Bluetooth Earbuds: Are AirPods my best option?

Megan Clark
Megan Clark used Ask the Experts™
I am looking for some wireless earbuds to use around the house and at the gym. I am concerned about sound quality, but I also get headaches from larger, noise-cancelling headphones. (I am not sure if this is solely from the physical headphones or if there is something in the noise cancellation that causes a headache.)

I do not like earbuds with the rubberized/gummy feel to them. Those are uncomfortable and never seem to fit my ears properly. I also would prefer some that were not too loud to people sitting around me, as I tend to crank the volume up.

I am mainly considering AirPods, but I want to be sure that is my best choice. I have a pair of basic Apple earbuds right now, and they fit my ears well. I am looking to spend under $200. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
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I also get headaches from larger, noise-cancelling headphones.

Are you talking about over-ear, on-ear and/or in-ear headphones? They all give you headaches if they have an electronic noise-cancelling feature? I personally prefer headphones that are noise isolating -- where they provide a seal (over or inside your ear) and don't use canceling technology. If it's an over/on-ear headphone that gives you headaches, it could actually be the headband squeezing too hard...

I do not like earbuds with the rubberized/gummy feel to them.

I researched bluetooth earbuds a while ago and iirc Apple was the only one who didn't use a rubberized/memory-foam tip. If that's a hard stop for you, the Airpods are probably going to be your only option. Plus if you like the way they feel, most of the other options on the market don't sit the same way in your ear as airpods do. The airpods kind of just sit/dangle -- while the headphones for "active lifestyles" are usually designed to be framed into your ear in a more substantial way.

When I was looking around, the ones that I was considering were:

The main thing I was looking for though was sound quality for music. The above three all rank really well in that regard, without getting into an offensive price range.

In my experience with Apple's wired-earbuds that ship with their phones, I feel they are good for watching media (youtube/neftlix/etc) and listening to audiobooks, but for music they're kind of meh. The wired headphones I'd be willing to pay maybe $10-20 for and from what I understand, the Airpods provide the same sound quality.

The headphones with the rubber tips provide a seal in your ear so that music is reproduced much better at a low volume -- which is #1 for me. Most of the higher end brands provide a variety of different tips too, so that all ear types are covered.

Since it sounds like comfort is more the driving force behind your purchase, another option that is potentially more comfortable than 'buds' are bone conduction headphones.

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