A Guide to The Earbud Revolution: Where We Are in 2024

Wireless earbuds have become the audio format of choice for all music fans and podcast lovers alike, and there are more available now than ever before. Here, we’ve selected the best wireless earbuds from the masses – based on noise-cancellation capabilities, trained expert reviews and budget as a key factor to consider.

Best Wireless Earbuds

Premium Pick

Sony WF-1000XM5 The best combination of sound, ANC and fit for daylong or flight use – best overall model, so it might have some bugs Designed to fit all ears but might feel too large for some Synch links and response codes.

Value Pick

The best way to cram quality into a more accessible price is with the Sony WF-C700N, where you get sound and noise cancellation quality but for fewer dollar bills.

Earbuds Review

These earbuds have really been stress-tested so that people can have the kind of experience they expect and that Sony products are known for. The Sony WF-1000XM5 sounds as close to CD quality as you’ll manage with any lossless audio. Someone tells me that because she’s right.

Noise-Cancelling Earbuds

Best Noise-Cancelling ANC Earbuds Overall

This is a bit of a cop-out recommendation, but if you want to truly escape the sounds of the world by any means possible, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds are clearly the way to go. They’re simply the best.

Inexpensive ANC

For the budget-conscious, the EarFun Air 2 provides excellent noise-cancelling at a fraction of the price.

This showdown will help you find the right headphones to suit your lifestyle and your budget without sacrificing either.

Where were earbuds invented?

Earbuds came into their own in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with a series of iterations between then and now that have culminated in the earbuds you know today.

Early Inventions

The earbud itself dated back to at least 1891 with the French engineer Ernest Mercadier’s patent for a set of in-ear headphones for use by telephone operators – vastly rudimentary and bearing little resemblance to today’s earbuds.

Who was the first company to release them on the market?

Sony’s Contribution

Fast-forward to the late 20th century, Sony would lead the way in the adoption of earbuds. In 1979, the company released its Walkman with attendant clip-on earbuds. Until this point, earbuds had only trickled out into the general consciousness. With Sony’s entry, earbuds finally went supersonic.

Apple’s Impact

Apple was also a key player in the earbud era: their white earbuds, released in 2001 with the iPod, became an iconic symbol of portable digital music.

First True Wireless Earbuds

The very first true wireless earbuds that came to market were delivered by a Swedish startup called Earin, which Kickstarted the development in mid-2014 and began shipping units to backers in late 2015.

Then there was the German startup Bragi, which ran a crowdfunding campaign in 2014 for its Dash earbuds – even later than Earin shipped.

Since then, the market has been exploding with wireless earbuds featuring noise cancellation, digital assistant integration and advanced sound quality.

Earbuds continue to evolve with the market, responding to changing needs and often introducing newer models and new features.

The Advancements to Where We Are in 2024?

It can be seen that the technological advancement of Bluetooth earbuds has tremendously grown since its first invention.

It is known that wireless earbuds were invented in the 20th century in America and Japan, while at that time of the convention, they only functioned to listen to the radio and dial mobile phones.

Additionally, the trend of using wireless earbuds continues to grow because people can listen to other radio stations freely worldwide, catch up on their favourite podcasts and dial phone calls at any time.

The design of the device has also changed from using a button to a touch-sensitive screen, and there are several options to choose from when deciding to buy an extra component.

Audio Quality

  • Then: Early earbuds offered basic sound quality, often lacking depth and clarity.
  • Today: High-fidelity audio is supported in contemporary earbuds such as the Sony WF-1000XM5, with some models even enabling full lossless audio to 24-bit/96kHz.


  • Then: At the beginning, earbuds had limited ways to connect, usually just through Bluetooth, with connections sometimes dropping.
  • Today: The latest headphones have ultimate Bluetooth codecs to provide callbacks and even Wi-Fi to stream top-notch audio.

Battery Life

Battery life is no longer much of an issue; many earbuds provide several hours of playing time.

Earbuds can get as much as 12 hours on a single charge, with cases that provide more charge for longer use.

Noise Cancellation

  • Then: Noise cancellation was either non-existent or very basic in early earbuds.
  • Today: Earbuds like the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds supply comparable (and, at the appropriate price point, superior) active noise cancellation (ANC) to over-ears.

Smart Features

  • Then: Earbuds were simple audio output devices with minimal additional functionality.
  • Today: They feature touch controls, voice assistants, head-tracking and entire EEG sensor installations to enable new user experiences.

Design and Comfort

  • Then: The design was often one-size-fits-all, which could be uncomfortable for many users.
  • Today: Ergonomic design is increasingly the norm, with the integration of memory foam or silicone ear tips that adjust to the shape of the ear canal and sit snugly in your ears.

Durability and Water Resistance

  • Then: Early earbuds were not typically built to withstand elements like water and sweat.
  • Today: Lots of them are waterproof or at least water-resistant, so you can wear them anywhere, whatever the weather.

These advancements are a testament to the growth of wireless earbuds as a consumer technology that has resulted in a more liberated experience for the individual while deeply immersing them in their daily lives in nuanced ways.


Regardless of whether you’re an audiophile after the most articulate rendition of your favourite song, a hard-of-hearing commuter who needs to cut out the rest of the world, or just a penny-pinching on-budget listener, you have a pair or two – or a few pairs, or several pairs – of wireless earbuds somewhere.

Leave a Comment