This year's crop of tiny, wireless buds is hard to criticize.
This is my second year rounding up true wireless earbuds. I first took on this ranking because I was compelled to, perhaps even obsessed with, finding a pair of buds that’d actually fit inside my weird-shaped ears. (Nothing seems to stay put inside these flappers.) But as I searched—and searched, and searched—I found that, though the industry already had some reliable mainstays, like the Apple AirPods (which didn’t receive an update this year), or the Beats Powerbeats Pro (which only got some fancy new colors in 2020), the market was still pretty unrefined. For almost every great headset I tested in 2019, I noticed a potential deal-breaker: The best-sounding premium buds were often the most uncomfortable, while the cheapest headsets always lacked the functionality of the over-priced pairs.
In 2020, I’m happy to report that the technology has really powered forward. The competition is no longer crushed by Apple and Beats (which, if you weren’t aware, is owned by Apple). Inexpensive headsets maintain a solid wireless connection, and many of them actually come packed with some very competitive active noise cancellation (ANC). And, hell, a lot of the buds I tried even fit my ears!
This year, I found some heavy-bass earbuds from Sony, a versatile offering from Google that’s hard to criticize, and even a headset that’s designed for gaming. You’ll see two pairs of active earbuds and two pairs of budget-friendly earbuds. From my perspective, all earbuds should be able to withstand a morning jog, and no piece of tech that’s smaller than a matchbox should cost more than $100 of your hard-earned cash. Apparently, that’s not feasible yet, but I tried to keep your wallet in mind as much as I could here anyway. Hopefully, this makes your earbud search a little easier. Happy listening.