The Best Earbuds for Under $150

The Best Earbuds for Under $150

Upgrading to a better pair of buds doesn’t always require splurging. If you’re looking for a modest, no-frills pair of buds that checks most of the must-haves list, we have a few recommendations for you for $150 or under. The must-haves list can be decent audio, a comfortable fit, intuitive controls, a battery that doesn’t always have you tethered to a socket, and, ideally, noise cancelation if that’s a requirement for you.

As decent budget-friendly picks, we recommend the fairly new Samsung Galaxy Buds FE, which offers excellent ANC, the Google Pixel Buds Pro, which are a great (much cheaper) alternative to the Apple AirPods Pro, and the Beats Studio Buds, which are also a great, Android-friendly option.

The editorial staff of Gizmodo independently tests and reviews each product found in our Buyer’s Guides. If you purchase something using our affiliate links, G/O Media may earn a commission. Affiliate linking does not influence our editorial content.

Samsung Galaxy Buds FE

Photo: Dua Rashid / Gizmodo

The Samsung Galaxy Buds FE is marketed as a pocket-friendly option and makes for a pretty decent gift. They don’t offer all the bells and whistles you like the Galaxy Buds2 Pro, for instance, but for the price, I think I am okay with that.

Think of these as a no-frills, no-nonsense pair of buds that sound good and won’t cost you an arm and leg. If you don’t have a lot of bucks to spare or want to buy your child their first pair of buds, this is an excellent entry-level product to go for. The ANC is way more impressive than you would expect on a pair of buds this cheap, and the sound isn’t what you’d call bad. They feature simple, intuitive controls and a snug, secure fit. The battery life (30 hours with ANC off and 21 with it on) is slightly better than that of the Galaxy Buds 2 and the Buds 2 Pro, which are more expensive than the FE Buds. It may not feature the kind of sound layering one would expect, but that’s forgivable at this price point. Read More — Dua Rashid

The Best Headphones in 2024

The Best Headphones in 2024

A good pair of headphones is nothing less than a necessity in this age. Whether you’re attending meetings on the go or jamming to music on the subway, you need headphones that sound good, look good, last long, and ideally silence the loud outside world around you.

While that’s very basic criteria for what you should look for in a regular pair of headphones, there’s a slightly different set of features to look out for if you’re on the hunt for a gaming headset. Gamers go after low latency, multiple connectivity options, a noise-canceling mic, and some extra frills like RGB lighting.

We’ve curated a list with multiple categories so you can find exactly what you’re looking for. If you need the absolute best overall headphones, Beats Studio Pro is our pick. We recommend the Turtle Beach Stealth Pro for the best gaming headphones. We’ve also included some options for the best earbuds and the best noise-canceling headphones.

The editorial staff of Gizmodo independently tests and reviews each product found in our Buyer’s Guides. If you purchase something using our affiliate links, G/O Media may earn a commission. Affiliate linking does not influence our editorial content.

Best Overall Headphones — Beats Studio Pro

Photo: Andrew Liszewski

The ANC on the Beats Studio Pro is noticeably better than its predecessor and actually comes close to ANC champs like the Apple AirPods Max and the Sony WH-1000XM5. The headband on the Beats Studio Pro has a pair of hinges, allowing the headphones to fold quite small so they can squeeze into an included carrying case that’s not much bigger than a toiletries bag. If we ever see an update to the AirPods Max, let’s hope that Apple’s audio team is paying attention and includes a proper carrying case like this next time, and not the weird diaper the first-gen AirPods Max are forced to wear out in public.

Despite being a brand that’s owned by Apple, Beats’ headphones and earbuds don’t functionally cater to just iPhones, iPads, and Macs like AirPods do. In fact, the new Beats Studio Pro includes some features that are Android only. The headphones also do a very good job at gutting lower frequencies, like the deep rumbles you’ll hear while riding a bus or during a flight on a large commercial airliner. Read More — Dua Rashid

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: the weird design works | Digital Trends

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: the weird design works | Digital Trends

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

MSRP $299.00

“The Ultra Open Earbuds’ quirky design could be the shape of things to come.”


  • Comfy, glasses-friendly shape
  • Open, airy sound
  • Excellent controls
  • Impressive spatial audio
  • Doesn’t block your ears


  • Expensive
  • No wireless charging
  • No Bluetooth Multipoint (yet)

Tired of your wireless earbuds blocking your ears and keeping you from hearing sounds around you? You’re not alone, and you’re not without options. Open-ear earbuds are an excellent choice for those who want to enjoy music and calls without sacrificing their situational awareness.

But if you’re someone who also wears glasses — either prescription or sunglasses (or both) — you may find that most open-ear earbuds seem to have one thing in common. They hook around the tops of your ears, right where your glasses sit.

Not so with Bose’s new Ultra Open Earbuds, which clip to the sides of your ears instead. It’s a bold design choice that’s as much fashion accessory as it is technology. They come with an equally bold price of $299, making them the most expensive open-ear earbuds you can buy. But to sweeten the deal, Bose has added head-tracked spatial audio, which it introduced with the QuietComfort Ultra Headphones and Ultra Earbuds.

Are they worth it? After using the Ultra Open Earbuds for two weeks, I think the answer is yes. But keep reading for my thoughts on who should buy them.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: design

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds in front of their charging case.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

If you’re sick of the standard white golf tee look of the Apple AirPods and their legion of knockoffs, you’ve come to the right place. The Ultra Open Earbuds (which come in black or white) couldn’t be more different.

They look like a comma (or perhaps an apostrophe), with a barrel on one end and a hook-like shape on the other. They’re such a departure from traditional earbuds that it’s far from obvious how to wear them. When I initially pulled them from their charging case, I confidently shoved the barrel portion in my ear, using the hook to secure them. It fit, but I can assure you this is incorrect.

It’s actually the hook that goes inside your concha first (it contains the speaker), then, while gripping the barrel, you wrap the barrel portion (battery and controls) around and behind the part of your ear called the helix.

Thanks to the flexible rubberized connection between the barrel and hook, it’s less awkward than it sounds. You get faster at it the more you do it.

