Best earbuds 2023

A pair of white AirPods next to a open charging case on a blue surface.
Credit: Kreeson Naraidoo

A pair of white AirPods next to a open charging case on a blue surface.
Credit: Kreeson Naraidoo

There's no straightforward answer to what are the best earbuds right now, as it all depends on your preferences in comfort, features, and brand. No single feature puts one pair above another, as each device has its draws and, by contrast, drawbacks.

The best running headphones, for example, are defined by their ability to stay in your ear as you exercise, but the best gaming earbuds need to provide superior sound quality and reduce latency to give you a competitive edge. Then, for work and meetings, the best earbuds will strike the perfect balance between audio and microphone quality so you and your callee can hear one another.

None are created entirely equal, but all our choices boast comfortable fits, rich sounds, and some even support active noise cancelling to block out the world around you. No matter your budget or need, there's a pair in here for what you need.

Best earbuds

  1. Sony WF-1000XM4
  2. Jaybird Vista 2
  3. Creative Outlier Pro
  4. Shure AONIC 3
  5. Apple AirPods Pro 2
  6. Jlab Go Air Pop
  7. Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro
A pair of the best earbuds, Sony WF-1000XM4, one in profile and the other from the back
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Credit: Sony

1. Sony WF-1000XM4

Best earbuds with true wireless

Colour: Black or Silver
Weight: 7.3 grams
Drivers: 6mm
Battery Life: 8 hours (earbuds) + 16 hours (charging case)

There are many reasons to love the Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds, from their dynamic default sound to their customisable equaliser, but it's the world-leading active noise cancelling (ANC) that sets these apart from other headphones. Sony’s own Integrated Processor V1 technology means you won’t ever have to acknowledge the outside world while wearing them.

Typically costing under 200, these earbuds carry a premium price but they aren't overly expensive considering their value. With IPX4 water resistance, you can't use them underwater, but they'll weather a storm. Sony even patched in multi-device support, so you can connect the WF-1000XM4s to two devices simultaneously.

With an impressive eight-hour battery life on a single charge (and double that with the charging case), you shouldn't have to worry about running out of juice during the day as well. Plus, the Headphones Connect app has some seriously smart features, including a 'speak-to-chat' function that lets you have a conversation without the need to remove your headphones.

Sporting detailed and clear bass, the AAC, LDAC, and SBC access to three different Bluetooth layers on top of everything we've touched on so far, you really can’t go wrong with these Sony earbuds. Plus, it comes with a choice of two stylish finishes so you can show off your personality while enjoying your tunes.

A pair of Jaybird Vista 2 earbuds lie next to their charging case
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Credit: Jaybird

2. Jaybird Vista 2

Best underwater earbuds

Colour: Black, Nimbus Gray, or Midnight Blue
Weight: 7.3 grams
Dimensions 6.7 x 4 x 3cm
Battery Life: 8 hours (earbuds) + 16 hours (charging case)

Next up we have the Jaybird Vista 2 earbuds. These rugged devices are built to last, especially with an impressive IP68 resistance rating that means you can drop them in a 1.5-meter pool and leave them there for a full thirty minutes before you have to scramble to retrieve them.

Also, weighing just 6.7 grams each, it's likely you won't even notice them being there when in use. Plus, with their relatively inexpensive price tag, they shouldn't break the bank either.

They're great for sports as well thanks to their noise cancellation technology, allowing you to stay focused on your workout, while the eight-hour battery life ensures you never run out of juice mid-session. And if you're always on the go, the charging case will come in handy, offering up to sixteen hours of battery life and a full hour of listening time with just a five-minute charge.

On the whole, these Jaybird earbuds offer great value for money in our opinion, making them an excellent option to consider when it comes to upgrading your current headphones.

The gunmetal grey Creative Outlier earbuds floating above the charging case against a white background
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Credit: Creative Outlier

3. Creative Outlier Pro

Best earbuds for battery life

Colour: Metalic umber
Weight: 7.3 grams
Drivers: 10mm
Battery Life: 15 hours (earbuds) + 60 hours (charging case)

The Creative Outlier Pro headphones are one of the cheapest entries so far, with them being a great budget option for anybody not willing to push out the boat for something more expensive. Once you see some of their features though, it’s easy to see why people swear by these headphones.

When it comes to battery life, these headphones are up there with the best. With ANC on, you can rock out for a solid ten hours before needing to recharge. Then, by adding the charging case into the mix, you're able to listen to your tunes for hours on end. And let's not forget about the touch-sensitive controls, making it easier than ever to take control of your audio.

The earbuds also boast 10mm drivers, giving some extremely detailed sound alongside their impressive active noise cancellation and bass that allows you to experience music and game sound effects to the fullest without having them deafen you.

They even remember your previous settings, with low latency gaming mode staying enabled between devices, which will save you a lot of time in the long run. All in all, these are some of the best budget noise-cancelling headphones around, so make sure you check them out if you're looking for an inexpensive upgrade.

Shure AONIC 3 product image of two wired black earbuds.
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Credit: Shure

4. Shure AONIC 3

Best wired earbuds

Colour: Black/Silver
Weight: 7.3 grams
Dimensions 6.7 x 4 x 3cm
Battery Life: 8 hours (earbuds) + 16 hours (charging case)

Alternatively, these Shuric AONIC 3 earbuds are the first wired entry we've touched on. While a wired connection may not be for everyone, being plugged in does ensure consistent audio without any dropouts.

Furthermore, they've got hooks that'll keep them in place no matter what you do, which is absolutely essential for a pair of earbuds that swivel as they could easily fall out otherwise. They nail sound quality too, with dynamic sound throughout the board and sound isolation technology that blocks up to 37 dB of noise to eliminate distractions so you can focus on what you're listening to.

