Best Headphones for 2023: Top Picks for All Styles
With so many headphones and earbuds available, we’ve had to create a number of best lists here at CNET to cover all the various model types and use-case scenarios. For this list, I’ve taken the best of the best headphones from several categories, including wired and wireless (that includes true-wireless earbuds) and distilled that information into a top overall headphones list. We either fully reviewed or had hands-on time with every model on the list.
While many of the headphones on the list are premium models that cost a lot of money, we also like to highlight headphones that are a good value. These more affordable models can still deliver excellent quality at a good price. Regardless of budget or use case, this list will help you find the best headphones for you.
Read more: Best Wireless Earbuds for 2023
What are the best headphones right now?
There’s a lot of debate around this question, and it’s hard to name one single model as the best overall headphones, which also includes in-ear headphones or earbuds. But a few models do stand out a bit from the rest of the pack, which is why we’ve given them our prestigious CNET Editors’ Choice Award. From 2022, these include the Sony WH-1000XM5, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 and Apple AirPods Pro 2, and I’m sure we’ll see some worthy Editors’ Choice candidates arrive in 2023.
We tend to highlight more-affordable headphones — or at least models that cost $500 or less. But if you’re looking for fantastic sound quality, some high-end models, like the Focal Bathys, Bowers & Wilkins PX8 and Beyerdynamic’s Xelento Wireless (2nd generation), deliver outstanding sound quality. The new Technics EAH-AZ80 true-wireless earbuds also sound great, and we’re expecting Sony’s upcoming WF-1000XM5 earbuds to be top notch.
I’ve fully reviewed or had hands-on listening time with all headphones and earbuds on this list. My recommendations are updated regularly as I test new models that hit the market.
Best headphones of 2023
How we test headphones and earbuds
We test headphones and earbuds based on six key criteria. These criteria include design, sound quality, noise-canceling performance, voice-calling performance, features and value.
- Design: Evaluating design, we assess not only how comfortable the headphones and earbuds fit (their ergonomics) but their build quality and how well the controls are implemented. When it comes to earbuds, we also look at water- and dust-resistance ratings.
- Sound quality: We evaluate sound quality by listening to a set playlist of music tracks and comparing the earbuds to top competing products in their price range. Sonic traits such as bass definition, clarity, dynamic range and how natural the headphones sound are key factors in our assessment.
- Noise-canceling performance: If the headphones we’re testing feature active noise canceling (ANC), we evaluate ANC performance by wearing the headphones in the same spot indoors near a noisy HVAC unit to see how well they do at muffling lower frequencies. Then we head out to the streets of New York to test the headphones in a real-world environment where we see how they do muffling not only street noise but people’s voices.
- Extra features: Some great-sounding noise-canceling headphones and earbuds aren’t loaded with features, but we do take into account what extra features are on board. These include everything from quick-access awareness to transparency modes (your music pauses and the headphones open up to the outside world so you can have a conversation) to special sound modes to ear-detection sensors that automatically pause your music when you take the headphones off your ears. We also take a look at the companion app for the headphones if there is one and how user friendly it is.
- Voice-calling: When we test voice-calling performance, we make calls in the noisy streets of New York and evaluate how well the headphones or earbuds reduce background noise and how clearly callers can hear our voice.
- Value: We determine value after evaluating the strength of the headphones and earbuds against all these criteria and what they’re able to deliver compared to other models in their price class.
Are headphones are better: Sony or Bose?
Are over-ear or in-ear headphones better?
Do wireless headphones sound as good as wired headphones?
Does noise canceling matter?
More headphone recommendations
- Best Cheap True Wireless Headphones
- Best Open Wireless Earbuds for 2023
- Best Headphones for Working at Home in 2023
- Best Noise-Canceling True Wireless Earbuds of 2023
- Best Headphones for Running
- Best Cheap Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones Under $100 for 2023
- Best Wireless Earbuds and Headphones for Making Calls
- Best Cheap Earbuds and Headphones
- Best Apple AirPods Max Alternatives for Less: Sony, Bose, AirPods Pro and More
- Best Headphones for Sleeping
Hands-on With Focal’s Bathys, $799 Wireless Headphones Aimed at Audiophiles
Focal’s Bathys share the same design aesthetic as the company’s more expensive wired headphones.
French audio company Focal is known for its high-end speakers and headphones. You might call it the Bowers & Wilkins of France. And now it’s finally done what a lot of high-end audio companies have had to do in this age of on-the-go wireless music listening: make active noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones.
Over three years in development, the Bathys cost $799 (£699, AU$1199) and feature not only wireless connectivity but a built-in DAC (digital-to-analog converter) for USB wired listening with any computer, smartphone or tablet with USB-C. They are easily one of the best-sounding wireless headphones.
