Apple presented its first wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation last year - setting the bar high for the competition.
Now new functions have been added again via software update.
The AirPods now automatically switch between iPhone, iPad and MacBook if the devices are registered with the same Apple ID and have the latest version of the operating system installed.
The benchmark of the buds: The Airpods Pro from Apple
In addition, they now play 3D audio on compatible videos, as known from Dolby Atmos.
The function known as spatial audio uses the earphones' motion sensors to fix the position of the sound, even if the user moves his head.
The AirPods Pro come with silicone attachments in three sizes so that they also fit different ears.
They can be worn comfortably for hours.
The active noise cancellation works excellently and blocks out a large part of the outside noise.
But Apple has also done a very good job of transparency mode.
It sounds so natural that after a while you can no longer hear the earphones.
A ventilation mechanism prevents ear pressure on the AirPod Pro.
When jogging, this means that you don't hear your own steps so loudly.
When the noise suppression is switched on, the user does not perceive an unpleasant feeling of overpressure, which often occurs because the ear perceives the changed frequency perception as a pressure difference.
The sound quality of the earphones is very good, the bass is not exaggerated.
An adaptive equalizer adjusts the music to the individual ear shape.
The charging case can be recharged wirelessly - just open it
The AirPods are controlled by a pressure sensor that is operated with the thumb and forefinger.
Accidentally triggering a function is practically impossible.
In the settings on the iPhone, users can specify whether a longer press on the left or right calls up noise cancellation or the Siri digital assistant.
The earphones last four to five hours on a single charge.
They can be recharged a good four times with the charging case.
Pairing the AirPods for the first time via Bluetooth is easy.
Users only have to open the charging case, which can be recharged wirelessly, near their Apple device and confirm the connection on the display.
The AirPods Pro cost 271.95 euros.
Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Samsung is defying the standard forms of wireless earbuds with its Galaxy Buds live.
In contrast to the competition, they are curved like beans.
And they actually fit in nicely in the ear.
Even after hours, they can still be worn comfortably.
Nevertheless, they show many weaknesses in the test.
That starts with active noise cancellation, which is barely noticeable.
The reason for this is likely to be the open construction.
The buds are not put in the ear where they already have passive noise cancellation.
Unconventional bean shape: the Samsung Galaxy Buds Live
Rather, they are placed in the auricle - and therefore do not seal.
Active noise suppression literally fizzles out.
In return, however, the user does not hear his own steps, as is often the case with other earphones.
The tone of the Galaxy Buds is rather mediocre, but it can be adjusted in a smartphone app.
The buds have a touch-sensitive surface that controls them.
Touching and holding can be assigned individually, the functions for typing are predefined.
However, the surfaces are highly sensitive, so that every accidental touch triggers an action.
When the buds are removed from the ear, the music continues.
A jewel: case in a matching color
Practical: There is a function in the app called "Find My Earbuds".
Once you've misplaced your earbuds and activated them, the buds start chirping loudly.
Unfortunately, that doesn't work when they're in the charging case.
The Buds battery lasts almost six hours, with the charging case they can be recharged almost three times.
The case itself can also be charged wirelessly.
In the test with an iPhone, we unfortunately had multiple connection interruptions with the left earbud.
The Galaxy Buds Live cost 184 euros.
Momentum True Wireless 2 Anniversary Edition
On the occasion of its 75th anniversary, Sennheiser is bringing its Momentum True Wireless 2 in an Anniversary Edition with the original company logo.
The audio specialist shows a love of detail and has thought of a lot.
The in-ear earphones have a touch-sensitive surface that can be personalized using a smartphone app.
Tapping once, twice or three times starts the music, skips a song forwards or backwards, calls up the digital voice assistant or switches on the active - albeit somewhat weak - noise cancellation and transparency mode.
One has to remember how it was configured.
The Momentum True Wireless 2 show no weakness in the sound, neither in the bass, nor in the lows and highs.
But that is also what you expect from Sennheiser.
If you still want to adjust the sound, you can do this via the app in the equalizer.
In transparency mode you can hear the ambient noise largely naturally.
Only your own voice then sounds a bit too dull.
The earbuds are held securely in the ear, but are not so comfortable to wear that you forget them in there.
If you take it out of your ear, the music stops.
It starts again automatically after it has been inserted.
At 299 euros, the most expensive headphones in the WELT test: Sennheiser's Momentum True Wireless 2
The automatic call acceptance on the smartphone when you take the right earbud out of the charging case is also a good solution.
Another advantage over many competing products is the ability to regulate the music volume by holding your finger on the touch-sensitive surface for a longer period of time.
However, if you want to play an update on the earphones, as was offered to us when you first used it, you have to wait more than 30 minutes for it to be downloaded and installed.
The battery of the earphones lasts a maximum of seven hours, a little less when the noise cancellation is switched on.
The charging case can recharge the earphones three times.
The Momentum True Wireless 2 cost 299 euros.
Google Pixel Buds
Google has now presented its Pixel Buds in the second generation.
While the first buds were still connected by a cable that wrapped around the neck, the new buds are wireless.
They are put in the ear and seal well.
However, they lack active noise cancellation, which should now be standard for earphones in this price range.
