2021 was another successful year for new true wireless earbuds. So have been released that it’s hard to keep track of which ones are worthwhile. We’ve seen big releases from some of the big players like Sennheiser and Sony, as well as new additions to an already competitive market. Here’s a look at some of the best options you can go for this year now that the Holidays are upon us.
Sennheiser has had a pretty strong hold on having some of the best true wireless sound quality around with the Momentum True Wireless 2. Throughout 2020 and 2021, they’ve been building their CX line as a solid alternative with the CX 400BT and 200BT, but in my opinion, Sennheiser finally reached its goal with the CX Plus. Not only does it keep a rival quality sound signature to the Momentum 2, but it also brings a stronger ANC mode to their true wireless models. In my review, I found that the noise-canceling capabilities on the plus were significantly more effective here than what Sennheiser usually brings to the table, and along with its wide soundstage and detailed bass, and $149 price point, the CX Plus became one of the surest bets in the true wireless market today.
The popular wireless brand came out swinging this year with its first two true wireless earbuds. Bowers and Wilkins released the PI5 and PI7 in pretty high tier price ranges for true wireless, with the PI7 at $399 being one of the priciest you can buy. It’s no surprise then that the experience matched this value and the PI7 brings luxurious sound, especially in its bass response. Their v-shaped sound signature will satisfy most listeners, and its easy twist-in fit feels natural and comfortable to wear for many hours. The ANC on here is good but doesn’t mask more than it can chew, giving you a more seamless noise-cancellation than one that completely cuts the environment. Wireless charging is a big selling point here, which is nice if you need it and makes the PI7 stand out from the bunch.
One of the most notable true wireless editions out there today, as Sony continues to bring their industry-leading ANC technology to a variety of their products. The announcement of the WF-1000XM4 wasn’t surprising, but the updated look by itself made many excited for this new model from one of the top wireless players in the game. The XM4 did not disappoint at all, and in fact, made many improvements on the WF-1000 line as a whole. Aside from aesthetics and improvements with the fit, the XM4 makes a big leap with its factory sound signature without having to use EQ.
Imaging feels a lot more intelligible while still maintaining a sense of fullness and impact. Sometimes Sony’s wireless line can have a lot of unfocused body that can make the sound signature a little muddy or too digital at times without EQ, but here I felt that Sony presented tighter clarity in its native form which really stuck out. Low-end fidelity is also improved, and the 360 reality mode is as fun as ever with the emergence of spatial audio
Once again, Noble looks to design a true wireless earphone that more closely resembles the IEM experience. They made a worthy attempt with the Falcon Pro, but it also came with a lot more room for improvement. Thankfully, right at the tail end of 2021, we got the FoKus Pro, a follow-up to Noble’s previous iteration. This new model is a complete redesign of the Falcon Pro, now sporting a more impressive IEM inspired aesthetic. This also creates a more ergonomic fit for a superior level of comfort, which the previous models had issues with. It doesn’t lack in the sound department either, building upon the Falcon Pro’s detail and smoothing out some of its rougher patches. The most significant sonic improvement made here is the reduced brightness and more natural treble response. Combine that with some great imaging, deep bass, and a detailed midrange and you have the recipe for one of the best true wireless products on the market.
One of the most consumer-friendly options for true wireless you can choose. JBL has always been the brand to go to if you’re in the market for an affordable pair of headphones that have solid sound quality. They have a ton of options, but one of the best I listened to from them this year was the Reflect Mini NC, a pair of workout buds that just so happen to feature a fun and exciting sound signature with a ton of extra goodies to enjoy. App support brings EQ and sufficient noise-canceling to the earbuds, while also maintaining a strong build for dirt and sweat resistance for a good workout. However there’s plenty to enjoy even when not using the Reflect Mini NC as workout buds, and that’s why I would personally recommend these to anyone looking for something good that won’t break bank.