This story is part of
, our list of ideas, by topic, by recipient and by price, to help you discover the perfect gift.
We have a list of best, but with wireless earbuds being so popular these days, we thought it’d be a good idea to compile a list for earbuds — and true-wireless buds in particular. Dozens of wireless earbuds are on sale for Black Friday 2021, and plenty are available at supreme discounts right now, including Apple’s AirPods Pro and popular ones from Sony, Bose, Beats, Sennheiser, JBL, Jabra and Google.
You can get up to 50% off some models, and several high-ranking earbuds are on sale for less than $100. Some of these deals will end after Black Friday, but many should continue on through Cyber Monday and after.
Note that prices and availability were accurate at the time of publication, but they may fluctuate. Also, some deals could expire quickly.
With the arrival of Beats new Fit Pro earbuds, I assumed we’d see some nice discounts on the earlier and less feature-rich Beats Studio Buds, which list for $150, or only $50 less than the new $200 Beats Fit Pro. I predicted we might see their price dip to $100 and sure enough, that’s what their price is (and a new low).
The Beats Studio Buds look a lot like the rumored stemless AirPods that people were talking about but never materialized — as AirPods anyway. Geared toward both iOS and Android users, they’re missing a few key features on the Apple side of things (there’s no H1 or W1 chip), but they’re small, lightweight earbuds that are comfortable to wear and offer good sound. They fit most ears securely, including mine — I run with them without a problem — but others may find a better fit with the Beats Fit Pro and their integrated wing tips.
They’re a Black Friday deal of the day at Best Buy, Amazon and Walmart, but Amazon is one-upping its competitors by also offering a $10 Amazon gift card at check out with the code BYZPPJADUODB at checkout. The deal is set to expire at the end of the day.
Apple’s AirPods Pro were briefly as low as $169 at Walmart and $170 at Amazon for Black Friday 2020. More recently, the wireless headphones have been ping-ponging between $180 and $200. Right now, the new model — with the MagSafe case — is available for $159 at Walmart and Amazon, a new all-time low. Note that at Amazon, you get an extra $15 off at checkout: It’s listed in green under the larger red price. If you don’t see “Save $15 at checkout,” the deal’s expired.
Amazon has been sporadically discounting its second-gen Echo Buds and they’re now down to their lowest price yet: $90. That’s $50 off their list price of $120. That’s $10 less than what they hit on Amazon Prime Day and it’s a very good deal for a solid set of noise-canceling earbuds with hands-free Alexa capabilities. They’re available in black or white.
Note that if you want a wireless charging case, the price ticks up to $90. That model normally sells for $140, so again you’re looking at $50 off for that model as well. I thought the Echo Buds 2 offered some welcome improvements over the originals, including better sound and noise cancellation. They also fit comfortably and are decent for making calls.
Amazon has Apple’s newest AirPods, the AirPods 3, on sale for just $150. That’s $30 less than the Apple Store and their lowest price to date. Note that at Amazon, you get an extra $5 off at checkout — it’s listed in green under the larger red price. If you don’t see “Save $5 at checkout,” the deal has expired. The AirPods 3 have been in and out of stock at this price.
UE Fits have a unique feature that no other consumer earbuds have: They come with ear tips that you can custom mold to your ears (you get two sets of tips in case you screw up the first time). It’s a short process and the tips really do conform to the shape of your ear. They’ve been on sale before for $175, but this is their lowest price to date.
So long as you end up getting a good fit (a tight seal), the UE Fits do sound quite good, with well-balanced, clean sound and punchy bass. Their battery life is good at around 8 hours, and they have decent voice calling performance. But they are missing extra features like active noise canceling and a transparency mode, as well as an ear-detection sensor that automatically pauses your music when you take the buds out of your ears. They’re IPX3 water-resistant, which means they’re splash-proof from certain angles.