If getting them on and off your ears takes practice, the opposite is true of getting the Ultra Open Earbuds in and out of their charging case. Unlike most earbuds that need to be plucked (sometimes with difficulty) from their charging crevices, the Ultra Open sit fully exposed — held in place only by their powerful magnets.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds inside their charging case.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

I’ve never seen a set of buds that are this easy to access. Putting them back might be even easier — simply bring them within a few millimeters of their assigned charging spots and those magnets grab them from your fingers and snap them in place.

Another benefit to the Ultra Open’s unusual shape is the size of their case. Most open-ear models use earhooks. This requires bigger, bulkier cases. The Ultra’s case is actually smaller than the one that accompanies the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds.

Unfortunately, the case doesn’t have wireless charging. You’ll have to use the included USB-A to USB-C cable. If you want wireless charging, Bose plans to sell a wireless charging silicone cover — the same ridiculous solution it designed for its QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds. It’s 2024 and there’s simply no acceptable reason for a set of nearly $300 wireless earbuds to omit this handy feature.

I’m also a little concerned about the case’s lid. Even when closed, it can twist out of shape a bit, leading me to think that either the hinge isn’t wide enough, or the lid’s plastic isn’t rigid enough.

Despite the fact that Bose intends the Ultra Open Earbuds to be worn all day, in a variety of situations, they only have IPX4 protection from water and no dust protection at all. In other words, a bit of sweat or rain should be fine, but they are not going to stand up to rougher use.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: comfort, controls, and connections

Simon Cohen wearing the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

With their unusual design, few folks will forget you’re wearing a set of Bose Ultra Open Earbuds, but you just might. Once I had them on my ears, I was barely aware of them. I’ve found this to be true of most open-ear earbuds I’ve tried, but the Ultra Open Earbuds are especially comfortable for long sessions.

They’re not perfect — I eventually noticed some pressure where the barrel sits against the back of my helix — but they can also be adjusted. I was able to slide them higher or lower to change that pressure point. They’re on par with the excellent Shokz OpenFit, except for the Ultra Open Earbuds’ big benefit: they don’t interfere with glasses.

Not that the whole glasses thing is a major problem with earhook-style buds, but with the Ultra Open Earbuds, you don’t think about it at all.

Simon Cohen wearing the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds with glasses.
The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds won’t interfere with eyeglasses. Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

Another big benefit to Bose’s design is the controls. A single physical button occupies the top of each barrel, which is easily clicked by putting your thumb on the barrel bottom while pressing the button with your index finger (like the OK hand sign). This turns out to be one of the easiest, most intuitive earbud controls I’ve ever used, and it works just as well with gloved hands.

By default, you get playback/call control and track control via single, double, and triple clicks. A long-press handles a preselected shortcut (more on this in a moment), and the left and right buds have volume down/up gestures, respectively. Of these, only the shortcut gesture can be customized in the Bose Music app (iOS, Android.)

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

There are no wear sensors, but there’s no need to remove an earbud for conversations — simply pressing the pause button is enough.

With Bluetooth 5.3, the Ultra Open Earbuds are easy to connect, especially on Android devices where Google Fast Pair makes it a one-click process. Plus, they’re future-proofed for the eventual support of features like LE Audio and Auracast. Unfortunately, neither is available out of the box, though Bose says both are on its radar.

More surprisingly though, is the lack of Bluetooth Multipoint. Open-ear earbuds are perfect for those who want to switch from one device to another throughout the day — Bose calls it the “one bud phenomenon” — but without Multipoint, that promise of freedom quickly becomes the reality of frustration. Again, Bose says this omission will be addressed with an update, but it hasn’t offered concrete timing other than promising it for 2024.

While we wait for Multipoint to arrive, Bose has a stopgap measure of sorts. You can program the long-press shortcut gesture to hop the Ultra Open Earbuds from their existing wireless connection to the next device in your list. It’s not as seamless or as convenient as true Multipoint, but it’s far better than having to reach for your phone or pull up the Bluetooth menu on your computer.

Each bud can have different shortcut functions, and your other choices are voice assistant access, immersive audio switching, or mode cycling. On Bose QuietComfort products, modes make sense — they let you assign different combinations of ANC and immersive audio into a single setting.

But on the Ultra Open, it’s somewhat superfluous. The only thing you can add to a mode is an immersive audio setting, and these are already accessible via the immersive audio switching shortcut. The one benefit appears to be the ability to eliminate one of the three immersive audio options, letting you toggle between two.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: sound quality

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

For open-ear earbuds to provide situational awareness, they have to let a lot of outside sound in. That’s kryptonite for audio fidelity, and there’s no getting around it — the louder your environment, the harder it will be to enjoy your music.

I can’t stress this enough: you will hear your music, but you will hear everything else, too. Nonetheless, the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds manage to do a better job at this balancing act than the competition.

It’s not just that Bose knows how to extract great sound quality from small drivers — it’s also a result of the Ultra Open Earbuds’ design. Most open-ear earbuds position their drivers in front of and just above the ear’s concha. The Ultra Open Earbuds’ curly shape, on the other hand, puts the earbuds’ drivers inside the concha, where they’re closer to your ear canals, while simultaneously using the ear’s natural contours to shield them. A side benefit of this arrangement is that they leak far less of their own sound to the outside world.

The overall result is impressive, especially in quiet locations. Instead of pushing audio into your ears like normal earbuds — which can be intense, particularly when listening to lower frequencies — the Ultra Open Earbuds create an airy, natural listening experience that does a better job of simulating a set of stereo speakers. They’re the earbud equivalent of open-back headphones.

Bass, which is usually the first victim of open designs, remains potent. It doesn’t thump, but it still carries plenty of weight and resonance. Midrange details are another strength. In quiet locations, they let me hear many subtleties. Higher frequencies can be a tad on the strident side, but are always clear and focused.

Bose includes a set of four EQ presets to help fine-tune the sound to your liking, but these are subtle tweaks at best. You won’t be able to massively alter the factory tuning.

I was especially impressed with Bose’s Immersive Audio setting, which gives any stereo sound the spatial audio treatment. The effect is very convincing — it puts two virtual stereo speakers a few feet in front and above your listening position.