See at Crutchfield
Focal makes some hefty wired headphones for home listening, including the $3,000 Stellia that weighs in at 435 grams. For the Bathys, it created headphones that shared a similar design aesthetic but are more compact and weigh in at more reasonable 350 grams with a magnesium yoke used to help cut the weight. By comparison, the AirPods Max weigh 384. 8 grams.
Read more: Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for 2022
While they’re not quite as comfortable to wear as the lighter Bose QuietComfort 45 or Sony WH-1000XM5, I did find them comfortable to wear over longer listening sessions. They didn’t feel too tightly clamped, and the headband didn’t create any pressure points on the crown of my head.
The name, by the way, is inspired by the bathyscaphe, the first submarine exploration vehicle, with the headphones being the “embodiment of calm, depth and absolute silence,” according to Focal.
While they may be more compact than Focal’s other headphones, they’re still pretty large.
I haven’t had enough time with the Bathys to post a full review but here are some quick first impressions:
- While they’re more compact than Focal’s wired headphones, the Bathys are still large headphones and will look that way on your head. I liked how Focal’s flame symbol lights up on each ear cup when the headphones are turned on (you can turn off the lighting).
- The noise-canceling is good though not excellent, with a low and high mode (“silent” and “soft”) as well a transparency mode. ANC has a tendency to degrade the sound so there’s always a delicate balance adding ANC when sound quality is the priority.
- The Bathys are equipped with Bluetooth 5.1 and have multipoint Bluetooth pairing (so you can pair them to two devices like a smartphone and computer simultaneously). I had no problem driving them with iPhone and Android devices and they do support AptX Adaptive on Android and other devices that are compatible with that audio codec. (They use the AAC audio codec for iPhones.)
- I streamed music using the Qobuz app, which does offer high-resolution files. I connected the headphones via USB-C to a couple of Android phones as well as a MacBook Pro (you switch into DAC mode to go wired). Focal threw in a USB-C to Lighting adapter with my review sample so I could go wired with iOS devices, but that adapter isn’t included with the retail version of the headphones, which is a shame (a pack of two Apple MiFi-certified adapters costs $20 on Amazon).
- Going wired gives you a slight bump up in sound quality (it does help to stream high-resolution audio files for optimal sound). In wired mode, the headphones deliver up to 24-bit/192kHz resolution. But the headphones also sound quite impressive in wireless mode with excellent clarity, detail, accuracy and powerful, well-defined bass. They have a spacious soundstage (for a closed-back headphone) and allow you to hear each instrument distinctly in complicated tracks where several instruments are playing at the same time. They’re what I call “revealing” headphones that will make bad recordings sound worse and good recordings sound even better.
- The Bathys use Aluminum-Magnesium speaker drivers while Focal’s higher-end wired headphones have Beryllium drivers that offer even more clarity and accuracy with the right setup.
- The headphones fold flat (but don’t fold up) into a nice carry case. Along with the USB-C to USB-C cable you also get a standard 3.5 mm analog headphone cable for use with in-flight entertainment systems. The cables are of basic quality and do not match the premium look of the headphones.
- Overall, I was pleased with the voice-calling performance. Callers said I sounded good and could hear me well on the noisy streets of New York, where they heard some background sound leak in, but the noise reduction was good. They measure up well to the Master & Dynamic MW75 ($599) for voice calling and while they may not be exceptionally good like the Sony WH-1000XM5 for voice calls, you shouldn’t be disappointed with the telephony performance. That can sometimes be the case with headphones that tout sound quality first.
- With a press of button, they offer access to either Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or other phone voice assistant (Siri or Bixby, for instance).
- An equalizer in the companion app for iOS and Android allows you to tweak the sound profile. Since these are an audiophile headphone, you can expect a flat default sound profile. Depending on what I was listening to, I ended up boosting the bass a bit.
- Battery life is solid at up to 30 hours, with a quick charge feature that gives you 5 hours of use with a 15-minute charge.
- The headphones can’t be used in passive mode. You have to power them on, so if the battery dies, you need to charge them to use them.
The headphones fold flat but don’t fold up. A nice carrying case is included.
In recent months, we’ve seen an increasing number of “high-fidelity” active noise-canceling wireless headphones released following the launch of Apple’s AirPods Max, which list for $549 but frequently sell for $479 or less. There’s the aforementioned Master & Dynamic MW75, the Mark Levinson No. 5909 ($999) and the just-announced Bowers and Wilkins PX8, which I haven’t tried yet but lists for $699.
They’re all great headphones but in terms of pure sound quality, the Bathys may be the best of the bunch and I particularly liked the built-in DAC and the ability to switch easily between wired and wireless modes.
