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True Wireless Headsets Best Wireless Headphones Tested.

If you want good sound and want to call hands-free, you need a wireless headset. Here are a few models, from Apple’s AirPods to Teufels Airy.

The story is as old as listening to music on a cell phone: Many smartphones come with bad-sounding wired headphones, but not even with the new iPhones. You need headphones all the time for music, podcasts, videos, games. The small speakers in the cell phones are not a serious substitute for this. And real wireless headphones, i.e. those with no cable running between the two earphones, are usually so light and small that you can always have them with you.

The following test aims to clarify which are also comfortable, sound good and offer extras such as active noise suppression. For this, I tried five new 13 somewhat older but still available earphones from different manufacturers and price ranges.

Some things are the same for almost all of them: They are delivered with a box in which they are charged and have their battery to fill up the headphones with power while you are out and about.

Almost all of them also have functions for music control via start/stop commands, accept and reject calls, and call up the digital assistant that runs on the respective mobile phone. They work with any smartphone, whether Apple or Android. However, Apple headphones do not offer all functions on Android phones, only in conjunction with an iPhone. Conversely, a Huawei headset can do more on Android smartphones than on Apple phones.

Bowers & Wilkins PI7

The speciality of the PI7 is its charging case. Not only because it’s about twice the size of Apple’s AirPods Pro, but also because it makes the PI7 airworthy. If you plug the supplied adapter cable into an analogue audio source – this can be an old Walkman or the in-flight entertainment system of an aircraft – the sound output there is sent from the case to the headphones. Good idea.

Because the PI7 is comfortable on the ears, it would be good for long-haul flights. However, depending on the flight duration, you have to plan a few charging stops because the battery is only sufficient for medium-haul routes. The noise suppression coped well with our aircraft noises played over loudspeakers. What irritated me in everyday life: When I take the PI7 out of my ears, the music continues to play. Other headsets interrupt the music playback in this case.

This is how you sound: The outstanding feature of the PI7 is its fairly analogue basic character, which makes it sound pleasantly warm and dense but not muddy. In “Subterranean” by Max Melvin, the fat digital strings are reproduced without the droning in the lower mids that often occurs with such sounds. At the same time, the guitar chords delayed by a delay appear as if they were floating above the arrangement. The bass is fat without booming, the mids pronounced and clear, and the highs pleasantly soft.

The voice quality is so good: In the test, the voice reproduction on test calls was good, but the caller’s voice seemed relatively thin.

This is included: USB-C charging case, USB-C cable, mini-jack to USB-C cable.

This is how long they last: Up to four hours plus a further 16 hours by charging on the case.

These are the extras: Wireless transmission of analogue audio sources

List price: 399 euros

Huawei Freebuds 4i

Like their predecessors, the Freebuds 4i sit firmly and comfortably in the ears right away. The sound and battery life are okay, and the fact that they also have active noise suppression is not a matter of course in this price range. Strange: While other Huawei headsets can also be controlled from the iPhone, this is not possible with this model. The Freebuds 4i are only suitable for Android users.

This is how they sound: The Freebuds 4i have a clean, warm basic sound in which all instruments come across equally well in pop music. This also applies to the bass range, which does not extend very far into the bass cellar. In the lower mids, the free buds tend to sound a little mushy.

The speech quality is so good: the intelligibility of speech is good, but the voice seems a bit thin, and the microphones relay a lot of ambient noise to the called party.

This is included: USB-C charging case, USB-C cable

This is how long they last (manufacturer information): Up to ten hours without and up to 7.5 hours with noise suppression. Plus another 12 hours by charging on the case.

These are the extras: Active noise cancellation

List price: 99 euros

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Master & Dynamic MW08

With their polished stainless steel case, the MW08 looked classy and expensive at first. At least until you’ve had the case in your hand a few times and the gloss has turned into a collection of fingerprints.

The noise suppression made a pretty good impression in the test. I especially liked the so-called ambient mode, in which outside noises are passed through the microphones to the ear so that you can talk briefly.

The operation via mechanical buttons, on the other hand, only works moderately well for me. On the one hand, it is pleasant to have real buttons for volume control instead of sensor surfaces. On the other hand, controlling the ambient mode is a bit idle because switching takes around five seconds.

The information given by the manufacturer on the battery life is outstanding. The MW08 should last up to twelve hours without and ten with noise suppression.

