FINDING A GOOD SET OF EARPHONES can sometimes feel like a pilgrimage.
And because now most of them on offer are now wireless, it makes finding a decent pair just that bit harder, especially if you're more of an old-school music fan used to the wired variety. Will they be comfortable as well as sound good? Will the Bluetooth connectivity work well? Will they need charging often? So many questions!
There are literally thousands of these Bluetooth offerings on the market now, each promising different things, so knowing which are any good before you buy isn't easy. We've tried lots of pairs to answer this very quandary, and here are some of the best, whether it's for sports, travelling abroad, walking down the street, commuting to work or simply just chilling out at home.
Soul Run Free Pro Bio: Best for training without injury
Available for £115 from Soul
Not only do the Run Free Pro Bio offer some good bassy sounds, but they are unique in that they serve up some pretty badass training perks, including your very own personal trainer. This works by providing real-time voice coaching to guide you through your fitness routine.
The super comfortable earbuds also measure speed, distance, cadence, step length, step width, vertical oscillation, head tilt angle, stance/flight time, shock, maximum leg force, balance, and consistency to improve the quality of your workout. The do this with a tech the firm calls its "beflex biomech engine", which apparently monitors running form and provides real-time coaching to maximise performance and minimise potential injury.
These bright red earphones also boast a sweat proof design, so you can really workout to your maximum without worry that your efforts will cause detriment.
Bose Soundsport Free: Best for sound quality
Available for £180 from Bose
For those looking for wireless headphones that can withstand the abuses of working out, the SoundSport Free are an excellent option, assuming they fit your ears (they are some of the bigger earphones in our roundup).
Nevertheless, this slightly bigger design means a much better sound quality, touting a weighty, full-bodied sound with deep, powerful bass and a lovely even tonal balance. They are by far some of the best sounding wireless earphones we have tested.
They aren't noise-cancelling, which is a shame as if there's one thing Bose does impeccably well it's this. But they are still a brilliant pair of cans. Just depends if you think the bulkier design is worth the best music playback quality, or not.
Sony WF-SP700N: Best for yoga and meditation
Available for £160 from Currys
When it's time to cool down, stretch out and release your mind, yoga is the perfect remedy. While you didn't think it was possible, there's a pair of headphones that are best suited to this, too: the Sony WF-SP700N.
These wireless buds are ideal for this scenario because they boast digital noise-cancelling technology in a completely Bluetooth design, allowing you to listen to music without any background distractions but also with the freedom of not being tied to your phone. I used them during my yoga session outside at the resort's "Volcano" outdoor astroturf area, overlooking some beautiful extinct volcanoes.
They've got this secure fit design, too, so the earbuds sit and stay comfortably in your ears throughout your vinyasa flow. They are also IPX4 sweat-resistant, in case you prefer a bit more of a stronger practice.
Trndlabs ALLAS: Best for a secure and reliable connection
Available for £40 from Trndlabs
The ALLAS True Wireless Earbuds by Trendlabs have a unique selling point in that they are apparently the first set of buds that use the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology for much better and secure connectivity.
According to their makers, Trndlabs, Bluetooth 5.0 connects twice as fast as previous versions and offers up to eight times better broadcasting message capacity. It seems to work, too, as during our testing we didn't lose connection once. Something that we've found can happen from time to time with other wireless earphones.
Sound quality is also very decent, but best of all, they are super cheap, costing just £40 at the moment on the firm's website, half the usual RRP.
Jaybird Run earphones: Best for comfort
Available for £170 from Argos
What always surprises us about completely wireless earphones is that many of them just aren't really that comfortable. In most cases, they can be bulky, and in my experience, a chunky or heavy set of buds doesn't bode well for active pursuits, as any kind of strong movement usually means they just fall out.
But JayBird's latest pair of fitness buds, the JayBird Run, are quite the opposite. Not only do they have no wires connecting the two earpieces to give you more freedom, but they actually stay there. Sound quality is superb, too, and best of all they are loud if you need them to be (something that many earphones suffer from these days).
