While wireless earbuds with active noise-cancellation (ANC) tend to get all the love, brands are still turning out great products for users who want to keep the world around them in earshot. There aren’t as many truly outstanding wireless earbuds without ANC compared to past years, but that also means less sifting through the junk.
Ditching ANC has a few advantages — mainly lower prices and longer battery life. Some fitness users also prefer non-ANC models for greater safety while working out outside.
The good thing is, saving money doesn’t mean sacrificing great sound quality or comfort. Even though the pool of wireless earbuds sans ANC was pretty limited, there were still some gems.
Apple’s AirPods 3 improve basically every feature there ever was with the aging AirPods 2. Their AirPods Pro-esque design is more attractive in your ears and brings full sweat and splash resistance for workouts. Apple also switched to custom audio components, leading to greatly improved sound quality. The addition of Spatial Audio, previously a feature exclusive to AirPods Pro, to handle Dolby Atmos movies and music makes AirPods 3 a hard value to beat.
Sennheiser Sport True Wireless
The Sennheiser Sport True Wireless are best suited for working out. They have a heartier water resistance rating than other Sennheiser wireless earbuds, plus a chunkier case and ear-hook options for a secure fit. The Sport True Wireless’ unique ear-tip options stand out, letting users switch between an open or closed listening experiences. These wireless earbuds aren’t going to replace your favorite pair of premium wireless earbuds with ANC, but they’re great for the gym bag.
Nothing Ear Stick
Kudos to Nothing for making the Ear Stick stand out. Without a doubt, Nothing's non-ANC wireless earbuds are one of the most eye-catching gadgets released in 2022. Even the lipstick-inspired charging case is slick. Besides the cool retro-inspired transparent design, the Ear Stick has great controls, sound, comfort, and battery life. Despite coming from a tech startup, the Ear Stick are a slam dunk.
The Sony LinkBuds is a distinct pair of wireless earbuds. While they certainly aren’t for everyone, their fully open-ear design certainly appeals to a specific type of user. If you want decent sound quality and can’t tolerate any sense of isolation, the LinkBuds are a good fit, and they’ll catch you more than a few looks in public for sure.
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