Hello and welcome to HeadPhonesHero. My name is Rachel. When I realized that I was helping out my friends and family with advice on how to choose the right gadget for them, I thought of creating a site which organizes this information better. Music has always been a passion of mine and I have dabbled semi professionally as a musician as well.
Today, I am passionate about listening to music and getting the best out of my listening experience while carrying on with a busy life. My aim is to provide you with objective information on multiple brands of headphones/earbuds. I will also try to provide recommendations on what headphone/earbud to use based on the specific use case. Another thing I have tried to do is to provide information on some common questions related to headphones/earbuds that I have come across. My hope is that you can find information, inspiration and make the right decision about your next set of headphones/earbuds.
As you browse around the website, you will come across reviews, lists and articles with information on common questions. Please do leave comments/feedback on the website. This will help me in improving the content and serving the community better.
5 Best Wireless Headphones of 2018
Wireless headphones have come a long way in a few short years. There used to be a time when wireless headphones would struggle to match their wired counterparts in terms of sound quality. Today however, with the evolution of bluetooth technology this has become a non-issue. With consumers moving more and towards towards wireless, companies have stepped up their game. You will find wireless headphones options at various price points.
This list of 5 best wireless headphones of 2018 is designed to showcase the best products we came across in 2018. The list has a mixture of models that provide performance, value for money and durability. Depending on your use case, different products might appeal to you. Do look around the rest of the site if you wish to deep dive into your specific usage criteria.
5 Best Wireless Headphones of 2018 – Comparison Table
|HeadPhone Model||Battery||Warranty||Price Range||Product Details|
|Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) (Overall Best)||Up to 20 hrs||1 year||Premium||Buy Now|
|Sennheiser HD1 Wireless (Best sound quality)||Up to 22 hrs||1 year||Premium||Buy Now|
|Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2||Up to 24 hrs||1 year||Mid-Range||Buy Now|
|AKG Noise Canceling Headphone||Up to 30 hrs||1 year||Mid-Range||Buy Now|
|Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones (Budget Pick)||Up to 20 hrs||1 year||Budget||Buy Now|
Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) – our top choice
If you want to get the best headphones that money can buy then look no further than the Bose QuietComfort 35. The best sound quality, amazing noise cancelation and a host of user friendly features make our top choice for the best wireless headphones of 2018
Noise Cancelation and Comfort: Noise cancelation is one of the most requested features by headphones users today. In a noisy world where we are constantly on the go, it is difficult to find peace and quiet. The Bose QuietComfort Series II features 3 different levels of noise cancelation. You can adjust the level of noise cancelation you require using an app on your smartphone. These headphones also come with an inbuilt mic that features noise rejection. So in case you are taking phone calls, you can expect the external noise to be filtered out. In terms of comfort, these are some of the most comfortable headphones that we have found. You can easily wear them for many hours at a stretch and not feel any discomfort.
Alexa and Google Assistant: These Bose Quietcomfort headphones can be configured to work with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. You can wirelessly control the music being played and also get other things done without having to use your phone. Pretty neat feature and it works quite well
Apart from these standout features, Bose also provides very good audio quality. When tested across volume levels, we found that the performance is steady across all sound levels. The bass levels are adequate and come across in a crisp and clean manner. The Bluetooth connectivity works upto 60 feet. You can also connect your headphones simultaneously to two devices and the audio will switch automatically. The claimed battery life is 20 hours, however with judicious use of volume levels and noise cancelation most users can get upto an entire week of usage.
Sennheiser HD1 Wireless – a top performer at a premium price
Sennheiser is one of the most revered names in personal audio. And with good reason too. This model – the Sennheiser HD1 headphones are among the best headphones that money can buy. Indeed you will pay a pretty penny for them as well. In fact this was the reason we could not rank this fine pair of headphones as our top ranked pair of headphones for 2018.
Build and Design : Design wise, these headphones are sure to turn a lot of heads. The Ivory model comes in a pure white ear cup with black headbands. The headband and earcup are made of leather. The headband is connected to the earcups by sleek stainless steel rails. All in all, a stunning piece of equipment.
Noise Cancelation :Sennheiser has branded their noise cancelation technology as Noisegard. It features four different microphones which cancel external sound. We found its performance marginally worse than the Bose QuietComfort but still pretty good overall. During speaking, there are two microphones available which block out external sound to improve the clarity of your phone calls.
Sound quality :Where Sennheiser really stands out is in their sound quality. These are THE headphones if you want wireless, noise canceling headphones with top notch sound quality. The sound quality maintains its richness across the spectrum, from deep bass to high pitched singing.
Connectivity wise, Sennheiser offers NFC and Bluetooth. The headphones recognize upto 8 devices so it should be a breeze once you set them up. Sennheiser advertises a battery life of 22 hours. With judicious management of volume levels however, you should be able to get a lot more than that. Amazing performance coupled with comfortable and stylish form factor and great connectivity options make these Sennheiser headphones a great buy. Oh and also, Sennheiser headphones are known to be pretty much indestructible. So once you buy a pair, you know that you have made a friend for a very long time.
Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2 – complete value for money
If you are looking for an alternative to Bose and Sennheiser that is packed with features and is easier on the pocket, then look no further than the Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2. The special edition is available at a special price for the features that it offers and has quickly become a crowd favorite.
Noise cancelation: While the noise cancelation might not be as good as Bose or Sennheiser, these Plantronics get the job done. In some cases, it might actually be an advantage to have imperfect noise cancelation. This can let in some ambient sound that can be vital for you to get a hang of your environment.
Battery life: The advertised battery life for these headphones is 24 hours. Even with a usage of 4-6 hours everyday, it should comfortably last you for an entire work week. You can also easily check the battery level by tapping on the right ear cup button and you will know whether the battery level remaining is ‘High’, ‘Medium’ or ‘Low’.