Best wired and wireless in-ear headphones: specifications and price
We have already explained how to choose the best headphones based on your needs in each case. So, in this article, we are going to show you some of the best options that you have between in-ear headphones. If you’re thinking about buying one of these types of headphones, keep reading because you have options for every type of use.
- 1 How to choose in-ear headphones?
- 1.1 What benefit are you going to give them?
- 1.2 Comfort above all else?
- 1.3 Do you want to isolate yourself from the world?
- 1.4 Sound quality, the most important thing?
- 2 The best in-ear headphones for any user
- 3 Wired headphones
- 3.1 Sony MDRXB50APB.CE7
- 3.2 Audio Tech ATH-ANC33iS
- 3.3 Sennheiser Momentum
- 3. 4 Wireless bullets Oneplus Bullets 2
- 3.5 Sony MDRXB50BSB.CE7
- 3.6 Bose SoundSport
- 4 Wireless headphones
- 4.1 Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless headphones 2
- 4.2 Jabra Elite Active 65t
- 4.3 Real Buds Air 2
- 4.4 Sony WF1000XM3
- 4.5 Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
- 4.6 Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
- 4.7 Powerbeats Pro
- 4.8 Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8
- 4.9 Jabra Elite 75t
- 4.10 Apple AirPods Pro
- 4.11 AirPods (3rd generation)
- 4.12 Bose Quiet Comfort
- 4.13 Nothing Ear 1 and 2
- 4.14 Sony WF-100 0XM4
- 4.15 Samsung Buds Live
- 4.16 Bits Fit Pro
- 4.17 JBL Stream
- 4.18 Huawei FreeBuds 5i
How to choose in-ear headphones?
Before explaining to you which models we recommend you buy due to the different features, we would like to provide you with a small guide that can serve as your reference. Make no mistake choosing the model that best suits your needs . Obviously, the price is the deciding factor, but not the most decisive one, so we are going to list in detail everything you should pay attention to before giving up on the euro.
What benefit are you going to give them?
If these are helmets that you will take with you everywhere, then you should take into account the autonomy of , battery life and case (if any). This way you will know if he will arrive to use it in public transport, at work and at home.
Comfort above all else?
It is very important that they fit perfectly in the ear, are not too big or small and fit perfectly. Both excess and deficiency are always a problem. Try on in-ear headphones with ear pads at the store, if possible, to make sure they don’t hurt or irritate you for some reason.
Do you want to isolate yourself from the world?
In the case of active noise canceling helmets, it is possible that the helmet is able to isolate us thanks to the microphones and the technologies it contains, while passive ones simply use a cushion that tries to isolate our ears. If you have a good budget we always recommend Active Noise Cancellation (ANC).
Sound quality, the most important thing?
Obviously this aspect cannot be missed, which you can only feel when you read product reviews on the purchase page or, why not, read or watch videos in which an expert shows what level we can get. Within this aspect, we can count the number of transducers, the filters that can be applied, or the frequency range.
The best in-ear headphones for every wearer
Have you already decided on the type of helmet you need? Well then you have a selection of the best models available right now on the market.
- Sony MDRXB50APB
- Audio-Technique ATH-ANC33iS
- Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 headphones
- Sennheiser Momentum
- Powerbeats Pro
- Oneplus Bullets 2 Wireless Bullets
- Sony MDRXB50BSB
- Bose SoundSport
- Jabra Elite Active 65t
- Real buds Air 2
- Sony WF1000XM3
- Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
- Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8
- Jabra Elite 75t
- Apple AirPods Pro
- Apple AirPods (3rd generation)
- Bose Quiet Comfort
- nothing ear
- Sony WF-1000XM4
- Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
- Beats Fit Pro
- JBL thread
- Huawei FreeBuds 5i
These types of hearing aids may be those that offer la the best balance of quality, comfort and isolation of in this market. This is because while some of the options don’t include active noise cancellation, diving into the earpiece of the headset causes the passive noise cancellation to kick in and improve the experience. Although there are many users who are not very committed to this with their silicone pads.
In any case, understanding that if you are reading this, then you are interested in them, in this article we are going to show you the 11 best in-ear headphones on the market.
If you prefer wired in-ear headphones, this choice leaves you with the best on the market today.
One of the cheapest options is Sony MDRXB50APB.CE7 . Some wired headphones are signed by Sony, which offer the brand’s usual sound quality. They also have this company’s EXTRA BASS bass boost. They are available in multiple colors and are quite comfortable and lightweight.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Another famous brand in the audio sector is Audio-Technica . included in the catalog of wired in-ear headphones, offering a premium feature such as active noise cancellation for less than 35 euros. They also have a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz and a remote control that will act as a speakerphone for calls.
