Simplifying your search for the ideal earbuds

July 25, 2023
Wally Nowinski

The wireless earbuds market has witnessed a remarkable boom since Apple introduced the AirPods in 2016. Today, there are a dozens of options from a wide range of manufacturers, each designed to accommodate different ears, budgets, and use-cases. Whether you're shopping for your first pair or seeking a replacement for this increasingly indispensable, yet easy-to-misplace accessory, the number of choices can seem overwhelming. Should you opt for the budget model? Does the pricier one truly offer superior sound quality? Why does Apple sell three different types of earbuds?

To demystify the marketplace, we created the PerfectRec earbud recommendation engine. Just answer a few straightforward questions about your intended usage—Are you a gamer? A podcast enthusiast? Perhaps both?—and our team of experts and data scientists will suggest the ideal pair that matches your unique needs. Plus, if there's an opportunity to save you money, we'll seize it. For instance, there's no need to splurge on an expensive noise-canceling model if you're mostly using your earbuds for phone calls.

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How it works

Earbud Cards

You answer a series of simple questions. With each response, we update your recommendations in real time, eliminating the wrong earbuds and honing in on the best options. At the end, you see the best earbuds for you, with context to understand why we picked it. 

Behind each pick is the expertise of a team of earbud experts and data scientists who comb through the details on all of the best models on the market. They collect and verify over four dozen data points covering everything from sound quality to sweat proofing. We don’t rely on scraping or blindly repeat manufacturer talking points. Our Machine Learning team takes this data and uses AI tools to create the type of personalized recommendations and advice you’d get from a trusted and well-informed friend.

What earbuds we cover

The earbuds market is vast, encompassing a wide range of quality and prices - from almost disposable to ultra-premium. We don't include every model in our coverage because, frankly, many options available on the market aren't worthy of recommendation. Currently, our consideration set comprises 25 models from respected brands, priced from as low as $25 to well over $250.

Earbud insights

Examining entire product categories, as we do at PerfectRec, can often unveil trends or insights that might be overlooked when you review products individually. Here are a few insights our team of experts and data scientists uncovered while developing our earbud recommendation engine.

Higher price doesn't mean superior sound Good news for audiophiles: there is minimal correlation between sound quality and price in the wireless earbud market. So what does that higher price point buy you? A trusted brand name, active noise cancellation, and in some cases lower latency.

Earbuds are an expensive option for gaming  Latency - the time delay between an on-screen action and its corresponding sound - is typically 5 to 10 milliseconds with wired headphones but can extend to 300 milliseconds or more with earbuds. While this might be slightly bothersome when watching a movie, it can be the difference between virtual life and death for dedicated gamers. Regrettably, the earbuds with the least latency are often the most expensive.

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