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 344 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.
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, triggering an auto-off timer to help 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 Tarah and Jaybird X4 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 earbuds we’ve tested so far and are likely to please anyone looking for great sports headphones that are versatile enough for everyday use.
If you’re looking for wireless earbuds with active noise cancellation, get the Bose QuietControl 30. They’re not as portable as the Jaybird Tarah Pro, but they’re more comfortable and have active noise cancelling. They have a versatile neckband design with very good noise isolation and a well-balanced, bass-rich sound. If you usually find in-ears a bit uncomfortable, then this earbud fit may be the solution you've been hoping for, without sacrificing too much portability.
However, their neckband design will not be for everyone, especially since it doesn’t have the most durable build quality. Consider the Sony WI-1000X for more premium ANC in-ears. All things considered, the Bose are good wireless earbuds for commuters and won’t disappoint for most other uses.
If you prefer truly wireless earbuds with a stable design that’s great for sports, then get the Beats Powerbeats Pro. They don’t have a companion app so they’re not customizable like the Jaybird Tarah Pro, but they’re very well-designed, especially for truly wireless headphones. They have a comfortable in-ear fit with malleable ear hooks that help keep them in place while running or working out. They’re well-built and have a good physical control scheme that’s easy-to-use and even includes volume controls, which is rare on truly wireless earbuds. They have a balanced sound that’s suitable to a wide range of music genres and an impressive 11.4-hour battery life.
Although they feel fairly well-built, they’re only rated IPX4 for protection against water splashes. We don’t test waterproofness internally, but the Jabra Elite Active 65t feel better-built and are rated IP56 for improved dust and water resistance. The Powerbeats Pro are also quite bulky, so if you prefer truly wireless earbuds with a slimmer and more streamlined design you may want to consider the Samsung Galaxy Buds. They have a great low-profile design, but are better-suited for Android devices while the Beats work best on iOS.
The best earbuds in the mid-range category that we’ve tested so far are the Anker SoundCore Liberty Air. They’re versatile truly wireless in-ear headphones that are very easy to carry around thanks to their ultra-compact design. They feel fairly well-built and have a good stable fit too, so they shouldn’t fly out of your ears if you need to run to catch the bus from time to time.
These wireless in-ears have outstanding audio reproduction and deliver a balanced, neutral sound that caters well to music of virtually all genres. Their battery only provides about 4 hours of continuous playback, but when you put them in their case they charge when not in use, so you could get up to nearly 16 hours of total battery life throughout the day.
Unfortunately, they aren’t the most comfortable headphones we’ve tested since they protrude quite deeply into the ear canal. They do isolate quite a bit of noise, though, especially considering they have no active noise cancelling features. They’re great not only for sports but are also a good choice for commuters who appreciate the extra isolation.
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.
These headphones look good, but don't feel as well-built as the KZ AS10 or the TIN Audio T3. 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 Triple Driver are the best wired earbuds we’ve reviewed so far and are easy to recommend.
The best in-ear headphones in the budget category are the Anker SoundBuds Curve. They're not customizable like 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 some of the more expensive options. They look surprisingly good for their price and are stable enough to wear while running or working out.
These earbuds sound pretty decent, especially compared to most wireless in-ears at this price point. Their battery also lasts for nearly 13 hours, which is longer than even some of the most expensive wireless in-ears we've tested.
These earbuds are good for sports but aren’t very sweat-proof. Consider the JBL Endurance Sprint as a more sweat-proof option, thanks to their IPX7 rating. However, their touch-sensitive control scheme is a bit finicky and they're not the most comfortable. Overall, the SoundBuds Curve offer the best value at this price point.
If you're looking for a wired alternative to the Anker SoundBuds Curve, go with the TIN Audio T2 instead. They're very well-built, especially thanks to their detachable cables that you can replace if they get damaged.
Since they’re wired headphones, they don’t have any customization options like the Jaybird Freedom, but at least this means 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.
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.