>> Buy on Amazon <
these Sennheiser Momentum These are quality wired in-ear headphones. They have a noise cancellation system, although the manufacturer does not indicate if this cancellation is active. Its design is quite elegant, and the construction materials give a feeling of solidity. We will also have a small keypad to control everything related to music and calls.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Oneplus Bullets 2 Wireless Bullets
Another in-ear option for sports is the Oneplus Bullets 2 Wireless Bullets . With them, we can enjoy high definition sound with up to 10 hours of listening time. They have fast charging, which with just 10 minutes of connection will allow us to continue enjoying another 10 hours of playback. If you want to know everything about them, you can watch our video review that we leave you below.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Our video analysis:
Sony also has several alternatives for athletes, including: Sony MDRXB50 BSB.CE7 . They have splash protection so you can do any physical activity without worrying about sweat. They have a range of up to 8.5 hours of continuous use and the right sound quality, boosted by this brand’s EXTRA BASS.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Bose is another well-known acoustics and headphones in the world. The Bose SoundSport These headphones are, as the name suggests, designed for athletes. They have NFC for faster pairing and very balanced sound. In addition, we can control them with our smartphone with the Bose Connect app in order to adapt its various features to our tastes.
>> Buy on Amazon <
These are the best wireless headphones you can buy right now.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 Headphones
Exceptional quality models, with 7mm driver, active noise cancellation, 7 hours duration per headset, 28 hours total counting case, and touch panels to control them without having to touch the mobile screen phone.
View offer on Amazon
Jabra Elite Active 65t
Now on to the in-ear headphones, this Jabra Elite Active 65t might be a great option. This company is known for its good value for money, and, of course, it could not be less in this case. They are available in several colors and have an autonomy of up to 15 hours with the shipping box. They have IP65 protection, so we can forget about dust, water and sweat.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Realme Buds Air 2
Another very interesting model if you don’t want to spend too much money on headphones is Realme Buds Air 2 . In-ear headphones available in two finishes: white and silver or black. They have active noise cancellation, enhanced bass and IPX5 water resistance. Through the control app on our phone, we can activate the low latency mode if we need it, in addition to changing many other interesting options here. If you want to learn more about them, you can watch our video analysis on YouTube.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Once again, Sony WF1000XM3 This is another of the brand’s bets on in-ear headphones, but in this case, button-based. These are Sony’s best wireless headphones, offering excellent sound quality, as well as a noise canceling system that works very well. If you want to know everything about them, you can watch our video review that we leave you below.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Our video analysis:
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro
Available in stores at the end of August 2022. these new Galaxy Buds2 Pro are the logical continuation of the most premium line. Koreans when it comes to wireless headphones. This time we will have 24-bit HIFI audio, Active Noise Cancellation, 3 SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) microphones, Voice Detection to improve call outcomes, and 360-degree audio with 5. 1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos surround sound emulation options. Amen add by tracking our head to find the source of the sound at the point we point to. Comprar en Amazon <<
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
This is the evolution of Buds Live, which appeared with the new Galaxy S22 from the Koreans. They have active noise cancellation and a very compact design. which are barely noticeable when we wear them. In addition, together with the case, they achieve almost 30 hours of battery life to listen to what we want for more than a whole day.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Moving on now to more activity oriented headphones, we have this Powerbeats Pro . Available in a variety of colors, these wireless headphones from the Beats brand offer up to 9 hours of range (depending on manufacturer), water and sweat resistance. Also, they have an Apple h2 chip, so if you have an iPhone, it will be very easy to sync it.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8
Bang & Olufsen is one of the audio connoisseur brands and in this case they have beoplay e8 in their in-ear catalog. In addition to a very thoughtful design, these headphones have a touch surface that allows you to control them without having to approach our phone. In addition to its own autonomy, the charging case gives us two additional full cycles.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Jabra Elite 75t
Very comfortable headphones that adapt well to the auditory pavilion and have good sound, as this manufacturer taught us. We tell you about our experience in your video review.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Our video analysis:
Apple AirPods Pro
And what about Apple AirPods Pro . The headphones are known both for their sound quality and for the design that this company puts into all their equipment. They have an active noise cancellation system that we can adjust to our liking from the phone.
