8 of the Best Wireless Earphones Available Now

Ranging in price from £129 to £349, these fall into the premium product category for both sound and style.

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It’s Friday, so we’ve rounded up the Best New Tracks to get your weekend started. This week, we’ve also compiled a selection of the best wireless earphones for your listening pleasure, including a range of brands and prices that are guaranteed to both sound and look good.

Check out the list below (presented in alphabetical order) and let us know what you think in the comments.

Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) (£249 GBP)

Apple’s current lineup of AirPods is a little confusing: it offers a total of four options – one overhead and three in-ear – and includes both a second and third generation version of the same product as part of the current lineup. The brand’s current flagship earbud is the AirPods Pro 2, following up from the its first ever noise-cancelling earbuds released in 2019, and promising twice the noise-cancelling performance.

Cosmetically speaking, not much has changed between the first and second generation AirPods Pro. The case now includes a built-in lanyard loop and the earbuds themselves have an additional microphone visible towards the top of the product. The charging case also has a small, built-in speaker which makes a noise when the battery is low, plays a reassuring sound when plugged in to charge, and can even be activated via Apple’s “Find My” to ping if you’ve lost them. Additionally, the earbuds’ stems now include gesture control, allowing users to swipe up or down to change the volume. This is a popular feature that most of Apple’s competitors have had for a while, but one that was missing on the first generation AirPods Pro.

The bulk of the upgrades are on the inside, however, and include the aforementioned improvements made to noise-cancelling. Apple claims the latest version blocks out twice as much background noise – a claim we’ve found to be, in practice, quite accurate – which it has achieved in part through its new, more powerful H2 chip, plus the additional microphone and a repositioning of the acoustic vents on the earbuds. If your goal is block out the outside world, these are a very good choice (we’ve even found them to be good a “muting” the world around you while nothing is actually playing through them, if that’s your vibe). On the flip side, transparency mode (where you can hear the world around you) on the AirPods Pro 2 is unrivaled. No other brand comes close to providing such a clear feeling of wearing-but-not-wearing earphones.

Sound quality has also improved in comparison to the first generation.  The AirPods Pro 2 contains a custom amp and driver that were both newly developed for this model, to help deliver better sound across all frequencies. Battery life is now six hours per charge (30 hours total with the case) and the AirPods Pro 2 can even be charged wirelessly with any Qi-certified charger, including the Apple Watch’s.

The AirPods Pro 2 are a great option for iPhone users, but really shine for those who have additional Apple products in their tech ecosystem. If you have a Mac, iPad or an Apple Watch, the seamless connectivity and switching offered between devices, coupled with Apple’s “Find My” service – for those prone to losing things – makes them a no-brainer.

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX (£349 GBP)

Unlike Apple, Bang & Olufsen’s earbuds lineup consists of just one option: the Beoplay EX. But, far from limiting choice, the Beoplay EX offers almost everything you could want from a pair of true wireless earphones.

The Danish brand began making high-end audio products for the home almost 100 years ago and is focused on bridging the gap between beautiful design and exceptional sound. Its earbuds bring both of these goals to life: they are well-built, simple yet sleek in appearance, and sound as good as you’d expect for the premium price they command. The accompanying app also allows you to tune certain things to your liking for a level of customisation you don’t get from Cupertino, but that isn’t unique to Bang & Olufsen – in fact, all but two of the earphones on this list have an app for both iOS and Android.

Each bud has a highly-sensitive glass touch surface that allows you to control everything form sound to song selection, though some may find these too responsive – accidentally pausing a track when readjusting an earbud happens. On the inside, the Beoplay EX feature 9.2mm neodymium drivers – the largest the brand has ever used in its wireless earbuds – that result in a warm, expansive soundstage and an overall balanced delivery across frequencies.

The buds also feature adaptive active noise cancellation which performs very well, and are IP57 rated making them rain and sweat proof (they’d be safe in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes). Battery life ranges from 5 to 6.5 hours depending on which features are used, with a total of about 20 hours included on one charge with the case.

