True Wireless Earbuds Comparison: AirPods, Powerbeats, Sony, Jabra, and More

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After Apple came out with the AirPods, wire-free earbuds flooded the market, and there are now a ton of options from companies ranging from Sony to Razer.

In our latest YouTube video, we took a look at several popular wire-free earbud options, comparing the features and giving each one an overall score to figure out which ones are the best.


This comparison includes the following earbuds: Razer Hammerhead, Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro, Jabra Elite 75t, Sony WF-1000XM3, AirPods Pro, AirPods 2, and Powerbeats Pro.

We're comparing the major features of each set of earbuds and assigning a score in four different categories, including comfort, portability, sound quality, and bonus features. Keep in mind that these are opinion-based scores. We have a quick overview below, but make sure to watch the video for the full comparison.


Razer Hammerhead ($99)

These earbuds are modeled after the AirPods with no silicone tips and a stem at the bottom. They're cheap at $99, and while the sound isn't bad, it does lack bass.


They're not uncomfortable, and charging via USB-C is a nice bonus. Razer promises 60ms latency for gaming, and while we didn't notice a huge difference when playing a game, it was noticeable with videos. The battery lasts for four hours, with an additional 12 hours from the charging case.
  • Comfort: 8
  • Portability: 7
  • Sound Quality: 6
  • Bonus Features: 6
  • Overall: 7
Soundcore Liberty 2 ($149)

Soundcore is an Anker brand, and Anker is known for its high-quality but still affordable hardware. Priced at $149 (but often on sale for less), these earbuds are standard wireless earbuds that are rather bass heavy out of the box. These have "Astria coaxial acoustic architecture," which is a fancy way of saying good sound, and these do indeed offer some pretty great sound quality.


Sound profile can be customized with the Soundcore app, and there physical media controls. The battery lasts for 8 hours, and the USB-C charging case provides an additional 24 hours of battery life. These are comfortable to wear and provide a good seal in the ear, though there's no active noise cancellation technology (Anker does say these have noise reduction, but it's mostly for phone calls.)
  • Comfort: 8
  • Portability: 8
  • Sound Quality: 7
  • Bonus Features: 7
  • Overall: 7.5
Jabra Elite 75t ($180)

Jabra has been making wireless headphones for a long time, and the Elite 75t are the company's wire-free option. These are small earbuds (the smallest of the bunch), but they fit well and offer a good in-ear seal, so good that there's a "hearthrough" mode. We weren't entirely sure what hearthrough mode was meant to do, but it didn't seem to work well.


Sound wise, these are a little bass heavy but can be adjusted with the Jabra app, and there's excellent instrument separation. A four microphone setup offers great call quality, unsurprising from a Jabra offering. The battery lasts for 7.5 hours and the charging case provides an additional 28 hours of battery life.
  • Comfort: 8
  • Portability: 9
  • Sound Quality: 7
  • Bonus Features: 6
  • Overall: 7.5
Sony WF-1000XM3 ($229)

With noise cancellation, the Sony WF-1000XM3 are the earbuds that are closest to the AirPods Pro. There are 6 different silicone tips for a good fit regardless of ear size, but these are heavy which can lead to ear fatigue after awhile.


Sound is excellent with impressive balance and an equalizer option in the app to adjust the sound to your preferences. Sound cancellation isn't as good as the AirPods Pro, and the AirPods Pro Transparency mode wins out over the Ambient Noise control Sony offers. Battery life is 6 hours, with 24 hours from the case.
  • Comfort: 8
  • Portability: 7
  • Sound Quality: 10
  • Bonus Features: 8
  • Overall: 8
AirPods Pro ($250)

AirPods Pro are Apple's newest AirPods and the priciest on this list at $250. AirPods Pro are super comfortable, fit well, and offer silicone tips in three sizes. Battery life is not as good as some of the other headphones on this list at 4.5 hours with ANC, but the charging case adds 24 hours.


The press-based playback controls are easy to use, but no volume control is a major downside. Sound quality is impressive, though the AirPods Pro lack the option for customization via an app. The H1 chip for easy iPhone connections can't be overlooked, and the active noise cancellation works well.
  • Comfort: 9
  • Portability: 8
  • Sound Quality: 10
  • Bonus Features: 10
  • Overall: 9
AirPods 2 ($159 - $199)

AirPods 2 offer all of the features of the AirPods Pro when it comes to connectivity and device switching, but the design is the original AirPods design without the silicone tips. Most people find AirPods comfortable, but the AirPods Pro have the edge.