If you get a tight seal (three different sized ear tips are included), 1More’s ComfoBuds Pro not only sounds good but also performs well as a headset for making calls, with three microphones in each earbud. There’s a touch of presence boost in the treble and the bass packs a good punch, which gives these a dynamic sound profile (they’re not laid-back) and they play loud. $60 is their lowest price to date. And you can buy two for $320 or three for $450 to get the price per unit down further.
You can toggle between two levels of noise cancellation (as well as “off”) using the touch controls — and there’s a pass-through transparency mode and a wind noise-reduction mode. You can also toggle through all of those modes using the companion app for iOS and Android. Battery life is rated at six hours with noise canceling on and eight with it off. The earbuds are IPX4 rated for water-resistance, which means they’re splash-proof, the same as the AirPods Pro.
In short, if you can’t afford the AirPods Pro, the 1More ComfoBuds Pro is a good budget alternative. Note that 1More also makes an open version of the ComfoBuds, which is similar to the standard AirPods and costs less. This Pro version is better.
Known for their secure fit, decent sound and durability, Jaybird’s Vista 2 buds have a couple of key upgrades missing from the original: active noise canceling and a transparency mode called SurroundSense. The latter allows you to hear the outside world, an important safety feature for runners and bikers.
Jaybird has added some fabric to the outside of the buds. The company says this helps cut down on wind noise (think of the fabric as a dampener), but I wouldn’t say it cuts it down as much as advertised, particularly when biking. There’s an ear-detection sensor, so your music automatically pauses when you take the buds out of your ears, and these have an IPX68 water-resistance rating, which means they’re both dust-proof and fully waterproof. Jaybird says they’re also sweat-proof, crush-proof and drop-proof. And the compact case is now splash-proof and dust-resistant, with an IP54 rating.
They sound quite good once you tweak the EQ settings to your liking, but their sound quality isn’t quite up to the level of some other premium earbuds in the $200 price range. Their noise canceling, transparency mode and voice-calling are decent but unspectacular (the AirPods perform better in all departments). But if you’re buying these, you’re buying them for the secure fit and durability. They may not be a good value at $200, but at $130, they’re an enticing deal.
Sony’s WF-1000XM4 may not fit everybody’s ears equally well, but if they do fit, they’re a fantastic set of true-wireless earbuds. Both their sound and noise-canceling capacity are excellent, and their performance as a headset for making calls is significantly improved over the earlier WF-1000XM3.
However, they’re normally expensive at $280, and due to high demand after their release this year, they haven’t really gone on sale (they occasionally sell for $10 off). But Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers now have them discounted to $248 — that’s $32 off their list price for a limited time.
The buds are available in two colors — black and silver (more like a sand color). As I said, they’re the best-sounding true-wireless buds. While they fit my ears well — and should fit the majority of ears well — they are a little bit on the bigger side, so they may not work for some people with smaller ears. Both Amazon and Best Buy have good return policies, however, if they don’t work for your ears.
JBL has a few new true-wireless noise-canceling earbuds for 2021, including the Reflect Mini NC and Club Pro Plus. However, the flagship Tour Pro Plus are clearly the best of the bunch and among the best sounding true-wireless earbuds, with clean, dynamic, well-balanced sound with powerful bass and a relatively wide soundstage. Noise canceling and call quality are also quite decent. They list for $200, which is pretty expensive, but they’re on sale for $100 for a limited time.
They made CNET’s best-sounding wireless earbuds list and their main drawback is that, like some other buds on that list, they’re somewhat bulbous and do stick out of your ears a bit (alas, better sounding earbuds tend to be larger). But I found them pretty comfortable and got a secure fit with the largest ear tips. They’re IPX4 splash-resistant and have a battery life rating of six hours with noise canceling on and eight hours with it off, at moderate volume levels. They offer pretty solid voice-calling performance, though it’s not quite up to the level of the AirPods Pro.
At $200, it’s hard for them to compete against such models as the AirPods Pro and the new Beats Fit Pro, particularly if you’re an iPhone user. But they’re certainly more enticing at $100.
