Hardware trends 2022: the best headphones

True wireless headphones (TWS) completely do without cables, are connected to the music source via Bluetooth and charged via the enclosed transport box. We tell you what to look out for when buying such an in-ear and also give you tips on headsets.

Current true wireless headphones usually come in one of two designs: as pure plugs (“earbuds”), which are more or less completely inserted into the ear canal, and as mini-earbuds with a stem that protrudes along the cheek. Earbuds are less noticeable depending on their size, but are often more difficult to operate directly on the device – especially when the touch control panel carries out various actions by tapping and swiping, there is usually unnecessary fiddling with the ear. The handle variants offer the advantage that the handle provides additional space for technical components and operating elements.

The main component of every headphone is the driver, i.e. the loudspeaker in the earpiece. Basically, the larger a driver, the larger its membrane area and the better it reproduces bass. On the other hand, in-ears with large drivers are not as comfortable to wear. Current TWS headphones have drivers of around 6 millimeters (about the

Sony WF-C500

for around 60 euros) up to just under ten millimeters, for example with the

Bowers & Wilkins PI7

for 400 euros.

Not all noise cancellation is equally effective

The number of built-in microphones also plays a major role in the sound quality of TWS headphones. They are not only used for phone calls and the operation of voice assistants, but also to reduce ambient noise. However, when it comes to noise suppression, a distinction must be made between three methods that do not always use microphones: The simplest method is passive noise suppression. It is based on the fact that the ear adapters close the ear canal as well as possible and so noises are automatically kept outside. The problem with this: Since each ear is shaped differently, standard silicone adapters cannot provide optimal insulation. Adaptable ear pieces, which you can also buy separately, close the ears completely, which many wearers find uncomfortable.

The second, much more effective method of noise suppression works via the built-in microphones. They filter out background noises and amplify the desired sounds. The microphones recognize phone calls or direct conversations, for example, so that only the voice comes out of the headphones more intensely. In-ear models with this type of noise cancellation – like the

Earfun Air Pro 2

for 65 euros – therefore usually offer two listening modes, namely with and without background noise.

The third method, which is roughly the

Klipsch T5 II True Wireless ANC

for 200 euros is the active noise cancellation (ANC for short). An “anti-noise” is generated here, which, with its opposite polarity, neutralizes the sound of the interfering signal. However, this method also has disadvantages: ANC is mainly suitable for compensating for interference in the lower frequency spectrum, such as engine noise. In addition, the process needs electricity, which is at the expense of battery life if used continuously. And the compensation signal can be audible for particularly sensitive people and cause headaches in the long run.

Charging box: note capacity and connection

True wireless headphones always come with a transport box that also charges the batteries built into the ear pieces. Depending on the capacity of the charging box, the in-ears can be fully charged at least twice. The box of the

Redmi Buds 3 Pro

from Xiaomi for 60 euros, which is said to give the associated ear pieces a whole 28 hours of additional operation. The box usually has a USB port to charge the box, although cheaper models rely on micro-USB. A USB-C connection, such as the one on the charging box of the

Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless

can be found for around 140 euros.

Apple and its subsidiary Beats, on the other hand, deliver the charging boxes for their models with a Lightning connector, the box being the

Apple Airpods 3 Gen.

(190 euros) can also be charged wirelessly via Qi. The

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

for 130 euros: thanks to Wireless Power Share, you can simply place it on the back of a compatible Galaxy phone for charging.

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