The humble earphone your grandfather used with his transistor radio has since evolved into the ubiquitous, lozenge-shaped ear gear known as earbuds – or in-ear headphones.

Small in size but big in sound, and packed with cutting edge audio tech like noise cancelling, earbuds’ lightweight design and wireless connectivity have made them a hit with commuters, fitness enthusiasts and audiophiles alike. Here are the best earbuds for 2022.

Before welcoming new buds into your life, there are several factors that will influence your choice. Listen up!

WIRELESS AND TRUE WIRELESS
Wireless earbuds are still joined by a wire from bud to bud – convenient if you want to hang them around your neck when not in use – but the wire isn’t directly connected to an audio device via a jack.

True wireless earbuds have no internal and external cable at all and connect to devices using Bluetooth. One bud connects to the device and sends a signal to the other bud for synchronisation.

In both types, the battery, microphone and controls are housed inside the buds, with intuitive touch sensors on the outside to control volume, music selection, noise cancellation, and answering calls.

FITS RIGHT
Earbuds fit comfortably and snugly into the ear using soft silicone tips that create a sonic seal, sending sound directly into the ear canal. But one size doesn’t necessarily fit all and many buds include eartips in a range of sizes. Some sets will also use small ear fins to keep the buds secure and stable.

Sony earbuds

FUNCTIONALITY
Consider what the earbuds will mostly be used for and where – listening to music and podcasts, complementing a workout with a playlist, or taking calls and video conferencing. Most will cover all the bases, and many sets now include noise-cancelling tech and multipoint Bluetooth pairing with two devices at once.

BATTERY LIFE
True wireless earbuds can hold an average charge of five hours (often more), and their pocket-sized carry case conveniently doubles as a power source when fully charged, providing power-ups if you’re caught short on the go. How much charge you need depends on how often you’ll be using them.

IPX RATING
The go-anywhere nature of earbuds makes them susceptible to the elements and breaking a sweat when exercising. It’s important to check the level of dust and water resistance, known as an IP (Ingress Protection) or IPX rating. Most earbuds are IPX4-rated, which means they are splashproof, while more premium sets can have a waterproof rating of IPX7, which is the highest for earbuds.

Feel the music in your bones
Bone Conduction might sound like a futuristic wellness therapy, but it’s actually a technology originally developed for hearing aids that’s now used in headphones.
Sound is transmitted through the air to the eardrums, but bone-conduction headphones bypass the eardrum and transmit sound directly to the inner ear by passing vibrations through the jawbone and head. For this purpose, they sport an open-ear design and sit on top of the cheekbones.
By taking the eardrum out of the equation, bone-conduction headphones are ideal for those with hearing impairment, and also for outdoor activities where awareness of external noise is preferred.
Shokz OpenMove Wireless Headphones are a good entry-level set that combines open-ear design with bone conduction and Bluetooth 5.1 support for an open-air music experience on the go. The battery is good for six hours from a single charge and they also feature multi-point pairing and an IP55 rating.
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The sound quality and functionality of true wireless earbuds has never been more advanced or affordable, and we’ve made it easy to choose a set that suits your lifestyle and hip pocket.

ENTRY LEVEL

 

Marshall Minor III True Wireless In-Ear Headphones
Designed for pair-and-play simplicity, the Minor IIIs deliver quality sound and vocal clarity for tunes and calls, and the key features to enjoy music on the move.

Packing custom-tuned dynamic 12mm drivers, the audio is excellent for open-fit earbuds, with natural bass that doesn’t overwhelm and good mids and high-end. A sensitive touch panel controls playback and calls, and music will auto pause when a bud is removed.

Battery life is good for 25 hours – five in the buds and four additional charges in the case – and a quick 15-minute charge delivers 90-minutes of play.

At a glance:
Colour: Black
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
Noise cancelling: No
Battery life: 25 hours in case, 5 in buds
IPX rating: 4
Charging: USB-C

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

Sony WF-C500 True Wireless In-Ear Headphones
With an ergonomic design for a snug fit and the fundamental features you need in earbuds, the C500s combine simplicity and quality sound at a great price.

360 Reality Audio elevates audio for an immersive experience, while the Digital Sound Enhancement Engine restores compressed recordings to source quality. A physical button on each bud controls volume, tracks and hands-free calling.

Smart functionality includes Fast Pair with Android devices and Swift Pair with a PC, support for Google, Alexa and Siri voice assistants, and a companion app to customise EQ settings.

The C500s are ideal for commuting and the gym, with ten hours battery life per charge and 20 hours in the case.

At a glance:
Colour: Black, White
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0
Noise cancelling: No
Battery life: 20 hours in case, 10 in buds
IPX rating:
4
Charging: USB-C

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

Jabra Elite 7 Active ANC True Wireless In-Ear Headphones
These earbuds will stay put thanks to ShakeGrip – the tapered eartips are made from a liquid silicone rubber compund for a secure fit that keeps the sound in.

There’s Active Noise Cancellation, a bonus in entry-level-buds, with five levels to choose from via the Jabra Sound+ app. Tap the bud for HearThrough mode to access outside sounds. Four mics ensure clear calls, and there’s Alexa built-in and Google Assistant support.

An IP57 rating protects them against sweat when working out, and the buds store eight hours of power, with a further 30 hours in the charging case.

