With great sound and cutting-edge noise-cancelling tech, these are the best new wireless earbuds for 2021.
The recent virtual CES event was a chance for brands to introduce new products, some still in conceptual form and others headed for our (virtual) shelves very soon. One of the biggest categories to see interest from both newbies and the major players were earpods.
Despite a year dominated by teleconferencing, for which Zoomers tend to use bigger over-ear models or go without altogether if the home office is quiet enough, the tech brands see earpods that deliver great sound and equally good noise-cancellation in all of our backpacks and coat pockets in the near future. Here are some of the best earpods for the year ahead.
Editor’s Choice: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Some of the best earbuds to hit the market in late 2020, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds deliver all the “quiet” of Bose around-ear noise cancelling headphones, in a gorgeous in-ear design. Debuting proprietary advancements in hardware and software to continue the 20-year legacy of QC headphones, each bud measures just over an inch long and weighs 0.3 ounces — about the same as a quarter. Yet they perform like every QuietComfort before them, transforming even the harshest environments into hushed sanctuaries thanks to adjustable noise-cancelling, while delivering better audio quality than their predecessor in about half their size.
Engineered for action, the earbuds boast new high-efficiency drivers, proprietary port design, and volume-optimised EQ for clear, powerful performance. The also offer 18 hours of total listening time – 6 hours fully charged with an additional 12 from the charging case – and come in triple black or soapstone.
1More Comfo Buds
Based around the ubiquitous AirPod model, the new 1More Comfo Buds promise a design that keeps those buds in your ear more easily, thanks to the addition of mini ear tips that make these little buds easier to grab and secure. Lightweight and made to wear throughout your day, these semi-in-ear pods offer instant device pairing, feature four ENC microphones to aid noise-cancellation and crystal clear calls, and sensors that detect when you’re done listening to them. They come with a slim-lined charging case and are available in black and white.
JBL Reflect Mini NC TWS
JBL has leaped on the earbud scene in a big way, with a bevy of new model releases, including the JBL Reflect Mini NC TWS, which won the event’s 2021 Innovation Awards honour. Delivering JBL’s signature sound and active noise cancelling (a first for the Reflect line) in a waterproof and reflective design, the new Mini NC TWS earbuds boast 21 hours of combined battery life with an even more compact design and adjustable ear-fins for a comfortable fit.
With a choice of colors and a reflective JBL logo, the JBL Reflect Mini NC TWS are thoughtfully designed with 6mm dynamic drivers and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, enabling fast pairing and for either bud to be used independently for music or calls thanks to Dual Connect. An embedded sensor in the charging case allows for the earbuds to pair with a user’s device the moment the case is opened, and music automatically pauses when the buds are removed from the ear.
Anker Liberty Air 2 Pro
Another cool AirPod alternative, the new Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro pods are Anker’s first foray into the noise-cancelling earpod scene and promise pure sound thanks to targeted active noise canceling technology that uses six individual mics. The new Liberty Air 2 Pros allow the user to select the surrounding noise scenario via an app, while 11mm PureNote driver technology means boosted bass and wider frequency bandwidth.
In addition, HearID Personalized EQ promises a listening experience that’s catered to the user’s unique hearing profile. There is also a 26-hour playtime, including three charges from the case, and a range of colour schemes.
Galaxy Buds Pro
Samsung’s newest earbuds pack a punch with unrivalled sound quality, intelligent ANC, and seamless connectivity, all encased in an impeccable design. The new earbuds follow on from Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live and promise immersive sound, superior call quality, intelligent ANC, and enhanced connectivity across your devices – all packed into a modern and sleek design.
The company’s most premium earbuds offering to-date, the Galaxy Buds Pro sport an 11-millimeter woofer for deeper bass and a 6.5-millimeter tweeter for a crisp treble with minimum distortion. They will also separate your voice from unwanted sounds with three microphones and a Voice Pickup Unit (VPU), ensuring you are heard as clearly as possible. One of the outer microphones also has a high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), further eliminating background noises. The earbuds also let you easily toggle from smartphone to tablet and boast eight hours of playback (five with ANC) with an additional 20 in the charging case.
Bose Sport Open Earbuds
Well suited for active lads, the new Bose Sport Open Earbuds use Bose OpenAudio technology to pipe in the tracks while also ensuring the user is aware of their environment. The earbuds have a design that’s somewhere between in-ear and over-ear and are geared towards workouts, although that doesn’t mean they can’t be used day-to-day. Each pair features a contoured earhook attached to an entirely new kind of enclosure that sits above the ear canal and this means that even at high volumes, you’ll hear your content and conversations — but others won’t.
The new earbuds have an advanced microphone system to ensure clarity when taking calls, isolating your voice by reducing the interference of wind and noise, and promise a rock-solid connection thanks to the use of an etched antenna and Bluetooth 5.1.
In a departure from the AirPod design that has dominated earbuds over the past year or two, the new Earin A-3 earpods, available in black and silver versions, capitalise on the Swedish company’s relatively long history producing earbuds to deliver sweet sounds to your ears. Featuring an ‘open’ design, intuitive touch controls, 14mm drivers, Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, and Qualcomm’s QCC5121 chipset, these very discrete, sweat and dust-resistant earbuds promise a five-hour playtime, with a further 30 from the stylish aluminum charging case.
Status Between Pro
As good to look at as to listen to, the Between Pro earbuds from Status continues the company’s great track record in producing market-leading headphones. As the company’s first wireless earphones, the Between Pros feature a unique triple speaker driver system that includes a pair of balanced armature drivers and a 10mm dynamic driver; as well as 12 hours of continuous playback (plus an extra 36 hours in the charging case), which is pretty impressive. There are also four microphones to enable ambient noise reduction and Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.
The design has them somewhere between an AirPod style and the new tab style that’s becoming increasingly popular, but at their core is great tech, ensuring great quality sound, at a price point to match.
JBL Tour Pro Plus
Set to hit shelves later in the year, the new JBL Tour Pro Plus earbuds feature 6.8mm dynamic drivers, a speed charge feature that gets you an hour of the good stuff after just 10 minutes of charging, and both Dual Connect + Sync and Fast Pair JBL features.
The new JBL Tour Pro Plus earbuds also promise crystal clear calls thanks to three microphones that use beamforming array technology; hands-free voice controls for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant; and will optimise output for the media you’re enjoying. Custom tap controls make navigation easy, and a companion app guides you to the best fit, which is pretty crucial with earbuds.
Klipsch T2 True
We’ve discussed Klipsch before; the US audio company has been making speakers since 1946 and its latest earbud release is the T2 True Wireless earphones, which combine comfort, clarity, and freedom from clunky wires. Featuring the brand’s patented oval ear tips, and promising six hours of battery life on a single charge, which isn’t bad, the new earbuds are available in speckled black or white colourways.
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