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10 AirPods Alternatives for Wireless Music Streaming in 2021

Best Value

Cambridge Audio Melomania Plus 1

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Premium Pick

Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless

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Best Choice

Beats Studio Buds

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AirPods alternatives offer the same wireless functionality, sound quality, and convenience as the original, often for less cost. Many of these devices have come forward since the release of the original AirPods, and the market is now awash with true wireless types with different features. These alternatives offer wireless audio freedom and portability in a compact presentation. You won’t need to own an iPhone or iPad with these earbuds either since most of them work with Android devices.

We’ve come up with a list of the best AirPods alternatives that offer a similar true wireless experience.

 

AirPods alternatives
Photo by Zarak Khan via Unsplash

 

 

What Are Apple AirPods?

The Apple AirPod is a line of completely wireless earphones created by Apple. Apple created three separate lines of AirPods, with the original AirPods taking the lead. There are two versions of the original AirPods available, aptly called the first and second-generation AirPods. The first-generation AirPods was released in 2016, while the second-generation AirPods 2 was released in early 2019. The other AirPods lineups include the AirPods Pro and the AirPods Max. These versions are designed for the high-end crowd and are outfitted with more features.

The focal point of the original AirPods has always been wireless streaming, but there are other interesting features to it. For starters, the earbuds can filter out ambient noises, which is known as active noise cancellation. Each earbud is outfitted with sensors that can detect taps and execute commands regarding playback and other functions. The same sensors can detect when you pull the earbuds out, which automatically pauses the music. Most earbuds are supplemented by an app with advanced functions like EQ controls, multi-device pairing, and access to a digital assistant.

 

10 AirPods Alternatives for Wireless Music Streaming in 2021

AirPods alternatives
Phoot by ARCHIGEROSA via Unsplash

Apple was one of the first brands to commercialize the concept of wireless earbuds. The AirPods Pro was one of the first products in the market to demonstrate freedom of movement, convenience, and sound quality in a single package. But now, the market for wireless earbuds has peaked, and almost every tech brand has its share of the pie.

Here are some of the best AirPods alternatives offering the true wireless experience for less:

 

1

Jabra Elite Active 75t

Design

The Elite Active 75t is the second iteration in the lineup of wireless earbuds from Jabra and is a great AirPods alternative. The Jabra Elite is about one-fifth smaller compared to the size of its predecessor, the Elite Active 65t. The upper half portion of each earphone has an unconventional shape that we can only describe as a speech bubble. The upper part of the earbuds funnels downwards into the base, sealed off with silicone ear tips. But perhaps the most crucial design aspect relates to its waterproof, dust-proof, and sweat-resistant build.

The Active 75t set contains four microphones in total. Each microphone contains a pair of microphones, one facing towards the exterior of the earbud and another facing towards your ear. The microphone at the front takes in ambient signals while the microphone at the back emits a reverse output of the signals it receives, thus canceling the ambient noises passing through.

The headphones come with an oval-shaped case that’s able to sit horizontally atop any flat surface. The charging case contains magnetic lids that lock tightly whenever you close it. These lids were designed to prevent the headphones from spilling out in case you drop it. The case not only stores the earbuds but also charges them with the help of a USB-C-type cable.

 

Features

One of the key features of the Elite Active 75t is active noise cancellation (ANC). However, you will need to download the Jabra Sound+ app version (4.7.1) and the latest firmware update to use the feature. When it comes to noise-cancellation quality, it delivers a decent performance as it effectively blocks out most of the noises we consider distracting. If reviews are to be believed, the earbuds can block out between 50 to 70 percent of ambient noises.

As mentioned, the Elite Active 75t comes with an app called the Jabra Sound+ app. This app features a variety of music presets that cover various music genres. Having a preset selection is excellent, but most listeners can be perfectly content with the default preset.

Additionally, there are two new features on the Elite Active 75t: MyControls and MySound. MyControls lets you customize the controls for each earphone. You also have MySound, which lets you create a customized sound template for your hearing. Another feature called Call Experience allows you to moderate the sound of your voice while taking calls.