Sony Duo Ear: Best for multitasking
Available for £249 from Sony
These are probably one of the weirdest-looking set of earphones out of there right now, and as you'd expect from how they look; they're not for everyone, but they are aimed at a specific user. These buds are all about feeding music to your ears when you need to be aware of your external environment.
The technology is designed to offer audio while still letting you hear ambient noise, a little like bone-conducting tech; so you can hear things like traffic, conversations and everything else around you in your daily life.
If you like to run outdoors and would prefer your music to sound more like background noise as opposed to taking over your entire sense of hearing because you need to be aware if there's a car coming as you cross the road; these are great, as they also adjust to the noise around you. If they detect there's an outside noise, they'll lower the volume that's fed to you so you can hear it. Ideal for cyclists, also.
Jabra Elite Active 65t: Best for sports
Available for £170 from Currys PC World
If you're looking for a good set of earbuds that have zero wires and let you move freely, the Jabra Elite Active 65t might be just what you're after. Not only do they stay in your ears and produce good sound quality with a decent bass range, but they're also waterproof (with an IP56 rating), offer motion detection and voice control, and look stylish. These beasts literally have it all. Well, apart from a cheap RRP; the earphones' only downside.
Bose Sleedbuds: Best for night time
Available in Autumn for £229
Late last month, Bose launched its first ever "noise-masking" Sleepbuds", a pair of freshly-designed in-ear wireless headphones that have been made for specifically for bedtime in a bid to help you sleep better. These are original because they are unlike any other earphones on the market, working in the same way as normal Bluetooth earphones but with a smaller and thus more comfortable form so they can be used while you're in the land of Nod.
They aren't focused on music streaming, though. So instead they are all about helping you to drift off in a more relaxed way by masking unwanted, external noise and replacing it with soothing sounds. Essentially, they're aiming to improve people's health, reducing sleep deprivation.
They might not be available yet but we've tried them and they work really well. They'll be with us later this year, so keep an eye out.
Aftershokz Trekz Titanium: Best for cycling
Available for £100 from Amazon
If your fitness weapon of choice is cycling, and you wish you could listen to music while riding your bike without risking your life, then you need a pair of Trekz Titanium. The wireless stereo headphones are the safest alternative to traditional sports headphones and earbuds thanks to bone conduction technology. An open ear design offers music to play and call features as you can peddle yourself fit from A to B, all while allowing you to hear perfectly what's going on around you.
Backbeat Fit: Best for runners
Available for £140 from Amazon
The BackBeat Fit earphones are made by Plantronics, the business outfit responsible for headsets. They are specifically designed for the perspiring athletic types out there, including "sweatproof" P2i coating that protects from any potential moisture malfunctions.
Weighing just 22 grams, they are lightweight and flexible enough to go unnoticed, but detailed with a reflective finish for runners' safety in the night. It also comes with a threaded case that can be strapped to your arm, holding your iPhone or smaller Android device in place.
We found the BackBeat Fit are ideal for runners, but also just great for all-rounder for everyday use, too.
Libratone Track+: Best for controllable noise-cancelling
Available for £170 from Tekzone
If you want to block out all those pesky external sounds but also have the freedom to prance around without being corded to your phone or MP3 device (yes, some people still have them), then the Libratone Track+ are the earphones for you.
To put it simply, they combine freedom with great sound, lightweight design, and Libratone's latest four-level adjustable noise cancellation, which is called Adaptive CityMix II. This lets you choose the level of noise cancelling you need, to make them perform either a bit like Sony's Duo Ear.
With a really comfortable flexible neckband, the Bluetooth earphones proved to be great to wear over long periods such as when you're working, as well as being splash-proof in case you want to take them to the gym. A really lovely pair of wireless buds, and one of our favourite all-rounders on the list. µ
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