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 very stable fit.
Unfortunately, these headphones cannot connect to two devices simultaneously, whereas the cheaper Jaybird Tarah Wireless and Jaybird X4 Wireless 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 charger. That said, these are still the best in-ear headphones we’ve tested so far and they're 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 from 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 want a pair of truly wireless headphones for running and working out, go with the Jaybird Vista. Their 5.5-hour battery doesn't last as long as the Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless, but they're just as comfortable and have a more durable build which is great for working out. Their sound reproduction is decent and they're well-suited for a wide variety of music genres out-of-the-box. Unlike the Galaxy Buds, their companion app is compatible with both Android and iOS, so regardless of which operating system you use, you have access to their great parametric EQ to customize their sound.
If you want truly wireless earbuds that'll last you nearly all day off a single charge, get the Samsung, but if you're looking for a more sports-oriented pair to use while working out, go with the Jaybird.
If you want well-rounded truly wireless earbuds that block out most background noise, get the Jabra Elite Active 65t. They aren't as comfortable as the Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless, but they isolate sound much better. They're a well-rounded pair of truly wireless earbuds that can be used for sports as well thanks to their stable fit and IP56 rating for dust and water resistance, though we don't test for this. They are compatible with Jabra's Sound+ app on both Android and iOS which allows you to toggle their HearThrough feature as well as customize their sound with a graphic EQ and presets. While they don't have ANC, they have good noise isolation and leak practically no sound, meaning they're great to use on the bus or train. Unfortunately, the earbuds themselves are a bit bulky and may not fit comfortably in all ear shapes.
Get the Samsung if you're worried about fit and want something more universally comfortable, but if you want something to help block out engine rumble during your daily commute, go with the Jabra.
The best wired earphones 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 earbuds we’ve reviewed so far and are easy to recommend.
If you're worried about durability or want something a bit cheaper, go with the TIN Audio T2. They can sound a bit sharp or piercing compared to the 1More Triple Driver, but they're cheaper and feel better built with solid metal earbuds and a detachable cable. They do a decent job isolating ambient noise, and they leak almost no audio, meaning you can turn them up without bothering those around you. While the earbuds feel quite stable in the ear, unfortunately they aren't the most comfortable and may not be suitable for those with smaller ears.
Get the 1More Triple Driver if sound quality is the most important thing to you, but if you're tough on your headphones and want something that should be able to take a bit more of a beating, go with the T2.
The best earbuds for noise cancellation 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 Wireless 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/QC30 Wireless, 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 a carrying case as 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, go for 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 if you put them in their case, they charge when not in use, so you can 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 want a pair of earbuds under $100 for working out, go with the JBL Reflect Mini 2. They aren't truly wireless like the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air, but they have a more stable fit and their physical controls are easier to use while exercising. They have a well-balanced sound profile which has a slight bump in bass, making them good for getting you pumped during a workout. Unfortunately, their 10-hour battery doesn't have an auto-off feature, so you need to remember to turn them off when you aren't using them.
Go for the Liberty Air if you want super portable wireless earbuds that are good for everyday use, but if you want something to take with you to the gym, go for the Reflect Mini 2.
The best cheap earbuds we've tested so far are the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They perform better than a lot of the more premium wireless earbuds we've tested for a fraction of the price. They're surprisingly well-built, with a very comfortable fit for in-ear headphones, and even come with a nice hard carrying case, which is a welcome addition at this price point. They have an excited, bass-heavy sound that will help bring out the thump and rumble of a hip-hop track without drowning out the vocals and lead instruments of a folk-rock song.
While they have a very good 13-hour battery life, they don't have an auto-off timer, so if you forget to turn them off when you're not using them, you might find their battery drained when you pick them back up again. Like most cheap headphones, they also don't have customization options. That said, they still provide excellent value for the price and are very easy to recommend 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.
10/31/2019: Added Jabra Elite Active 65t as 'Better-Isolating Alternative' to "Best Truly Wireless Earbuds", removed 'Best Sounding Wireless Earbuds' category.