Updated

Best In Ear Headphones - Winter 2017
Reviews

Earbuds/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. Below are our recommendations for the best Earbuds/In-Ear headphones, we have tested so far.

Best Earbuds/In-Ear Headphones  $150+

Usage Ratings
7.0Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
5.8Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.5Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
7.3Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
7.1Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
7.2Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The Bose Quiet Comfort 20 are one the best isolating earbuds with tested so far. They have a comfortable and stable fit and an efficient control scheme. Their sound quality is a bit bass-heavy but reproduces tracks with enough fidelity to please most listeners.However, they're less compact than some of the in-ear headphones on this list and the control module, though, flat and relatively small, can get a bit bothersome.

See our review

Alternative

The Bose SoundSport In-Ear Wireless deliver a good sound and a stylish, wireless design, with a semi-open earbud fit. They're comfortable, stable, and their semi-open fit lets you monitor your environment while running. However, they're not as open as the wired model, and their build quality is not as durable, as some of the other headphones in this price range.

See our review

Best Earbuds/In-Ear Headphones $75 to $150

Usage Ratings
7.3Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
6.3Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
7.4Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
7.9Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
7.5Office
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What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
7.1Studio Recording
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What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The Jaybird X2 are an above-average set of in-ear headphones with a decent sound and a stable wireless design. They don't leak much and block ambient noise surprisingly well. They fair well in loud environments or at the gym, as long as you can achieve a comfortable and tight seal. The in-ear fit, however, may not be comfortable for everyone.

See our review

Alternative

The Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear are a versatile pair of earbuds. They're easy to carry around, they're stable, comfortable and deliver an above-average sound with deep, rumbling bass. They don't have many features and have a very straightforward design but their impressive passive isolation, and remarkably low leakage makes them sufficiently well-rounded for many use cases and environments.

See our review

Best Earbuds/In-Ear Headphones $30 to $75

Usage Ratings
6.9Mixed Usage
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What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
6.6Critical Listening
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What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
6.7Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
7.2Sports/Fitness
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What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
7.3Office
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
6.8Studio Recording
Show Help
What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The Samsung Level U Pro have a decent sound quality and a stable around the neck design that will work for some but not for everyone. They have a good wireless range and the in-ear buds don't exert as much pressure in the ear canal like typical in-ear models, which makes them comfortable but also less isolating. Unfortunately, the flimsy audio cables look weak and not durable.

See our review

Best Earbuds/In-Ear Headphones below $30 

Usage Ratings
6.9Mixed Usage
Show Help
What it is This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
6.0Critical Listening
Show Help
What it is The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
Score components:
6.9Commute/Travel
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
7.6Sports/Fitness
Show Help
What it is How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
7.2Office
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
7.0Studio Recording
Show Help
What it is How effective the headphones are in a studio recording environment. Therefore sound quality should be good, and leakage should be minimal, to not add noise to the recording. They should also be durable for continuous and repeated studio use.

The SoundPeats QY8 have an above-average audio reproduction. They're wireless and stable enough to be used while doing sports. They also do well at isolating listeners, although they only block noise passively. They're a great option for the gym, and they're not too pricey but can be uncomfortable for some.

See our review

Alternative

The Anker SoundBuds Sport are decent in-ear headphones with a stable wireless design, at a decent price. They're small and surprisingly great at blocking ambient noise. Unfortunately, they have poor sound quality, and the in-ear fit is not comfortable for everyone.

See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best Earbuds/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:

  • Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear. Low leakage and decent isolation. However, they have a subpar, bass-heavy sound that's not for everyone.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
  • Powerbeats 2 Wireless. Stable, wireless design good for sports. The semi-open fit is not ideal for all use cases. See our review
  • Soundpeats Q9A. Stable, semi-open, wireless design similar to the Powerbeats 2. Mediocre-at-best sound is a deal breaker. 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 is no perfect Earbuds/In-ear headphone. Personal taste, preference and listening habits will matter more in your selection.

 

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Questions & Answers

8 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
3
Great job overall guys. I check the tv section on a daily basis. One recommendation for the headphone section would be reviewing the Klipsch brand. I have used them for the last 10 years and they are top notch. Any plans on doing so?
We are familiar with the brand, and one of our staff actually owns one. We will add them to our list of suggestions, but it may take a while for us to publish a review since the list is growing on a daily basis!
1
Will you be reviewing Apple's earbuds? I currently use them and want to upgrade - but it would help to have them reviewed so I have a "baseline" to compare against.
Yes, we are planning on reviewing the EarPods in the coming months.
0
Curious to know if you will be reviewing the new Samsung Gear IconX in-ear earbuds at a later date?
Thank you for your suggestion. We will add it to the list, however, we are currently testing a lot of headphones, and it may take some time until we review the Samsung Gear IconX.
0
They're being called AirPods.
The AirPods hadn't been announced yet when we posted that answer. We will review the AirPods when they come out too.
0
Awesome reviews guys. Can't write my expression. Would you guys please add soundmagic to you list of 'to be reviewed'. I owned couple of them for their decent stage. I find them good, in fact value of money. Again kudos n keep up the good work.
Thanks for your suggestion, Soundmagic is already on our list. :-)
0
Great site;critical to my TV purchase. Any intent to review 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones ? I'm on the endless search for quality running audio gear.
Thanks for your suggestion. We will add them to our to-do list, however, it may us take us a while to review them.
0
Any updates on the Apple AirPods now that they're publicly available?
Here it is.
0
Love the website, thanks for all the great info, it helped me pick out the perfect tv for my parents. I actually wanted to suggest reviewing Etymotic earbuds. I had a pair that is now discontinued but they sounded amazing and the isolation is probably unparalleled (i could mow the lawn with them in). I cant vouch for their current lineup, but if they havent dropped the ball I think they would be well worth your time. Regards, Caleb
Thanks for your suggestion. We tend not to review discontinued products, but we will take a look at their new lineup.
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