The best headphones and earphones of 2021 come from a diverse list of brands covering different fits and styles, as well as different price segments. However, a quick look at our list will tell you that most of our recommendations are true wireless earbuds (TWS), which shows how popular this type of wireless headset has become. However, our list also includes options from other design styles including over-ear headphones, neckband earbuds, and our favorite selections from the less common but still popular audiophile category.
As before, we have selected our favorites in various price segments, paying attention to the price-performance ratio as the main purchase factor. Interestingly, most of the options here also include Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) as a feature, which shows how accessible and commonplace what was once premium technology has become. Here are our top headphones and earbud picks for 2020 in India.
Best overall headset of 2021: OnePlus Buds Pro
Our pick for the most impressive headset of 2021 is the OnePlus Buds Pro, the company’s newest true wireless headphones. Priced at Rs. 9,999, the OnePlus Buds Pro is a significant step up from the budget options in the range in terms of features and performance. While it’s an impressive overall package, it’s the fun, energetic sound that really sets these earbuds apart, and quite easily makes this the best pair of true wireless earbuds you can buy for less than Rs. 10,000 now.
Although the charging case looks a bit plain and some features like Dolby Atmos only work when the OnePlus Buds Pro are paired with OnePlus smartphones, the overall experience is pretty consistent and good on all source devices. The design and the quality of the active noise cancellation are also good, which makes this headset the standout headset for 2021.
Best Premium Wireless Headphones of 2021: Apple AirPods Max
One of our top picks of 2021 is also among the most expensive wireless headphones you can buy right now. The Apple AirPods Max is available in India for Rs. 59,900. Although very expensive and essentially built and best suited for use with iOS devices, these headphones deliver a premium experience in every way including the design and comfort, the quality of the active noise cancellation, the ease of use and connectivity, and the quality of the the sound.
As with other Apple AirPods products, the AirPods Max is best for use with Apple devices, with the connectivity features and Lightning charging port only really making sense for users with an iPhone – or maybe an iPad or Mac computer do. The Apple Smart Case that came with the headphones is also a bit silly in design, but the AirPods Max more than makes up for its shortcomings with luxurious design and comfort, very good active noise cancellation, and great sound powered by Apple’s Adaptive EQ technology . This is a premium headset like no other.
Best wireless neckband earbuds of 2021: Realme Buds Wireless 2
Although neckband-style wireless earbuds are much less common these days, there are still some interesting options that are significant value for money, such as: B. the Realme Buds Wireless 2. Priced at Rs. 2,299, the Realme Buds Wireless 2 has many features for the price, including active noise cancellation, app support via the Realme Link app, Google Fast Pair, and support for the LDAC Bluetooth codec . This makes it a fully featured wireless headset with very good sound for the price.
Although the design isn’t quite as sophisticated as we’d hoped due to the somewhat long cables and rather average battery life, the sound quality and features make up for these minor drawbacks. While many prefer the convenience and convenience of the true wireless form factor, the Realme Buds Wireless 2 is great value for money and great sound quality for those willing to use the traditional neckband style.
Best audiophile entry-level headphones: KZ ZSN Pro X
It’s hard to get a pair of headphones without real flaws, but the KZ ZSN Pro X is just that. This pair of wired audiophile earbuds cost Rs. 1,899 and offers entry-level and budget-conscious audiophile buyers a great listening experience for the price. The unique design, detachable cable, detailed sound, and ease of use with compatible source devices and DACs make this kit a worthwhile kit.
There’s really nothing to complain about about the KZ ZSN Pro X, which makes it a great headset to consider if you are on a budget and want good sound quality. It works especially well for high resolution audio. So if you are just getting started with the high definition audio tracks from Apple Music, this is the ideal headset under Rs. 2,000.
Best headphones for Android users: Google Pixel Buds A series
Just as the AirPods were developed and optimized for iOS devices, the Google Pixel Buds A-Series offer a similar experience with Android devices. Priced at Rs. 9,999, the Pixel Buds A-series works well with Google Assistant and uses Google Fast Pair to link the earbuds to your Google account on Android. The earbuds look great, are comfortable, and offer good all-round performance for music and calls.
Although you can use the Google Pixel Buds A-series with non-Android devices, the user experience is severely limited in terms of features and capabilities. The lack of active noise cancellation is also a major shortcoming here, especially since the earbuds fit well in the ear and similarly expensive options have ANC. However, it’s a headset that is well-equipped for use with Android and it’s one of our top picks of the year for this reason.
Best Affordable True Wireless Headphones of 2021: Realme Buds Q2
Although the foundation for affordable active noise cancellation in earbuds was laid in 2020, we saw some really impressive options in 2021 that offered what was once top notch technology at reasonable prices. This is why the Realme Buds Q2 is our number one choice among affordable true wireless earbuds. At Rs. 2,499, this headset offers ANC, app support, decent sound quality, pretty good battery life, and great value for money.
We found the stage a bit cramped, the highs a bit high-pitched, and the low-latency mode a bit ineffective, but the Realme Buds Q2 does it right, which matters, especially when they’re bang for your buck.
Most beautiful headphones of 2021: Nothing Ear 1
In our opinion, the best looking true wireless headset to hit the market in 2021 is the Nothing Ear 1. Although it is available at Rs. 5,999, the headphones are now available for Rs. 6,999. Thanks to good features such as active noise suppression, app support and wireless Qi charging, they still offer a good price-performance ratio in addition to the excellent transparent design and modern styling.
The sound is balanced and rich in detail and the excellent design also extends to the charging case. There are some issues including the lack of voice assistant support and a somewhat inadequate attack and drive in sound, but the Nothing Ear 1 scores with its design and features, making it a worthwhile choice among the many launches this year.
Realme India CEO Madhav Sheth joins Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast, for an exclusive, in-depth interview while talking about the 5G Push, Make in India, Realme GT Series, Book Slim and how to do business can improve their reputation. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, and anywhere you get your podcasts.
Ali Pardiwala writes about audio and video equipment for Gadgets 360 from Mumbai and has been reporting on the industry for a decade. Ali is a Senior Reviewer for Gadgets 360, where he has written regularly on Televisions, Home Entertainment, and Mobile Gaming. He is a firm believer in 4K and HDR on TVs and believes that true wireless earbuds are the future of the personal audio industry. Ali is available on Twitter as @AliusPardius and by email at email@example.com. So send … more