Best Wireless Earbuds 2017 – updated May 2017
Here is our lineup of the best wireless earbuds 2017 – updated every time we see a new model that should be in the top 5 (last updated May 2017). This round up is for wireless earbuds – if you are looking for full sized bluetooth headphones, check out the best wireless headphones 2017 here.
To make it into our roundup of the best wireless earbuds 2017, each pair had to be at the top of their game for Sound quality, build materials, and essentially being the best choice for the target audience – we are a fussy bunch & have left out several wireless headphones for missing features / below par construction. So this lineup is essentially a ‘best of the best’ – every single one of these headphones would have been considered the class leader at its launch, you wouldn’t be making a massive mistake by selecting any one of them.
We’ve split the recommendations in 2 sections – the first for general use (like listening around the house, commuting to work, travel etc), and the second very specifically aimed at fitness or sports use (like running or working out in the gym).
First up – the best ‘general use’ wireless earbuds :
SENNHEISER MOMENTUM IN EAR WIRELESS – BEST WIRELESS EARBUDS – WINNER
The Sennheiser momentum range is well known for it’s sparkling sonic performance with a hint of bass boost – and we’re happy to confirm that this trait is continued with the momentum in ear wireless.
Unlike the wired versions of the momentum in ear which had a separate model depending on whether you ran an iPhone or Android phone, thankfully there is just one version of the momentum in ear wireless which is compatible with all flavours of phone / audio player so long as it has bluetooth connectivity. Good news if you are a frequent phone hopper like we are!
The construction is high quality, with the neckband being of quite a light plastic that has a high quality feel. The neckband is mostly covered with a contrast stitched sheepskin leather wrap – a nice touch that reminds you that the momentum in ear buds are priced just that touch above the plastic competition.
It’s a great sonic performance that’s highlighted by the solid well defined bass that hits right down to almost sub bass levels, which never seems to overpower the taut midrange performance & sparkling crystal clear high end response. Bass lines smack with authority & vocals come through with beautiful clarity & separation.
It’s a wide & spacious sound with just a touch of bass boost – sennheiser has tweaked the sound profile in just the right direction in our opinion & we think the momentum in ear wireless deliver a superb well rounded sound that will appeal to many.
The daring neckband design turns out to be a stroke of genius from the Sennheiser team – the reduced earbud weight and feeling of security against loss, enhanced by the stellar battery life, and then topped off with a top quality sonic performance makes the momentum in ear wireless as good a pair of wireless ear buds as we have seen so far in 2017.
Class leading build, battery life, sonic performance – if you can cope with the asking price then these are a top buy.
Check out our full review here – Sennheiser Momentum In Ear Wireless
BOSE QUIETCONTROL 30 – best wireless earbuds – 2nd place
The latest development from Bose, the QuietControl 30 wireless in ear buds feature a breakthrough in being the first Bose product to use 2nd generation active noise cancellation – but are they good enough to beat the best in ears?
Getting the basics out of the way first, the QuietControl 30 are neckband design wireless in ear buds (love it or hate it), featuring adjustable 2nd generation active noise cancellation (which we will go into later), bluetooth connected with NFC for easy pairing, 10 hour claimed battery life (with a 3 hour charge time from empty).
We like that each time the QC30 is powered on, they voice prompt you with the battery level (a feature that should be standard on every model – but is lacking in some of the Bose’s competitors). Battery level is of course also available in the app which you can download for iPhone / Android, but the quick spoken reminder is always handy. The neckband design gives the QuietComfort 30’s class leading battery life for in ear buds at 10 hours (equaled only by the Sennheiser Momentum in ears we saw recently), but the charge rate is on the slow side – taking 3 hours to fill up from empty.
Let’s look at the revolutionary active noise cancellation first – the shift of name from the more familiar ‘QuietComfort’ to ‘QuietControl’ is all about the new variable ANC built into the QuietControl 30. Bose has caught on to the advances being made in noise cancellation in the last 6 months, and knows that just having a ‘nuke all ambient sound’ on/off is not going to cut it anymore, so has introduced the QC30 as the first in ear headphones to give you control over how much active noise reduction you want.
Bose say you can have the noise cancellation set at fully on to fully off plus ‘anywhere in between’ – it’s not quite as good as that in reality, but you do get a total of 12 steps to choose from, all controlled from the dongle hanging off the right earbud.
Class leading battery life, the Bose name & the Bose standard design, and amazing performance from the active noise cancellation – if that is enough for you then stop reading now – you will love the Bose QuietControl 30 in ear wireless. Pipped by the Sennheiser’s for sound quality – they take 2nd place.
Check out our full review here – Bose QuietControl 30
B&O BEOPLAY H5 – BEST WIRELESS EARBUDS – 3rd PLACE
Let’s get straight to the point, these Beoplay H5’s are flipping amazing to look at – every bit of high end design has been thrown at these & to our eye they look & feel absolutely stunning. If you are looking for the hands down prettiest wireless in ears on the market right now, stop reading right now as you’ve just found them… nothing else comes close.