>> Buy on Amazon <
AirPods (3rd generation)
The third generation of the legendary Apple headphones. move to the new design, more inspired by the Pro models but with active noise cancellation and removed ear pads. Of course, we will enjoy the famous spatial sound, and they finally have a touch surface to control the playback of everything we hear.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Bose Quiet Comfort
Bose has one of the best in-ear headphones on the market, with top notch sound quality and exceptional noise cancellation. Although, perhaps, its main drawback Bose Quiet Comfort is its size. If you want to know more about this, you can watch our video analysis on YouTube.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Our video analysis:
youtube.com/embed/2ICIqoQuX2A?feature=oembed” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share” allowfullscreen=””/>
Nothing Ear 1 and 2
With a really striking design, Nothing ear 1 is the first headphone released by the former founder of OnePlus. A product that, yes, stands out for more than just its striking aesthetics. On a sound quality level, it has to be said that this is good for being the first product they launch. When compared with other solutions, such as Sony or Bose, they do not win, but considering the price, they are positioned as a serious alternative. Thus, they can be reduced to good beautiful and cheap. You can’t ask for more.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Our video analysis:
Nothing, ear (2) They were introduced just a few months ago, betting on a slightly smaller box, stronger plastic and a better clasp. The ear cups are also slightly smaller and lighter – though you’ll have to carefully compare one generation to the next to appreciate this – and there’s now a major change in gesture control, switching to a joystick via finger taps (rather than taps). before).
You also have more battery, up to 36 hours if we have a case, and technology LHDC 5.0 codec . Small but interesting changes to keep in mind.
Nothing Ear (2) -…
The latest generation of Sony’s most popular True Wireless headphones and their biggest bet in terms of innovation and sound quality. These Sony WF-1000XM4 They are improved over previous models in terms of design, they are now more compact and appreciated. The case is also smaller and still supports one of the best noise canceling systems.
As we said in the analysis, when a product is already very good, it is difficult to imagine that it can be further improved. But yes, they do exist and are a sure bet if you’re looking for an upscale experience.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Our video analysis:
Samsung Buds live
Launched in 2020, the is one of Samsung’s best offerings. : Dreamy design, they take up very little space, are extremely discreet and have active noise cancellation. In addition, we can control playback by touching the touch surface of each of the headphones. And you have them at a very good price.
See offer on Amazon
Beats Fit Pro
The new Beats in-ear headphones forget about cables and delve into the features that gave them such good results: active noise cancellation, instant pairing with Apple devices, compatible with Android and IPX4 certification for outdoor use in adverse weather conditions.
>> Buy on Amazon <
Designed for sports, this model is splash resistant and you can connect it to your mobile phone thanks to Bluetooth connectivity. They have an autonomy of 20 hours (including the capacity of the case), and about 10 hours for the headset. They also come with proprietary technology from JBL TalkThru and AmbientAware.
View offer on Amazon
Huawei FreeBuds 5i
Huawei has built a good range of headphones over time and among its latest models is the FreeBuds 5i. This model has Bluetooth 5.1, IPX4 certification, and a 55 mAh battery that may last is the best it has in your tech sheet. And it is that the autonomy of of these headphones, which by the way they adapt quite well for the hearing pavilion (thanks to its shape and the pads that it includes), it is quite good, offering up to 7 and a half hours of continuous playback.
FreeBuds 5i function active noise canceling acceptable, with three different modes and support for two microphones; they are compatible with both Android and iOS and allow you to easily switch between connected devices. In the case of its blue version – the one we tested – it has the peculiarity of showing off a case with a very attractive finish and matte texture. You won’t regret your purchase.
HUAWEI FreeBuds 5i, iOS and…
These are some of the best in-ear headphones What are you going to find on the market? Now you just have to think about what usage you are going to use and pick the best one from that selection. If you have any questions about them, leave us a comment and we will try to resolve them as soon as possible.
The Amazon links in this article are part of our agreement with your affiliate program and may earn us a small commission on their sale (without affecting the price you pay). However, the decision to publish and add them was made, as always, freely and in accordance with editorial criteria, without regard to the requests of the brands involved.
Quality headphones and Bluetooth headsets don’t have to be expensive. Budget models can also have high sound quality, ergonomic shape and work for a long time without recharging. They just have to be chosen a little more carefully.
We tell you which wireless headphones are considered the best in the budget segment and what criteria are important when choosing.
Types of wireless headphones
Let’s start with the types of wireless headphones. All models on the market in 2023 can be divided by signal transmission technology, form factor and type of acoustic design.
Signal transmission technology
The most long-range devices are those that transmit sound using a radio signal. Their range exceeds 100 m. True, the quality of communication can be quite low – radio models tend to catch interference from other electrical devices, converting them into noise and crackling.
Infra-red headphones do this much better. They provide clear sound, but at a distance of up to 10 m. When transmitting a signal, its source must be directly opposite the infrared receiver, so you won’t be able to go into another room with headphones.
Good compromise – Bluetooth models. They do not respond to interference, operate within a radius of 5-100 m, they are not afraid of obstacles in the form of interior partitions.
