Home Bluetooth Ear Bud Reviews 17 Bluetooth Headphones & IEMS Ranked Worst To First

17 Bluetooth Headphones & IEMS Ranked Worst To First

by Stuart Charles Black
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Greetings mate and Welcome aboard!

Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear) all over again, so…

Today I thought I’d compile a list of Bluetooth headphones and IEMs I’ve heard over the years into a list that ranks from worst to best.

In this rundown,

we’ll go over the pros and cons of each and help you come to a decision on which might be the best fit for your needs.

We’ll also look at some common trends in these guys and learn which of them circumvent the potential issues found in the others.

So think of this list as an everchanging one that will shift and adjust based on my own experiences with Bluetooth Headphones and IEMs.

I’m personally on the hunt for the best and my goal is to help YOU decide as well!

So enough talk. Let’s dive in!

#17

OneOdio A70

Price: Check Amazon! | Official Review: Here!

OneOdio A70 Review

Not only is the A70 tuned badly, but it doesn’t work well as a Bluetooth headphone either.

You may recall I also reviewed the non-Bluetooth A71, and the A70 is more of the same only you can use it wirelessly with your phone.

Unfortunately, it still doesn’t sound good but also slides around on your head quite a bit in the gym.

So if you’re looking for Bluetooth gym headphones, keep looking because this ain’t it.

The mid-bass ends up being much too boosted, with the mid-range suffering the most.

The treble is OK and isn’t strident or anything, but it lacks sparkle and zip.

In short,

I’d advise you to stay away from this one.

In addition to sliding around, they actually fell off my head a few times leaving me quite embarrassed. 

OneOdio improved considerably with both the Monitor 60 and Monitor 80, so I’m in no way trying to dump on them.

But the A70 was a clear misstep.

#16

Bluedio T4

Price: Check Amazon! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Bluedio T4 vs. T4S

The Bluedio T4 is slightly better than an A70, but not by much.

While comfortable and built very well, it suffers from a bloated low end, but this time in the sub-bass region instead of the mid-bass.

In addition to that,

everything from about 50Hz – 700 is recessed, and while the upper mids are forward, it, unfortunately, doesn’t save these from being a complete bust as far as sound goes.

The Treble is decent but again lacks clarity and sparkle.

Overall?

Another hard pass from me.

#15

Mifo S S&O

Price: Check Amazon! | Official Review: Here!

Unfortunately, this is another Bluetooth Ear Bud in a long line of many that suffer from the mid-bass bloat issue.

It tends to overpower everything while sounding very artificial and boomy/needly in the process.

In addition to that,

these are very, very overpriced for what you’re getting.

The sound is quite veiled and the bass tends to overshadow the vocals and instruments. Treble isn’t strident, but it suffers from the same issue as a lot of other similar products.

In other words,

it lacks sparkle and zip and comes across as too dulled and recessed for my tastes. The overall tuning here is poor and the sound itself is very artificial and cheap.

I will say comfort here is pretty exceptional and the earbuds stay in my ears rather well, but the case looks like something you’d find in the Lancome section of your local mall.

Put another way,

in opening the case I feel like I’m about to put some makeup on. 😉

All it needs is a Lil mirror and I’d be set for life!

Jokes aside, the other potential issue is that I could totally see the lid breaking down over time.

It feels rather flimsy and with enough use would likely fall apart in some form or fashion.

That said, I will update this article to reflect any future changes.

As with the Q2 from above, these have a few modes as well:

  • Transparency mode: Similar to ambient mode, you’ll hear pretty much every outside noise.
  • Strong Noise Cancelling: All in all I’m pretty impressed. As with the Q2, these do a pretty excellent job of blocking everything out.
  • Mild Noise Cancelling: Just as stated, you’ll be able to hear subtle noises. For instance, I can still hear workers renovating the apartment above me, but it’s very faint.

I think with a sound modification/better drivers/better tuning, these could be a real winner for the gym but as it stands now, I can’t recommend them based on sound + the fact that they are extremely overpriced.

