There are many things to consider when buying wireless earbuds. In this popular market, it can be difficult to differentiate between good wireless earbuds and bad ones.
The best wireless earbuds (in 2022) are packed full of advanced technology. In this expert guide, we’ve ranked our favourites to assist you with your purchase in this sometimes overbearing market.
The Best Wireless Earbuds NZ 2022 (…that we’ve tested)
Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless Headphones
8-hour battery life | Brilliant audio quality | Industry-leading ANC | Sony Connect app
Sony has focused on what matters most with their WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless Headphones. Noise cancellation, audio quality and battery life. And in doing so, they’ve set a new standard for all categories. The WF-1000XM4s are fantastic.
The active noise cancellation is comparable to over-ear headphones. The audio quality is outstanding. The battery lasts literally for days, and Sony has finally caught up with the competition and made the WF-1000XM4s water and sweat resistant.
With added support for high quality codecs like LDAC, you can easily get the most out of your music with these earbuds. All for a very competitive price.
Read our Sony WF-1000XM4 review
NuraTrue Wireless Earbuds
Great price | The best-personalised sound | Good ANC | Strong performance
Quite simply, the NuraTrue Wireless Earbuds are incredible. The key points of difference between the NuraTrues and their competitors is how well the earbuds adapt the sound of your audio to suit your ears, and their price. They’re significantly cheaper than other premium earbuds.
Everybody hears things differently, the NuraTrue’s take that into consideration by shaping audio to suit the way you hear audio perfectly, and the results are impressive.
Not only do they sound great but they’re also affordable, and come packed with other premium features only found in earbuds $200 more expensive.
They have very good ANC capabilities, the touch controls work well, they’re comfortable and you can customise the touch controls to your favourite preferences.
The one downside to these earbuds is they aren’t as inconspicuous as others. They have large circular touch areas that do look a bit odd.
Read our NuraTrue review.
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Customisable ANC | 6-hour battery life| IPX4 rating | Strong Audio
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds produce industry-leading sound for a fantastic price. They are slightly cheaper than the Apple Airpods Pro and, in our opinion, deliver slightly better audio quality.
The sound is well balanced, allowing for deep and powerful bass that doesn’t distort the other tones and Bose’s Active EQ provides automatic adjustments of the bass and treble, depending on what volume you are listening to. This ensures that the music sounds great no matter how loud.
The QuietComfort Earbuds have great noise cancellation capabilities. Using a 1-10 slider you can select how much noise you want to cancel, and the results are the best we’ve seen. At the maximum level, the outside noise is cancelled out by a significant amount.
They also have a Self Voice feature that allows you to hear your voice when wearing the earbuds. It’s an excellent feature for people who are on the phone a lot and like to listen to themselves when talking.
Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)
U1 Chip for tracking | Personalised Spatial Audio | Consistent sound across genres | Expensive
Apple’s AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) are significantly better than the originals. Almost every feature has been improved and updated.
The ANC is much better, effectively cancelling out fans and air-conditioning units in the background, the sound is clear and consistent across genres, and the battery has increased to six hours on a single charge.
If you’re an Apple user, these are the best earbuds on the market for you. That’s because of the compatibility with the Apple ecosystem. Music sharing, spatial audio, quick device switching and hands-free Siri are all here. These features make the AirPods stand out from the crowd.
They do have their drawbacks though, the bass isn’t great, there’s no support for hi-res codecs and they’re expensive. But you will not be disappointed in these earbuds, especially if you’re already a subscriber to the Apple ecosystem.
Read our AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) review
Apple AirPods Pro
ANC | 4.5-hours battery life | IPX4 rating | Apple only spatial audio
Apple’s AirPods Pro are the most popular wireless earbuds on the market. They have a premium, sleek look and are comfortable to wear for long periods.
They produce great sound. The bass isn’t quite on the same level as Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds; however, the overall sound is still superb.
Apple’s Spatial Audio makes sounds feel like they come from distinct directions based on the users’ head movements. It’s done well and adds a significant level of immersion when watching movies or videos. This spatial audio is only available when the AirPods are paired with an Apple device running iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 or later.
The AirPods have outward-facing microphones that take in outside noise and automatically adjust for active noise cancellation. This doesn’t allow for personal customisation of ANC; however, the result is so effective that you won’t feel you need to.