The Beoplay EX comes in three colours as standard, but special, limited-editions colourways can be found as part of the brand’s Atelier Editions program.

Beats Studio Buds + (£179 GBP)

The latest release from Beats taps into an aesthetic within electronic product design that has seen a resurgence in recent times: transparent tech is back in. Nothing may have kicked started this off with its Phone (1), but Apple (owner of Beats) has been doing this since at least 1998.

The new Beats Studio Buds + comes in three colours, but it is the “Transparent” version that really stands out. Aside from the obvious cosmetic upgrade, the new Beats Studio Buds + offers up to 1.6 times better active noise cancelling than its predecessor. They sound better, too, with the improvement in audio a result of custom dual-layered transducers. Connectivity between both iOS and Android devices is smooth and stable due to Bluetooth 5.3, and both Apple’s ‘Find My’ and Google’s ‘Find My Device’ asset tracking services are available.

Users can expect around six hours continued use on a single charge, with up to 36 hours total charge (depending on which features you use, some are less battery efficient than others) in reserve in the case. Unlike Apple AirPods, the Beats Studio Buds + charge via a USB-C cable and do not offer wireless charging, but Spatial Audio and transparency mode are available. The buds feature touch controls with real buttons, as opposed to haptic controls.

At only five grams per bud these are amongst the lightest wireless earbuds you’ll find, and this lightness translates into a comfortable fit. They are unique looking (in “Transparent”, at least), perform well across different mobile operating systems, and pack a bunch features at a mid-level price.

Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II (£279 GBP)

The second iteration of Bose’s earbuds are a noise-cancelling behemoth: the Massachusetts-based brand claims that the QuietComfort Earbuds II are “the world’s best” at noise cancelling – better than any other headphone, in-ear or overhead – and its claims aren’t far off.

Each time you place one of the earbuds into your ear, a short sound is played: this test tone – part of Bose’s CustomTune technology – plays a technical role in analysing how your ear reacts to sound, measuring your ear canal for its acoustic response, before creating a personalised and form-fitting sound profile. Naturally, this helps to create the best possible acoustic seal to block out unwanted outside noise, but it is also key to how the earbuds deliver honest sound regardless of genre. The lows are clean and not overpowering, while the mids and highs compliment each other and collectively help to produce Bose’s recognisable, balanced sound.

In terms of protection against water damage, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II are IPX4 rated and can withstand light splashes and sweat. They are available in four standard colours – with the option of customising your pair in some regions – and are around 30% smaller compared to the first generation model. Battery life is comparable to other options on this list, and – if you needed further convincing – they were a 2022 What Hi-Fi? award winner.

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 (£349 GBP)

Bowers & Wilkins is a high-end British audio brand that has been making speakers since 1966. Unlike the English national team, the brand spent the proceeding five and half decades improving its craft and recently launched the second generation of its Pi7 earbud.

The Pi7 S2 is a premium wireless earbud constructed from a mix of plastic and metal. This combination of materials contributes to the weight of the buds, which – at seven grams each – are noticeably heavier than some of the others on this list. This is fine for some users, but those with smaller ears might find them a tad uncomfortable over long wear periods. The S2 improves on the first version’s connectivity issues by completely reengineering the design and placement of the antennas, eliminating the common audio drops experienced by users previously.

Where the Pi7 S2 shines is through its sound. Not only does each bud have a two-way 9.2mm dynamic driver, but each is powered by its own dedicated amp. Users of the original Pi7 will recognise the sound profile here: the S2 has the same drivers its predecessor had (if it ain’t broke?) which produce a vast, detailed soundstage. Each bud also has three individual mics for a total of six that work in unison to aid noise-cancelling and call quality.