#14

Super EQ S1

Price: Check Amazon! | Official Review: Here!

All things considered, this is a pretty decent offering from the same folks who brought you the Q2 but still has plenty of issues.

Let’s start with the good.

Aside from being an obvious Beats Studio knockoff, comfort is rather good and the build is super solid.

They’re robust, fold up well, and are fairly easy to transport. The headband adjustments are metal and don’t feel like they’re breaking down any time soon.

In fact, I’m not very careful with these at all and they’ve held up just fine over about a year.

I used them quite a bit at the gym without any issues, and the sound is a lot better than the previous products mentioned above. 

Still, the mid-bass is a bit bump happy and tends to overshadow the rest of the sound signature.

Noticing the trend?

The more you listen the more you start to feel as if you’re almost listening to music underwater.

Vocals and instruments tend to get drowned out (no pun intended), and the treble, while again not becoming strident, lacks zip and zest.

In other words,

it’s much too veiled again and like the mids, gets overpowered by the bloated mid-bass area.

In all honesty, it makes everything sound loose, flabby, unrefined, and bad.

I’ll also caution you that this type of bass is not good for your hearing at all, so it’s a definite hard pass from me.

Super EQ S1 Review

Despite the sound issues,

comfort is very good and the buttons are mostly placed well.

The issue I have is that the volume buttons are about the same size as the power button in the middle.

This means you may think you’re powering it on but in reality, are pressing one of the other buttons.

Once you get used to the surface texture, you’ll mostly be okay but in the future, I’d like to see them simply make the power button bigger and more obvious.

On the underside is a conveniently placed button that cycles between ambient, noise canceling on, and noise-canceling off.

As with the other products mentioned in this write-up, I found the Noise Cancelling feature to work rather well with no complaints on my end.

Overall,

I still wouldn’t recommend these due to their very flawed overall sound portrait, but they are certainly better than the others previously discussed.

#13

Skull Candy Uproar Wireless

Price: Check Amazon!

These headphones will always hold a special place in my heart, and it’s hard to keep them so low on the list.

“But we’re being objective, right?”

Yup.

Even despite that, I bought a pair of these in 2016 and still use them sometimes if you can believe it!

In fact,

the Uproar Wireless, while extremely flawed sonically, are some of the most rugged headphones I’ve ever bought.

Nowadays I throw them around just for kicks and they still function just as perfectly as the day I purchased them.

In addition to that,

the button layout, while looking kind of child-ish, is perfect.

You’ve got the large round power button in the middle, and the 2 volume buttons on either side.

Each is shaped brilliantly. You’re never guessing about which button is which.

Not only that, but it’s really easy to Play/Pause, and cycle between songs.

Simply hold the + or – button to skip or go back, rapidly press to turn the volume up or down, and press the circular button in the middle to Play/Pause. A long press powers the headphones on.

Easy. Squeezy. Lemon Peezy.

Out of all the Bluetooth headphones I’ve ever tried, these are certainly the best concerning button layout and overall functionality.

They simply won’t die!

Sound

Unfortunately, the same issues that plagued the others are back: Overly boosted bass, recessed mids, and problematic treble + an overall metallic character that’s hard to shake.

The difference here is that the treble is too strident and essy.

Years back, this used to be a much more common issue in consumer headphones but the trend has shifted somewhat since 2016. 

Now instead of an overly bright treble, most companies are opting for one that’s too dull and laid back – in effect attempting to rectify an issue that people had by doing a complete 180.

Suffice it to say, both decisions still sit at extreme ends of the spectrum (too bright vs. too dark), so we’re still at an impasse at the end of the day.

Comfort on the Uproar is just OK, but for 1-hour weight-lifting sessions, it tends to be just fine.

Wear them for any longer than that and you’ll start to feel them digging into your earlobes due to their on-ear nature.

Do note that I have since replaced the original stock pads.

#12

Super EQ Q2 Pro

Price: Check Amazon! | Official Review: Here!

It’s not the sound of the Q2 pro that’s bad per se.

