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The 7 Best In-Ear Headphones - Spring 2024 Reviews

Updated May 24, 2024 at 09:07 am
Best In-Ear Headphones

In-ear headphones are much more portable than bulky over-ears, and they help passively block out background noise for those on the go. They can be great at the gym and easily slip into your pocket when you get off the bus or arrive at the office.

We've tested over 325 pairs of in-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best in-ear wireless headphones and wired in-ears to purchase. The terms 'in-ear headphones' and 'earbuds' are often used interchangeably, even though earbuds technically rest at the edge of the ear canal, and in-ears have barrel-shaped tips inserted deep into the ear. This article focuses on in-ears, which tend to be more common, though some people find them uncomfortable and prefer the less intrusive fit of earbuds.

If you're looking for more recommendations for in-ears or earbuds, check out the best true wireless earbuds, the best wireless earbuds, and the best sounding wireless earbuds.

  1. Best In-Ear Headphones

    The best in-ear headphones we've tested are the Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless. These high-end in-ears are the next generation of the Sony WF-1000XM4 Truly Wireless and offer improved performance and design. They have a smaller and rounder shape than their predecessor, with memory foam ear tips that improve their noise isolation performance. Their active noise cancelling (ANC) feature blocks more bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines. However, you may not notice a significant difference between having the ANC on and off since they have high passive isolation due to their ear tips.

    These memory foam ear tips aren't comfortable for everyone, though. While the headphones come with a couple of different sizes of tips to help you get the right fit, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Truly Wireless are a more comfortable alternative since they don't have such a deep in-ear fit. They have a less neutral default sound profile, which isn't ideal for everyone, but you might appreciate the extra rumble and punch for genres like EDM and hip-hop. Both models offer a graphic EQ and presets for sound customization, and the Bose support a spatial audio feature that creates a more immersive soundstage. However, only the Sony earbuds have 360 Reality Audio, which analyzes your ear shape to create a custom sound profile.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range In-Ear Headphones

    If you want a premium product but don't want to pay top dollar, try the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. Like their predecessor, the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, they've got a few features you won't find anywhere else on this list, like an H2 chip for seamless pairing with devices in your Apple ecosystem and Spatial Audio for a more immersive audio experience. While their noise isolation isn't quite on par with the Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless, they still do an excellent job of tackling hard-to-block noise like rumbly plane engines and ambient chatter.

    They're well-built and comfortable enough for long listening sessions but can wiggle out of your ears over time, which is annoying. They have a warm sound profile, making instruments and vocals present but not sharp; this means they're well-suited for most kinds of content. However, they lack built-in EQ or presets to help you tweak their sound. They also have a somewhat short continuous battery life of just under six hours, but their case holds four extra charges if you need it.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range In-Ear Headphones

    The Google Pixel Buds Pro Truly Wireless are the best Bluetooth in-ear headphones at the mid-range level we've tested. Despite the smaller price tag, these earbuds still have plenty of useful extra features. They support multi-device pairing, meaning you can stay connected with your phone and computer simultaneously, and their ANC feature does an excellent job of blocking out noise. Google Pixel users can also take advantage of the spatial audio feature, which is meant to create a more immersive soundstage. You can take advantage of the manufacturer's other exclusive features, like real-time translation with app support.

    The earbuds have a solid continuous battery life of around seven hours and come with a case that holds two extra charges. Their slightly V-shaped sound profile emphasizes the thump and rumble of low bass, while instruments and lead vocals sound clear and bright. However, the in-ears can pop out of your ears over time. This can be annoying and affect their bass delivery if you can't achieve a consistent fit. The Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless are another good mid-range option. They're more comfortable for most people and not as prone to slipping out of place, but their ANC doesn't block bass-range noise like rumbling engines as effectively.

    See our review

  4. Best Lower Mid-Range In-Ear Headphones

    Consider the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless if you want a more affordable option for the best in-ear earbuds. These Bluetooth buds do sacrifice some high-end features, like virtual surround sound. Out of the box, they also have a less neutral sound profile than the Google Pixel Buds Pro Truly Wireless. Still, thanks to their adaptive ANC feature, they have a fantastic noise cancelling performance, which can block out noise like rumbling engines and background conversations. They support multi-device pairing, meaning you can stay connected with your phone and computer simultaneously. They have a solid eight hours of continuous battery life and come with a case with four additional charges.

    By default, the Anker have a warm sound profile that works well for genres like rock and jazz, but their audio lacks low bass, and voices and instruments are missing some detail. Still, you can use a graphic EQ and presets in their companion app to adjust the sound to your taste. If you're looking for similarly performing buds with a different physical design and more bass, consider the Anker Soundcore Liberty 4 NC Truly Wireless. They have a stem design, which some people may prefer to the Space A40's rounded shape, and they deliver a lot more thump, rumble, and boom. However, the added bass seeps into their mids and slightly muddies vocals and instruments.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget In-Ear Headphones

    If you're looking for wallet-friendly buds, try the JBL Vibe Buds True Wireless. These buds stand out from their competitors at this price point as they have some handy features to help you customize their performance. You can adjust their excited sound profile with an in-app graphic EQ and presets. The buds also have an audio mode meant to improve audio quality in addition to a video mode for lowering latency. However, unlike the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless, they don't have an ANC feature and rely on their passive capabilities to reduce ambient sound. They do an okay job in this regard overall but struggle to block out rumbly engine noise during commutes. Their in-ear fit is a bit deep but still decently comfortable for most people.

