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. Earbuds are ultra-portable and very convenient thanks to their small size and weight. While earbuds rest at the edge of the canal, in-ear headphones have special tips that are inserted into the ear canal.
So far, we've tested over 120 earbuds and in-ear headphones. Below are our recommendations for the best in-ear headphones and earbuds to purchase in 2019. See also our recommendations for the best truly wireless earbuds, the best wireless earbuds and in-ears, and the best sounding wireless earbuds.
The best earbuds we’ve reviewed so far are the Jaybird Tarah Pro. They have a balanced, versatile sound that is well-suited for a range of music genres straight-of-the-box, plus you can use the great parametric EQ available in the Jaybird MySound app to customize their sound even further. They’re one the best earbuds for running we’ve tested too, thanks to their great sports-oriented design with an IPX7 rating and have a very stable fit.
Unfortunately, these headphones cannot connect two devices simultaneously, whereas the cheaper Jaybird Tarah and Jaybird X4 can. They also have a proprietary charging cradle, so if you forget their charger at home, you won’t be able to use your phone’s. That said, the Tarah Pro are still the best in-ear headphones we’ve tested so far and are likely to please anyone looking for great sports headphones that are versatile enough for everyday use.
The best truly wireless earbuds we’ve reviewed so far are the Samsung Galaxy Buds. They’re super portable yet surprisingly comfortable earbuds that have a solid price-to-performance ratio. They have great audio reproduction and their battery provides over 7 hours of continuous playback, which is quite good for truly wireless earbuds. They’re the best wireless earbuds for Android we’ve tested thanks to their compatibility with the Samsung Wearable app.
While they sound balanced enough to be suitable for most people, some will find they lack a bit of bass. If you have an Android phone, you can boost their bass a bit with an EQ preset in their companion app, but iOS users won’t have that option. You can also only access button mapping the app, so if you have an iPhone you won’t be able to access volume controls either. That said, they still perform very well overall, even if you don’t have an Android device, and are easy to recommend in general.
If you’re looking for truly wireless earbuds with a better design for sports, then get the Beats Powerbeats Pro. They’re not as compact as the Samsung Galaxy Buds since they have a bulkier ear-hook design and larger charging case, but they’re just as comfortable and their physical controls make them easier to use while working out. They’re made with Apple’s H1 chip, which makes them the best wireless earbuds for iPhone we’ve reviewed. Unfortunately, they don’t have any customization options, so if you want sports-oriented truly wireless in-ears you can customize, you’ll want to check out the Jabra Elite Active 65t, which also perform very well overall.
Get the Samsung Galaxy buds if you’re an Android user looking for more truly wireless earbuds with a smaller form factor, but if you’re on iOS and want a better design for sports, then you can’t go wrong the Powerbeats Pro.
The best wired earbuds we’ve tested so far are the 1More Triple Driver. They’re one of the best-sounding wired in-ears we've tested and they're much cheaper than most of the critical listening in-ears we’ve tested from some of the more established brands out there. They're well-built, compact, and are easy to use and to carry around. They also have great, deep bass which makes them one of the best bass earbuds we’ve tested so far.
These headphones look good, but don't feel as well-built as the KZ AS10 or the TIN Audio T3. However, they sound better and feature a mic for added convenience. Although wired headphones may not be as versatile for day-to-day use as wireless ones, if you want a simple in-ear design, the 1More Triple Driver are the best wired earphones we’ve reviewed so far and are easy to recommend.
If you want more affordable wired headphones, then go with the TIN Audio T2 instead. They might not sound quite as good as the 1More Triple Driver since they can sound a bit sharp or piercing, but they're very well-built with solid metal earbuds and detachable cables that you can replace if they get damaged. They’re also even less expensive, which is great considering how durable they are.
Get the 1More Triple Driver if you’re mostly concerned about sound quality, but if durability is more important to you, then you’ll want to get the TIN Audio T2.