Read our Apple AirPods Pro review
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
ANC | 7-hour battery life | IPX4 rating | Nicest case on this list
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds are ideal for audiophiles and those looking for a very good sound with their earbuds.
The audio that the Momentum 3s can produce is right up there with the best in the wireless earbuds market. The 7mm dynamic driver inside these earbuds is capable, and these earbuds provide a fantastic sound.
The active noise cancellation isn’t quite as good as the earbuds higher up on this list but it does the job and will cancel the low hum of airplane engines or traffice.
They are compatible with hi-res audio, adding to their audio capabilities.
They are comfortable and have an IPX4 rating, meaning they are sweat resistant.
Oppo Enco X2
ANC | 5-hour battery life | IP54 rating | AirPods-like design
The Oppo Enco X2 earbuds are capable earbuds. Their stem design is reminiscent of Apple’s AirPods Pro so Android and non-Apple users who like that style now have a premium option with that shape.
Teaming up with the Danish audio brand Dynaudio, the sound the Oppo Enco X2’s produce is excellent. Using their dual-driver design, the sound is well balanced with low-frequency tones coming from the bud’s back and high-frequency tones coming from the front.
While the active noise cancellation isn’t quite as good as its competitors, it works well and is effective.
They support both Android and iOS devices, and are able to be used while exercising.
Read our Oppo Enco X2 review
ANC | 6-hour battery life | No IP rating | Great Price
Sony’s WF-1000XM3 earbuds are a fantastic set of wireless earbuds at an excellent price. These headphones produce a fantastic sound, have some of the best active noise cancellation, and are significantly more affordable than their competitors. With this in mind, these are the best value earbuds on the market right now.
The Sony WF-1000XM3s have intuitive touch controls, a wide array of customisation within the excellent Sony Connect App and great audio quality that is well balanced.
The active noise cancellation is impressive. It cancels out close sounds and had one of the best performances when we put it through our stress tests.
They do not have an IP rating meaning they will not be suitable for running or exercising, which is something to consider when buying your earbuds.
Read our Sony WF-1000XM3 review
JBL Live Pro+ TWS
7-hour battery life | IPX4 rating | Affordable price | ANC
The JBL Live Pro+ TWS are affrdable earbuds that have all the same features as other premium competitors.
They produce a great sound that is vibrant and bold however they do struggle with lower frequencies when compared to other earbuds. The ANC is similar in that it’s capable however isn’t quite as good as other earbuds on this list.
The Live Pro+ come with an IPX4 rating means they are sweat-resistant and can handle a light rain shower.
Everything you’d want is here, however the key features like audio quality and ANC capabilities aren’t quite as good as the competitors. With that said, for only $247, the JBL Live Pro+ are well worth it.
Read our JBL Live Pro+ TWS review
Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro
ANC | 5-hour battery life| IPX7 rating | Samsung only spatial audio
The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are the best earbuds for Samsung users. They provide a good sound, but their small soundstage makes the audio feel less vibrant than the AirPods Pro and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds.
Samsung’s 360 Audio allows for immersive and realistic sound coming from all directions, and it’s great. You will need the latest Samsung device, the Galaxy S21, to use this feature, but it’s worth it.
The Buds Pro have an IPX7 rating, meaning they are as waterproof as your phone. When using a Samsung device, the Bluetooth will use Samsung’s proprietary Scalable codec, which supports hi-res audio streaming and reduces Bluetooth dropouts.
The active noise cancellation is good with the Buds Pro, but it doesn’t quite reach the high standards set by the Apple AirPods and the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. When compared to those, it feels more like noise reduction as opposed to noise cancellation.
The Buds Pro have a unique circular design that is functional and easy to use but isn’t as comfortable as the AirPods and QuietComforts when being used for long periods.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro review
Jabra Elite 7 Pro
ANC | Comfortable | Brilliant microphone for calls | No smartwatch support
Jabra’s Elite 7 Pros provide most of what you’d expect from a pair of earbuds, good sound, okay ANC, and a decent battery life. Where they stand out is in their design and their microphone quality.
These are some of the most comfortable earbuds on the market and the four built-in microphones use VPU (voice pick-up) technology to easily pick up your voice when on a call, even in windy conditions.