This is how they sound: While the bass comes across clean but not pressing, the upper mids are a little too weak, which means that guitars are sometimes pushed a little further into the background than would be good. In contrast, the highs seem a bit overemphasized, noticeable, for example, in “Jerk It Out” by the Caesars. For synth classics like Jean-Michel Jarre’s the sound of the MW08 is more suitable.

The voice quality is so good: There are three microphones in each of the two earphones. The result is good speech intelligibility. However, there is always a lot to be heard from the room in which one speaks.

This is included: USB-C charging case, USB-C cable, USB-C to USB-A adapter

This is how long they last (manufacturer information): Up to twelve hours without and up to ten hours with noise suppression. Plus another 30 hours by charging on the case.

These are the extras: Active noise cancellation

List price: 299 euros

Realme Buds Air 2

The first thing you notice about this headset: You first have to learn to pull the earphones out of the case, because otherwise the shiny plastic parts simply slide through your fingers. The next thing I noticed was that often only one of the two earphones connects to the smartphone. The phenomenon occurred regardless of whether they were connected to an iPhone 12 Pro or a Galaxy S21 Ultra.

Noise suppression, good variants and a game mode can be activated via the Realme Link app. It is completely incomprehensible why you have to create an account with Realme and go through an annoying registration process. The app is available for Android and iOS but does not support the Buds Air 2 on iPhones.

This is how they sound: Realme Buds Air 2 are mediocre in terms of sound. Their sound is quite fat, and basses are also reproduced well, but overall they have a rather diffuse character that sometimes seems spongy.

The voice quality is so good: During phone calls, the Buds Air 2 impresses their very good speech intelligibility.

This is included: USB-C charging case, USB-C to USB-A cable

This is how long they last (manufacturer information): Up to five hours without and four hours with noise suppression. Plus up to 20 hours by charging on the case.

These are the extras: Active noise cancellation

List price: 49.90 euros

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Samsung’s answer to Apple’s AirPods Pro is jam-packed with features. They have Dolby Atmos and a 360-degree sound function, a very well-functioning and adjustable noise suppression with a transparency mode that acoustically forwards ambient noise to the ears and a conversation mode that activates the transparency mode as soon as you start to speak.

As long as you only use Samsung devices, they also automatically switch from one gadget to the other as soon as you switch, for example, from the mobile phone to the tablet. If friends also wear Galaxy Buds, they can listen to the same music from a smartphone together.

This is how they sound: When it comes to sound, the Galaxy Buds Pro are way ahead. In “Comic Sans” by Cory Wong, the heavily compressed funk guitar shines throughout the song over a sometimes extremely fat backing track with constantly interspersed percussive elements and a bony wah-wah bass. Overall, the sound can be described as “pleasing”. Also pleasant in the long run, but not as brilliant as, for example, with the PI7 from Bowers & Wilkins.

The speech quality is so good: The intelligibility of speech is very good during phone calls and voice memos. Only a noticeable emphasis on the height of the microphones is noticeable.

This is included: USB-C charging case, USB-C to USB-A cable

This is how long they last (manufacturer information): Up to eight hours without and five hours with noise suppression. Plus up to 20 hours by charging on the case.

These are the extras: active noise suppression, waterproof to IPX7, music share function for listening to music together, Dolby Atmos, wireless charging function.

List price: 229 euros

Apple AirPods

The trend towards completely wireless headphones began with the AirPods. Apple is currently delivering the second generation of these earphones, which are no different from the first but have an improved chip that enables new functions and has slightly improved the sound. The widely copied design has fans and enemies. The smooth earphones are inserted into the ears without a silicone attachment. If that fits, that’s great. If you have unusually shaped auricles, they can sit a little loose.

This is how they sound: If they sit well in the ears, the AirPods produce a transparent sound easily audible, but not necessarily oppressive, bass. The clean midrange reproduction ensures good speech intelligibility for podcasts and phone calls. I like the fact that the playback succeeds without distortion, even at high volume.

This is included: Lightning charging case (can be charged wirelessly for an extra charge), Lightning cable.

This is how long they last: Up to five hours plus another 19 hours by charging in the case.

These are the extras: Protected against sweat and water according to IPX4; Possibility to couple two pairs to one device; Possibility of coupling to Apple TV.

