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The 8 Best Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds and In Ear Headphones - Fall 2018
Reviews

Best Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds
280 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

If you don’t like the cumbersome design of over-ears and prefer low-profiles headphones, smaller earbuds and in-ears can be a good choice. But if you don’t like having a wire going to your phone and prefer the freedom of wireless technology, or maybe your phone doesn’t even have an audio jack, Bluetooth connected earbuds and in-ears are even better. 

We've tested 46 wireless earbuds and in-ears and here are our recommendations for the best ones to buy in 2018. See also our recommendations for the best sounding wireless earbuds.

  1. Best Wireless Earbuds: Bose QuietControl 30

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.0
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.0
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.5
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    7.5
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    7.4
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    5.6
    TV
    Score components:
    5.1
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Earbuds
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best Bluetooth earbuds that we've tested so far are the Bose QuietControl 30. They are around-the-neck closed-back headphones that have a great neutral sound and also come with active noise canceling features. They barely leak like most in-ears and are a great choice for your daily commute. They have a comfortable build and are quite versatile for everyday usage.

    Unfortunately, there have been reports that the neckband build quality wasn’t the best as the coating starts peeling off after a few months of usage. The Bose app also doesn’t offer sound customization other than a noise canceling slider and the around-the-neck design might not be for everyone.

    Nevertheless, the Bost QuietControl30 are good sounding headphones that are very comfortable and should not disappoint most users, especially for commute and travel.

    See our review

  2. Truly wireless alternative: B&O PLAY E8

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Truly Wireless
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you're looking for something more portable than the Bose QuietControl 30, then go with the truly wireless B&O Play E8. They might not have the same long continuous battery life as the QC 30, they're also a bit less comfortable but their premium build quality, good sound, and excellent passive isolation make them a great choice for commuting and office work. 

    They also have a very sleek design thanks to the touch-sensitive control scheme that gets rid of physical buttons. However, the control scheme is hard to use at first and can be a bit imprecise. The compatible app also lacks features, which is disappointing for the high-end price tag, so they might not be the best value if compared to the Jabra Elite Active 65t or the Samsung Gear IconX.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Wireless Earbuds: Jabra Elite Active 65t

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.0
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.0
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.5
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    8.0
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    7.2
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    5.5
    TV
    Score components:
    5.0
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Truly Wireless
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If our top picks are too expensive, the best wireless in-ear headphones we've tested in the mid-range category are the Jabra Elite Active 65t. They may not have the elegant design of the Beopay E8 and their bulkier earbuds are not as comfortable. However, they are a good mid-range truly wireless option that's great for sports and versatile enough for everyday uses. 

    They have a good and solid design, with a high-end matte finish. They offer a better control scheme than the B&O Play E8 thanks to their physical buttons and also have a better battery life for longer listening sessions. However, their bulkier earbud design might not be for everyone and some might not find them as comfortable.

    Overall, the Jabra Elite Active 65t are good for most use cases and are compatible with the Jabra Sound+ app which offers great controls and customization options, giving the Elite Active 65t great value in the truly wireless earbud category.  

    See our review

  4. More sweatproof alternative: Jaybird X4

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re looking for sports headphones and sweat resistance is important to you, get the Jaybird X4. They are not truly wireless like the Jabra Elite Active 65t but are rated IPX7, which is an improvement over the Jabra X3. On top of being great sports headphones, their comfort, decent noise isolation, and good sound quality make them a versatile pair of wireless earbuds.

    However, they come with a proprietary charging cradle that can be restrictive and you’ll need to have it on you instead of asking for a more universal and common charging cable.

    See our review

  5. Better sounding alternative: Bose SoundSport Wireless

    Type : Earbuds
    Enclosure : Semi-Open
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If sound quality is the most important thing to you, get the Bose SoundSport Wireless instead. They have a more neutral and balanced sound than the Jaybird X4 and are also more comfortable. They aren’t truly wireless like the Jabra Elite Active 65t, but are portable and easy to carry, especially with the soft case that comes with them.

