If you find in-ear headphones tedious and unpleasant to use, you’re not alone. Thankfully, the market for open-ear wireless headphones is growing by the minute. For the uninitiated, open-ear headphones bring the best of both worlds and combine good acoustics with a comfortable fit that doesn’t bite in your ears.
At the same time, the earbuds don’t isolate the listener from the outside world either, making them ideal for joggers and athletes. As always, we’re here to help you pick out the best open-ear wireless headphones, so let’s take a look at some enticing options.
But, before we get into that, you might want to also check out –
- The 5 best affordable TWS buds under $100
- The 9 best cheap wireless earbuds under $50
- The best wireless earbuds for working out for under $100
With that out of the way, let’s take a closer look at some best open-ear wireless earbuds.
1. SoundPEATS Wireless Earbuds Air 3 Deluxe HS
- Driver size: 14.2mm | Codecs supported: SBC, LDAC
- Battery life: Up to 5 hours | IP Rating: IPX4
SoundPEATS’ latest TWS earbuds free two birds with one key. For one, it is an affordable AirPods 3 look-alike which features an IPX4 rating. At the same time, the earphones come with the coveted hi-res audio certification from the Japan Audio society. This can be accredited, at least in parts, to the earbuds’ support for LDAC Bluetooth codec, which allows the Air 3 Deluxe HS to relay hi-res, lossless media to the listener.
Now, do note that you will need an Android to make the most of the earphone’s LDAC codec. Furthermore, we recommend you use the earbuds with a streaming service like Apple Music or Tidal which supports lossless streams as well. Understandably, iPhone users will not be able to leverage the earbuds’ LDAC codec, as iPhones use Apple’s AAC codec or SBC codec.
You should also know that you can switch the Air 3 Deluxe HS’ sound profile on the fly by using the SoundPEATS companion app. The utility comes with a bunch of built-in EQ presets, including options to enhance the low-end or treble output. You can even use a custom EQ with the set. Unsurprisingly, users speak highly of the Air 3 Deluxe HS’ sound output. Besides, several reviews point to the earbuds’ proficiency in resolving different frequencies across the audio spectrum eloquently.
The icing on the cake is that the earbuds weigh just 0.08 lbs a piece. Furthermore, the company claims that the earphones can play music for up to five hours at a stretch. Rest assured, SoundPEATS Wireless Earbuds Air 3 Deluxe HS are a stellar buy for under $50.
- Pros: Affordable, Hi-res certified, Supports LDAC codec
- Cons: iPhone users will have to make do with SBC codec
2. Marshall Minor III True Wireless earbuds
- Driver size: 12mm | Codecs supported: SBC, aptX
- Battery life: Up to 5 hours | IP Rating: IPX4
Marshall Minor III sounds great, thanks in no small part to its 12mm custom drivers. The earbuds seemingly offer a bright sound signature that does justice to songs from the rock genre. The earbuds look unique too and will undoubtedly woo passersby with their all-black fit and finish. You’ll also get IPX4 certification with the earbuds, meaning you can sweat it out in a gym without worrying about damaging the pair.
We should add that the Minor 3 ships with two microphones, each housed towards the bottom of the stem on each earpiece. The presence of two microphones paves the way for crystal-clear phone calls, as reported by several users. That’s not all, as the earbuds also feature touch controls that can be used to control the music playback or answer/end a call. On the whole, the Minor IIIs perform well, as cited in some reviews.
If anything, the earphones don’t support Apple’s AAC codec. As a result, iPhone users will have to use the Minor IIIs with SBC codec on their devices. On the upside, Android users can leverage the aptX codec, which offers a significantly higher bitrate than AAC and SBC codecs. Ergo, you will be able to listen to better-quality streams if you pair the Minor IIIs with an Android phone.
Lastly, you can use the buds for up to five hours at a stretch. Moreover, the case can add another 25 hours to the music playback, which is great.
- Pros: Good-looking earbuds with support for high-bitrate aptX codec
- Cons: Lacks AAC codec
3. Nothing Ear Stick
- Driver size: 12.6mm | Codecs supported: SBC, AAC
- Battery life: Up to 7 hours | IP Rating: IP54
London-based Nothing’s Ear Stick will appease listeners who want a pair of open-ear wireless headphones too. The earphones feature custom 12.6mm drivers which deliver a fantastic listening experience. Notably, several reviewers reported that the earbuds offer adequate instrument separation and imaging. Simply put, listeners can make out one instrument from the other and even somewhat pinpoint their location in the acoustic space.
