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. They are ultra-portable and very convenient thanks to their small size and weight. While earbuds rest at the edge canal, in-ear headphones have special tips that are inserted into the ear canal (see our article to learn more about the differences).
So far, we've tested 37 earbuds and in-ears and below are our recommendations for the best ones to purchase in 2018.
Best Earbuds: Bose QuietControl 30
The best earbuds we've tested so far are the Bose QuietControl 30. They are versatile and portable noise canceling earbuds with a stable fit. If you usually find in-ears like the Jaybird X3 or the BeatsX a bit uncomfortable to wear for long listening sessions, then the QC 30 are a good option with a versatile wireless design and a long battery life.
These earbuds isolate as well as the Bose over-ears in loud environments and barely leak, which makes them a great choice for commuting, traveling and to use at the office.
Best Mid-Range Earbuds: Jaybird Freedom
For a mid-range option, the Jaybird Freedom are the best earbuds/in-ears. These wireless in-ear headphones are versatile and block a lot of ambient noise passively. They barely leak, are cheaper than the Bose QuietControl 30 and they're compact enough to fit in any pocket or bag.
Although the Jaybird X2 are better overall, they don't support the MySound app which lets you customize the sound of the Freedoms to your liking. Unfortunately, the Freedoms sacrifice battery life for a more portable design so if you're a power user or have long uninterrupted listening sessions, we recommend getting the Jaybird X3 instead.
Better Sounding Alternative: Beats BeatsX
If you're looking for a better sounding alternative to the Bose QC 30 and passive isolation is enough to block the noise of your daily commute, then get the Beats BeatsX. They're significantly cheaper than the QC 30, are easier to fit into your pockets thanks to their flexible design, and they're versatile enough for most situations and environments.
They don't have the customization options of the Jaybird Freedom but these in-ears sound better out-of-the-box and provide more battery life for a much shorter charge time.
Cheaper Alternative: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear
If you don't mind a simple, wired in-ear design and don't need all the active features of the other recommendations on this list, then the 1More Triple Driver should be your first choice. They are one of the best sounding in-ear headphones we've measured so far. They're well-built, compact and easy to carry around your person.
They also isolate well enough to be decent commuting headphones and they're sufficiently stable that they won't fall if you run or exercise with them.
Best Budget Earbuds: Samsung Level U Pro
The best budget earbuds we've tested are the Samsung Level U Pro. They have a great set of active features for their price and a reliably fast wireless connection.
They also have a decent sound quality that you can personalize with the Level app on Android devices. Unfortunately, they don't offer the same level of customization for iOS users and they also feel a bit flimsy compared to some of the other around-the-neck designs on this list.
Cheaper Alternative: MEE audio M6 PRO
Like the 1More Triple Driver, the MEE Audio M6 Pro offer a focused experienced with no active features but a good sound and a sturdy design. They surprisingly come with two detachable cables, which is rare in this price range. This makes them a lot more durable than comparable in-ears like the 1More Piston Classic, Symphonized NRG 3.0 or the Sony MDR-XB50AP.
They're easy to have on you at all times and the ear-hook design makes them stable enough to take to the gym. This makes them pretty versatile overall and a great budget recommendation.
- Bose SoundSport Wireless. Comfortable earbuds with a good wireless range. One of the best sounding earbuds but inconsistent durability and slightly bulky design. See our review
- Jaybird X3. Great overall performance with added customization options. Stable sports headphones but doesn't quite surpass the X2. See our review
- Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-ear. Decent sound and great passive isolation. These earbuds tend to sound a bit dark and they're a bit pricey for what they offer. See our review
- Soundpets Q9A. A good wireless sports headphone. Stable for sports but the average-at-best sound quality won't be for everyone. See our review
- Bose QuietComfort 20. The wired and older version of the Bose QC30. Simple portable earbuds with good isolation. Can sound a bit dark and is somewhat pricey. See our review
- Westone W40. Well-built and durable in-ear headphones with a stable design. Mediocre sound quality especially for their price. See our review
- Apple AirPods. Versatile and well rounded wireless earbuds. Limited on Android. See our review
- Mpow Jaws. A good alternative the SoundPeats Q9A. Not as stable but more versatile with a slightly better sound. See our review
- 1More Piston Classic. A simple and well-built budget in-ear. Comfortable with a decent sound but mediocre isolation and their sound may not be ideal for more critical listeners. See our review
- Sennheiser HD 1 In-Ear Wireless. A wireless upgrade to the momentum in-ears. Decent sound and a stylish portable design, but quite pricey for their overall performance. See our review
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best earbud headphones and in-ear headphones to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one 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 headphones. 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.