There are many things to consider when buying wireless earbuds. In this popular market, it can be difficult to differentiate between good wireless earbuds and bad ones.
The best wireless earbuds (in 2023) are packed full of advanced technology. In this expert guide, we’ve ranked our favourites to assist you with your purchase in this sometimes-overbearing market.
The Best Wireless Earbuds in NZ 2023
1. Sony WF-1000XM5 Wireless Earbuds
8-hour battery life | Comfortable design | Market-leading Audio quality | Impressive ANC
The Sony WF-1000XM5 earbuds offer a premium audio experience with excellent sound quality, effective ANC, and comfortable design improvements.
These are some of the best earbuds on the market. Audio quality, ANC, and battery life are the key areas where earbuds need to succeed, and Sony has done an excellent job of improving on what were already market-leading earbuds in the XM4s.
Read our Sony WF-1000XM5 review
2. Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless Headphones
8-hour battery life | Brilliant audio quality | Industry-leading ANC | Sony Connect app
Sony has focused on what matters most with their WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless Headphones. Noise cancellation, audio quality and battery life. And in doing so, they’ve set a new standard for all categories. The WF-1000XM4s are fantastic.
The active noise cancellation is comparable to over-ear headphones. The audio quality is outstanding. The battery lasts literally for days, and Sony has finally caught up with the competition and made the WF-1000XM4s water and sweat resistant.
Read our Sony WF-1000XM4 review
3. NuraTrue Wireless Earbuds
Great price | The best-personalised sound | Good ANC | Strong performance
Quite simply, the NuraTrue Wireless Earbuds are incredible. These earbuds adapt the sound of your audio to suit your ears. Everybody hears things differently, the NuraTrue’s take that into consideration by shaping audio to suit you perfectly, and the results are impressive.
Not only are they the best sounding earbuds on the market today, but they’re also affordable, and come packed with other premium features only found in earbuds $200 more expensive.
They have very good ANC capabilities, the touch controls work flawlessly, they’re comfortable and you can customise the touch controls to your favourite preferences.
They do look a bit odd compared to other earbuds, but if you want the best sound available, you can’t look past the NuraTrue Wireless Earbuds.
Read our NuraTrue review.
4. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
Customisable ANC | 6-hour battery life| IPX4 rating | Strong Audio
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds produce industry-leading sound for a fantastic price. They are slightly cheaper than the Apple Airpods Pro and, in our opinion, deliver slightly better audio quality. The sound is well balanced, allowing for deep and powerful bass that doesn’t distort the other tones. Bose’s Active EQ provides automatic adjustments of the bass and treble, depending on what volume you are listening to. This ensures that the music sounds great no matter the volume.
The QuietComfort Earbuds have great noise cancellation capabilities. Using a 1-10 slider you can select how much noise you want to cancel, and the results are the best we’ve seen. At the maximum level, the outside noise is cancelled out by a significant amount. They also have a Self Voice feature that allows you to hear your voice when wearing the QuietComfort. It’s an excellent feature for people who are on the phone a lot and like to listen to themselves when talking.
Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review
5. Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)
ANC | 6-hours battery life | U1 tracking chip in the case | Advanced Apple-only features
Apple’s AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) introduce numerous improvements that make them significantly better than their predecessors.
They produce great sound, the ANC is good at blocking out fans and air conditioners, they’re comfortable, they have respectable battery capacities and best of all they’re compatible with all the advanced features synonymous with products in the Apple ecosystem.
Apple’s Spatial Audio is still here and Apple decided to add a U1 tracking chip to the case so you can track the earbuds down if you’ve misplaced them.
If you’re an Apple user, the integration with the ecosystem is fantastic and you won’t need to look passed the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)
Read our Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) review
6. JBL Tour Pro 2
ANC | 8-hour battery life | 1.4-inch touchscreen on the case
JBL’s Tour Pro 2 earbuds tick all the right boxes. They produce good-sounding audio, have effective active noise cancellation (ANC), have market-leading battery life, and are comfortable and easy to use.