The tech specs of the Beoplay H5 are impressive, featuring bluetooth 4.2, aptX for improved sound quality & less compression, the rarely seen aptX Low Latency which gives you perfectly synced audio when watching TV, 5 hour battery life.
Everything in the spec is awesome for a high end pair of wireless in ears – but that battery life is going to be an issue for some. The Beoplay H5 come complete with a really nice magnetic charging cube, and go from empty to 100% in about 2 hours – but a 5 hour life means you are probably going to have to carry that charge cube in your bag if doing any serious traveling, or for commuting use, make sure you are happy to have the Beoplay H5 join your phone in the nightly charging ritual.
The sound delivery from the Beoplay H5 is also a little special – not just because you get every high tech audio enhancing protocol (aptX, aptX low latency, and AAC), but because B&O have set the default sound profile aiming towards accuracy rather than bass boosted madness.
Superb design & build quality, with a special quality that is a delight to behold. The Beoplay H5 in ear wireless headphones deliver a top notch sound in a beautiful package that will delight many. Less than ideal battery life keeps the Beoplay H5 out of the top 2, but fantastic earbuds none the less.
Check out our full review here – B&O Beoplay H5
Beats X – BEST WIRELESS EARBUDS – 4th PLACE
Available from the start with a range of discrete colors, black, grey , white & blue, the Beats X fall into that pattern of being wireless earbuds that kind of still have wires on show – but the connection to your phone is by bluetooth. So it’s more ‘less wires’ than ‘wire less’ if you get my drift.
The design is pretty understated considering this is a Beats product, and the buds themselves are super small & lightweight. The Beats X are probably the first Beats headphones that we have seen that look to be a bit less fashion focused & more grown up in style – in our view that’s a good thing.
We found the Beats X really comfortable in use, the thicker rubbery section of the headband part is moldable & felt pretty good to us. Once you form the neckband section it stays in place pretty much spot on, it’s an ingenious take on the neckband approach & it works well, ensuring a comfortable fit no matter what size your neck is. As with all the neckband types it provides nice security & holds the earbuds like a necklace when not in use, we like that the buds themselves clip together magnetically when not in use too.
The Beats X will probably be most often compared to the Apple Airpods as both will be on the same shelves next to each other in the Apple store. The Beats X are a clear winner on sound quality due to actually having some decent bass & just better overall sound delivery, add in the extra security / better fit & isolation from outside noises and we would say that the Beats X are a better overall set of earbuds. We look into other airpod alternatives here if you fancy checking out our top recommendations.
Beats has only gone & grown up – the Beats X show a whole new touch of maturity both in terms of the looks & the sonic delivery. Great battery life, class leading bluetooth connectivity & range, the Beats X makes a compelling case for being the everyday set of earbuds for someone wanting to step up into the first rung of the decent headphone ladder.
Check out our full review here – Beats X
Jaybird Freedom F5 – BEST WIRELESS EARBUDS – 5th PLACE
Jaybird has really gone to town on the construction & has shot for best in class with the design. The buds them selves are super tiny & slim (really impressively slim), with a gorgeous all aluminium construction that has a subtle sand blasted texture to it. They stand out a mile from the plastic fantastic brigade of ‘me too’ products that they will be lined up against on the shelves, make no mistake they look & feel fantastic.
The premium feel carries over to the design of the inline remote control too – whilst it is pretty standard in it’s function (volume / track skip etc), it is constructed of the same brushed aluminium alloy as the ear buds themselves. Jaybird say it is a full metal construction, but there are small sections of high quality plastics used as highlights.
The impossible slimness of the Freedom earbuds stems from the fact that all the electronics & battery is housed in the remote control pod – this does make the remote a little larger than others, but the design is spot on & it looks and works great.
We weren’t as impressed by the initial sound profile as we were with the superb form factor – but luckily the Freedoms come equipped with an app for android & IOS devices to tweak the sound profile.
After a few minutes playing with the app, the new profile is then saved back to the headphones & stays in place even if you move the headphones to anther device (which we liked).
With the new profile, we found that the sonic performance was significantly better with much more bass & midrange punch, whilst maintaining decent definition in the upper frequency ranges. Of course this is a personal preference, but the point is that it is easy to change & setup to your own tastes with just a few minutes of effort.
The Jaybird Freedoms are a lovely looking set of wireless earbuds, with top notch comfort, build quality & design. We weren’t great fans of the 4 hour (+4 hour) battery life though, and ultimately for a few pounds more there is a significant step up in sound quality available from the competition.
If you love the looks though….. they are a special thing for sure!
Check out our full review here – Jaybird Freedom F5
BEST WIRELESS EARBUDS 2017 – SPORTS & FITNESS USE
A special category focusing more on security of fit, long lasting materials that can handle sweat exposure, take a beating & keep on pounding out the tunes. Pure sound quality takes a back seat here – instead looking for the ability to motivate & excite rather than the purest most accurate audio.
