Bluetooth Ear Bud Guide
We listen on the go more than ever before, on commutes, while walking, and exercising at the gym, and this is the reason why more of us are wearing Bluetooth earbuds. In fact, many of us end up owning a pair of headphones and earbuds to cover the number of places we end up listening to music.
When on the go, wired headphones become cumbersome and annoying. After all, nothing is worse than arriving at the gym ready to work out and realizing you first have to untangle your headphones. Plus wires get in the way, especially during activity. And then there’s the issue of size.
Traditional over-ear headphones, while perfect for audiophile listening, are too big and bulky for most on-the-go activities. Plus they get hot and sweaty. For many, earbuds are a better option. For these reasons, wireless Bluetooth earbuds are more popular than ever before.
Best Bluetooth Earbuds Reviewed
Bose SoundSport Free – Best Sounding True Wireless Earbuds
Bose Soundsport Free headphones offer a truly wireless design, meaning there are no wires connecting the left and right earbuds. This gives you an unparalleled range of motion.
The earbuds themselves are IPX4 weather resistant and are also sweatproof, making them great for exercise.
Three different pairs of StayHear+ ear tips are also included, allowing you to choose the perfect fit. The earbuds are incredibly light and comfortable to wear and do not fall out of your ears. I especially love the softness of the ear tips.
Many are worried about true wireless designs because the small earbuds could be easy to lose. This model includes the Bose Connect App’s Find My Headphones feature which helps you locate your earbuds if you drop them. Playtime is 5 hours but the charging case can store two charges, allowing you an additional 10 hours of playtime.
In addition to the convenience factor, these earbuds really do sound great, with a clear, powerful, and well-balanced sound you will enjoy listening to for hours at a time. The highs are sharp and clear, the mids are powerful and vivid, and the bass is rich and clear without being muddy.
The charging case is especially well thought out with an easy charging process and built-in magnets that keep the earbuds in place. I am prone to losing things so I found this and the Track My Headphones app especially useful.
A built-in microphone allows you to take phone calls (although the call audio comes through the right earbud only) and talk to Siri or Google Assistant. Controls are easy to reach and you can easily pair, change the volume, and switch tracks with ease. Each earbud is marked L and R so you won’t get them confused. Also, pairing is incredibly easy and stable.
- Pros: Sweat and water-resistant; true wireless; amazing audio quality for a Bluetooth earbud; built in microphone; ergonomic and comfortable with soft tips; multiple tips for a perfect fit; track lost earbuds feature; easy pairing and easy controlling; charging case stores two additional charges.
- Cons: Does not have the NFC pairing or built in heart rate sensor of some of the other Bose models; early models were reported to have sync issues with video, however, a new update has fixed this problem; phone call audio only comes through the right earbud.
Sony SBH70BK Headphones – (Best Overall Value)
Sony’s SHB70BK Wireless Bluetooth headphones are my top pick for overall value. At just around $75 dollars, you get excellent sound quality, a well-thought-out design, and incredible wearing comfort.
The sound quality is amazing and the bass is full, rich, and well balanced. The mids are clear and vivid, with plenty of detail, and the highs are sparkling without causing ear fatigue.
The pair is IP57 rated and can safely be submerged for 30 minutes at a depth of up to one meter. Keep in mind that this refers to the headphones themselves, not the Bluetooth connection. If in water, the Bluetooth will disconnect as it does not travel well through water. The headphones, however, will not be damaged.
The earbuds are small, lightweight, and comfortable to wear. There is also a built in microphone for taking calls and giving voice commands.
While many manufacturers skimp on additional features, this model has a great-sounding microphone that is clear and easy to understand for both the headphone wearer and the person on the other end of the call. If you will be taking a lot of calls and using your headset, this is a great model to consider.
The controls are built into the neckband and I found them to be easy to use and reach. The neckband also vibrates when a call is received. I felt the neckband did not get in the way at all and was hardly even noticeable.
This model does not come with additional-sized ear tips. Although I found the Sonys to be comfortable to the point I didn’t even notice them, they may not fit everyone’s ears. Bluetooth range is 30 feet and battery life is 6 hours for music and 8 hours for taking calls. Pairing is easy and the connection is stable.
Sony’s amazing design quality, incredible sound, comfort, and ease of use make this model a great value. It’s especially recommended for anyone who will be taking a lot of calls.
- Pros: Great sound; excellent microphone design; comfortable to wear; easy to use and pair; built-in controls on the neckband; neckband vibrates when you get a call; IP57 waterproof.
- Cons: Does not offer multiple earbud sizes and may not fit everyone’s ears.
