Wireless Earbuds Showdown by Engadget

After some wireless earbuds? Check out the showdown between some of the most popular models on the market.

With so many flagship phones leaving behind the headphone jack over the past two years, the need for a good pair of Bluetooth earbuds has only intensified. While the first crop of true wireless products had their share of comfort and connection problems, the selection improved dramatically in 2017, with companies like Bose and Bang & Olufsen coming out with sets that gave Apple’s AirPods a real run for the money. If you’ve been holding off on buying a pair because of cost, poor audio or because they just look ridiculous, it might finally be time to make the leap. We consulted reviews from top critics and came up with a list of six solid options that should have something for everyone, whether you’re on a budget or prize sound quality above all else.

 

Apple AirPods

When the AirPods first hit the scene back in 2016, they set a high bar for ease of use, though we still dinged them for weak audio and found the broken-off Q-Tip look polarizing, to say the least. Since then, plenty of challengers have appeared and bested Apple’s wireless earbuds in audio quality and appearance. However, few come close to offering such easy setup. Siri’s voice controls are still pretty ace as well. Of course, you’ll need an iPhone to really take advantage of the AirPods’ strengths. Android users are limited to music playback and calls, with many rival earbuds doing the former much better. Apple still has them beat on price though: The AirPods cost $40 to $90 less than their closest competitors.

 

Bose SoundSport Free

Bose is known for delivering premium sound. With the SoundSport Free, it manages to do that in a form factor not usually associated with good audio quality. PC Mag says they deliver “crisp high-mid and high frequency presence” while Android Police finds them “surprisingly clear and detailed.” However, you need a quiet environment to get the full benefits, as the noise isolation isn’t great, and the audio sync isn’t always good enough to watch videos with it. Aside from that, the Free travels well, thanks to the set’s comfortable fit and IPX4 water resistance. But if you’re a little sensitive about your appearance in public, you might want to look elsewhere: The Free’s large and chunky build gave Android Police“flashbacks to the Bluetooth earpieces of years past” and is “kind of ugly.”

 

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8

Bang & Olufsen is known for luxury design and premium sound, and now the company’s managed to package that into a form factor not usually known for either. The Beoplay E8 displays a “diminutive and understated” design that TechCrunch vastly prefers to Apple’s Airpods, with intuitive controls that are “easy enough to manage.” Once they’re comfortably situated in your ears you’ll be treated to “balanced, lively, and warm audio with a wide soundstage,” according to The Verge, and Macworld simply says that everything sounds amazing on the E8. The one real downside is the $300 asking price, which makes them one of the most expensive pairs you can buy. But if you’re a real audiophile who’d like less wires in your life, it might be worth it.

More earbuds over at Engadget

 

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Winston has over 20 years of experience in the I.T. Industry. He launched Funky Kit with the aim to capture a wider audience worldwide. His knowledge in PC hardware is very distinguished, not only publishing enjoyable reviews but also writing great articles.