You Don’t Need To Spend More Than $100 On Wireless Earbuds


Two years ago, if you wanted a set of true wireless earbuds with features like active noise cancellation (ANC), transparency mode, wireless charging, great battery life, and great sound quality, you were looking at spending at least $180, but probably closer to $250-$300. But time has a funny way of leveling the playing field and nowhere has that been more true than in the true wireless earbuds market.

Today, you’ll still pay upward of $250 for the very best models from top-tier brands like Sony, Bose, Apple, and Jabra, but you no longer have to do that just to get access to leading-edge features. In fact, the latest cohort of true wireless earbuds priced around $100 is so good, most people won’t benefit by spending more. You may not recognize the brands, but don’t let that stop you. Skeptical? Let’s take a quick look at some of the features that are most in-demand, and how much you need to spend to get them.

Active noise cancellation (ANC)

Soundcore Life P3 inside charging case.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

In 2019, ANC was considered such a premium feature for true wireless earbuds that you’d be looking at spending at least $249. And even then, there was a big difference between brands. The best ANC at the time (from Sony and Apple) didn’t always come with the very best sound quality or vice versa. Sennheiser and Master & Dynamic offered more expensive and better-sounding buds, but their ANC wasn’t especially noteworthy.

Today, you’ll find this feature on plenty of models that cost less than $100. The same caveat remains true: Not all ANC earbuds are created equal in terms of their ability to effectively cancel unwanted sounds. But even the cheapest of these will still provide a noticeable reduction in outside sounds.

The best true wireless earbuds with ANC for $100 or less:

  • Wyze Buds Pro, $60
  • Tronsmart Apollo Air, $70
  • Soundcore Life P3, $80
  • Earfun Air Pro, $80
  • Taotronics SoundLiberty Pro P10, $70
  • Monolith M-TWE, $95

Transparency mode

Once considered a nice-to-have feature, the ability to let outside sounds in when you want them is very helpful for having conversations or maintaining your awareness of potential hazards. Open- or semi-open style earbuds like the AirPods or Google Pixel Buds Buds A-Series don’t need it because they already let in a lot of sound. But the more a set of earbuds seals sounds out (passive noise isolation), the more it’s a good idea to have transparency mode. (Which also is known as ambient or HearThrough mode.)

The best true wireless earbuds with transparency mode for $100 or less:

  • Wyze Buds Pro, $60
  • Soundcore Life P3, $80
  • Earfun Air Pro 2, $80
  • Monolith M-TWE, $95

Customizable controls

Sennheiser's control customization feature.

A well-thought-out set of touch-physical controls should be easy to memorize and use. But sometimes the choices made by the manufacturer just don’t work the way we’d like. At times like this, having a mobile app that lets you change things around is super helpful. But affordable earbuds that come with their own mobile app can be hard to find. Hard, but not impossible.

The best true wireless earbuds with customizable controls for $100 or less:

Wyze Buds Pro, $60
Edifier TWS 330NB, $80
Soundcore Life P3, $80
Tronsmart Apollo Air, $70
JLab Epic Air ANC, $99

Wireless charging

Earfun Air true wireless earbuds charging wirelessly.
Earfun

This convenient feature lets you drop your charging case onto any Qi-compatible charging mat instead of plugging it into a cable. It can be a bit hit and miss in terms of which models offer it. You might expect that the more you spend, the more likely you are to get it. But that’s not always true. The $60 Wyze Buds Pro, for instance, have wireless charging, but the more expensive $100 Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+ do not.

The best true wireless earbuds with wireless charging for $100 or less:

Wyze Buds Pro, $60
Soundcore Life P3, $80
Earfun Air Pro 2, $80
Earfun Air, $70
Tronsmart Apollo Air+, $99
JLab Epic Air ANC, $99

Big battery life

JLab Epic Air ANC true wireless earbuds.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Not everyone needs a set of earbuds that can last more than eight hours per charge, but if this really matters to you, should you have to pay an arm and a leg for it? No way. We’re now beginning to see huge battery life from earbuds that cost surprisingly little.

The best true wireless earbuds with big battery life for $100 or less:

Monolith M-TWE, $95 (10 hours per charge, 30 hours total)
JLab Epic Air ANC, $99 (up to 12 hours per charge, up to 48 hours total)
Tribit FlyBuds C1, $90 (up to 12 hours per charge, up to 50 hours total)
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+, $100 (9 hours per charge, 45 hours total)

Sound quality

Sennheiser CX 400BT True Wireless earbuds.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

We still maintain that the very best sound quality can be found on true wireless earbuds that normally sell for $200 to $400, like the Sony WF-1000XM4, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, Master & Dynamic MW08, and Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2. However, the jump in sound quality from the best $100 earbuds to the best $300 earbuds is not 300% as you might well expect given the price differences. And in some cases, you might actually get better sound from the cheaper earbuds. Apple’s $249 AirPods Pro sound very good, but I think Wyze’s $60 Buds Pro are so close, most people won’t notice the difference.

The best true wireless earbuds for sound quality for $100 or less:

Sennheiser CX 400BT, $99
Wyze Buds Pro, $60
Monolith M-TWE, $95
Earfun Air Pro 2, $80
Soundcore Life P3, $80
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1+, $100

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