But putting those functions aside, the most eye-catching feature here is the 1.24-inch touchscreen on the case. This allows you to control your earbuds without having to go into the JBL Headphones app on your phone. It’s innovative and makes the Tour Pro 2’s standout; however, in practice, it isn’t as useful as it looks.
That said, JBL has managed to keep the Tour Pro 2’s at a reasonable price of $350. This makes the touchscreen feel less like a gimmick used to push up the price and more like an additional feature that you may or may not use.
Other than the lacklustre customisation options for touch inputs and the ANC occasionally struggling with high-frequency sounds, there’s a lot to like here. Boasting advanced features like the new Personi-Fi hearing test, AmbientAware, TalkThru, and Auto-Pause, the Tour Pro 2’s are a very good pair of premium earbuds.
Read our JBL Tour Pro 2 review
7. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3
ANC | 7-hour battery life | IPX4 rating
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds are ideal for audiophiles and those looking for great sounding earbuds.
You won’t be disappointed by the Momentum True Wireless 3 earbuds. They’re packed full of the advanced features you’d expect in a $400 pair of earbuds.
They boast very good ANC capabilities, they have customisable touch controls, they’re comfortable and they boast the nicest looking case on this list.
There isn’t a lot to make these earbuds stand out from the rest. They’re capable earbuds but they’re a little more expensive than others premium earbuds. With that said, if you’re looking for a unique looking case, these should be at the top of your list.
8. JBL Live Pro 2 TWS
ANC | 8-hour battery life| IPX5 rating | Great price
JBL’s Live Pro 2 TWS earbuds punch above their weight. These are affordable earbuds that give the best of the best a run for their money.
Boasting a number of features usually reserved for more expensive earbuds, the Live Pro 2 TWS are more than capable earbuds that can do everything you’d want premium earbuds to do.
The ANC here is very good, the audio is decent, the 8-hour battery life is above average and there are advanced features included like TalkThru, VoiceAware, auto play/pause and voice assistant compatibility.
The main drawcard here is the price. At $300 they’re significantly cheaper than other earbuds on this list. While the touch controls aren’t as good and the audio isn’t as wide as some of their competitors, it’s hard to look past what you get with the Live Pro 2 TWS earbuds for only $300.
Read our JBL Live Pro 2 TWS review
9. Oppo Enco X2
ANC | 5-hour battery life | IP54 rating
The Oppo Enco X2 earbuds are some of the most comfortable earbuds we tested. Their stem design is elegant and incredibly light, weighing only 4.8g.
Teaming up with the Danish audio brand Dynaudio, the sound the Oppo Enco X2’s produce is excellent. Using their dual-driver design, the sound is well balanced with low-frequency tones coming from the bud’s, back and high-frequency tones coming from the front.
While the active noise cancellation isn’t quite as good as its competitors, and the material feels a bit cheaper than other earbuds on this list the Enco X2 earbuds work well and are some of the only earbuds providing the AirPod style for Android users.
Read our Oppo Enco X2 review
10. Beats Powerbeats Pro
9-hour battery life | IPX4 rating | Earhooks great for exercise
The Beats Powerbeats Pro are ideal for exercising. Their ear hooks and adjustable ear tips ensure that the headphones stay secure when exercising.
They produce a great sound that is vibrant and bold and have long battery life at 9 hours. Their IPX4 rating means they are sweat-resistant and can handle a light rain shower.
While they lack premium features like active noise cancellation and EQ capabilities, the Powerbeats Pro provides a high-quality sound. They are sleek and comfortable and are ideal for those who are looking for earbuds primarily for exercising.
How to choose the best wireless earbuds in NZ
How much should I spend?
