Updated on 4 January 2023
IPX4-certified headphones have an impressive battery life (10 hours on a single charge and up to 40 hours with the case). After testing them, we found them to fit well in our ears and to be very comfortable, as we didn’t feel any discomfort after several hours of listening. For a very reasonable price, they offer several interesting features (multipoint connection, LDAC codec support, noise reduction, etc.). Overall, the sound is convincing (although the bass can be slightly improved) and adapts to its environment. In addition, the Soundcore app is intuitive and offers many options to further customise the sound experience. However, the transparent mode, while effective, is a bit unnatural in our opinion, and the microphones could also use an overhaul for noisy environments.
Sound quality is the number one criterion when choosing headphones. Don't be afraid to try different sizes of headphones to make sure you get the best possible fit. If you use them for sports, make sure you choose a pair with a good fit. Good sound isolation ensures immersion in the music. Battery life is a very important criterion. The charging case is an indispensable item.
Sound quality is the number one criterion when choosing headphones.
Don't be afraid to try different sizes of headphones to make sure you get the best possible fit.
If you use them for sports, make sure you choose a pair with a good fit.
Good sound isolation ensures immersion in the music.
Battery life is a very important criterion. The charging case is an indispensable item.
Overall, they offer a good price-quality ratio. They are simplistic but they do the job well because they manage to combine comfort, ease of use, endurance and good sound quality. Moreover, they support the AptX format and their casing is compact. In our opinion, some additional functions could be welcome (sound control, manual equaliser…) but we can still be satisfied with this product, especially if you just listen to music all day long. On the other hand, our tests have shown that the quality of the calls can be improved.
With their impeccable sound quality, rich in bass and instrumentality, they are truly red-hot in the wireless headphones market. During our test, we were particularly impressed by their sound control (considered the best in the business), good call quality and convincing durability. These few Sony improvements do come at a cost, and the size of the earbuds may deter some buyers, but they are a strong contender for all other models.
At the end of this test, they perfectly meet our expectations and more. We particularly liked the comfortable design, the good fit, the responsiveness of the controls, their many customisation options, the good sound quality, the interesting call quality and the overall good endurance. Moreover, they have a multipoint connection and the case is very compact. In our opinion, this is one of the best models on the market because it is complete and adapts to all users’ needs.
The second version of these headphones offers a longer battery life but is barely on par with its rivals in the same range. Now the solid casing and the earcups show a design faithful to the previous models. They are quite comfortable thanks to their silicone tips that ensure a good fit in the ears. The sound performance is exceptional, with perfectly crafted spatial audio that delivers a rich, dynamic, powerful and controlled sound. The Dolby Atmos codec will allow you to watch movies/series without latency. During our test, we found the controls to be intuitive and comprehensive (volume control is added). Active noise reduction and microphones have also been improved, making them even better and more versatile. Still, if you don’t have an iPhone, you miss out on a lot of features.
|Our choice, Best mid-range
|Soundcore Space A40
|Jabra Elite 3
|Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro
|Apple AirPods Pro 2
|The Space A40s combines good sound performance, interesting features and great durability. Their app also enhances the user experience.
|Simplicity and efficiency are probably the two words that best sum up these affordable headphones. Although they lack options, they are durable and comfortable for ears.
|Another big hit from Sony, with another success in sound control, audio quality and endurance. They are aimed at the demanding audiophile.
|Without any major flaws, these headphones are at the top of the podium because they manage to combine comfort, good sound and endurance, while offering more advanced customisation and connection options.
|With effective active noise reduction, excellent microphones and dynamic sound, its sound performance is exceptional with an iPhone. Comfort and low latency also stand out.
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How did we do the testing?
To begin with, several of our editors tested each model daily for several days (on public transport, during sports or at work). This allowed us to evaluate their practicality, but also their comfort and fit in the ear, the stability of the connection, the battery life, the reactivity of the buttons and even the noise reduction function (for those models that included it, of course). We also analysed the ease of use and the settings of each app.
We then focused on analysing the sound quality of both the headset and the microphone. To do this, we used a varied list of titles ranging from video game soundtracks to the best of the best in Jazz and Soul (we tested the variations between bass, mid and treble sounds). Finally, we tested call quality in quiet and noisier environments. The same applies to video content, where we were able to examine latency.