Features: These headphones have a ton of nifty features. If you learn how to make use of them, it can make life much more convenient. With gesture control, your audio playback will stop as soon as you put these headphones around your neck. Full playback controls are available and they can remember upto two devices and connect to them automatically. Taking calls with these headphones is also very convenient as they can switch the audio to your phone or headphones at the touch of a button. The ear cups are made of memory foam and are comfortable even after long periods of usage. The headphones come with a nice carry case which has a semi hard shell to prevent any damage
Overall, these Plantronic headphones are one of the most feature packed headphones available at a price that is more affordable than Sennheiser or Bose products. They have been around for a while and are constantly improving. A viable challenger.
AKG Noise Canceling Headphone – portable and light
If you are someone who is on the move a lot, you would really appreciate having a set of lightweight and comfortable headphones. This is the strength of the AKG N60 Headphones. Their design is optimized towards being portable, light weight and comfortable over long periods of time.
Design: You will be pleasantly surprised as to how compact these headphones actually are. The design is stylish with a leather covered headband, aluminium metal trim and black metal covers for the headbands. Another cool feature is that these headphones fold up into a very compact package. The carrying case which holds the charging cable, detachable cable with mic and a flight adapter folds up into a neat little package no bigger than an iPhone 6Plus
Noise Cancelation: The active noise cancelation is quite impressive. While traveling you will enjoy the feeling of cutting out the noise from the airplane. Since these are on-ear headphones, there is no noise isolation and you will also have some sound bleed. This is when others around you will be able to hear the sound from your headphones, especially at higher volumes.
Sound Quality and Battery Life: These headphones perform very well at mid range volume levels. The bass and treble heard is crisp with vocals coming through crystal clear. The AKG N60 headphones are optimized for the iPhone and are probably the best wireless headphones for the iPhone. The headphones will last upto 30 hours with noise cancelation turned off and about 15 hours with active noise cancelation.
If you are looking for a great set of portable headphones with active noise cancelation, then you need look no further. With active noise cancelation, great portability and excellent sound, the AKG N60 do the job very well indeed
Mpow 059 Bluetooth Headphones – best budget challenger
The Mpow 059 headphones are sleek, stylish and packed with a surprising number of features that make them a great value buy. Available in a variety of colors, these headphones have their styling on point and will make you look good whether you have them on or off your ears.
Sound Quality: The Mpow 059 is an outperformer when it comes to sound quality especially at this price point. These headphones feature a 40mm neodymium driver and CSR chip. This helps in providing the audio with depth and detail, something that left us pleasantly surprised.
Noise Isolation: These Mpow 059 headphones do not have active noise cancelation. Instead, you will get passive noise isolation. This translates into trying to block external noise as best as they can. The noise isolation cannot be compared to active noise cancelation at all. If this is a deal breaker for you, then you will have to look elsewhere.
Battery Life: Battery life is another area where these headphones shine. At lower volume levels, you can expect the headphones to last >20 hours. If you do run out of charge, there is a 3.5mm audio cable provided which can be used to listen to wired music.
For a pair of headphones that cost around 40 bucks, you get a fantastic looking package with great battery life and sound quality. If active noise cancelation is not a deal breaker, these are a solid choice.
5 Best Noise Canceling Headphones of 2018
Commuting is one of the major banes of modern society. The sound of an airplane engine, traffic, construction noise or even the noise of your own car can be enough to increase the stress level of the most hardened commuter. In a noisy world, active noise canceling headphones are a god send. Noise cancelation works on a simple but very cool principle.
Noise canceling headphones sample the ambient sound around you and generate a sound that is exactly out of phase with it. The result is that the combined sound cancels out the effect of the two and you hear precisely nothing. This works very well for lower frequency sounds like airplanes, traffic, construction and other white noise. The effect of active noise cancelation can sound almost miraculous when you hear it for the first time.
On our list of the 5 best noise canceling headphones from 2018, we have combed through a long list of products to find the top 5. Our primary consideration was the noise cancelation + sound performance. Which is why you will find that almost all of these headphones are priced at mid-range or premium. We hope you enjoy the list and please let us know your feedback anywhere on the website.
5 Best Noise Canceling Headphones of 2018 – Comparison Table
|HeadPhone Model||Battery||Warranty||Price Range||Product Details|
|Sony WH1000XM3||Up to 30 hrs||1 year||Premium||Buy Now|
|Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II)||Up to 20 hrs||1 year||Premium||Buy Now|
|Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless||Up to 30 hrs||2 years||Mid-Range||Buy Now|
|Philips NC1||Up to 30 hrs||1 year||Premium||Buy Now|
|Bowers & Wilkins PX||Up to 22 hrs||2 year||Premium||Buy Now|
Sony WH1000XM3 – the best noise cancelation
The Sony WH-1000XM2 were widely hailed as the best actively noise canceling headphones in the world for 2017. Their successor, the WH1000XM3 do their legacy justice. We can confidently say that these are the best noise canceling headphones that money can buy. They are also packed with a ton of features that we will talk about more. What makes the noise cancelation stand out in these headphones is that they are effective in a wide variety of situations and noise levels. They also have different modes like the ambient mode which help you stay on top of the situation around you.
Noise Cancelation: The Sony WH1000XM3 has multiple layers of noise cancelation built in. Sony claims that the WH1000XM3 are four times more effective than the WH1000XM2 at noise cancelation.
A common failing of noise canceling headphones is that they do not perform well with high frequency sounds. The Sony WH1000XM3 however do an admirable job across frequencies. Even faced with high frequency noise, they managed to reduce them from a loud noise to a manageable hum.
These headphones also have a feature of allowing in some ambient noises into the headphones. There are two different modes for this. The Ambient Noise mode allows in noises like car horns or train announcements which is useful if you are in a busy, crowded environment where you need all your senses to be alert. Quick attention mode reduces the volume of sound in one tap and also turns off noise cancelation so that you can pay attention to sounds around you.
Design and Features: The Sony WH1000XM3 have reduced weight from their predecessor by 22 grams. This is a significant amount when you consider the fact that you have to carry around the headphones on your head. Sony has also added some padding to the headband which makes them more comfortable to wear. The ear cups have been deepened to make them more comfortable and have copper accents from outside.
