Trip Planning Tech & Gear The Best Wireless Travel Earbuds of 2023, Tested and Reviewed The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II wins in a crowded field of solid earbuds By Nathan Borchelt Nathan Borchelt LinkedIn American University Nathan Borchelt has been working in the travel industry for more than 15 years as a writer, photographer, editor, and product manager. He covers everything from trail cameras to ski equipment. TripSavvy's editorial guidelines Published on 04/28/23 Share Pin Email We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more. Tripsavvy / Brian Kopinski If it’s been a minute since you’ve looked at wireless earbuds, you’re in for a shock. Today’s models connect seamlessly via Bluetooth to deliver sound quality that’s just as good as you get with a pair of wired headphones, boasting battery lengths that last for hours (and that can carry an hour-plus-long charge after a few minutes sitting in the charging case). Fit is easier than ever to customize, and—as with our overall winner, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II—some come with apps that perform hearing tests to customize the listening experience for your ears, allow you to adjust the audio settings, and even modify the default button settings. The audio is fully immersive, the noise canceling works surprisingly well, and other features—like the ability to adjust the noise cancel level to allow for ambient sound to be heard or the ability to auto-detect when you’re talking to drop the volume—make them feel almost smart. And yes, a few even use AI. In total, we tested 12 pairs of wireless earbuds, evaluating the ease of set-up and use of various button/swipe controls, the overall sound quality listening to a variety of different audio types, and studied both the fit over long periods as well as how well each pair stayed in place while commuting, biking, hiking, running, and exercising. We also compared real-world charging times with the promises of the brand’s specs and tested the mic quality by evaluating how well other people could hear our testers while on a call or attending an online meeting. The Rundown Best Overall: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II at Amazon Jump to Review Best Overall, Runner-Up: Apple Airpods Pro at Amazon Jump to Review Best Budget: Anker Soundcore Space A40 at Amazon Jump to Review Best Microphone: Sony Noise Canceling Earbud Headphones at Amazon Jump to Review Best for Samsung Users: Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro at Amazon Jump to Review Best for Running: Jabra Elite 7 Active in-Ear Bluetooth Earbuds at Amazon Jump to Review Best for Working Out: Beats Powerbeats Pro at Amazon Jump to Review Table of contents Expand Our Picks TripSavvy's Picks Other Wireless Earbuds We Tested How We Tested What to Look For FAQ Why Trust TripSavvy Best Overall Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II 5 Amazon View On Amazon View On Best Buy View On Bose.com Our Ratings Ease of Use 5/5 Comfort 5/5 Sound Quality 5/5 Range 5/5 Battery Life 5/5 What We Like High-quality sound Reliable noise-cancelling Loads of different fit options An app that makes set-up easy and provides loads of custom settings What We Don't Like The case could be a bit smaller Bose continues to push what’s possible in a wireless earbud with their QuietComfort Earbuds II. Our tester loved that they came partially charged, which made it easy to set up—simply scan the QR code to download the Bose app, and it guides you through a quick set-up with the ability to connect to your phone, laptop, or smart TVs with Bluetooth. But the app provides so much more control over the earbuds. You can assign commands to the buttons, choose the voice prompts you want, execute an “ear fit” test to ensure you’re wearing the right size of the three tips and three stability bands, control the level of your own voice you want to hear while on a call, toggle noise canceling modes, turn on the alert setting to let some ambient sound penetrate the noise cancelation and micro-adjust every aspect of sound, including bass boost and treble controls. We were encouraged by the ease with which they could dial the optimal fit and noted that Bose also provides additional tips if you have smaller or larger ears. And the audio was impeccable—whether listening to music or podcasts and while on Zoom calls, with four mics in each earbud to ensure that everyone can hear you speak. When the noise canceling was on, it blocked out the noisy streets of NYC, a consequence of both Bose’s technology and the well-fitting tips that created a confident seal around the tips. We also think the products will last a long, buoyed by Bose’s reputation for making high-quality products. Price at time of publication: $299 Playtime (battery life): 6 hours | Charge time: 