Though still not a must-have feature, I think Bose’s spatial tech works better than that of Apple, Jabra, and Soundcore. Add the open architecture of the Ultra Open Earbuds, and you’ve got an ideal platform for getting the most out of the 3D-like effect.

Like the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds (and Headphones), you can choose between “still” — the head-tracked version — and “motion,” which maintains spatial audio, but disables head tracking. The key difference is that still mode creates the illusion that the two virtual speakers are in the same room as you, but fixed in place, directly in front of your listening position. With motion mode, those speakers move in sync with your head movements, which is how traditional headphones work.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

There’s also an auto-volume feature that can be enabled in the Bose Music app. When it’s on, the earbuds try to increase the volume based on your surroundings, to keep the same relative volume you had set when in a quieter location — and it’s a good idea in theory. Unfortunately I found it didn’t kick in when I wanted it to, and when it did, it often took me by surprise.  Its ability to do this depends on your chosen volume level — if you start at 90%, there’s not much it can do to make things louder.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Sound tech, the Ultra Open Earbuds give you the full range of aptX codecs, including aptX Lossless, for CD-quality wireless sound (assuming you have a compatible Android phone). You may notice a difference in controlled, quiet settings — I found my Motorola ThinkPhone delivered a smoother, more nuanced sound than my iPhone 14 — but these benefits will be instantly lost the moment you step outside.

Before you rush to hit the buy button, there are two things you need to know, especially if you’ve never used open-ear earbuds before.

First, when you’re in noisy environments, listening to spoken-word content like podcasts or phone calls can be challenging. You will miss things and you’ll likely have to ask people to repeat themselves. Keep that in mind if you’re going to be using these while at a gym or walking on busy streets.

Second, sound quality and volume levels will be affected by fit. This is true of any set of earbuds, but it’s particularly noticeable on a product like the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds, which have a variety of possible positions on your ear. Be prepared to experiment.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: call quality

Simon Cohen wearing the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

I love using open-ear earbuds for phone calls and video chats. Few people discuss it, but I think it’s a highly underrated aspect of these devices. Because you can hear your own voice as clearly as if you weren’t using headphones at all, it’s a natural way to talk and far less fatiguing than with regular earbuds — even those with a transparency mode.

On the other side of the equation, your callers should hear you clearly most of the time. Outdoors, the Ultra Open Earbuds occasionally struggle with loud competing sounds. Your voice may sound distant or thin. The fidelity gets better indoors.

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds: battery life

Bose claims the Ultra Open Earbuds get up to 7.5 hours of battery life on a single charge, and the charging case can boost that to 27 hours. However, Bose’s Immersive Audio mode appears to be very power-hungry. If you leave it turned on, battery life drops to 4.5 and 16.5 hours respectively.

And most power estimates are based on listening at a 50% volume level. That may be enough when inside, but you will likely want it higher when outside.

While that’s not brilliant for wireless earbuds, the Ultra Open Earbuds should still be able to get you through a full day. You likely won’t be listening to music continuously, and even if you do, a quick charge of 10 minutes gets you an extra two hours of use.

Open-ear earbuds aren’t for everyone. They can’t deliver thumping bass, and the very thing that makes them appealing (being able to hear your surroundings) is also the thing that limits their audio quality. And yet, if you’re tired of jamming hard plastic objects into your ears and then having to yank them out just to order a coffee, the Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are a fantastic alternative.

They cost more than they should considering their lack of wireless charging, and I’m nonplussed at their current lack of Bluetooth Multipoint. However, they sound better than any other open-ear model I’ve tried so far, their unusual shape is ideal for wearing glasses, and their already open and airy sound is the perfect platform for their spatial audio tech.

Like the idea of open-ear earbuds, but you’re not ready to make a $300 investment? Our roundup of the best open-ear earbuds has several great options at varying prices, but here are three models I think are worth a closer look: The Oladance OWS2 ($149) sound great, but are a bit bulky. The Shokz OpenFit ($180) are incredibly comfortable. And if you need a non-earhook design, Sony’s intriguing LinkBuds ($180) are exceptional for making calls.

Editors’ Recommendations

Bose’s new QuietComfort headphones are $100 off right now

Bose’s new QuietComfort headphones are $100 off right now

Beyond the sound’s quality, we want two things when it comes to headphones: a lightweight design and noise canceling. Bose’s aptly named QuietComfort wireless headphones make a case for both and, right now, do so at a record-low price. The 2023 QuietComfort headphones are currently available for $249, down from $349 — a 29 percent discount. The sale applies to all colors: Cypress Green, Moonstone Blue, Black and White.


The newest iteration of the Bose QuietComfort wireless headphones improves on the QuietComfort 45. While many of the features (which we’ll get into) are quite similar, the 2023 model offers adjustable ANC models and an option to save custom modes. The headphones are our choice for the best noise-canceling wireless headphones for 2024.

Bose’s QuietComfort headphones also offer a soft earcup and padded band for that comfort component. They provide 24 hours of battery life with a 15-minute charge providing another two and a half hours of juice. As for sound quality, the QuietComfort headphones offer high-fidelity audio and adjustable EQ for even greater customization.

The Ultra QuietComfort model is also on sale, with a 12 percent discount dropping the cost to $379 from $429. They offer Breakthrough Spatialized Audio, Bluetooth 5.3 and “luxurious comfort.” If headphones aren’t your thing, Bose’s QuietComfort Ultra Wireless Noise Cancelling Earbuds are available for $249, down from $299. Plus, you can grab the SoundLink Flex Bluetooth Speaker for $129 instead of $149.

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Pulse Elite review: PS5’s new headset is best by default | Digital Trends

Pulse Elite review: PS5’s new headset is best by default | Digital Trends

“The Pulse Elite is the best PS5 headset you can buy –by default.”


  • Discrete microphone
  • Innovative charging mount
  • Great sound quality
  • Long battery life
  • Dual connectivity


  • Loose fit
  • Distortion at high volumes
  • Portal integration is lacking

PlayStation has been busy over the last two years. The brand hasn’t just been busy pumping out award-winning games during the PS5 era; it’s been building an Apple-like tech ecosystem right under our noses. That reality became fully clear last year when Sony launched its PlayStation Portal handheld. The accessory came with one odd catch: it didn’t support Bluetooth. To use a wireless headset, players would need to buy some specific earbuds or headsets that support Sony’s new PlayStation Link tech. It was a smart, but frustrating move that gave PlayStation owners incentive to keep buying first-party Sony accessories.