These WH1000XM3 headphones from Sony feature lots of cool features. The right earcup has a touch-capacitive covering. You can skip forward, pause, go back in your tracklist, increase and decrease the volume with simple swipe style gestures. Within a week, these will become second nature.
The left earcup has two buttons. One is for cycling the noise cancelation settings of the headphones. These go from On, Ambient mode and Off. The other button is for Power/Bluetooth.
You can use these Sony WH1000XM3 headphones for phone calls as well. We found the performance to be very satisfactory. Some users do report echos, bad mic quality etc.
Sound Quality: Users report that the bass is quite heavy on these headphones. A great way to customize the sound as per your personal preferences is to install the Sony app on your phone. We found the bass to be clean and of high quality and did not find it distracting in anyway at all.
These WH1000XM3 headphones from Sony have inarguably the best noise canceling technology in the industry today. Combined with smart features and constant design updates, they are today the best noise canceling headphones that you can buy.
Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) – the balanced performer
Bose is probably the most well known audio company in the world. And for good reason. They have continued to churn out high quality products for a number of years. The previous version of these headphones was one of the highest performing noise canceling wireless headphones. This updated version features support for two popular digital assistants – Alexa and Google Assistant. These are the first headphones in the world to feature digital assistant. The noise cancelation performance remains top notch as does the sound quality.
Noise Cancelation: Bose has been continually updating their active noise canceling technology. These headphones feature three levels of noise cancelation. The noise cancelation is extremely smooth and makes you feel like you have walked into a quiet room even if you are in a busy cafe.
Design: Bose is known for their conservative design. Tailored for business users they do not make a strong style statement. To make up for this however, the ear cups are designed exquisitely well. Even with active noise cancelation switched off, they block out a lot of external noise. The pads are also very comfortable to wear, even for extended periods of time.
Features: The first thing to do as soon as you get these headphones is to download the Bose app which will give you a ton of customization options. The Google Assistant/Alexa button is located on the left cup. Touch the button and Google Assistant is at your service. Similar to Google Home, the assistant can help you with the latest news, reading your phone notifications, googling stuff, adding reminders and more. While the feature is cool to have, we are not sure if it is a game changer since most users might prefer to use their phone for most of these use cases.
The addition of Google Assistant/Alexa has meant that Bose has had to forgo some other features. One key feature that is sorely missed is the auto pausing of audio when the headphones are taken off. Another is muting or reducing the volume with a simple touch gesture. Both of these are available with some of Bose’s competitors and it is disappointing that they are not available on Bose.
Battery Life and Sound Quality: The rated battery life for these headphones is 20 hours. We found that with a moderate volume level, this level is easily achieved. You won’t have to worry about charging these headphones mid week. Also included is a nifty feature where the headphones announce the current battery level every time they are turned on. This provides enough warning before they need to be charged.
While the sound quality sounds great in isolation, audiophiles might prefer brands like Sony or Sennheiser. The sound comes across more flat as compared to these brands with a limited dynamic range.
It has been known that you cannot go wrong with buying a pair of Bose headphones. This remains the case with the QuietComfort 35 (Series II). Bose has pushed the envelope with the addition of Google Assistant/Alexa. While a bold attempt, this might not be a game changer and users would most likely prefer more sound related features. That being said, these are still a solid pair of headphones with great noise cancelation, solid battery life and amazing comfort.
Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless – the Audiophile’s delight
Every audiophile worth his salt knows how good the sound quality of Sennheiser is. This odel – the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless is no exception. By far the best sound quality among our list of 5 Best Noise Canceling Headphones of 2018. Their features and noise cancelation might not be as good as some of their competitors but they stand head and shoulders above on sound quality.
Noise cancelation: Noise cancelation is where these Sennheiser PXC 550 headphones fall behind their competition. The noise cancelation seems to work well when there is a low volume, low frequency sound in the background. With higher volume sounds however, there are noticeable levels of noise and vibrations which make the experience not very pleasant. This is especially true when traveling in a bus or a plane which one would think are some of the main applications of noise canceling headphones.
Sound quality: These headphones are head and shoulders above most of their competition when it comes to sound quality. The sound is rich and crisp across various volumes and music types. There are also a few sound presets – Club, Movie, Speech or Off. These are well setup and will improve your listening experience.
Features: Similar to the Sony WH1000XM3 headphones, Sennheiser also features touch controls which are located on the right earcup. Volume controls, play, pause, skip and back are the controls available. The implementation is a bit hit and miss. The controls are not terribly intuitive and we ended up frequently getting the wrong command.
A couple of cool features that are worth mentioning on the Sennheiser PXC 550. First is that the audio automatically pauses when you take off the earphones. Second and even cooler is that the headphones turn themselves off once the cups are twisted. So when you store them away, they switch off automatically ensuring that you do not waste any battery when they are not being used.
Features: The advertised battery life of these headphones is 30 hours. We found them to be easily lasting for that amount of time. Having an accessible battery level indicator would have been nice, the current ones under the cup are not easily visible.
Overall, the Sennheiser PXC 550 has a few implementation niggles as compared to its more polished competition. What makes these headphones stand out is their sound quality and battery life. For these alone, we are willing to overlook the problems. With a few improvements, these could very well be the best noise canceling headphones available.
Philips NC1 – Stylish Performer
Philips has been around as a headphones brand for a long time now. Their latest offering – the NC1 is a sleek and stylish pair of headphones aimed at the business traveler. The noise cancelation in these headphones is top notch. While their competitors like Bose, Sony and Sennheiser are getting most of the newsprint with innovative features, Philips has quietly delivered a solid product.
Design and Comfort: The one thing that stands out immediately with the Philips NC1 is their form factor as compared to their competition. These are the only on-ear headphones in our list of 5 Best Noise Canceling Headphones of 2018. They are sleek and compact. The on-ear form provides room for your ears to breathe, making them comfortable to be worn for multiple hours. The ear pads are made of memory foam covered in soft leather. This prevents your ears from feeling pinched even after multiple hours of usage.