It’s the fact that the buds simply don’t get loud enough – a fatal issue that keeps them pretty low on this list.

I’m not having any issues with other products, and I’ve read of others on Amazon having similar issues with the Q2.

To me, this indicates it’s a problem with the earbuds themselves. In fact, there’s no way to turn them up on the device itself and you can only use your phone.

Update: I got a new phone and the issue has been improved somewhat. Still not perfect, but good enough for a 3 spot jump on this list.

In any event,

There are 3 modes you can cycle through with a long press of the right earbud:

  1. Ambient sound: You can pretty much hear everything around you including the heater/AC.
  2. Noise Cancelling On: This does a fantastic job of blocking out all sound including the AC/Heater.
  3. Noise Cancelling Off: A bit quieter than ambient sound mode, but you can still hear the AC/Heater and things around you.

Comfort is pretty good, but they feel a bit on the cheap side.

The case is very plasticky and even when the buds are situated inside, there isn’t much weight to it.

All in all, you could certainly do worse than these, but I definitely won’t be recommending them.

#11

FiiTii HiFi Dots

Price: Check Amazon! (Use code AL22ZI4N for 20% OFF) | Official Review: Here!

FiiTii HiFi Dots Review

I was pleasantly surprised by how good these sound – especially because most companies (Chinese or otherwise) tend to blow out the bass response unnecessarily which renders the entire sound signature ruined.

The HiFi Dots avoids these pitfalls and while the bass is still elevated to an extent, it doesn’t ruin the overall sound.

In addition to that,

there’s plenty to love here with regard to spacing, instrument separation, Soundstage, and resolution. I think FiiTii did a nice job tuning these earbuds.

Are they perfect?

Nah. The mids are still slightly pushed back, but you’re not going to notice it as much as some of the others on this list.

The treble also stays in line and doesn’t sound overly bright or dark. I think it strikes a nice middle ground.

The buds are also pretty comfortable and don’t tend to fall out of my ears or become dislodged; an issue prevalent in a lot of the products in this shootout.

That said, the right driver malfunctioned so I’ve dropped these 6 spots from #4 to #11.

#10

Supsoo B131/B130

Price: Check Amazon! | B131 Official Review: Here! | B130 Official Review: Here!

Supsoo B131 Review

Note: These 2 basically share the same sound, but the B130 is marketed toward gamers and comes with a detachable microphone. More on that in the official review.

The B131 is similar to the S1 from above, only the bass is a bit more controlled and the sound is crisper and more open.

Just know that it’s still a bit too boosted for my liking.

The treble is a little better and you’ll notice vocals and instruments tend to have much more room to breathe and express themselves fully. 

Make no mistake, these are still very flawed sonically (tuning could use some refinement) but definitely outperform the S1 and don an absolutely beautiful profile – aesthetically speaking.

In fact,

if the S1 was a Beats Studio knockoff, the B131 borrows heavily from the Sony WH1000 series design.

That said, I don’t have an issue with it.

These feel great in your hands, are built very well, and sport an above-average button layout.

They also happen to be very comfortable with a snug overall clamping force and very even weight distribution for the most part.

Some may find this clamp a bit tight, so definitely keep that in mind before purchasing.

Overall,

we’re still not getting the excellent resolution and timbre of some other audiophile-type headphones (read: the papery/artificial/metallic quality is obvious here), but the B131 is a step in the right direction and I’m looking forward to what Supsoo has in store for the future.

#9

One Odio A10

Price: Check Amazon! | Official Review: Here!

OneOdio A10 Review

It’s a shame these headphones suffer from many of the same issues as the others because I think OneOdio makes some great products; specifically the Monitor 60 and Monitor 80.

As far as the A10 is concerned, the build, comfort, button layout, ergonomics, and overall aesthetic are perfect. The headphones fold up nicely and are super convenient on the go, in the gym, etc.

That said, the bass is.. you guessed it, too bloomy, muddy, bloaty, boosted, etc. Whatever you want to call it, it’s there and it’s poo squared.