Just a few months removed from the Portal launch, we’re seeing the next step in Sony’s product playbook with the Pulse Elite. Sony’s latest headset isn’t just custom-made for PS5 and its 3D audio features; it’s one of the only wireless headsets you can use with PlayStation Portal right now. That makes it a device that you almost have to buy.

The good news is that the Pulse Elite is a fairly good investment if you’re fully bought into the PS5 ecosystem. It’s a long-lasting headset capable of capturing crisp sounds across the console’s library. But its loose fit and high price tag will leave you wishing that you had the option to entertain another option.

Design and comfort

The Pulse Elite is designed to match the PS5, so opinions on its aesthetics may vary. It follows a familiar black-and-white motif and features the same bold geometry that makes the PS5 so distinct (and hard to place in an entertainment center). The most noticeable design quirk is that it has two white arms on either side that protrude a bit past the earcups. It looks a bit awkward at first, but they have yet to get in my way.

A Pulse Elite headset sits on a table.
Giovanni Colantonio / Digital Trends

It’s certainly a visual statement, but one with some function. The Pulse Elite’s microphone is stealthily housed in the left arm. It can be quickly unsheathed from the tip by pushing the plastic forward, revealing a flexible mic arm hidden within. It’s a great design detail that lets players keep their microphone hidden when it’s not in use without having to keep track of a detachable add-on.

My favorite design innovation here, though, is the Pulse Elite’s unique charging system. There’s a traditional charging port underneath the right arm (I can use the same cord I use to charge my DualSense controllers), but you’ll notice an odd little latch point under the headband. The Pulse Elite comes with a plastic hook that slots into that spot. It can be screwed into a well and connected to a cord, creating a wall mount that charges the headset while it’s hanging by the headband. It’s a practical, dual-function design that makes the $150 headset feel a bit more premium.

It’s more comfortable than the competitively rigid Pulse 3D.

As for comfort, I’ve felt no strain using the Pulse Elite during multi-hour gaming sessions. That’s partially thanks to the fact that it features a second, softer headband underneath the main one. It’s an arch of black plastic that stretches and squashes to fit multiple head sizes and shapes. That, combined with pillow-soft earcups, make it more comfortable than the competitively rigid Pulse 3D.

There’s one catch to that, though. The Pulse Elite is strangely loose-fitting on my head. It’s great that it’s not squeezing the life out of me, but Sony went a little too far here. It begins to slide down my head anytime I lift my chin to take a drink. Perhaps that won’t be a problem for people with bigger heads, but they’re far too wiggly for my own, with no real option to adjust the tightness that I can find. It’s not a deal breaker, but it does mean I have to stay fairly still when using it.

Sound quality

The Pulse Elite really stands out where it counts: audio quality. Naturally, Sony has tuned the headset to get the most out of the PS5’s 3D audio. That’s noticeable. When I’m playing Helldivers 2, I can pinpoint exactly where my teammates’ gunfire is coming from. That’s exactly what you want from a PS5 headset, and the Pulse Elite delivers.

The headset produces detailed sound across ranges. Helldivers 2 would serve as a perfect test case as it’s full of crisp and detailed sounds. When I’m jumping into a pod to queue up for a match, I can hear every clang as I lock into the metallic device. Gunshots are sharp and impactful, with a bit of bass under the shot to emphasize the burst. Tests in Foamstars and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth’s demo gave me similar results, as I was able to get those most out of the former’s jazzy soundtrack and the latter’s hectic fights.

A microphone protrudes from the Pulse Elite headset.
Giovanni Colantonio / Digital Trends

What’s unfortunate is how distorted sound gets at high volumes. When cranking them all the way up, I quickly got some harsh sounds in the Rebirth demo’s fights. Additional tests at high volumes produced similar results. When connecting to Spotify and blasting some Noname, I got a lot of crunchy distortion on the low end. That mostly happened at max volume and would resolve when moving down a tick or two, but that still places an unfortunate limit on my volume options.

As for the microphone, the audio quality is acceptable even if it sounds like a standard gaming headset mic rather than a $150 one. What I will applaud there is the Pulse Elite’s “AI-enhanced” noise rejection. When I’m not talking, the mic goes dead silent. I ran some recording tests where I spoke while music played very close to the mic in the background. Anytime I stopped talking, no music bled through. And when I did speak, the music was very faint underneath my voice. That’s great, as it means you won’t need to turn your TV down if you’re using chat through something like Discord on your phone.

Battery life

During the PS5 generation, I’ve come to assume that I need to charge most Sony products after one session. The battery life on the DualSense, DualSense Edge, and PlayStation Portal all leave a bit to be desired. Even the Pulse 3D only got up to around 13 hours on a charge. So far, the Pulse Elite totally bucks that trend.

A Pulse Elite headset sits next to a charging wall mount.
Giovanni Colantonio / Digital Trends

Sony claims that the Pulse Elite’s battery can last up to 30 hours. While it’s hard to gauge how consistent that figure is, I can attest that the battery lasts much longer than those in other Sony headsets I’ve used. In my first go-round with it, I wore it for a three-hour gaming session, picked it up for a handful of one- to two-hour sessions over the course of a week, and tooled around with testing it on both PC and mobile. After all that time, I still had three battery ticks. That’s a wonderful change of pace for PlayStation accessories.

Charging is a snap too, as Sony touts that a 10-minute charge will net players two hours of battery life. That fact, combined with its innovative mounting hook charging solution, makes the Pulse Elite much easier to use than the Pulse 3D. I never have to worry about whether or not the battery will run out on me. Even when it does, it doesn’t take long to get back up to speed so I can finish up a gaming session.

Connectivity and customization

Where the Pulse Elite starts to get a bit weird is in its connectivity. The headset is Bluetooth-enabled, which makes it easy to connect to a phone or other devices, but its big feature is its PlayStation Link integration. That’s Sony’s new audio tech that boasts “lossless and lightning-fast ultra-low latency” — though its more tangible purpose is getting PlayStation players to buy Sony earbuds and headsets to keep all its devices in one consistent ecosystem.

