In-ears and earbuds are a lot more portable than bulky over-ear and on-ears. However, for most, you might be sacrificing a bit of sound quality and soundstage for a more compact and a portable design. On the upside, there are quite a few wireless in-ear and earbuds that still deliver in the sound department.
So for those who refuse to compromise, below are our top recommendations for the best sounding wireless earbuds and in-ears to purchase in 2018. See also our recommendations for the best earbuds and in-ears, the best earbuds for bass and for the best truly wireless earbuds.
The best sounding wireless earbuds we've tested so far are the Bose SoundSport Free. They have a balanced sound quality with a neutral mid-range, a good, extended bass and they do not sound sharp or piercing on higher frequencies. They also have an earbud design that most find a bit more comfortable than typical in-ears and with their charging case, you can squeeze up to 15 hours of battery life.
Unfortunately, they do not have the most compact truly wireless design and their charging case especially is rather bulky compared to other similar headphones. They also do not come with an EQ so you can't customize their sound profile.
On the upside, the SoundSport Free sound the most balanced out of all the truly wireless headphones we've tested so they should cater well to all music genres and tastes.
If you like to EQ your headphones, the Jabra Elite Active 65t will be a better choice than the Bose SoundSport Free. They won't be as comfortable as the earbud design of the Bose and their default sound is not as balanced.
However, the Elite Active come with a great EQ that lets you customize their sound profile to better match or enhance what you are listening to. They also have a more compact design that fit easier in your pockets than the Bose and their in-ear fit blocks a lot more noise, which makes them more suitable for noisy environments and daily commutes.
If you do not mind the slightly uncomfortable in-ear design of the Elite Active 65t, then they're a great choice for most use cases and they have a customizable sound profile that makes them a bit more flexible for different listeners.
If you like the earbud design of the Bose SoundSport Free and want something that sounds equally as good but cheaper, go for the Bose SoundSport Wireless. They are not a truly wireless design like the SoundSport Free so they may be a bit more bothersome for some activities, although not by much. They also do not come with an EQ or a customizable sound profile like that of the Jabra Elite Active 65t.
On the upside, the Bose SoundSport Wireless have a balanced sound that's very similar to that of the SoundSport Free. This makes them one of the best sounding wireless earbuds we've tested thanks to their near neutral mid-range and extended bass and tapered highs. They reproduce most tracks accurately, they have a decent battery life and they're comfortable.
Unfortunately, they won't be ideal for noisy environments and commuting due to their somewhat open earbud design, but overall they're a decent choice for most use cases.
If you like to EQ your headphones, then the Jaybird X4 will be a better pick than the Bose SoundSport Wireless. They won’t be as comfortable as the earbud fit of the SoundSport Wireless. The default sound of the X4 isn't as balanced as the Bose. However, they have a more flexible audio reproduction that lets you customize your listening experience to a greater extent than with the Bose thanks to the excellent graphic and presets EQ offered by the Jaybird Mysound app.
They're also slightly better headphones for commuting and traveling headphones since they block more noise passively with their in-ear fit. They're a good choice for sports thanks to their stable and compact design and they are also IPX7 rated headphones that should be a bit more resistant to sweat and water damage.
Unfortunately, the battery performance of the X4 is not as great since they do not have an auto-off timer you can adjust like the Bose and they are fairly limited by their charging cradle design. On the upside, with 7 hours of battery life, they should last you a normal day of casual listening if you don’t forget to turn them off. If you want better noise isolation and have an iPhone or an Ipad, then the Beats X may be a better choice for you although they will not have the customization options of the Jaybird (see our recommendations for the best wireless earbuds for iPhone users).
If you want a good-sounding wireless in-ear but don't want to spend more than $50, the best budget wireless in-ears are the Anker Soundbuds Curve. They won't have the range of the BeatsX and they're not as comfortable or sound as balanced as the Bose SoundSport Wireless.
On the upside, they offer an affordable wireless design with a 12-hour battery life and a decently balanced sound that packs quite a bit of bass. They also do a decent job with instruments and vocals, although they won't sound quite as detailed and as crisp as some of the pricier recommendations on this list.
If you want a pair of wireless in-ears and care about sound quality, then you can't do much better than the Anker SoundBuds Curve at their budget $30 price tag.
If you don’t like the ear-hook design of the Anker SoundBuds Curve but still want good sounding portable headphones, get the JBL25BT instead. They aren’t as comfortable as the Ankers since they have a very traditional in-ear fit, unlike the Anker's somewhat earbud-like design. They also won’t be as stable for sports with the hooks, but the JBL25BT are still versatile headphones that have an exciting sound profile and will be great for bass-heavy genres.
Unfortunately, they don’t come with a great case or have a long battery life like the Anker Curve, but if you charge them daily, 9 hours of continuous playback should be more than enough to get you through your day. On the upside, they can connect to 2 devices simultaneously which is convenient if you leave your computer and keep your phone on you. If sound customization is an important feature for you, grab the Jaybird Freedom instead.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best sounding wireless earbuds 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 wireless 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.