    However, the Bose app doesn’t offer much customization like Jaybird’s or Jabra’s. They are semi-open earbuds and poorly isolate sound around you, so they might not be the best choice if you’re looking for earbuds for your daily commute. On the other hand, their openness makes their soundstage feel more open than closed-back in-ears.

    See our review

  6. Best Budget Wireless Earbuds: Anker SoundBuds Curve

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.8
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    6.9
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.0
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    7.9
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    6.9
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    5.5
    TV
    Score components:
    5.3
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If the Jaybird X4 or Bose SoundSport Wireless are still too expensive, the best wireless earbuds we've tested in the budget category are the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They aren’t truly wireless like the B&O Play E8 or the Jabra Elite Active 65t and they do not isolate as much in noisy conditions so they won't be the best headphones for commute and travel.

    On the upside, they are compact, comfortable headphones with over-ear hooks for good stability while doing physical activity. They have a decent sound profile with an overemphasized bass which can be good for bass-heavy genres and usually sound better than most headphones in that price range. They also have a good 12-hour battery life which should last you all day.

    However, they don’t isolate noise very well and don’t have the best build quality with thin cables. Nevertheless, the Soundbuds Curve offer great value.

    See our review

  7. More sweatproof alternative: JBL Endurance Sprint

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you like the over-ear hook design from the Anker SoundBuds Curve but sound quality and sweat resistance are more important to you, then consider the JBL Endurance Sprint. They might not have the long battery life of the Curve, but they have better sound quality and they are also more sweatproof and rated IPX7 if you’re concerned about sweat or water damaging your headphones.

    Unfortunately, the bulkier hooks and in-ear fit aren’t as comfortable as the Anker Curve and the touch-sensitive control scheme is hard to use, sometimes inaccurate, but is a nice and rare addition to headphones in that price range.

    See our review

  8. Commuting alternative: JBL E25BT

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re looking for more commute-oriented wireless in-ears instead of sport-oriented models like the JBL Endurance Sprint or the Anker Soundbuds Curve, we recommend the JBL E25BT. They don’t have a touch-sensitive control scheme like the Endurance Sprint, which is a good thing for some, and don’t have an over-ear hook design.

    On the other hand, they isolate more than the Anker Curve and are more portable than the Endurance Sprint, which makes them a great choice for commuting. Unfortunately, even for budget headphones, they have a cheap feeling, but they offer great versatility for everyday usage.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Jabra Elite 65e. A cheaper alternative to the QC30 but slightly worse performance overall. See our review
  • Jaybird Freedom. A lightweight and well-built sports headphone with a customizable sound. The charging clip may be a deal breaker for some. See our review
  • Jaybird X3. A great overall performance with added customization options. Stable sports headphones but the X4 are better. See our review
  • Apple AirPods. Versatile and well rounded wireless earbuds. Limited on Android. See our review
  • Mpow Jaws. A good alternative the SoundPeats Q9A. Not as stable but more versatile with a slightly better sound. See our review
  • Jaybird Run. Good overall performance, great for sports, and a decent alternative if you want true wireless earbuds. Build quality is not as good and  Bluetooth pairing and latency can be a bit frustrating. See our review
  • Samsung Level U Pro. A customizable wireless in-ear with a decent sound. Not as well built as the U Flex but a good alternative. See our review
  • Jabra Elite 65t. A slightly cheaper alternative to the Elite Active 65t. Same performance overall but slightly cheaper looking and less sweat resistant. See our review
  • Anker Soundcore Spirit X. A more sweat proof alternative to the SoundBuds Curve but also a bit more expensive. See our review
  • Sony WI-SP600N. A wireless noise canceling in-ear great. Decent performance overall but not the best value and mediocre noise canceling. See our review
  • Bose SoundSport Free. A truly wireless variant of the Bose earbud design. Comfortable great sounding but slightly bulky and lacks good customization options. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best Bluetooth earbuds and in-ears to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one 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 Bluetooth in-ear headphones and earbuds. 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.

 

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