Some best headphones in our opinion

Best microphones – Xiaomi Buds 3

Xiaomi Buds 3 is a classic TWS headset with a long thin stem, which has three microphones built into each earbud.

Thanks to the long stem, the conversational microphones are located closer to the mouth than the Galaxy Buds 2 or other models in the selection. The speech quality in Xiaomi Buds 3 is the best among the tested devices: even in windy weather and in noisy environments, the headset cuts out unnecessary sounds.

The sound is well balanced: there is no bias towards bass, frequencies are evenly distributed. Vocals sound natural, and the mids sound good too. Unless the volume is very high – it may not be enough for some.

The noise cancellation in Xiaomi Buds 3 is one of the best in the selection. The option works in three modes: the first is balanced, the second allows some noise to pass through, and the third dampens everything and is useful for the subway or airplane.

The fit is good, the headset fits tightly and does not fall out during fast walking or running. The model also received protection according to the IP55 standard: it is not afraid of dust and splashes, you can listen to music in light rain.

The controls are reminiscent of AirPods Pro – you need to squeeze the legs. You won’t be able to switch tracks with a random touch. But there is not enough tactile feedback, like on an Apple headset: it is not always clear that the desired function has been activated.

At medium volume without ANC, the headphones play music for about seven hours without recharging. And together with the case, you can listen to the tracks for 32 hours. There is wireless charging according to the Qi standard.

How to choose wireless headphones

I’ve been writing tech reviews for about five years now – testing smartphones, laptops, tablets, audio devices, smart home appliances and other gadgets. During this time, I tried more than 30 models of wireless headphones from different price segments – I understand how they work, and I know what the sound quality depends on.

To select a shortlist of budget wireless headphones, I looked at reviews from owners on Yandex Market, and also studied reviews of new products in specialized publications. In addition, I relied on my own experience: over the past year I have been able to test most of the current TWS models . When choosing headphones, I recommend paying attention to the following parameters, in addition to price.

Sound. Namely, sound purity, mid and high frequency detail, bass quality and volume level. Sound quality is a subjective criterion that greatly depends on individual preferences.

The sound quality is affected by many characteristics: sensitivity, frequency range, resistance and others. But most headphone manufacturers do not disclose detailed parameters of their models. In the description of TWS devices you can find the following information, which can indirectly tell you about the sound:

  1. Diameter of the speaker – driver. The higher this characteristic, the higher the volume and more powerful the bass, in theory. It is recommended to choose models with drivers larger than 10 mm, but there are exceptions.
  2. Codecs. Sound can be transmitted via Bluetooth in different ways: codecs compress music differently and transmit it with different amounts of loss. The standard codec, which is supported by default by the vast majority of phone models and headphones, is called SBC. Better quality ones are AAC and aptX. AAC is most often used to work with iPhones, while aptX and  aptX HD  are used with Android devices.

Autonomy. Headphone operating time when listening to music at medium volume in different modes. They also take into account the autonomy of the charging case – how many times it can fully charge the headphones and how quickly it does it.

Now manufacturers are striving for  5-6 hours of autonomy for headphones without recharging and up to 30 hours including the case. It is important to consider that batteries degrade over time – if battery life is important to you, choose headphones with a larger battery.

Microphones. The quality of the microphones determines how your interlocutors will hear your voice during telephone conversations or video conferences. To improve speech quality, developers install several sensitive microphones and configure the software so that the headphones cut out unnecessary noise.

Comfort. It’s important that your headphones fit well: It’s hard to enjoy music or a podcast if something is constantly pressing, chafing, or falling out. At the same time, there can be no universal recommendations here: everyone’s ears are different – what is convenient for one may be unbearable for another. If possible, try headphones either with friends or in a store.

Noise suppression. It can be passive or active – ANC. Passive noise cancellation works on headphones with silicone ear pads: they seal the ear tightly and partially block out external noise.

Active noise cancellation is much more effective and can almost completely mask the rumble of a subway or the rumble of an airplane. It removes external noise using microphones and special software processing. Each earphone has several microphones that pick up noise, and then the program analyzes it and generates a mirror sound wave.