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 nearly 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 sounding wireless earbuds we've tested so far are the Bose SoundSport Free. 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 treble that's free of any sharpness or sibilance. The only downside is that Bose's mobile app doesn't have an EQ to tune the sound if it doesn't suit you.
These earbuds are decently comfortable to wear, but since they're a bit on the heavy side, they aren't the most stable, so it's important to choose the proper stability fins if you plan on using these for exercise. On the subject of exercise, if you're looking for a pair that can block out ambient noise at the gym, though, these aren't for you. They're semi-open earbuds, which means they let in sound to have a better awareness of your surroundings. Battery life on these earbuds is somewhat mediocre as well, averaging 4.8 hours of continuous playback with an additional two charges available in the charging case. It's enough to get through a workout, but if it worries you, they have an auto-off feature to conserve battery. If you need to take a call, unfortunately, the microphone is quite disappointing. Even in quiet environments, speech tends to sound thin and muffled, but they're decent at separating voice from background noise.
Overall, if you only care about sound quality, these headphones are good.
If you need a pair of earbuds to take to the gym and the stability of the Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless worries you, check out the Beats Powerbeats Pro. They have an ear-hook design that provides a stable fit that won't fall off, even during heavy movements. They also don't enter the ear canal as much, which is a lot more comfortable to wear for long periods. Unfortunately, this design choice also means that they'll let in ambient noise. They do sound good, though. The bass is nearly flawless, but the treble can be somewhat inconsistent and sound sharp on tracks that are already bright.
If you like good sounding earbuds like the Bose but need something more comfortable or stable for working out, the Beats are a good choice.
If you prefer more isolation, get the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air. They don’t sound quite as good as the Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless, but they still have very good audio reproduction and are considerably less expensive. 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 Truly Wireless have physical controls that are much easier to use, but they’re much more expensive and don’t isolate as much noise.
Get the Bose if money is no object and you want the best sounding wireless earbuds you can get, but if you want to save some money and want headphones 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. Since they have a closed-back design, they don’t sound as open, 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 Wireless 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 Wireless 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 also not as sweat-resistant, but they have an easier-to-use control scheme and are much more comfortable.
Get the JBL if you find the fit comfortable for your ears and like bass-heavy music, but if you have a hard time finding a comfortable pair of headphones, go with the SoundBuds Curve.
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.
12/13/2019: Minor text and structure changes; no change in recommendations.
10/16/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.