There is a slight issue of noise bleed. However, this is to be expected with the on-ear headphone design and is not a major concern unless you intend to blast music at full volume a lot (which you shouldn’t.)
Noise cancelation: Philips uses 8 different mics to provide active noise cancelation on the NC1. There are 4 mics on the outside of the ear cups to sample mid and high frequencies. There are 4 more mics on the inside of the cups to deal with the lower frequency sounds.
The active noise cancelation button is located on the bottom of the left earcup. The noise cancelation works really well with good results seen across the sound spectrum. Philips has also provided a unique functionality of the headphones working even after the battery for noise cancelation runs out. When charged, the headphones provide upto 30 hours of noise cancelation.
The Philips NC1 headphones are priced on par with their competition from Bose and Sony. With a sleeker form factor, they go toe to toe with their competition on performance. They also provide great sound quality and are a worthy contender in this list.
Bowers & Wilkins PX – Solid Debut
Bowers and Wilkin are renowned for their speakers. Despite having multiple headphones available with their brand name, they haven’t yet forayed into noise canceling headphones. The PX noise canceling wireless headphones are therefore a landmark for the company.
The Bowers & Wilkins PX feature solid noise cancelation and a host of features that we think should be available on all wireless headphones by default. These are impressive accomplishments. However, the PX feels shortchanged when it comes to sound quality. The usual premium sound of Bowers & Wilkins seems watered down which puts them at a disadvantage compared to their competition.
Noise cancelation: The Bowers & Wilkins PX has three different levels of noise cancelation available. The default setting called ‘Flight’ can be activated physically on the headphones. These are the highest noise cancelation available and they perform really well. We enjoyed using them while traveling on public transportation where they cut out a large portion of the ambient sound with performance equivalent to Sony or Bose.
The other noise cancelation settings which are accessible using their app are ‘City’ and ‘Office’. These are designed to allow in some ambient noises making the noise cancelation more useful.
Sound Quality: The sound quality on the PX Wireless sounds like a definite step down when compared to Bose, Sony and Sennheiser. The quality difference is most acute when listening to mid frequency music where the sound is unfocused and not as detailed as we would like it to be. The bass on PX Wireless however sounds great and is punchy even at high bass.
Features: The PX Wireless has a whole raft of connectivity features that can be a great checklist for any brands that are considering launching wireless headphones. We have USB-C charging, standard 3.5mm audio, physical button controls, Bluetooth AptX HD support and a solid 22 hours of battery life. This is a great beginning by Bowers & Wilkins and will be much appreciated by customers.
Overall, while the PX Wireless do an amazing job when it comes to features and noise cancelation, they fall short on sound quality when compared with their competition at the same price point.
5 Best True Wireless Earbuds of 2018
From the invention of the Walkman, we have been waiting for the day when we can go truly wireless with our music. Wired audio devices provide great audio sure but they get tangled up, impede you when you are working out or running and are just not as cool as going wire free.
Today however, technology has finally caught up with our desires. Bluetooth technology has advanced sufficiently enough to provide a great sound experience when going wireless. Bluetooth 5.0 has kicked off the revolution for true wireless with other technologies playing a supporting role.
Since the technology is brand new, true wireless costs more than wireless headphones for now. Hopefully, as the technology gets more popular, we will see the costs coming down over time. Let’s look at the top true wireless earbuds of 2018.
Apple AirPods – the OG
Apple was the first major manufacturer to move away from the 3.5 mm jack in their phones. With their removal, Apple AirPods have become the go-to choice for listening to audio on your iPhone. The alternative of carrying an adapter is much more inconvenient. The AirPods work great within the Apple ecosystem and have some notable strengths and weaknesses. Great battery life, connectivity are among their strengths. A lack of physical buttons and iffy portability to other platforms are some of the weaknesses.
Connectivity and Features: Bluetooth connectivity has been a hit and miss activity for a long time. The Apple AirPods however just work and work very well too. All you need to do is to open the AirPods case and select the option on your screen to pair them. After this, the AirPods will connect automatically every time you put them into your ears and will disconnect when you take them out.
Most of the controls on the Apple AirPods work with Siri, Apple’s voice assistant. Double tapping on either bud activates Siri and you have to then say the appropriate command. This is the process for skipping tracks, adjusting volume and other voice-activated tasks. Siri also works very well for voice dialing. The inbuilt microphone is great at picking up sound and works as well as holding the phone to your ear.
The connectivity is not very different on Android. Installing an App called AirPods for GA on your Android Phone will ensure that Google Assistant replaces Siri for the voice-activated functions.
Battery Life and Charging: With such a tiny form factor, you would expect battery life to not be very high in any true wireless earbuds. The Apple AirPods last for approximately 5 hours on a single charge.
However, the current charging case in an ingenious piece of design. The case is charged via its Lightning port and when fully charged it holds enough juice to charge your AirPods over four times. When you open the lid of the charging case near a paired phone, the relative battery levels of both the AirPods and the charging case show up.
If you run out of charge suddenly you just need to pop in the AirPods into the charging case for 15 minutes to get up to 2 hours of listening time. In case you were wondering, the AirPods have their battery in the long stem of the earpiece.
According to Apple’s official specs:
- AirPods with Charging Case: 24 hours listening time and 11 hours talk time
- AirPods (single charge): 5 hours listening time and 2 hours talk time
- 15 minutes in the case equals 3 hours listening time or over an hour of talk time
Apple has several things going right for them with the AirPods. They have great battery life, amazing connectivity that ‘just works’ and sound quality better than you would expect. However having all music controls done by Siri is a bit restrictive and clunky, especially since competitors are coming up with great alternatives.
Jabra Elite 65t – one of the best available
The first name you will come across when you look beyond Apple for true wireless earbuds is Jabra. This Elite 65t model is one of the best in the business. They are priced similar to the Apple AirPods. They offer great sound quality as well as good design and fit. Add to this, the Bluetooth connectivity is very reliable and they work great with phone calls as well.
Design and Fit: The first area where the Jabra Elite 65t is very different from Apple is in its design. There is no long stem and the earbuds look discreet and stylish with their smooth black and grey finish.
