The Best Audio Gear of 2022
You’ll want to know about these earbuds
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It’s hard to believe that a few years ago, we were all still plugging earbuds into our phones using things called “cords.” The advent of Bluetooth, with its ability to pack into itty-bitty cordless speakers that reside in our ears, has changed things fast. Every year, the sound gets better. Nice touches like hear-through to let in ambient sound, in-ear detection that halts playback when you remove one bud, and active noise cancellation—once seen only in travel headphones—have expanded earbud versatility. Even battery life keeps improving. Today there are dozens of excellent-sounding, snug-fitting, water-shunning models out there, and teasing out the differences gets harder all the time. Our winners for 2022 are the ones that have the most intelligent design and most useful tech features, stand up to the elements, and, best of all, sound the sweetest.
Jaybird Vista 2 ($150)
Best for Harsh Weather
Like the first-gen Vista, these clear, robust-sounding earbuds have real outdoor cred. They’re IP68 dust- and waterproof and meet U.S. military shock and crush standards. What’s new: active noise cancellation and a volume control that lets you listen to music without blocking out the outside world. They go for eight hours, with two more charges in the case. Bonus: the app can find your buds on a map if you drop them.
Edifier TWS 330NB ($80)
Like the look of Apple’s AirPods but shopping on a budget? Look to Edifier’s TWS330 NB. Despite the affordable price tag, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything cheap about them. Sure, with active noise-cancellation turned on, the battery life is only five hours on a charge (plus 15 more hours from the charging case). But they boast solid sound and a sturdy build, with IP54 dust and water resistance. They even boast an AI algorithm that makes calls clearer by enhancing the other person’s voice.
Shure Aonic 215 True Wireless Sound Isolating Earphones, Gen 2 ($229)
Best for Audiophiles
Sure, this pair has a higher price tag, comes with a much larger case, has only IPX4 splashproof-ing (no waterproofing), and takes more effort to hook around your ears. But if you’re seeking a hi-fi experience, you’ll find them a step above the competition. The earphones have excellent equalizers that can be controlled from Shure’s Play app, which also lets you modify the amount of ambient sound and customize what the buttons at the base of the over-ear hooks do. As for those hooks: they also make these the most secure-fitting pair in this list. These buds last for eight hours per charge, with three more charges in the case, for 32 hours of total run time.
Beats Fit Pro ($200)
Best for Everyday Use
Though the Fit Pro are a slight step down in durability from the Jaybirds and Jabras (it’s rated IPX4), they’re an excellent go-everywhere model with loud, heart-pumping sound. We love their compact design (these are the smallest buds on the list) with flexible wings to hold them in place. Battery life is six hours, with three additional charges from the palm-sized case. A five-minute charge restores an hour of playtime. Mac and iPhone users will like how they quick-connect without needing to open your Bluetooth settings.
Jabra Elite 7 Active ($180)
Best for Runners
Like the Jaybird Vista 2, the Elite 7 Active is a smooth-sounding unit built for the trails, with eight hours of battery life, 22 more in the case, and app-controlled active noise cancellation. They’re slightly less burly: waterproof only up to one meter (but still functionally rainproof), and have no fit wedges to hook inside your ear, which makes them easier to drop and lose. But in testing, they stayed in place just fine). But they offer a particularly significant feature that all trail users will love: a mono mode that enables you to leave one ear open to trail sounds without sacrificing audio quality. You get both sound channels coming into one ear, leaving your second bud free to charge in its case.