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The best options for when you want Fast Pair headphones

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Fast Pair is a technology that lets you quickly pair your Bluetooth headphones to your Android phone without having to dig through multiple menus. Simply place them into pairing mode and bring your headphones and phone close together. There aren’t too many options on the market (yet), but the Jaybird Tarah are the best we can find thanks to their overall battery life, sound quality, and comfort.

Best Overall: Jaybird Tarah

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The Jaybird Tarah are solid, versatile earbuds. First and foremost, they are IPX7 water-resistant, which means you’ll be able to use them in practically any scenario (aside from swimming). Whether you’re running a treadmill, or accidentally drop them in a puddle, they’ll be able to withstand it.

Sound quality is good with a boosted bass and treble signature. This gives them an overall fun sound signature that most people are used to hearing. Dynamic range is excellent and their soundstage is rather lackluster but is expected due to their design.

Battery life is solid with up to six hours on a single charge. While it’s not the best battery life we’ve seen with a set of earbuds, they make up for it with fast charging, which nets you a full hour of listening with a 10-minute charge. However, they use a proprietary connector to charge, which is arguably worse than using the outdated Micro-USB connector for charging.

Comfort is excellent if you’re alright with their wing and bud design. Unlike some other earbuds that use a hook to add stability, the wing sits on your ear’s cartilage to help add support. Once you find the right wing and bud combination, the Tarah are super comfortable.

Pros:

  • Solid battery life
  • Good sound quality
  • IPX7 water resistance
  • Excellent comfort

Cons:

  • Proprietary charging connector

Best Overall

Jaybird Tarah

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$40 at Best Buy $47 at Walmart $100 at B&H

All around buds

The Jaybird Tarah are defined by IPX7 water resistance, good battery life, and excellent comfort.

Best Battery Life: JBL Live 650 BTNC

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The JBL Live 650 BTNC’s strong suit is battery life with up to 30 hours of audio playback on a single charge. There’s no fast charging, which is unfortunate, and the 650 BTNC use Micro-USB for charging. This means that once they die, you’re looking at waiting around two hours for a full charge. However, the headphones should last you for a few days before needing to recharge, even if you use them for 10 hours straight.

Sound quality is quite good. The overall bass is boosted, which makes the sound signature warm. However, the rest of the sound signature is balanced. Dynamic range is excellent and their soundstage is pretty bad, being narrow and unnatural sounding.

Comfort is decent. You won’t experience any ear fatigue or discomfort when they’re on your head, but you may experience your ears getting warm after extended listening sessions. This means you’ll likely be taking breaks after a few hours of usage to let your ears cool down. That being said, the Live 650 BTNC are relatively portable, as the ear cups can fold and swivel to stay flat.

The Live 650 BTNC feature active noise-cancelation (ANC) and it’s exactly where you expected it to be — just as good as previous generation Sony and Bose ANC headphones. It’ll drown out most consistent, low-end noises, but will struggle with pretty much everything else. The Live 650 are fantastic for traveling in this regard.

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Good ANC performance
  • Solid, warm sound
  • Earcups fold for portability

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • Ear cups get warm

Best Battery Life

JBL Live 650 BTNC

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$150 at Amazon $150 at Best Buy $150 at Walmart

Battery life champ

The Live 650 BTNC feature excellent battery life, great bass-boosted sound, and solid ANC performance.

Best Neckbud: 1More Dual Driver BT ANC

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If you’re looking for Fast Pair neckbuds, the 1More Dual Driver BT ANC are right up your alley. One of the major strong suits of the Dual Driver BT ANC is their battery life, with up to seven hours on a single charge. The buds charge over USB-C and even offer a wired mode when your battery is low with a USB-C to 3.5mm cable. Unfortunately, you can’t charge and listen wired at the same time because there’s only one USB-C port on the buds.

Comfort-wise, the Dual Driver BT ANC are exceptional. Thanks to their neckbud design, the buds rest around your neck when not in use. There’s no special sauce here either, the buds simply go in your ears. No wings or hooks to worry about. It’s unlikely that you’ll experience any discomfort or fatigue with them. You can, however, turn them off by magnetically attaching the two buds.

