Already essential under Christmas trees last Christmas, wireless headphones (“true wireless”) are becoming even more democratic this year with the proliferation of manufacturers and products.
A technical criterion distinguishes them, it is the active reduction of noise (RAB) or their faculty to capture the external parasitic sounds and to cancel them. Result: renewed listening comfort. Until recently reserved for high-end wireless headsets, this technology has been miniaturized to slip into headphones that charge in a case.
Released last fall, Apple’s AirPods Pro (279 euros) have accelerated its democratization, but with one limit: RAB only works on iPhone and iPad. We tested and selected alternative solutions – in-ear and insulating – for all smartphones and tablets.
Les Momentum 2 de Sennheiser
It is one of the best pairs of truly wireless headphones of 2020. Even lighter and more discreet than their predecessors, the Momentum True Wireless 2 from Sennheiser quickly adopt with comfort in the ear of the most appreciable. They are also delivered with four tips to adapt to all body types.
Pairing is easy with all smartphones or tablets. The touch controls on the earphones are customizable with the possibility, quite practical, of having an overview of the outside world without removing them thanks to the “Transparent Hearing” mode, which can be activated by two presses.
RAB does wonders for cutting itself off from a noisy environment in transport or on the street. Ideal for concentrating on a file at work or for a break. This sensation of musical bubble is accentuated by a balanced and meticulous audio rendering. The bass is there, but the midrange and treble are not snubbed either. Autonomy easily reaches 5 hours of continuous listening with RAB.
> Momentum True Wireless 2 from Sennheiser (Germany), on sale from 299 euros.
Jabra Elite Active 75T
No active noise reduction per se, but passive competition isolation. Athletes will adopt them from the first race. Light and compact, the new headphones from Danish manufacturer Jabra give a nice musical boost to all sporting activities. Waterproof and sweat-resistant, they offer good performance in action without causing discomfort or readjustment every 5 minutes.
The controls, located on the two headsets, can be personalized using the Sound + app. Very useful outside, the “HearTrough” mode is activated with a single press and allows you to listen to ambient noise without removing the headphones. Be careful not to cut yourself off from street noise too much when you run on a sidewalk or on the road.
Battery life rises to around 7 hours outside the fast charging box. Only PowerBeats Pro can do better. Finally, the sound rendering is fairly balanced even if the bass is more punchy by default. The application includes an equalizer which will satisfy the most sophisticated music lovers.
> The Elite Active 75T from Jabra (Denmark), on sale from 199 euros.
Les WF-1000XM3 de Sony
You will not remember their name, but undoubtedly their hearing experience. They have the best active noise reduction available today for wireless and wired headphones. Ideal for travelers who want to filter the noises of reactors, rails or neighbors to very selfishly enjoy their music or the soundtrack of their film.
The music controls, which are fully customizable via the Headphones app, are intuitive to use on the touchscreen area of the headset. On the left, you can activate or deactivate the noise reduction. On the right, you tap to pause or go to the next song.
We just regret their size which lacks discretion in the ear. It really makes more Bluetooth headsets of the 2000s than earphones with a licked design. The charging case is too bulky to slip into a pocket. But, positively, this is used to recharge them for 4 hours of continuous listening. Headphones available in black and white silver.
> The WF-1000XM3 from Sony (Japan), on sale from 225 euros.
Les Freebuds 3i de Huawei
We weren’t convinced by the Huawei Freebuds 3 released late last year. The promise of active noise reduction was there, but the rendering was unfortunately not up to the expectations of our ears. The fault with a software difficult to configure in its management of external ambient sounds.
The Chinese giant is clearly correcting this with this “3i” version. Noise reduction is now supported by passive insulation offered by simple small silicone tips, like those of Apple’s Airpods Pro or Samsung Buds.
This duo works this time wonderfully and can very frankly reduce outside noise, to isolate almost completely from the din of a RER or metro train.
These headphones are now part of the models offering the best quality / price ratio. The price obliges all the same to some concessions: no wireless charge for the box and an autonomy (3:30 for music and 2:30 for calls) which could have been a bit more generous.
> Huawei Freebuds 3i (China), on sale from 99 euros.