Yes, these are “wired wireless” earbuds — with a cable connecting the left and right earbud, but they’re also the most affordable wireless Apple headphones you can buy (Beats is a subsidiary of Apple). These are equipped with Apple’s older W1 chip, not the H1 found in the third-gen AirPods, AirPods Pro and the Beats Fit Pro. That means they don’t have such extra features as spatial audio, but they sound good and work well for making voice calls.
Some people like the concept of neckband-style wireless earbuds. You can leave the earbuds dangling from around your neck, wearing them like a pendant. Gone is the fear of losing an AirPod by dropping it. Going from listening to not listening to the earbuds requires simply lifting them to your ears — or pulling them out. And forget about having to drop them in a charging case when you’re not using them.
Note that they started out with a $50 list price when they were released, but their price mysteriously got bumped up to $70. That said, $39 is the lowest price to date.
Google’s Pixel Buds A-Series are kind of unusual, in that they’re new but not exactly an upgrade. They look and sound very similar to last year’s Pixel Buds 2, which debuted at $179 but are now selling for less. However, instead of getting new features — like active noise canceling — they’ve actually lost a few. Why? The “A” stands for affordability: They list for $100 and now are on sale for $80, their lowest price to date. That new lower price is the real story here, making these a bona fide true-wireless value, particularly for Android users. And the integrated stabilizer arcs (aka sport fins) help keep the buds securely in your ears during sporting activities. Read our Pixel Buds A-Series review.
The Jabra Elite 75t earned a CNET Editors’ Choice award a couple years ago. Jabra recently released its Elite 7 Pro buds ($200), so now we’re seeing the Elite 75t nicely discounted in all colors. The slightly more rugged Elite Active 75t buds, now $100, are also on sale.
Bose’s QuietComfort Earbuds have some of the best noise canceling out there. They also sound good. And once again, they’re being significantly discounted. Several retailers, including Amazon, Best Buy and Bose, have the QuietComfort Buds on sale for $199, matching last month’s low price.
Recently, Bose released a substantial firmware update for the earbuds, adding “full transparency with dynamic noise reduction, new modes for specific activities, Spotify Tap integration, audio controls, easier device switching — and more.” So the buds have been improving over time.
The biggest downside to the buds is that they’re a little beefy and stick out of your ears. However, a lot of people, including me, love the fit of Bose’s StayHear ear tips. Read our Bose QuietComfort Earbuds review.
You can also get some limited-time discounts on a few other Bose earbuds and headphones, though the deal on the QuietComfort Earbuds is arguably the best of the bunch.
Sony’s new entry-level C500 earbuds were released just a few weeks ago. Now they’re already on sale in white at Amazon for $78 or $32 off their $100 list price for a limited time. They have been as low as $68 in a one-day flash sale.
While the C500’s design sensibility has more in common with the high-end WF-1000XM4 than their predecessor, the WF-XB700 Extra Bass, the C500 is not a noise-canceling model and is pretty basic as far as earbuds go, with no ear-detection sensors or transparency mode. But the buds are compact, lightweight, fit comfortably and sound good for an entry-level model.
I was a fan of Earfun’s earlier Free Pro earbuds, which offer good sound for around $50 and have little sport fins that help keep them in your ears securely. Now Earfun has released the Earfun Free Pro 2 buds with aluminum alloy caps, improved noise canceling and a couple of extra microphones that help boost voice-calling performance. They list for $80 but after you click the 10% instant discount coupon on their Amazon product page and then add the code EFANCFP6 (extra 20% off) at checkout, the price goes to $56 before tax (that’s $24 off). The code EFANCFP6 is good through Dec. 10. Just remember to apply it at checkout.
I used the Free Pro 2 for a few days and they deliver good sound for their modest price, with decent clarity and deep but well-defined bass. They produce relatively big, open sound. They don’t have such extra features as an ear-detection sensor so your music automatically pauses when you take one or both buds out of your ears, or an app that allows you to update their firmware. But they’re lightweight, should fit most ears well and have decent noise canceling along with a transparency mode (it’s not as good as the AirPods Pro’s transparency mode, which is hard to beat). They also charge wirelessly and are rated for up to six hours of battery life.