Furthermore, the earbuds come encased in a unique, cylindrical case which is reasonably pocketable too. That’s not all, as the earpieces are IP54 rated as well, making them a tad more robust than Marshall Minor III and the SoundPEATS Air 3 Deluxe HS. Do note that the case doesn’t support wireless charging. Moving on though, the earbuds can relay media via AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs.
In terms of battery backup, Nothing claims that the Ear Stick can last up to seven hours off a single top-up. Additionally, the case can further the earbuds’ battery backup by 29 hours. While you should take the numbers with a grain of salt, a handful of reviews point to the earphone’s stellar battery life as well.
- Pros: Unique design, sound good, long-lasting battery life
- Cons: Doesn’t support any Hi-res codec
Also read: Know your Bluetooth codecs – comparing SBC, aptX, and LDAC codecs.
4. Sony LinkBuds WF-L900
- Driver size: 12mm | Codecs supported: SBC, AAC
- Battery life: Up to 5.5 hours | IP Rating: IPX4
You’d be hard-pressed to find another TWS headset that looks like the Sony LinkBuds. To that end, the earphones incorporate a unique design that allows the listener to consume media while staying in the loop (get it?) with the outside world. What’s more? Despite their unorthodox design, several users report that the LinkBuds are superbly comfortable to wear too.
Moving on, the LinkBuds ship with an IPX4 rating, meaning the earpieces can hold out against sweat and splashes of water. You’ll also get touch controls with the LinkBuds which can be used to change the song or answer an incoming call. The cherry on top is that the LinkBuds sound decent for the price.
In fact, while the earbuds lack a satisfying thump in the low end, buyers have stated that the earbuds reciprocate the mids and highs quite well. If anything, we would’ve liked to see support for Sony’s high-res LDAC codec with the headset. As things stand, the LinkBuds WF-L900 can only relay audio via SBC or AAC codecs.
As for the battery backup, the LinkBuds can supposedly play music for up to 5.5 hours at a stretch. The bundled case adds another 11 hours of music playback time, which isn’t as impressive as some other earphones on the list. Still, if you want to enjoy your favorite artist and be in sync with your surroundings, the LinkBuds WF-L900 should be right up your alley.
- Pros: Open ring design, IPX4 certified
- Cons: Bass output is feeble
5. Apple AirPods (3rd Generation)
- Driver size: 11mm | Codecs supported: SBC, AAC
- Battery life: Up to 6 hours | IP Rating: IPX4
If your smartphone of choice is an iPhone, then the new AirPods (3rd generation) is just what the doctor ordered. For one, Apple’s open-ear wireless headphones connect seamlessly and instantly with an iPhone. They also ship with dual beamforming microphones that, per numerous reports, pave the way for an excellent calling experience.
Apple has even updated the AirPods design to resemble the Pro model. You’ll notice that the newer AirPods now come with extremely short stems. And, unlike the older AirPods, the 3rd Gen ones feature IPX4 certification too, making them impervious to damage from sweat or moisture.
User reviews even point to stellar audio capabilities, which is great. That’s not all, as Apple has bumped up the battery life by an hour too. Consequently, the newer AirPods should last you about six hours off a single charge. The bundled case adds an additional 30 hours of listening time, so rest assured, you need not charge the AirPods (3rd Generation) daily.
- Pros: Seamless connectivity with iOS devices, sound great
- Cons: Cannot relay lossless media, Expensive
FAQs About Open-Ear Wireless Headphones
For the most part, yes. Open-ear headphones will always leak some sound, however, you can always mitigate that by lowering the volume.
Open-back headphones are a pair of over-ear headphones. They are designed to let the sound and air pass through the outer housing, which is ideal for analytical listening. Open-ear headphones, on the other hand, sit in your ears without completely covering them. As a result, you can be aware of your surroundings and enjoy music, at the same time.
Open-ear headphones can sound a bit timid to their in-ear counterparts in the bass department. At the same time, open-ear headphones can offer a wider sound stage too.
Listen to Tunes, Without Tuning Out
As prefaced previously, open-ear headphones can immerse you in your favorite tracks without completely isolating you from the outside world. And, contrary to popular belief, you can get a pair of good-sounding, open-ear headsets without splurging either. That wraps up our buying guide on the best open-ear wireless headphones. Do let us know which headset you would pick from the aforementioned options in the comments below.
Last updated on 24 January, 2023
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