How to choose your wireless headphones?
Wireless headphones have become popular and we are faced with a massive influx of new models every week. With so many pairs of earbuds, it’s hard to find the perfect wireless headphones.
To help you in your search, we have determined the necessary criteria to consider before purchasing this product.
- Quality of the sound: this includes the quality of the bass, treble, etc. In general, the goal is to reproduce the sound as faithfully as possible, while at the same time aiming for a fairly dynamic rendering, for a greater listening pleasure. In some cases, an equaliser can be used to balance the sounds or modify their colour (more bassy, for example). As a bonus, support for codecs such as AAC or aptX allows you to enjoy high-quality audio, which is more relevant to audiophiles.
- Soundproofing: this can be of two kinds, active or passive. Passive is determined by the earpiece itself, while active requires a software intervention: microphones pick up the sound around you and send a negative frequency (equivalent to that sound) in response to cancel it out. It is the same principle as 1 + (-1) = 0.
- Comfort: this is important to ensure that you get the most out of your headphones over long periods of listening. Generally, brands offer different sizes of ear cushions or several silicone tips to provide the best ergonomics possible and to adapt the set to your morphology. Choosing the right ear tip also has an impact on the sound quality, as it provides better isolation from external sounds.
- Fit: this criterion implies that your headphones should fit as snugly as possible to your ear to minimise the risk of loss. This is particularly important for sportsmen and women. Some models offer a function to find the headphones with a sound signal if necessary.
- Resistance: “IP” stands for “Ingress Protection”, in other words, it is the protection index that evaluates the resistance to solid or liquid elements (such as sweat, water or dust). The IP is made up of two numbers: one that indicates the level of protection against solid particles such as sand and dust (from 0 to 6) and a second that communicates the resistance to water and therefore to sweat (from 0 to 9).
- Connection quality: this is determined by the type of connection your equipment has. Generally, this is Bluetooth 5.0, which guarantees minimal latency when it is well optimised. Other factors are the stability of the link with your device and the range of use, which should be the best possible to avoid unexpected dropouts. Some models may offer you a choice between optimising for audio quality or stability, which will usually be related to your usage.
- Battery life: wireless means using a battery. The average battery life of these headphones is around 5 hours. Many manufacturers provide a charging case that allows you to store and carry your headphones while charging them. With this, it is usually possible to use them for about 20 hours without having to use a power outlet.
- Controls: some manufacturers favour touch controls, but they can be difficult to use. Physical buttons may be less elegant, but they are more convenient when your hands are sweaty or if it is raining, and they prevent accidental presses when you put the headphones back on. The controls allow you to manage all sorts of actions without the smartphone, and they can sometimes even be customised from the app.
- Microphone quality: microphones are used to make telephone calls. Their ability to reduce wind noise, manage sibilance and avoid saturation while reproducing voices fairly influences the quality of calls in quiet environments as well as in noisy ones.
Other models we recommend
Sennheiser CX True Wireless (£95.19 upon publication): fewer features in aid of endurance, hearing quality and comfort. These headphones are simple but effective, with complete controls and customisable sound. Despite their size, they fit well in the ears and have a stable connection. However, some latencies, the lack of some options and the quality of calls in noisy environments are points on which the German manufacturer must still improve.
Realme Buds Air 3 (£79.99 upon publication): comfortable and with an efficient noise reduction system. When we tried them out, what we liked most was the comfort and excellent fit. In addition, the sound is powerful and we noticed the good bass presence, thanks to the Bass Boost+ mode. The noise reduction was also effective on public transport and in public places. Finally, they benefit from an interesting multipoint connection that is more competitive than other models. Our only regrets are the lack of a true band equaliser, aptX compatibility and the lack of a wireless charging system.
Google Pixel Buds Pro (£143.19 upon publication): robust and convincing in the Android ecosystem. The Pixel Buds Pro stand out mainly for its excellent battery life (11 hours per charge), ergonomic and comfortable design, and great sound quality. Their arrival on the market marks the integration of active noise reduction into Google’s headphones. In our test, we found the ANC to be effective at masking wind noise, but not very good at masking voice and/or keyboard noise. We also regret the lack of aptX or LDAC support. The treble would also deserve an overhaul.