There’s some good and bad side effects of that decision. On the plus side, the Pulse Elite can simultaneously connect to two devices via Bluetooth and PlayStation Link. I was able to connect to my phone to use Discord while staying hooked into my PS5 to play Foamstars. That’s a great bit of flexibility that PlayStation Link (compatible with a USB dongle) provides.

A Pulse Elite, DualSense, and PlayStation Portal sit on a table.
Giovanni Colantonio / Digital Trends

The bad news is that you kind of have to buy a Pulse Elite if you want to use a wireless headset on PlayStation Portal. That device doesn’t support Bluetooth or leave room for a dongle, so you’re stuck either buying this pricey headset or Sony’s new (and even pricier) Pulse Explore earbuds. The Pulse Elite is at least a solid headset, so it’s not the worst fate, but one design flaw torpedoes its utility.

By pressing the PlayStation Link button three times while connected to PS5, you can open a handy quick menu on your TV. This allows players to quickly mess with EQ, either creating their own or using some presets. It’s a handy feature, but one that doesn’t carry over to Portal. If you connect your Pulse Elite to the Portal, your PS5 won’t recognize it the same way it would if it were directly attached. That means that you can’t access the EQ menu, see battery life, or get an on-screen volume indicator when using onboard controls. To get that, you’d need to connect your Pulse Elite to the PS5 and then power on the Portal.

I hope Sony can iron out quirks like that as it experiments with new product lines using PlayStation Link.

While that’s ultimately a niche use case, it’s a bit frustrating considering the forced ecosystem Sony is creating here. If I have to buy specific headsets to get wireless audio on devices like the Portal, I don’t think it’s unfair to expect consistency. I imagine that’s a specific problem with the Portal since it’s a remote play device, but I hope Sony can iron out quirks like that as it experiments with new product lines using PlayStation Link. If not, the whole experiment will get frustrating fast.

It’s not like you have a lot of options, though. If you want a solid premium headset that easily connects to every PlayStation device you own, the Pulse Elite is the best out there … by default. I’m thankful that Sony at least made sure it was an option worth owning, with great sound and innovative design, but I’m not convinced that it’s worth losing Bluetooth entirely to keep all my PlayStation accessories in harmony.

Editors’ Recommendations

Oladance debuts waterproof OWS Sports open-ear headphones | Digital Trends

Oladance debuts waterproof OWS Sports open-ear headphones | Digital Trends


You may not be familiar with Oladance, but in the world of open-ear earbuds and headphones, it’s a top-notch brand. It’s latest product — the Oladance OWS Sports — takes the company’s reputation for excellent sound quality and comfort and adds two features that athletes will appreciate: IPX8 waterproofing and an integrated, silicone-wrapped titanium wire neckband.

The OWS Sports cost $179, and come in four colors named for chemicals produced by the body during physical exercise: Endorphin Silver, Hormone Yellow, Epinephrine Gray, and Dopamine Pink. You can buy them through or Amazon.

Oladance OWS Sports in four color options.

To date, all of Oladance’s OWS (Open Wearable Stereo) earbuds, including the class-leading OWS Pro, have been designed like traditional wireless earbuds — separate devices for each ear that are stored in a charging case when not in use. Without any kind of physical connection between the earbuds, removing them meant carrying that case or sticking them in your pocket. None have offered more than IPX4 protection from water, which is OK for some sweat or rain, but not much else.

The OWS Sports change this formula considerably. They can withstand full water immersion and the neckband ensures that if they come off your ears, they won’t get very far. They come with a very large and sturdy zippered case, but it’s purely for protection and travel. Charging is accomplished via the included USB-A magnetic cable. Oladance says you’ll get about 15 hours per charge, and a full recharge can be done in two hours.

Oladance OWS Sports in Hormone Yellow.

They use Bluetooth 5.1 with support for Bluetooth Multipoint — great for connecting two devices simultaneously — and they’re also compatible with Qualcomm’s aptX codec for higher-quality audio on compatible Android phones (iPhones don’t use aptX).

Physical buttons are integrated into each side of the headset and give you control over power, playback, volume, and voice assistant access.

Oladance’s amplifier and driver technology is claimed to offer “crystal-clear, 360-degree home theater quality sound,” with very little sound leakage so those around you won’t be aware of your yacht rock addiction. The company says you’ll get clear calls too, thanks to microphones with built-in wind noise reduction.

Editors’ Recommendations

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: Function meets fashion

Bose Ultra Open Earbuds review: Function meets fashion

Last month, Bose took an interesting approach to debuting a new product when it launched its Ultra Open Earbuds exclusively through a collaboration with fashion company Kith. Now, Bose is back with its own version, nixing the co-branding while keeping the same price. For both varieties, the $299 Ultra Open Earbuds sit outside of your ear canal and clip onto the ridge of your ear to stay in place. Due to the open nature of the design, active noise cancellation (ANC) is moot, but Bose does bring its Immersive Audio tech to the table for spatial sound.

Bose has gone the “open” route before, debuting the Sport Open Earbuds in 2021. That model has the over-the-ear hook that we’ve seen on some fitness-focused earbuds, only the company opted for a hard plastic hook that doesn’t bend or flex at all. This meant they weren’t the most comfortable and you couldn’t use them while wearing glasses or a hat. As open-type earbuds have become increasingly popular, mostly for the allure of “all day” wear by allowing you to stay in-tune with your surroundings, Bose developed this model that fixes all the issues of its previous design. There are some trade-offs with earbuds that sit outside of your ear canal, but you may be willing to overlook them in the name of style, comfort and functionality.


Bose’s new open-fit earbuds are more of a fashion accessory than a wearable and come with some inherent trade-offs.


  • Unique design
  • Comfy enough for all-day wear
  • Reliable controls
  • Open fit if you’re into that

  • Sound quality varies based on fit
  • No multipoint Bluetooth
  • The aesthetic isn’t for everyone
  • Immersive Audio effect is subdued

$299 at Amazon


Bose Ultra Open Earbuds

Photo by Kate Steele/Engadget

For the Ultra Open Earbuds, Bose created a two-piece design that consists of a rounded speaker chamber that sits outside of your ear canal and a cylindrical battery box that rests behind your ear. In between is a strip of soft-touch, flexible silicon that wraps around the edge of your ear for what the company calls a “light-as-air grip.” There are onboard controls too, as the battery barrel on both sides each holds a single, multi-function button.