Phaiser BHS-750 – (Best Budget Model)
If you need a set of wireless earbuds but are on a tight budget, Phaiser BHS-750s are an excellent choice. This set has many features found only in higher-priced designs, along with a sound quality that is excellent for the price. These earbuds are loud and clear with deep rich bass.
Another great feature is their comfort. They come with additional ear wings and ear tips so you can choose the perfect fit for your ears.
Bluetooth reception is 30-40 feet with up to 8 hours of playback time on a 2-hour charge. Pairing is easy and the onboard controls are simple to use.
A built in mic with noise canceling allows you to take calls even in noisy areas. Music automatically stops and starts at the beginning and end of calls.
These Bluetooth earbuds are also sweatproof and offer a lifetime guarantee against damage due to sweat. Their winged design offers both over and under-ear wearing, allowing you to choose which works best for you.
Included with the headphones are three pairs of earbud tips- small, medium, and large; six pairs of wing attachments – small, medium, and large in both over and under ear designs; two pairs of cable management clips; two collar clips; a charging cable; and manual.
One other feature I found impressive was the magnetic design of the earbuds. Wrap them around your neck when not in use and they magnetically attach, preventing them from falling off.
All in all, this is a great-sounding, easy-to-use budget earbud with additional features. If only Bluetooth wireless will do and you’re on a tight budget, be sure to check these out.
- Pros: Great sound; comfortable fit; over or under ear wearability; different sized ear tips; easy to control and pair; built in noise-canceling microphone; magnetic earbud feature.
- Cons: At this price, there’s not much to complain about.
Apple Airpods (An excellent true wireless choice for iOS)
If you’re looking for a seamless connection to your Apple devices, look no further than the Apple Airpods. Setup is easy; really there’s no setup at all. Just take them out and they’re ready to use, connecting instantly when you put them in your ears.
Although high tech and cutting edge, they are incredibly simple to use. The audio quality is excellent and the built-in microphone is clear as well. If you need to talk in a noisy environment, advanced microphone technology makes sure you are heard.
Features include a one-tap setup for your Apple devices, a double-tap for instant access to Siri, and the ability to give voice commands. If you have more than one Apple device, you can pair to both and switch seamlessly between them.
Battery life is 5 hours which is good for true wireless headphones. Plus, the case holds additional charges giving you up to 24 hours of battery life. If you are low on power, 15 minutes of charge time will give you an additional 3 hours of listening time. If you want to know how much battery power you have left, just ask Siri and she will tell you. Very cool.
Connectivity is perfect. While some Bluetooth designs do not work well with iPhones, the Airpods work flawlessly, with no drag or sync issues. Whether listening on your phone or watching a movie on your iPad, there were no sync issues and no delay.
Airpods do not have inline controls, although the voice controls and one or two tap controls work well. They are also one size fits all and do not have multiple ear tip sizes for a perfect fit. They seem to fit well, however and don’t fall out when you shake your head. Still, they do not feel as tight and secure as some of the other models I tried.
Airpods only work with Apple devices iOS10 or later, so Android users will have to look elsewhere.
- Pros: True wireless; small and light; no sync issues; lightweight; great microphone; good sound.
- Cons: One size fits all; does not offer multiple ear tip sizes; only works with iOS. Small size could make them easy to lose.
SENSO Bluetooth Headphones (A great bargain set of wireless earbuds)
Another excellent budget choice, Senso wireless IPX7 Bluetooth Headphones feature a lightweight design with flexible ear hooks which provide a great fit. If you have trouble with earbuds staying in your ears, phones with ear hooks may be just what you’ve been looking for.
Listening time is up to 8 hours and the Bluetooth range is 30 feet. Pairing is easy and reconnecting is simple as well.
Additional features include an IPX7 waterproof design which allows the headphones to withstand being submerged for 30 minutes at a depth of up to one meter.
Please keep in mind, however, that this refers only to the headphones and not the Bluetooth connection. Bluetooth doesn’t travel well through water so although your earbuds will not be damaged, Bluetooth will be disconnected.
This model also features noise-canceling technology which while not on par with Bose or similar products, is good for the overall price.
While a budget set of earbuds will not have the amazing sound quality of much more expensive offerings, the sound quality is excellent considering the price. It is well balanced and clean, with punchy mids, full, well-balanced lows, and clear highs.
A built-in microphone lets you take calls and built-in controls on the headphones let you adjust volume and skip tracks. I found the controls to be easy to use and reach. The build quality is also good for the price. If well taken care of and not abused, these will last the user a long time. Considering the price, this is a great set of wireless earbuds.
