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The 8 Best Earbuds And In-Ear Headphones - Spring 2019
Reviews

Best Earbuds And In-Ears
346 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

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 285 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best earbuds to purchase in 2019. See our recommendations for the best truly wireless earbuds, the best wireless earbuds and in-ears, and the best sounding wireless earbuds.

  1. Best Earbuds: Jaybird Tarah Pro Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.2
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.1
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.5
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    8.2
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    7.3
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    5.9
    TV
    Score components:
    5.7
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best in-ear headphones that we’ve reviewed so far are the Jaybird Tarah Pro. They’re well-made wireless earbuds with a very stable fit that’s great for sports. They have magnetic earbuds that clip together for easier cable management and also to trigger an auto-off timer, saving battery life. They’re rated IPX7 for advanced water and sweat resistance, and are very breathable and portable.

    These headphones have very good audio reproduction and have a fairly balanced, versatile sound that is well-suited for a range of music genres, from hip-hop to classical. You can also use the great parametric EQ available on the Jaybird MySound app to customize their sound even further. They have a great rechargeable battery that lasts for over 13 hours and fully charges in under 2 hours.

    Unfortunately, these headphones cannot connect two devices simultaneously, whereas the cheaper Jaybird X4 and Tarah can. They also have a proprietary charging cradle, so if you forget their charger at home, you won’t be able to use your phone’s. That said, the Jaybird Tarah Pro are still the best overall in-ear headphones we’ve tested so far and are likely to please anyone looking for great sports headphones that are versatile enough for everyday use.

    See our review

  2. Noise Cancelling Alternative: Bose QuietControl 30/QC30 Wireless

    Type : Earbuds
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re looking for wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation, get the Bose QuietControl 30. They’re not as portable as the Jaybird, but they’re more comfortable and have great isolation. They have a versatile around-the-neck design with very good noise isolation and a well-balanced, bass-rich sound. If you usually find in-ears like the Jaybird Tarah Pro a bit uncomfortable, then the QC30's earbud fit may be the solution you've been hoping for, without sacrificing too much portability.

    Unfortunately, their around-the-neck design will not be for everyone. The similarly designed Jabra Elite 65e are much cheaper, but don’t perform as well overall. All things considered, the QC30 are good wireless earbuds for commuters and won’t disappoint for most other use cases.

    See our review

  3. Truly Wireless Alternative For Sports: Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Truly Wireless
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you do a lot of sports and want to truly eliminate wires, get the Jabra Elite Active 65t. Their fit isn’t as comfortable nor as stable as that of the Jaybird Tarah Pro, but they’re still a great option for sports, especially thanks to their truly wireless design. They sound decent and you can use the EQ present in the Jabra Sound+ app to customize their sound a bit too. The Elite Active 65t also have great isolation and do a very good job at isolating noise without leaking hardly any sound.

    Unfortunately, like many truly wireless earbuds, their battery doesn’t last very long. You’ll get about 5 hours of continuous playtime with the Jabra Elite Active 65t before you’ll need to charge them again. Thankfully, they come with a charging case that provides 2 additional charges and they have a quick charge feature that gives you about 1.5 hours of playback.

    See our review

  4. Best Mid-Range Earbuds: Samsung Gear IconX Truly Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.1
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.2
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.4
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    8.2
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    7.3
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    5.5
    TV
    Score components:
    4.9
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Truly Wireless
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re looking for ultra-portable, feature-packed, truly wireless in-ears, get the Samsung Gear IconX. They’re not sweatproof like the Jabra Elite Active 65t, nor are they noise-canceling like the Bose QuietControl 30, but they're compact, truly wireless in-ears that will easily fit into your pockets.

    They have an above-average sound that you can tweak a bit with the Samsung Gear app. Though they won't be the ideal choice for blocking the noise of particularly loud conditions, they have good enough passive isolation for most commutes.

    The similarly designed Jabra Elite Active 65t are a bit more customizable thanks to their better EQ. They’re also more sweat-resistant and better for athletes who need durable headphones for heavy workouts. That said, the IconX have more features, have a more comfortable in-ear fit, and they even have 4GB of onboard storage, so you do not need your phone to listen to music.

    See our review

  5. Cheaper Alternative: Anker SoundCore Liberty Air Truly Wireless

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Truly Wireless
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re looking for a truly wireless option that still delivers a quality listening experience but is a little cheaper, get the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air. They're one of the best sounding earbuds we've tested. They may not be as customizable as the Samsung Gear IconX, but they’re less expensive and even sound a bit better out-of-the-box.