Bose describes the Ultra Open Earbuds as “more fashion accessory than traditional wearable,” and they certainly aren’t inconspicuous. They provide a lewk that you’ll need to be okay with. During my testing, not everyone I encountered, even in my own home, was a fan.

“It’s really hard for me to look at you when you have those things on,” my wife said. “They’re a vibe.” On the bright side, that vibe got me out of a conversation with a door-to-door internet salesman quickly as they suggested I was “on call.”

Polarizing design aside, the Ultra Open Earbuds are extremely comfortable to wear. Earbuds that go into your ears are fine for a few hours at most for me before they become a test of my endurance. Open-type earbuds are different, of course, and these are certainly the most comfy of the sort that I’ve tested thanks to the lack of a hook. And that clip-on pressure is so light that you don’t feel any irritation there. There’s enough of a grip to hold the IPX4-rated earbuds in place though, even during workouts.

Bose Music app and features

Bose’s new open-fit earbuds are more of a fashion accessory than wearable and come with some inherent trade-offs.

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

Like most of Bose’s recent products, the Ultra Open Earbuds work with the company’s Music app for access to features and settings. There isn’t anything new here that wasn’t available on the QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds that debuted last year, except for some guidance about how to put the Ultra Open Earbuds on. Most of the tools you’ll need are still front-and-center on the main screen, with things like battery life, sound modes, EQ, Immersive Audio and Bluetooth connections easily accessible. The Ultra Open Earbuds don’t have multipoint Bluetooth connectivity, so though the app does show multiple devices to stream from, you can only sync with one at a time. And since these are meant to be worn all the time, there’s no automatic pausing either.

The app also lets you reassign what the onboard button does, but only one gesture is available for customizing: press-and-hold. By default, it’s set to cycle between stereo and Immersive Audio modes. You can also employ it to change the Immersive Audio setting (Still, Motion, Off), switch Bluetooth connections, summon your voice assistant or simply disable it entirely. Left and right buttons can be configured individually, putting different tasks on either side. Bose does include onboard volume control despite only having one physical button on the earbuds. A double press then hold on the right increases the level while the same sequence on the left lowers it.

Sound quality

One unique aspect of the Ultra Open Earbuds audio-wise is the fact that you can wear them anywhere along your ear they sound and feel the best. This could be at the bottom of your ear or along the back edge. Bose says positioning around your ear doesn’t affect overall sound quality so long as the speaker component is placed first before wrapping the silicon “flex arm” around back. There are certain spots where the Ultra Open Earbuds feel and sound better, but it always takes a small adjustment to find the sweet spot when I first put them on.

Bose says that the Ultra Open Earbuds use so-called Open Audio in tandem with its spatial Immersive Audio tech for “a breakthrough experience.” According to the company, the former allows you to listen to tunes with “almost no sound leaks” to those around you. I found that this only holds true up to about 50 percent volume level. Above that, people around you in quiet settings will hear what you’re listening to. Not in great detail unless you crank the earbuds all the way up, but a general rumble is audible to those nearby.

Immersive Audio, Bose’s spatial sound technology, puts you in the acoustic sweet spot to improve the overall listening experience. This works really well on the QC Ultra Earbuds and QC Ultra Headphones where your ears are closed off and the sound is directed at them. With the Ultra Open Earbuds, the difference between stereo and Immersive Audio in terms of overall sound quality is subtle. And since Immersive Audio has such an impact on battery life, it’s probably best if you leave it off if you aren’t able to greatly distinguish between the two modes.

Bose’s new open-fit earbuds are more of a fashion accessory than wearable and come with some inherent trade-offs.

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

In general, the Ultra Open Earbuds suffer the same fate as most open-type audio wearables. You sacrifice sound quality to keep your ears clear, which certainly increases overall comfort most, if not all of the time. Specifically, there’s a lack of dynamic tuning as the audio profile rests mostly in the mid range. Bass is subdued, as are the crisp highs from Bose’s other recent audio gear. These are still some of the best open-type earbuds I’ve tested in terms of sound, but their design leads to a less impressive listening experience compared to in-ear buds.

There is a decent low-end thump when listening to things like Com Truise’s synth-tinged electronic instrumentals. But, it doesn’t have the same deep bass punch as closed-off earbuds. There’s also still good detail in mellow selections like Kacey Musgraves’ “Deeper Well” but even then the sound is more compressed than usual, so the openness of the track is quite subdued. The overall audio quality depends on how the earbuds fit on your ears as I could improve things by holding them close to my ear canal, but they don’t stay there without assistance. Where they rest on their own, though, doesn’t deliver the best these buds have to offer.

There also seems to be a reverb-y echo on the Ultra Open Earbuds, like the two sides are slightly out of sync. This is the biggest knock on the sound quality for me as it’s very evident when listening to podcasts. It sounds like the host recorded in a school hallway even when the audio is pristine. It doesn’t make the earbuds unusable, but it’s enough to be noticeable, especially on isolated voices. I’ve reached out to Bose for more information on why this is happening, and whether there might be a fix coming. (Update: This is caused by Immersive Audio mode being active for podcasts. After some guidance from Bose, I disabled it, which fixed the issue.)

Call quality

Due to their design, the Ultra Open Earbuds are great for hearing yourself on calls. Your ears aren’t blocked, so you don’t ever feel the need to shout or worry about a subpar transparency mode. When you’re speaking, voice quality is decent, but only in quiet areas. If you encounter medium-to-high levels of ambient noise, which I simulated with a white noise machine and a louder-than-average bathroom fan, that background clamor is very apparent to the person on the other side.

Battery life

Bose’s new open-fit earbuds are more of a fashion accessory than wearable and come with some inherent trade-offs.