- Pros: Comfortable to wear; good build quality for the price; ear hooks do a great job keeping the earbuds in place; IPX7 waterproof design; long battery life; stable Bluetooth connection; noise-canceling technology included; includes multiple ear tips, case, and USB charging cable.
- Cons: Noise reduction technology is not on par with more expensive models.
Sennheiser HD1 Free Bluetooth Wireless Headphones (Best Overall)
My personal favorite pair of wireless earbuds is the Sennheiser HD1 Free. While the Sennheiser name is familiar to audiophiles and people in the recording industry, there are still many everyday users who are unaware of the exceptional quality this company offers.
While they are famous for making world-class headphones and microphones used in concert halls, recording studios, and television/movie studios, they also make quality consumer products as well.
The audio quality of this set is amazing; with crisp clarity and fullness that you would swear wasn’t coming through Bluetooth.
Made with stainless steel in-ear sound tunnels, the HD1 Free gives you superior acoustic sound with powerful bass, plenty of definition, and a projection that is more dynamic than other Bluetooth phones I have tried.
They are ergonomic and so compact that you wonder how so much sound can come out of them. The HD1s are also comfortable to wear for hours on end. Four different ear tip adapters are included, allowing you to choose the perfect fit.
In addition, this set pairs easily with your device. There is a built-in microphone that sounds excellent and allows you to make calls, give commands, and control your device while on the go. The HD1 Free can connect to two devices at once and switch seamlessly between them. Voice prompts let you know important information about pairing, as well as battery status.
Battery life is six hours before needing a recharge and charging is easy. They also come with a beautiful leather case.
The build quality is excellent and features stainless steel construction with a classy chrome look. The earbuds are also magnetic so you can wrap them around your neck when not in use without fear of them falling off.
Because of its extreme comfort, superior sound quality, ease of use, and outstanding build quality, the Sennheiser HD1 Free is the best all-around wireless earbud set I have tried.
- Pros: Amazing sound quality; easy to use; easy pairing; great-sounding microphone; outstanding build quality; comfortable to wear; small and compact; beautiful carrying case included.
- Cons: Some people may not like the neckband. It did not bother me but I could see people who prefer true wireless or other designs not liking it.
Beats X Wireless Earphones (Best Bass- An excellent mid-priced model)
BeatsX wireless earphones provide you with superior sound quality and the deep powerful bass Beats are known for.
Not just bass headphones, they have clear punchy mids and shimmering highs as well. They let you hear the entire picture, just as the artist intended.
They are also comfortable to wear with a variety of ear tips included and removable secure-fit wingtips for added stability. I especially like the wingtips as they do a great job keeping the buds in place.
These have a tight fit, not in an uncomfortable way, but in a way that does a great job of attenuating outside noise.
The Bluetooth connection is easy and stable and the battery gives you 8 hours of listening time per charge. However, with the Fast Fuel feature, you get 2 hours of playback time with just a five-minute charge. This is a useful feature, especially for those of us who forget to charge our devices.
I also like the flex form cable which is comfortable to wear and doesn’t get in the way.
Additional features include a built-in microphone which allows you to take calls, control your music, and talk to Siri with RemoteTalk. The earbuds are magnetic, allowing you to wrap them around your neck when not in use and magnetically attach them so they don’t fall off.
Overall, this is an excellent pair of wireless earbuds at a great price. If you love bass, this is a highly recommended set.
- Pros: Great sound quality with full, rich bass; comfortable to wear; additional ear tips and wingtips included for a perfect fit; excellent outside noise attenuation; 8-hour battery life; built-in microphone; 5-minute FastFuel feature gives you 2 hours of listening time.
- Cons: Bass may be too powerful for users wanting a more balanced headphone; outside noise attenuation may not be ideal if you need to hear traffic and other sounds.
Bluetooth Earbuds Pros and Cons
The primary advantage of Bluetooth earbuds is the lack of wires. You are free to move as though nothing were connected to you. This is a considerable advantage. The debate between traditional wired and Bluetooth headphones is really more of an evaluation of tradeoffs rather than a better vs. worse argument.
One tradeoff is that Bluetooth transmission compresses the audio, making for a less dynamic, less audiophile sound quality. But while you would notice the difference if you listened on a pair of audiophile wired headphones and then switched to Bluetooth, the difference is not nearly as noticeable without this comparison. Also, our ears adjust quickly to sound and soon the Bluetooth difference is hardly noticeable. The second tradeoff is battery life and charging. Most Bluetooth earbuds have a battery life between 5 and 10 hours, so charging often is necessary.