At a glance:
Colour: Black, Navy
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
Noise cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 30 hours in case, 8 in buds
IP rating: 57
Charging:
USB-C

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

MID-RANGE

 

Audio-Technica ATH-CK550TW True Wireless In-Ear Headphones
These sleek earbuds pack top acoustic tech and 9mm Solid Bass HD TWS drivers to reproduce full-range audio with truly powerful low-end that doesn’t overwhelm.

ANC and HearThrough modes block and admit surrounding noise, respectively, and there is a Low Latency mode for gaming and movies.

Tactile buttons on the buds provide easy control of sound and ANC, while the comprehensive companion app offers further options. And there’s multi-connection to switch between two devices simultaneously.

Battery life is among the highest available – a whopping 20 hours of continuous play with up to 50 hours in the charging case.

At a glance:
Colour: Black
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
Noise cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 30 hours in case, 20 in buds
IPX rating: 4
Charging: USB-C

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

Sony WF-LS900N LinkBuds S True Wireless Noise Cancelling In-Ear Headphones
At a mere 4.8g, these buds are the world’s smallest and lightest noise cancelling true wireless earbuds to date. But don’t let the diminutive dimensions deceive you – the LinkBuds S are packed with cutting edge tech including ANC and natural ambient modes that auto-adapt to suit surroundings, smart Adaptive Sound Control, and Hi-Res Audio Wireless support.

The 5mm driver unit delivers full-range audio with deep bass that can be tweaked using the companion app’s EQ, and sound can be expanded with Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Personaliser app.

Precise voice pickup ensures clear conversation, with easy tap-access to built-in Alexa and Google voice control and touch sensors for ANC, volume and track control. The buds hold six hours of charge, plus 14 hours in the case.

Ergonomically designed for a stable fit, there are four sizes of silicone eartips included.

At a glance:
Colour: Black, White, Ecru
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
Noise cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 20 hours in case, 6 in buds
IPX rating: 4
Charging: USB-C

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

Sony WF-L900H LinkBuds True Wireless In-Ear Headphones
Sony’s LinkBuds deliver ‘real world’ listening. Unlike conventional earbuds, the speaker diaphragm’s protective surface coating is integrated into the housing and the LinkBuds’ unique open ring design delivers audio transparency by tuning in the outside world for an authentic open-air experience.

With precise voice pickup, well-balanced audio, advanced signal processing and adaptive volume, the buds are ideal for music, video conferencing and more.

Hands-free functionality extends to the intuitive tap controls – which work by tapping near the ear, not the buds – along with Google and Alexa voice control.

Bud battery life is good for 5.5 hours with a further 12 hours in the charging case.

At a glance:
Colour: Grey
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
Noise cancelling: No
Battery life: 12 hours in case, 5.5 in buds
IPX rating: 4
Charging: USB-C

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

TOP SHELF

 

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 ANC In-Ear Headphones
These light, ergonomically designed buds are packed with Sennheiser proprietary tech that allows such small speakers to deliver astonishingly clear and punchy sound, from their TrueResponse transducer system to aptX wireless and Active Noise Cancellation.

Add wireless charging – seven hours per charge – six mics for comms, customisable touch controls and even IPX4 splash resistance and you’ve got the full kit to enjoy a wonderful world of personal sound.

At a glance:
Colour: Graphite, Silver
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
Noise cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 28 hours in case, 7 in buds
IPX rating: 4
Charging: USB-C

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

Bose QuietComfort Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds

Bose up the ANC ante with ten detailed levels of noise cancelling via six mics and enhanced signal processing. There is also an Aware Mode for when you need to remain alert to external sounds. The ANC is flawless – these are the perfect companion for long haul flights and moments of quiet repose.

A compact audio powerhouse with a wide soundstage, Bose’s volume-optimised Active EQ technology auto boosts the high- and low-end with deep bass sustained for balanced sound.

The touch interface on the buds is very responsive and the Bose app lets you manage EQ setttings and various sound profiles. There’s eight hours of charge in the buds and a further 16 hours in the case.

At a glance:
Colour: Triple Black, Sandstone, Stone Blue, Soapstone
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1
Noise cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 18 hours in case, 6 in buds
IPX rating: 4
Charging: USB-C

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Technics True Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds
For premium audio look no further than these belting buds. 8mm drivers and Technics’ acoustic chamber with harmoniser deliver rich and expansive high fidelity sound that can be further refined with the companion app.
Noise cancelling is equally excellent, with advanced Dual Hybrid feed-forward/feedback NC microphones, and Attention mode for situational awareness.

The buds’ voice detection mics ensure clear call clarity with wind noise reduction, and there’s an ambient mode for more natural conversation.

Multi-point pairing seamless switches between two connected BT devices, and Siri and Alexa assistants can be accessed using the touch-sensor controls.

Battery life is seven hours from a single charge with ANC on and up to 20 hours in the case, and seven sizes of silicone tips are included to fit every ear.

At a glance:
Colour: Black, Silver
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2
Noise cancelling: Yes
Battery life: 24 hours in case, 7 in buds (with ACN on)
IPX rating: 4
Charging: USB-C

Buy now at JB Hi-Fi

Hear here! Your STACK 2022 audio guide – everything you need to know in sound!