If you’re looking to either replace or add a set of Bluetooth headphones to your collection without breaking the bank, you’re in the right place. There are plenty of options ranging from truly wireless earbuds up to over-ear headphones that you can get for less than $100. If you’re looking for the best overall headphones, look no further than the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2, which offer the best balance of portability and quality.
Best Overall: OnePlus Bullets 2 Wireless
The OnePlus Bullets 2 Wireless are the pinnacle of great wireless earbuds. They’re not too ambitious and don’t pack in too many features — they aren’t truly wireless with a wireless charging case, for example. However, what they do offer is handy; they pause when the two buds magnetically attach, and there’s warp charging, netting you an impressive 10 hours of listening time from a 10-minute charge.
In terms of sound, the Bullets 2 are great for their size. They have a small bump in the bass with a rather neutral midrange and treble. The soundstage and dynamic range are decent. The Bullets 2 support all the major Bluetooth audio codecs such as SBC, AAC, aptX, and aptX-HD to ensure the highest quality wireless sound. Unfortunately, they don’t offer any sort of active noise cancelation (ANC) so you’ll still get quite a bit of noise leaking in when jamming out to Taylor Swift.
However, you will get support for hands-free Google Assistant. Simply say “Hey Google” or “OK Google” and summon the Assistant. Also, you’ll get in-line audio controls including volume, which is becoming harder and harder to come by in Bluetooth earbuds.
One of the main downsides is that a lot of functionality goes away when not paired to a OnePlus device such as a computer or tablet. You don’t get the fast pairing or hands-free Assistant. Otherwise, the Bullets 2 function as standard Bluetooth earbuds.
- Warp charging
- aptX-HD Bluetooth codec support
- Hands-free Google Assistant
- In-line audio controls
- Not great with non-OnePlus devices
- Lacks active noise cancelation (ANC)
OnePlus Bullets 2 Wireless
- $99 from OnePlus
Great, non-gimmicky features
With these, you get excellent sound, ridiculously long battery life and fast charging, and high-quality Bluetooth audio codecs.
Best Over-Ear: Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT
The Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT is the only set of over-ear headphones on our list, and for good reason. Sennheiser is a reputable high-end headphone brand known for making some of the best headphones in the business. The HD 4.40 BT are no exceptions to this rule.
While they don’t have any nifty features, they focus well on the fundamentals. The HD 4.40 BT offer up to 25 hours of battery life on a single charge. Unfortunately, they charge via Micro-USB, a more antiquated standard than USB-C.
They feature a warm sound signature that equates to thumpy, boosted bass, with a neutral mid-range and a recessed treble. It’s a warm sound signature but not a Beats-style blow-your-head-off-with-bass type sound. In addition, you’ll get SBC, AAC, and aptX as your audio codecs, although they don’t compare to aptX-HD, or LDAC, which offer even higher wireless fidelity. However, they do guarantee support and great sound, whether you’re using a $1,000 iPhone, or a $400 Pixel 3a.
Other connections include NFC pairing on capable Android headsets. This lets you quickly pair your headset to an Android device without having to fire up your Bluetooth settings or enter pairing mode.
In terms of portability, they’re able to be folded up and stowed away. While slightly heavy, the HD 4.40 BT are super comfortable on the head and shouldn’t cause any issues with ear fatigue or pain on the crown of your head.
- NFC for seamless pairing
- aptX codec support
- Foldable design
- Bass boosted, warmer sound
- May be heavy for some
Sennheiser HD 4.40 BT
- $79 from Amazon
Solid over ear tunes
The HD 4.40 BT from Sennheiser brings great audio without any fancy features to a ridiculously low price.
Best True Wireless: Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2
Looking for great truly wireless earbuds without breaking the bank? They tend to be expensive, but luckily you don’t have to look any further than the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2. They offer exceptional sound with a relatively flat sound signature. There may be a slight overemphasis in the upper treble region, which equates to slight sibilance and harsher vocals and instruments such as the hi-hat in a drum kit, but that won’t affect most people.
