From cheap earbuds to the top of the line, earphones offer a lot of options for all situations, whether you want to use them at the gym, at the office or during your commutes. They are ultra-portable and very convenient thanks to their small size and weight. While earbuds rest at the edge canal, in-ear headphones have special tips that are inserted into the ear canal (see our article to learn more about the differences).
So far, we've tested 31 earbuds and in-ears and below are our recommendations for the ones to buy this fall.
Best Earbuds / In-Ear Headphones
The best earbuds we've tested so far are the Bose QuietControl 30. They are versatile and portable noise canceling earbuds with a stable fit. If you usually find in-ears like the Jaybird X3 or the BeatsX a bit uncomfortable to wear, then the QC 30 are a good option with a long battery life. These earbuds also isolate well in loud environments, which makes them a great choice for commuting, traveling and to use at the office.
Best Mid-Range Earbuds / In-Ear Headphones
For a mid-range option, we recommend the Jaybird Freedom. These wireless earbuds are versatile and block a lot of ambient noise. They barely leak, are cheaper than the first two recommendations, and they're compact enough to fit in any pocket or bag. Although the Jaybird X2 are better overall, they don't support the MySound app which lets you customize the sound of the Freedoms to your liking.
Better Sounding Alternative
If you're looking for a more portable alternative to the Bose QC 30 and passive isolation is enough to block the noise of your daily commute, then get the Beats BeatsX instead. They're significantly cheaper than the QC 30, are easier to fit into your pockets thanks to their flexible design, and they're versatile enough for most situations and environments.
They don't have some of the customization options of the Jaybird X3 but they sound better out of the box and provide more battery life for a much shorter charge time.
If you don't mind a simple, wired in-ear design and don't need all the active features of the other recommendations on this list, then get the 1More Triple Driver. They are one of the best sounding in-ear headphones we've measured so far. They're well built, compact and easy to carry around your person. They also isolate well enough to be decent commuting headphones and they're sufficiently stable that they won't fall if you run with them.
Best Budget Earbuds / In-Ear Headphones
The best budget earbuds we've tested are the Samsung Level U Pro. They have a good set of features and a reliable and fast wireless connection.
They also have a decent sound quality that you can personalize with the Level app on Android devices. Unfortunately, they don't offer the same level of customization for iOS users and they also feel a bit flimsy.
If you need an even cheaper alternative to the Samsung Level U Pro, then get the SoundPeats Q9A. They're a better option for sports than the Anker SoundBuds Sport thanks to their stable ear-hook design.
They’re also decently versatile to be suitable for most environments, but they don't block as much noise or sound as good as some of the top recommendations on this list.
- Bose SoundSport Wireless. Good Wireless range and a comfortable earbud design. Inconsistent durability and slightly bulky design for an in-ear/earbud. See our review
- Jaybird X3. Great overall performance with added customization options. Stable sports headphones but doesn't quite surpass the X2. See our review
- Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-ear. Decent sound and great passive isolation. Tends to sound a bit dark and they're a bit pricey for what they offer. See our review
- Anker SoundBuds Sport. A good alternative to the SoundPeats Q9A. Stable for sports but a poor sound quality that won't be for everyone. See our review
- Bose QuietComfort 20. The wired and older version of the Bose QC30. Good isolation and simple portable design. Can sound a bit dark and is somewhat pricey. See our review
- Westone W40. Well-built and durable in-ear headphones with a stable design. Mediocre sound quality especially for their price. See our review
- Apple AirPods. Versatile and well rounded wireless earbud. Limited on android. See our review
- Mpow Jaws. A good alternative the SoundPeats Q9A. Not as stable but more versatile with a slightly better sound. See our review
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best earbud headphones and in-ear headphones to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for Earbuds/In-ear headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference and listening habits will matter more in your selection.