BEATS POWERBEATS 3 – BEST WIRELESS EARBUDS – WINNER
Wireless sports & workout in ear headphone with super energetic ‘smash you in the head’ bass from Beats, the new powerbeats 3 are a fully focused set of in ears with 1 aim – to be the outright king of active in ears for the new iPhone 7.
The full plastic construction feels pretty good, with a high standard of finishing overall with no snags or sharp edges – the powerbeats 3 carry over that high standard of build quality that you would expect from any apple product. The pretty standard control dongle is nicely constructed too – with a good clicky button press that we found strangely satisfying.
If you were expecting super energetic smash you in the face boosted sound from the powerbeats 3, you will not be disappointed! They squarely aim at the sports & fitness user listening to motivational tracks, and they really blow your socks off. We have never heard ‘Eye of the Tiger’ sound so impressive on the move, even ‘Call me Baby’ came across great with a fantastic energy & zing.
Battery life is exceptional, with the powerbeats 3 coming in with a class leading performance of 12 hours playtime. Charging is catered for with a standard micro USB cable plugging into the bottom of the ear piece, and if caught with an empty battery you benefit from a ‘fast fuel’ charge which gives you 1 hour of playback with only 5 minutes connected up to the micro USB.
Sometimes it’s not just about getting the best audio quality possible, there is a tradeoff with the powerbeats 3 and if you have an iPhone 7 & are into your running or the gym, the powerbeats 3 should be the first choice in ear headphones.
Class leading battery life, super secure fit, decent build quality, and a super strong energetic sound delivery that will taunt you on to push past that next level.
Beats has aimed squarely at the sport & fitness market, and quite honestly they have smashed it out of the park!
Check out our full review here – Beats Powerbeats 3
BOSE SOUNDSPORT – BEST WIRELESS EARBUDS – 2ND PLACE
Straight off the bat, the first thing that struck us about the bose soundsport wireless was the price! Bose are well known for making premium headphones that pretty much suck out pricing wise & have a big loading due to buying into the Bose branding – but the soundsport wireless are actually priced to compete with the other decent fitness headphones on the market…. it’s refreshing to see no ‘bose tax’ here.
Aiming for the fitness & exercise market as they are, our first impression was that there was no way that these chunky in ears would stay in place whilst running – but we were properly wrong. Once you tweak the size with the supplied tips, the combine silicone tip & wing combination give a really comfortable & stable fit. We had no issues with security whilst running or working out, and the light control unit didn’t pull or tug at the pieces at all.
No surprises from the sound profile – bose headphones seem to consistently deliver a pretty polite sound, and there is no change here with the soundsport in ears. It feels like there has been a bit of an effort to boost the bass a little more than normal (for bose), maybe to line the sound profile up better for ‘motivational’ use when working out – but really we would have liked even more in your face action for exercising.
The bose soundsport wireless in ears surprised us on a few levels – they offer great quality for the price & the fit is super secure & comfortable for running & gym use. If you are looking to get into ‘Bose’, are into your exercise but don’t fancy the ‘maximum attack levels’ of the more intense Beats Powerbeats 3, then these are a pretty strong contender for best wireless sports earbuds at the moment.
Check out our full review here – Bose Soundsport Wireless
JAYBIRD X3 – BEST WIRELESS EARBUDS – 3RD PLACE
Compared to the previous model, the Jaybird X3 is much smaller & sleeker – one of the most compact wireless sets of in ear headphones we have seen so far. Everything has been redesigned from the ground up to be smarter & better looking, battery life is up, all the plastics are now at least 1 step up in quality, and the sound quality is improved too. It’s a lot nicer than the X2.
The Jaybird X3 is build on a metal chassis with nice high quality plastic over mouldings, everything feels nice and solid, the build quality is a step or two up from the older models. The interconnecting cable which house the inline control dongle for play/pause & volume is a soft flat ribbon – again a nice touch.
We think it’s pretty spot on for exercise use, playing motivational power hits of the 80’s – but for more normal use the Jaybird X3 serves better with a new profile being set up in the app & switching the sweat resistant silicone tips for a pair of the highly isolating Comply foam tips.
The Jaybird X3 has one of those classic V shaped sound profiles (think of an oldschool graphic equaliser with boosted lows / boosted highs) which gives a super strong ‘in your face’ presentation. It’s super energetic which should suit the sporty user perfectly to drive a bit of passion, with the bass notes smacking you clean in the side of the head with every drumbeat. The midrange manages to stay clear & focused, and the high frequency response is very aggressive with lots of sparkle & clarity.
The X3’s are a very compact, nicely designed in ear headphone with good battery life & sound quality – it would be easy to say that whilst aiming for the ‘middle ground’ in the pricing schema, Jaybird have done rather well indeed.
Check out our full review here – Jaybird X3 Wireless Earbuds