It's also worth noting these earbuds are lightweight, extremely comfortable, and small. The power that they make in such a small package is impressive and makes them an easy recommendation to anybody looking for a pair of wired earbuds.

The buds also come with a 3.5mm connector, a 1.27m cable length, an in-line remote, and mic, giving plenty of functionality to what is already a great set of headphones.

Apple AirPods Pro 2 product image of two white wireless earbuds in a white charging case.
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Credit: Apple

5. Apple AirPods Pro 2

Best Apple earbuds

Colour: Black/Silver
Weight: 5.3 grams
Drivers: Custom
Battery Life: 6 hours (earbuds) + 30 hours (charging case)

If you have an iPhone and you're seeking a top-notch audio experience, the Apple AirPods Pro 2 are a no-brainer. They come with a premium price tag, but their plethora of features more than justifies their price. From their whopping 30-hour battery life to wireless charging capability, there's a lot to like. Just remember, many of the features work on iOS only, but don't let that put you off.

With these earbuds, you also get noise-cancellation technology, smooth use with iOS devices, and incredible sound quality. And let's not forget about the built-in mic and controls that make these earbuds an all-around powerhouse.

Let's not forget about their adaptive transparency mode either. When turned on, the earbuds will muffle loud noises while letting in ambient sounds to ensure you're only listening to what you want to be listening to.

The price might be a turn-off for a lot of people, and while they absolutely justify that price, it’s a lot of money to spend on a pair of earbuds. However, we'd recommend checking them out regardless as there's plenty to like about the AirPod Pro 2s.

A pair of teal-coloured JLab eaburds and their charging case
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Credit: Jlab
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6. Jlab Go Air Pop

Best budget earbuds

Colour: Black, Rose, Lilac, Teal, Slate, or Fruity Pebbles (multi-colour)
Weight
: 3.7 grams per ear
Drivers: 6mm
Battery Life: 8 hours (earbuds) + 32 hours (charging case)

The Jlab Go Air Pop earbuds are the cheapest option so far, but don't let their inexpensive price tag lead you to believe they're low quality.

These earbuds may be diminutive in size (a 15% smaller fit to be exact), but they offer unparalleled comfort and convenient on-ear controls for pausing, skipping, and playing your tunes. With 6mm drivers, a frequency response range of 20HZ to 20kHZ, and an astonishing 40 hours total battery life, these earbuds are truly impressive.

Moreover, their EQ3 Sound allows you to customise your listening experience between JLab Signature, Balanced, and Bass Boost modes using onboard controls. This helps them rival some of their more expensive competitors in terms of sound quality, despite costing next to nothing.

So, if you’re looking for a budget option from this list and you want to get the best possible earbuds, you absolutely cannot go wrong with these Jlab earbuds.

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro product image of two black wireless earbuds next to a black charging case.
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Credit: Samsung

7. Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro

Best Samsung earbuds

Colour: Black/Violet
Weight: 5.5 grams
Drivers: Custom
Battery Life: 5 hours (earbuds) + 18 hours (charging case)

The last item on our list is an Android competitor to the Apple AirPods Pro 2, offering similarly high-quality performance. Similarly priced as well, the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pros come packed with unique features that set them apart from other earbuds on the market and help justify their price point.

For example, the Galaxy Buds2 Pro offers a game mode that reduces latency on mobile devices, resulting in exceptional sound quality alongside Samsung's proprietary codec, Seamless, which works on 24-bit compared to 16-bit. This allows for a higher resolution, more detail, and an improved dynamic range.

With a single charge, the headphones provide up to five hours of battery life, and the included carrying case offers two additional full charges. Recharging the case and headphones takes approximately 1.1 hours as well, allowing for a quick turnaround once they require more juice.

There’s even automatic noise compression, which causes the battery life to be reduced slightly with the added benefit of drowning out any interfering noises, thus improving your audio experience on the whole. So, make sure you check out these Samsung earbuds as they truly are an excellent pick.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

If you're still a little unsure about which earbuds to go with, then our frequently asked questions section below has you covered so you can make a more informed purchase.

Are earbuds worth it?

Yes! But it depends on what you value when it comes to portable audio.

The best wireless headphones generally deliver better quality sound than earbuds, due to many factors, such as sheer speaker size for one.

That being said, not everyone needs to hear music in the absolute optimal way and while that may be a pursuit for many audiophiles out there, most people are more than happy with decent, clear, bassy audio.

Earbuds come into their own when they offer true wireless connectivity. They really are unmatched in that regard and the freedom they provide is at a whole new level compared to wireless headphones.

They're also small and often come with a charging case, many of which are built like a rock, making them exceptionally good for travel.

There are countless other reasons we could go into, but we'll leave it there!

What is True Wireless?

True wireless is when there are no wires connecting each earbud. There are some earbuds that are wireless but connected by wire (confusingly). These are typically the ones in which you'll have the wire lying on the back of your neck.

True wireless offers the benefits of being able to use one earbud by itself, which is great if you're either running low on battery or just want to keep an ear free.

Are earbuds comfortable?

With the right fit, absolutely. The good news is that many earbuds nowadays come with different-sized bud inserts to fit practically every sized ear out there.

It's personal preference, but we think they have the edge on over-ear and on-ear headphones when it comes to heat buildup, as they keep your ear relatively uncovered.

Are wireless earbuds better than wired ones?

It used to be the case that sound quality was generally better with a wired connection, however, with technological advances, that is no longer the case.

Many of the best wireless earbuds offer high-quality audio in just the same way as wired options, thanks to the latest iterations of Bluetooth and enhanced wifi connectivity.

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