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

On the Ultra Open Earbuds, battery life is drastically impacted by the spatial Immersive Audio. Bose says you can expect up to four and a half hours with it turned on or up to seven and half hours without. Battery life also took a hit on the QC Ultra Earbuds and the QC Ultra Headphones when Immersive Audio was at work, so this isn’t a surprise. But, cutting the expected play time by about half is more of a decrease than what I experienced on those two models. During my tests, I managed just over five hours of playtime at 75 percent volume with Immersive Audio active almost the entire time. This includes letting the earbuds sit idle in standby mode twice for around 30-45 minutes before picking them back up (breaks not factored into use time).

The good news is there are nearly three full charges in the case, no matter which audio mode you use. A 10-minute rest will give you up to two hours of playtime and the Ultra Open Earbuds take one hour to fully charge. The bad news is that the case doesn’t charge wirelessly out of the box, so you’ll need to plug in a USB-C cable. Bose will sell a wireless charging cover for the case like it does with the QC Ultra Earbuds ($49).

The competition

There are fewer options for open-wear earbuds than there are “traditional” models. One in particular is worth considering as an alternative to the Ultra Open Earbuds. Shokz is better known for its bone-conduction models that keep your ears completely free from obstruction, but the company also makes the OpenFit ($180) open-ear headphones. Engadget homepage editor Jon Turi observed “rich bass” during his review, but with a “crunchy” edge to super-low frequencies. Senior commerce editor Valentina Palladino has also tested these, noting the balanced weight distribution that helps them stay in place during workouts. Of course, these have the over-the-ear hook, so you’ll have to contend with that interfering with glasses or headwear.

For something more mainstream, I’d suggest Bose’s QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds. They are certainly the best true wireless model yet from the company, with stellar ANC performance and that Immersive Audio tech that doesn’t require special content for spatial sound. They’re also slightly cheaper at $249.


Kudos to Bose for thinking outside the box for its latest set of open-style earbuds. The Ultra Open Earbuds’ design is certainly unique, and it’s also very comfortable. If you’re going to wear these all day like the company expects, they can’t be painful at any point, and these certainly aren’t. However, you’ll need to make some sacrifices in terms of audio, unless these fit you right in the sweet spot close to your ear canal. If all-day wear is your goal, though, and you enjoy the benefits of the open design, you’ll likely be ok with the sonic deficiencies.

The Bose Ultra Open Earbuds are available starting today in black and white color options for $299.

Update, February 15 2024, 11:09AM ET: This review was updated with more info on the use of Immersive Audio when listening to podcasts.

Bose’s Unique Ultra Open Earbuds Deliver Impressive Sound for a Mighty High Price

Bose’s Unique Ultra Open Earbuds Deliver Impressive Sound for a Mighty High Price

The cling-on (not Klingon) design feels odd at first, but the buds nearly fade away over time thanks to their relatively light weight of 6.5 grams each. They feel slightly precarious, but they held on for a variety of activities, from yard work to jogging. The steadfast hold is entirely down to that malleable curling hinge that keeps its grip while still feeling pretty comfy, with only a tinge of pinching after multiple hours.

The Ultra Open Earbuds’ single-key control system is well thought out, letting you play/pause, skip songs, take calls, and even control volume with relative ease through a series of taps and long presses. There’s an assignable shortcut for each side that lets you choose between commands like activating a voice assistant, switching Bluetooth sources, or choosing between stereo mode and Bose’s 3D audio system.

The latter works, for better or worse, in the same way as Bose’s noise-canceling Ultra headphones and the latest QuietComfort earbuds. The system employs digital processing to create a deeper sense of immersion from stereo sources, including the ability to track your head movements to keep the sound centralized as though you’re listening to speakers. As noted in my Bose QuietComfort Ultra headphones review, I’m not a big fan—I’d rather the feature be cut and the price dropped—but it can be interesting to play around with.

Other notable features include a three-band EQ alongside a selection of audio presets, Auto Volume to dynamically adjust the sound based on your environment (though it doesn’t seem particularly accurate), and a solid 7.5 hours of playback time per charge. Android users will also get Google’s Fast Pair connection and aptX Adaptive for hi-res streaming. I was surprised to find the charging case does not include support for Qi wireless charging—something I expect in this price bracket. There’s also no multipoint pairing to seamlessly switch between connected devices, like your laptop and phone, though Bose says this is coming later.

I experienced multiple connection hiccups during my review, including a few where the left earbud disconnected completely, requiring me to put the buds in the case to reset them. I was not alone, as Bose sent out a firmware update (the second during my evaluation) to address several software quirks. It’s not a great look at this price, but so far the update seems to have created a much more stable connection with only occasional hiccups.

In the Open

The big pitch for open-ear headphones and adjacent devices like audio sunglasses is their blend of environmental awareness and sonic accompaniment for a wide variety of activities. This translates to options like chatting with your partner while you groove to your Discover Weekly playlist, jogging in traffic without sacrificing spatial awareness, or simply humming along through your daily routine at the office without missing a greeting from the CEO.

Photograph: Ryan Waniata

Best Sony WH-1000XM5 Deals: Save $70 at Best Buy Today | Digital Trends

Best Sony WH-1000XM5 Deals: Save $70 at Best Buy Today | Digital Trends


There’s no shortage of headphone deals out there, but there’s always going to be lots of demand for Sony headphones — and Sony WH-1000XM5 deals, in particular. These wireless headphones are extremely popular for various reasons, which is why shoppers are always on the lookout for discounts when buying them. To help you get some savings, check out the best offer for the Sony WH-1000XM5 that we’ve found below, and you better hurry with completing your purchase because there’s no telling when the bargain ends.

Today’s best Sony WH-1000XM5 deal

  • Sony WH-1000XM5 Wireless Headphones —

Should you buy the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones?

Sony WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones hanging on wall hook in front of a mirror.
Simon Cohen / Digital Trends

The Sony WH-1000XM5 are our top pick among the best headphones, taking the spot from its predecessor, the Sony WH-1000XM4. It all starts with the wireless headphones’ excellent sound and ultra-clear call quality, as they create more refined and more detailed audio despite using 25% smaller drivers than the previous model. They also feature Sony’s Precise Voice Pickup technology, so the person on the other end of the call will hear you clearly even when you’re in a noisy place. You have control over the Sony WH-1000XM5’s output through the Sony Headphones app, which offers access to full manual EQ settings while also providing several presets for different situations and independent bass boost adjustment.

