Wired and wireless earbuds pack light and come in a wide selection for various listeners, from workout enthusiasts to quiet-loving travellers. Image Credit: Unsplash/Onur Binay

Over-ear headphones are still dominating the trends, but some outliers remain loyal to a pocketable pair of earbuds or earphones. They weigh in grams, pack light and come in a wide selection for various listeners, from workout enthusiasts to quiet-loving travellers.

There are plenty of reasons to upgrade your music accessory to wired in-ears and wireless buds. Thanks to the many audio engineers and educators we previously spoke with, we have an excellent grasp on what pair will work for you.

For listeners interested in true wireless earbuds, the good news is that the latest Bluetooth 5.0 protocol solves most latency (audio delay) issues. To get the best sound resolution, however, it’s important to consider which Bluetooth audio codecs your pair supports. Higher-quality codecs, such as Qualcomm’s aptX HD, are usually only found on headphones from reputable audio manufacturers like Klipsch, Audio-Technica and Sennheiser. Other codecs include aptX Lossless, aptX, Apple’s AAC and Sony’s LDAC, which are more commonly featured on wireless earbuds. Note that your audio source or smartphone should support these for them to work.

There’s no doubt that a wired pair gets to bypass Bluetooth codecs and offer a richer, more detailed sound. They’re also more affordable than their wireless counterparts. You might not have much luck on the active noise cancellation (ANC) front, but passive cancellation due to their in-ear design will help to block out most of the outside world.

Editor's tip
Select audio devices, like speakers and earphones, are up to 20 per cent off on Amazon right now, so grab them while they're on sale!

Only sticking to brands singled out by our audio experts, our list takes you through a handful of both wired and wireless buds. Find these on Amazon, while some of them are on sale, where a Prime membership can get you free, fast delivery.

1. Best Overall: AirPods Pro (2nd Generation)


  • Two times more ANC than previous generation
  • 30 hours of battery life
  • USB-C charging port on the case
  • Great transparency mode


  • AAC is the only high-res audio codec

Running on the latest Bluetooth 5.3 wireless technology, this generation of Apple AirPods brings only the best of the best to the table, where earbuds are concerned. The in-ear pair has a smarter H2 chip that eliminates ambient noise, all the while ensuring some amount of transparency mode, so that you can hear the world around you comfortably. Don't worry about dislodging your buds when you converse - the AirPods use conversation awareness to lower music volume and enhance the voices in front of you. They support Apple's AAC codec, along with SBC, which is a basic codec often found in budget devices. Half of the magic is in the MagSafe Charging Case that can be charged with a USB-C cable and delivers up to 30 hours of listening time. Everyone in the reviews agrees that the ANC is superb compared to other earbuds in the same range. Thanks to the short stem, some even wear it to sleep.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh66.58 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh46 and two years for Dh65.

2. Best Wired Headphones: Sennheiser IE 100 PRO In-ear Dynamic Monitoring Headphones


  • Neutral, highly detailed soundstage
  • Wraparound, flat earbuds
  • Good noise isolation
  • 3.5mm audio jack


  • No mic, but a separate Bluetooth module with mic can be bought separately
  • Bass is neutral

IEMs or in-ear monitors are professional gear but there's no reason why casual listeners can't benefit from the high-quality sound they produce. Sennheiser's IE 100 Pro wired headphones handle various music genres well, as reviews point out, from jazz to pop. They wrap around the ears so they're less likely to dislodge, and do away with an in-line mic due to the nature of the IEMs. All frequencies from trebles to mids sound warm and clear, with reviewers impressed at the level of detail in the soundstage. Bass can be less punchy than consumer headphones, so this is a drawback to keep in mind. But, if you want a detailed resolution on every track, this pair is the one.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh23 and two years for Dh33.

3. Best for Sound: Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW


  • Excellent sound quality
  • Incredibly long 50-hour battery life
  • Button controls for noise cancellation and hear-through modes
  • Edit sound on the Connect app


  • Noise cancelling could be better, note reviews
  • Bulky case

If you're looking for a rich sound on wireless, turn to the Audio-Technica ATH-CKS50TW. The pair has 9mm drivers that deliver clear audio with punchy bass, for an extended battery life of 50 hours with the case. A special low latency mode improves sync between audio and your streaming video. It does away with touch controls, replacing them with tactile buttons that activate noise cancelling - to hear the outside world, tap the other bud for an instant hear-through function. The pair supports aptX Adaptive Audio, aptX, AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs. Reviewers can't get enough of the sound quality, but note how both the case and the buds are bulkier than most competitors.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh49.92 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year warranty for Dh35 and two years for Dh49.

4. Best for Bass: Sony MDRXB55AP/B Extra Bass Wired In-ear Headphones


  • Great mids and lows
  • Extra bass technology for deeper-sounding bass
  • In-line mic with remote control
  • Decent noise isolation
  • 3.5mm audio jack


  • Not suitable for classical music

For all your bass needs, Sony's Extra Bass wired headphones should fit the bill. They're able to sport larger 12mm drivers in a compact form factor with an in-line mic for taking hands-free calls and pausing music. An added component in the buds creates deep, responsive bass and powerful sub-bass, so low-frequency music genres end up sounding perfect. Reviewers vouch for long hours of use, up to 10 hours a day, and report no discomfort. They arrive in a protective pouch. 

Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year warranty for Dh12 and two years for Dh17.

5. Best for ANC: Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Earbuds II


  • Great ANC feature
  • Aware mode for conversations
  • Customises sound and noise cancellation per ear fit
  • Comes with a fit kit with different ear tips and bands
  • Up to 24 hours of battery life


  • Call quality isn't the best

An oft-listed competitor to the AirPods, Bose's QuietComfort II earbuds are packed with advanced features like the CustomTune sound calibration technology. You can optimise noise cancellation and sound performance to fit your ears, making ANC more efficient and effective than before. Switch between quiet and aware modes when you're out and about. The QuietComfort range values the exact fit for your ears, which is why the earbuds arrive with three ear tips and three stability bands. Like the AirPods, these buds last six hours without the case (24 hours with the charging case), and they offer support for only two codecs: AAC and SBC. However, a firmware update should have added aptX Adaptive to the list as of 2023. Reviewers cannot fault the noise cancellation on these but do find them unsuitable for taking calls. The fit is excellent, as some prefer this pair over Bose's sports earbuds, adding that they don't fall out.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh83.25 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year warranty for Dh6 and two years for Dh81.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.