Best Wireless Earbuds: Best all-purpose wireless earbuds for under £150
These budget-friendly wireless earbuds will enhance your listening experience whether you’re relaxing, commuting, working from home or even exercising
Whether it’s a crying baby or a bulldozer, everyday soundscapes can never be as blissful as birdsong. That’s why when you’re out and about, a reliable pair of earbuds can help drown out the noise of normality, and whisk us away to a new sonic world of your choosing – be it a podcast, music or Facetime with a friend. Wireless earbuds are the way to go if you don’t want to spend 50 per cent of your life angrily untangling your headphones from your house keys. Just make sure you don’t lose them.
We’ve gathered a list of the best wireless earbuds on the market that come in at under £150. Not only do these offer pristine sound quality, noise cancellation and ease of use, they’re affordable and comfortable on the ear. Some even offer advanced features like Alexa pairing and sound personalisation. From brands such as Nothing, Denon and Sony, if you’re in the market for a new pair of Bluetooth earbuds that won’t break the bank, this is the definitive list.
Nothing Ear 2
Nothing, developer of the Ear 2, is backed by musical instrument developer Teenage Engineering and its products share a similar bold aesthetic. These striking buds come in a clear case that features USB-C and wireless charging, with a total of 36 hours’ battery life. Even though the buds provide only 6.3 hours with ANC on, the case can be fast charged in 10 minutes to hold 8 hours of total charge.
The impressive feature set boasts in-ear detection, multiple ANC modes and sound personalisation, including variable amount sliders so you can really tailor the sound. With a sonic depth and richness that rivals pricier competitors, you also get the LHDC codec for up to 24-bit Bluetooth streaming on compatible devices, though this excludes Apple devices which do not support it. They employ a pinch-to-press system rather than touch surfaces for interaction which some people will find much less prone to accidental taps when in use.
Anker Soundcore Liberty 4
Anker’s pedigree in multiple areas of audio technology informs these feature-heavy and affordable buds. There are up to 9 hours of playback in the buds and 28 in the wireless charging case, personalized adaptive noise cancelling and customizable EQ.
The Liberty 4s are also quite unusual in featuring both 360 degree spatial audio support and dynamic head tracking, as well as a squeeze-to-control system and even heart rate tracking via their sensors. None of this distracts from the business of audio reproduction, with dual drivers and LDAC codec support providing a pleasurable listening experience and an accurate soundstage.
Denon’s acquisition of Nura will see it incorporating the company’s product line, presumably complete with sound personalisation features, but the hi-fi specialist already makes some great buds of its own. The AH-C830NCWs support Google Fast Pairing, have IPX4 water resistance and up to 6 hours of battery life in the buds and 24 hours in total from the charging case.
Active noise cancelling and an ambient listening mode are powered by built-in microphones, and Denon Sound Master Tuning ensures strong audio performance across a range of genres.
Offering sonic quality that is easily a match for pricier rivals, Yamaha’s buds have a relatively lightweight build but provide 8.5 hours of playback via the buds and an additional 21.5 hours in the case, which charges over USB-C. IPx5 waterproofing is a little better than some competitors manage and manual buttons on the buds allow control of playback, taking and making calls and so on.
Although there’s ambient listening mode, there’s no noise cancelling – for that you’d need Yamaha’s E7Bs – but the focus here is on fidelity. Two 7mm drivers and a number of tuning ports inside the buds create a superb soundstage, while the companion app allows for simple but effective EQ tweaking. These buds perhaps lack the wow factor of some others but definitely deliver when it comes to sound.
Sony’s WF-C500s make a few compromises to achieve their low price but still manage to tick a lot of boxes for the budget-conscious listener. There’s 10 hours of power in the buds and another 10 in the case, plus 10 minutes quick charging providing an hour of playback in an emergency. IPX4 water resistance is good for protecting against splashes, and you get Sony’s 360 degree Reality Audio to listen in a more immersive fashion.
Despite lacking ANC they do have a mic for making calls and invoking your phone’s voice assistant and the companion app has adjustable EQ with presets. Sonically they perhaps lack the finesse of pricier models but on the other hand, they are very affordable.
Audio Technica’s compact buds come in a range of colours and though battery life isn’t up there with the competition at 6.5 hours in the buds and up to 20 with the case, they do support fast charging. Although they lack noise cancelling the buds do contain two microphones that facilitate making calls and also an ambient mode for greater awareness of your surroundings when used in public.
There’s no companion app – another consequence of Audio Technica’s focus on the basics here to keep costs down, but the buds offer a much better sound than their budget price tag might lead you to believe, winning praise for their excellent isolation and pleasing soundstage. It’s not all compromise though, and you get Android Fast Pairing, the ability to use a single bud at a time as an earpiece and IPX4 splash proofing. They’re a great bet for the budget-conscious listener.
JBL Tune Flex
JBL’s affordable buds don’t skimp on features, with both ambient listening and active noise cancellation available, powered by four microphones and a clever system called VoiceAware that lets you choose how much of your own voice is fed back into the buds while making calls. Battery life is impressive with 8 hours in the buds and an extra 24 in the case, and quick charging giving you 2 hours of playback time in just 10 minutes.
The drivers have a frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz and deliver a punchy sound, even if buds costing around the £100 mark offer a little more finesse. The companion app lets you tweak things to your liking with user-definable EQ and helpful tools like Find My Buds which will play a loud sound to help you in the event you misplace them. JBL makes a fairly wide range of wireless earbuds but the Tune Flex give you a lot of goodies for not much cash.
Panasonic’s buds may fly a little under the radar but are extremely capable with some advanced tech that makes them a bit of a bargain when you consider their street price is considerably less than the list price. While battery life is average at 6.5 hrs + 19.5 in the case, a 15 minute quick charge will give you 70 minutes of playback and there’s clever dual hybrid active noise cancelling that uses both analogue and digital processing to create excellent isolation. The six onboard microphones also power making calls and ambient listening mode.
One earbud can be used at once for calls and there’s IPX4 splash proofing plus touch sensors on the buds and a basic companion app that allows some sound customisation via preset EQ curves. Sonically, reviews praise the buds’ accuracy, depth and richness, which is perhaps not surprising from a company with such a long history of hi-fi design. For the price you’re able to grab hold of them, the Panasonics are hard to ignore.
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