The earbuds are smooth plastic and feel comfortable in the ear even with long periods of usage. Also at no time did we feel like the earbuds might fall out. They come with a charging case which is very compact. One thing that could be improved is the case is not spring loaded or magnetic. Either of these would have made them far more convenient to manage. The earbuds too need to be oriented manually within the case. These take away from the otherwise premium feeling and we hope that Jabra makes a couple of these tweaks.
Battery Life: The rated battery life for the Jabra Elite 65t is 5 hours. The charging case can hold up to two full charges giving you a total of 15 hours of listening time. The charging case gets charged pretty fast as well.
Audio Quality: Where the Elite 65t truly shines is in its audio quality and user friendly features. The sound is very balanced and never comes across as harsh. We found a good level of detail in the audio and the bass felt very solid as well.
Music Control and Features: Each of the earbuds has a different set of controls. The left earbuds can be used to adjust volume using a rocker. It can also be used to skip or go back to a previous track. The right earbud has a single button. This is a multipurpose button that can be used to play/pause, answer calls and activate your voice assistant. The Elite 65t supports Alexa as well now.
Another nifty feature we found on the Elite 65t was that you can use the Jabra app to selectively let in outside noise. The earbuds block out a large amount of external noise by themselves. However, if you need to pay attention to your surroundings, this setting can be very useful.
This is a very good piece of equipment from Jabra. The Elite 65s have a lot of positives – great sound quality, wonderful music controls and smart features for urban users. The small negative of the carrying case build quality can be ignored all things considered.
Jabra Elite Sport – best for active users
True wireless earbuds are great for working out. They will not get in your way while you are working out and can even track your workouts for you. At least the Jabra Elite Sport can. With exercise tracking, heart rate monitoring, race pace calculator and recovery advice, these earbuds are tailormade for active users who are looking to reduce the amount of fitness tracking equipment they use. They are in the same price bracket as the AirPods and the Elite 65s.
Fitness Features: The Jabra Elite Sport is a mixture of heart rate monitor and personal fitness coach. Once you install the app, you can choose a wide variety of timed workouts. You will get instruction through the earbuds and your heart rate will be tracked constantly. The heart rate monitor works by pressing up against the skin inside your ear.
The linked Jabra app also analyses your running. It will provide assessments on your current running fitness and track your improvements over time.
Design and Controls: Due to the number of components in them, the Jabra Elite Sport earbuds are rather large. They will take up most of your middle ear when you wear them. Jabra does provide a number of foam tips which you can try out to find your best fit. The inner plastic is also quite soft. However, we would say that these are not the sort of earbuds you would want to wear for a whole day purely because they are so large.
In terms of controls, there are buttons on each earbud for different functions. The rocker on the left can be used to increase/decrease volume and long pressing them can skip/go back. The right earbud has a play/pause/take call button and a function button which is used while exercising.
Battery Life: The advertised battery life for the Jabra Elite Sport is 4.5 hours. This holds up well in testing. You will also get two full charges from the battery case.
Jabra has taken a real leap with the Elite Sport. We have never had a pair of headphones which could help you with your fitness till now. Customized fitness plans, coaching through the earphones, heart rate tracking and other exercise tracking make it a truly innovative product.
Due to the number of features having to be packed in, the earbuds are quite large and fit may be an issue for some users. The fitness features also need a bit of polishing right now. They are priced fairly high as well. If you are looking for the best fitness earbuds in the market, you need not search any further.
Optoma NuForce BE Free5 – basic, budget options
Truly wireless headphones need not be out of reach for those with modest budgets. The BE Free5 are priced around $65 and are a great entry-level option for those looking to try out true wireless audio. Their execution is not perfect yet but good sound quality and noise isolation make them a contender in our list of 5 Best True Wireless Earbuds of 2018
Sound Quality, Performance and Battery Life: Sound Quality is one of the strengths of the BE Free5. The sound is good across the spectrum. The bass sounds impactful and even high frequencies are handled well.
Wireless performance is the biggest bugbear with the BE Free5. While walking around, we noticed the Bluetooth audio would frequently fall off. Also, this problem is not restricted to just walking, it also took place while we were stationary.
The BE Free5 can provide 4 hours of listening time on a single charge. The carrying case can charge them a further three times which leads to a total listening time of 16 hours.
Design and Controls: The earbuds themselves are finished with a matte black look. The end of each earbud serves as a button for controls, more on that below. We liked the carrying case which has a magnetic hinge and the earbuds themselves are also magnetic which makes handling the case a breeze.
Since each earbud has a single button for various controls, getting the BE Free5 to do what you like can be frustrating. Pressing and holding either of the earbuds for two seconds increases or decreases the volume. Holding them for more than 4 seconds however, shuts them down and just tapping them pauses the music. This makes the controls very fussy and frustrating and is a definite area of improvement for Optoma NuForce.
In terms of value, the Optoma NuForce BE Free5 has redefined the price point for true wireless earbuds. Because of the frustrations with their connectivity and controls, we would call this a mixed review. Overall however, they still remain very good value for money.
Sony WF-SP700N – budget noise cancelation
The WF-SP700N is Sony’s second attempt at true wireless earbuds. Their earlier attempt was not a smashing success. The WF-SP700N continue in a similar vein. We don’t think they have too many outstanding qualities – either good or bad. We hope Sony continue to iterate and improve upon these. For now, they are towards the end of our list of Top 5 true wireless headphones, a place that Sony definitely does not like to be in.
Sound Quality and Connectivity: Sony’s first attempt at true wireless headphones, the WF-1000X had multiple users crying out about a lack of bass. With the WF-SP700N, Sony seems to have overcompensated. The bass is overpoweringly deep at all sound ranges. This leads to a disappointing lack of clarity in the sound. On the plus side, sound connectivity is solid and reliable. The connection will rarely drop out when you are walking about town.
