Looking for an alternative to Apple’s expensive AirPods? Tried 5 wireless earbuds and this comfortable pair, with crystal clear sound, stands out

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I’ve been a loyal Apple AirPods user for years, whether I’m wearing them on a phone call, listening to music, or going for a walk. They are comfortably portable, easy to carry, and most importantly, the sound quality is clear. But Apple’s AirPods aren’t cheap: Apple sells its AirPods with a case for between $ 159 and $ 199, and for its AirPods Pro, which have a noise-canceling feature, you’ll pay $ 249. So I tested five of the main ones. Wireless headphone competitors, and these two, both noise-canceling for a lower price than Apple AirPods Pro, stood out.

My choice: Beats Studio Buds, $ 149 at Amazon


The setup is simple (my iPhone is immediately recognized and pairs with the headphones via Bluetooth) and these headphones match the quality and sleek look of Apple’s AirPods Pro. (Apple now owns Beats). As well as white, they come in red and black and the earbuds are shorter than the AirPod Pro model, which makes them rest closer to my ear, which I liked. The charging case they come with is smooth yet substantial, with a strong magnetic pull that holds the Studio Buds in place. Although I tested them with my iPhone, they also work with Android.

With the option of active noise cancellation and transparency mode, you can successfully drown out a whiny 4-year-old (like I did), or listen to music and make phone calls with a crystal clear connection. Other reviewers have noted the same, with CNET saying: “These are excellent headphones that possibly sound better than the AirPods Pro,” writes The Guardian: “The Studio Buds sound good for everyday listening and have AirPods Pro compatible noise cancellation, which is very good for the money and size, “and TechRadar noting, “They sound great, with a vivid sound quality that elevates the highs and lows of your music.”

The Studio Buds are very comfortable to wear, they come with three sizes of ear cushions and a quick charger that provides about an hour of power on a charge of about five minutes. The only thing I wish they had was in-ear detection, so when I take them out, the music stops playing, and when I put them back in, the music starts again.

Learn more: Beats Studio Buds, $ 149 at Amazon

Most affordable selection: Skullcandy Indy ANC, $ 108 at Amazon

Candy skull

Connecting these headphones is simple, just open your Bluetooth device list and select the Indy ANC option for an immediate connection. The Skullcandy Indy ANC headphones are certainly less expensive and look and feel less expensive than others I’ve tried (they look more plastic than shiny powder-coated stainless steel), but they compare well in comparison due to their fit, ease of use and sound. quality.

Its active noise cancellation function is not overbearing and when your battery is low each ear will ring with a “low battery” announcement. Controlling volume, skipping tracks, and playing and pausing is easy with one- and two-second taps on each earbud, all of which are described in the accompanying user guide. For less than half the price of AirPods Pro, these headphones are a solid competitor with 32 hours of total battery time and a built-in tiling feature so you never get lost. Other reviewers also have positive things to say with PCMag, for example, calling them “a bargain for true wireless noise-canceling in-ear headphones” and noting that they offer “lots of bass in an affordable package.”

Learn more: Skullcandy Indy ANC, $ 108 at Amazon

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