When you think of true wireless earbuds, the first thing that comes to mind is those little white stems pointing downward from each ear. When Apple first introduced its earbuds, the world was aghast at the awkward design, which was almost universally seen as a rare misfire from Apple’s product design geniuses. Still, the lure of Apple earbuds was impossible to resist. Now, these audio devices are everywhere.
What about the best AirPods alternatives? Can they really compare to Apple’s premium earbuds? No doubt AirPods, especially the AirPods Pro, are one of the most popular and sought after earbuds on the market in 2020. They sound great, and they have unique features like ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) and transparency mode, allowing you to hear the outside world without taking out one of your earbuds.
One of the only downsides of the original AirPods was the one-size-fits-all design. That issue has been addressed with the AirPods Pro and their in-ear tips. All of those features, sound quality and comfort make AirPods Pro a fantastic choice if you are looking for earbuds that cost $250.
You’ll find a wide range of prices here from high end manufacturers such as Master & Dynamic and Sennheiser to more accessible choices from TrebLab and SOUL. There’s something here that will fit your budget whether you want to settle well below the cost of AirPods or even if you want to reach beyond that price.
As fantastic as AirPods are, they aren’t your only option for a premium earbud experience. Many companies excelled in creating quality Bluetooth earbuds that can hold their own. What are the best alternatives?
1. Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus
While the sound quality of the Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus wireless headphones is strong and faithful with its active noise cancelling, it’s the ease of use that makes these elite. The onboard Bluetooth 5.0 connects cleanly and quickly, with the pairing process taking place without the user having to do anything. Once they’re paired once, just opening the box and pulling the MW07s free of their charger will get the music rolling. They tunes will keep coming thanks to the headphones’ 100-foot Bluetooth range. The aesthetics of the MW07 Plus set are a plus with multiple color choices available.
2. Jabra Elite 75t
The Jabra Elite 75t improves upon the already great 65t by upping the battery life by 2.5 hours for 7.5 hours of total use. On top of that, the charging station stores 28 hours worth of battery life (that’s roughly four full charges). The sound quality is already great, but you can also make adjustments using the Jabra Sound+ app to customize the sound. Plus, they’re almost $100 cheaper than AirPods Pro.
We’ve written about the Jabra Elite 75t many times before. The sweat-resistant Jabra Elite Active 75t were a big hit at CES 2020, and we’ve named these earbuds one of the best tech gifts of 2020. We’ve found that these earbuds are easy to pair with any Bluetooth device, have intuitive controls and a great microphone. They’re also very comfortable in the ear, and Jabra provides several sizes of ear tips and replacements. Most companion apps are a waste of data, but the Jabra Sound+ app is a useful addition that lets you fine-tune the audio settings to your liking. The only downside? We’ve found that the audio sometimes skips slightly, like a scratched CD on a Walkman. That being said, this problem is extremely rare, and may have more to do with your devices than the earbuds themselves.
If you’re looking for the best AirPods Pro alternatives, we strongly recommend the Jabra Elite 75t.
3. Samsung Galaxy Buds
These earbuds are so tiny you might forget you have them in your ears. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds come in a handful of different colors, and they’re great for casually listening to music and podcasts while you’re cleaning around the house or commuting to work. While the six-hour battery life is short of the Jabra Elite 75t, it is still impressive. It’s obvious why 80% of Amazon reviews give the Galaxy Buds four or five stars. These earbuds offer sweat-resistance and a sleek design. Plus, like all of the best noise-canceling earbuds, they have an Ambient Aware mode that lets you tune into the world around you as needed.
At half the price of Apple’s latest earbuds, Samsung’s offering is a worthy alternative to the AirPods Pro.
4. JBL Live 300
As earbuds become ever-present, manufacturers are packing more and more features into them. From longer battery life and onboard microphones to improved Bluetooth range and more efficient mini-audio drivers, earbuds are getting better and the market competition is getting stiffer. JBL is throwing a new player into the earbuds game with the Live 300 TWC, an affordable and feature-packed audio option.
Using a JBL 5.6 mm audio driver offering a frequency response of 20hz to 20kHz, the JBL Live 300 TWC will handle phone calls in stereo and function as a Google Assistant device.
5. Harman Kardon Fly TWS Earbuds
Harman Kardon’s first foray into the wireless earbud domain is the Fly TWS Wireless Earphones. Compact and sporting a very subdued and understated aesthetic, the Fly TWS units settle into your outer ear canal for $149.95. Employing Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and arming each piece with 5.6 mm audio driver, these earbuds are meant to travel with the audiophile throughout the day.
6. Ausounds AU-Stream Hybrid
The main attraction for the Ausounds AU-Stream Hybrid is its Active Noise Cancellation system. Using countering sounds to nullify ambient sounds outside the ear, the AU-Stream Hybrid provides a dual noise reduction of -28db. Inside, there’s a 9.2 MM titanium composite speaker with a frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 KHz. They’ll play for 25 hours on a single charge, with an additional 16 hours worth of charge time waiting in the case.
