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Best True Wireless Earphones: 2022 Buying Guide

Our comprehensive list of the best true wireless earbuds and earphones of 2022 features some surprises.

Best True Wireless Earphones 2022

The true wireless earphones category has been dominated by the Apple AirPods for the past 5 years and there is no question that the product will continue to own a significant percentage of the market for the simple reason that Apple has the money to market them everywhere. TWS (True Wireless) is the universal acronym for all wireless earbuds and earphones that are not the Apple AirPods.

Apple might sit on the Iron Throne but there are more than 100 manufacturers chipping away and many of them offer superior products that are better options for most consumers; even those of us who are tied at the hip to our iPhones.

The AirPods Pro are good wireless earphones but to call them the best is nothing more than brand worship.

We’ve reviewed or listened to over 40 true wireless earphones so far in 2022 and we think the following options might be a better choice for millions of consumers.

Best Budget TWS Earphones

Winners (TIE): Sennheiser CX & Edifier W240TN

Both are great alternatives to AirPods, and cost almost 50% less — they are also quite different so the better choice for you depends on which features matter the most.

Black Sennheiser CX True Wireless Earphones with Charging Case

Sennheiser CX

Sennheiser knows a few things about building good headphones and their true wireless models are no exception. Just about all of the CX family (spoiler alert) are going to show up on this list somewhere. The CX is the entry level model and if you don’t need ANC and all the bells and whistles, it is the best value of the bunch.  

The sound quality is quite good, and the CX offer touch controls that are very responsive and it’s hard not to be impressed by the 9 hours of playback time on a single charge for the price. There is support for Bluetooth aptX but not LDAC or aptX HD.

Pros: Sound quality rivals higher priced models, touch controls work well

Cons: Limited features set, CX Plus and Momentum 3 add more features at higher price points

Where to buy: $79.99 at Amazon

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Edifier W240TN True Wireless Earphones with Charging Case

Edifier W240TN

Edifier recently released the W240TN and we think it is their best pair of true wireless earphones so far; they offer solid build quality and have proven to be rather comfortable. The two biggest points of differentiation at the $79.95 price point are the sound quality and features set — which you don’t find in other models below $80 USD.

The ANC performance works well with both noise cancelling and ambient modes as well as the ability to disable both giving the listener total control over the feature. Edifier has also included a parametric EQ and series of presets so that listeners can tweak the tonal balance and presentation.

Battery life isn’t the strongest part of the package; you will need a quick charge at lunch to listen for the rest of the day. Edifier is also appealing to the gaming community by offering a low latency mode that works rather well.

The W240TN only offers support for SBC, however, and the app has few missteps in its functionality that needs to be corrected.

Pros:  Active noise cancelling, IPX55, 7 hour battery life, great control app

Cons: SBC support only, ANC does have an impact on the sound quality

Where to buy: $79.99 at Amazon

Runner Up

1More Evo True Wireless Earbuds Black

1More Evo

At $169, the 1More Evo are a strong buy and one of the best TWS wireless earphones under $200. The Black Friday price of $99.94 USD is an absolute steal. The $20 price differential between the Edifier W240TN and 1More Evo helped push that pair over the top for us from a value perspective — but the 1More Evo are possibly the best overall in terms of build quality and the ANC performance is certainly passable.

The tonal balance and overall presentation impressed us and there are few options below $100 that are competitive in that regard.

The control app was also a surprise offering a good set of tuning options. The battery performance is near the top of the category rounding out a rather impressive package.

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Pros:  Great build, wide features set and good tonality, LDAC support, wireless charging

Cons: ANC performance is only average, touch controls are somewhat limited

Where to buy: Discounted to $99 at Amazon (Black Friday, 11/21-12/4)

Honorable Mention

Final Audio ZE3000 True Wireless Earphones with Charging Case Black

Final Audio Ze3000

For almost a decade, Final Audio has offered a great lineup of wired IEMs and has a considerable following in the market. The original wired e3000 IEM is their best-selling model so far with more than 1 million units sold so far; only Apple and Beats can boast those kind of sales figures.

Final Audio has a very specific focus on sound quality and industrial design and the Ze3000 deliver on both accounts. The rather modern looking design is quite stunning and the sonic performance exceeds any expectations at this price level.

Support for aptX Adaptive is somewhat rare at this level; most budget models only offer SBC and AAC.

Pros:  Great tonality and build quality – very similar tone to the original wired e3000 model

Cons: app is very limited, call quality does not match the rest of the performance due to the poor quality of the mics

Where to buy: $149 at Amazon

Best TWS ANC Earphones Under $300

Some might question if there is that much difference in quality between $150 and $300 USD and the reality is that the mid-tier models do offer superior ANC performance, longer battery life, and better sound quality.

The build quality isn’t necessarily that much better with some models and that’s one area where the models from Sony and Bose could be better.

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Winner

Sony WF-1000XM4 true wireless earbuds black

Sony WF-1000XM4

The Sony XM series has dominated the category for a number of years and it certainly belongs near the top with the latest iteration. With category-leading ANC performance, strong battery life, and above average sound quality — it is hard not to be impressed by the Sony WF-1000XM4.