Codecs are important for Bluetooth models – software algorithms that compress and decode audio signals for fast wireless transmission. They must match for headphones and other equipment – a computer, smartphone, laptop. There are more than 15 of them in total. The most common and supported by the vast majority of models are SBC and AAC. You can see the codecs in the description or technical specifications.
The first form factor is TWS, true wireless stereo. These headphones are not connected in any way either to the signal source or to each other – they can be used separately. To charge them, they are removed in a special case – a small plastic box with a battery.
TWS headphones come in two types:
- In-ear. They are inserted into the ear canal and fixed there with the help of ear cushions – soft elastic pads.
- Inserts. They are placed in the auricle and are held due to the ergonomic shape.
The next form factor is full size. These headphones are so large that they completely cover the auricles and almost do not touch them, clinging to the head. Between themselves, they are connected by a headband – a wide semicircular bar that repeats the contour of the head.
On-ear headphones have a similar design. But they are smaller in size, they are not superimposed on the head, but directly on the auricles, and are pressed against them due to the rigidity of the headband.
Type of acoustic design
According to the type of acoustic design, headphones are open, semi-open and closed. Open ones let in sound from the outside: in them you will hear not only music, but also conversations at home or street noise. Half-open will let in less external sounds. Closed – only the loudest. And if they have a built-in software or mechanical noise reduction system, then nothing can distract you from an interesting podcast or your favorite track.
It is not safe to wear noise-canceling headphones while walking down the street. You may not hear a tram bell or car signals. But in the subway train car they are irreplaceable.
How to choose budget wireless headphones
When choosing, do not rely on the use case. If you are going to listen to music or watch movies in your home theater – take a full-size model. It will not put pressure on the ears and transmit the sound as accurately as possible. If you want a less bulky design, take overhead. In-ear bluetooth headphones are suitable for morning jogging and sports. Earbuds are convenient for those who listen to music during leisurely walks or household chores.
Other selection criteria:
- Battery life
On-ear and full-sized devices last the longest, with large batteries built into them. Small earbuds and in-ear models run out faster, but they can always be recharged by putting them in the box. The parameter is indicated among the technical characteristics, but in cheap products it rarely corresponds to the real value: to calculate it, subtract 15-20%.
If you frequently talk on the phone, make video calls, or play online mobile games, the built-in microphone will come in handy.
- Frequency band
The human ear perceives sound waves in the range of 20-20000 Hz – this is the standard value for most models. Professional equipment may have an extended range – this allows it to more accurately transmit sound. But it also costs more. The frequency margin in inexpensive headphones is most often a marketing ploy.
This parameter determines the sound volume. The optimal value is 95 dB. This is enough to listen to music at a volume that is acceptable for our hearing. You can take the device with a large value, but often you should not overload the eardrum – it is harmful.
- Moisture and dust protection
The level of protection is indicated by the letters IP followed by two numbers. The first digit indicates the degree of protection of the device from dust, the second – from water. For example, the IP67 model is rated 6 for dust resistance and 7 for water resistance.
The maximum value of dust protection is 6, water protection is 8. You can walk in the rain with headphones with water protection from 4.
An important parameter is the Bluetooth version. The principle of choice is simple: the newer the version, the more stable and faster the connection will be. The Bluetooth version does not affect the depth and accuracy of sound reproduction. Ideally, it should match the version of the technology to which the headphones are connected: if the smartphone supports 4.1, and the headphones support 5.2, then the connection will be implemented using the 4.1 protocol. Accordingly, it is not worth overpaying for Bluetooth 5.2, having an old smartphone.
You can also save money on original design and expensive materials. Genuine leather on the ear pads or ABS plastic with a glossy finish do not affect the sound transmission, but significantly increase the cost of the product.
Top best wireless over-ear headphones in 2023
Over-ear headphones are equipped with large batteries. They are large – they take a lot of materials. Therefore, their price is usually higher. Nevertheless, you can find inexpensive models with good sound transmission. In 2022–2023, the most popular of them were:
- Hoco W35
Operating time in active mode – 40 hours, in standby mode – 240 hours. Benefits: SD card slot, 2-way adjustment – shorten or lengthen the headband, 90° rotation of each ear cup. Bluetooth version – 5.3. On the outside there are controls: you can turn up the volume, stop and start the sound.
- Defender FreeMotion B525
Headphones have a built-in microphone and a foldable design that makes them easier to carry than models with a rigid headband. With Defender FreeMotion B525 you can listen to radio and recordings from MicroSD – the device has a built-in radio and a slot for a memory card. The battery life is 8 hours. After that, you can connect the Micro-USB cable – it is included in the kit.
