The Best True Wireless Headphones
How they laughed when Apple introduced their AirPods, those shiny white earbuds-with-antennas variously described as electric toothbrush heads, earrings or walking sticks for mice. They’re not laughing now. Apple won’t release figures, but analysts puts last year’s sales somewhere between 26 and 28 million pairs, representing a profit of $4.3 billon. They are Apple’s most successful accessory ever. They are ubiquitous. And if convenience trumps walking around with the suspicion that you look like a bit of a ninny, then so be it.
We have entered a new personal stereo era: the age of the ‘true wireless’ earbud. Bluetooth-enabled devices, cast free from wire or neck band, that connect with your phone or watch and provide the perfect discreet(ish) companion for gym, commute or lunchtime salad box queue. Here’s seven of the best.
1| Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless
Fit is the big sell here, with four silicon ear tips included to make the most of Sennheiser’s proprietary noise isolation, making all-day listening sessions a pleasure. The fabric case offers a nice point of difference while the sound (full, rich, detailed) can be personalised using an equaliser app. Four hours battery life, rising to 12 with the case.
2| Bose SoundSport Free
Sweat and water-resistant, these are also pleasingly rugged despite their comparative weightlessness (9 grams, compared to Jabra’s 68 grams). They come with all Bose’s premium audio know-how, with electronic music sounding particularly good. Raised buttons on the top edge nudge the volume up or down.
3| Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay E8
For our money the best-looking set around: both the earbuds themselves (elegantly built) and the compact charging case (pleasingly smooth). The company have put some thought into the suite of controls too, which let you take calls, switch tracks and use voice commands without having to fumble about for your phone.
4| Jabra Elite 65t Active
Designed for ‘active lifestyles’, these water resistant ear buds offer three different ear size gels for excellent fit and one-touch access to Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant. They automatically activate when removed from the charging case, which boosts battery life up to 15 hours. Great for the gym or running.
5| Louis Vuitton Horizon Headphones
In the game of earbud one-upmanship there can be only one winner. This collaboration between luxury audio pioneers Master & Dynamic and Louis Vuitton earn best in show for both sound and design. Taking the former’s powerful MW07s, adding a custom circular charging dock and offering them in three colour ways, Louis Vuitton’s first foray into the audio market is also optimised for use with its Tambour Horizon smartwatches.
6| RHA True Connect
Classy paired-back design matched by excellent build quality make these a more premium proposition than some of the sportier options out there, though the swivel case might not be for everyone. A solid first entry into the true wireless market from the British audio company.
7| Apple AirPods
They’re not a hit by accident. Exceptional battery life, quick and easy pairing and a surprisingly beefy sound, their tiny size also means the pebble-like charging case drops into the smallest pocket with ease. Apple nerd forums abound with rumours of an imminent follow-up. Will AirPod 2s come with a black colourway option, feature a grippy new coating and take biometric readings? ETA: September.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.