Of Late, many mobile manufacturers have done away with the 3.5mm headphone jack. While there are proponents of the classical headphones, it would be fair to say that the future is of best wireless earbuds 2018. The Apple Airpods were the leaders of the movement but they were not the first to introduce the concept. Back in 2015, Onkyo W800 and Bragi Dash introduced their own true wireless earbuds.

Although Apple did launch a niche product in Airpods and dominated the sales chart in the first year of its release, there are still earbuds from rival manufacturers that outshine Airpods performance. In this blog, we look at some of the best wireless earbuds in this fast developing consumer entertainment segment.

Sony WF-SP700N

Comparing Wireless Earbuds is a different thing altogether. Why we say this?… Because in the case of earbuds, the standard-parameters for comparisons are limited. Unlike Smartphones where flagship features are a welcome addition, wireless earbuds have to be simple and can afford minimum add-on features. Hence the parameters for differentiating the best among the heard are limited.

Some may argue that design is also important but we believe that in case of earbuds, the design is more of a cosmetic feature as most earbuds fit easily on the ear canals. The metric points in order of their importance for true wireless earbuds in decreasing order of their importance are battery life, sound quality, isolation and last but not the least the price. Based on this four parameters we have ranked the following as the best true wireless earbuds.

The Jabra Elite 65t: Unmatched Battery but low audio quality.

Jabra has been a pioneer in earphones since its inception in 1983 (The same year Apple launched LISA). The Jabra Elite 65t scores high on great battery life. On a full charge, it lasts 5 hours 51 minutes. This alone makes it your best buddy during long commutes. However, the audio output could be a let down for those who desire great sound.

 Jabra Elite 65t

Especially in noisy backgrounds, the Jabra Elite 65t is found wanting for isolation. In case you are looking for exceptional battery backup than The Jabra Elite 65t should be your go-to option.

Other offerings from the Jabra factory the Elite Sport does deserve a mention for its heart-rate sensor.

Samsung Gear IconX

Thanks to the aptX codec feature the Samsung Gear IconX has the best audio quality with premium features. It does more than what traditional headphones could do all these years. And leaves a lot of catch-up work for its compe-titors. It has 4GB onboard storage which means you can leave your phone behind and enjoy an interrupt-free musical sojourn. Music experience gets better by manifolds on the Gear IconX.

Samsung Gear IconX

The music equalizer coupled with even frequency response fine tunes audio to the extent that you don’t miss even the low tones which are masked by default on other devices. Add to it the best in the segment noise isolation and Gear IconX establishes itself as the front-runner for the coveted number 1 position in the segment.

But the battery is one parameter where Gear IconX could lose its crown. The less than 2 hr battery back up means that the Gear IconX could leave you midway on a long journey and one must carry the charging case all the time.

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The Sony WF-SP700N

You can truly groove to the music on the Sony WF-SP700N earbuds. Thanks to its helix fins it fits and holds perfectly on to the ears. A perfect companion for morning joggers we would say.

The Sony WF-SP700N is a true dynamite. It packs all features but it is the noise cancellation ability of the WF-SP700N that is the true USP. It easily filters out most noise frequencies and in the process delivers an audio quality unmatched by none in the list. Adaptive Noise Cancellation
Ensures that the outside world remains alien while you listen or talk. Raise the volume a bit to feel the 24K magic in the ear.

Sony WF-SP700N With Sony WF-SP700N music buffs might have to keep a 24*7 eye on their charging case. Like the Gear IconX, the battery is definite let down. On a full charge, the WF-SP700N offers 2 hours, 35 minutes of full service.

While these are the prime performers, the segment is still in its teething stage and suffers because of sub-par devices. A test report shared below highlights the plight. On performance parameters, these devices are still a long way behind their wired counterparts.

Other offerings from the Japanese giant that could dominate its segment include the WF-1000X. It has garnered quite a fan following of late. Battery though could be a deterrent for some.

JBL Free: JBL Free is a best true wireless earbuds product. For those who don’t prefer studio sounds and are looking for a great budget experience. JBL Free with a price tag of $180.00 must be on top of their list. One full charge delivers 4 hours, 20 minutes of non-stop music.

All Test Results

Battery life (75dB)

Bluetooth Codec

Attenuation average

(dB SPL)

Price

Jabra Elite 65t

5.85 hours

SBC

14.23

$170

Bose SoundSport Free

4.583 hours

SBC

Negligible

$200

Bang & Olufsen E8 Wireless

4.45 hours

aptX

Varies by tip

$299

JBL Free

4.333 hours

SBC

6.9

$129

Sol Republic Amps Air

3.98 hours

SBC

8.91

$100

Anker Zolo Liberty

3.567 hours

SBC

6.83

$99

Earin M-2

3.5 hours

aptX

Varies by tip

$250

Apple AirPods

3.45 hours

AAC

Negligible

$159

Optoma Nuforce BE Free8

3.1 hours

aptX

6.99

$129

Sony WF-SP700N

2.583 hours

SBC

19

$179

Samsung Gear IconX

1.52 hours

aptX

7.19

$180

Audio parameters: A Mirage?