Noise Cancelation: Noise cancelation is one of the important reasons why Sony can command a premium price for the WF-SP700N. It is a feature that is not yet commonly available among true wireless earbuds. Being accustomed to excellent noise cancelation using over-ear headphones, we found the performance of the WF-1000X to be disappointing. The app has three different settings for noise cancelation, however we found that except light background noise, nothing is really blocked out at all.
Design and Charging Case: The WF-SP700N look different from most other true wireless earbuds. Smooth with rounded edges, you will love them or hate them, we found people with both opinions. The earbuds do fit very well in the ears and we never thought that one of them might fall out. The earbuds also come with multiple tips and wings which makes it convenient to find the right fit for you.
The charging case can hold two full charges for the earbuds. The charging case too is built with the same design aesthetic as the earbuds. Putting the earbuds in and taking them out is a bit of a struggle and the design there can definitely be improved upon.
Controls and Fitness Features: The controls on the WF-SP700N are via a single button on each earbud. The buttons can be used to play/pause, skip and rewind. Surprisingly, there is no control specifically for changing the volume. Phone calls are routed through the left earbud only
Even though they have no specific fitness tracking features, Sony has targeted these earbuds towards active users. They have an IP rating of IPX4. This implies that they are protected against splashes from all directions. This makes the WF-SP700N completely sweat proof. We envision Sony adding fitness tracking features onto them soon enough.
Sony has made a good start with a number of features on the WF-1000X which we think will hold them in good stead for the future. The WF-1000X are in the middle of the pack when it comes to their pricepoint right now.
5 Best Value Wireless Earbuds of 2018
With the introduction of true wireless, plain wireless headphones have become a lot more affordable. On offer are a variety of brands with different designs and capabilities.
Going wireless has a lot going for it especially if you are using them in situations like commuting or working out. We have put together a list of wireless headphones that provide a combination of good performance with great pricing.
SkullCandy Ink’d – Stylish Performance
SkullCandy has become a popular audio brand around the world thanks to their stylish and funky designs. With the Ink’d they have packaged solid performance in a great looking design that true to the brand is available in 7 different colors.
Design and Sound Quality: The Skullcandy Ink’d has been designed keeping in mind that its users might undertake multiple activities. It is very light, coming in at 24 grams only. The fit is snug yet comfortable and we did not feel any discomfort wearing them for a long time.
The earbuds are attached to a loose collar that goes around your neck. The collar can be worn under your collar to make them more discreet. The collar is made of rubber and can be stuffed into a carrying case. It springs right back into shape when taken out. Being only 24 grams light means that you will not be distracted by the bouncing of the collar when you are working out or running.
The sound quality from the Ink’d is very good. The sound is consistent across the frequency spectrum and the bass is punchy without being overwhelming.
Controls: The music controls for the Ink’d are located at the end of the collar. There are buttons for controlling the volume, going forward and back in the tracks and also to accept calls.
Battery and Connectivity: The battery on the Ink’d provides a music playback of up to 8 hours. The battery also recharges fairly quickly, in about 2.5 hours so you might need to charge them once every 2 days or so.
We did not face any Bluetooth connectivity at home or outside. However, we have heard that iPhone users in particular might face some issues so your mileage may vary. Call quality is also very good.
The Skullcandy Ink’d earbuds are very trendy and provide great sound quality for their price. Among the products in this list, they come in right at the top.
Bose SoundSport – Surprisingly affordable
Bose has established its reputation as a provider of high-quality sound at premium prices. With the SoundSport they have delivered wireless earbuds that are aimed at active users who are keen on good sound quality and comfort.
Design and Fit: First thing you would notice about the Bose SoundSport is that they blue. This is quite a departure for Bose who are known for creating muted, conservative products. SoundSport however is geared towards active users. The earbuds are rated IPX4 for water protection. This means that they are resistant to water splashes from all directions. This makes them safe for all kinds of working out.
The other thing that you would notice about SoundSport are that they are quite large. This might immediately make you think that they are liable to fall out of your ears when you work out. However, the earbuds have a unique umbrella shape which create a gentle seal around them once they are put in. Also, the earbuds themselves are made from soft plastic and they do not feel harsh in your ears at all.
Battery Life: A complete charge will last you for about 6 hours with the SoundSport. Bose have clearly had to make tradeoffs between size of the earbuds and battery life. 6 hours we think is not too bad however. The earbuds also provide about an hour of playback when charged for 15 minutes so you can do it right before your workout as well
Sound Quality: This is where Bose is truly in its element. The sound from the SoundSport is warm and rich with the bass coming through strongly as well. They are definitely not in the same league as wired headphones. As an audiophile, you will notice that the lowest bass rumbles and harsh trebles are cut off. This does not take away from the fact that the sound quality is great for the most part and you will not notice anything wrong with it unless you try really hard.
Bose has done a great job with the SoundSport and an advanced version called the SoundSport Pulse is now available as well. The Pulse has further features like heart rate tracking. If you are an active user and don’t mind paying a little extra for the Bose experience, these are great wireless earbuds to have.
SoundPEATS Q16 – Very affordable
There are two standout features that make the SoundPEATS worthy of inclusion in this list. First is that they are IPX6 rated which means that they are protected from powerful water jets. This is higher than many other expensive earbud brands and will ensure that you will not ruin your headphones while working out.
The other is that the earbuds are magnetic. This means that you can attach them together and wear the earbuds like a necklace around your neck. This solves the pesky problem of worrying about your earbuds while you are not using them.
Sound Quality: For the price, you would expect the sound quality to be lacking in the SoundPEATS. However, we were pleasantly surprised as the sound is balanced and pleasant across the spectrum. Sure, it is no Bose but at this price point, the SoundPEATS are punching above their weight.
Fit and Design: The earbuds on the SoundPEATS come with little fins that attach themselves to your ear. This makes the earbuds very secure indeed and we felt in no danger of them falling out at any time.
The earpieces are made of metal and feel quite sturdy. The control buttons on the earbuds are raised and can be worked intuitively. No complaints of any sort from us here.
