Sony has been making noise-canceling headphones for years, and it's gotten pretty good at it. We had very few complaints about Sony's WH-1000XM3 headphones, so there wasn't much to fix in the latest iteration. Still, Sony listened to customer feedback and made several notable improvements in the new WH-1000XM4. They still sound phenomenal, but Sony added wear detection, some new Bluetooth tricks, and made the noise cancelation even more effective. At the same time, the XM4s look almost identical to the last-gen headphones. They don't look ugly or cheap, but the design isn't as striking as I'd expect from the best noise-canceling headphones on the market.
This story was originally published and last updated .
Just six months after the excellent Galaxy Buds+, Samsung has a new set of true wireless buds, and they're probably its most anticipated product in this space. The Galaxy Buds Live may look like beans, but they sound a lot better than a pinto in your ear canal. With an unsealed design, they're pretty clearly aimed squarely at Apple's AirPods, and undercut the wireless charging version of Apple's beloved earbuds by thirty bucks, at $170. Like AirPods, they also don't block out much external noise, and that's something many people want. The active noise canceling also does little to quiet the world, and really doesn't make sense in an unsealed design.
Wireless headphones have been around for years, but they've taken on increased importance now that phone manufacturers are leaving out the 3.5mm jack. Companies like Sony and Bose have been cranking out great options, but most of those products cost $200 or $300. That money can get you a lot of premium features like active noise cancellation and high fidelity sound — but do you need to spend that much? The Tribit QuietPlus 72 headphones cost just $70 and offer some premium features like ANC and multi-device pairing. However, the construction is lower quality, there are no customization options, and the ANC is merely okay — they don't excel in any one area.
Bluetooth headphones are a dime a dozen, but good headphones — especially good true wireless headphones — are anything but cheap. OnePlus used to be known for its "flagship-killer" mantra, and now the company is bringing the same approach to Bluetooth headphones with its new OnePlus Buds. For just $80, you can get a good-sounding and very comfortable pair of truly wireless earbuds (or, more honestly speaking, AirPods clones), and they're easy to recommend.
Looking to capitalize on the burgeoning noise-canceling Bluetooth headphone market, Microsoft launched its first Surface Headphones in late 2018. They had a lot going for them: a unique aesthetic, good sound quality, and handy dials to adjust volume and ANC. They struggled to get their footing in an increasingly crowded market, though, due in no small part to their $350 price tag. The second generation is available now, and it's largely unchanged from the first — but key under-the-hood changes and a significantly lower price make them a much more appealing package than their predecessor.
Razer sells flashy, designer gaming laptops and accessories, and it's not typically an outfit you'd associate with value — the fanciest version of its Blade laptop costs $4,300, and its new Kishi mobile gamepad is 80 bucks. Its Opus headphones break with a number of Razer conventions, though: not only do they sport an uncharacteristically tame aesthetic that doesn't scream gaming, they're also priced extremely competitively at $200.
As the true wireless earbud market has matured, we've reached a point where we now have a lot of good quality options even at lower price points — they're no longer just an expensive toy for early adopters. Anyone can pick up an affordable pair of TWEs these days and expect half-decent sound quality as well as a few useful extra features. We've reviewed quite a few of these over the years and are therefore able to help you decide which pair is right for you. These are our favorite options in the 'less than $50' and 'less than $100' price brackets.
Headphone jacks have become a relic of a bygone era, at least in flagship phones. That means that cheap earbud options are fewer and farther between than ever before, too. But as the true wireless market continue to mature, we've seen a lot more budget-friendly options — among them, the EarFun Free. These earbuds pack some traditionally high-end features including IPX7 water resistance and USB-C charging, but their best quality has to be their price: you can pick up a pair for just 35 bucks during this week's sale.
Audio-Technica's been making audio equipment for almost 60 years. In that time, it's earned a reputation for making great, no-nonsense headphones. Its newest true wireless earbuds, the ATH-ANC300TW, play to the company's strengths: they're straightforward and sound incredible. But they're also simple to a fault, failing to offer high-tech features I've come to expect in premium true wireless sets — and that makes the prospect of spending $230 on them dubious.
It's been a month and change since Google launched its first true wireless earbuds. When I first got my hands on the Pixel Buds, I was struck by their fit and finish, comfort, and sound quality, but nagging problems like audible interference at low volumes and short battery life left me feeling lukewarm on the whole. I've been using them regularly ever since, but unfortunately, my opinion hasn't changed: there are too many compromises in the 2020 Pixel Buds to justify their price for most buyers.