If you use your headphones while on-the-go, in-ears or earbuds can be a lot more portable than bulky over-ears and help passively block out background noise. 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 technically earbuds rest at the edge of the ear canal and in-ears have barrel-shaped tips that are inserted deeper into the ear, the two terms are often used 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 220 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 recommendations for the best truly wireless earbuds, the best wireless earbuds and in-ears, and the best sounding wireless earbuds.
The Samsung Galaxy Buds+ are the best earbuds with a wireless connection that we've tested. These well-built truly wireless in-ears have a sleek design and a comfortable, stable fit. They even come with a few different sizes of ear tips and stability fins so you can find the best possible fit.
Thanks to their neutral, balanced sound profile, these headphones are suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. You can even use the EQ presets in the Galaxy Wearable app to adjust their sound profile to your liking. Their 13.3-hour continuous battery life is impressive, and their portable charging case offers around one additional charge for when you're on-the-go.
Unfortunately, they have a touch-sensitive control scheme that makes it easy to accidentally press the wrong button. You may also find it difficult to use the controls if you're wearing gloves. However, their decently versatile performance should please many different listeners, and they rank among the best truly wireless earbuds we've tested.
If you like the feel of wireless earbuds while working out or running, try the Jaybird Tarah Pro. While they aren't as comfortable as the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless, the Jaybird have an IPX7 rating for water resistance, although we don't currently test for it. They have a very stable fit, which is great when you're on-the-move, and a breathable fit, so you shouldn't sweat more than normal wearing them. Although their sound profile isn't as neutral-sounding as the Samsung, the Jaybird MySound companion app offers a parametric EQ and presets so that you can customize their sound to your liking. They also have over 13 hours of continuous playback time and don't leak a lot of audio.
If you prioritize comfort and a truly wireless design, go for the Samsung. However, if you're looking for sports-oriented in-ears with easier-to-use controls, consider the Jaybird instead.
The Apple AirPods Pro are the best wireless earbuds for noise cancelling that we've tested. These sleek in-ears have an excellent ANC, which can cut down noise from bus or plane engines as well as ambient chatter. They also have a comfortable fit and are rated IPX4 for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this.
Thanks to their fairly neutral and balanced sound profile, they're suitable for a variety of audio content. They also have a stable fit and shouldn't fall out of your ears if you're wearing them while running or working out. Although their 5.3-hour battery life may not be enough to get you through your 9-5 workday without a recharge, their carrying case holds five additional charges.
Unfortunately, their companion interface doesn't really offer a lot of extra features and lacks an EQ to help tweak its sound to your liking. Their integrated mic also does a disappointing job of recording your voice, so you sound muffled and distorted. That said, they have a versatile performance and excellent noise isolation performance that's sure to please most users.
If you want to customize the level of ambient noise that your headphones' ANC blocks out, take a look at the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless. While they're not as comfortable as the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, and they have a shorter total battery life, the Bose have an adjustable ANC control in their companion app. These well-built headphones have a great build quality and a stable fit. Their neutral sound profile is also suitable for a variety of audio content. Thanks to their ANC, they can cut down an impressive amount of noise around you and they have minimal audio leakage, so you shouldn't bother your coworkers if you like to listen to your favorite mixes at a high volume. They also deliver over seven hours of continuous playback time, and their carrying case holds two additional charges.
Try the Apple if you're looking for more comfortable noise cancelling earbuds that can seamlessly pair with other Apple devices. However, check out the Bose if you like to tweak your ANC to better suit your environment.
The best earbuds with a wired connection that we've tested are the 1More Triple Driver. These portable wired headphones come with nine different sizes of earbud tips to help you find the most comfortable fit possible. Thanks to their wired connection, you don't have to worry about them running out of battery, and their low latency is suitable for watching videos.
They have a bass-heavy sound profile that adds an extra boom and punch to your audio without overwhelming vocals and lead instruments. They don't leak a lot of loud noises, so you can enjoy your favorite music at loud volumes without really bothering the people around you. Also, their in-line microphone has a good recording quality, so they're a fair choice for making phone calls.
Unfortunately, their in-ear fit may not be comfortable for everyone, and the cables are a bit thin. They also don't have an ANC feature, so they can't block out a lot of bass-heavy background noises like bus or plane engines. Fortunately, they can passively isolate against higher-frequency sounds typically found in an office, like chatter from nearby coworkers.
The EarFun Air Pro are the best earbuds under $100 that we've tested. These wireless headphones have a noise cancelling feature that can reduce an impressive amount of ambient noise around you. They also have a continuous battery life of over nine hours with an additional 2.5 charges in their carrying case, which should last through long commutes or shifts at the office.
They have a comfortable, stable, and breathable fit, which is great if you want to use them while running or working out. They also feel durable and have an IPX5 rating for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this. Thanks to their slightly v-shaped sound profile, they deliver a touch of extra boom and thump to your audio while vocals and lead instruments are bright. They also have low Bluetooth latency on iOS and Android, which is nice if you like to stream videos.
Since they don't have a companion app, they lack sound customization features like an EQ or presets. They also have mediocre touch-sensitive controls as it can be a little tricky to tap them in the right place to register a command. That said, if you're looking for a more affordable pair of earbuds, they're a suitable choice, and they're even among the best wireless Bluetooth headphones under $100 that we've tested.
The best cheap earbuds that we've tested are the Mpow MDots True Wireless. These lightweight and portable in-ears are decently well-built and feel sturdy. While they don't have an ANC, they can also isolate a good amount of noise passively.
They have a bass-heavy sound profile that delivers intense thump, rumble, and boom, which fans of EDM and hip-hip may especially enjoy. That said, their mid-range is fairly well-balanced and neutral, so vocals and lead instruments should be clear, although a bit cluttered. Thanks to their stable fit, you can also wear them while running or working out without worrying that they could fall out. They're decently well-built and are even rated IPX6 for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this.
Unfortunately, their continuous battery life is 2.4 hours, which isn't very long. Although their carrying case holds around four additional charges, they also lack a power-saving feature to help save battery life when you're not using them. Their integrated microphone really struggles to separate your voice from ambient noise around you too. That said, although they have a simple, no-frills design, they're a budget-friendly option if you're looking for affordable truly wireless in-ears.
Apr 13, 2021: Replaced the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds as the Amazon aren't currently available. Also replaced the Creative Outlier V2 with the EarFun Air Pro and replaced the Sony WI-C310 with the Mpow MDots as both headphones represent better value to our users.
Mar 19, 2021: Verified the accuracy of our text and product availability. There has been no change in our recommendation picks.
Feb 19, 2021: Replaced Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless with Creative Outlier Air V2 True Wireless as a better fit for their category. Added Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless, EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Truly Wireless, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Truly Wireless, and JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Jan 21, 2021: Replaced the Anker SoundBuds Curve Upgraded 2019 with the Sony WI-C310 as 'Best Cheap Earbuds' due to changing availability. Replaced the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2 with the Jabra Elite Active 65t as 'Best Under $100' due to their better-balanced sound profile, better noise isolation, and better build quality.Added the Creative Outlier Air V2, the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2, and the SoundPeats TrueFree 2 to Notable Mentions.
Dec 16, 2020: Minor updates to the text and updated Notable Mentions.
Oct 02, 2020: Replaced the B&O PLAY E8 3.0 with the FIIL T1X True Wireless as a Notable Mention.
May 08, 2020: Replaced B&O PLAY E8 2.0 for B&O PLAY E8 3.0 True Wireless in Notable Mentions.
Apr 10, 2020: Added Amazon Echo Buds as 'Cheaper Alternative' to the AirPods Pro.
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.