If you use your headphones while on the go, in-ears or earbuds can be a lot more portable than bulky over-ears and help passively block out background noise. 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 deeper 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 225 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 Samsung Galaxy Buds+ are the best earbuds with a wireless connection that we've tested. These well-built, truly wireless in-ears have a sleek design and a comfortable, stable fit. They even come with a few different sizes of ear tips and stability fins so you can find the best possible fit.
Thanks to their neutral, balanced sound profile, these headphones are suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. You can even use the EQ presets in the Galaxy Wearable app to adjust their sound profile to your liking. Their 13.3-hour continuous battery life is impressive, and their portable charging case offers around one additional charge for when you're on the go.
Unfortunately, they have a touch-sensitive control scheme that makes it easy to press the wrong button. You may also find it hard to use the controls if you're wearing gloves. However, their decently versatile performance should please many different listeners, and they rank among the best truly wireless earbuds we've tested.
The Apple AirPods Pro are the best wireless earbuds for noise cancelling that we've tested. These sleek in-ears have an excellent ANC, which can cut down noise from bus or plane engines as well as ambient chatter. They also have a comfortable fit and are rated IPX4 for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this.
Thanks to their fairly neutral and balanced sound profile, they're suitable for lots of audio content. They also have a stable fit and shouldn't fall out of your ears if you're wearing them while running or working out. Although their 5.3-hour battery life may not be enough to get you through your 9-5 workday without a recharge, their carrying case holds five additional charges.
Unfortunately, their companion interface doesn't offer many extra features and lacks an EQ to help tweak its sound to your liking. Their integrated mic also does a disappointing job recording your voice, so you sound muffled and distorted. That said, they have a versatile performance and excellent noise isolation performance that's sure to please most users.
If you want to customize the level of ambient noise that your headphones' ANC blocks out, take a look at the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. While they're not as comfortable as the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, and they have a shorter total battery life, the Bose have an adjustable ANC control in their companion app. These well-built headphones have a great build quality and a stable fit. Their neutral sound profile is also suitable for a variety of audio content. Thanks to their ANC, they can cut down an impressive amount of noise around you and have minimal audio leakage, so you shouldn't bother your coworkers if you like to listen to your favorite mixes at a high volume. They also deliver over seven hours of continuous playback time, and their carrying case holds two additional charges.
Try the Apple if you're looking for more comfortable noise cancelling earbuds that can seamlessly pair with other Apple devices. However, check out the Bose if you like to tweak your ANC.
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. Thanks to their active noise cancelling (ANC) system, these in-ears do a great job blocking out background noise like the rumble of a bus or plane engine. They also have over nine hours of continuous battery life, and their carrying case holds roughly two additional charges, which is handy in a pinch.
They have a slightly v-shaped sound profile that adds extra punch, thump, and boom to your mixes while vocals and lead instruments are bright. They also have a comfortable and stable fit, so they should stay in place during a workout or a run in the park. They're well-built too and are rated IPX5 for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this.
Unfortunately, they don't have a companion app, and they lack an EQ or presets to help adjust their sound to your liking. Their controls can also be tricky to use, and they aren't the most responsive. That said, if you're looking for more wallet-friendly in-ears, they offer a versatile performance that should please most users.
The best cheap earbuds that we've tested are the Skullcandy Dime. These in-ears have a stable and breathable fit, which makes them a great choice 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 fairly 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.
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.
Apr 13, 2021: Replaced the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless with the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds as the Amazon aren't currently available. Also replaced the Creative Outlier V2 with the EarFun Air Pro and replaced the Sony WI-C310 with the Mpow MDots as both headphones represent better value to our users.
Mar 19, 2021: Verified the accuracy of our text and product availability. There has been no change in our recommendation picks.
Feb 19, 2021: Replaced Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless with Creative Outlier Air V2 True Wireless as a better fit for their category. Added Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless, EPOS GTW 270 Hybrid Truly Wireless, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro Truly Wireless, and JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless to Notable Mentions.
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.