 

Compatibility

The Elite Active 75t pairs with most computers running on Windows and macOS. The device pairs with phones and tablets running on Android and IOS. In addition, you can get a wireless charging case for an additional USD 30.

 

2

Cambridge Audio Melomania Plus 1

Design

The Melomania Plus 1 is the very first pair of wireless earbuds from Cambridge Audio. This pair has a very clean and sophisticated design, which we can describe as bullet-like. Its cylindrical body is topped with a hard plastic casing enclosed in a soft matte material. Meanwhile, the outer shell of the earphones protects it from mild precipitation such as light rain. The earbuds are available only in neutral shades, which include black and white.

Each unit contains a graphene driver that’s responsible for translating signals into sound. A triple-core processor is also present inside each unit, which transmits data between the device and the earbuds. But the key component to each unit is noise-canceling microphones that block out ambient noises. These same microphones allow communication with Siri or Google Assistant.

The Melomania Plus comes with a storage case. The interior of the case contains magnets that snap onto each earbud to keep it in place. The case is lined separately with another magnet to keep your earphones from flying out in the instance that you drop the case. Charging is done through the case, and it connects to a USB cable for this purpose.

 

Features

The Melomania Plus offers noise isolation, which is the passive variant of noise cancellation. Active noise cancellation is an electronic process requiring microphones, but noise isolation relies on physical design alone to block off signals. The silicone material of the earbuds blocks off high-frequency noises such as screams or construction noises.

The Melomania Plus comes with a dedicated app. The app offers three customized sound profiles, and six presets, each of which caters to a specific music genre and content. The Balanced mode is enabled by default, but you also have R&B, Electronic, Bass Boost, Rock, and Voice modes. But there are instances when you could do well with an audio boost (e.g., Voice mode for listening to YouTube videos). Another mode called Audio Mode offers you a choice of whether to prioritize sound quality over battery power and vice versa.

The Home screen of the app will present you with a battery reading for each headphone. If you misplace your earbuds, you can try to look for them via the Find My Earphones tab. The app supports a wide selection of codecs that help determine the rate and quality of your audio transmissions.

 

Compatibility

The Melomania Plus 1 works with most devices. It pairs with computers running on Windows or macOS. It’s also highly compatible with phones and tablets running on Android and iOS.

 

3

OnePlus Buds Z

Design

The OnePlus Buds Z is a high-quality, mid-range AirPods alternative. As the follow-up to the original OnePlus Buds released back in 2020, this pair offers more in its design and features. At first glance, you can easily mistake it for the Apple AirPods. Like the AirPods, the OnePlus Buds Z also has a white plastic shell with an elongated body. But unlike the AirPods, it has a distinctive seashell design and rubber ear tips. Shiny, circular metal is attached to the back of each earbud for design purposes.

Anyone can see that the OnePlus Buds Z has quite a large size, and it does tend to stick out of your ears quite a bit. But it is designed to fit inside your ears, and if you put it on correctly, it will tend to stay there. It seems the OnePlus Buds Z has surpassed even the AirPods on this front. The exterior of the earbuds is coated with a plastic material that makes them waterproof. At the very least, it can withstand environmental factors with precipitation.

The OnePlus Buds Z is accompanied by an oval-shaped case that’s just about the size of a pill case. The case is nearly a perfect oval, except for the bottom part, which sits atop a flat surface. It has a glossy finish, which isn’t a problem unless you consider the potential for scratches. Aesthetics aside, the case carries its own set of batteries that will allow it to charge your earbuds while on the go.

The OnePlus Buds Z is available in neutral colors, gray and white. You can also get a special edition where both earbuds and the case have a neon green and blue tint with cartoons on them. This special set was designed by Steve Harrison.

Features

The OnePlus Buds Z saw incremental improvements when it comes to sound quality. Included in the improvements is a feature called bass boost. This amplifies the bass sounds on any audio file. A partnership between OnePlus and Dolby Atmos has also resulted in support for 3D Audio.