7. SOUL Sync Pro
Sound quality is all that matters with any pair of earbuds, and the SOUL Sync Pros fill in very nicely there with Bluetooth 5.0 technology and bass boost. Still, it’s the portable external charging case that sets these SOULs apart. Once powered up by a USB Type-C, the case will provide 150 hours of on-the-go power off that single charge. The onboard touch controls are a little tricky, but — once you get the hang of them — a simple tap or swipe will take calls, change tracks, activate voice commands, etc.
8. Edifier X5 Wireless Stereo Earbuds
Easily the most affordable option here at only $35, the Edifier X5 True Wireless Stereo Earbuds still manage to include Edifier’s Apt X audio decoding technology for deep bass and tri-frequency balance. A Qualcomm Chipset with Bluetooth 5.0 works to provide fast, more stable signal transmission. Finally, CVC 8.0 noise canceling technology looks to reduce background noise and to pick up the wearer’s voice accurately.
9. Jaybird Vista
Labeled as “Earthproof,” the Jaybird Vista earbuds sport a IPX7 dust, scratch, and water-resistant rating, meaning you can go running in the rain, drop your earbuds off a small cliff, and accidentally kick one down the road, and it would still work fine (although we don’t recommend that). You could run a marathon before the six-hour battery life runs out. Okay, maybe you couldn’t do that, but someone could. These earbuds are lightweight, durable and provide solid sound quality, what else do you really need?
10. Sennheiser Momentum
The sound quality is top-notch in the Sennheiser Momentum earbuds, and they are about $70 cheaper than AirPods Pro. They even feature transparency technology to hear your surroundings while your earbuds are still in. The four-hour battery life could be better, but you can always go with the Momentum 2, which has seven hours of battery life (they cost almost $300). However, the predecessor sounds just as good and is a better overall value. Make no mistake, these are premium earbuds that can compete with the best audio devices from Jabra, Apple and Sony. Even though there’s a newer version of this product for sale, we still think Sennheiser Momentum is one of the best AirPods alternatives available in 2020.
11. Ausounds AU-Flex ANC Wireless
The Ausounds AU-Flex ANC Wireless earphones use a neckband to offer additional stability, making them a prime option for active users. Their hybrid planar technology uses a magnetic driver for strong, clear resolution at mid and upper frequencies. They add a phase-aligned dynamic driver to deliver deep accurate bass notes, also. The Ausounds ANC provides noise reduction of -25 db, while the Ambient Sound Function blocks additional background noises. The AU-Flex will charge in 1.5 hours to play for about 22 hours.
12. Sony WF-1000XM3
The best earbuds feature active-noise canceling, but nobody does ANC better than Sony, which offers ANC that’s good enough to use on a plane. If you’re looking to truly drown out the world around you, the Sony WF-1000XM3 delivers unbeatable audio quality. Plus, like the Jabra Elite 75t, these Sony earbuds allow you to shape the sound you hear by using the EQ feature on the Sony app. Expect about six hours of use with the ANC rolling, and even better battery life without it. If you’re into creating your own private listening environment, these are a great AirPods alternative. At $200, they only cost a smidge less than AirPods Pro, but with a great battery life, sleek design and superior audio quality, they’re a more than worthy alternative to the AirPods pro.
13. Beats Powerbeats Pro
Athletes will appreciate the lengthy nine-hour battery life combined with the ear-hook styled earbuds. Once you put them on, they aren’t going anywhere. To keep you motivated while you’re working out, the bass-thumping sound profile make rap and EDM music slap. If you’re tired of your AirPods falling out during workouts, give Beats Powerbeats Pro a go. We previously named these the best overall hook earbuds, and they’re a great choice for athletes and music lovers alike.
14. Google Pixel Buds
The first iteration of the Google Pixel Buds still had that pesky wire that tethered the two earbuds to one another. Now, free of all wires, the Pixel buds are as small and comfortable as ever, plus they come in a handful of fun colors. The sound quality rivals AirPods Pro, and they’re $70 cheaper. With a design that’s clearly reminiscent of your AirPods charging case, these are one of the best new alternatives to the AirPods and AirPods Pro.
15. Audeze LCDi3 Headphones
The price king in this collection at $899 per pair, the Audeze LCDi3 Headphones will also outperform any pair of AirPods. Designed for the purest sound, the LCDi3’s provide bass response down to 25 Hz and total distortion of less than 0.1% overall at the highest volumes. No consumer earbuds can match those numbers. Their ear hook design is essential as the 12 gram ear pieces pack a new magnesium casing and cabling made of copper and Kevlar.