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.
For those who refuse to compromise, below are our top recommendations for the best wireless earbuds for sound quality 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 wireless headphones we've tested and should cater well to all music genres and tastes. They also have a comfortable earbud design that most find a bit more comfortable than typical in-ears.
These earbuds 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. This makes them versatile for virtually all genres of music, from hip-hop to classical. They provide nearly 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.
These headphones have a semi-open design which helps create a more spacious, open sound by letting in ambient noise. They won’t be ideal if you’re looking to isolate noise but are suitable for outdoor runners who like to remain aware of their surroundings. If you prefer being able to hang your earbuds around your neck when not in use, consider the Bose SoundSport Wireless, which perform very similarly overall but with a more traditional wireless design that’s a bit less expensive.
If you’re planning on putting your wireless earbuds through some tough training, then consider the Beats Powerbeats Pro Truly Wireless. They may not sound as spacious as the Bose SoundSport Free, but they have a more ergonomic ear-hook design that helps ensure a more stable fit. They’re also much easier-to-use and have a significantly longer-lasting battery, too.
Since Beats are owned by Apple, they pair seamlessly with iOS devices, but they don’t have any additional features for Android. Although the Bose Connect app for the SoundSport Free isn’t the most feature-packed app we’ve tested, it’s available on both iOS and Android. That said, the Beats still function well on both iOS and Android and are still worth considering if you prefer their design.
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 have great isolation, which makes them a good choice for commuters who want to tune out the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
Unfortunately, these earbuds have limited controls that provide mediocre feedback. The Beats Powerbeats Pro have physical controls that are much easier to use, but they’re much more expensive and don’t isolate as much noise. If you’re looking for ultra-portable travel headphones at a reasonable price, the SoundCore Liberty Air are hard to beat.
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 really 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. 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, 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, 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. That said, if their fit works for you, they provide a well-rounded listening experience with good customization options.
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 Wireless; they sound just as good and are a bit more comfortable, but they don’t isolate as well as the JBL.
If you find the JBL Endurance Sprint uncomfortable and prefer a more bass-rich sound, get the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They’re quite a bit more bass-heavy than the JBL Endurance Sprint 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.