Three Types of Buds

For the sake of making useful comparisons, we segmented our test pool into three categories: truly wireless; truly wireless with a hook over the ear; and wire-connected, which means there’s a wire or band connecting the two earbuds to each other. We also added a fourth category of cheap earbuds—under $50. Here’s what to expect from each type.

Truly Wireless

These buds have neither connecting wires nor hooks that extend around your ear; you just push them in and go. Being compact makes them lightweight, but their small batteries means shorter runtimes, although all of our test models came with charging cases that allow you to juice them up on-the-go. They also tend to be the most expensive. Examples include the Bose Soundsport Free and Jabra Elite Active 65t.