happy plugs air 1If you have yet to move to truly wireless headphones, you’re missing out! Truly wireless headphones give you the freedom to move unencumbered, but far from the early offerings, they now boast excellent battery life, improved connectivity, amazing sound, and some even let you track down a lost or misplaced pair. Talk about technological advancements!

Companies are continuing to build on existing platforms and improve them for customers. Let’s take a look at some of the features that make truly wireless headphones a great investment, as well as what’s new in this category.

Truly wireless headphones: Noise cancelling

You already know you can listen to music or podcasts on your smartphone with truly wireless earbuds and that you can use them to take calls, Zoom into meetings and more. But many new truly wireless headphones today also offer noise cancelling properties.

Noise canceling and noise isolation are two very different things. Noise isolation creates a physical barrier against outside sounds; think a thick layer of padding on over-ear or on-ear headphones. Similarly, a tight seal on an in-ear or earbud model can also provide noise isolation.

Noise canceling is something different. Your headphones will actively listen to the environment around you, then create sound waves inside the ear that cancel out the outside noise so you never hear it. This is all done digitally and automatically, all you need to do is turn the feature on or off in headphones where it is available.

Transparency/HearThrough/Ambient Mode

A feature that is sometimes related to noise canceling is something called Ambient Mode, Transparency Mode (as in the Apple AirPods Pro) or ‘external listening.’ While each brand has its own name for this technology, the feature performs in the same way; it allows you to bring those outside sounds into your headphones so that you can be aware of your surroundings. This feature is most useful for people who might be walking in busy or high-traffic areas, or for someone that may need to stay alert to the arrival of guests, customers, or the boss.

Find my headphones

Truly wireless headphones are small and easy to lose. No surprise, then that manufacturers re building tracking into them. Apple’s AirPods have tracking built in, and Bose and Samsung’s also let you hunt down a pair using an app too. A super handy feature for the forgetful!

Truly wireless headphones: Battery life & charging cases

I can confidently say that almost all truly wireless headphones made today come with a battery charging case. The case doubles as protection to keep headphones fro getting lost or crushed, but they also hold extra hours of power; very convenient when you’re traveling and can’t get to an outlet easily.

JBL 300 Live

While early versions of truly wireless headphones had only about an hour of battery life and maybe a couple more in the case, newer headphone models have all day life packed in, making them far more convenient and a much more worthy investment than those early versions. Ones to check out include Sony XB-700, JBL Live 300 and Sony WF1000XM. (Check out my review of these here)

Premium sound quality in truly wireless headphones

Depending on your budget and your ear, you can get truly wireless headphones that are wallet-friendly or you can splash the cash and get the best truly wireless earbuds money can buy—it’s all up to you. When it comes to the premium headphone market you’ve got a few contenders; Sennheiser Momentum (read my review here), Master & Dynamic MW07plus, Beats by Dre PowerBeats Pro and more.

Sennheiser momentum true wireless headphones review, how toIf you want a great pair that costs less, Altec Lansing’s NanoPods are a popular option, as are Happy Plugs Air. (Read Darren’s review of the Happy Plugs here.)

Water-resistant truly wireless headphones

Having water resistant headphones comes in handy in so many ways, whether you find yourself caught in the rain while walking to the bus, or if you’re out running, water resistant headphones are also often sweat resistant, making them a great choice for those athletic pursuits.

Jabra makes excellent headphones for athletes, with their specific uses in mind. Check out the Elite line, like the Jabra Elite 75t water resistant model. (Read Brad Moon’s review here.)

Some headphones are also made for use by swimmers and an be worn in the water. If that’s what you’re hoping to use them for, make sure they’re rated for being underwater for extended periods of time.

Two white boxes containing Sony WH-XB700 headphones. Each is labeled "SONY WH-XB700 EXTRA BASS." The boxes are outdoors in the sunlight. The left box contains a pair of headphones in blue while the box on the right contains a pair of headphones in black.Voice assistant service

Most new headphones today come up with some type of voice assistant built-in. Depending on the manufacturer, this could be Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Bixby, the Google Assistant, or Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa.

Having the ability to chat handsfree with your digital voice assistant can be convenient. You can make adjustments to your music, dial phone numbers, control volume, or set reminders to yourself all without the need to pull out your phone. Of course they can also do calculations and conversions, share the weather forecast, an answer almost any question you have, just by asking.

Truly wireless headphones have come a long way; whatever your colour, shape, or brand preference you can find a great pair that will rock your world.

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