- Pero BH02
Open acoustic model with built-in microphone and large soft ear cushions. Users note that Pero BH02 does not transmit bass well, but otherwise they are satisfied: they like the ergonomic shape, the ability to receive incoming calls, and ease of operation. The volume and call buttons are located on the top of the ear pads on both sides of the base of the headband – with this arrangement, it is easier to find them with your fingers and not confuse them.
- Borofone BO20
Foldable design, microphone, card reader – you can turn your headphones into a player by inserting a memory card. On the outside of the bowls there is a volume control and a call button for the voice assistant. Customers like the easy connection, clear sound and comfortable headband that fits well on the head and does not put pressure on the ears. Judging by the reviews, this model is often taken as a gift to fans of computer games.
- Panasonic RB-HX220
Full size device with large battery. After a full charge, it can continuously work 23 hours, after a 15-minute charge – about 3 hours. It has X-Bass bass processing system, foldable design for easy transportation. Compared to other models, the RB-HX220 is a little more expensive, but Panasonic products often have good discounts – you need to keep an eye out.
The popular OneOdio A70 also belongs to the budget segment. It has a foldable headband, swivel earcups, and ergonomic oval memory foam ear cushions. The advantage is a structured sound: when reading music from a high-quality source, you can distinguish a sonorous upper register, a calm middle and rich bass. A nice detail is a soft durable bag for storing headphones in the kit.
Top of the best budget wireless on-ear headphones
JBL Tune 510BT, an on-ear model that can work up to 40 hours without recharging, leads the ranking of inexpensive devices. After that, you can put it on charge for 5 minutes and get another 2 hours of battery life. Charging is done using a USB-C cable. An additional function of JBL Tune 510BT is an independent call of a voice assistant: you can connect to Siri or ask a question to Google without using a smartphone.
Other Top Ratings:
- Sony WH-CH510
Sony models are a rarity in the budget segment. However, we found this one: Sony WH-CH510 headphones have a battery life of 35 hours, can call a voice assistant, have volume control buttons, start and stop tracks. They have a built-in microphone and swiveling ear cups. The Bluetooth version is 5.0.
- JBL Tune 500BT
Enclosed design with passive noise reduction. It can independently switch between two sources: for example, when you are watching a movie on a laptop, and someone calls you on the phone. A special feature is the special Pure Bass bass processing algorithm: it makes low sounds soft, velvety.
- Rombica Mysound BH-07
Here the manufacturer saved on plastic: it does not have a Soft-touch coating and is not very durable. But if you handle the device carefully and do not subject it to strong shocks, then it will last a long time. Pros: clear sound, low weight, headband that adjusts to the size of the head – according to reviews, the bowls do not put pressure on the ears. Rombica Mysound BH-07 has a backlight that can be turned off to save power, as well as a charge indicator: when the battery is discharged by more than 90%, you will hear a beep.
- Philips TAh5205
Philips TAh5205 differs from the cheapest devices in its stylish design: the surface of the bowls and the headband is covered with a pleasant matte plastic. In addition, the model has a sensitivity of 110 dB, works without recharging for 29 hours, is complemented by a bass boost function – to get more of them, just press a button. Minus – ear pads made of thick leatherette, in summer it can be hot in them.
- Borofone BO17
ANC with built-in microphone, backlight, foldable design – fits easily into bags and backpacks. Borofone BO17 can read records from a memory card, can rewind tracks, end and reject calls. The reviews write that the model sits comfortably on the head, does not put pressure on the ears, is easy to control – many do not even take off their gloves on the street to find the right button.
- Edifier W800BT Plus
Leading battery life. This is an on-ear model with a good microphone and eco-leather ear pads, working for 50 hours in a row. Charging time from zero to 100% is 3 hours. The kit comes with a USB cable, the bowls have a volume control and a call answer button. Feature – Qualcomm CVC 8.0 noise reduction system. When talking, it does not muffle external noise, but it highlights your voice for the interlocutor.
Top best inexpensive wireless in-ear headphones
Due to their shape, the earbuds do not fit well on the ears: the user hears external interference, and others can hear what he is listening to. Most manufacturers make the acoustic design semi-open or even closed, but this is not enough: it is better if the device is supplemented with an active noise reduction system.
The following models are popular in major stores and marketplaces:
- HONOR Choice Earbuds X
Closed earbuds with active noise cancellation and splash protection. They can work 6 hours on a single charge. They have a special sound driver – it is made of aluminum and covered with copper, it is able to significantly enhance low frequencies. Customers like the ergonomic shape of the device. Thanks to her, the earbuds remain in the ears even with a strong inclination. And it’s also convenient to get them out of the charging case – they don’t slip in your hands.
