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 235 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 earbuds with a wireless connection that we've tested are the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ Truly Wireless. These Bluetooth in-ear headphones are comfortable and well-built, with a rounded shape and a premium-looking glossy finish. Thanks to their extremely neutral sound profile, they're suitable for many different genres and types of content.
If you prefer a different sound, they also work with the Galaxy Wearable app, which gives you access to EQ presets as well as some other useful features, like button mapping. The earbuds are stable enough to stay in place during workouts and have an IPX2 rating for water resistance, although we don't test for that currently. Their battery life of roughly 13.3 hours is impressive, and they come with a sturdy case that holds about one extra charge.
Unfortunately, their touch-sensitive controls make it easy to accidentally register a command. Also, since they lack active noise cancelling (ANC), these earbuds don't really isolate you from bass range noise like the rumble of a bus engine, but they do block out a good amount of noise like ambient chatter. That said, these versatile earbuds are among the best headphones we've tested.
The best earbuds that we've tested with active noise cancelling are the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless. These well-built in-ears are lightweight and have a comfortable fit. Their ANC feature does an amazing job of isolating you from a wide range of noise, including the low rumble of bus and plane engines.
Once you achieve a good fit with the assortment of ear tips, they should be stable enough to stay in place during workouts. They also have an IPX4 rating for water resistance, although we don't test for that. Their sound profile is very well-balanced in neutral, so it's suitable for a variety of content from music to podcasts. Also, while they have a somewhat short continuous battery life of 5.3 hours, they come with a sturdy case that holds about five extra charges.
Unfortunately, their sound profile lacks a bit of low-bass, so you may find mixes are missing some thump and rumble. Also, they don't have any app support aside from a settings screen on iOS devices, so you can't adjust it with features like an EQ or presets. That said, they have impressive noise isolation abilities and offer versatile performance.
If you want earbuds that let you adjust the amount of ambient sound you can hear, you may prefer the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless. These Bluetooth in-ears aren't as comfortable as the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, and their ANC has a slightly worse overall performance, but it's also adjustable through their companion app. This allows you to turn it up or down depending on how much noise you want to block out, and you can even save up to three ANC presets. Their well-balanced sound profile also delivers more thump and rumble, which fans of bass-heavy genres may prefer. They're very well-built, stable, and portable, although you may find their charging case a little bulky.
Go for the Apple if you want a slightly better noise isolation performance and a smaller, more comfortable design. If you want earbuds with a more accurate bass response and an adjustable ANC, try the Bose instead.
The best earbuds with a wired connection that we've tested are the 1More Triple Driver. They have a portable design with in-line controls that make it easy to adjust the volume when you're on the go. They're decently comfortable, and they even come with nine different sizes of earbud tips to help you get the best possible fit.
These headphones offer a bass-heavy sound profile that adds a little extra thump and punch to your audio, making them ideal for fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. They don't leak a lot of audio, either, so you can crank up the volume on your favorite tunes without really bothering those around you in your office. Also, their in-line microphone has a good recording quality, so they're suitable for taking phone calls.
Unfortunately, these headphones don't offer any sound customization features, so you can't adjust their sound profile to your liking. They don't have an ANC feature, either, so they struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines. That said, if you prefer a wired design, they're a solid choice.
The best earbuds under $100 that we've tested are the EarFun Air Pro True Wireless. These earbuds have a comfortable, stable fit and an IPX5 rating for water resistance, although we don't test it currently. They're suitable for commuting, as their ANC system does an impressive job of isolating you from ambient sound like rumbling bus and plane engines.
Their nine-hour continuous battery life can last through your 9-5 workday or a long flight, and their carrying case holds a couple of extra charges as well. Their slightly v-shaped sound profile lends some extra rumble and boom to mixes without being overwhelming, so it's suitable for a variety of genres. These earbuds feel quite sturdily built as well.
Unfortunately, they don't have the most intuitive or responsive control scheme. They also lack app support, and they don't come with any sound customization features like an EQ or presets. Otherwise, if you're looking for budget-friendly in-ears, they offer great noise isolation, a long battery life, and a versatile sound profile.
The best cheap earbuds that we've tested are the Skullcandy Dime. These in-ears have a stable and breathable fit, which makes them great for sports. They're also well-built and are rated IPX4 for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this.
They have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile which adds just a touch of extra thump, punch, and boom to your mixes. That said, they're still balanced enough for a variety of audio content. They have a comfortable and lightweight fit, although using the controls can put pressure on your ear. They don't leak a lot of audio at high volumes, so you can also crank up your favorite music without disturbing those around you.
They have a short continuous playback time of under four hours, which may not be enough to get you through your workday without pausing to recharge them. Since they don't have ANC, they also rely on their passive capabilities to block out noise. Unfortunately, they struggle to block out bass-range sounds like the rumble of a bus engine. That said, they do a better job of blocking out ambient noise like office chatter.
Sep 02, 2021: Verified that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock. Added the Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Aug 06, 2021: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations in their categories and that the products are in stock. There were no changes to picks.
Jul 09, 2021: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.
Jun 11, 2021: Removed the Jaybird Tarah Pro Wireless as they're currently not available from major retailers.
May 13, 2021: Replaced the Mpow MDots True Wireless with the Skullcandy Dime True Wireless as 'Best Cheap' since the Skullcandy are better-built with a longer continuous battery life and a more neutral sound.
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.