Other models tested
Xiaomi Redmi Buds 3 (£34.99 upon publication): they are very simple and stable on the ears, and offer decent sound quality for their affordable price. However, they lack sound customisation and the controls are incomplete.
JBL Wave 300 TWS (£38.99 upon publication): its simplicity and good sound quality are its main strengths. However, the lack of stability of the connection and the app are its major shortcomings.
Soundcore Life P2 (£39.99 upon publication): although they are decent value for money, their treble is too aggressive and they are not as comfortable as some of the other headphones we have tested.
Sony WF-C500 (£49.99 upon publication): the main features of these headphones are their low price, adaptive sound quality (a Sony classic) and long battery life. However, some options, such as active noise reduction, are missing. The robustness of the housing is also questionable.
Realme Buds Air 2 (£49.99 upon publication): in addition to their good fit and comfort, they are very reliable during calls. However, their aesthetics and lack of volume control are criticised. In fact, many of their direct rivals have already surpassed them.
Soundcore Life P3 (£69.99 upon publication): what we liked most about this model were its long battery life, comfort and comprehensive and intuitive app. However, the active noise reduction could be improved and the music playback may not be to everyone’s taste.
1More ComfoBuds Pro (£69.99 upon publication): is a convincing model, but nothing more. In fact, it does not handle high frequencies very well at maximum volume, and its app is not one of the most complete.
Huawei Freebuds 4i (£75.00 upon publication): a good alternative for those looking for effective headphones with active noise reduction. However, they still lag behind their direct rivals.
Creative Outlier Pro (£79.99 upon publication): despite its exceptional battery life, both the headphones and the charging case take up a lot of space. The sound can also be improved, despite the adjustments made in the application.
Jabra Elite 75t (£86.43 upon publication): has everything you would expect from a model of this price: interesting noise reduction, good design, and sound quality… but its battery life is inferior to that of its direct rivals and the microphone can be improved.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 (£99.00 upon publication): with their elegant, discreet and comfortable design, they are very appealing, especially when combined with good sound quality and overall effective sound control.
Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro (£99.00 upon publication): estos auriculares son capaces de plantar cara a los grandes del sector gracias a su excelente calidad de sonido, su eficaz reducción del ruido y su comodidad. ¿Y lo mejor? La tercera generación de esta gama es aún mejor.
Google Pixel Buds A (£107.11 upon publication): these headphones are very popular and convincing with their high sound quality, but noise reduction and customisation are lacking. We also noticed some latency during our tests.
Huawei Freebuds 4 (£109.99 upon publication): in our view, they are not up to par with other models in this price range. Their limited range also works against them.
Jabra Elite 5 (£119.00 upon publication): these comfortable headphones feature multipoint connectivity and aptX compatibility. The application also offers numerous customisation options. Weaknesses? The active noise reduction function (could be improved).
Jabra Elite 7 Pro (£129.00 upon publication): these headphones offer rich sound, and excellent battery life and come with a comprehensive app. In addition, they are resistant to outdoor environments. However, the active noise reduction feature doesn’t rival the competition.
1More Stylish (£131.09 upon publication): are ageing and can no longer cope with the new competition. Despite their more affordable price, we found their shortcomings prohibitive, especially the problem of connection between the headphones themselves.
Jaybird Vista (£158.00 upon publication): are designed for both urban and sporty use thanks to their comfort, their faithful and generous bass sound and their comprehensive application, which allows you to forget about their poor battery life and call quality in noisy environments.
Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2 (£159.00 upon publication): they have a nice, comfortable design and the sound quality is good with the LDAC codec and customisation options. However, this model is penalised by the poor battery life of the headphones.
Apple Airpods 3 (£189.99 upon publication): with the advent of spatial audio and position detection, they try to emulate high-end models. However, the lack of the noise reduction function and their high price remain a problem. They are not recommended for Android devices, as the options are much more limited.
Translated by Ramsés El Hajje