There's no active noise cancellation and the sound quality isn't quite as good, but these still sound excellent for earbuds that are this portable. AirPods have become some of the most popular wire-free earbuds on the market for a reason, and we think they're almost as good as the AirPods Pro, but not quite as nice when it comes to fit or sound quality.
  • Comfort: 8
  • Portability: 8
  • Sound Quality: 7
  • Bonus Features: 9
  • Overall: 8
Powerbeats Pro ($200)

Like the AirPods and AirPods Pro, the Powerbeats Pro have Apple's H1 chip for simple setup and fast device switching. Design wise, these are in a category of their own thanks to the earhooks that hold them securely in place even during vigorous workouts.


The silicone tips offer a tight in-ear fit that can drown out ambient noise, but there's no active noise cancellation. Sound quality is solid, but again, there's no option for customization. Powerbeats Pro offer excellent nine hour battery life, but the charging case is enormous because it needs to accommodate those earhooks.
  • Comfort: 8
  • Portability: 8
  • Sound Quality: 8
  • Bonus Features: 9
  • Overall: 8
Conclusion

There's nothing quite like the AirPods Pro if you have an Apple device, given the noise cancellation and the deep integration with the iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Simple pairing, easy device switching, and Hey Siri support are features that third-party headphones can't match.

The Sony headphones also have noise cancellation and great sound if you're looking for an AirPods Pro alternative, but you'll miss out on several of the aforementioned options.

If you don't need noise cancellation, you won't go wrong with the AirPods 2, and for those who want an in-ear fit along with secure earhooks for working out, the Powerbeats Pro are a great choice.

What are your favorite wire-free earbuds? Let us know in the comments.

Article Link: True Wireless Earbuds Comparison: AirPods, Powerbeats, Sony, Jabra, and More
 
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HudsonSteele

macrumors newbie
Aug 23, 2016
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I would love to see you review the Raycons. Their starter pair is around $80. My AirPods just went through the wash (case and all) and I want to get new ones, but I'm poor and I've heard good things about Raycons. I just have a hard time taking the general crowd hearsay. I would be interested to see how they fare up and see if they are worth the low price or if I should just save my pennies.
 
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calzon65

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Jul 16, 2008
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Very nice comparison, but what happened to having a summary on the front page, have to scroll through the whole article (missing Show Full Article button).
 
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ATC

macrumors 65816
Apr 25, 2008
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No way Air Pods Pro have 10 of sound quality They're more like 8 on 10. If you compare with the Sony's, they have a less premium sound to it.
I totally agree. I have both the APP and PBP here, been comparing them for a while and the PBP are significantly better in sound quality, especially the sound stage and the low end. They're not even close but that's just my subjective opinion.
 

skveezer

macrumors member
Jul 24, 2012
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For me - definitely the AirPods Pro. I have tried quite a few different ones from various manufacturers thru the years and having lost 95% hearing in my left ear in the past 15 years with no recourse - the AirPods Pro have actually FIT my ears and most importantly, provided some semblance of sound to my left ear. HURRAY. Totally happy
 
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Radeon85

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Mar 16, 2012
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8 for portability on the on the AirPods and Powerbeats Pro while the beats pro have a much larger case :confused:. I'd give the beats pro at least a 9 out of 10 thought on sound quality if you gave the Airpods 2 a 7. With the right size buds they sound very good with decent bass.
 

jclo

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8 for portability on the on the AirPods and Powerbeats Pro while the beats pro have a much larger case :confused:. I'd give the beats pro at least a 9 out of 10 thought on sound quality if you gave the Airpods 2 a 7. With the right size buds they sound very good with decent bass.
This category also took into account overall battery life (more battery = less tethering to a cord), and the Powerbeats Pro got a higher score just because the battery life is so long.
 

PabloSRT8

macrumors member
Aug 25, 2016
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Sony sound way better than the Airpods Pro. The ANC is about the same in both. Airpods connectivity is amazing compared to Sony's. Airpods Pro are more comfortable. I have both.
 
