In-ears or earbuds can be a lot more portable than bulky over-ears and help passively block out background noise for those on the go. They can be great to use at the gym and are easy to toss into your pocket when you get off the bus or arrive at the office. While earbuds technically rest at the edge of the ear canal and in-ears have barrel-shaped tips inserted deep into the ear, people often use the two terms interchangeably. In-ears tend to be more common, though some people find them uncomfortable and prefer the less intrusive fit of earbuds.
We've tested over 265 pairs of earbuds and in-ear headphones. Below are our recommendations for the best earbuds and best in-ear headphones to purchase. Make sure to check out our picks for the best truly wireless earbuds, the best wireless earbuds and in-ears, and the best sounding wireless earbuds.
The best wireless earbuds we've tested are the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless. These very well-built headphones have a great noise isolation performance, thanks to their ANC system. Their companion app also offers ANC presets so that you can select a mode that better suits the amount of noise isolation you desire.
Out of the box, they have a well-balanced and neutral sound profile that's versatile enough for a variety of audio content. You can also customize their sound using their app's graphic EQ and presets. They have over seven hours of continuous playback time, and their carrying case supplies an additional two charges, which is handy in a pinch. The headphones are rated IPX4 for protection against splashes of water, and they have a very stable in-ear fit, making them a suitable choice for a jog in the park.
Unfortunately, they have a bulky design for truly wireless headphones and stick out of your ear. Their integrated mic struggles to separate your voice from moderate ambient noise around you, which can be frustrating if you're taking calls from a busy street. However, if you're looking for versatile wireless earbuds, they offer a solid performance to please most users.
If you use an iPhone, you may prefer the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless. They have a more limited control scheme and a shorter continuous battery life than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless, but they have an Η1 chip that makes it easier to pair them with Apple devices. With compatible iOS devices, you can remap some of the controls and use Spatial Audio, a virtual surround sound feature. While their ANC feature isn't adjustable, they have a similarly impressive noise isolation performance and offer a transparency mode, which is intended to let you hear your surroundings without taking off the earbuds. They also come with a case that holds roughly five extra charges, so you can easily top up their 5.3-hour continuous battery life.
If you want a longer continuous battery life or an adjustable ANC feature, go for the Βose, but try the Apple instead if you're interested in extra features for iOS users.
The best earbuds with a wired connection that we've tested are the 1More Triple Driver. These lightweight earbuds are decently comfortable and stable. They come with a large selection of nine differently-sized ear tips, so you have lots of options for finding a good fit.
They have an overemphasized bass response that adds thump, warmth, and boom to audio, making them well-suited for bass-rich genres like EDM and hip-hop. Vocals and lead instruments are clear and present, thanks to their very neutral mid-range. They're also not a bad choice for phone calls since their in-line mic has a good recording quality and does a decent job of separating your voice from ambient sound.
Unfortunately, they lack app support and don't have any sound customization features like an EQ or presets that you could use to customize their sound profile. They lack an ANC feature and have a sub-par passive noise isolation performance, so they aren't ideal if you want headphones to reduce noise at work or on the bus. That said, they offer a solid overall performance, and their sound makes them some of the best earbuds for bass that we've tested.
The Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless are the best earbuds under $100 we've tested. These headphones have an adjustable ANC system that you can set to better suit your environment. Using 'Transport' mode, they can block out an excellent amount of ambient noise, like the low rumble of bus and plane engines.
These bass-heavy in-ears deliver extra rumble and punch, which should please fans of EDM and hip-hop. That said, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets so that you can adjust their sound to your liking. They also have a comfortable and well-built fit that's stable enough for working out or a run in the park. They last roughly under six hours continuously, and their carrying case holds about four extra charges.
Unfortunately, their control scheme lacks volume controls. If you take a lot of calls, their integrated mic also struggles to separate your voice from moderate ambient noise, so if you're talking from a busy street, your voice may be drowned out. That said, these in-ears offer a versatile and customizable performance that's sure to please most users.
The JLab Audio GO Air POP True Wireless are the best cheap earbuds we've tested. These in-ears are well-built and come in a variety of colors with a matching case to suit your style. They have a bass-rich default sound profile that delivers extra thump and boom to your audio, making them well-suited to genres like EDM and hip-hop.
They have onboard controls for audio playback, answering calls, and adjusting the volume. You can also triple-tap either earbud to cycle between three EQ presets. The earbuds are decently comfortable, stable enough to stay in place during most workouts, and rated IPX4 for water resistance, so they're a good choice to take to the gym. Their roughly nine hours of continuous battery life is enough to get through a 9-5 workday as well.
Unfortunately, they have high Βluetooth latency, so if you use them to watch videos on your phone or computer, the audio and video may be out of sync. The charging cable is built into the case, which can be convenient but means you need to replace the headphones if it's damaged. Otherwise, they offer versatile performance for a budget-friendly price.
Jan 20, 2022: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.
Dec 24, 2021: Checked that our picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.
Nov 26, 2021: We've checked our picks for accuracy and availability. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.
Oct 27, 2021: Replaced the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless with the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless and replaced the EarFun Air Pro Truly Wireless with the Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless. We also replaced the Skullcandy Dime True Wireless with the JLab Audio GO Air POP True Wireless.
Oct 01, 2021: Checked that picks still represent the best recommendations in their categories and that the products are in stock.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best in-ear headphones and earbuds to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones 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 and in-ears. 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.