Battery and Connectivity: The total advertised battery life of the SoundPEATS is 8 hours. We found that them to last around this long provided we did not play music at full volume
While the Bluetooth connection seemed stable and reliable, we faced issues of sound skipping between the two earbuds at times. Other users have also reported connectivity issues especially when paired with an iPhone
For their price, the SoundPEATS are a stellar performer. They have good sound quality, great battery life and a couple of innovative features that we really enjoyed.
Jaybird X3 – durable and good fit
Jaybird has made a name for themselves in the wireless sport earbuds category. The X3 is their latest model designed for runners, gym goers and other active users. Their price is attractive and they provide a great combination of battery life, sound quality and comfortable fit. However, there are a few fiddly aspects with the Jaybirds that all users might not be willing to put up with. Foremost is their proprietary charging solution and their confusing music controls.
Fit and Comfort: The Jaybird X3 comes with three different sizes of soft tips that you can interchange based on the size of your ear canal or the fit that you desire. They also feature silicone fins which attach to the inside of your ear. These help in keeping the earbuds in place when you are running or working out.
Both these features are great in the beginning. However, Jaybird have prioritized convenience over robustness in both these cases. The tips are attached with just a press. This means that there are times when we have removed the earbuds to find the tips still in our ears. The silicone fins too have a tendency to rotate around the earbuds while remaining steady in the ear. Both of these are annoying little things that we would rather have done without.s
Battery Life and Controls: The Jaybird X3 performs excellently when it comes to battery life. The stated battery life of 8 hours is easily achieved. The headphones provide a listening time of an hour with just 15 minutes of charge. The charging takes place with a special charging cradle. It would have been much more convenient to have them charge with a popular USB mode rather than have a proprietary tech.
The music controls for the Jaybird X3 are located on the sides of the earbuds. The buttons for power and volume up/down are all the same size and shape. This makes getting used to the controls a bit of a learning curve.
Sound Quality: Sound quality is where the Jaybird X3 excels. The sound quality is clear across the range and the bass comes across in a pleasing way as well. The Jaybird mySound app can be downloaded to further customize the sound to your preferences.
Given their many strong points like sound quality, battery life and fit, the Jaybird X3 are a great choice for a pair of affordable wireless earbuds. They do have a few annoyances associated with them but we still feel they are worth the purchase.
Optoma Nuforce Be Sports3 – most fun
If you are looking for an affordable pair of wireless earbuds with great battery life, the Optoma Nuforce Be Sports3 should be right up your alley. They have a rated battery life of 10 hours. While some users have complained of build quality, we had no issues with ours and would wholeheartedly recommend these especially at the price which they are available.
Comfort and Fit: The Optoma NuForce BE Sport3 have a rather unique design. The ear tips have twin blades as they are termed. These provide a very snug fit. Also included is a fin that attaches to the inside of your ear to provide further stability. Included in the package is a variety of tips and fins to help you find your best fit.
An added benefit of the twin blade design is that they provide very strong noise isolation as well. We tested out these earbuds while working out and found that they are very stable in the ear.
Sound Quality: The sound quality on the Optoma NuForce BE Sport3 is surprisingly better than we expected. These earbuds support the latest audio technology – AAC for Apple and aptX for Android which provides the highest definition sound currently available for these platforms.
Connectivity: This is a marked weak point for the BE Sport3. The connectivity can be erratic especially while working out. They work great sometimes even at long distances but sometimes flake out even when our phone was in our pocket. The outages were not huge but significant enough to be noticeable and annoying.
Battery Life and Controls: The battery life is the real bragging point with the NuForce BE Sport3. They last for a solid 10 hours. This means that you can go an entire workday and finish your workout before you need to charge these again. Quite an impressive performance.
The controls are located on the side of the earbuds and allow you to play/pause, skip/go back and accept/reject calls. The buttons feel firm and are easy to use.
Despite some initial reservations, we wholeheartedly enjoyed our time with the Optoma NuForce BE Sport3. They provide a good fit, great battery life and surprisingly good audio quality for a very affordable price.
5 Best Value headphones of 2018
Some of us are just not big fans of earbuds. Sure they are great in terms of being compact. However, not everyone likes shoving something inside their ear canal everytime they want to listen to music. Not to mention that the sound quality takes a leap ahead when you move to on-ear or over-ear headphones.
Wireless is all the rage these days and with good reason as well. Why deal with pesky wires when you can get your days fill of music on a single charge? Here too, headphones have an edge over earbuds. Due to their larger size, earphones have larger batteries inside them. Most wireless headphones you will find available have more than 20 hours of battery life.
A longer battery life means that headphones can have multiple battery sucking technologies loaded into them. Chief amongst these is active noise cancelation. Active noise cancelation takes a significant amount of power since incoming sound must be sampled and an exact opposite sound wave must be created to cancel it. With headphones, you will be able to go an entire working week without needing to charge, while this might be a day or two if you go with earbuds.
The biggest reason why we like to recommend headphones over earbuds is that they are much more comfortable over long periods of times. Think travel or commuting. At the end of your trip, you will end up feeling much better if you used headphones as opposed to earbuds. We hope we have provided you with enough reasons to consider some of the items in our list of the 5 best value headphones of 2018.
5 Best Value headphones of 2018 – Comparison Table[table “xx” not found /]
Tribit XFree Tune – our top choice
For a premium pair of Bluetooth headphones under $50, you don’t have to look any further than the Tribit XFree. They have solid sound quality, good battery life and come with a better than average build quality. No wonder then that these are rated so highly by users and critics alike.
Sound Quality: The Tribit XFree Tune looks very similar in design to Beats headphones with its chunky earcups and headband. They cost way lesser though and surprisingly provide more than satisfactory audio performance. The sound is clear with good bass levels across the frequency spectrum. We were able to use the headphones for extended periods of time with no apparent fatigue. So it’s not just looks, the Tribit XFree can actually take on much more expensive brands on sound quality as well.
Battery Life: The advertised battery life of the Tribit XFree is 24 hours. This translates to about an entire week of listening if you are using them mainly for commuting.
