The best headphones and earphones of 2021 come from a diverse list of brands, covering different fit and styles, as well as varying price segments. However, a quick glance at our list will show you that most of our picks are True Wireless Headphones (TWS), showing just how popular this type of wireless headset has become. That said, our list also covers options for other design styles, including on-ear headphones, neckband headphones, and our favorite pick from the less common but still popular audiophile category.
As before, we’ve selected our favorite picks from different price segments, paying special attention to value for money as a key buying factor. Interestingly, most of the options here also include Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) as a feature, showing just how accessible and commonplace once-premium technology has become. Here are our top picks for headphones and earphones for 2021 in India.
Best overall headset of 2021: OnePlus Buds Pro
Our pick for the most impressive headset of 2021 is the OnePlus Buds Pro, the company’s latest true wireless headphones. Priced at Rs. 9,999, the OnePlus Buds Pro represents a huge step up from the budget options in the range, in terms of features and performance. While this is an impressive overall set, it’s the fun and energetic sound that really helps these headphones stand out, and quite easily makes them the best pair of wireless headphones you can buy for less. of Rs. 10,000 at the moment.
While the charging case looks a bit simple, and some features like Dolby Atmos only work when OnePlus Buds Pro is paired with OnePlus smartphones, the overall experience is pretty consistent and good across all source devices. The design and quality of active noise cancellation is also good, making them the outstanding headphones for 2021.
Best premium wireless headphones of 2021: Apple AirPods Max
One of our top picks of 2021 is also among the most expensive wireless headphones you can buy right now. The Apple AirPods Max is available in India for Rs. 59,900. Although very expensive and basically built and better suited for use with iOS devices, these headphones provide a premium experience in every way including design and comfort, quality of active noise cancellation, ease of use and connectivity, and sound quality.
As with other Apple AirPods products, AirPods Max are better suited for use with Apple devices, with the connectivity features and the Lightning charging port only really making sense for users who have an iPhone – or maybe. also be an iPad or Mac computer. Apple’s smart case that came with the earbuds is also a bit silly in its design, but the AirPods Max more than make up for its shortcomings with luxurious design and comfort, really good active noise cancellation, and superb sound thanks to its design. with Apple’s Adaptive EQ technology. . It’s a premium helmet like no other.
Best wireless neckband headphones of 2021: Realme Buds Wireless 2
While neckband-style wireless headphones are much less common these days, there are still some great options that offer significant value for money, such as the Realme Buds Wireless 2. Priced at Rs. 2,299. The Realme Buds Wireless 2 offers plenty of features for the price, including active noise cancellation, app support through the Realme Link app, Google Fast Pair, and support for the Bluetooth LDAC codec. This makes them a complete wireless headset with great sound for the price.
While the design isn’t as polished as we would have liked due to the somewhat long cables and fairly average battery life, the sound quality and feature set make up for these small drawbacks. While many prefer the convenience and comfort of the true wireless form factor, the Realme Buds Wireless 2 offers great value and sound quality for those who want to go for the traditional neckband style.
Best starter audiophile headphones: KZ ZSN Pro X
It’s hard to find a pair of headphones without real flaw, but the KZ ZSN Pro X is exactly that. This pair of wired audiophile headphones is priced at Rs. 1,899, and offers beginners and budget audiophile buyers a great listening experience for the price. The unique styling, detachable cable, detailed sound, and ease of use with compatible source devices and DACs make this a kit worth doing.
There’s really nothing wrong with the KZ ZSN Pro X, making them a great headset to consider if you’re on a budget and want good sound quality. This works especially well for high resolution audio, so if you are new to high resolution audio tracks from Apple Music then this is the ideal headphone under Rs. 2,000.
Best earphone for Android users: Google Pixel Buds A-Series
Just as AirPods are designed and optimized for iOS devices, Google Pixel Buds A-Series provide a similar experience with Android devices. Priced at Rs. 9,999, the Pixel Buds A-Series works well with Google Assistant and uses Google Fast Pair to link the headphones to your Google Account on Android. The headphones look good, are comfortable, and have a good overall performance with music and calls.
Although you can use the Google Pixel Buds A-Series with non-Android devices, the user experience is significantly reduced in terms of features and capabilities. The lack of active noise cancellation is also a big downside here, especially since the headphones have a good in-ear fit and similarly priced options have ANC. However, it’s a well-equipped headset for use with Android, and it’s one of our top picks of the year for that reason.
Best affordable true wireless earbuds of 2021: Realme Buds Q2
While the groundwork for affordable active noise cancellation in headphones was laid in 2020, it was in 2021 that we saw some really impressive options that offered once premium technology, at reasonable prices. The Realme Buds Q2 is our top pick among affordable true wireless headphones for this reason; At Rs. 2,499, this headset offers ANC, app support, decent sound quality, pretty good battery life, and great value for money.
We found the soundstage a bit tight, the highs a bit shrill, and the low latency mode a bit ineffective, but the Realme Buds Q2 gets it right in the areas that matter, especially offering a lot for your money.
Best headphones of 2021: Nothing Ear 1
In our opinion, the best looking true wireless headphones to launch in 2021 is the Nothing Ear 1. Although launched at Rs. 5,999, the headphones are now available for Rs. 6,999. However, they still offer a good value. Value for money thanks to good features like active noise cancellation, app support and Qi wireless charging, in addition to the excellent transparent design and modern styling.
The sound is balanced and detailed, and the excellent design extends to the charging case as well. There are a few issues including the lack of voice assistant support and somewhat inadequate attack and sound conduct, but the Nothing Ear 1 scores big on its design and functionality, making it an interesting choice among the many launches this year.