The 10 Best Wireless Earbuds
Time To Go Wireless
There is a limit to the quality that Bluetooth can transmit, after all.
It’s hard to believe that we’re nearly two decades into the 21st century, and there are still people walking around with wired headphones. I understand some of the arguments to stay tethered, particularly from audiophiles who spend thousands of dollars on the best headphones money can buy. There is a limit to the quality that Bluetooth can transmit, after all. For most people, however, especially people who stream their music or listen to moderately compressed MP3s, that limit leaves plenty of room for high-fidelity audio.
The convenience of wireless headphones is also undeniable. If you ever tried to take a lengthy jog or hop from machine to machine at the gym while wearing wired headphones, you know how easily they get tangled up in everything and quickly pull out of your ears or off of your head. That can seriously take you out of the flow, and maybe even put you at risk for injury when lifting heavy weights. Wireless headphones, particularly wireless earbuds, rarely suffer from these kinds of entanglements. On some models, there is a short cable connecting the two earbuds together, but this usually rests comfortably on the back of the user's neck and won't get in the way during most athletic activity.
Of course, you might already own a pair of wireless headphones, in which case we certainly don't need to convince you of their superiority over their wired counterparts. If you’ve had those headphones for a while, however, it may be time for an upgrade. Bluetooth generations update pretty regularly, with increases in fidelity and range available to you in more recent versions. You will also likely find superior driver technology and noise cancellation for taking phone calls on more recent models.
Choosing Your Wireless Earbuds
Choosing a set of wireless earbuds can be an overwhelming task. Not only do some of the most recognizable and reliable brand names in headphones have offerings that are as variegated as they are desirable, but there are also countless manufacturers mimicking what the big brands do, often to a surprisingly high degree of quality. That creates a rather sprawling landscape of options for the individual consumer, and it destabilizes the notion that the more you spend on a pair of headphones, the better it will perform.
If you plan to do a lot of business with your earbuds in, you should look for a model with a well-placed and high-performing microphone.
To that degree, you would do well to scrutinize some of the most important features of a given pair of headphones regardless of the brand, and if that process narrows down your list to a few of the top brands and a few of the lesser-known manufacturers, then you can decide whether brand name is important to you.
Take a moment to consider how and where you will be using your wireless earbuds. If you anticipate spending a lot of time in the gym with them, it might be smart to look for a pair that is waterproof. That way, no matter how much sweating you do, your headphones should be none the worse for wear. The likelihood of a gym trip might also influence whether or not you want individual buds that are not connected by any wires, or whether you wouldn't mind having a pair that is connected. While this wire is pretty unobtrusive, there are certain situations in which you would have to readjust the way you're wearing connected earbuds to suit a given exercise. For example, you would want to move that wire from the nape of your neck to the front of your body when performing squats with a bar across the back of your shoulders.
If you're not planning on heading to the gym very often, or if audio quality is your highest priority regardless of where you utilize your earbuds, you should pay attention to the driver size of a given model. Simply put, the larger the drivers the wider the potential range of frequency response headphones can offer. That means the clarity of highs and lows, as well as their apparent separation, increases in direct proportion to the size of a headphone’s drivers.
If you plan to do a lot of business with your earbuds in, you should look for a model with a well-placed and high-performing microphone. This microphone should have some kind of noise cancellation built-in to allow you to speak in noisy environments, confident that the person on the other end can hear you clearly.
A Brief History Of Headphones
Before the advent of headphones or amplifiers, electrical audio signals could not practically be observed. But in the early part of the 20th century, an inventor named in Nathaniel Baldwin built a pair of headphones, the design for which he sold to the US Navy. These early cans were used by military men in a slew of environments, and they were terribly precarious to operate. If the user touched them in the wrong place at the wrong time, he would be susceptible to an electrical shock.
If the user touched them in the wrong place at the wrong time, he would be susceptible to an electrical shock.
Headphones got safer to use as they became integral to the telephone industry. At this point, the music industry, which often progressed in step with the telephone industry, adopted the use of headphones in recording and mixing audio. These headphones eventually made their way into the home entertainment centers of particularly rich people in the 1950s and early 1960s. Cheaper versions were readily available later in the 1960s, as well, and by the 1970s a good pair of headphones was relatively common in conjunction with a home stereo.
Headphones wouldn't become synonymous with portable audio until the groundbreaking release of the Sony Walkman in 1979, the cheap, plasticky, metal-banded headphones of which soon became ubiquitous on streets across America. Headphone designs remained relatively simple throughout the next couple of decades outside the music industry and the world of dedicated audiophiles. That would all change with the release of the Apple iPod in 2001, which came with tiny white earbuds that revolutionized the industry and led us to the copious amounts of options we have wirelessly today.