Connectivity and Controls: We have had zero troubles with the bluetooth connectivity on the Tribit XFree Tune. The connection stays strong even when we are about 50 feet away from our phone.
The one area where the XFree Tune could improve upon is the button controls. They are located on the right earcup very close to the area where the earcup meets the headband. It would have been more convenient for them to have been located flush on the outside of the earcup rather than on the rim. Learning the button functions also has a bit of a learning curve since they are not particularly pronounced.
The Tribit XFree Tune is our top choice for best value headphones of 2018. They have solid construction, good sound quality and battery life. Not bad for an up and coming e-commerce only brand.
Plantronics BackBeat 500 – a close second
Coming in at a close second for the title of the best value headphones of 2018 are the Plantronics BackBeat 500’s. There are other products on this list that are cheaper than these Plantronics but they don’t have the combination of features and value that have made them the most popular Beats alternative. With an attractive design, good battery life and sound quality, they have raised the bar on entry level headphones.
Sound Quality: Entry level headphones usually suffer in the sound quality department. Plantronics has however made sure that the BackBeat 500 can hold its own against pricier opponents. The sound comes across as well balanced with bass being punchy without been too intrusive.
Battery Life: The total battery life of the Plantronics BackBeat 500 is 18 hours. This is good enough for 3 days usage for most. While there are alternatives on the market that last upto 40 hours, they are also more than 3 times as expensive. They also have a nice feature of DeepSleep hibernation where the battery is preserved for upto 6 months if the headphones go out of range or are accidentally left on.
Taking Calls and Digital Assistants: Taking calls is quite a breeze with the BackBeat 500. It comes equipped with a wideband-enabled mic. The mic can also be used to activate digital assistants like Siri, Cortana or Google Assistant.
For an affordable, entry-level pair of headphones, the Plantronics BackBeat 500 has a lot going for it. Good sound quality, battery life and a pleasing design are some of the positives while there aren’t a whole lot of negatives at all.
JVC HAS160A Flat – price too good to be true
Normally, a product priced at less than $15 would seem like it has some sort of a catch. The JVC HAS160A Flat headphones however don’t seem to have any. They are priced outrageously low and offer good enough sound quality for you to consider using them regularly. They have absolutely zero frills but we are not complaining considering their price.
Design: At first glance, the JVC HAS160A does not look like much. The design is on-ear and you will probably be reminded of headphones you have received on a long distance flight. In truth, they are not very different from them. To be fair, the build quality is better and when wearing them, you will be pleasantly surprised at the comfort levels offered. The headphones are light and comfortable. For people with bigger heads however, they might feel a little stretched.
Sound Quality: The sound quality of the JVC HAS160A is another surprise. The sound is well balanced with good details and clarity. The bass is noticeable but not heavy. The sound does get distorted at high volumes so its best to stick to mid volume ranges.
Extra Features: There are absolutely no extra features on the JVC HAS160A. No microphone, no sound cancelation, no bluetooth, no memory foam or leather ear cups. They don’t even come with a carrying case. We highly recommend you use one however, it will vastly improve their durability.
For less than $15, the JVC HAS160A performs admirably well. If you tend to lose headphones or want a pair that you don’t mind losing, these are the ones. They are also quite comfortable and don’t cause a lot of fatigue. For the price, we might just buy two the next time.
Creative Sound Blaster Jam – great features on a budget headset
The Creative Sound Blaster is an endearingly retro styled bluetooth headset that provides good sound quality in a comfortable package. The price is very modest and the headphones are comfortable enough to wear. They lack some modern features, like they dont fold up in anyway. However, their price and sound quality make them a compelling inclusion to our list.
Sound Quality: Sound quality on the Creative Sound Blaster is moderately good. There is a bit of distortion at higher volume levels but that is to be expected at these prices. There is also a bass enhance button available on the headphones. These turn up the bass at the expense of clarity. However it’s a nice touch to give some customizability to the user.
Controls: There are buttons for Play/Pause, volume controls which also double up as advance/rewind along with the bass boost button that we already talked about. The buttons are conveniently located and are quite easy to operate.
Battery Life: The Creative Sound Blaster Jam comes with good battery life. The rated battery life of 12 hours is easily achieved. Charging is also quite quick and there is a cable provided in the box.
Design: Since the Sound Blaster Jam is an on-ear headphone, you will experience some sound leakage. There will be some ambient noise which you can hear. This is not necessarily a bad thing though and we did not find it to be a concern at all. The headband does not have any extra padding and is made of plastic. They are still quite comfortable but the padding would have been a nice touch.
The Creative Sound Blaster Jam is an inexpensive pair of headphones with good features, battery life and sound quality. At a price of around $40, they are a great option at this price point.
Panasonic RP-HTX80B-C – retro styling on a budget
The Panasonic RP-HTX80B-C are impressively retro-styled over-ear headphones. Panasonic has aimed to provide a competitive set of features at a price of around $50 with these. While the sound quality has taken a beating from its predecessors, the RP-HTX80B-C is still a compelling pair of headphones. The headphones are fully wireless and run on bluetooth audio.
Design: These headphones RP-HTX80B-C are fully retro in their styling. They have oval ear cups and the metal band looks impressive. The headband is covered with material the same color as the earcups and has a nice bit of stitching on it. The headphones are comfortable and do not feel heavy at all even with prolonged usage.
Sound Quality: The predecessor to this model the RP-HTX7 was known for its impressive sound quality. With the RP-HTX80B-C though, the sound quality has definitely taken a dip. There seems to be very little bass across the sound spectrum on these. The sound is clear and crisp however and the reproduction is near perfect at all frequencies.
Battery Life and Controls: The RP-HTX80B-C has an impressive battery life of 24 hours. This will last you for almost an entire work week. Charging is a breeze as even a 15 minute charge can provide upto 2.5 hours of music playback. The controls are located on the rim of the earcup. Not the most convenient of locations for your fingers to work with. However the controls are smooth and easy to use.
While sound quality could have been better, we feel Panasonic has done a good job at the budget of around $50. The battery life is good, the controls are solid and the music quality though lacking in bass still does a good job overall.