A40 sound space
These little headphones have great sound, great noise cancellation, and long battery life. But they don’t support a voice-activated assistant like Alexa or Siri, and touch controls are slightly limited.
The Soundcore Space A40 outshines some big competitors with a great combination of performance, features, and price. The sound quality is nice right out of the box, but if that’s not your ideal, there are several ways to fine-tune the sound using the Soundcore app. The tiny, lightweight earbuds should fit comfortably in most ears, and 10 hours of battery life per charge is impressive, especially for earbuds this small. The pocket charging case packs an additional 40 hours of battery life and supports wireless charging. You can use either earbud alone, and there are six microphones that deliver clear phone calls and a natural-sounding listening mode. Dual-device connectivity lets you switch effortlessly between listening to music on your laptop and taking a call on your phone. The IPX4 water resistance rating means your headphones are protected from a little rain or sweat, and the 18-month warranty protects you against unexpected accidents. While the active noise cancellation isn’t the best we’ve tested, it’s still excellent.
The touch controls work reliably and are customizable in the app, but they don’t offer everything: you’ll have to choose a function, such as reverse, to omit. If you want to use your phone’s voice-activated digital assistant, you’ll need to press the controls to initiate it; this pair doesn’t always listen to a wake word. If that’s a feature you really want, consider one of our great picks instead.
Beats Fit Pro
These headphones sound great, fit securely, and offer the convenience of hands-free Siri voice control. However, they lack two-device pairing and the chunky case can’t charge wirelessly.
If you’re an Apple fan who wants all the pairing and voice-control conveniences of AirPods, but are looking for better overall performance, the Beats Fit Pro is for you. This pair can transition seamlessly between your commute, your workplace, and your gym. The Fit Pro sounds good, with somewhat boosted bass and excellent vocal clarity, and the built-in microphones do a good job of reducing wind and background noise. Active noise cancellation successfully reduces the volume of airplane/train engines, vacuum cleaners and air conditioners. You can use either earbud individually if you prefer to keep one ear open, and the six hours of listening time is decent (but not as good as our other picks). The charging case lasts an additional 18 hours but lacks the wireless charging option and isn’t as small as we’d like.
These headphones have a high enough water resistance rating (IPX4) to provide protection for most activities, and the flexible, stabilizing wings keep them securely in place. Our test panel found the winged design to be comfortable and liked the extra security it offered, but people sensitive to pressure in the ear might not like the feel of the wings.
Much like the AirPods Pro headphones, these offer easy pairing and swapping with iCloud-connected Apple devices, as well as contactless “Hey Siri” voice command. Physical buttons control track skip, phone calls and volume on Apple devices; Button customization and one-touch pairing are available for use with Android devices (if you download the Beats app). The main drawback of these headphones is the inability to pair them with two devices simultaneously (like a phone and a laptop), but the easy connection swapping makes this less of a problem for Apple users. Apple’s warranty covers Beats headphones against manufacturing defects for one year from the date of purchase.
JBL Reflect Aero TWS
This pair offers your choice of voice-activated Alexa or Google Assistant control, along with good sound and excellent noise cancellation. But the touch controls have annoying limitations.
*At the time of publication, the price was $100.
If you want a pair of true wireless earbuds that support Alexa or Google Assistant voice control, you’ll love the JBL Reflect Aero TWS. This is the top pick in our workout headphones guide, as the winged headphones stay in place, have simple controls, and are waterproof and sweatproof with an IP68 rating. But the Reflect Aero TWS goes beyond workouts. The sound is good out of the box, and you can tweak it to your preference using the EQ controls in JBL’s mobile app. This pair’s eight hours of battery life is solid for true wireless earbuds, and the pocket-sized case offers an additional 16 hours of battery life (although we wish it supported wireless charging) . The active noise cancellation is very effective, and if you need to hear your surroundings, a listening mode is at your fingertips. Or, if you prefer, you can choose to use just one earbud at a time. Six microphones ensure clear phone calls, and you can connect the Reflect Aero TWS pair to two devices simultaneously.
Like the Beats Fit Pro, this pair uses stabilizing wings to help hold the ear cups in place. JBL includes three wing sizes, so you can choose the shape that best suits your ear. Our testers found the fit comfortable, but people with very small or sensitive ears may find the pressure of the fenders tiring over time. While the touch controls on the Reflect Aero TWS are easy to learn and use, we wish it could adjust volume, playback, noise canceling and listening function inclusively, but unfortunately you’ll have to choose the one of these functions to omit. If anything goes wrong, JBL covers this pair with a one-year warranty.
EarFun Free 2S
This affordable pair is packed with features and performs respectably well, but the sound quality and features fall short of the best competitors.
If you want fully wireless headphones that cost around $50, the EarFun Free 2S are the best pair we’ve found. EarFun gives you plenty of premium features for your money, including an above-average IPX7 waterproof rating, a Qi-compatible charging case, solid seven-hour battery life per charge, and an 18-month warranty. The Free 2S is the successor to our previous budget pick, the Free 2. The majority of the specs are the same, but the new headphones are significantly smaller and use a newer version of Bluetooth. The Free 2S headphones have the full range of touch controls, and the quality of the noise-reducing microphones rivals headphones priced at $100 or more.
This pair is not perfect, however. It lacks advanced features such as active noise cancellation and a listening mode. And while the Free 2S is less bulky than its predecessor, the chassis is slick and has less grip than other models, so people with very small ears may have issues with the fit. Also, the touch controls are more complicated than the physical buttons.
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