Quick Pair is another interesting feature that allows the earbuds to automatically pair with the device whenever it’s taken out of its case. Users simply have to touch and hold the control on either earbud to pair the devices. Another feature called gaming mode can reduce audio latency by about 103 milliseconds (ms). In addition, the earphones automatically pause the audio whenever you pull them out of your ears.

 

Compatibility

The OnePlus Buds Z readily pairs with any Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS device.

 

4

Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless

Design

The Sony WF-1000XM4 is a premium pair of wireless earbuds and also one of the best AirPods alternatives. The earbuds have a semi-flat top with a cylindrical base that funnels out into memory foam ear tips. The earbuds protrude slightly from your ears when worn, but it is not likely to fall out because of the memory foam ear tips. The earbuds have an average waterproof rating of IPX4, which is typical for most casual-use devices.

The Sony WF-1000XM4 benefits from Sony’s very own V1 processor. The new processor helps to strengthen the Bluetooth signals for a more stable connection that is less prone to sound skipping. The processor makes efficient use of your battery so that it lasts longer in between charges. In addition, it offers support for SBC, AAC, and LDAC codecs.

The earbuds are accompanied by a case that’s been upgraded with Qi charging capabilities. This means that you can use the case as a power bank to charge your earbuds without the charging cable. The earbuds offer eight hours of battery life, plus 16 hours when you recharge the headphones through the case. The case charges through any setup with a USB-C cable. There are two colors available for the earbuds, which include silver and black.

 

Features

The Sony WF-1000XM4 offers great sound quality and both active and passive noise cancellation. Even before the sound waves can reach your ear canal, the memory foam tips would have blocked a portion of the signals from outside. When you turn the ANC on, the microphones will work electronically to cancel out one quarter to one-sixteenth of the noise that comes through.

If you are going outdoors, it’s always better to let some sounds in for safety purposes. Luckily, this pair of earbuds offer a special mode that lets ambient sounds in. To access this mode, you have to press the NC button and toggle through the options until you hear a notification activating ambient noise.

Speak to Chat is another core feature of the Sony WF-1000XM4. This feature automatically detects when you are speaking to someone, at which point it will pause your music. This should allow you to talk to people without having to remove your earbuds. Additionally, the device can pick up on your voice clearly and accurately while blocking out ambient sounds.

 

Compatibility

The Sony WF-1000XM4 is quite inclusive when it comes to the devices it can pair with. It works with most computer-based OS, including Windows and macOS. It also works with most phones and tablets, whether they be Android or IOS.

 

5

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

Design

The Galaxy Buds Pro is a classic and affordable pair of wireless earbuds. As the fourth pair of earbuds to be released by Samsung, it’s the most advanced pair since the original Galaxy Buds.  Its release came just five months after the release of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and two years after the release of the Galaxy Bus and the Galaxy Buds+.

The earbuds have a slanted egg-shaped design that funnels down to rubber ear tips. The exterior has a glossy plastic material that protects its interior components. In addition to the ear tips is a touch button that you can tap on to execute commands. The earbuds stick out a little bit from your ears, but the suction from the ear tips keeps it steady.

The Galaxy Buds Pro is available in three colors: black, silver, and violet. Each pair is accompanied by a storage and charging case with matching color. The case looks like a small jewelry box with interiors that perfectly cradle each earbud. A latch is perfectly positioned within the interior lining of the case to keep the buds in place even in case of an accidental drop. A small USB port can be found at the back of the case, and a LED light is set up both inside and outside the case.

The Galaxy Buds Pro has received a rating of IPX7, which is above what most wireless earbuds can offer. The maximum depth that it can withstand is about a meter for 30 minutes. Anything deeper and longer than that could damage your earbuds.

 

Features

The Galaxy Buds Pro is a feature-rich pair of truly wireless earbuds. One of its most practical features is active noise cancellation. Three microphones pair up to do this job, and the two are located on the right earbud and the other one on the left earbud. The ANC feature of the earbuds can block out most of the low-frequency ambient noises.