Now also without cables: The Google Pixel Buds
A stabilizing arch made of plastic keeps the buds in good position even when working out.
In terms of sound, we only had something to complain about with the bass, which sounded a bit weak overall.
Pairing with an Android smartphone is easy: after opening the storage box, the phone offers pairing via Bluetooth.
With the iPhone, a button on the case has to be held down to make the buds visible in the Bluetooth settings.
The Pixelbuds have a touch-sensitive surface through which they are controlled.
A swipe even allows you to regulate the volume.
Some special features only work with an Android smartphone.
This applies to the automatic sound adjustment, in which ambient noises such as a running water tap are recognized and the volume of the earphones is automatically adjusted.
Google recently added more features.
This is how Android users can amplify the bass of the buds.
In addition, the earphones now recognize when they are being worn by two different people.
Everyone can now individually increase or decrease their Pixel Bud by swiping on the surface.
The charging case allows you to enjoy music for up to 24 hours
Google describes its Attention Alerts as an experimental function.
If the buds in the area detect a siren, a dog barking or a baby is writing, they automatically turn quietly.
Unfortunately, these features don't work on the iPhone any more than invoking the Siri digital assistant.
The Buds are therefore only recommended for users of Android smartphones.
The Buds can be used for 2.5 hours of phone calls or 4.5 hours of music.
The storage box charges the buds several times, so that a total of 24 hours of music are possible.
The Google Pixel Buds cost 199 euros.
Huawei Freebuds Pro
It took Huawei several attempts to produce really usable earbuds.
The FreeBuds Pro are the latest and overall very successful attempt.
Active noise cancellation is very effective.
Huawei has built in dynamic suppression here, which detects ambient noise and adapts the suppression to the situation accordingly.
This is a gimmick.
Users actually want the strongest noise cancellation possible.
In the test, we also set this to "Ultra".
Huawei's First Serious Buds: The Freebuds Pro
The transparency mode is less successful with the FreeBuds.
It sounds unnatural in an environment with many different noises - for example in the supermarket.
You can tell that the earphones here constantly want to adapt to something.
That is confusing.
On the other hand, the sound of the earphones is excellent, especially for people who like to hear a bit bass-heavy.
Wear detection ensures that the music stops when an earphone is removed from the ear.
After it has been inserted, the music continues to play.
Similar to the AirPods Pro from Apple, the FreeBuds Pro are also controlled via a pressure sensor.
The volume control is well solved here by swiping up or down over the earphones.
Apple could learn something from this.
The FreeBuds can connect to two devices, between which they then automatically switch back and forth.
But that's still a bit tricky at the moment.
On the one hand, this only works with a delay of a few seconds, and then only if the sound has been paused beforehand.
Only when a call comes in do they automatically jump back to the phone.
But only to reproduce the ringing in the earphones.
Unfortunately, you cannot hear the person you are talking to via the FreeBuds.
Huawei has promised an update.
Black in black: Huawei's case offers twelve hours of charge
Unfortunately, the FreeBuds can only be updated and configured via an Android smartphone app.
You can't do that on the iPhone.
Here they can only be connected normally via Bluetooth pairing.
If you listen to music with noise cancellation, you have to recharge the FreeBuds after a good four hours.
The case charges them about three times.
The FreeBuds Pro cost 179 euros.
Jabra Elite 85t
There was almost nothing to complain about the Jabra Elite active 85t in the test.
The earphones come with three silicone tips of different sizes, so that they sit securely in the ear and are comfortable to wear over a long period of time.
They are one of the few earbuds that connect to two Bluetooth devices, in this case even at the same time.
This is particularly helpful in the home office when the sound from the computer and smartphone is to be played back.
The operation of the Jabra Elite 85t is particularly successful.
The surface of the earphones is a single button that is very smooth and therefore easy to use without pressing the earphones too hard into your ear.
The Jabra Elite 85t connect to two devices at the same time
The left and right button functions can be set in the accompanying Sound + smartphone app, regardless of whether you are listening to music or making a phone call.
Among other things, it can be determined here that, for example, the digital voice assistant Siri on the iPhone or Google Assistant on Android smartphones is called up when the button on the left is pressed once.
A HearThrough function is also available, with which ambient noise is looped through.
This works well, but does not come close to the quality of the transparency mode of Apple's AirPods Pro.
On the other hand, the active noise suppression works equally well because they have built in an ANC chip.
The previous model 75t was upgraded with the function via a software update.
With the Jabra earbuds, the volume can even be changed directly on the earbuds if the button is held down for longer.
The tone of the Jabras is balanced and with a powerful bass.
It can even be customized via the app.
To do this, the user has to do a hearing test.
Different tones are played on the left and right.
The user taps on the smartphone display as soon as he hears the sound.
This takes two minutes, after which the earphones have saved the individual hearing profile.
Jabra calls this technology Mysound.
Regardless of this, there is also an equalizer in the app, which can be used to change the bass, treble and mid-range tones.
When the Jabras are taken out of the ear, the music stops.
The earphones lasted a good five hours in the test.
They can be refilled about four times with the wireless charging case.
The Jabra Elite 85t cost 230 euros.
This article was first published in November 2020.
This article was first published in November 2020.