List price: 174 euros

Apple AirPods Pro

The Pro version of AirPods differs from normal AirPods primarily in three things: They sit more firmly in the ears thanks to adjustable silicone attachments, have active noise suppression and are always supplied with a charging case that can be charged wirelessly. The wearing comfort is very good. For Apple users, they offer special features such as seamless switching between different devices, the option of connecting two pairs of AirPods to the same device or pairing the earphones with an Apple TV for watching TV.

This is how they sound: The overall sound is warm and balanced, with powerful, but by no means overemphasized, bass that goes far down. It looks just as good with the mids and highs, which are also reproduced comfortably warm.

This is included: Wirelessly chargeable Lightning charging case, Lightning cable.

This is how long they last: Up to 4.5 hours plus another 19.5 hours by charging in the case.

These are the extras: Protected against sweat and water according to IPX4, active noise suppression, the possibility of coupling two pairs to one device, the possibility of coupling to Apple TV.

List price: 272 euros

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Bose Quietcomfort Earbuds

The Bose earbuds are pretty bold in every way. Your transport and charging box easily has twice the box’s volume in which the AirPods Pro comes. The earphones themselves are also quite large, but they sit securely and firmly in my ears right away – and that for hours. What is remarkable is the very effective noise suppression, the strength of which can be regulated with a tap of the finger on the left earphone.

This is how they sound: Fine, there is hardly any other way to describe the sound of the Bose. The large volume of the plugs should do its part to ensure that they sound as if they still have reserves, even at a high volume. The bass is very well developed without droning. The entire mid and high range is reproduced very evenly and softly, as with good hi-fi speakers.

This is included: Large, wirelessly chargeable USB-C charging case, USB-C cable.

This is how long they last: up to six hours plus a further twelve hours by charging in the case.

These are the extras: Protection against sweat and water according to IPX4.

List price: 273 euros

Earfun Air

The Earfun Air comes in a well-made case that feels comfortable with its matte surface but is so light that it indicates a weak battery. A USB-C cable is included for charging. In addition, the case can be charged wirelessly, provided you have a corresponding charging pad.

They sound like: A real surprise is a clear, very spatial and powerful sound that makes some branded headphones look old.

This is included: USB-C charging case, USB-C cable.

This is how long they last: Up to seven hours plus a further 28 hours by charging in the case.

These are the extras: waterproof to IPX7, wireless charging.

List price: 60 euros

Huawei Freebuds 3i

The Feebuds 3i immediately sit well in my ears and visually shout out that they would have liked to become AirPods. The Huawei earphones do not have to hide from Apple’s originals, especially since they even have active noise suppression. With Huawei smartphones, they almost connect by themselves.

This is how they sound: In terms of sound, the Freebuds are very clean with a clear emphasis on bass and a rather punchy, warm sound that is not common in this price range.

This is included: USB-C charging case, USB-C cable.

This is how long they last: Up to 3.5 hours plus a further eleven hours by charging in the case.

These are the extras: Active noise cancellation

List price: 99 euros

Huawei Freebuds Pro

Huawei’s “Pro” headset also automatically connects to Huawei cell phones. The earphones made of black plastic are hard to get out of their case. In any case, my fingers always slipped on the shiny surfaces, so that in the end, I got used to more or less shaking the Freebuds Pro out of the case.

This is how they sound: Huawei’s Freebuds Pro rewards you for this unnecessary effort with a pleasantly warm, fat sound that you can listen to for a long time, especially since the earphones are in your ears without pressing. Even deep basses are pushed into the ear canal without booming, while mids and highs are pleasantly velvety, and fine details are reproduced in the music. Great.

This is included: USB-C charging case, USB-C cable.

This is how long they last: up to four hours with active noise suppression plus another 16 hours by charging in the case.

These are the extras: Active noise suppression can also be used as a microphone when taken out of the ear, seamless switching between Huawei devices.

List price: 179 euros

JBL Tune 225 tws

The matte black case will find its friends, but it doesn’t look particularly high-quality. The earphones are difficult to dig out of their holders, but they sit well in the ears without adapters.

This is what they sound like: If they are tight, the sound of the JBL Tune 225 is also quite good. But as soon as they loosen even a little, the otherwise audible, but not oppressive, the bass disappears. Overall, the sound development is a bit too thin and indirect for me.

This is included: a charging case and a bright orange USB-C cable.

This is how long they last: Up to five hours plus another 20 hours by charging in the case.