The best noise cancelling earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Bose QuietControl 30. If you usually find in-ears a bit uncomfortable, then their earbud fit may be the solution you've been hoping for. They have a well-balanced, bass-rich sound and their neckband design ensures your music is always at arm’s reach. They have very good noise cancelling and also hardly leak any sound, which makes them a good choice for use while commuting or at the office.
Unfortunately, their neckband isn’t the most durable and the rubber sleeve that protects the inner components tends to peel apart with time. Consider the Jabra Elite 65e as a better-built yet cheaper option with superior mic performance and more customization options, but they don’t sound as well-balanced and their battery doesn’t last as long. All things considered, the QC 30 still perform quite well overall and are good travel headphones.
If you want in-ears that have ANC but can also be customized with your smartphone, then get the Sony WI-1000X. They have a more traditional in-ear design, so they’re not as comfortable as the Bose QuietControl 30, but they feel much more durable and are highly customizable thanks to their compatibility with the Sony | Headphones Connect app. Their neckband is very rigid, though, and they also don’t come with as nice of a carrying case as that of the Bose, which is a bit disappointing considering they’re generally very similarly priced.
Get the Bose if you’re looking for noise cancelling earbuds that are more comfortable for long car rides or international flights, but if you want something that feels more durable and has more customization options for more casual use, you’ll prefer the Sonys.
The best wireless earbuds under $100 that we’ve tested so far are the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air. They’re versatile truly wireless in-ear headphones that are very easy to carry around thanks to their ultra-compact design. They have outstanding audio reproduction and deliver a balanced, neutral sound that caters well to music of virtually all genres. Their battery only provides about 4 hours of continuous playback, but when you put them in their case they charge when not in use, so you could get up to nearly 16 hours of total battery life throughout the day.
Unfortunately, they aren’t the most comfortable headphones we’ve tested since they fit quite deeply into the ear canal. They do isolate quite a bit of noise, though, especially considering they have no active noise cancelling features. They’re a good choice for commuters who appreciate the extra isolation and are versatile enough to be suitable for everyday casual use, too.
If you’re looking for wireless earbuds with a more stable fit for running or working out, then get the JBL Reflect Mini 2. They’re not truly wireless like the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air, but their design helps keep them more securely in place while working out and their physical controls are easier to access when running. They’re not customizable, but their battery lasts a long time. You’ll want to get the Liberty Air if a super compact, portable truly wireless design is what you’re after, but if you have fitness goals in mind, then you’ll want to check out the Reflect Mini 2 instead.
The best cheap earbuds we’ve tested so far are the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They feel surprisingly well-built for their price and are stable enough to wear while running or working out. They sound pretty decent, especially compared to most wireless in-ears at this price point, and have an exciting bass-rich yet balanced sound that lends itself well to a wide range of music genres. Their battery also lasts for nearly 13 hours, which is longer than even some of the most expensive wireless in-ears we've tested.
These earbuds feel pretty well-designed for sports, but don’t seem as durable as the JBL Endurance Sprint which boast an IPX7 rating. However, their touch-sensitive control scheme is a bit finicky and they're not the most comfortable. Overall, the SoundBuds Curve offer the best value at this price point out of all the cheap earbuds we’ve tested so far.
The best sounding earbuds we’ve tested so far are the Bose SoundSport Free. They’re very comfortable truly wireless earbuds that have a remarkably well-balanced sound and semi-open design that helps produce a more spacious, immersive listening experience than other earbuds we’ve reviewed. Since they let in a lot of ambient noise, they’re a good choice if you’re an outdoor runner who needs to remain aware of your surroundings.
They only provide about 5 hours of continuous playback on a charge, but this is about average for truly wireless earbuds and they can last you all day if you keep them in their case whenever you’re not using them. That said, their rubberized buttons are quite difficult to use and they’re rather expensive. If you like the way they sound but want to consider a cheaper alternative, you can check out the SoundSport Wireless which are a bit easier to use and have a slightly longer battery life, but don’t come with a charging case so they’re a bit less versatile overall.
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/in-ear earphones. 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.