1 hour for headphones, with a quick-charge time that provides 2 hours of charge in 20 minutes | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 | Charging Port: Portable charging case with USB Best Overall, Runner-Up Apple Airpods Pro (2nd Generation) 5 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Abt.com Our Ratings Ease of Use 5/5 Comfort 5/5 Sound Quality 5/5 Range 5/5 Battery Life 5/5 What We Like Smart upgrades like better active noise cancellation Touch controls Longer charge life and better audio A MagSafe-friendly charging case What We Don't Like The mic creates a slight echo on other devices when on a call Apple took the already successful AirPod Pros and upgraded nearly every aspect in the Second Generation. They deliver two times more active noise cancellation; adaptive transparency reduces external noise, a spatial audio feature lets you personalize the sound with your phone, and touch controls on the earbuds to pause/play sound and adjust the volume. As expected with most Apple products, the set-up was a breeze—and it can be paired with multiple devices, toggling to the applicable audio source when it notices that it’s playing. Audio quality was crisp and clear, whether listening to music or podcasts, attending Zoom meetings, or while on a call. The portable case also got an upgrade—you get 30 hours of playtime when the case is fully charged, and it’s now compatible with MagSafe, another detail that resonated with our tester. Four different tips help dial the optimal fit, and the headphones stay in place even while exercising, thanks in part to a shorter stem than the previous edition. Price at time of publication: $229 Playtime (battery life): 6 hours | Charge time: 1 hour, with 1 hour of listening time after a five-minute charge | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 | Charging Port: Portable charging case with USB Best Budget Anker Soundcore Space A40 5 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Soundcore.com Our Ratings Ease of Use 5/5 Comfort 5/5 Sound Quality 5/5 Range 5/5 Battery Life 5/5 What We Like The very comfortable Soundcore Space A40 carries its charge for up to 10 hours It provides ample noise canceling and—when paired with the Anker app—lets you customize the listening experience to your hearing What We Don't Like The USB cable was a bit short, and when charging wirelessly, the case got very warm The audio doesn’t stop playing when you remove the buds from your ears We loved how quickly the Anker Soundcore Space A40 earbuds paired with our devices, including several laptops and smartphones—we didn’t even need to reference the instructions. And while the Anker app wasn’t required to pair the headphones, we loved how the app lets you create a sound map to improve the noise cancellation and adjust to different “scenes” to accommodate different listening experiences, whether listening to music or taking a call. In addition to the standard tap/double-tap controls to start or stop the audio, advance the audio, or take calls, you can adjust the noise canceling levels when you need to be more aware of your surroundings. A snug, secure fit is assured thanks to five different ear tips made of soft rubber that—as our tester happily reports—make them extremely comfortable, even after hours of continuous use. The sound quality was also much better than the earbud’s low price might suggest, and the mic worked better compared to a pair of AirPods. And the battery in the carrying/charging case lasts for 50 hours once fully charged. But perhaps best of all, the audio for listening experiences can be customized with the app using the “HearID” system, which tests your hearing by broadcasting certain tones to accommodate your hearing. Price at the time of publication: $75 Playtime (battery life): 10 hours | Charge time: 2 hours, with 4 hours of playtime after 10 minutes | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 | Charging Port: Portable charging case with USB Best Microphone Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless Noise Canceling Earbud Headphones 4.6 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Abt.com Our Ratings Ease of Use 3.5/5 Comfort 4/5 Sound Quality 5/5 Range 5/5 Battery Life 5/5 What We Like The LinkBuds S uses AI-based noise reduction logic to isolate your voice for crips calls The noise cancellation is some of the best on the market, which pairs nicely with the auto-detection of certain ambient sounds you need to hear What We Don't Like It requires numerous steps to set up entirely via the app No wireless charging Sony employs its own app to set up the LinBuds S—a relatively simple process (once you realize that, to pair, you need to press the button on the headphone for five seconds). After clearing that hurdle, our tester appreciated that the app also lets