Do you need True Wireless Stereo Earplugs? Here you'll find Wireless and Bluetooth Earbuds that allow you to listen to music completely wirelessly. All brands, all shops and search on all specifications. When you're ready to go wirelessly through life, this is the starting point of your quest. Read more
Truly wireless earplugs, sometimes called TWS (True Wireless Sound), are 2 separate earplugs without wire. Usually they are in a case in which they are also recharged. Wireless Earplugs have been around for several years but became well known after Apple announced the AirPods.
History of fully wireless earphones
Apple announced the first AirPods at the unveiling of the iPhone 7 on September 7, 2016. That was the first moment that the general public became acquainted with fully wireless earplugs with a charging sleeve. Until then, there was no real need to listen to music completely wirelessly because mobile phones had a headphone input. Apple broke that habit and needed an alternative. Many manufacturers would follow, removing the audio jack input and coming up with their own AirPod alternatives.
Still, Apple wasn't the first to have wireless earphones. Bluetooth plugs have been around for much longer, sometimes with a wire between the two earplugs or connected to a headband. It was Apple who offered the caps in combination with a charging case and came up with a method to connect them easily. This Bluetooth pairing process used to be a bit complicated.
Most TWS earplugs consist of two earplugs with a cover. The caps sometimes have a stem while others are round in shape. That handle is used for the battery and/or the microphone. An advantage of the latter may be that it is closer to your mouth and can therefore better absorb sound. However, the difference is usually minimal in order to have an effect.
Especially the design of the part that is in your ear differs. You have roughly 3 different fits; earbuds, in-ear and bone conducting. Earbuds are in the auricle and not in your ear canal. This makes them look like traditional old-fashioned wired earplugs. They do not seal airtight, which causes ambient noise to penetrate. You don't have that problem with in-ear earplugs. They have a rubber tip at the end and are in the ear canal. They close off noise from outside and therefore offer a passive form of noise cancellation. Finally, with bone conducting there is nothing in your ear but sound is transmitted via vibrations to the inner ear through the bone behind the ear. The big advantage is that the ear is free and can still hear ambient noise, although this is sometimes also the biggest disadvantage.
In addition to listening to music, wireless earphones have even more features. Most of them are equipped with a microphone so you can also use them to make phone calls. Another application for the microphone is for voice commands. Some caps allow you to call the Google Assistant. Google's earplugs, the Google Buds, even have a translation function. Handy abroad where you don't speak the language.
Advantages and disadvantages wireless earplugs
The big advantage of wireless earplugs is the freedom of movement. You'll never accidentally pull a laptop or phone off the table again when you walk away. Also, you no longer have to bother with a cord that gets in the way or makes noises when it rubs against something.
Wireless earplugs have lately become especially necessary due to the lack of a headphone port. Now you can always use a dongle (or extension plug) but of course you should not forget it. With wireless earplugs, you never have to think about that again. Make sure the battery is full. Most cases have a built-in battery that is enough to fully charge the caps up to 5 times. Charging the case can be wired and in some cases wireless.
The biggest disadvantage of the caps, however, is being able to get rid of them. With some fits, this happens faster than others. The most sensitive are the earbuds. Sometimes manufacturers supply an earhook or rubber loop that is included in your earplug. And yet every day people lose their wireless caps. So it's still babysitting.
Another major drawback is battery degradation. Lithium batteries are known not to fully charge over time. The batteries in the earplugs themselves are not that big so they can't miss much capacity. As a result, most caps become reasonably unusable after about 2 years.