These are the extras: None

List price: 100 euros

LG Tone free F6N

Their pleasantly small case first notices the Tone Free from LG. And then by the blue light that comes on when you put the earbuds in there to charge. According to the manufacturer, UV light is supposed to kill bacteria and germs collected on the earmolds during charging. That fits in with the times, of course, but raises whether something like this is needed. After all, this only makes sense if you share the parts with someone else, which is rarely the case with in-ear headsets. I found the touch fields too sensitive, so I deactivated them via the app.

This is how they sound: In terms of sound, the Tone Free is set up quite well, although they tend a bit worse in the loudness area, emphasizing bass and treble, lowering the mids. But they are by no means powerful and tend to rattle slightly in the high range at high volume.

This is included: USB-C charging case, USB-C cable.

This is how long they last: up to six hours plus a further twelve hours by charging in the case.

These are the extras: search function, protection against rain, splash water and sweat according to IPX4.

List price: 149 euros

Samsung Galaxy Buds live.

Samsung is going its own way with the Galaxy Buds Live. The rounded shape has undeniable advantages. On the one hand, no antennas are hanging out of your ears with the Buds Live. On the other hand, thanks to their shape and a small rubber stopper, they sit pretty firmly without pressing. And besides, they look good.

This is what they sound like: The sound of the Galaxy Buds is very clean and rich in detail, but at the same time very bold. Despite their small size, Samsung’s Buds produce powerful, downright oppressive bass – without booming. For that to work, however, they also have to sit perfectly in the ears.

This is included: a USB-C charging case with a USB-C cable.

This is how long they last: Up to six hours of battery life plus another 15 hours by charging in the case.

These are the extras: wireless charging function, active noise cancellation, two pairs of Buds Live can listen to the same music from one device together, seamless switching between Samsung devices, “find my buds” function.

List price: 184 euros

Sennheiser CX 400BT True Wireless

The Sennheiser were so stuck in the packaging that they could only be removed with force. When you’ve finally got them out of the box and put them in your ears, you’ll be rewarded: The very bulky earphones fit straight away. They sit comfortably tight but not oppressive in my ears.

This is what they sound like: The CX 400 BT delivers a sound that impresses with its clarity. The relationship between highs, lows and mids is very well coordinated, allowing many details to be perceived without appearing thin. The bass reproduction is strong but not oppressive. In terms of sound, they belong to the top group in this test.

This is included: a USB-C charging case with a USB-C cable.

This is how long they last: Up to 6.5 hours of battery life plus an additional 13.5 hours by charging in the case.

These are the extras: functions and sound can be influenced via the app.

List price: 199 euros

Skullcandy Sesh

It starts badly: When unpacking the Sesh, the earpieces get stuck in the plastic packaging and can only be removed with a lot of fiddling. Once you have them out of the box, they sit in your ears just as tightly as they did in the box. That’s fine, but it squeezes after a while. I wouldn’t want to wear them on a long haul flight.

This is how they sound: The sound of the Sesh is very bass-heavy, which is the trademark of Skullcandy. However, due to the fat bass, they tend to boom on tracks that are not perfectly mixed. What would annoy audio purists goes quite well with hip-hop and dense R&B tracks. Similar to the bass, the highs are sometimes overemphasized. If you like to listen to rock or classical music, you will miss Mitten.

This is included: a charging case with an LED display and an old-fashioned micro-USB cable.

This is how long they last: Up to three hours of battery life plus another seven hours by charging in the case.

These are the extras: Protection against sweat, water and dust according to IP55.

List price: 60 euros

Teufel Airy True Wireless

Loudspeaker manufacturer Teufel has also been offering headphones for some time and now wants to make a name for itself with wireless headsets. The entrance takes some getting used to optically: The blue plastic box in which the headphones are transported and charged looks cheap. The angular shape of the Airy’s antenna boom doesn’t make it easy to find the right angle to put it back in the case after use, but you get used to it. It makes it all the easier for them to get out. The fit is very traditional. The silicone plugs are comfortable to wear but do not sit particularly tight.

This is how they sound: The sound of the devil can be described as inconspicuous, which is not to say that they sound bad. On the contrary, they produce a balanced sound with no particular highs or lows, which lacks warmth.

This is included: a charging case with an LED display and an old-fashioned micro-USB cable.

This is how long they last: Up to six hours of battery life plus another 19 hours by charging in the case.

These are the extras: Splash and water jet protection according to IPX5.

List price: 150 euros

The case is charged via micro USB. A suitable cable is included.

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