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#1 Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless

It can be tricky for a manufacturer to push the sound performance of a product consistently from generation to generation, but that is what Sony has managed to do with the WH-1000XM5. Not only that, it has been achieved while executing a major redesign over the previous XM4.

When we saw the official pictures of the Sony WH-1000XM5, we were more than a bit surprised. We wondered whether it was a wise move to give one of Sony’s biggest success stories in recent memory a major redesign. But it’s paid off.

The Sony XM5 headphones might feel a little less premium than before, but the jump in sound quality from the previous generation is a big one, and rivals could once again have their work cut out. If you are looking for a new pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones, your auditioning should start here. The older XM4 (below) were already the best around, but the XM5 are undoubtedly better for those who can afford to pay the premium. 

#2 Sony WF-C500

Building affordable true wireless in-ear headphones is a different discipline to building expensive ones, but it’s no less tricky. In the WF-C500 Sony has managed to bring a lot of what makes its expensive true wireless in-ears (such as the WF-1000XM4 below) such a success without cutting too many corners too obviously.

Yes, the WF-C500 can be bettered (and by quite a margin) for battery life, but you’ll be hard-pushed to find a more comfortable pair. Yes, you can buy greater outright scale of sound but you won’t encounter a more complete control app. Some alternatives are a punchier and more ‘exciting’ listen, but very few strike a more convincing sonic balance.

#3 Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Smaller and lighter than the original QC Earbuds (which you can find a few places below), the Earbuds II provide a comfortable fit and lots of features. Bluetooth 5.3 is a big bonus, and the Bose app allows you to alter the amount of noise-cancelling on offer via a number of customisable presets.

Speaking of noise-cancelling, the Bose are at the top of their game. They can automatically adjust the amount of ANC on offer so your music isn’t drowned out by particularly loud noises and the effect is deeply impressive. As for sound, it’s balanced and neutral and overflowing with fine detail. 

#4 Beats Fit Pro

The Beats Fit Pro are also one of our favorite wireless earbuds right now, thanks to their excellent integration with both iOS and Android, comfortable fit, and great sound. These Apple-made buds feature the company’s proprietary H1 headphone chip, which means they work like AirPods with an iPhone, but they also function great on Android, with an app that allows you to customize the controls and perform a fit test to ensure you’re getting proper bass. They also have active noise canceling and decent mics—and (most importantly!) they come in colors besides Cupertino white.

#5 Jabra Elite 7

Wem really like the comfortable silicone coating and small size of these Jabra buds. We’ve recommended several pairs of Jabra’s workout buds over the years, but these are the latest and greatest, with an IP57 rating for dust- and water-resistance and eight hours of battery life between trips to the charging case. Sound quality is excellent, and you can customize the EQ in Jabra’s Sound+ app if you have specific tuning requirements. 

#6 Google Pixel Buds Pro

The Pixel Buds Pro are a perfect alternative to the AirPods Pro if you’re an Android fan, like me. The cute multicolored earbuds have great noise canceling, a super comfortable fit, and an hour more playtime (seven) than the Apple-made equivalents. I also like that they switch quickly between multiple paired devices, which makes it nice for those of us who use headphones for both work and workouts. The only downside is that they don’t work super well with iPhones. Too bad. So sad.