    Unfortunately, the AnkerCore Liberty Air are not as comfortable as the Samsung Gear IconX, since they protrude quite deeply into the ear canal. They do a better job at isolating the wearer, though, and have pretty good noise isolation considering they have no active noise-canceling features. They’re great not only for sports but are also a good choice for commuters who appreciate the extra noise-blocking.

    See our review

  6. Wired Alternative: 1More Triple Driver

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Hybrid

    If you just want 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 don’t sound quite as good as the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air, but they’re still one of the better-sounding wired in-ears we've tested and they're much cheaper than some more established critical listening options from other brands. They're well-built, compact, and are easy to use and to carry around.

    The 1More Triple Driver In-Ear look good, but don't feel as well-built as the KZ AS-10. However, they sound better and feature a mic for added convenience. Although wired headphones may not be as versatile for day-to-day use as wireless ones, if you want a simple in-ear design, the 1More are one of the best in-ear headphones we've reviewed and are easy to recommend for most listeners.

    See our review

  7. Best Budget Earbuds: Anker SoundBuds Curve Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.8
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    6.9
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.0
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    7.9
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    6.9
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    5.5
    TV
    Score components:
    5.3
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best earbuds in the budget category are the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They don’t have the range of the Jaybird Tarah Pro and aren’t as well built or as durable as the 1More Triple Driver, but they're cheaper and even more comfortable than the more expensive options.

    They look surprisingly good for their price and are stable enough to wear during most sports. They sound pretty good, especially when compared to most wireless in-ears at this price point. They also have a longer lasting battery life than more expensive models.

    The Anker SoundBuds Curve are good for sports but aren’t very sweatproof. Consider the JBL Endurance Sprint as a more sweatproof option, thanks to their IPX7 rating. However, they’re less comfortable and the Curve offer the best value at this price point.

    See our review

  8. Wired Alternative: TIN Audio T2

    Type : In-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : No
    Noise-Cancelling : No
    Mic : No
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you want more affordable wired headphones than the 1More Triple Driver In-Ear, go with the Tin Audio T2 instead. They might not have the sound quality of the 1More, but they're very well-built, especially thanks to their detachable cables that you can replace if they get damaged.

    Unfortunately, they don’t have any active features like the Anker SoundBuds Curve or the Jaybird Freedom, but at least you don't have to worry about charging them. Also, since they're not wireless, you can watch video content without any latency issues. Overall, the Tin Audio T2 are fairly versatile in-ears that should please most people.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Jabra Elite 65e Wireless: A cheaper alternative to the QC30, but slightly worse performance overall.  See our review
  • Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless: A decently versatile, truly wireless design, but not comfortable for everyone.  See our review
  • Jaybird Freedom F5 Wireless 2016: A lightweight and well-built sports headphone with a customizable sound. The charging clip may be a deal breaker for some.  See our review
  • JBL E25BT Wireless: A very budget wireless in-ear with a decent sound and overall performance. Mediocre at best build quality.  See our review
  • 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 Wireless: Great overall performance with added customization options. Stable sports headphones but don't quite surpass the X4, but they are cheaper.  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
  • Apple AirPods 1 Truly Wireless 2017: Versatile and well-rounded wireless earbuds. Limited on Android.  See our review
  • Mpow Jaws 4.1 Wireless: A good alternative to 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
  • Jaybird Run Truly Wireless: Good overall performance, great for sports, and a decent alternative to the Gear IconX. Build quality is not as good and  Bluetooth pairing and latency can be a bit frustrating.  See our review
  • Samsung U Flex Wireless: A customizable wireless in-ear with a decent sound, but only for Samsung devices. The Anker SoundBuds Curve have no device restrictions and provide better value.  See our review
  • MEE audio M6 PRO: A decent alternative to the 1More Triple Driver. Good build quality and a decent sound for the price. A bit too sharp on some tracks.  See our review
  • KZ AS10: Decent wired in-ears that are well-built and have good audio reproduction, similar to the 1More Triple Driver.  See our review
  • B&O PLAY Beoplay E8 Truly Wireless 2018: Premium truly wireless headphones with a great design, but very expensive. The Samsung Gear IconX provide better value. See our review

All Reviews

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 (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 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.

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