As is the case with most technology, the more you spend, the better its quality. This is the same for wireless earbuds. The more expensive headphones, ranging between NZ$300-$400, will have more features like active noise cancellation and touch controls – and will provide a much better sound than cheaper headphones.
How do I know if they will fit?
The truth is, you don’t; however, manufacturers specifically design their earbuds to almost guarantee that their wireless earbuds will fit your ear. Many brands include interchangeable silicone tips that come in varying sizes allowing you to customise your fit.
Bluetooth connectivity is important
Wireless earbuds, obviously rely on Bluetooth connectivity to function. Bluetooth is always improving, and each update makes connections more stable, increases wireless range and allows for faster data transfer speeds (how fast your music can get to your earbud).
Only the most recent earbuds will be compatible with the latest Bluetooth versions; however, that’s not to say older headphones won’t work well. Some of the best wireless earbuds aren’t compatible with the latest Bluetooth version, 5.2 and are still excellent earbuds.
Can you make phone calls with wireless earbuds?
Yes, you can. All of the products on this list allow you to make and take phone calls via Bluetooth. They have inbuilt mics that aren’t always brilliant at blocking out ambient noise and won’t be as good as talking on the phone, but they do have this capacity.
The quality of the microphones varies between devices, so if you are making calls all day, this will be a factor to consider
What’s an IP rating?
The IP rating of wireless earbuds correlates to their ability to protect against intrusion from dust and water (this includes sweat.) If you are using wireless earbuds for exercising, you will want a pair of Bluetooth headphones that can protect from fluids that will ruin them.
Do audio codecs matter?
Audio codecs decode and encode audio. That isn’t very clear, but basically what you need to know is codecs determine how Bluetooth transmits information to your headphones.
Nearly all devices allow for the universally accepted SBC codec; however, some codecs allow higher-quality audio files. These can be specific to devices; for example, Apple products favour the high-quality AAC codec, and Samsung’s Scalable codec is only available on Samsung devices.
It is essential to know that your output device must also support the same codec for it to be used. iPhones don’t support Samsung’s Scalable codec so you won’t get the best sound out of Samsung earbuds when paired with an iPhone.
It would be wise to consider your current device when looking for the best wireless earbuds for you.
How much battery life should I look for?
As with anything portable, battery life is essential when deciding what wireless earbuds are right for you. The majority of the best wireless earbuds have similar battery lives between 6-10 hours.
It is also essential to consider the size of the battery life that the charging case holds and how quickly they can charge the headphones. A good average for charging cases is anywhere between 15-24 hours.
Do I need active noise cancellation?
The majority of the best wireless earbuds are now coming with active noise cancellation. This reduces the impact of external sound on your audio. Not all of the best wireless earbuds feature active noise cancellation technology; however, it is something to consider for the most immersive listening experience.
Do touch controls matter?
All of the best wireless earbuds have touch controls. These are an important factor to consider because they allow you to control your music without getting your phone out whenever you want to change a song or turn up the volume.
The number of touch controls and variation in their commands does change between headphones, and this is something you will need to consider when selecting wireless earbuds that are right for you.
The best wireless earbuds usually come with voice assistant support; however, not all voice assistants are available on all devices. The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, for example, have Bixby and Google Assistant built-in, but they aren’t compatible with Siri.
If you use voice assistants a lot, it is preferential to have all your devices connected to the same assistant, and this is something to consider when selecting the right wireless earbuds for you.
Will I be able to customise the headphones?
All of the best wireless earbuds come with companion apps. These vary greatly, some allow you to EQ your music, and some allow you to change the function of individual touch controls.
It is important to consider what device you will be using the wireless earbuds with, as the compatibility is better if the devices are matched. Apple AirPods will be more customisable on an iPhone than a Samsung Galaxy S21 for example.
Note: We have tried and tested most of these headphones; however, we have not been able to review some of them yet. For these recommendations, we have used information from trusted sources to provide you with a large range of options, ensuring you make the right decision for you.