How to buy wireless earbuds
Gone are the days of untangling wires and frayed cables. With most smartphones ditching the headphone jack and the advancement of Bluetooth technology, wireless earbuds have become the new standard for listening to music on-the-go.
However, with so many options in the market, it can be difficult to sift out the standouts. If you have no idea what to look out for, here are eight things to consider for your purchase, with additional tips based on your Spotify Wrapped results and music preferences.
1. Ensure a comfortable & tight fit for noise isolation
Comfortable with a tight seal even for those with narrow ear canals, Sennheiser’s CX 400BT True Wireless provides passive noise isolation.
One of the most important aspects when buying a pair of wireless earbuds is finding the right fit. Most earbuds come with tips of various sizes and some even have “fins” which hook onto your ear fold, allowing the earbuds to stay securely and comfortably in your ears. You wouldn’t want to lose a brand new pair because they fall out too easily – I’ve had my fair share of ransacking my home just to find those tiny gadgets.
Apart from that, a good seal provides noise isolation which passively blocks out sound from your surroundings. If you hate background noises like commuters on the MRT when you’re out and about, minimising external noise is imperative to picking out every detail from your favourite tracks.
2. Take note of driver size for a concert-like experience
Miss a concert-like listening experience? Look for earbuds with a wide soundstage and good volume.
Image credit: Unsplash
A car without its engine would essentially be useless, and the same could be said for earbuds without drivers a.k.a. the component that produces sound.
In wireless earbuds, dynamic drivers are the most common and usually range from 6MM-8MM in size, with larger diameters translating into louder volumes. For example, Sennheiser’s earbuds feature 7MM dynamic drivers, which are a great middle-ground in terms of size and maximum volume to give you a similar setting of watching a live gig.
With large-scale gigs out of the question indefinitely, the next best thing will be turning up your favourite artist’s album for now.
3. Opt for earbuds with high-quality sound
Of course, just having dynamic drivers does not necessarily equate to great sound quality. This is where the difference in tuning across brands comes into play.
For most of us, we rely on earbuds from recognisable brands to guarantee good sound quality. And there are two key things to look out for. For one, soundstage – the imaginary “3D” space created in your head – is crucial as it picks up on clarity and accuracy of different sounds to create an immersive feeling.
Some earbuds also place emphasis on bass or clarity, which creates sound signatures unique to a specific model or brand, so it’s up to personal preference what kind of sound you prefer.
Unfortunately, most stores currently do not let you test out earbuds due to hygiene reasons, so your best bet would be to watch in-depth YouTube reviews or read online reviews of the particular model that you have your eyes – and ears – on.
4. Go for long-lasting battery life if you’re a heavy listener
Charge on-the-go with a case that provides additional hours of battery life on top of the standard hours of playtime
‘Cause I-I-I’m in the stars tonight, so watch me bri-‘
Great, the music stopped because your earbuds ran out of battery again. As music lovers, you’ll know how annoying it is when predicaments like this interrupt your listening experience, especially just before the chorus hits.
Luckily, there is a decent selection of earbuds with a long-lasting battery life, perfect for the heavy listener who has Spotify Wrapped listening minutes in the tens or even hundreds of thousands. As a guide, 10-20 hours is a healthy battery life for wireless earbuds to last you through a full workday.
Image credit (left): Renae Cheng
On top of that, many wireless earbuds in the market also come with a carrying case that doubles as a portable earbud charger, bringing battery life up to levels which rival that of wireless headphones. This means you’ll be able to go about your day from morning to night, without only listening to half an album.
5. Choose customisation controls for personalised usage
Customise every button on Sennheiser earbuds with the Sennheiser Smart Control app
When purchasing new earbuds, you might find it difficult to get accustomed to controls, especially when switching brands. Some brands have the play/pause button on the right and others have it on the left. While it may seem minor, these nuances can take some time to get used to.
As a result, choosing a pair that has customisable controls via a smartphone app will give you full control of your music. This is useful especially if your Spotify Wrapped shows that you have listened to a ton of artists this year, which likely means you skip tracks frequently. You could customise your earbuds to skip tracks with just one tap on either of your earbuds, making it much more convenient.
6. Check for integrated equaliser settings to tailor your sound
Some earbuds, like Sennheiser CX 400BT True Wireless, let you tailor your sound to a T with equaliser settings on the accompanying app.
While there are tons of equaliser apps on the app store, having an accompanying app to link your earbuds’ equaliser setting will take your listening experience to the next level. This allows you to adjust sound components such as bass, midrange and treble to your preferred genre.
For example, if you have Pop and its various subgenres at the top of your Spotify Wrapped results, going for higher mids and treble is recommended. On the other hand, those who love R&B, Hip-Hop or EDM genres can opt for equaliser settings that favour a bass-heavy response.
If your Spotify Wrapped shows that your genre preferences vary drastically from heavy metal and jazz to punk rock and classical music, a well-balanced sound signature would serve you well, affording you flexibility when switching between them.
7. Consider voice assistant support for listening on-the-go
Play any song/artist just by tapping the voice assistant button and giving a command
Earbuds with voice assistant support offer you a seamless and convenient experience, especially when you’re multitasking and cannot use your smartphone.
If you listen to a huge variety of music and dislike taking out your phone just to navigate to a particular artist, album or song, voice assistants are your saviours – just say “play Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa on Spotify” and voila – your song will play without the need for additional swipes or button presses!
8. Opt for a lightweight and portable case
The ideal earbuds would be lightweight too, such that you’ll barely feel that they are in your ears. Similarly, the charging case should also be portable and slim, allowing it to slide into your pocket or a carrying pouch easily.
Get the right earbuds for you with Sennheiser
Whatever your Spotify Wrapped results are in 2020, having a good pair of earbuds is the accompaniment you need for long, emo bus rides listening to Sam Smith or confident strides down the CBD blasting Ariana Grande.
If you’re searching for top-notch sound quality without breaking the bank, the Sennheiser CX 400BT True Wireless would fit the bill.
With the same 7MM dynamic drivers as the flagship Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 2, this model also has integration with the Sennheiser Smart Control app which lets you customise buttons and change equaliser settings. Not to mention additional voice assistant support for hands-free use, so you can take work calls in between songs seamlessly.
Trying them out for myself, I found that the CX 400BT True Wireless has great passive noise isolation – sufficient for an office setting. It also has all the latest features such as Bluetooth 5.1 and support for aptX. This means that I could get a stable connection between my earbuds and device to stream songs at their maximum quality.
At just 6 grams for each earbud, and 49 grams together with the case, the CX 400BT True Wireless is easy to carry around.
To top it off, it has great battery life with 7 hours worth on its own and an additional 13 hours with the charging case so you can listen to music all day long.
The Sennheiser CX 400BT True Wireless is available in classic black or white, and at its affordable price of $299, it is truly a pair of ‘sound-first’ earbuds without all the frills.
This post was brought to you by Sennheiser.
Photography by Pichan Cruz.