Because of that, the mids sound recessed and the treble, while it’s not overly bright, lacks a bit of detail and sparkle.

The sound itself is a bit lacking in overall resolution, and the instrument timbre/tonality leaves much to be desired. It sounds like there’s a layer of mud covering everything. 

In short, these aren’t enjoyable to listen to, so if you want to feel like you’re listening to music underwater, go ahead and purchase them. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.

#8

Beats Studio 3.0

Price: Check Amazon!

You may think a Beats knockoff like the S1 discussed earlier would be a carbon copy of this lineup, but it’s actually not.

While these Studios are quite flawed and still suffer from that low-end excess, it’s much more controlled and the overall sound is tighter, crisper, and much more professional sounding even though the frequency response is still fairly wonky.

Is it a night and day difference?

No, but it is noticeable and you’ll immediately feel like the Studios are indeed a better overall product.

They’re built exceptionally well and feel great on your head, but the real kicker is that these feel a little more like viable candidates for professional work, even though at the end of the day they still fall well short of the mark.

Put another way,

the bass is still too problematic for mixing but in my opinion, these sound better than the S1.

#7

HIFIMAN TWS600

Price: Check Amazon! | Official Review: Here!

HIFIMAN TWS600 Review

I’ll be back. And I’ll be Beethoven!

These are a bit hard to review because when you’re in the gym with lots of extraneous noise to mask their deficiencies, they sound pretty okay – much better than a lot of the others on this list.

It’s only when you listen to them in a quiet environment do their flaws become glaringly apparent.

For one, these are pretty much mid-range only and nothing else.

This makes them sound super awkward and off, to the point of you asking yourself, “Where’s the bass and treble?”

Yes, it’s almost non-existent which makes for a super jarring experience. Listening to them is almost like hearing music inside a tin can.

Vocals and instruments stand out but end up sounding shouty and overbearing.

The bass doesn’t sound bad per se, but because of the overly forward mids, it takes a back seat and everything ends up coming across as super wonkified and flat-out wrong. 

You may or may not be surprised to find out that I continued using them at the gym for quite a while.

Why?

Well, because HIFIMAN sent them to me free of charge and they’re super convenient.

Comfort isn’t bad, but they tend to want to fall out of your ears at times and I remember them making my lobes feel some type of way.

In other words,

I got some itching sensations that sort of went away over time, but I’ll still caution you that owning these was quite a strange experience.

They’re higher on the list than the others because I think a bloated mid-bass issue is much more problematic than an overly forward mid-range, but at the end of the day, the TWS600 is still not something I’d tell people to buy.

#6

Sony WH1000XM Series

Price: Check Amazon!

As alluded to earlier, this series likely inspired Supsoo’s B130 line, and I think Sony pulled off the sound a bit better though, in general, I’m not a huge fan either way.

We’re still getting a frequency response that closely resembles Bluedio’s T4 discussed in the beginning, only this time it’s not quite as rollercoaster happy even despite the same general area from 100Hz – 900 largely gone/recessed.

This again makes the WH1000 sound weird and bloomy, though the bass shelf is handled much better here than it was with the T4.

Overall,

comfort and build are almost identical to the B130 line, and while gorgeous on the outside, the inner workings don’t quite measure up to my standards.

Still, these are tuned a lot better than all the stuff we just talked about, so if you can snag a deal on them they may be worth a shot.

I would personally never pay over $350 though, so keep that in mind.

#5

Beats Solo 3

Price: Check Amazon! | Official Review: Here!

The Beats brand has come quite a long way since its early days of terrible build quality and horrendous sound.

In fact,

I vividly remember the Solo 3 sounding quite decent (my friend at an old job lent it to me), and certainly much better than all of the aforementioned products on this list.

Yes, the bass is still a bit too dummy thicc, but you can tell these are tuned much better than everything I’ve discussed up to this point.

The drivers are also much better, and the overall sound is very smooth and fluid if a bit lacking in detail.

Still, the resolution here is improved considerably over the others and you’ll get a sense that this is indeed a superior product to some of the other knockoffs.