Arguably the most interesting and unique feature the Pi7 S2 has is its “wireless audio retransmission technology”. Essentially, the case (or “Smartcase” as the brand refers to it) acts as an audio streaming device in instances where you are unable to connect to an audio source directly. A practical example of where this would be incredibly helpful is on an airplane: to use your wireless earbuds on the in-flight entertainment system, you would simply plug the Smartcase into it using the supplied USB-C to 3.5mm audio cable, and listen as it wireless transmits the sound to your earbuds. This is a feature shared by none of the other earbuds on this list – and one that has actually spawned a sub-industry with brands like Twelve South creating dongles that even Apple sells on its own site – making these earbuds worth considering, especially if you travel a lot.

Nothing Ear (2) (£129 GBP)

Nothing released its hi-fi audio capable Ear (2) buds earlier this year on the back of over 600,000 sales of 2021’s Ear (1). These figures are at once both impressive while being completely irrelevant when compared to Apple’s $94.8 billion USD recent quarterly revenue, but, for a small tech company from London, the signs point to growth and global expansion (as evident with the brand’s upcoming Phone (2) launch in the U.S.).

Ear (2) is a beautifully designed and affordable piece of kit. The earbuds sound better than they cost, pack 36 hours of total playback time (with case), and support high-resolution audio streaming. Both the adaptive noise-cancellation and transparency modes provide a decent experience, though not quite as polished as some of the pricier options here. This is made up for through the Nothing X app – available for both iOS and Android – which allows for high levels of sound profile customisation.

Ironically, amidst all the hype surround the brand, Nothing really is about what’s on the inside – transparency is not just for aesthetics and CEO Carl Pei has amassed a following on YouTube through his honest review of competitor products. Watch him compare the Ear (2) and AirPods Pro 2 here.

Currently, Ear (2) is only available in white, but rumors abound of a black version coming soon. Watch this space.

Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 (£229 GBP)

German engineering is rarely rivaled and Sennheiser’s audio products are amongst the most respected by music professionals. The brand is known for its studio and DJ monitoring and reference headphones, but with its MOMENTUM True Wireless range now on its third iteration it has found a generation of new fans.

Founded in 1945, Sennheiser is still a privately owned family company. The MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 packs close to eight decades of audio knowledge into a small, lightweight, but powerful package. The roundness of the previous version has been replaced by a more squared-off look, with a newly added option to fit ear fins for extra comfort. And these are very comfortable earbuds, so much so it’s easy to forget you’re wearing them. The feeling of pressure that some earbuds can cause (with AirPods Pro being a major offender) is not noticeable here.

Sennheiser’s Smart Control app allows for a degree of sound customisation. Instead of an EQ, which some users may find confusing, the app takes you through a series of sound checks before asking you to choose between ‘A’, ‘B’ or ‘C’. This then becomes then your preferred sound profile.

Like the others on this list, the MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 earbuds include active noise-cancellation and are a solid choice for users looking for a simple, high-performing option.

Sony WF-1000XM4 (£199 GBP)

No roundup would be complete without Sony’s award-winning WF-1000XM4 earbuds.

Released in June 2021, the Sony WF-1000XM4 is starting to look and feel dated compared to some of the other models out there. But, testament to just how good they are, these earbuds are remain challengers in their category. So, why is that? Above all else is sound – the Sony’s deliver truly exceptional sound with a clarity and level of detail unmatched by many. You may find you hear parts of a song that you never noticed before; the earbuds confidently reproduce music with an expressiveness that has kept them at the top of bestsellers lists for the two years since they launched.

Android users are in luck as the buds can utilise ‘Fast Pair’ for easy connectivity. The ability to connect the buds simultaneously to multiple devices, while not available on launch, was remedied through a firmware update early in 2023 – this is a largely underrated feature that not all of the earbuds on this list have, but good news for those who want to be connected to two audio sources at the same time (such as your phone and PS5).

Sony’s flagship wireless earbuds are due an update and the WF-1000XM5 are rumored to release this year, but they still comfortably rival each of the others on this list for both sound quality and overall performance.

If you missed our overhead wireless headphones roundup earlier this year, check it out now.

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