We’ve had a chance to review a bunch of headphones and earphones in 2022, including over-ear, in-ear, and true wireless options across price segments and covering various platforms and features. Naturally, some have stood out more than others, and earn a place in our list of the best headphones and earphones for this year. Our recommendations include over-ear, in-ear, and true wireless options for the most part from some of the most popular brands in the segment, although we’ve also recommended an audiophile-friendly wired IEM in our list this year.
Our key parameter for recommendations remains pricing, and we’ve recommended options covering various budgets and price points. However, we’ve also taken into consideration platform and ecosystem benefits, features such as active noise cancellation and advanced codec support, and design. Here are Gadgets 360’s top picks for headphones and earphones in 2022.
Best overall of 2022: Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Gen)
The long awaited successor to the excellent Apple AirPods Pro finally launched in 2022, and comes with some impressive improvements. Although the design isn’t considerably different at first glance and the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) is still available in just a single colour option, there are some neat changes, particularly with the charging case and the on-device controls. Sound quality and ANC performance see some improvements as well.
The charging case on the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) gains some ‘smart’ functionality, with a built-in speaker, and a chip that enables tracking through Apple’s Find My app. As before, you need an Apple iPhone to enable the full functionality of the AirPods Pro (2nd Gen) and if you do have one, there is no better pair of true wireless earphones right now, in our opinion. However, good flexible sound and class-leading ANC performance makes this a worthwhile pick nonetheless, and our top choice among headphones and earphones in 2022.
Best headphones of 2022: Sony WH-1000XM5
Sony’s WH-1000X series of headphones has been long overdue for an update, and the WH-1000XM5 is exactly that. The headset is lighter and more comfortable than the XM4, while continuing to offer excellent wireless sound quality, active noise cancellation performance, and battery life.
There are still many takers for the over-ear form factor, and the Sony WH-1000XM5 ticks all the boxes in this category, particularly thanks to impressive advanced Bluetooth codec support and connection stability. The companion app is excellent on both Android and iOS, making this a fairly platform agnostic pair of headphones, although codec differences mean that the sound is a fair bit better when used with an Android device.
Perhaps the only drawback here is the it’s not foldable, which affects the portability of the Sony WH-1000XM5 a bit. However, the pros far outweigh the cons, and the Sony WH-1000XM5 is among the best wireless headphones you can buy right now.
Best mid-range wireless earphones of 2022: Oppo Enco X2
2022 has largely been a story of audio brands building on an already successful product, as far as the mainstream personal audio segment is concerned. The same can be said of Oppo, which launched the Enco X2. Like the Enco X before it, the X2 is a value-driven true wireless headset offering firmly premium specifications and features, but at a decidedly mid-range price. This value-for-money proposition makes the Oppo Enco X2 our top pick among mid-range wireless earphones in 2022.
Advanced Bluetooth codec support, backed by an impressive dual-driver setup and tuning in collaboration with Dynaudio, makes this an impressive pick for the price. Average battery life is perhaps the only concern, but the overall capabilities and the fact that there is wireless charging more than make up for it. It’s well worth its MRP of Rs. 10,999, and an even better deal if you manage to pick it up during sales and discount seasons.
Best budget wireless earphones of 2022: Oppo Enco Air 2 Pro
Apart from the mid-range price segment, Oppo has also slowly but capably built up its presence in the affordable space. The Oppo Enco Air 2 Pro is an impressive pair of true wireless earphones for the price, thanks to functional ANC, app support, good design, and sound quality that is very good for a budget headset. Although far from perfect in any way, the Oppo Enco Air 2 Pro does far better for the price than competing options under Rs. 5,000.
The slightly shrill sound at high volumes and average battery life are the only concerns here; the Oppo Enco Air 2 Pro outperforms the competition on practically all other parameters. This is what makes the Oppo Enco Air 2 Pro our top pick among budget wireless earphones in 2022, by a significant margin.
Best wired earphones of 2022: Moondrop Chu
Convenience-focused buyers might prefer wireless audio, but audiophiles and sound quality enthusiasts will always argue in favour of wired earphones and headphones. The best in this segment that we’ve reviewed this year is the Moondrop Chu, which is priced at Rs. 1,799 onwards and delivers some excellent bang for your buck.
The affordable wired earphones are a bit tricky to wear and it takes a bit of effort to put them on correctly, but once you’re past that, the experience is incredible for the price. You get detail-oriented and loud sound, with tight bass and a clean mid-range that suits most genres. The metal casings look and feel good as well, and on the whole this is the ideal pair of wired earphones for anyone looking primarily at sound quality as a deciding factor.
Most innovative headset of 2022: Urbanista Los Angeles
What if we told you that you can have wireless active noise cancelling headphones that potentially never run out of charge? It sounds a bit far fetched, but that’s exactly what the Urbanista Los Angeles offers. With a Powerfoyle solar charging strip on the headband, the headphones can be charged even when in use while outdoors, and a neat app gives you the details on just how efficiently you’re using them.
Sound quality may not necessarily match up to the price of the Urbanista Los Angeles, but the sonic signature is enjoyable nonetheless. The innovative solar charging definitely makes up for this and any other drawbacks on the Los Angeles, especially if battery life is a key factor in your purchase. Buy this for bragging rights and unbeatable battery life.