable and prefer a more bass-heavy sound, get the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They’re quite a bit more bass-heavy than the JBL and won’t be great for those who prefer a more neutral sound profile, but they still do a good job at reproducing instruments and vocals and sound decent overall.
They’re not as sweat-resistant as the JBL, but they have an easier-to-use control scheme and are much more comfortable. All-in-all, they offer an affordable wireless design with a 12-hour battery life and a decently balanced sound that is sure to please bass lovers.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best sounding wireless earbuds and in-ear headphones to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for wireless earbuds/in-ear headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.