Wallpaper* wants… five luxury earbuds for audiophiles

Superior style meets high-end craft and audio excellence – here are five new earbuds we’d like to take for a spin

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX
(Image credit: press)

Earbuds are the category that never stands still (opens in new tab). With almost every big audio brand now muscling in on the market, choosing a pair that ticks all the tech boxes is easier than ever. Earbuds still make a big statement, however, and if you’re not going down the tried and tested Airpods route, there are a plethora of ways of adorning your ears as you listen. Here are five new styles to take for a spin. 

1. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX earbuds

(Image credit: Courtesy of Bang & Olufsen)

Bang & Olufsen has taken a different tack with its latest earbud designs. The Beoplay EX is markedly different from the brand’s EQ models and takes a nod from Apple’s stick-like Airpods design. Bang & Olufsen has gone down the stem-shaped route to improve comfort and endurance, making these a good choice for activities as well as for listening in loud environments. Bluetooth 5.2, waterproof construction, and a touch surface formed from glass ensure the Beoplay EX meets the Danish firm’s consistently high standards of design. 

Bang & Olufsen Beoplay EX, £349, bang-olufsen.com (opens in new tab)

2. Advar by Meze Audio 

ADVAR by Meze Audio earbuds

(Image credit: Courtesy of Meze Audio)

connectivity in favour of highly crafted, high-quality audio. The name ‘Advar’ was chosen to evoke the idea of a powerful talisman, the sort of historic trinket associated with Romania’s long history. The company’s signature bronze and black finishes adorn the stainless-steel shell, and audiophile upgrades include silver-plated cables. 

Meze Audio Advar, $699 / €699 / £649, mezeaudio.eu (opens in new tab)

3. Porsche Design PDT60

Porsche Design PDT60 earbuds

(Image credit: Courtesy of Porsche Design)

It’s all about the case. Porsche Design’s meticulous approach to engineering ensures that the aluminium and leather case with its sliding mechanism is one of the most stylish ways of keeping your earbuds safely stowed and fully charged. The devices themselves are ultra-lightweight, offering five hours of playback. The wireless-capable case adds another 15 hours of charging time. The noise-cancelling software enhances music and brings clarity to phone calls. 

Porsche Design, True Wireless Earphones PDT60, €299, porsche-design.com (opens in new tab)

4. Astell&Kern AK UW100

Astell&Kern AK UW100

(Image credit: Courtesy of Astell&Kern)

The faceted face of Astell&Kern’s new AK UW100 creates a distinct appearance for the high-fidelity brand’s first foray into earbud design. A&K is best known for high-end portable audio, and finally there’s a pair of earbuds that match with its range of Media Players. Bluetooth 5.2 and a proprietary smartphone app to shape your sound come as standard, as well as an onboard digital-to-analogue converter. The earbuds offer six hours of playback and another 18 hours available via the case.  

Astell&Kern AK UW100, £249, astellkern.co.uk (opens in new tab)

5. Devialet Gemini 

Devialet Gemini 

(Image credit: Courtesy of Devialet)

Not wishing to be out of this important market, French audio specialist Devialet has launched its own true wireless earbuds, the Devialet Gemini. From the brand best known for its mighty Phantom wireless speakers (opens in new tab), the tiny Geminis are a very different proposition. That doesn’t mean the audio is any less important, however, and the Geminis have three listening modes – Active Noise Cancellation, Neutral, or Transparency – as well as three levels of intensity (Low/High/Plane), depending on your environment.

Devialet Gemini, £199, devialet.com (opens in new tab)

Jonathan Bell has written for Wallpaper* magazine since 1999, covering everything from architecture and transport design to books, tech and graphic design. He is now the magazine’s Transport and Technology Editor. Jonathan has written and edited 15 books, including Concept Car Design, 21st Century House, and The New Modern House. He is also the host of Wallpaper’s first podcast.