The Elite 7 Pros aren’t without their issues though. Where these earbuds are let down is their connectivity. While the earbuds connected fast with my iPhone, they’re not compatible with smartwatches.
Read our Jabra Elite 7 Pro review
How to choose the best wireless earbuds in NZ
How much should I spend?
As is the case with most technology, the more you spend, the better its quality. This is the same for wireless earbuds. The more expensive headphones, ranging between NZ$300-$400, will have more features like active noise cancellation and touch controls – and will provide a much better sound than cheaper headphones.
How do I know if they will fit?
The truth is, you don’t; however, manufacturers specifically design their earbuds to almost guarantee that their wireless earbuds will fit your ear. Many brands include interchangeable silicone tips that come in varying sizes allowing you to customise your fit.
Bluetooth connectivity is important
Wireless earbuds, obviously rely on Bluetooth connectivity to function. Bluetooth is always improving, and each update makes connections more stable, increases wireless range and allows for faster data transfer speeds (how fast your music can get to your earbud).
Only the most recent earbuds will be compatible with the latest Bluetooth versions; however, that’s not to say older headphones won’t work well. Some of the best wireless earbuds aren’t compatible with the latest Bluetooth version, 5.2 and are still excellent earbuds.
Can you make phone calls with wireless earbuds?
Yes, you can. All of the products on this list allow you to make and take phone calls via Bluetooth. They have inbuilt mics that aren’t always brilliant at blocking out ambient noise and won’t be as good as talking on the phone, but they do have this capacity.
The quality of the microphones varies between devices, so if you are making calls all day, this will be a factor to consider
What’s an IP rating?
The IP rating of wireless earbuds correlates to their ability to protect against intrusion from dust and water (this includes sweat.) If you are using wireless earbuds for exercising, you will want a pair of Bluetooth headphones that can protect from fluids that will ruin them.
Do audio codecs matter?
Audio codecs decode and encode audio. That isn’t very clear, but basically what you need to know is codecs determine how Bluetooth transmits information to your headphones.
Nearly all devices allow for the universally accepted SBC codec; however, some devices support codecs that allow the transfer of higher-quality audio files. These can be specific to devices; for example, Apple products favour the AAC codec, Samsung’s Scalable codec is only available on Samsung devices and for high quality audio streaming, there’s also Sony’s LDAC codec.
It is essential to know that your output device must also support the same codec for it to be used. iPhones don’t support Samsung’s Scalable codec so you won’t get the best sound out of Samsung earbuds when paired with an iPhone.
It would be wise to consider your current device when looking for the best wireless earbuds for you.
How much battery life should I look for?
As with anything portable, battery life is essential when deciding what wireless earbuds are right for you. The majority of the best wireless earbuds have similar battery lives between 6-10 hours.
It is also essential to consider the size of the battery life that the charging case holds and how quickly they can charge the headphones. A good average for charging cases is anywhere between 15-24 hours.
Do I need active noise cancellation?
The majority of the best wireless earbuds now come with active noise cancellation. This reduces the impact of external sound on your audio.
Not all of the best wireless earbuds feature active noise cancellation technology; however, it is something to consider for the most immersive listening experience.
Do touch controls matter?
All of the best wireless earbuds have touch controls. These are an important factor to consider because they allow you to control your music without getting your phone out whenever you want to change a song or turn up the volume.
The number of touch controls and variation in their commands does change between headphones, and this is something you will need to consider when selecting wireless earbuds that are right for you.
The best wireless earbuds usually come with voice assistant support; however, not all voice assistants are available on all devices. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, for example, have Bixby and Google Assistant built-in, but they aren’t compatible with Siri.
If you use voice assistants a lot, it is preferential to have all your devices connected to the same assistant, and this is something to consider when selecting the right wireless earbuds for you.
Will I be able to customise the headphones?
All of the best wireless earbuds come with companion apps. These vary greatly, some allow you to EQ your music, and some allow you to change the function of individual touch controls.
It is important to consider what device you will be using the wireless earbuds with, as the compatibility is better if the devices are matched. Apple AirPods will be more customisable on an iPhone than a Samsung Galaxy S21 for example.
Note: We have tried and tested most of these headphones; however, we have not been able to review some of them yet. For these recommendations, we have used information from trusted sources to provide you with a large range of options, ensuring you make the right decision for you.