As is typical with most Bluetooth headphones and earbuds, the soundstage is pretty narrow and the dynamic range is decent for its form factor. And while there’s no volume control on the earbuds whatsoever, these Bluetooth 5.0-enabled have basic media controls such as play/pause and skipping forward and back. In terms of Bluetooth codecs, the Soundcore LIberty Air 2 feature AAC and aptX which means higher quality audio and lower latency.
They feature an in-ear design, which helps not only seal your ears but with overall stability. Unfortunately, the earbuds can get rather uncomfortable after a few hours of usage. They also come with the standard small, medium, and large ear tips, so you might be able to improve that.
In terms of battery life, they’ll afford you seven hours on a single charge, with up to 21 hours of juice with the charging case. This nets you a total of 28 hours between both the earbuds and the case. The case is charged over USB-C, which is fantastic for future-proofing purposes, but it lacks wireless charging of any kind.
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Support for AAC and aptX audio codec
- Long battery life
- Media controls on buds
- Comes with multiple ear tips
- Uncomfortable after several hours of usage
- Lacks wireless charging case
Best True Wireless
Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2
- $100 from Amazon
These are true wireless earbuds with great battery life, sound, and future-proofing, with Bluetooth 5.0 and USB-C.
Best Value: JBL Reflect Mini 2
The JBL Reflect Mini 2 are IPX5 water resistance rated, which means they’re able to withstand the sweat that comes with most workouts. The earbuds are also not swim proof so don’t try to go swimming with them. IPX5 also means that they should withstand everyday weather such as heavy rain.
In terms of sound quality, the Reflect Mini 2 are excellent. Their sound signature is near neutral with a small boost in bass, but most won’t notice the boost in the bass at all. The dynamic range is excellent and soundstage is narrow but still spacious enough to make out individual instruments and vocals. The earbuds also feature fantastic media controls that are tactile and reliable. They use the standard “iPod style” media controls, which means you have dedicated buttons for volume up and down and a multifunction button (single tap for play/pause, double-tap for skip forward, triple tap to skip backward).
Battery life is solid with up 10 hours on a single charge. They will easily last you through longer workouts such as a marathon or hike. Unfortunately, they charge over the aging Micro-USB connector rather than USB-C, which is increasingly becoming the industry standard for all devices.
Comfort-wise, the Reflect Mini 2 are great if you’re okay with the bud and wing design. They’re super comfortable and it’s unlikely you’ll experience any discomfort, even after several hours of usage. The earbuds come with multiple ear tip and wingtips in the box to help with fit and stability.
- Great, near-neutral sound
- 10-hour battery life
- Standard media controls
- IPX5 water resistance
- Superb comfort
- Micro-USB for charging
- Lacks AAC or aptX audio codec
- Not as resistant as others
JBL Reflect Mini 2
- $70 from Amazon
The Relect Mini 2 from JBL offer stellar sound quality, long battery life, and are super comfortable for long periods of time.
Best Workout Buds: Jaybird Tarah
Arguably the most important thing to look for when it comes to workout earbuds is the IP rating and the Jaybird Tarah does exceptionally well here with IPX7 water resistance. This means they’re able to withstand the most intense workouts. The only workout that is not compatible is swimming, so don’t go swimming with the Tarah. They are also super comfortable and stable. This is mostly thanks to the wing and bud design which helps keep the Tarah in your ear. And since they’re not true wireless earbuds, there’s a cord in between both buds, reducing the chance of you losing your earbuds.
In terms of sound quality, the Tarah are above average with a mostly neutral sound signature that errors slightly on the bright side. This translates to a sound that has elevated treble that some may find piercing or fatigue to the ear. Fortunately, you can tweak the sound via Jaybird’s smartphone app. This means that if you don’t like the out of the box sound with the Tarah, you can tweak it the way you want. The dynamic range is excellent and soundstage is narrow but spacious enough to differentiate various instruments and vocals.