They fold about the same as the S1 and comfort is very similar though the cups are a bit smaller and rest mostly on your ears.

Still,

for an on-ear, these can be worn for quite a while with minimal adjustments though I’ll still tell you they’re in no way perfect.

#4

Grado GW100

Price: Check Amazon!

Being somewhat of a Grado hater and ranking a Grado headphone high on any list makes me feel a bit dirty, but hey, in relation to the others discussed today, the GW100 dunks on most of them pretty easily.

Was it good enough for an official review?

Well, no I guess. I demoed these around 2018 and never got around to a dedicated write-up, so take that for what it’s worth.

The image above was taken with a phone at my local Audio Advice right after the demo.

The 2kHz issue that I harp on in so many videos and articles is still painfully apparent, but for the most part, this is a surprisingly decent (albeit still very flawed) headphone that deserves at least some passing mention in the Bluetooth realm.

Bass is handled decently well, and the hallmark crispy Grado treble is still in effect without sounding too essy or sibilant.

These utilize the same general pads as their entry-level line (SR60e/80e) and feel kind of cheap overall, but comfort is pretty good all things considered.

One thing superior in Grado vs. the others is the transient response, attack, and decay. It’s not even close.

This is in part why I still like their entry-level stuff with certain genres of music and will still recommend them from time to time (Read: they are still pretty good for Rock and Hip-Hop).

#3

Bose QC35 II

Price: Check Amazon! | Official Review: Here!

Welcome to Pleasantville.

Yes, Bose is somewhat of a gimmicky, kitsch company but over the years they’ve nailed a few products.

The QC35 was certainly one of them.

If you’re looking for a smooth, pleasant, enjoyable listen with excellent ANC capabilities and a supremely comfortable fit, there aren’t many headphones out there better than this.

I remember vividly demoing them and thinking, “Wow, it doesn’t get much more pleasant than this.”

I will caution you that the sound here can sometimes wax a bit overly cute and too non-intrusive (read: it lacks some excitement at times) but man oh man did Bose ever hit the casual consumer demographic perfectly here.

Wear them on a plane, wear them on a bus, wear them in your room, wear them while you lust.

You can listen here, you can listen there, you can listen quite literally anywhere!

Listen remotely on a boat, listen slowly with a bloke!

Yes, the QC35 is a treat, you can even listen while you eat!

How do you like my rhyme?

Seriously though,

Bose was Harman tuning their headphones before it was cool. So yes, these are wildly popular for a reason and continue to be.

They sound excellent and very closely mimic a listener’s ideal sound signature:

Accentuated (but not over the top) sub-bass, flat-ish mid-bass, a little bump in the presence regions around 2-3kHz, and a darkish treble.

Could these use a bit more of a lively flavor?

I think yes to a certain extent, but it depends on who you ask.

Put another way,

they can sometimes sound a bit dry and overly laid back, but at the end of the day, they’re still an excellent purchase and easily outperform most other Bluetooth products.

#2

HIFIMAN DEVA

Price: Check Amazon! | Official Review: Here!

HIFIMAN DEVA Review

The DEVA was a giant leap forward for HIFIMAN in 2020 as it saw them shift in a different direction concerning build quality.

This newer construction utilizes DUMMY THICC pads, a more robust headband adjustment mechanism, and a slightly different overall aesthetic.

Comfort is still phenomenal and you won’t have to adjust them much at all, but do be aware that they slide a tad.

Sound-wise, we’re getting a crisp, open, bright sound with a bit of treble hiss that may need to be EQ’d down a bit.

I opted for a roughly 3dB reduction at around 9-10kHz.

Aside from that, these are excellent-sounding headphones with a fantastic bass response and mostly flat mids.

What makes these a better purchase than the QC35 is their overall value and versatility.