you adjust the sound quality and noise canceling settings, providing a degree of customization—but it also required you to take many steps in the set-up process, including photos of your ears so you can receive instructions on how to position the headphones to assure a sealed fit. But once it was set up, our tester reports that they provide some of the best noise canceling they’ve encountered, which also helps bolster the earbud’s audio qualities when listening to music or a podcast, watching TV, or taking a call or Zoom meeting. Sony also baked in some intelligent software that auto-detects certain ambient sounds like car horns, subway arriving at a station, or your voice to auto-reduce the noise cancelation. The buds also use an AI-based noise reduction algorithm that isolates your voice to keep your words crisp on a call, which is one of the best features. Price at the time of publication: $198 Playtime (battery life): 6 hours | Charge time: 2 hours | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 | Charging Port: Portable charging case with USB Best for Samsung Users Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro 4.7 Amazon View On Amazon View On Abt.com View On Antonline.com Our Ratings Ease of Use 4/5 Comfort 5/5 Sound Quality 5/5 Range 5/5 Battery Life 5/5 What We Like The Galaxy Buds 2 Pros pair perfectly with Samsung devices and deliver top-quality audio and noise cancellation What We Don't Like Rather than providing you with a physical manual, you have to use the Wear app on your Samsung phone, which lets you adjust the settings and controls, and the Voice Detect was a distracting annoyance We appreciated how intuitive the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro worked—pairing to a device was simple, and once it was paired, the headphones connected automatically when you take the earbuds out of the slim charging case. It took some time to adjust to the different tap commands and positions, but after some field testing, everything felt natural. The headphones come with three tips to accommodate different-sized ears, and the little magnets in the case make it easy to ensure they’re positioned correctly for quick charging. And the earbuds delivered incredible sound, thanks to a 24-bit hi-fi sound quality, enhanced 360-degree audio, and active noise cancellation, with a 5.3-millimeter tweeter for crisp treble and a 10–millimeter woofer to enhance the bass. The biggest drawback? Our tester found that the Ambient Mode—which lowers the volume or turns off the audio entirely when the earbuds detect a voice—is triggered too often, even from heavy breathing or while singing along. Thankfully that feature can be turned off with the app. Price at the time of publication: $200 Playtime (battery life): 5 hours | Charge time: 75 minutes (wired) | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 | Charging Port: Portable charging case with USB Best for Running Jabra Elite 7 Active in-Ear Bluetooth Earbuds 4.9 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Best Buy Our Ratings Ease of Use 5/5 Comfort 4.5/5 Sound Quality 5/5 Range 5/5 Battery Life 5/5 What We Like The Elite 7 Active earbuds provide a solid, tight fit that won’t budge, even on sweaty runs The app lets you modify the push controls to avoid unintended triggers while exercising What We Don't Like The small charging/carrying case was hard to open Rather than using a manual or relying on your knowledge of how Bluetooth works, the Jabra Elite 7 Active earbuds use audio commands that play when you first put in the headphones to guide you through the pairing of devices, a solid, user-friendly detail that isn’t found in most competitors. And though our tester noted that you don’t need to use the Sound+ app to use the device, the app delivers loads of features, including a sound test to help personalize the audio experience, control the level of noise cancellation, and more. It also lets you change the default button functions on the earbuds, which is excellent for runners who tend to touch the earbuds while running, though thanks to the ShakeGrip fit, the earbuds didn’t move, even on sweaty runs, and they’re also water- and sweat-proof. The audio quality was solid, and the noise canceling worked so well that our tester reported that they couldn’t even hear their partner when he was yelling—a pass-through mode, which reduces that cancellation, can be triggered with the tap of a button. The earbuds also have six microphones and delivers a clear, crisp voice transmission when talking or on Zoom. Price at the time of publication: $170 Playtime (battery life): 8 hours | Charge time: 2.5 hours, with 1 hour of playback after a 5-minute charge | Connectivity: Class 1 Bluetooth | Charging Port: Portable charging case with USB Best for Working Out Beats Powerbeats Pro 4.8 Amazon