Battery life is pretty middle of the road with up to 6 hours of listening time on a single charge. Fortunately, the Tarah features fast charging netting you an extra hour of listening time with a 10-minute charge. The Tarah uses a proprietary charging connector, which is never welcome. However, faster charging is a great trade-off, even if that means having to pay a little more for a new cable if your old one ever breaks.
- Good battery life
- IPX7 water resistance
- Great comfort
- Superb sound (also customizable)
- Proprietary charging cable
Best Workout Buds
$69 at Amazon $79 at Walmart
With IPX7 water resistance, a customizable sound, Fast Pair comparability, and great comfort, the Tarah brings a lot to the table. Battery life is sufficient for most workouts but could be better overall.
Best On-Ear: Jabra Move
The Jabra Move are on-ear headphones. Arguably, on-ear headphones are the best balance of portability and allowing you to still hear what’s around you since they sit on top of your ear and not around or inside of it.
The Jabra Move doesn’t disappoint. They feature premium build materials such as aluminum and leather while also being super light and comfortable. In terms of battery life, the Move offers up to eight hours for both listening time and when on a phone call.
The sound quality is decent. The Jabra Move only have support for the basic SBC audio codec, which isn’t great when it comes to Bluetooth latency. The bass is slightly boosted to give you a bit of thump and rumble in your listening while the mids and treble are excellent and are only tweaked slightly.
The only other real downside is that they use Micro-USB for charging instead of the more modern USB-C connector. If you have a smartphone that was made within the last 3 years or so, you’ll more than likely need to carry a separate cable to charge your Jabra Move.
- Decent battery life
- Premium build materials
- Great sound
- Come in multiple colors
- No AAC/aptX Bluetooth audio codecs
- Micro-USB for charging
- $66 from Amazon
Comfortable on-ear tunes
The Jabra Move offer great sound, long battery life, and a premium and comfortable on-ear design.
Best Battery Life: Mixcder E9
The Mixcder E9 feature some of the best battery life for its price with up to 30 hours on a single charge. That’s more than enough juice to get you through something like a long flight. However, the E9 still uses Micro-USB for charging, which is unfortunate as most modern peripherals are now using USB-C.
In terms of sound quality, the E9 are excellent. It features a near-neutral sound signature only lacking in treble ever so slightly. Most people won’t hear the slightly recessed treble. Dynamic range and soundstage are spacious and wide for a closed-back headphone.
The E9 are also fortunately very comfortable. The ear cups are large and extend deep, allowing for the biggest and widest of ears to fit. The headband is made out of nice leather and is reinforced with steel. While comfort is fantastic, the headphone errors on the heavier side which can be annoying and slightly discomforting for some.
- Near-neutral sound
- Superb comfort
- Long battery life
- Slightly heavy
- Micro-USB for charging
Best Battery Life
- $78 from Amazon
Comfy, with long battery life.
The Mixcder E9 combine super long battery life, a solid near-neutral sound, and great comfort.
There are plenty of great headphones out there that won’t break the bank. As you can see from our list above, wireless headphones come in several different shapes and sizes. However, our top pick would be the OnePlus Bullets Wireless 2. Especially if this is your first entry into the wireless headphone game. They’re great not only on OnePlus devices but everything else from a full-on PC down to competing devices such as the Pixel or iPhone.
Size isn’t the only thing that matters, either. With wireless, you have the sometimes complex decisions between Bluetooth audio codecs, battery life, whether or not it comes with a charging case, what connector it uses to charge, etc. It can be overwhelming and sometimes downright irritating knowing that you’ve found something but it’s missing X, Y, or Z features.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Peter Cao is a consumer audio enthusiast. He spends a lot of time wearing, trying, and testing headphones and earbuds.