EDIT (18/12/2020): Winners and video added
You might have seen our Top 5 Picks for phones, cameras, audio and laptops last year, but this year, we’re doing it different (like how the year has been) and big. We have close to 40 products nominated for Best of 2020 across 13 categories.
The team has spent plenty of hours reviewing the products entrusted to us by brands, putting them to real tests to see if they live up to your expectations and sharing our thoughts about them. Before we share the winners of each category, here is a sneak preview of our nominations of best true wireless earbuds that made the cut in 2020.
We’ve hyperlinked the reviews down below, so click on the names to check out the full reviews!
Best Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) Earbuds
Let’s start off our top picks for the best ANC earbuds this year with the Huawei FreeBuds Pro. These were launched pretty late in the year, around September and they arrived in Singapore around mid-November. That being said though, these are one of the better ANC earbuds that we’ve tried out this year. It’s also one of the more affordable, at just S$238 or £169. Unfortunately, these don’t seem to be available in the US, which is a shame. It’s a pair of affordable earbuds that have decent ANC and sound pretty good.
Next up is the Panasonic RZ-S500W. Now, these blew me away. The ANC on these are strong, but while the sound quality is actually pretty good, I found that these lacked a bit of musicality. That being said though, if you’re just looking for all-out noise-cancelling, these work fantastically.
But we come to the end of the category, and this is the product that I was most impressed with when it comes to active noise cancellation, the Technics AZ70. They’re a sub-brand of Panasonic, and when you think about it, it might seem a little unfair that the top two ANC earbuds come from essentially the same company, but hey, they’re just that good.
The AZ70 is very similar to the Panasonic RZ-S500W in terms of ANC performance, but I did think that the sound quality was ever so slightly better. The price is relatively comparable too, with the AZ70 at S$399 and the RZ-S500W at S$349. Unless you’re particularly fond of the RZ-S500W’s design or have a hard budget, I recommend going for the Technics AZ70.
Best Sports Earbuds
Moving on to sports, there’s the Klipsch T5 II McLaren Edition. Now, this is packed full of really cool features, with an IP67 dust and water resistance rating for the earbuds and case, a moisture removal system inside the case, a total of 32 hours battery life and more. And needless to say, they fit snugly in the ear thanks to the rubber wings so you won’t have to worry about them falling out when exercising. The one downside is that it’s on the more expensive side at S$399.
The next one on our list is the Sony WF-SP800N. There’s IP55 dust and water resistance on the earbuds and they feel pretty light in the ear as well, thanks to Sony’s design of letting most of the electronics rest outside of the ear canal. They still sit securely though, and there’s no need to worry about them falling out when you go running or do any sort of vigorous exercise. The best part is that these have active noise cancellation for a reasonable price of S$299. So if you’re looking for something that has ANC, water-resistance and a secure fit, these fit the bill.
My personal favourite, though, is the Jabra Elite Active 75t. With IP57 dust and water resistance, up to 28 hours total battery life and more, the winning factor for me is how small these are. The earbuds are incredibly light at just 5.5 grams each, and they are incredibly comfortable in the ear because of it. You won’t get wearing fatigue, which is great. Furthermore, Jabra added ANC to these in a firmware update recently, so that’s another plus. The best part, these are pretty reasonably priced too, at S$318 if you go for the model without wireless charging enabled and S$338 with wireless charging.
Best Sound quality Earbuds
We come to my favourite part, the sound quality category. Let’s start off with the Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus. The originals looked and sounded great, but had some problems like the poor battery life. The MW07 Plus fixed those issues, with a total battery life of 40 hours, and even added new features like ANC while retaining the great sound quality from the first generation. If you’re a fan of how these earbuds look, you can’t go wrong with them.
Back in 2018, Sennheiser made waves with their debut earbuds that sounded incredible. Well, they’ve done it again in 2020. Two of the three earbuds in this category come from Sennheiser, but let’s talk about the more affordable one first. The Sennheiser CX 400BT is a pair of “midrange” earbuds that sound just as good as my top pick for this category, because it uses the same 7mm drivers, but comes in cheaper at just S$299. Sure, some areas like the fabric-covered case had to give way to a cheaper, plastic case to keep the cost down, but the sound quality is the biggest factor here, and for the price, these are excellent.
But what if you want sound quality and a premium pair of earbuds? Well, that’s where the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 comes in. Again, like the Master & Dynamic earbuds, the first generation Momentum True Wireless was plagued with issues like poor connectivity and abysmal battery life, but the second-gen has solved it.
With a total of 28 hours, it’s not the best on the market, but it’s better than it was before. Sound quality, again, is fantastic, and there’s even ANC in these, which works pretty decently. You’ll have to fork out S$449 for these though, but you do get the best of both worlds here.
Best Affordable Earbuds
Now, if you’re not a fan of the idea of paying so much money for wireless earbuds, and you just want them for the convenience of no wires, here’s our affordable category for you.
Let’s start off with the Sony WF-XB700. These are great, bass-heavy earbuds from Sony that will definitely be nice for the general public’s listening preferences. And at S$199, they’re affordable, but there have been tradeoffs made to keep it at that price.
Next is an offering from a local brand. Creative’s Outlier Air V2 is the second generation of the Outlier Air earbuds that was offered last year, and it’s a nice, affordable way to experience Creative’s SXFI technology, even though it’s only usable with music that’s stored in your phone and not with streaming services. It has pretty good battery life at a total of 34 hours, and sound quality without SXFI turned on is also decent, with punchy bass and a relatively wide soundstage.
Now we come to my top pick for affordability. This one doesn’t quite fit into 2020, because it was launched and came to Singapore at the end of December 2019, but honestly, it’s one of the best affordable earbuds I’ve tried, so we’re including this. It’s the Jade Audio EW1. I’ve always believed that you get what you pay for, but the EW1 proved me wrong. At S$89, it’s also one of the cheapest true wireless earbuds I’ve tried, but it punches well above its weight with a fun, warm sound signature, touch controls and a 21-hour total battery life.
So there you have it, our top picks for true wireless earbuds in 2020. Again, I’m not telling you to go out and buy these immediately. But if you’re looking for gifts this festive season, hopefully this list will help you in making a decision.