Let’s take a look:

  1. You can use it wirelessly with a phone, using either the supplied Bluemini or something like a FiiO BTR5.
  2. You can also use it wired with your phone, with something like a DragonFly Red or hip-dac.
  3. You can use it wired on your desktop, with the supplied Amp/DAC, or with a separate Amp/DAC of your choosing.
  4. They aren’t too hard to drive but do happen to be fairly inefficient, meaning they require quite a bit of power from an amp to reach an acceptable listening level. Either a FiiO K5 Pro or Zen is my preferred desktop homie.
  5. Because the cable is detachable, you can use it as a gaming headphone with something like the Boom Pro and a Creative G6 on your console. You can also use an attachable Mod Mic if you want.
  6. It has a built-in microphone for calls.

Yes, for the price, the DEVA is an excellent value.

You’re getting an audiophile-grade headphone with a bunch of added features for a reasonable sum of cash money.

#1

Gravastar Sirius Pro P9

Price: Check Amazon! | Official Review: Here!

Gravastar Sirius Pro P9 Review

The P9 surprised me in the best way possible, and by now, it’s no secret that Gravastar makes solid products.

But seeing how jaded I am when it comes to unknown companies throwing shit at a wall to see what sticks, let’s just say I’m a bit skeptical given the fact that most of it ends up being dog poo squared.

Put another way,

many of the products that companies send me are copycats of other products, only done very poorly. 

Even so,

I was excited about the P9 for 2 reasons:

  1. Its design is unique and stands out from the rest – a common theme with the Sci-Fi inspired company.
  2. I had already demoed the wonderful Mars Pro and loved it. So I was fairly confident the P9 would deliver.

And deliver it does!

These earbuds remind me of what it’s like to listen to music for the first time again.

For a fairly not very well-known company in the audiophile world, Gravastar has created a fantastic sound profile with the P9 by providing exemplary resolution and detail to the point of astonishment.

The P9 has revealed to me artifacts in songs I thought I already knew about, and for that alone, it deserves the top spot with regard to what I’ve personally heard from a Bluetooth product.

Part of the reason it’s so clear, open, and revealing is because the bass stays OUT OF THE WAY and thus the mid-range is given room to be what it’s supposed to be.

*sarcasm* Who would have thought?

I think the other companies in this article not named Bose or HIFIMAN could learn something from Gravastar.

Because the overly boosted, terrible-sounding mid-bass doesn’t. WORK.

So stop doing it.

Before I go off on a rant you won’t read, comfort here is great, you get a few sets of tips, and the build quality is phenomenal.

The treble is handled wonderfully, with just the right amount of crispness and sparkle without getting strident – surely a very fine line that Gravastar pulls off with relative ease.

I will caution you about a couple of things that bother me about these:

  1.  The earbuds don’t stay in place quite as well as I’d like. They don’t fall out, but you’ll probably be reseating them a few times during the duration of your workout.
  2. Skipping a song can be quite irritating because it may misfire. In other words, oftentimes you’ll double-click to skip and it will pause – in effect only registering one button press instead of 2.

This is something I would strongly urge Gravastar to rectify because, with a couple of tweaks, these are a bottom of the 9th, 3-2 count, down to your last strike, game on the line, come from behind, Game 7 World Series walk-off grand slam YEAH!

As it stands now, they’re still an in-his-prime Shaquille Oneal dunk on your face so don’t fret.

BOO YAH!!

 

That said…

Is the P9 the best IEM ever?

No.

Are there better Bluetooth IEMs out there?

Yeah.

Is the P9 the best you’ve heard out of the ones you’ve personally demoed?

Yeah.

 


Well, that’s it. For now.

This list is bound to expand and change over time, so bookmark and share it.

I’m super excited for the future of this article and if YOU have any additions you’d like to see added, or you want to send me something for demo, PLEASE contact me as I’m always looking to try new products and truly am after the best Bluetooth earbuds money can buy.

Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you enjoyed this Best Bluetooth Headphones & IEMs Buying Guide and come away with some valuable information.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I leave something out or get something wrong? Please reach out in the box below or contact me! I would love to hear from you.

Which of these are you more likely to go with? What are your experiences with Bluetooth products? Let me know as well!

Until then, all the best and God bless…

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

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