Most Bluetooth earbuds have a wireless range of around 10 meters (30 feet), although some are longer. I have never had a problem with this as my phone is always either in my pocket or otherwise nearby.
At home, where headphone size and wires are not an issue, I will always choose a wired set of premier over-ear headphones. But when I’m walking, working out at the gym, traveling, or working in the yard, I always go with a wireless Bluetooth earbud set.
The question is primarily whether or not you are willing to accept these tradeoffs in exchange for the freedom of motion wireless allows. For most people, myself included, the answer is an unequivocal yes, especially during on-the-go activities.
Wireless vs. True Wireless
Both wireless and true wireless designs use Bluetooth technology. The difference is that true wireless headphones do not have wires connecting the left and right earbuds. Regular wireless headphones connect to players wirelessly but are connected to each other via some type of cord. One is not better than the other.
True wireless tends to be more expensive and their small size makes them easy to lose. Regular wireless, on the other hand, has a wired connector, neckband, or headband which some may find distracting. There are many different types of regular wireless headphones, however, and it should be easy to find one which is comfortable for you to wear.
Considerations for Evaluating Wireless Earbuds
Many people will use their wireless earbuds for activities requiring movement such as walking, jogging, going to the gym, etc. You want to find a pair with a great fit—one which doesn’t move or fall out. Also consider the connection, whether it’s wires, a neckband, or a headband. Find one that doesn’t bother you and is comfortable to wear for hours at a time.
We have already discussed the compression in Bluetooth technology. This does not mean, however, that Bluetooth doesn’t sound good or that some do not sound better than others. Some have boosted bass, while others have a more balanced sound, so choose based on your personal preference.
All Bluetooth earbuds will require charging fairly often. Most have battery lives between 4 and 10 hours, so even if you have the longest, you will still be charging often. Consider how many hours per day you will use your earbuds and make sure the battery life is long enough for your needs. Also, consider how long it takes to charge and how easy or difficult the charging process will be.
Noise Reduction and Cancellation
Some earbuds come with either passive or active noise reduction. Passive means the earbud blocks outside noise through its tight fit and design. Active noise cancellation, on the other hand, uses microphones to phase cancel outside noise. Active noise cancellation is generally more effective but also more expensive. Also, consider whether or not you need to be able to hear some outside noise. For example, if you running or jogging near traffic you need to be able to hear traffic noises to stay safe.
Ease of Use and Pairing
You want a set of headphones that pair easily. You don’t want to struggle to get them connected to your phone or other playback devices. Fortunately, most devices are easy to pair, and even if they are a bit difficult the first time, will pair easily from then on.
Also, consider the built-in controls. Many models have volume controls, track controls, and buttons that allow you to take calls or give voice commands. Make sure the buttons are easy to use and reach.
Many models include additional features, the most common being a microphone for taking calls and giving voice commands. If this is an important feature for your needs, make sure you get one with a clear microphone that allows you to be easily understood when taking calls.
Unfortunately, budget is always a factor. Most of us have to weigh the pros and cons and choose the best model for our needs within our budget. This is why I have included earbuds in this review that range from expensive to bargain choices, allowing you to see several models in different price ranges.
With these considerations in mind, we will evaluate seven different wireless designs. Included are true wireless and wireless, as well as models ranging from budget to higher end. With the knowledge you gain from this article, you will have the tools necessary to choose the right model for your particular needs.
Right Pair of Bluetooth Earbuds
Regardless of your needs, there is a perfect pair of wireless earbuds for you. If you’re looking for the convenience wireless designs have to offer, the pairs listed above will certainly provide you with the features and quality you require, regardless of your personal budget.
Check them out and discover the freedom wireless earbuds bring to your workouts, as well as your daily life.
- Bluetooth Ear Bud Guide
- Best Bluetooth Earbuds Reviewed
- Bose SoundSport Free – Best Sounding True Wireless Earbuds
- Sony SBH70BK Headphones – (Best Overall Value)
- Phaiser BHS-750 – (Best Budget Model)
- Apple Airpods (An excellent true wireless choice for iOS)
- SENSO Bluetooth Headphones (A great bargain set of wireless earbuds)
- Sennheiser HD1 Free Bluetooth Wireless Headphones (Best Overall)
- Beats X Wireless Earphones (Best Bass- An excellent mid-priced model)
- Bluetooth Earbuds Pros and Cons
- Wireless vs. True Wireless
- Considerations for Evaluating Wireless Earbuds
- Right Pair of Bluetooth Earbuds