If the Galaxy Buds can cancel out ambient sounds, it can amplify it too. Sound amplification is the exact opposite of noise cancellation, but it also uses the same mechanism. Basically, the microphones take in sounds and then stream them into your ears. It can amplify sounds by as much as 20 decibels (dB).

Samsung has its digital assistant, and it’s accessible even through the Samsung Galaxy Buds. As a digital assistant, it transfers some of the basic communication functions from your device to your earbuds. That is, you can send text messages, have emails read out to you, or answer and make calls. But even before you can access Bixby, you’ll have to pair your device with the Galaxy Buds Pro first. Note that this feature only works if you have a Samsung phone or tablet and not with any other brand.

If you happen to forget where you’ve placed your buds, you can look for it with the help of the Find My Buds feature on the SmartThings Find app. The app will attempt to locate your earbuds within close range using Bluetooth.

Last but not least, you have a new and convenient feature called Auto Switch. Normally you would have it unpair the earbuds from a device before you can pair it with another. But with Auto Switch, you can switch between devices with a simple click.

 

Compatibility

The Samsung Buds Pro exclusively pairs with Windows and Android devices. The criteria are narrowed down further to devices running on Android 7 or later or Windows 10 or later. The dedicated app will demand 1.5 GB of free RAM on your device as well.

Also read this review about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Buds 2.

 

6

Beats Studio Buds

Design

Ever since Apple bought Beats back in 2014, you can tell that they aimed to integrate the two brands. For example, we’ve seen Apple add H1 and W1 chips to the previous models of Beats. While this integration brought Apple features to Beats, it also limited access to Beats to iOS users. But the release of the Beats Studio Buds turned things around due to its Android-friendly build. The fact that it can pair with Android devices makes it the ideal AirPods alternative for non-Apple users.

The Beats Studio Buds comes packed inside an egg-shaped case that’s smaller than its predecessors. The interior of the case contains nooks that fit the earbuds perfectly. To open the case and pull the buds out, you must give its body a light squeeze. The pressure mechanism helps to keep your buds in place even in the instance of an accidental drop.

The case is useful not only for storage but for charging purposes as well. You’ll need to plug the native USB-C type cable into the USB port at the bottom of the case and then plug that cable into a wall socket to charge. You should see the front-facing LED indicator light up with the color green once it begins charging. The case can charge independently, as it functions as a power bank.

The Beats Studio Buds has an IPX 4 rating, which implies mild water resistance. That means that it can withstand light rain, accidental spills, and sweet. But of course, it won’t last underwater so you can’t take it swimming or sailing.

 

Features

The Beats Studio Buds offers two distinct listening modes. The first is active noise cancellation (ANC) mode that blocks unwanted noise. At the other end of the spectrum is the Transparency Mode, which allows ambient sounds to mix with the music you’re listening to. Both modes rely on the microphone located on the front and back portions of each earbud.

Another key feature that’s worth noting is the one-step pairing mechanism. All you need to do is open the case with the earbuds inside and place your device near it. A pair notification will be sent to your device for your approval, and that’s it.

Spatial audio is another key feature that augments sound quality. More popularly known as the surround sound effect, this gives the resulting audio a sense of depth and direction. So, it appears to the listener as though the audio is being played live. The quality of music you get is the closest to lossless audio that any Bluetooth-based device can offer.

Apple’s decision to switch to a new chip has several implications on the earbuds’ features. For starters, iOS users will lose access to a few Apple-based features like multi-point pairing. But a few core features managed to survive, including hands-free access to Siri. The switch also means that the earbuds are ready to pair with Bluetooth 5.2 devices. And should you lose your earbuds, you can try to locate them using the “Find My” apps on iOS and Android.

 

Compatibility

The Beats Studio Buds are designed to work with Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices.

 

7

Sennheiser CX True Wireless

Design

The CX True Wireless is a versatile and reasonably priced pair of wireless earbuds from Sennheiser. It’s meant to be the budget alternative to the original Momentum True Wireless 2. The earbuds have a uniquely square-shaped body topped with silicone-based ear tips. The original Momentum had a silver-tinted logo on both the touch sensors and on top of the charging case. But this time around, the earbuds are either in white or black.