View On Amazon View On Walmart View On Apple Our Ratings Ease of Use 5/5 Comfort 4.5/5 Sound Quality 4.5/5 Range 5/5 Battery Life 5/5 What We Like Equipped with adjustable arms that loop over your ears, the Powerbeats Pros stay put during a rigorous workout They boast intuitive controls, solid audio quality, and a sweat- and water-resistant design What We Don't Like Phone connectivity was a breeze, but pairing the headphones to a laptop took some work There was a connectivity lag when switching devices, and the carrying case is large Unlike most travel-focused earbuds that rely on a tight seal with the tips to keep them in place, the Beats Powerbeats Pro uses both a tight-fitting seal from one of four ear tips and adjustable arms that loop over your ears so that they stay in place even during the most high-activity of workouts like HIIT or trail running. The streamlined design offers a low profile (though wearing glasses and headphones takes some configuration), and the device is both sweat- and water-resistant. Spacial Audio immerses you in the sound, which delivers a dynamic range and solid noise canceling. The set-up was easy, and you can also pair it with another pair of Beats earphones or AirPods equipped with Audio Sharing. Our tester found they were bulkier and a bit heavier than other earbuds, but it was a worthy trade-off to ensure they never fell out. That said, the arm design does require a larger-than-average charging case. The mics also worked wonderfully, bolstered by a motion and speech accelerometer that detects your voice and cuts down on background noise. Price at time of publication: $190 Playtime (battery life): 9 hours | Charge time: 2.5 hours, with 1.5 hours after a 5-minute charge | Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 | Charging Port: Portable charging case with USB TripSavvy's Picks The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II packs in the features, including a dedicated app that lets you customize the audio experience to your ears, a variety of ear tips and hooks to ensure a perfect fit, connectivity options for a variety of devices, and high-quality audio that for which the brand has earned its reputation. But if the price feels a bit dear, go with the Anker Soundcore Space A40, which carries a charge for up to 10 hours, fits comfortably over extended use, and comes with an app for audio customization. Other Wireless Earbuds We Tested Our testers found that the Apple AirPods (3rd Generation) connected to their device almost too easily—they paired to our tester’s phone when they were in the closed charging case inside their pocket, and a lack of a dedicated app means you can’t customize the sound quality. They also didn’t work well during active workouts. Regarding connectivity, the Ultimate Ears Fits earbuds had the opposite problem. It took several tries to pair with a phone and never connected to a computer. And once connected, the app used to set up the device felt rushed and buggy, primarily related to the heat molding feature that theoretically lets you mold the tips to fit your ears, an action that can’t be undone. Connectivity issues also plagued the Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds—despite repeated attempts, our test was never able to pair the right earbud and found the noise canceling lacking. Apple’s AirPod Pros won praise for the easy-of-set-up, noise canceling, and audio quality, but our tester found the battery lacking and that taking calls drained more of the battery than while listening to other audio. The Jabra Elite 85t was also overall decent, but our tester was frustrated that the charging case doesn’t indicate when the earbuds have been fully charged, and they can’t pair with a MacBook Pro. The case also attracts dust, and the button controls are counter-intuitive. How We Tested To evaluate the quality of each earbud, we asked our testers to follow the set-up instructions provided with each device to validate how clear the steps were and how easily the earbuds paired with multiple devices. When applicable, they also downloaded the app and evaluated both the user experience of the app itself, as well as the level of control the app provided on the device, taking note of when you could perform hearing tests to customize the listening experience, adjust audio levels, and overwrite default button controls. Fit was evaluated based on the number of different ear tips provided and how well they fit. We also used them during various tasks—commuting, running, taking Zoom calls, exercising, traveling—to see how well they stayed put and how comfortable they felt after hours of continuous use. For those that boast noise canceling, we wore the devices in noisy environments like the subway or city streets to see how immersive the audio quality would be and whether the “aware