The Dual Driver BT ANC feature active noise-cancelation (ANC) as well. Their ANC performance is as expected from a set of earbuds. It aids with passive isolation but it won’t blow anyone away. It’s great for reducing background noise, especially while commuting, but we wouldn’t recommend flying with these.

In terms of sound, they are OK at best. The bass is only slightly boosted but is still balanced all around. The midrange is a bit uneven and bizarre across the board. The treble is overall recessed giving the Dual Driver BT ANC a warm, forward sound that lacks quite a bit of air due to the lack of treble. Dynamic range is excellent, and soundstage is decent for a set of earbuds.

Pros:

  • Solid battery life
  • Wired audio option
  • USB-C for charging
  • Excellent comfort

Cons:

  • ANC performance could be better
  • Sound is decent

Best Neckbud

1More Dual Driver BT ANC

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$95 at Amazon $150 at Best Buy

Wired and wireless

A great set of back up earbuds that offer wireless and wired options even when your battery dies.

Best Value: Soundcore Anker Spirit Pro GVA

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The standout feature of the Soundcore Anker Sprit Pro GVA is their water and dust resistance. The earbuds are rated IP68, which means not only are they water-resistant like some other earbuds on the market, they are also dust resistant, which means the Spirit Pro GVA are capable of resisting the same amount of water and dust as many modern smartphones.

In terms of battery life, you’ll get up to 10 hours on a single charge, which is pretty good. They aren’t fast-charging capable and charge over the aging Micro-USB port, which isn’t ideal as most modern tech is moving to USB-C for charging. This means you’re looking at roughly two hours to fully charge them when your battery is dead.

Comfort-wise, the Spirit Pro GVA are excellent if you’re into their wing and bud design. They come with several buds and wings in the box to help get the right fit. Once you get the right fit, you won’t have issues with discomfort.

Sound quality is above average. The sound signature overall is warm with boosted bass, and a balanced mid and treble response. Dynamic range is excellent but the soundstage is below-average when compared to other wireless earbuds.

Pros:

  • Great battery life
  • Excellent comfort
  • IP68 water and dust resistant
  • Above-average sound
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • No fast charging
  • Sound is lacking compared to other wireless buds

Best Value

Anker Spirit Pro GVA

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$38 at Amazon $33 at Walmart

Excellent value

With IP68 water and dust resistance, great battery life, and excellent comfort, there’s little to hate about the Spirit Pro GVA.

Best Integration: Google Pixel Buds (2020)

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Both the Pixel Buds (2020) and the first-generation Pixel Buds feature Fast Pair support. However, the first-generation Pixel Buds are now discontinued and have been replaced by the true wireless Pixel Buds (2020), which is for the best.

The biggest draw with the Pixel Buds (2020) is that they integrate super well with the Google Assistant and Android devices. You’ll be able to call up the Assistant hands-free and via a tap and hold gesture on the earbuds themselves. You’ll get Fast Pair, which allows you to quickly pair your Pixel Buds to your Android smartphone.

The buds feature five hours of battery life on a single charge, with up to 24 hours with the charging case, which charges over USB-C and is wireless charging capable. The buds feature all of the standard battery life quotas and charging formats people have come to expect from true wireless earbuds.

They’re comfortable for most, but some may find them extremely uncomfortable since they use an integrated wing and bud design, and the wing can’t be adjusted. This means that the wing sometimes gets pushed up against your ear. Sound quality is also good, though they lack some treble making them sound slightly hollow on certain tracks.

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Wireless charging & USB-C
  • Great integration with Google Assistant
  • Great sound

Cons:

  • Can be uncomfortable for some
  • Lack some treble

Best Integration

Google Pixel Buds (2020)

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$180 at Best Buy $179 at Walmart $179 at B&H

Great integration

The Pixel Buds (2020) sound great and are super comfortable for most people. Their charging case is compact with support for wireless charging and USB-C.

Best Active Noise-Canceling: Bose QC35 II

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It’s no secret that Bose makes some of the best active noise-canceling (ANC) headphones on the market. While the new NCH 700 don’t support Fast Pair, the older QC35 II do. They’re still a solid choice, despite being a few years old.

