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.
We've reviewed around 100 wireless earbuds so far and below are our top recommendations for the best wireless earbuds for sound quality to purchase in 2020. 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 wireless earbuds for sound quality we've tested so far are the Bose SoundSport Free. They have a semi-open design, which helps let in ambient noise for a more open, spacious sound than other earbuds we've tested. Their earbud fit is very comfortable and they feel very well-built, too.
They have a remarkably neutral sound that's suitable for almost any genre of music, with a deep, well-balanced bass, clear mids, and a balanced treble. The only downside is that Bose's mobile app doesn't have an EQ to tune the sound if it doesn't suit you, but this won't be a problem for most, especially if you prefer something that just sounds good without any fuss.
While outdoor runners will appreciate how they let in lots of sound to have a better awareness of your surroundings, they're not recommended if you're trying to block out the noise of a crowded gym. Their battery life on these earbuds is also a bit short, at only 5 hours of continuous playback per charge, but they have an auto-off feature to help save power and their charging case provides a couple of extra charges.
If you're looking for some of the best wireless earbuds for sound quality but need something easy-to-use when you're on-the-go, then get the Beats Powerbeats Pro. They might sound slightly less neutral than the Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless, but their ear-hook design keeps them more securely in place and makes their controls much easier-to-use. Their battery performs very well, providing over 11 hours of playback on a single charge, and their charging case will help them last even longer. They charge via Lightning, though, which can be inconvenient for Android users, but this is to be expected considering they're designed with Apple devices in mind.
If you care most about an accurate, neutral sound, then get the Bose; however, if you want something easier-to-use that still sounds great, you'll want the Beats.
If you're looking for something that can help block out the noise of your busy commute while still sounding good, get the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air. Since they isolate a lot of noise, they don't have the same spacious sound quality of the Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless, but they still reproduce audio remarkably accurately and are considerably less expensive. The upgraded Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 Truly Wireless have better controls, but a more bass-heavy sound profile, so if you're looking for a neutral sound you'll want to stick with the older model while it's still being produced.
Get the Bose if you don't care about noise isolation and prefer a wide-open sound, but if you want earbuds that do a better job blocking out background noise, go with the Anker.
If you prefer being able to customize the sound of your wireless earbuds, get the Jaybird Tarah Pro. They have a great sports-oriented design for athletes and are fairly comfortable for longer listening sessions. They feature magnetic earbuds that clip together for improved cable management and to help prolong their 13-hour battery life.
They have great audio reproduction straight out of the box, but what sets them apart is the level of customization provided in their companion app, Jaybird MySound. It provides a full parametric EQ along with a detailed library of community presets so you can fine-tune their sound your way.
On the downside, these earbuds 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, which is a bit inconvenient. If you prefer being able to charge your headphones via micro-USB, consider the Sony WI-1000X Wireless. They’re also very customizable and they have active noise cancelling, which is great for commuters, but their battery doesn’t perform as well as that of the Jaybird.
If you prefer the more compact form factor of truly wireless earbuds, then consider the Jabra Elite Active 65t. Their companion app doesn’t offer quite the same level of customizability as that of the Jaybird Tarah Pro Wireless, but it still lets you tweak the way the sound to a good degree. They isolate an impressive amount of noise passively, which makes them good in-ears for travel or commuting, and they also have a durable design that’s great for sports. Unfortunately, they have a rather bulky earbud design that can cause some fatigue during longer listening sessions. Those with smaller ears may also find them a bit hard to fit comfortably as well.
If you want a more customizable EQ or prefer having a wire connecting your earbuds to rest your headphones on your neck when not in use, go with the Jaybird. However, if you want a more compact pair of headphones that isolate background noise better, go with the Jabra.
If being on a budget doesn’t stop you from having high sound quality standards, then get the JBL Endurance Sprint. They have a sporty design with a rubberized matte finish and are rated IPX7 for waterproofing, although we don't test this.
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. That said, their neutral sound profile is one of the best we've seen at this price so they're still a great choice overall.
If you more bass-rich sound, get the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019. They’ quite a bit more bass than the JBL Endurance Sprint Wireless, so they're not ideal if you prefer a more neutral sound, but they still do a good job at reproducing instruments and vocals and sound quite well-balanced overall. They have an easier-to-use control scheme and an impressive 18 hours of battery life.
Get the JBL if you care most about having a more neutral audio reproduction, but if you have a hard time finding a comfortable pair of headphones, go with the Anker.
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.
02/11/2020: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.
12/13/2019: Minor text and structure changes; no change in recommendations.