Frequency responses do not have a standard unit of measure. It varies with individuals. While some still suffer from sound induced deafness. Samsung Gear IconX enjoys the leader tag mainly because of two primary reasons:

  • Clear Audio output.
  • Easy Calibration.

Also, audio tests also vary with individuals. While there are some who prefer audio sounds where all notes are equally emphasized, there are still many who emphasize on bass and treble alone

With an Attenuation average of 14.23 dB SPL, the Jabra Elite 65t scores high on the noise isolation front. But it recorded 0dB for music frequencies under 1000Hz. The Sony WF-SP700N can mask 10 dB of noise in this range. This isolation figure remains unmatched in the 1000 Hz music frequency range.

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Here are a few key highlights from the audio output test results:

The Hits

  • The Jabra Elite 65t would serve normal audio needs. If you are looking for great bass, the Jabra Elite 65t should be the last on your list.
  • The bass-heavy Earin M-2 is slightly on the higher side and it would not be a surprise if you are prompted to turn it down a bit.
  • JBL stays true to its fans and serves an all-around audio experience with heavy bass.
  • Like most of the models here, the BE Free8 is bass-heavy. However, underemphasized highs and mids might not be your cup of tea.
  • Sol Republic Amps Air are pleasing to the ear and must attract consumer audio lovers.
  • Sony loudness contour coupled with its easy to use equalizer outshines all. The frequency response is way ahead of the league.
  • The AirPods fail to deliver a consistent performance amidst noisy backgrounds.
  • The B&O Beoplay E8 fails to deliver the upbeat audio experience that we are so used to these days.

The Test

Three simple tests were conducted on the lines of standards adopted by modern day Audi Engineers. Dummy heads were used to replicate normal parameters and test parameters adopted basic testing metrics like Outside Noise Interference, Battery Efficiency and most importantly the Frequency Response. Some key highlights of the test include:

  • Sine Sweep tests for recording Frequency Response.
  • Battery efficiency was checked via pink noise and a real-time analyzer. Battery life varies with a change in volume.
  • Each one of the Left and Right earbuds were alternately subjected to 90dB SPL Pink Noise from a
  • distance of One meter. Isolation is studied by plotting the differential graph of the individual
  • curves for the left and right earbuds.

The Misses

The test results considered a wide spectrum of earpods. While most people are yet to come in familiar terms with earpods, the test results eliminated a few of them out and out ones. While those who could not make the list are not bad, says the test report. A few surprise omissions from the list include:

  • Apple AirPods: Even we were as much shocked as you are now. AirPods offer great features like seamless Siri integration. The battery is also efficient. But AirPods do the right thing really wrong. AirPods do not seal well on the ear canal or cling on to the helix. An unwanted experience when you consider the Sony WF-SP700N.
  • Anker Zolo Liberty: With a $100 price tag, you would not be disappointed with what’s on offer (provided you keep your expectations low)
  • Sol Republic Amps Air: The audio quality is a letdown but average isolation and battery life coupled with the $100 price tag must lure buyers.
  • Bose Sound sports Free: Compatibility was the main shortfall. The stellar battery with decent sound seems a waste when it fails to work well with devices.
  • Bang & Olufsen E8 Wireless: With a price tag of 300$, Bang & Olufsen E8 Wireless is one of the costliest options on our list. However, it does do justice to its expensive price tag in terms of performance. However, they suffer from persistent windows and android connectivity issue. These inconsistencies are a major deterrent. Some users also complain of a strange noise in the background.
  • Jaybird Run: If you can live with the recurring connecting issues, Jaybird Run could give you some great music respite in between. A veteran of the wireless earbud segment, Jaybird enjoy quiet a fan following but it’s the jittery connectivity that could sway these fans away.
  • Earin M-2: The M-2 does all but none perfect. If you are looking for a just decent experience, M-2 could cater to your not so high demands.
  • Bragi Dash: Bragi dash was one of the pioneers in wireless headphones. However, it has fallen behind its competitors both in terms of design and performance.

It would be fair to say that, the wireless earbuds has not yet fully evolved into its complete perfect state. While traditional manufacturers are still struggling with the design as well as the performance, we can expect many new entrants as well as better updates in the near future.