Photographers have a saying: “The best camera is the one you have with you.” The same goes for audio gear. Sure, it’s great to invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones cushioned with calfskin leather, but if they’re so bulky that you still end up just using whatever fits in your pocket on the way out the door, then your day-to-day listening experience isn’t seeing much of an improvement. And to really hear that new James Blake album at its full potential, you need something better than a tangled string of earphones that have been through the wash three times. Thankfully, we’ve reached a point where those basic earbuds have now been remixed into attractive wireless ones capable of delivering some mighty impressive sound. With integrated microphones, touch controls for easily skipping songs, and compact charging cases ready to refuel on the go, these next-gen earphones are ready to accompany you everywhere.
Best for: Minimalists
Like a sparse David Byrne soundscape, these metallic buds prove the most beautiful things are often the most understated. Tweak sound output to your liking with the built-in equalizer.
BANG & OLUFSEN BEOPLAY E8
Best for: Sound Engineers
High quality meets high fidelity. Luxe finishes — aluminum for the earbuds, leather for the charging case — complement B&O’s expert audio work.
SAMSUNG GALAXY BUDS
Best for: Marathon Men
Worried about your earphones getting soaked in sweat during your morning jog? Opt for this splash-resistant pair. An ambient sound mode ensures you still hear approaching cars.
Best for: Purists
Now a top status symbol, AirPods have made wires a source of shame — and Twitter comedy. Example: “Wild how Trump claims he’s wealthy and we’ve never seen him with Air-Pods” —@desusnice.
LOUIS VUITTON HORIZON
Best for: Runway Devotees
Moving from tech accessory into fashion accessory, these acetate stunners are patterned with LV’s signature flowers, and charge via an equally swaggy leather case.