The Momentum True Wireless II remains Sennheiser’s flagship true-wireless earbuds. But shortly after the release of the CX ($130), Sennheiser’s second-generation midrange buds, the company has followed up with the CX Plus, which adds noise canceling for $50 more ($180). They look nearly identical to the standard CX buds but have a glossy black finish on the buds’ exterior touch-sensitive surface. Cosmetically, they’re more akin to the older and slightly larger CX400BT.
I like the CX for the money and the CX Plus delivers the same excellent sound while rounding out the feature set with active noise canceling and a transparency mode. Battery life is rated at up to eight hours at moderate volume levels and these are splash-proof, with an IPX4 rating. They do stick out of your ears a fair bit.
The noise canceling isn’t quite as good as the Sony WF-1000XM4’s noise canceling, but I thought it was quite effective and headset performance was also decent, though not necessarily stellar. These are all-around solid noise-canceling earbuds that can count sound quality as their biggest strength.
Also on sale:
Available in four colors, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 noise-canceling headphones hew more closely to the newer Galaxy Buds Pro and Galaxy Buds Live, both of which have eye-catching glossy curved designs and the same compact charging case as this new model. In fact, it’s the Buds 2’s design and fit — they’re 15% smaller and 20% lighter than the Buds Plus — that make them a potentially more likable alternative to the slightly better-sounding Buds Pro.
Like the Buds Pro, the Buds 2 are equipped with active noise-isolating earbuds. That means all the latest Galaxy Buds models now feature some form of active noise canceling, though it’s slight with the Buds Live, which have an open design sans ear tips. While the Buds 2 look more like shrunken versions of the Buds Pro, I found them more akin to the Buds Live in that they barely stick out of your ears and are fairly discrete. Because they sit more flush with your ears — and have that curved design — they also pick up less wind noise. They’re IPX2 sweat-resistant.
While Jabra has released its new Elite 7 Pro earbuds, which feature a new, smaller design, the Elite 85t technically remain the company’s flagship earbuds. They’ve been on sale before for $170 but haven’t dipped to as low as $150. They do feature very good sound and call quality along with multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can simultaneously pair them to your phone and computer.
Samsung’s bean-shaped Galaxy Buds Live were arguably the most innovative new true wireless earbuds of 2020. Like the standard AirPods, they have an open design so you don’t jam an ear tip into your ear. They’re comfortable to wear and fit my ears more securely than the AirPods. These wireless buds are discreet and basically sit flush with your ear, which reduces wind-noise while biking. I regularly use them for running and biking, and they’re great for sporting activities if they fit your ears well. But one warning: Some people won’t get a secure fit, so buy them from a retailer that has a good return policy.
They deliver good sound and work well as a headset for making calls, with good background noise reduction so callers can hear you clearly even when you’re in noisier environments. While they feature active noise canceling, it’s mild compared with the noise canceling in earbuds that have a noise-isolating design. In other words, buy them for their design and sound, not their noise-canceling features.
Beats’ Powerbeats Pro, which have been out for a few years, list for $250 but have recently dipped to $150 (and even less in some colors), their lowest price yet. With Beats’ new Fit Pro buds arriving (read our review), we should see the Powerbeats Pro regularly on sale.
The Powerbeats 4 are essentially the Powerbeats Pro with a wire between them. Some people like having the wire so they can let the buds dangle from their neck when they don’t have them in their ears. You can find them at a nice discount these days. Read our Powerbeats 4 review.
These headphones were on sale recently at these prices. We expect that some of these deals will return in the days leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
In 2020, the entry-level AirPods hit $99 during Black Friday sales at Walmart. This year, Walmart has raised the bar by selling them for $89, an all-time low. Amazon and Costco (membership required) have basically matched that price, but these are already dropping out of stock. Elsewhere, they’ve been selling for around $115. Note that this model doesn’t have a wireless charging case.