Anyone who likes to listen to music or podcasts during training, on walks or in everyday life will not be able to avoid headphones. Especially wireless in-ear headphones have turned out to be a favorite. The reason: They are small, inconspicuous and compact. In past tests, Apple in particular played in the top league with its AirPods. In the current check by Stiftung Warentest, however, other models made it to the top positions. Who outperformed Apple?
In-ear headphones in the test: small, but powerful
Waterproof in-ears are the ideal companion for sports enthusiasts. The big advantage: they are tiny, light and, thanks to their design, usually sit well in the ear. They are usually inserted in or in front of the ear canal. And the best: They are easy to stow away because they can quickly disappear into a bag with the charging case. Despite the small design, the sound does not suffer at all. On the contrary: they enjoy a good reputation for their good sound quality.
Stiftung Warentest tested 22 in-ears again in March 2022. The result surprises. Apple only manages third place with its AirPods. We present the winners of the test.
1st place goes to JBL: “Good” test result for Reflect Flow Pro
The JBL in-ears* secured pole position in the Stiftung Warentest test. The headphones are water-resistant and shine with their good grip thanks to rubber attachments. An eye-catcher is the futuristic design of the EarPods. The noise-cancelling feature allows you to fine-tune how much of the environment you want to perceive or not. Stiftung Warentest finds the sound nice and bassy and full, the noise canceling function is “good”.
On the other hand, the battery life of the in-ears is outstanding. JBL even gets a “very good” grade here. In the practical test by Chip.de, they last for almost twelve hours, and almost 34 hours of playback time when using the charging case are astonishing. An excellent test result!
- noise cancelling: Yes
- Battery life (test): 11:33 hours
- Special features: IP68 water resistant, microphone included, noise cancellation with Smart Ambient, telephony, fingertip control
- Price: 155.99 euros (instead of 179 euros)
To ensure that the headphones fit perfectly in the earpiece, three different earpieces are included with the EarBuds from JBL.
Sennheiser in-ears follow suit – and make it to second place
Close behind JBL, the Sennheiser CX Plus True Wireless* grabbed the silver medal. The overall rating from Stiftung Warentest: 2.0. The first thing that catches the eye is the angular design of the headphones and the charging case. The colleagues from Chip.de did not rate it as particularly valuable in their test. Despite this, it is considered solid and not very annoying.
The rectangular design seems to serve the wearing comfort of the in-ears. This is exactly where Sennheiser gets a lot of praise: the model wins hands down in the “Comfort” category at Stiftung Warentest. Sennheiser can definitely be satisfied with second place in the overall ranking. Chip.de also emphasizes the beautiful sound and the top touch control of the buds. Only the somewhat tinny voice presence and the lack of a Bluetooth multipoint deserve criticism.
- noise cancelling: Yes
- Battery life (test): 7:31 hours
- Special features: touch operation, bass boost, IPX4 splashproof, call function
- Price: 125 euros (instead of 159.90 euros)
Apple AirPods takes third place
Third place came unexpectedly for the 3rd generation AirPods. In fact, Apple’s in-ears are always rated as particularly outstanding. Apple fans in particular might have considered a win to be certain. So why do the experts see it differently? The sound was the best in the test after the JBL headphones, while handling and wearing comfort were rated as “satisfactory”.
Basically, the AirPods of the 3rd generation* look like a fusion of the 2nd generation and the Pro variant. Computerbild.de, for example, praises the features that will come with it, such as the adaptive EQ, which adapts the sound to the shape of the ear, and the 3D sound. With almost six hours, the battery lasts solidly. Too bad: The volume cannot be controlled via the AirPods themselves. Also, the features remain best compatible with an Apple device. In-ears are still difficult for Android users because many features have to be left out.
- noise cancelling: Yes
- Battery life (test): 6 hours
- Special features: 3D sound, adaptive EQ, Dolby Atmos, IPX4 splashproof
- Price: 167.95 (instead of 199 euros)
In-ears test: are the results surprising?
The result may come as a surprise to some. In fact, one has to say that in the test by Stiftung Warentest, many headphones really fought a tight race and the overall ratings are close together. It is therefore not surprising that Apple has to move to third place due to a few small shortcomings. The AirPods also share this with Samsung and LG.
Are the test winners worth it in 2022?
In general, however, the new in-ears are extremely convincing in the test. So if you are looking for top models, you can look forward to the new headphones with great sound and noise-cancelling features and you will definitely find what you are looking for among the test winners from JBL to Apple. Only the subtleties that make the difference count here.
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