mode” and other features worked as advertised. We listened to music and podcasts, watched movies, made calls, and attended online meetings to evaluate the sound and mic quality. We also tested the various touch controls when listening to audio and taking calls to ensure the interface was intuitive. Then we ranked each pair of headphones on a one-to-five scale across the devices’ key attributes: ease of use, functionality, sound quality, noise cancellation, comfort, and value. What to Look for in Wireless Travel Earbuds Activity Most devices will fit the bill if you use your wireless earbuds for traveling, commuting, attending meetings, or when on a call. But if you want to use them while exercising—like cycling, going to the gym, or running—you want a pair of headphones that’s sweat- and water-resistant and ones that will stay put while you’re moving, so look for earbuds that come with different-sized ear tips to help perfect the fit, or those use more than just the ear tips to keep the headphones in place. Devices that let you change the default button controls via an app are also nice to have so that you don’t accidentally trigger a feature when adjusting the headphones mid-run. And some also come with different settings that can let in some ambient noise (think of a car’s horn) so that you’re aware of your environment. Sound Quality Despite their size, wireless earbuds can deliver immersive, full audio, especially if the device also has active noise canceling to block out ambient sound, providing a sound quality that matches wired headphones. And while the specific demands of sound quality vary based on a user’s preferences (and what types of audio they most often listen to), size and fit also play a part—the better seal you get from the ear tips, the better the audio. App-enabled earbuds also provide loads of other features focused on helping you dial the optimal sound experience, including hearing tests to adjust the headphones to your hearing, equalizers to adjust the various audio levels, and features like bass boost. Bluetooths and Mics All wireless earbuds connect to your devices via Bluetooth, and the higher-quality ones pair automatically with your phone when the pods are removed from their case. You can pair multiple devices, like your computer, tablet, or smart TV—the best headphones can even detect which device is playing audio and pair automatically. Today’s earbuds also stay connected over greater distances, freeing you from your device while doing interval training. They also come with microphones that let you use the headphones while taking a call or attending an online meeting. If you plan to use your headphones for many calls or meetings, look for devices with at least four mics and voice-detection/noise-reduction technologies to ensure your voice can always be heard. Price You can get a decent pair of wireless earbuds for less than $100, but it's worth investing more if you plan to use them a lot. The extra cost delivers some key features not found in less expensive models, like robust noise canceling, app integration that gives you loads of controls over the hearing experience, automatic on/off when you lift the earbuds out of the charging station, higher audio and mic quality, faster charging, and longer battery life. Frequently Asked Questions How do I care for and clean my wireless earbuds? All wireless headphones have a charging case that protects your earbuds when not in use. To clean your buds, use a micro cloth to wipe away sweat and ear wax and a bit of water for more stubborn dirt or grime. What kind of earbuds can I wear on a plane? Since Bluetooth connectivity works while your device is in airplane mode, you can successfully use a pair of wireless earbuds while flying. But the bigger potential drawback lies in the device’s battery length, particularly on longer flights (especially if you also plan to use the earbuds before boarding the plane). Once the battery is drained, you have to place the earbuds in their charging case to replenish the battery—but several models include a quick-charge feature that gives you about an extra hour of battery life after a short charging period. To extend the battery life, you can also turn off the noise canceling feature, which uses more battery power. Why Trust TripSavvy Nathan Borchelt has been rating, testing, and reviewing outdoor and travel products for decades. He has amassed an embarrassingly large collection of wired and wireless earbuds to support his audiophile status. He collected testing input on 12 products and distilled the detailed notes to highlight each product's key advantages—and drawbacks—layering additional input from professional reviews and verified users. Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Share Pin Email Tell us why! Submit Continue to 5 of 7 below.