In terms of sound, the QC35 II are great. Their sound signature overall is very balanced, with minor inconsistencies most people won’t hear. Where they fall short is in dynamic range and soundstage. The lack of dynamic range can make the treble sound a bit sharp and piercing, and the soundstage is decent but relatively small compared to other closed-back, over-ear headphones.

Battery life is solid with up to 20 hours of battery life on a single charge. The QC35 II charge over Micro-USB instead of USB-C which is fine considering that the QC35 II is a couple of years old.

Comfort is where the QC35 II shine. If you’re generally not a fan of over-ear headphones, the QC35 II might change your mind. They are the de-facto set of headphones when it comes to comfort. You won’t experience discomfort or fatigue (other than an overload of treble) with them.

Pros:

  • Excellent sound quality
  • Superb comfort
  • Great battery life
  • Great ANC

Cons:

  • Micro-USB for charging
  • Expensive
  • Treble-forward sound can be fatiguing for some

Best Active Noise Canceling

Bose QC35 II

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$299 at Amazon $299 at Best Buy $299 at Walmart

The old champ

The Bose QC35 II used to be the go-to recommendation for travel headphones. Better headphones are now available but the QC35 II are still a solid choice.

Bottom line

Fast Pair headphones are relatively rare as many manufacturers haven’t adopted the technology yet. And the ones that do seem to treat it as an afterthought, often forgetting about the feature between generations.

However, the Jaybird Tarah are an excellent pair of headphones that provide great sound, battery life, and comfort. While battery life could be better and the proprietary charging accessory puts a damper on the affair, they’re just a great all-around pair of headphones.

How to choose the best Fast Pair headphone

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Fast Pair headphones are fairly rare, with only a few dozen of them available on the market. However, the general guidelines when looking for headphones is the same, focusing primarily on sound quality. Otherwise, you’re looking at comfort and battery life. You don’t want to get stuck with a pair of dead headphones on a long flight or a long workday.

Sound Quality

Sound quality should be the top priority for potential headphone buyers. It doesn’t matter if they’re super comfortable or look pretty if your headphones sound like absolute crap. Fortunately, most pairs of Fast Pair headphones sound above-average.

Our top pick is the Bose QC35 II for having an excellent and rather balanced sound signature. This is despite them only having decent dynamic range and soundstage. Our second pick are the JBL Live 650 BTNC for having a slightly warmer sound signature but better dynamic range and soundstage.

Best Fast Pair headphones, ranked by sound quality

Bose QC35 II
JBL Live 650 BTNC
Jaybird Tarah
Soundcore Anker Sprit Pro GVA
1More Dual Driver BT ANC

Comfort

While there’s no rhyme or reason to it, most Fast Pair headphones are super comfortable, while some become uncomfortable almost immediately or after a little bit of usage. Honestly, it varies by vendor here, but comfort should have a serious role in your purchasing decision.

Once again, the Bose QC35 II take the top spot for comfort, which doesn’t surprise anybody. The Bose QC35 II have unmatched comfort in most scenarios. Our next three picks are all earbuds and earbuds, which are typically super comfortable once you find the right size, allowing you to wear them for countless hours.

Best Fast Pair headphones, ranked by comfort

Bose QC35 II
Soundcore Anker Spirit Pro GVA
1More Dual Driver BT ANC
Jaybird Tarah
JBL Live 650 BTNC

Battery Life

Unsurprisingly, over-ear headphones tend to have longer battery life than earbuds, and that holds true here. The JBL Live 650 BTNC are our current champ with up to 30 hours of battery life on a single charge, followed by the Bose QC35 II with up to 20 hours.

Our third pick are the Google Pixel Buds (2020), which technically get up to 24 hours of listening time, but that’s split up into increments as the buds need to charge every five hours. The included wireless charging case is what provides the additional listening time.

Best Fast Pair headphones, ranked by battery life

JBL Live 650 BTNC
Bose QC35 II
Google Pixel Buds (2020)
Soundcore Anker Spirit Pro GVA
1More Dual Driver BT ANC

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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Peter Cao spends more time than he’s willing to admit listening and analyzing music and headphones. When not on the clock, he’s probably still doing the same, playing basketball, or playing video games.

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