If you have small ears, it can be really difficult to find earbuds that are comfortable or that even fit at all. Many in-ear headphones have bulky earbuds that push on different parts of the ear and can cause fatigue or even pain over time, especially for those with smaller ears. Soft earbuds can help, but the earbud tip designs can still be too bulky for some. The best design for small ears is usually an ultra-slim in-ear fit with earbuds small enough to not touch the outer parts of the ear canal.
We’ve tested over 135 earbuds and in-ear headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best earbuds for small ears in 2020. If you’re looking for our top picks for other earbuds and in-ears, check out our recommendations for the overall best earbuds and in-ear headphones, the best truly wireless earbuds, and the best wireless earbuds and in-ears.
The best wireless earbuds for small ears that we’ve tested so far are the Jaybird Freedom. They’re well-designed wireless in-ear headphones with a unique shape. Their earbuds are incredibly slim and come to a slightly tapered point instead of creating a barrel-like shape like most in-ears. They’re fairly well-built and come with lots of different earbud tips and stability fins to help you find a good fit.
These earbuds have a fairly balanced sound that caters well to most music genres. They’re also compatible with the Jaybird MySound app, which provides access to a great parametric EQ so you can customize the way they sound with your smartphone. They also have great isolation performance and can isolate a good amount of noise if you can create an air-tight seal. It can be harder for people with smaller ears to create a good seal sometimes, but their unique design may help for some.
Those with very small ears may find that the earbud tip options are still too large, and tips from other companies don’t tend to fit as well. They also have a pretty disappointing 4-hour battery life. Thankfully, their charging clip can provide up to 4 additional hours of power. The clip adds a bit of bulk and makes the headphones feel less stable, but is helpful if you need more power in a pinch.
The best earbuds for small ears with a neckband that we’ve tested so far are the JBL Live 200BT. They have a well-rounded, versatile neckband design that helps ensure your music is always at arm’s reach, with small earbuds that can accommodate a wide range of ear sizes. Their control scheme is simple and easy-to-use and they perform fairly well overall.
Thanks to a neutral audio reproduction, these earbuds have a very well-balanced sound quality that’s suitable for music of virtually all genres. They isolate fairly well, reducing workplace noises like office chatter and A/C system sounds quite well. They also barely leak, so you can increase your listening volume to block even more noise without bothering your colleagues.
Unfortunately, they’re not compatible with a companion app like the Jaybird Freedom F5 Wireless 2016 and don’t have an auto-off timer, so you’ll need to remember to turn them off when not in use. On the upside, their battery provides just over 10 hours of continuous playback, which is pretty good for wireless earbuds, and they can also connect to two devices simultaneously.
If you want the best wired earbuds that can still fit smaller ears, then get the Beats urBeats3. These wired earbuds are available with either a lightning or a 1/8" TRRS connector, and are great for long travel days or if you don't want to have to worry about keeping your headphones' battery charged up. They feel decently well-built, with a nice rubberized design and flat cable to should help them from getting too tangled. They come with optional stability fins that help them feel very stable in the ear. They also have a good in-line control scheme, so you can easily control your music without having to remove your phone from your pocket, though the controls seem to be more consistent on iOS rather than Android.
These headphones are fairly well-balanced with a bit of extra thump that should please fans of bass-heavy music, but are still versatile enough for most genres. Provided you get a good fit and seal with one of the three different sizes of tips that are included, they do an impressive job at passively isolating background noise and will do a good job at blocking out noisy coworkers in the office. Since they're wired and don't rely on a Bluetooth connection, their microphone performance is better than most wireless headphones, and your voice will sound full and natural.
If you like the design of these headphones but want to ditch the wire and embrace wireless headphones, the Beats BeatsX Wireless are very similar headphones. Unfortunately, these headphones' in-ear fit may not be the most comfortable for everyone, though they are light and small, making them a great choice for people with small ears.
If you prefer wired headphones but want something that feels a bit more durable, go with the Shure SE215. Their sound profile isn't as well-balanced and they don't have in-line controls or a microphone, but they're more comfortable and feel better built. They come with five different tip sizes, making it easier to find a more comfortable fit than with the Beats urBeats3 Earphones. Unfortunately, their sound reproduction is a bit muddy and cluttered in the lower mid-range, negatively affecting vocals by making the sound too thick. They also don't have an in-line microphone or any controls on the headphones themselves. On the bright side, they do an even better job at passively isolating background noise than the Beats, which is great.
If you tend to be hard on your headphones and want something that should be able to better withstand a few accidental drops or bumps, go for the Shure, but if you rely on having a microphone and controls on your headphones, or want a more-balanced sound profile, get the Beats.
The best wireless earbuds for small ears in the budget category are the JBL E25BT. These headphones have very small earbuds, which should be comfortable for most people, and are still decently stable in the ear. They have a very simple and portable design that doesn't look too flashy, and they can easily be tossed into most pockets or bags. They even come with a small pouch, which is nice to put them in before putting them in your pocket to keep them from getting scratched up.
Their sound profile is quite thumpy and should please fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM or hip-hop. They're still quite versatile, however, and should be well-suited to most genres of music. While their passive isolation is only decent, they leak very little sound, meaning you should be able to crank the volume to drown out background noise without bothering those around you.
Their 10-hour battery life is decent, but unfortunately, they don't have any power-saving features and can't be used while charging. They also don't have the best build quality, and look and feel a bit cheap and plasticky. Overall, they're a decent pair of simple Bluetooth headphones that are nice and small and should fit comfortably for most people, even those with small ears.
If you’re looking for something even smaller, go for the MEE audio M9B, which are some of the best Bluetooth earbuds for small ears in the budget category. Their battery doesn’t perform as well as that of the JBL E25BT Wireless, but they’re even cheaper and have one of the smallest earbud designs that we’ve seen so far. Their earbud barrels are very slim and come with some extra small tip sizes to help you find a comfortable fit. Although fans of very bass-heavy genres like dubstep may appreciate their overemphasized bass, some may find it overpowering. They also have rather poor battery performance, with barely 3 hours of battery life on an almost 2-hour charge, making them less than ideal for long days of use.
If you need your headphones to last you a full day of use off a single charge, go with the JBL, but if your ears are really small and finding something that fits is your top priority, go with the M9B.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best earbuds to buy for most people with small ears. 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-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.
12/09/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.
0/10/2019: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product picks.