The earbuds consumers love and regret

August 8, 2023
Wally Nowinski
editor
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Wireless earbuds are becoming increasingly popular for their portability and discreet appearance compared to over-ear or on-ear headphones. This makes them ideal to use when out and about, such as at the gym, on a run, or when taking mobile phone calls. The number of earbuds on the market has exploded since Apple introduced the AirPods in 2016. The team at PerfectRec wanted to see which models were the most and least popular with customers based on an analysis of Google reviews. We conducted a meta analysis of over 524,000 user reviews for 29 different brand-name earbud models available in the United States. Here’s what we found. 

The five best-reviewed wireless earbuds

These are the five earbuds with the highest percentage of 5-star user reviews on Google at the time of publishing. Although Apple’s pricey AirPod offerings dominate the top of the list, the Creative Labs Outlier Air V3 sneaks in at position five and offers a more affordable option for folks who don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on something that’s as easy to lose as an earbud. 

Make

Model

5-star percentage

1-star percentage

Price

Apple

AirPods Pro (2nd gen)

83

2

$249

Apple

AirPods (2nd gen)

82

3

$129

Apple

AirPods Pro (1st gen)

80

4

$249

Beats

Powerbeats Pro

73

6

$249

Creative Labs

Outlier Air V3

72

4

$69

The five worst-reviewed wireless earbuds

These are the bottom five earbuds from our analysis, sorted by lowest percentage of 5-star reviews. We only included earbuds from well-known brands, so these are far from the worst earbuds available. While the Sony LinkBuds have the lowest number of customers rating them 5-stars, the two models of JBL earbuds have the highest 1-star percentage, suggesting more people were very dissatisfied with them.

Make

Model

5-star percentage

1-star percentage

Price

Sony

LinkBuds

35

9

$179

Jaybird

Vista 2

36

13

$149

JBL

Live Free NC+

39

16

$149

JBL

Tune 115TWS

50

14

$69

Skullcandy

Dime

52

12

$25

 

Conclusion

It’s worth noting many of the best-reviewed earbuds are on the expensive side, however that doesn’t mean that you always get what you pay for. Sure, users seem to love their Apple AirPods Pro, but only 35% of Sony LinkBuds purchasers were happy enough with their $179 purchase to rate it 5-stars. In fact, our data scientists found that there’s very little correlation between price and sound quality with earbuds. But more expensive models tend to have other premium features, like active noise cancellation.  

While user reviews can tell us a bit about customer satisfaction, at PerfectRec we understand there’s more to finding the perfect earbuds than simple user reviews. Ear size, budget, and what kind of audio you listen to are all important factors. Some people may have specific requirements, such as extended battery life, noise cancelation, and tactile controls. We built the PerfectRec earbud recommendation engine to take all of these factors and more into account and help find the perfect earbud for your unique needs. 

 

Methodology

This meta analysis is based on 524,522 user-generated reviews posted on Google. 36 different models were originally considered but 7 were excluded due to low review counts. The data was collected in July, 2023 and may change over time.

The number of reviews for each of the 29 included models at time of publication ranged from a low of 153 to a high of 164,419.

Please note that reviewer sentiments might evolve over time.

Price is listed at time of publication.

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