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 2020. 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. Having sports-oriented earbuds doesn't mean you have to sacrifice on sound quality - at least that's what Jaybird is trying to prove. Not only are they one of the best earbuds for working out, with their IPX7 rating and secure fit, they're also one the best-sounding pairs. They have a deep bass with clear mids, but the treble can be a bit sibilant and the bass slightly boomy. If this sound doesn't suit you, Jaybird provides an incredible EQ within their excellent companion app.
Although they're not truly wireless earbuds, the in-line controls are easy to use if you're not a fan of touch controls. On the back of the in-line remote is where you'll find the connection pins for the proprietary charger. The latter is a bit of a letdown. Fortunately, you can leave your charger at home, because the battery life on these earbuds are great, coming in at around 13.3 hours of continuous playback.
If you're on the market for a great pair of earbuds for sports or everyday use, these are a fantastic choice.
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.
For those who want to make sure that their earbuds don't fall out during exercise, the Jaybird Vista are worth considering. They don't have the battery life of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless, but the 5.5 hours of playtime should be enough to get you through your workout, with the charging case providing an extra two charges should you run low. They come with a selection of tips and fins to help you get the most secure fit, so you can focus on your workout and forget you even have them on. As always, these earbuds are compatible with Jaybird's great companion app, which lets you tune the sound to your liking, from presets to a parametric EQ, to even sound profiles created by other users.
If you need earphones with great battery life, choose the Samsung, but if you're looking for a good fit that won't fall out, the Jaybird are better.
If you don't like the glossy finish of the Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless and would prefer something that looks and feel better-built, then get the Jabra Elite 75t instead. They might not have the same accurate audio reproduction as the Samsung and they won't isolate as much noise too, but on the other hand, they feel better made. They're also rated IP55 for dust and water resistance, which is significantly higher than the IPX2 rating of the Samsung. While the Jabra have just about the same single-charge battery life, their case holds three charges, while the Samsung only have a single extra charge. The Jabra also have a dedicated 5-band graphic EQ that offers a few customization options.
If you want more accurate sound, go with the Samsung, but if you prefer physical buttons and a better-built option, the Jabra are a great choice.
If you don't care for wireless technologies or prefer a stable connection with no latency, the best wired earphones we’ve tested so far are the 1More Triple Driver. The build quality is decent with metal casings and thick cables, where the in-line remote resides along with a decent microphone for calls. The microphone may struggle to separate speech from ambient noise, but will generally be easy to understand. One area of concern is the cables leading up to the earphones, which are thin and not removable.
Although these earbuds are fairly well-balanced and suitable for a variety of genres, the bass can sound a bit muddy and the treble lacks detail. Unfortunately, being wired earphones, there isn't a companion app for further customization or other features such as active noise cancellation. That being said, the passive isolation is passable and quite effective at blocking out speech and higher frequencies. If all you need is a simple wired pair without the hassles of wireless earphones, these are the best wired earbuds we’ve reviewed so far.
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 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 TIN Audio.
The best noise cancelling in-ear headphones we've reviewed so far are the Apple AirPods Pro. They provide great isolation thanks to their very good ANC feature and they are quite comfortable to wear during long listening sessions. They have silicone tips that make them different from the previous AirPods models and helps with their fit. They also come with different tip sizes to help you find the best and most comfortable fit possible.
They feel very well-made and feature a new squeeze touch-sensitive control scheme, which is easy to use. They have a pretty neutral and well-balanced sound profile and don't lack as much bass as previous models. Their ANC feature is great for reducing an engine rumble or even to greatly reduce the ambient chatter in an office environment.
Unfortunately, these headphones don't really have any customization options as their iOS-specific interface doesn't allow you to do much with them. They connect seamlessly, but you can only map controls and switch between ANC On, Off, and their transparency mode. Nevertheless, these are premium in-ear headphones that have a very good ANC feature that'll satisfy most users.
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 Apple AirPods Pro Truly 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 Sony.
The best wireless earbuds under $100 that we’ve tested so far are the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air 2. They're a nice upgrade over the previous Anker SoundCore Liberty Air Truly Wireless headphones. They have a similar shape to the older model, but the Liberty Air 2 have a much better control scheme and a more premium design. These headphones have a great 6.5-hour battery life on a single charge and their case holds five additional charges, which means you'll barely ever need to charge them.
These truly wireless headphones have a well-balanced sound profile, but might be better suitable for more bass-heavy genres. They have a bit of extra thump and rumble, which lends itself well to EDM and hip-hop tracks. Their fit also offers good passive isolation and they're great to use during your daily commute.
Unfortunately, while these Anker headphones are compatible with their new app, it's still fairly barebones. It doesn't offer any graphic or parametric EQ and you can only select through some presets and map some controls. Nevertheless, if you're looking for budget truly wireless headphones, these are very versatile and one of the best we've reviewed so far.
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 Truly Wireless, 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 Anker 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 JBL.
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.
01/08/2020: Added Jabra Elite 75t as 'Better-Built Alternative' to 'Best Truly Wireless Earbuds', Replaced the Bose QC30 by the Apple AirPods Pro as 'Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds', Replaced the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air by the Soundcore Liberty Air 2 for 'Best Earbuds Under $100".
11/29/2019: Minor text and structure changes, no change in recommendations.
10/31/2019: Added Jabra Elite Active 65t as 'Better-Isolating Alternative' to "Best Truly Wireless Earbuds", removed 'Best Sounding Wireless Earbuds' category.