Fact Checked

What are Wireless Earbuds?

M. Rosario
M. Rosario

As the name suggests, wireless earbuds are headsets that can function without being directly connected to the base station by wires. They work by using transmitters to deliver sound wirelessly to the earbuds. As of 2010, the two popular ways of transmitting data are via Bluetooth&reg and Kleer&reg technologies.

A common problem for gadget owners is finding their earbuds in a mess of tangled wires. The prevalence of gadgets like mp3 players, cellphones and portable gaming systems has increased the frequency with which this occurs. Wireless earbuds spare the listener from this scenario by removing the wires that cause it.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Wireless earbuds provide comfort by allowing the user to move without accidentally pulling the wires or getting them caught in something. They are particularly useful when doing physical activities, such as running or working outdoors, because there are no cords to interfere with movement. The transmitters generally have a range of several feet, which lets the user dock and listen to the gadget while he or she moves around, engaged in activities such as household chores.

Unlike wireless headphones, which are held in place by a headband, wireless earbuds use earpieces to make sure the devices stay in the user’s ears. The earpieces normally have an attachment that prevents them from falling off. Separate earbuds usually both have a receiver while a single unit design commonly has the receiver integrated into the headset. Ergonomically designed, ear-canal earbuds are also available for better noise reduction and sound isolation.

More phone and music accessories are utilizing Bluetooth® for wireless data transmission, which has resulted in Bluetooth® enabled earbud headphones becoming fairly inexpensive. The transmitter is usually built into the device as well, and wireless earbuds can double as a phone headset, eliminating the need to shuffle headsets.

Audiophiles might prefer the high-end Kleer® wireless earbuds because of several features. Kleer® has a relatively better audio quality compared to other wireless transmitters. It also has a longer range and uses less energy. There are however, several drawbacks. High-end wireless earbuds can cost up to several hundred US dollars. In addition, they commonly require additional purchase of a transmitter.

When buying wireless earbuds, consider the gadget with which they will be used. Wireless earbuds are commonly bought as a stereo and iPod® accessory. Check whether the transmitter is compatible with the earbuds. In cases where there is no integrated transmitter, the owner will be required to purchase one. Listeners should remember to make sure that the earbuds fit perfectly, for a better listening experience.

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Discussion Comments


@julies-- I know what you mean about leaving headphones sitting around. I have a drawer full of them and don't think half of them work. If they do work I may only get sound from one earbud.

Some of them may work OK, but the cords are all tangled up and when I need a pair of earbuds, I don't want to take the time to untangle them.

With everyone using them in the family, it can be hard to keep track of them. I have been considering buying a pair of Kleer wireless earbuds just because I would like to have one set with really high quality.

For someone who has used these, are they worth the extra money? How would you compare them in price and quality with a set of Bluetooth wireless earbuds?


@golf07-- I think it comes down to a matter of personal preference and how much you want to pay. I have noticed a difference in sound quality when I have spent more for better earbuds.

Even though the wireless earbuds cost more than the regular ones, you can still find a pair for a decent amount of money. I think it also depends on how you are using them.

If I am listening to music while I am actively engaged in other activities, the sound quality may not be that important. If I am just relaxing and doing nothing else while listening, I want something that is going to have a clear sound and keep out the noise.

For something like this noise cancelling earbuds work much better. It just depends on how much more money you want to spend for them. At our house, earbuds seem to disappear, so I don't usually spend money on the more expensive ones.

The set I have that did cost more and is higher quality, I don't use as often, and I make sure they aren't just left sitting around the house.


I think as wireless technology continues to get better, we will see more choices available. Right now I have some Bluetooth earbuds that I have been happy with.

I use these when I walk on the treadmill and they work great. I am glad they have an attachment to help keep them in place. Before buying the wireless earbuds, I was not a big fan of using any kind of earbud because they didn't seem to stay in my ears very well.

I have small ears and have wondered if the ear-canal earbuds would work for me? It sounds like I might get a better quality of sound, but I don't know if I would like something stuck that far in my ear.

For someone who has used both types of wireless earbuds, which ones did you like better?


My husband and I were recently pricing wireless earbuds and I am anxious to try them. I use my iPod a lot and get so frustrated with trying to keep the cords from getting tangled up and in the way.

When I clean the house, I enjoy listening to music, and with my iPod I can do this and not disturb anyone else in the house. Using wireless earbuds would work so much better. Since I am just using them in the house, I hope I could get by with a cheaper set.

For my first set I am not looking for the very best earbuds, but would settle for something less expensive to see how I liked using them.


@anamur, @Zipline-- Are you looking for a portable or non-portable wireless earbud?

The non-portable ones have much better sound quality because they have a relatively large base station and the transmission is more dependable. It's good to use at home, on your desk. But if you intend on using the earbuds on the go, you will need a portable one and the sound quality isn't as high with those.

So depending on your needs and preferences, you're going to have to manage with one of these systems.

I'm still waiting for the best earphones that are both portable and wireless and which has as good sound quality as regular headphones.


@anamur-- Oh yea, wireless headphones and earbuds have been available for mp3 players for a while now. But not every earbud works for every mp3 player. They're usually made to use with iPod players.

My brother has one of these wireless earbuds. It comes with a small gadget which is the transmitter. He plugs that into the iPod when he wants to use the earbuds. The sound transmission is quite good. I think the first wireless earbuds had a lot of problems in that regard, but the technology has gotten better.

The cost of wireless earbuds ranges, but it does definitely cost more than regular earbuds. About twice as much actually. But I think it's going to become more and more affordable in the future. And I think wireless headphones last a lot longer than regular ones. Like you said, most of the damage happens to the wires of headphones, so you don't have to worry about that with wireless.


Oh, so there are wireless earbuds compatible with mp3 players?

That's great news! I use an mp3 player all the time and in the past couple of years, I've gone through five or six headphones. Since I use it so much, the wires always get damaged and become unusable in several months. If I had wireless earbuds, I wouldn't have to keep buying new headphones.

Which are the best wireless earbuds for mp3 players? Which qualities should I look for in the product?

And how much do wireless earbuds cost? It must cost a lot more than regular headphones right?

The other thing I'm curious about is-- are there any problems with transmission with wireless earbuds? I mean, will the music transmission be smooth and strong?

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