The buds have a bulky appearance, and it does stick out when worn. But what it lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in great fit. Because the buds are designed for in-ear placement, it is usually safe to use while walking or running. The silicone tips are soft yet sturdy so that they won’t hurt your ears even after prolonged usage.

Sennheiser has also improved the waterproofing of its design. The CX True Wireless has a waterproof rating of IPX4, which indicates slight resistance to precipitation. But it won’t likely survive being dunked in a tub or the ocean. If you plan to go swimming or sailing, better not take the CX True Wireless with you.

The case that comes along with the buds looks almost exactly like the original. It makes use of hard plastic material, and it’s also the size of a small pillbox. The case connects to a USB-C-type cable for charging the earbuds. Charging the earbuds for about three hours will get you about nine hours of battery life. Unfortunately, the case doesn’t offer wireless charging, but that’s understandable considering the mid-range price.

 

Features

The Sennheiser CX True Wireless knows its priorities, and above all things, it pays attention to sound quality. This is all thanks to Sennheiser’s very own TrueResponse transducer. This transducer works by pulling frequencies apart and then putting them back together in greater detail. The result is a clear and well-textured sound profile comparable to HD-quality music.

The earbuds feature tap controls that let you pause, play, and skip songs. The tap mechanism is also used to control the volume of the earbuds and get in touch with Siri. The earbuds can also detect when you’ve pulled them out, which automatically stops play.

Unfortunately, the Sennheiser CX True Wireless doesn’t carry active noise cancellation. But it does offer a selection of sound presets or EQ controls through the Sennheiser app. These controls provide amplification for different sound elements. For example, the Podcast preset helps amplify vocal signals, while the Movie preset helps amplify the soundtracks of movies. Another preset called Bass Boost amplifies the rhythmic beats in audio files.

Another very cool feature is Sidetone. The way this works is that the internal microphones on both sides work together to help you hear your voice. Hearing your voice gives you an idea about how you sound to the other person on the line. You can adjust the volume of monitoring between 50 to 100 percent.

 

Compatibility

The Sennheiser CX True Wireless is compatible with a lot of devices. You can use it on your computer, tablet, or phone. The operating systems it works with include Windows, macOS,  Android, and iOS.

 

8

Beats Powerbeats Pro

Design

The Beats Powerbeats Pro is one of the older editions on this list, but it’s still one of the best. This particular pair is a great Airpods alternative for athletic and adventurous people alike. Each earbud has an around-the-ear hook that goes around your earlobe, and this design aspect is enough to tell you that it’s used for sports. The silicone material of the ear tips, along with the gel-like hook, makes it very comfortable to wear for long periods. In case the default ear tips don’t fit well, the package comes with a few extra pairs of different sizes.

Keeping the earbuds safe and well-charged is easy since it comes with a dual-function case. The case itself looks similar to the case of Studio Buds, except that it’s shorter and has a logo at the top. You will also get a USB-A-type cable for charging. Unfortunately, the Beats Powerbeats Pro doesn’t offer wireless charging, so you will have to keep it plugged into a wall socket each time you charge. A single charge in the case already gets you nine hours of battery life for your earbuds.

Beats caters mainly to the younger generations, so they offer many color options for their products. The Beats Powerbeats Pro is no exception. At first, they only offered the colors black, ivory, moss, and navy. But recently, they’ve also included summer colors like yellow, pink, red, and blue.

The Beats Powerbeats Pro has a waterproof rating of IPX4. Just like most of the earbuds on our list, the implication is that it’s okay to take it with you jogging or hiking.

 

Features

The earbuds contain small circular buttons at the bases called the multi-function button. It serves as the control point for music playback and other functions. A single press pauses audio, a double press skips the track, and a triple press reverses the track. It’s also the button for controlling the volume and taking or rejecting calls. You can even call up Siri to have her manage your playlist.

