Battle Royale (with Cheese): Earbuds Round-Up

The Best Buds of 2022

Joshua Beck


It’s been a little while since I’ve done a Battle Royale regarding headphones. But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been trying new ones out; on the contrary, I’ve tested a ton of headphones in the last year, and though I didn’t really write about any of them, I think it is time to give all of them their due.

This Battle Royale will be a bit different from my usual ones; instead of comparing these buds extensively in different categories, I’m instead going to write a mini-review of each one, highlighting their features, what I liked, and what I didn’t. At the end, I won’t be crowning a single victor; instead, I’ll list my top three picks from the buds I looked at.

On that note (if you’ll pardon the pun), let’s get started. Ready? …….FIGHT!

AirPods Pro 2

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I might as well get this one over with. Yes, I’ve tried the AirPods Pro 2. Yes, I absolutely love them. If you’re an Apple user, they are probably the best buds you can get on this list (maybe that will save some of you some time). But they aren’t perfect. Let me explain.

I’ve had the original AirPods Pro since about when they were released, and I liked them a lot. But I stopped using them, mainly because their flavor of ANC was constantly giving me headaches, and I could not find a good fit with any of the included earbud tips. But that didn’t mean I didn’t want to use them; on the contrary, as an avid Apple user, I constantly pined for their ecosystem-friendly features when using other buds. So despite my search for new earbuds starting much earlier in 2022 than when the AirPods Pro 2 were announced, I was always going to be interested in whatever they released next.

Enter the AirPods Pro 2. Visually, they are every bit the same as the original AirPods Pro, and yet, they are an improvement in nearly every way. They added a smaller ear tip size that fits my ears much better than any of the previous offerings. Their sound is exponentially better — I’m finding that songs sound much fuller and richer, and with a great amount of bass (though not an overpowering amount) — as is their ANC and transparency; I can wear them while my wife is watching football on the TV and can barely even tell that the TV is…