6 Important Features to Look For In True Wireless Earbuds

By: Christine Persaud

November 3, 2021

True wireless earbuds are one of the hottest categories in tech, and certainly the most-talked-about and sought-after category in headphones. And there’s good reason. These tiny buds pop into your ears and sit securely, then connect to your phone or other device via Bluetooth so you can listen comfortably at home or on the go without being tethered to wires, or even wearing a headband.

There are plenty of options from major tech brands, audio companies, and new start-ups, and across every price point imaginable. This makes it difficult to choose.

With true wireless earbuds likely to be a hot gifting item this holiday season, we’re here to help with tips on the most important features to look for when choosing a pair.

Battery life

Sony WF-1000XM4

Battery life is a major consideration since true wireless earbuds are typically meant to be used while on the go. You want them to last for a full listening session and then some. Most, if not all, true wireless earbuds come with a handy

Monolith Monoprice

charging case that holds extra charges to extend the battery life further before you can get to a power outlet or wireless charger. But you also want the buds themselves to last long enough for a week’s worth of morning runs or daily commutes to the office without you having to pop them in the case and wait to listen again – even if it only takes 15 minutes for ones with Fast Charging capability. Look for a pair that offers at least five hours of rated battery life per charge. There are models that take things even further, like the Sony WF-1000XM4, which last for up to eight hours per charge (but will set you back a cool $400 thanks to other premium features), or even the Monoprice Monolith M-TWE (about $120) which boast an impressive 10 hours of continuous listening time, rivalling some full-sized wireless headphones.

Noise cancellation

Bose Quiet Comfort true wireless earbuds

By design, true wireless earbuds offer some level of passive noise cancellation since they fit inside your ears and thus block out noise. But you want a pair that offers additional active noise cancellation (ANC), particularly if you plan to wear them in crowded places, like the student centre of a university or the busy downtown street while you head to the subway after work. Bose is a leader in the noise cancellation space and its QuietComfort true wireless earbuds ($249) excel in this department with both a quiet and aware mode. Apple’s new AirPods Pro ($329) are also

Apple Airpods

lauded for their excellent noise cancellation. A useful feature is the ability to adjust the level of noise cancellation so you can hear more of your surroundings if you’re walking an isolated trail at night, for example, or less, like if you’re on a plane. Every company has a different name for this feature that offers “situational awareness.”

 

 

Water- and sweat-proof design

JBL Endurance Peak II

While some believe that water- and sweat-proof designs in a pair of true wireless earbuds are only necessary for athletes, it’s always a good idea to look for this feature in a pair. Getting caught in a snow or rainstorm or getting splashed by the pool or at the beach could cause frustration or worry if you don’t have a pair that’s waterproof, or, at the very least, water-resistant. And some people sweat more than others which means a sweat-proof or sweat-resistant coating is useful even if you’re just wearing them to walk outside on hot and humid days. You can feel safe with a pair that’s water-resistant, but if you want to go all out and get a set that’s waterproof, look at a pair like the JBL Endurance Peak II ($100). The IP67 rating means they can technically be submerged in water up to a meter deep for up to a half hour. Keep in mind you should refrain from going for a swim with them. With that said, if you are dunked in the pool, fall face first into a big puddle, or pour water over your head after a sweaty run, forgetting they’re still in your ears, you can rest easy that they’ll probably be OK. They also have a design with hooks to go behind your ears like a Bluetooth headset, which ensures an even more secure fit.

Jabra Elite 7 Active

A secure and comfortable fit

Another feature some people think is only essential if you’re going to wear true wireless buds while exercising is a secure fit. But this is important for anyone wearing true wireless earbuds, whether it’s on a plane for a business trip or going for a morning jog with the dog. Jabra is a leader in true wireless earbuds for active individuals, and the new Jabra Elite 7 Active ($230) feature the company’s ShakeGrip technology, which is designed to ensure they stay firmly in place, no matter the activity. While these earbuds are designed for active individuals in particular, if you have had issues in the past with buds not staying securely in your ears, it might be worth considering whether you will be exercising with them or simply going about your  leisurely day.

Skullcandy Indy Fuel

Speaking of which, true wireless earbuds are very easy to lose or misplace, which makes a secure fit even more important. Models like the Skullcandy Indy Fuel ($120) even come with built-in Tile Bluetooth tracking so if you forget them at the gym or in a bag or jacket pocket and can’t find them, you can track their location.

Good sound and call quality

There’s often so much focus on the style, battery life, and fit of true wireless earbuds that it’s easy to forget about the most important factor: sound quality. This includes both when listening to music or podcasts as well as making calls. In this respect, it might be worth forking out a bit of extra dough for a pair from a brand that has a reputable history in audio quality.

Sennheiser CX Plus true wireless earbuds,

The Sennheiser CX Plus true wireless earbuds, for example, include ANC with Transparent Hearing (that company’s term for situational awareness) but focus on stellar audio quality as well via high-fidelity stereo with deep bass combined with natural mids and detailed treble. They are decently prices at $230 and come with tons of added smart features as well and are designed for all-day wear.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

The  Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, meanwhile, boast 360 Audio with Dolby Head Tracking technology to provide a fully immersive listening experience. This is particularly useful if you’re wearing them while watching movies, sports, or TV shows on a mobile device so you feel like you’re right in the heart of the action. They are also in the mid-range price point at $265.

Easy to use on-device controls

Mobvoi Earbuds Gesture

Some true wireless earbuds let you tap, swipe, or slide on either bud to control things like play/pause, rewind/fast forward, and answer/end calls so you can leave your phone in your pocket or bag. But you want a pair that doesn’t require a cheat sheet to remind you of which motion does what (“do I tap twice to skip tracks, or press once and hold?”) Mobvoi has an interesting solution to this with its latest pair, the Mobvoi Earbuds Gesture, which works with TicMotion head gestures versus taps. Nod your head twice, for example, to answer a call or shake side to side to decline it. They’re typically $127 but are often on sale for under $100. An even simpler solution can be found in the Amazon Echo Buds, now available in Canada for $155, which include Alexa support so you can literally just give

Amazon Echo Buds, 3

commands like to turn the volume up, skip the track, start a meditation session, or even add milk and eggs to the grocery list, without lifting a finger – or shifting your noggin.

 

 

 

 

Contest Alert!  We are giving away a pair of  Skullcandy Spoke True Wireless Earbuds.  Enter for your chance to WIN!

Skullcandy Spoke True Wireless Earbuds


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