Disentangle your head from the tyranny of cables with wireless earbuds...

Disentangle your head from the tyranny of cables with wireless earbuds. These will liberate your musical world and involve minimal sonic compromise, with few of the digital glitches that plagued earlier models.  

Battery life has improved, too, and typically lasts at least five hours on the move. This makes them easy to live with, so long as you keep the buds re-juiced by slipping them into their carry case while not in active service.

You should get a couple of recharges before the case needs its own top up – and you are also far less likely to lose a bud to the dreaded hole-in-the-pocket scenario. 

Some models offer swanky apps to adjust settings, or active noise-cancellation (ANC), which is great for cutting background hubbub.

However, others do manage to solve this challenge by merely fitting snugly and, as with all earbuds, this is the vital element of good sound quality. A loose fit sinks the whole ship. 

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Sony WF-1000XM4 £249 sony.co.uk 

Sony has monstered the market for true wireless earbuds in recent years and the XM4 continues to set the standard.

It’s hard to think of a feature that’s not in the mix here. You get excellent ANC, the promise of high-res audio (for Android users) and the music can automatically stop whenever you speak, which is super handy.

Call quality is good and the app will keep tinkerers amused for days.  These buds bring the party deep into your brain, with sculpted basslines and plenty of nuance, for up to eight hours.

They can feel slightly heavy after extended wear but that’s being picky. These pocket titans rock hard in every way. 

 

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Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 - £189 sennheiser.com

Say hello to another hugely impressive all-rounder.

The Momo 2 delivers just about everything you’d hope to find in a set of premium earbuds, except for high-res compatibility, and perhaps a few esoteric features, such as wireless recharging.

What is on the table here is a seven-hour battery and solid ANC, which is only bettered here by the pricier Sony XM4. The Sennheisers somehow manage to sound both precise and chock-full of energy.

This is a winning combo, that’ll swiftly have you tapping a toe.

With so few obvious flaws and an increasingly attractive price tag, these buds are hard to resist. Treat yourself. 

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Grado GT220 - £199 gradolabs.co.uk

 

Audiophiles know that Grado has crafted exotic cans since 1953 – and yet these are the NYC firm’s first wireless buds. But you know what?

It’s a thumbs-up. The GT220’s look unassuming, with their all-plastic finish and subtly backlit logos.

Pop them in your ears, though, and you’ll surely saviour the revealing sound-signature, with oodles of authority and detail.

There are few frills, such as a matching app, sweat-resistance, or ANC but the elongated shape does block background noise well. They also charge wirelessly, which is lush.

For comfy buds that offer wind-in-your hair sonic sensations, look no further.

 

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Cambridge Audio Melomonia 1+ - £99 cambridgeaudio.com

Bargain lovers, it’s time to celebrate. Cambridge Audio understands that not everyone who cares about how music sounds can afford to drop a fat stack on wireless earbuds.

And so they concocted a package to deliver where it matters, without the fripperies.

The Melomania 1+ buds (note the plus sign) create levels of clarity and detail you have no right to expect at this price. There's even a surprisinngly slick app.

The nine-hour battery is impressive and the box contains lots of tips, to help achieve a snug fit. Nope, you don’t get ANC and some costlier models do have the edge in sonic sophistication.

But for sheer value, this is top bananas.

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Bowers & Wilkins PI7 - £349 bowerswilkins.com

These deluxe buds exude bling, with prominent metallic accents and a classy design.

Your money buys utterly transparent sound that’s at least as good as anything else here, and they are ready for wireless high-res audio, from non-Apple sources.

A unique bonus feature is the ability to ‘retransmit’ audio from, the analogue socket of, say, a Nintendo Switch, or in-flight movies.Remember those?

You also get decent ANC. But sadly, it’s not all gravy. The battery lasts only four hours and there’s no app, nor any way to adjust the volume without fumbling for your phone, which isn’t exactly a premium experience.

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Jabra Elite Active 75T - £125 jabra.co.uk

These Jabra’s are for fitness freaks and do a steadfast job, no matter how hard you work out.

They’re waterproof to one metre and so can cope with a sweaty gym sesh, or being dropped in the loo.

If the nearest you come to clubbing is a Zumba session in the spare room, you’ll love these buds, as they will not pop out as you bounce.

They are well made, too, with a slick app, credible ANC, and a good battery. Taking calls is slick, which is no surprise, as Jabra is known for business headsets.

The sound is punchy and yet clear. Perhaps a bit too clear, with mildly brash treble. For the right owner, this is a solid bet. 

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Klipsch T5 II True Wireless Sport - £129 Klipsch.com

Say hello to the sports optimised version of the popular Klipsch T5II model.

This means that you get plastic fins to ensure the buds fit securely and a fully waterproof design, with a chunky case that looks more like a camping gadget.

There is a basic app and yet, oddly enough, no ANC. It’s a strange choice with earbuds designed for the gym, albeit they do a solid job of passively blocking background hubbub.

The sound is robust for the money, if not the liveliest here, with call quality that is merely serviceable and few bells or whistles to tempt technophiles.

Even so, these are mightily impressive all-action buds.

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KEF Mu3 - £199 Kef.com

KEF rarely makes headphones as it’s mostly a loudspeaker manufacturer –  and one of the best.  It’s certainly sprinkled some magic into these buds.

There are no thudding basslines here, nor splashy high-hats to drive you insane in the membrane. Instead, you get smooth refinement, which feels like slipping into silk sheets on a warm night.

You do forego a smidgen of the sonic fizz or energy in the top models but the KEF battery lasts a chunky nine hours and the ANC is surprisingly effective too.

There’s no app and the mics aren’t marvellous for calls.

If you can live with these foibles, this is jam-and-spoon.  

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Creative Outlier Air V2 - £49 uk.creative.com

You don’t expect much for this money. Certainly not a 12-hour battery, touch controls, and solid sound.

OK, the audiophiles among us will not be stroking their beards in appreciation of the strident and bassy presentation on offer here, and call quality is merely serviceable.

The slide-out carry case is fiddly and, naturally, there is no ANC at this price level.

Despite these flaws, this is an excellent way to sample true wireless earbuds.

With Creative about to drop the Outlier Air V3 model, you can snap up for the current version for less than fifty quid, which means you won’t be sobbing if you lose one of them on the train.  

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Oppo Enco X - £149 Oppo.com

Wireless earbuds tend to adopt a ‘cough lozenge’ shape to achieve a snug fit but this model rolls with the ‘toothbrush head’ look, popularised by Apple Airpods.

This is ironic, given these buds work best with Android handsets and, in particular, Oppo’s own phones.

It’s unusual to get ANC on a mid-priced model, and this works well, albeit premium rivals do a significantly better job.

This is partly because the Enco X shape creates a less effective physical block and also due to a slight hiss when it’s set to max.

Created in partnership with Dynaudio, the Danish speaker gurus, the sound is surprisingly exciting, even if it lacks openness.

Despite average battery life, these Oppos will attract Android fans with their charms.

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Words: Alex Pell

 
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