Earbuds and in-ear headphones are small and ultra-portable headphone designs. Earbuds rest at the edge of the ear canal and in-ear headphones have special tips that are inserted into the ear canal instead (see our article about earbuds vs in-ear headphones). Below are our recommendations for the best earbuds and in-ear headphones we have tested so far.
Best Earbuds / In-Ear Headphones
The best earbuds are the Bose QuietComfort 30. They are versatile and portable noise canceling earbuds with a stable fit thanks to the StayHear+ tips. If you usually find in-ears a bit uncomfortable to wear, then the QC 30 are a good option with a good battery life. These earbuds isolate well in loud environments, which makes them a great choice for commuting, traveling, and to use at the office.
If you're looking for a more portable alternative to the 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.
Best Mid-Range Earbuds / In-Ear Headphones
If you don't like the around-the-neck design of the QC 30 and the BeatsX, then consider 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.
The 1more Triple Driver are one of the best sounding in-ear headphones we've measured so far. 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 Triple Drivers. 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 are the Samsung Level U Pro. These cheap in ear monitors 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.
If you need a cheaper alternative, then the SoundPeats Q9A are a great option. They're good headphones for sports 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 as some of the top recommendations on this list.
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).
A few examples of Earbuds/In-ear headphones that didn't make the cut:
- Bose QuietComfort 20. The wired version of the QC30. Excellent isolation, and low leakage. However, they have a mediocre, bass-heavy sound that's not ideal for critical listening. 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 Soundsport In-Ear. Good sound and an open fit for joggers. Poor noise isolation not ideal in loud environments. See our review
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.