The earbuds are powered by the latest Apple H1 chip, which brings a few improvements to the table. For starters, it reduces battery consumption to keep your earbuds running for longer. It also allows the earbuds to pair very quickly and automatically with your device. In addition to everything, you can use a single earbud at a time while the other one charges.

The earbuds don’t have microphones that can cancel noise, but the silicone-based ear tips do offer some form of noise isolation. The fact that it’s placed inside your ear also helps to insulate your ears from external signals. Its natural ability to block out noise is very useful for taking calls, and you can take calls with a simple press of the multi-function button.

 

Compatibility

The Powerbeats Pro was specially designed for iOS devices. But it can also pair with Android earphones and tablets.

 

9

Philips T8508 True Wireless

Design

The Philips T8508 is a premium pair of wireless earbuds designed for casual use. The black-colored earbuds have a rounded body that funnels down into removable ear tips. If you remove the ear tips, you’ll find a small implement or sound piece jutting out from underneath the base. The sound piece underneath each ear tip conforms to the shape of the interior of the human ear.

The earbuds contain two microphones located at the exterior and interior portions of each earbud. The microphone on the outer part filters out ambient noises. Meanwhile, the microphone on the interior allows your voice to be heard during a phone call.

At the top of each earbud is a touch-sensitive button with the Philips logo on it. Clicking on this button will navigate the controls for the earbuds, including playback. A single tap on either button plays or pauses a song, while a double click allows you to answer or reject a call. Pressing the control button on either earbud for a few seconds will get you to additional features as well.

The Philips T8508 is housed in a case specially made for it. The case’s interior contains nooks that perfectly cradle the earbuds so that it doesn’t fall out whenever you open the case. At the back of the case is a small USB port that connects to a USB-C type cable for charging. A single charge for the earbuds gets you six hours, but you can extend its life if you charge the case separately.

The Philips T8508 has a basic waterproof rating that will allow it to withstand light rain and sweat. Just make sure to leave them out of your day when you plan to do water-based activities.

 

Features

Philips is a company known for offering mid-range yet highly durable and quality products, and they’ve done it again with the Philips T8505. Each earbud carries a dynamic sound driver that can pull apart and emphasize every sound detail to your audio. The resulting audio has a clean-cut treble and rich and powerful bass notes. The rhythmic expressions are well-defined, which should help you perceive even the slightest nuances in each musical piece.

The Philips T8505 offers three modes: noise cancellation, active noise cancellation, ambient sound, and adaptive sound. With ANC, the two microphones inside each earbud work together to filter out ambient noises. You also have awareness mode that brings you back to the normal soundscape. Last but not least, you have an adaptive mode that automatically adjusts audio signals.

 

Compatibility

The Philips T8505 can be connected to all types of operating systems. It connects to desktops running on Windows or macOS. It will also have no trouble pairing with Android or iOS devices.

 

10

Audio Technica ATH-CKR7TW True Wireless

Design

Audio Technica is one of the more prominent brands in the audio tech industry, but the ATH lineup is its first attempt at joining the market for wireless earbuds. The ATH line has two products, the ATH-CKR7TW, and the ATH-SPORT7TW line. The ATH-CKR7TW features a more casual design compared to the sporty ATH-SPORT7TW. So far, ATH-CKR7TW checks all the right boxes for casual use and basic soundscapes. The pair is available in two colors, including grey and black.

The Audio Technica ATH-CKR7TW is rather large and sticks out from your ears when you wear it. But despite this visual fault, the earbuds are surprisingly lightweight and don’t fall off when worn. Each earbud has an oval shaped-base with a button control at the button. There are several things you can do with the button controls, such as pause or play music, revert back or forward to a song, or answer or reject calls.

The earbuds come with a case for storage and charging. The case looks like a mini pillbox, and the interior of the case contains nooks that nestle the earbuds in a vertical position. The interior section of the case is lined with a special magnet that keeps the case locked shut. It’s an advantage for keeping your earbuds safe from physical damage.

Charging the earbuds is relatively straightforward and typical. The case has a port that plugs into a USB-C type cable provided for in the package. A single charge of the earbuds gets you six hours, plus an additional two hours if you charge the case separately.

