Review: The best wireless earbuds of summer 2023

Better AirPods Pro alternatives

Not excited about AirPods Pro? We test a variety of worthy alternatives. Which ones will provide the best sound in the summer heat?

Published 24 July 2023 - 6:00 pm
The best wireless earbuds of summer 2023
Geir Nordby

Products in this test

Have you gone on a summer holiday and forgotten to bring along earphones? That’s a shame. If you’re the type of person who lies on the beach under the parasol while everyone else is swimming, you need some good sound for your audiobook or podcast. The taxi ride home from the summer party will also be better if you can tune out the driver’s endless chatter and enjoy your favourite music instead.

A pair of completely wireless earphones – so-called true wireless – take up no space in your bag or purse and can easily fit in a trouser pocket. The best ones sound at least as good as a good pair of traditional headphones, so there’s no need to accept mediocre sound just because you’ve ditched the cord.

The best earbuds sound really good and have a long continuous battery life of 8-10 hours. With two or three extra charges from the portable case, the earbuds can last for a short holiday without the need to charge them between battles. And when you do need to charge, you can often get an hour of playback out of just ten minutes of charging.

Noise reduction and ambient sound

In the premium class, there are almost no earbuds without active noise cancellation. And it’s now effective enough to enjoy the entire flight to Lanzarote. Sometimes it can be too effective, in which case it’s a good thing that the hearing aids also have ambient sound. This means that microphones pick up sound from outside and send it into your ear, making it sound almost as if you’re not wearing earplugs at all.

All earbuds in this test have both noise cancellation and ambient sound.

Other features

Some earbuds have features that set them apart from others. For example, you can find them again if you can’t remember where you put them. Some have so-called sidetone, which allows you to better hear your own voice during mobile calls and video conferences.

Many earbuds have their own app with an equaliser, with different presets or where you can adjust the sound yourself. This can be handy if you’re not entirely happy with the sound as set by the manufacturer.

All the best wireless earbuds

Here we test a wide range of premium earbuds. The cheapest ones cost just under €200 and then gradually increase all the way up to €400. And if you think price determines quality, we can reveal that we had a few surprises here.

Products in this test

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd

Great sound quality

Beyerdynamic makes great headphones, so it should come as no surprise that they also make great wireless earbuds.

Good hi-fi qualities, with lots of detail in the sound image. Long battery life.
Noise cancellation degrades sound quality. The EQ only has presets and cannot be adjusted.
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Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Much better than its predecessors

Bose has improved their horrible QuietComfort Earbuds. The Earbuds II are much better in every way.

Powerful and likeable sound. Comfortable, and good voice quality and noise cancellation.
Slightly muffled bass, lacks air at the top. Battery life is just ok.
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Sony WF-1000XM5

Best at noise cancellation

The Sony WF-1000XM5 continues the legacy of the popular M4 model, delivering even better noise reduction and sound quality.

Long battery life, good voice quality and excellent noise cancellation. The sound quality with music has also been significantly upgraded.
The reviewer still feels the need to make some EQ adjustments.
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Technics EAH-AZ80

The best sound

Technics promises clearer calls and better noise reduction than ever before with the flagship EAH-AZ80 earbuds.

The AZ80 knows a lot of tricks, has advanced noise reduction and outstanding sound. Awesome!
With so many features, it's easy to get lost in the app.
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Audio-Technica ATH-TWX9

Audio-Technica finally hits the spot

Audio-Technica are good, but have so far failed to convince us with their wireless earbuds. That changes with the ATH-TWX9.

Great comfort, very good sound quality and good noise cancellation. Numerous ear tips provide many personalisation options. UV cleaning of the earbuds.
No fast charging. Noise cancellation affects the sound character.
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Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2

Still very good

The Bowers & Wilkins Pi7 S2 is more of the same, but that also means more of a good thing.

The excellent sound we know, combined with a more stable connection and slightly lighter earbuds. Converts wired connection to wireless sound.
Lacks equaliser. Just ok battery life.
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Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX

Bang & Olufsen's best

Beoplay EX is among the most expensive wireless earbuds. And at their best, they're really good.

Very stylish earbuds, impeccable quality and good sound in Sport mode - and possible to improve with customised settings. Good speech quality. Best-in-class fit!
The sound lacks a bit of dynamics and ""sparkle"", and neutral sound mode sounds flat. Wireless range could be better.
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OnePlus Buds Pro 2

Best value for money

At this price, you're unlikely to get better sound than from the OnePlus Buds Pro 2.

Among the best-sounding earbuds in its price range. Good fit. A bargain!
The voice quality is only just ok.
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Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro

Best for Samsung phones

Samsung's best earbuds are okay, but the Pro model isn't worth twice the price.

Music sounds pleasing, some in-app features. Ok noise cancellation.
The sound lacks dynamics, the bass is too boomy and mushy with noise cancellation enabled. The app is only available for Android, and HD audio requires a newer Samsung mobile phone.
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ANC headphones with an added trick

Yamaha doesn't quite hit the mark

Buy the previous version instead

Lossless at last from Bose

Good news from Bose

Listen to your music for the first time

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