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  1. Table of Contents
  2. Intro
  3. Best Earbuds
  4. Best Mid-Range
    1. Alternative
  5. Best Budget
    1. Alternative
  6. All Reviews
  7. Q&A
Updated

The 6 Best Earbuds - Winter 2018
Reviews

Best Earbuds and In-Ears

From cheap earbuds to the top of the line, in-ear headphones 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 37 earbuds and in-ears and below are our recommendations for the best ones to purchase in 2018.

Best Earbuds: Bose QuietControl 30

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.1
Mixed 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.
Score components:
7.1
Critical 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:
7.5
Commute/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.
Score components:
7.5
Sports/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.
Score components:
7.4
Office
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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.
Score components:
5.6
Home Theater
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Score components:
5.1
Gaming
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Score components:

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 for long listening sessions, then the QC 30 are a good option with a versatile wireless design and a long battery life. 

These earbuds isolate as well as the Bose over-ears in loud environments and barely leak, which makes them a great choice for commuting, traveling and to use at the office. 

See our review

Best Mid-Range Earbuds: Jaybird Freedom

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.0
Mixed 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.
Score components:
6.9
Critical 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:
7.4
Commute/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.
Score components:
8.0
Sports/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.
Score components:
7.2
Office
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.
Score components:
5.5
Home Theater
Show Help
Score components:
5.3
Gaming
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Score components:

For a mid-range option, the Jaybird Freedom are the best earbuds/in-ears. These wireless in-ear headphones are versatile and block a lot of ambient noise passively. They barely leak, are cheaper than the Bose QuietControl 30 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. Unfortunately, the Freedoms sacrifice battery life for a more portable design so if you're a power user or have long uninterrupted listening sessions, we recommend getting the Jaybird X3 instead. 

See our review

Better Sounding Alternative: Beats BeatsX

If you're looking for a better sounding alternative to the Bose QC 30 and passive isolation is enough to block the noise of your daily commute, then get the Beats BeatsX. 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 the customization options of the Jaybird Freedom but these in-ears sound better out-of-the-box and provide more battery life for a much shorter charge time.

See our review

Cheaper Alternative: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear

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 the 1More Triple Driver should be your first choice. 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 or exercise with them. 

See our review

Best Budget Earbuds: Samsung Level U Pro

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches:

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
6.8
Mixed 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.
Score components:
6.9
Critical 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:
7.0
Commute/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.
Score components:
7.4
Sports/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.
Score components:
7.1
Office
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.
Score components:
5.5
Home Theater
Show Help
Score components:
5.4
Gaming
Show Help
Score components:

The best budget earbuds we've tested are the Samsung Level U Pro. They have a great set of active features for their price and a reliably 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 compared to some of the other around-the-neck designs on this list. 

See our review

Cheaper Alternative: MEE audio M6 PRO

Like the 1More Triple Driver, the MEE Audio M6 Pro offer a focused experienced with no active features but a good sound and a sturdy design. They surprisingly come with two detachable cables, which is rare in this price range. This makes them a lot more durable than comparable in-ears like the 1More Piston ClassicSymphonized NRG 3.0 or the Sony MDR-XB50AP.

They're easy to have on you at all times and the ear-hook design makes them stable enough to take to the gym. This makes them pretty versatile overall and a great budget recommendation.

See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Bose SoundSport Wireless. Comfortable earbuds with a good wireless range. One of the best sounding earbuds but inconsistent durability and slightly bulky design. 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. These earbuds tend to sound a bit dark and they're a bit pricey for what they offer. See our review
  • Soundpets Q9A. A good wireless sports headphone. Stable for sports but the average-at-best sound quality won't be for everyoneSee our review
  • Bose QuietComfort 20. The wired and older version of the Bose QC30. Simple portable earbuds with good isolation. 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 earbuds. 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
  • 1More Piston Classic. A simple and well-built budget in-ear. Comfortable with a decent sound but mediocre isolation and their sound may not be ideal for more critical listeners.  See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 1 In-Ear Wireless. A wireless upgrade to the momentum in-ears. Decent sound and a stylish portable design, but quite pricey for their overall performance.  See our review

All Reviews

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.

 

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Questions & Answers

9 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
7
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!
6
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.
5
Soundmagic e10 please review, excellent in ears
Thanks, noted! By the way, we have a new tool for suggesting products to be reviewed and you can submit and vote for your suggestions here.
4
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.
2
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. :-)
1
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.
1
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.
1
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.
1
Any updates on the Apple AirPods now that they're publicly available?
Here it is.
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