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playaproved

macrumors 6502
Sep 29, 2005
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I'm quite puzzled with the sound quality ratings. Was actual music used to make these ratings? I have the Airpods, PowerBeats Pro and Airpods Pro. I use all three of them on a very regular basis, and while sound quality is subjective, there is quite a big difference in the sound quality and profiles of each of these earphones. In my opinion, if any of there were to get a 10, it would probably be the Powerbeats Pro, with Airpods Pro getting an 8-8.5 and the Airpods receiving a 6.

The Powerbeats get louder, they have better highs and lows which translates to better dynamic range and a better representation of the music. AirPods Pro are a huge improvement over Airpods, but still lack the range the PBP enjoy.
 

WannaGoMac

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Feb 11, 2007
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MR provides list prices instead of actual prices to make the Apple stuff seem better valued? For example the Anker are usually $99, never saw them for $149. Powerbeats are regularly available for $199.

Also, the Anker are HORRIBLE, the mic on phone calls is just lousy and there is absolutely no low frequency sound.

- - Post merged: - -

Sony is on sale at Amazon for $198 now.
So it is really a no-brainer.
Except the Sony have horrible mics for phone use.
 
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wolfshades

macrumors 6502
Nov 1, 2007
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I wish this review had covered the talk/listen quality of these earbuds - both from the wearer’s POV as well as the other party’s viewpoint.

I’ve got a pair of Powerbeats Pro and my daughter makes me take them off when talking with her on the phone. She said they make my voice come through muffled.

I didn’t believe her until I phoned my work voicemail and listened afterward. She’s right.
 

kitt9000

macrumors regular
Mar 15, 2012
122
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I agree, I would also not give airpods pro a 10.
I'm quite puzzled with the sound quality ratings. Was actual music used to make these ratings? I have the Airpods, PowerBeats Pro and Airpods Pro. I use all three of them on a very regular basis, and while sound quality is subjective, there is quite a big difference in the sound quality and profiles of each of these earphones. In my opinion, if any of there were to get a 10, it would probably be the Powerbeats Pro, with Airpods Pro getting an 8-8.5 and the Airpods receiving a 6.

The Powerbeats get louder, they have better highs and lows which translates to better dynamic range and a better representation of the music. AirPods Pro are a huge improvement over Airpods, but still lack the range the PBP enjoy.
I agree with this, would definitely not give airpods pro 10/10...esp when Sony and Powerbeats are in this comparison. Macrumors, although I love the site, really get very excited and gung ho over new Apple product releases, in this case the airports pros. Airpods pro sq is good, but def not “a 10” if others are getting Lower scores.
 
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Nicky G

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Mar 24, 2002
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How can battery life not have been a category? The Powerbeats Pro battery life is really, really nice! Wish it had noise cancellation, but I wouldn't want it to be larger, or really much more power hungry. So still quite happy that these are the ones I own, and will probably own for a while, given how much these things cost!
 
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JimmyHook

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Apr 7, 2015
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AirPods Pro are just objectively the best wireless headphones. Sony is missing out on those sweet H1 features, and they are missing out on the ability to analyze the shape of your ear canal to pick the best tips. Not to mention they suck at phone calls. So it’s really a no brainer, AirPods or nothing
 
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WannaGoMac

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Feb 11, 2007
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I wish this review had covered the talk/listen quality of these earbuds - both from the wearer’s POV as well as the other party’s viewpoint.

I’ve got a pair of Powerbeats Pro and my daughter makes me take them off when talking with her on the phone. She said they make my voice come through muffled.

I didn’t believe her until I phoned my work voicemail and listened afterward. She’s right.
Thats surprising... Sometimes cellular service is low quality audio. Do you find the phone sound also bad using Facetime Audio, Facetime Video, or some other VOIP communication?
 

B4U

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Oct 11, 2012
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MR provides list prices instead of actual prices to make the Apple stuff seem better valued? For example the Anker are usually $99, never saw them for $149. Powerbeats are regularly available for $199.

Also, the Anker are HORRIBLE, the mic on phone calls is just lousy and there is absolutely no low frequency sound.

- - Post merged: - -



Except the Sony have horrible mics for phone use.
My Sony are perfectly fine. So, guess your mileage may vary?
 
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