Pros:  Best ANC in-ear model available, good sound quality, solid battery life

Cons: Build is primarily plastic, ANC does impact sound quality at times

Where to buy: $279.99 at Amazon

Runner up

Master & Dynamic MW08 True Wireless Earphone Blue

Master & Dynamic MW08

The Master & Dynamic MW08 dominate this segment with 9 color options and superb build quality; the ceramic construction trounces anything offered by Apple, Sony, or Bose and ranks with some of the pricier models in the high-end tier.

Can a pair of true wireless earphones be indestructible? These come very close.

The overall sound quality is superior to the Sony but the ANC performance falls slightly short. The Sony app also offers a wider range of features and it is more affordable.

Pros: Superior build quality to every other TWS model below $300 and even some below $500, excellent sonic performance

Cons: Average ANC performance

Where to buy: $299 at Amazon

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Honorable Mention

Sennheiser Momentum 3 True Wireless Earphones Black

Sennheiser Momentum 3 True Wireless

The Momentum True Wireless 3 exist at the top end of the CX lineup offering all of the features and sonic performance you would expect for $250. The impressive features set includes sound zones, ANC and Ambient modes.

What knocks these down a few spots on the list is the build quality that is almost identical to the less expensive CX and CX Plus models. If you don’t require the ANC performance of the Momentum True Wireless 3 — the CX Plus are a better buy.

Pros:  Better sound than the Sony and more affordable

Cons: The CX and CX Plus offer the same build quality for less money, ANC performance does not compare to top models in category

Where to buy: $249 at Amazon

Best Luxury TWS Earphones

Winner

UE Drops Custom Fit True Wireless Earphones in Onyx with Charging Case Closed

Ultimate Ears Drops

The UE Drop are an extension of the successful UE IEM Custom Series and offer superior sound quality to almost anything currently in the category. They do not offer ANC because the IEMs are custom-fitted for your specific ears and the isolation is very good. There is a tiny amount of noise that gets through but that one deficiency does not overshadow the overall sound quality and seal.

The sound quality is the true star of the show; the UE Drops offer a level of performance that is comparable to the wired version with deep and impactful bass, excellent midrange resolution and texture, and transparency that bests every other model in the category.

The 22 hour battery performance and the ability to deliver two additional full charges with the charging case makes these ideal for those who commute or listen to music all day at work. They may not get the press attention that they deserve but make no mistake — these are worth the additional expense and time as you wait for them to be made and shipped to you.

Pros: Custom fitted for perfect comfort, clarity of sound, gorgeous industrial design

Cons: Can’t be shared, cost and time associated with getting a custom IEM, limited to SBC, no active noise cancellation

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Where to buy: $399 at UltimateEars.com

Runner Up

Bowers & Wilkins PI7 True Wireless Earphones Charcoal

Bowers & Wilkins Pi7

Several of our reviewers have tried the Pi7 and ranked it near the top in the sound quality category. The build quality is very high and the overall fit has proven to be quite comfortable — even if they look somewhat ungainly. If you don’t desire a custom IEM, these are definitely the ones to get.

Pros: Best sound quality of the available options, solid connectivity options

Cons: Average battery life, average ANC

Where to buy: $399 at Amazon

Honorable Mention

Master & Dynamic MW08 True Wireless Earphone Blue with Silver Charging Case

Master & Dynamic MW08

We gave the M&D MW08 the runner-up spot in the $150 to $300 category because of its overall performance below $300, but the truth is that is belongs in the luxury category due to its superior build quality and sonic performance. These might not offer the Pi7’s sonic performance, but they are certainly superior to anything offered by Sony, Bose, or Apple.

Pros: Build is spectacular, sound and phone call quality are both very good, long battery life

Cons: Average ANC performance

Where to buy: $299 at Amazon

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Honorable Mention

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd True Wireless Earphones with Charging Case Open Grey

Beyerdynamic Free Byrd

Beyerdynamic waited a few years before entering the market segment and the wait was certainly worth it. The German manufacturer clearly took a hard look at the competition below $400 and came up with a unique design that doesn’t really make any excuses for its sonic signature.

The tonal balance is the warmest of the models that made the final list and many listeners might find them rather easy to listen to for longer listening sessions. Their first generation product succeeds overall and they offer the typical Beyerdynamic durability and value.

Pros: Build quality, sound quality, industrial design, excellent call quality

Cons: Large size can impact fit, ANC trails class leaders

Where to buy: $299 at Amazon

All winners were chosen by W. Jennings & L. Miller.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. ORT

    November 9, 2022 at 12:43 am

    I do no know how others think about these things but I can’t stand to have stuff in my ears. Silly, I know and hard to understand. So…

    If they were INMs, In Nostril (cuz “nostril” reads/sounds a lot classier than “nose”) Monitors would they still succeed? Why not? They had the “Bone Fone” decades ago. Call is MucusMusic or Snotcandy or…or…I need to start volunteering at the local library. No. Really. 😉

    I bought a pair by “Skullcandy” IEMs once. Gave them to a person on the street. Just walking (and you know how goofy I look walking) along and said to a random person, “Here ya go! Take ’em! Thanks!”

    Fortunately not everyone is as sensitive about putting stuff in their ears as I am. This is borne out by taking a walk and counting the number of people with IEMs in their ears vs the number of people with their fingers up their nostrils.

    IEMs win. Every time!

    Thank the Buddha.

    My mind is aglow with whirling transient nodes of thought…Time to view “Groundhog Day”. Again.

    ORT

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