- Xiaomi Redmi Buds 3
This model has not only noise reduction, but also an echo cancellation system. Microphones are built into each earpiece. The dynamic emitter is made of composite materials. The manufacturer says that this allowed him to calibrate the sound well – to make the high frequencies clear and saturate the low ones. A useful feature is a shutdown when you are outside the case for a long time: if you took Redmi Buds 3 out of your ears and forgot to put them on charge, they will turn off themselves and save energy.
- JBL T205BT
The device has a wire that connects the earbuds to each other. It is worn around the neck so that the headphones that fall out of the ears are not lost. Shortening or lengthening the wire to make it more convenient will not work. But it has a one-button volume control. Pros – clear sound and good battery life. According to reviews, the headphones really work for 6 hours in a row, as indicated in the instructions.
- Haylou GT6
The earbuds themselves play music for up to 5 hours. And with recharging in the case, battery life increases to 15 hours. The device can stop and switch tracks, answer phone calls, activate voice assistants. Buyers note the surround sound, nice design, good shape – the earbuds do not fall out of the ears when tilted. A shortcoming noticed by many is the insufficiently reliable fastening of the case lid. It does not hold it well in the open state and provokes a slight backlash.
- Edifier X6
Closed earbuds with 94 dB sensitivity. They work 5 hours on their own, 24 hours with a case. They have touch control, a recognizable angular design. Available in black and white colors. Users note the stability of the connection and the purity of the sound. Among the shortcomings, the plastic of the case is prone to scratches and the relative complexity of the connection: each earbud must be connected to other equipment separately.
- Haylou MoriPods
They are also often chosen by customers. The earbuds have long legs that are comfortable to grip, and touch controls: one, two or three touches allow you to stop or start the track, call the voice assistant. At maximum volume, the new device works autonomously for 4 hours. The connection is automatic, but you need to add Haylou MoriPods to the list of devices manually. The downside is that there is no charging indicator for the case.
Top best cheap TWS in-ear headphones
Many ears get tired of in-ear headphones – after 1-1.5 hours of continuous use, you can feel discomfort. Therefore, it is important to choose the most comfortable ear cushions – elastic, suitable size.
Note. On sale there are models with a set of ear cushions of different diameters – with them it is easier to choose the right size. If the device is sold without additional ear pads, you can buy them separately. A sign of size compliance is the absence of pain and discomfort in the auricle with sufficient fixation.
- Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earbuds Basic 2 Global
These headphones connect automatically via Bluetooth 5.0 as soon as you put them in your ears. They themselves work up to 4 hours, with recharging in a case – up to 10-11 hours. Sold in a set with soft silicone ear tips in three sizes. The advantage is the system of protection against accidental touches: Mi True will not change the volume and will not activate any function if you accidentally touch the touch surface.
- QCY T13
Active noise canceling model with closed design: you won’t hear outside sounds and others won’t know what you’re listening to. The interlocutor on the phone will hear only your voice, and not the noise around you. A special feature is the fast charging function: after 5 minutes of charging in the box, the headphones can be taken out and used for about an hour. Users positively note the large volume range and the ability to adjust the sound using the official application – it uses a digital equalizer.
- Xiaomi Redmi AirDots 2 CN
The model has two modes of operation: with one earpiece – for simple sound, with two – for surround sound. Switching between them is done automatically as soon as you insert the ear pads into your ears. Digital noise reduction – occurs at the software level, well eliminates all interference. You can use the Xiao AI voice assistant. Redmi AirDots 2 CN users are satisfied with the ratio of quality and cost, but many do not have enough volume buttons.
- JBL Wave 100TWS
Here, almost all buyers appreciate the build quality and excellent sound. JBL Wave 100TWS are sold with silicone ear tips in two sizes, have a microphone, but are poorly protected from moisture. The reviews also write about a case that does not close tightly: dust, small grains of sand, and pet hair can get into it.
- HONOR FlyPods Lite
In the FlyPods Lite model, HONOR has implemented its best noise reduction system: as with an expensive good headset, you can talk calmly in strong winds, you will not hear extraneous sounds. FlyPods Lite is also not afraid of rain. You can also run and play sports with these headphones – they have reliable sweat protection.
- WALKER WTS-11
These in-ear headphones stand out in terms of value for money. They have an open speaker system, instant connection with Apple and Android smartphones. The headphones are controlled by a sensitive touch system: with a light touch, you can switch tracks, answer calls. Without recharging, the device works for a short time – 3-4 hours. But it also charges very quickly – in 50-60 minutes.
Choosing an inexpensive model, you can sacrifice design and take a device made of inexpensive materials. Important criteria are signal transmission technology, type of acoustic design, form factor: full-size and on-ear headphones transmit sound more accurately, in-ear and earbuds provide greater mobility.