    They're also well-built and have about nine hours of continuous battery life. Their carrying case also stores an extra three charges. While the case doesn't have a lid, which is pretty unusual, there are magnets to hold the buds in place. If you prefer earbuds with a more secure carrying case, try the JBL Vibe Beam True Wireless. They offer an overall performance similar to the Vibe Buds, but their case has a lid. They also have a stem design instead of a completely rounded bud, making them feel less comfortable and stable.

    See our review

  6. Best Bass-Heavy In-Ear Headphones

    If you mostly listen to bass-heavy genres, like metal, hip-hop, and EDM, you'll want buds that can pack a solid punch and thump. While other earbuds might try to do this by overemphasizing the bass in the mix, this can cause distortion and create sound artifacts that make your listening experience less pleasant. Instead, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 4 have an accurate, neutral bass response and a recessed treble range. As such, they can reproduce bass-range frequencies with outstanding fidelity. If you'd prefer a little extra bass, their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets to help you personalize their sound.

    These headphones are well-built and have a comfortable fit for most people. Their stable fit and IP54 for dust and water resistance make them a good choice for workouts. Their adaptive noise cancelling feature performs similarly to the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless' overall, so they do an excellent job of cutting out ambient sound, although they aren't quite as good at reducing bass-range noise like rumbling engines. If you're looking for a cheaper option, you might also go for the previous model of these earbuds, the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3, which offer a similar sound and performance overall. However, their noise isolation isn't as good.

    See our review

  7. Best In-Ear Monitor Headphones

    If you're looking for wired in-ears that prioritize sound quality, the MOONDROP Blessing 3 are the best in-ear monitors (IEMs) we've tested. These wired in-ears don't have features like ANC or a mic, but you can buy a separate cable with an in-line mic if you want to make calls. However, unlike most earbuds, they use a hybrid driver design to improve sound quality and have a very neutral sound profile. They accurately reproduce the bass's thump, punch, and boom, while instruments and vocals sound clear and accurate. They're very well-built and comfortable, with earbuds made of plastic and stainless steel. Their cables loop around your ears to keep them in place even when you're moving your head around a lot. Despite the lack of ANC, they passively block out an impressive amount of mid-range and high-pitched noise, so you won't hear as much background chit-chat and clinking glasses in a cafe.

    However, their price matches their status as premium IEMs. As an alternative, the MOONDROP Aria are much more budget-friendly and have a similar wired design. Their sound is also quite neutral, but they don't reproduce bass as well, and they have a less well-balanced mid-range, which can make instruments and vocals sound pushed back. They lack the Blessing 3's premium build and won't block out nearly as much noise. Still, they offer good audio quality and a versatile sound profile at a much more affordable price.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless: The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless are the predecessor of the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds Truly Wireless. Like the Ultra, they have a more comfortable fit than the similarly priced Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless. However, they don't have Spatial Audio, don't quite match the Sony's noise isolation performance, and lack multi-device pairing. See our review
  • Beats Powerbeats Pro Truly Wireless: The Beats Powerbeats Pro Truly Wireless are sporty headphones with an ear-hook design, so they won't fall out during tough runs or workouts. However, they lack noise cancelling and don't block out as much background noise as the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. See our review
  • Jabra Elite 10 True Wireless : The Jabra Elite 10 True Wireless have a spatial audio feature like the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless, but their ANC doesn't block out quite as much ambient noise. See our review
  • Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro True Wireless: The Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro Truly Wireless are sleek in-ears with a slightly better noise isolation performance than the Google Pixel Buds Pro Truly Wireless, and they sound more neutral, which some users may prefer. However, they don't support multi-device pairing, and their battery performance is worse. See our review
  • Skullcandy Dime 3 True Wireless: The Skullcandy Dime 3 True Wireless are wallet-friendly, truly wireless headphones with a fairly balanced sound profile and multi-device pairing. However, they aren't as comfortable as the JBL Vibe Buds True Wireless, and their sound isn't as customizable. See our review
  • MOONDROP KATO: The MOONDROP KATO are wired IEMs with a sleek stainless steel chassis and an interchangeable nozzle design to help you fine-tune their sound. They're less expensive than the MOONDROP Blessing 3 and have a similar sturdy build, but they're heavier, have a less well-balanced sound profile, and don't block out as much ambient sound. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. May 24, 2024: We've replaced the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 with the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 4 as the 'Best Bass-Heavy In-Ear Headphones.' The newer model has a similar sound and a better ANC performance.

  2. Apr 24, 2024: The picks on the list have been checked; there are no changes to the selections and only minor text edits. We've also mentioned the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 4, which haven't been tested yet.

  3. Mar 26, 2024: We've checked out picks for accuracy and product availability, but there hasn't been a change in our recommendations.

  4. Feb 27, 2024: We've changed the title of the article from 'Best In-Ears And Earbuds' to 'Best In-Ear Headphones' because this article focuses specifically on headphones with an in-ear design. Otherwise, we've made minor updates to the text but haven't changed any picks.

  5. Feb 02, 2024: We've checked to ensure all our picks remain up-to-date and in stock.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best in-ears 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.