One of the main features of the Sony WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones are their active noise cancellation, which prevents you from getting disturbed by your surroundings. With an eight-microphone arrangement and dual-chip processing, you can maintain complete focus on whatever you’re listening to or watching. The wireless headphones also offer a transparency mode that lets external sound in without having to take them off your head. There’s even an optional voice enhancement mode, which will come in handy when you activate transparency mode for purposes such as to engage in a conversation, or to place a food or drink order.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 offer all-day comfort with their lightweight design and soft-fit leather, for a snug fit around your head with less pressure on the ears. This will allow you to maximize the wireless headphones’ battery life of up to 30 hours on a single charge. If their battery runs low, charging for just 3 minutes will replenish 3 hours of usage. The wireless headphones also come with Bluetooth Multipoint technology, so you can pair them with up to two devices at the same time and easily switch between them.

The Sony WH-1000XM5 wireless headphones are perfect for professionals and students alike, and they’re excellent for keeping yourself busy during long commutes and for maintaining your focus on complicated projects. With the Sony WH-1000XM5 deal above, they’re an even better purchase for practically anyone.

More Unmissable Deals

How to Connect Bluetooth Headphones to a PS5 | Digital Trends

How to Connect Bluetooth Headphones to a PS5 | Digital Trends

While the PS5 does indeed have Bluetooth built-in, there is little native support for headphones or other audio products; Bluetooth on the PS5 has been included primarily for connecting wireless keyboards and mice, as well as approved Sony products. Don’t fret, though: there is a way to connect your headset to your game console, and it’s relatively easy—assuming you’re willing to buy a Bluetooth transmitter.

Once you have the Bluetooth transmitter, you’re a few easy steps away from connecting Bluetooth headphones to your PS5 . Read on as we describe the pairing process in detail.

Still not sure which game console you want to grab? Check out our head-to-head between the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.

Grab a Bluetooth adapter for your PS5

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The first step in getting your Bluetooth headphones to pair with your PS5 is to pick up a USB-A or USB-C Bluetooth Audio Transmitter. These small devices can be inserted into one of your PS5’s USB ports and be used to connect to external Bluetooth audio devices.

We recommend picking up a USB-A Bluetooth transmitter as the PS5 offers three USB-A ports and only a single USB-C port; it is best to leave the USB-C port free for devices that would take better advantage of the high speed, powered connection, such as an external Solid State Drive (SSD) for storing games once your internal storage has been maxed.

Nearly any Bluetooth USB transmitter will work with your PS5, but if you would like a specific recommendation, this reliable option from Avantree will work perfectly; it supports Bluetooth 4.1, which won’t be a problem for Bluetooth audio headsets.

Plug your Bluetooth adapter into your PS5

Begin by plugging your Bluetooth USB-A or USB-C transmitter into your PS5. If you went with a USB-A type transmitter, you can plug it into either the PS5’s front-facing Hi-Speed USB-A port or one of its rear-facing Super-speed (10 Gbps) USB-A ports. If you selected a USB-C type transmitter, you will need to use the sole USB Type-C port on the front of the device. Once inserted into your PS5, you can begin the pairing process with your Bluetooth headphones.

Connect your Bluetooth headphones to your PS5

Jaron Schneider / Digital Trends

Once your Bluetooth transmitter is inserted into your PS5, there are no additional set up processes required to complete on the PlayStation; it will automatically recognize the Bluetooth transmitter and prepare it for the system. When you are ready to pair your Bluetooth headphones with the PS5, follow the instructions below.

Step 1: Turn on your Bluetooth headphones, then place them into pairing mode following your manufacturer’s instructions — you may need to check the user manual for details.

Step 2: On the Bluetooth transmitter, hold down the transmitter button until the LED light begins flashing, then wait for a moment.

Step 3: Your transmitter will automatically detect your Bluetooth headphones and establish a connection — you are ready to begin gaming on PS5 with your favorite headphones!

If the connection failed, turn off your headphones and try the provided instructions again; if you wait too long between placing both devices into pairing more, the pairing process may be halted. Additionally, be sure that your Bluetooth headphones are charged.

How to connect Bluetooth headphones to your PS5 without a transmitter

Want to connect Bluetooth headphones to your PS5 but bypass the whole Bluetooth transmitter buying process? We have a potential solution for you, depending on your television model.

Specifically, many modern TVs have Bluetooth capability, so you can pair your wireless Bluetooth headphones to it to watch—and play—without disturbing those around you. Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Navigate to the settings menu on your TV, and find the Bluetooth screen. Make sure Bluetooth pairing is enabled

Step 2: Next, enable pairing mode on your Bluetooth headphones.

Step 3: Check for your particular headphones in the list of available Bluetooth devices on your TV, and initiate the pairing process.

Viola! You should be ready to start gaming on you PS5 with the sound routed through your Bluetooth headphones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you connect a Bluetooth headset to PS5?

Unfortunately, the PS5 does not offer native Bluetooth headphone support. In order to connect a Bluetooth headset to the PS5, you’ll have to purchase a USB-A or USB-C Bluetooth adapter and connect it to one of the available ports on your console. With the adapter on and ready to go, pairing your Bluetooth headphones to your PS5 is a simple process.

  1. Turn on your Bluetooth headphones, then place them into pairing mode.
  2. On the Bluetooth transmitter, hold down the transmitter button until the LED light begins flashing.
  3. Your transmitter will automatically detect your Bluetooth headphones and establish a connection.

Why does the PS5 not support Bluetooth audio?

According to Sony itself, the PS5 doesn’t support Bluetooth audio because of issues related to “latency performance and bandwidth.” That said, there’s an easy workaround: simply purchase a Bluetooth adapter for your PS5. With one of these handy devices, pairing your Bluetooth headphones to your PS5 is a simple process.

Can AirPods connect to PS5?

Unfortunately, your AirPods won’t connect to your PS5 on their own, since Sony’s console doesn’t offer native Bluetooth audio support. However, buying a Bluetooth adapter can solve this problem, and allow you to connect your AirPods, or any other type of Bluetooth headphones, to your PS5.

Editors’ Recommendations