Our Picks for the Best Earbuds and Headphones of 2021

Headphones and earbuds are always a popular gift, regardless of the time of year. From exercise enthusiasts to music lovers and even podcast listeners, everybody can find a way to use these devices.
The caveat? With so many different options to choose from, it can be difficult to pick out the perfect set. Thankfully, there are dozens of different brands and models available, so finding the right pair is just a matter of time. We’ve compiled a list of seven of the top headphones and earbuds currently on the market, highlighting something for every kind of listener.

Apple AirPods Pro

There’s a lot to love about Apple’s newest iteration of the extremely popular AirPods. The latest version not only has MagSafe wireless charging, but also three ear tip options to ensure a snug and comfortable fit. Controlling the AirPods Pro via touch-sensitive stems allows for quick adjustments on the go. The sound quality is superb, delivering surprisingly deep bass. At $249, the AirPods Pro are on the expensive end of the earbud spectrum — but that’s to be expected from an Apple product.

Bose QuietComfort 45

Bose is known worldwide for elite sound quality at a premium price, and the QuietComfort 45 over-the-ear headphones are no exception. Noise-canceling headphones are a luxury for those trying to block out unwanted distractions, so the hefty $329 price tag could be worth it. Of course, it’s a Bose product — so not only does it feature world-class noise cancellation, but also immaculate sound quality.

Sony WH-1000XM4

Sony’s headphone offerings may lack catchy model names, but they more than make up for it with functional design and incredible sound quality. These wireless noise-canceling headphones are very similar to the aforementioned Bose QuietComfort 45s, even sharing a similar $349 price. Excellent battery life (up to 30 hours), touch sensor controls, and Sony’s typical high-end sound quality make this headset a great pickup for Sony fans.

Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro

Earbuds don’t typically offer big bass, but that all changed with the release of the Beats by Dre Powerbeats Pro. This set provides all of the usual benefits of wireless buds, combined with big sound quality perfect for working out at the gym or using in other noisy areas. Since Beats by Dre is owned by Apple, it should come as no surprise that this iconic name has benefited from the technology share between companies. Apple and Beats also share a reputation for premium prices, with these particular buds retailing for $249.

AfterShokz Aeropex

AfterShokz headphones work a little differently than the rest of the items on this list. These bone conduction headphones rest just outside the ears, while still delivering excellent sound. They are the perfect option for users who hate earbuds and think over-the-ear sets are too bulky.
Offering up to eight hours of battery life, these headphones stay charged for even the longest workouts. They are waterproof enough to keep out sweat and light rain. For $159, this set is a steal for people looking for an alternative to the big brands or the usual buds and headsets.

Apple AirPods

The original Apple AirPods — while not without their highly publicized faults — are still very popular. This is due, in large part, to changes made to the 3rd generation of AirPods. Improved sound quality, a better fit, and the addition of spatial audio make these an attractive option. Shorter stems that are pressure-sensitive allow users to make changes on the run — similar to the AirPods Pro. At $179, they are a quality pickup for those who don’t want to shell out the extra cash for the AirPods Pro.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

Consumers tied into Samsung’s Galaxy lineup of products may as well dive deeper into the ecosystem and pick up these excellent earbuds. For $169, they deliver everything one would expect from the Galaxy name. One-touch active noise cancellation, for example, provides a stellar listening experience. This, combined with deep bass and eight hours of battery life forms an attractive overall package. Paired with Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant, the Galaxy Buds Live serves as the perfect accessory for a Samsung Galaxy phone.

Protect Top Headphones With Upsie

Given how much people pay for the perfect headphones these days, there’s no reason to skip warranty protection. Exceptional coverage can be found with an extended warranty from Upsie. With fair prices and coverage that is easy to understand, it’s the best way to protect any piece of wearable technology. In addition, Upsie offers 24/7 claims with quick, local repairs, so you will never be without your headphones for long.

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