Unfortunately, the earbuds don’t offer waterproofing at all. That means you can’t take it with you when it rains, and you can’t use it in any situation that involves water.

 

Features

The Audio Technica ATH-CKR7TW is very straightforward about its core feature, and that is sound quality. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles like other earbuds, which often include special EQ controls and a digital assistant. But what it does have are the best components for wide-range audio reproduction and high-quality sound.

Each earbud features brass stabilizers that reduce resonance and improve the clarity of sound. Each earbud also contains a single mesh acoustic resistor that helps to accurately reproduce bass, mids, and trebles from the Bluetooth signals. Not to mention, it supports It also supports the aptX and AAC codecs. The result is a smooth and well-balanced balanced sound signature with clear and crisp high frequencies.

Audio Technica even created a dual-layer housing structure for its electronic components. This double-shell protects electronics components and keeps them insulated from the audio space, so they don’t interfere with the Bluetooth signals.

 

Compatibility

The Audio Technica ATH-CKR7TW connects to Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices.

 

How Do True Wireless Earbuds Work?

AirPods alternatives
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True wireless earbuds are always sold in pairs, and each pair has a primary earbud and a secondary earbud. The primary earbud acts as a bridge between the audio source or device and the secondary earbud. When it comes to managing the connection between these three components, the primary earbud is always responsible. The secondary earbud, meanwhile, mimics the signals that it receives from the primary earbud.

The primary earbud is the first to receive signals from the source device via Bluetooth. It then passes on the signals to the secondary earbud, a process that takes only a few seconds. The two earbuds communicate to ensure that the signals they recreate are in sync. In case of an audio delay, the primary earbud will try to compensate for it. A variety of environmental factors can cause audio delays, such as being in a crowded area.

 

Bluetooth Compatibility

Bluetooth Compression
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One key thing to note about true wireless earbuds is that they rely on Bluetooth transmissions, which inevitably compress audio signals. The problem with Bluetooth channels is that they have very narrow bandwidth. Signals are necessarily compressed to pass through those narrow channels. The process of compression is a lot like redirecting cars from a major highway into a single-lane road. As a result, most wireless earbuds can only play lossy but not lossless audio.

Lossy is a type of audio file that has been moderately compressed. The process of compression reduces the bitrate to around 256 Kbps and 320 Kbps. Most of the music we listen to, including MP3 files, iTunes music, and even YouTube clips, has been compressed into a lossy format.

Lossless audio has a few similarities with lossy audio, but its bitrate is different. Like lossy audio, lossless audio still undergoes compression, but no part of the data is discarded in the process. In other words, it’s the type of compressed file that comes closest in quality to the original recording as possible. The bitrate for lossless files is much higher at 1,400 kbps.

 

Bluetooth Bitrate

Bluetooth Bitrate
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Files compressed in this format are the only type of file that Airpods alternatives can play. Most brands can carry a maximum bitrate of about 768 kbps, which falls exactly within the purview of lossy compression. Most wireless earbuds try to compensate with signal processors, audio drivers, and amplifiers. But the best that most can deliver is HD-quality lossy. Even wired headphones may prove more capable of playing lossless audio, as they can accommodate up to 2,300 kbps.

 

Final Thoughts on AirPods Alternatives

Wireless Earbuds
Photo by Artem Podrex via Pexels

This concludes our list of the best AirPods alternatives on the market. We have made the effort to include the very best that each brand has to offer, and each product caters to a different taste and budget.

While these earbuds offer different features, they have a single crucial trait in common: wireless functionality. Wireless functionality naturally brings various advantages, including freedom of movement, portability, and of course, convenience. Additionally, most pairs carry extra features such as active, or sometimes passive, noise cancellation and touch-based controls for hands-free playback and multi-tasking. These features combined make wireless earbuds extremely convenient and practical, and it also helps explain why they have surged in popularity in such a short time.

 

Also read about the best noise-canceling headphones or surround sound earphones.

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