Are you in search of the best earbuds that you can take with you wherever you go? Once you find the right pair of earbuds for your needs, you’ll be able to comfortably enjoy audio with the convenience of portability, discretion and noise isolation.
If you want the best quality earbuds for your investment, there are several different sizes and styles of earbuds that come with various features and extras. With all these options, finding the right pair of earbuds can be a challenge – that’s why we’ve created this guide to help you discover the best in-ear headphones that can enhance your audio experiences, whether you’re a music lover, gamer, traveler or someone with a busy, active lifestyle.
How to Choose the Best Earbuds
There’s no denying that earbuds are revolutionary devices that can offer us audio freedom and practicality like no other headphones. Unfortunately, many people have difficulty wearing earbuds because they are designed with ear tips that go inside your ears, rather than over them (hence the name “in-hear” headphones). Trying on a pair of earbuds that do not fit you properly can be an uncomfortable and unpleasant; luckily, many of the best earbuds in today’s market come with additional earbud tips so that you can find one uniquely fitted to your specific ear size and shape.
If you plan on using your earbuds to listen to music while running or working out, you should invest in a pair that is designed specifically to be sweat and weather-proof. While the price point for these types may be higher, you will find that anything less will lack in durability and reliability with each use.
Finding comfortable earbuds may take some trial and error – it’s also important to remember that earbud size and shape will play an important role in how the earbuds isolate and reproduce sound.
Sound Quality and Noise Cancellation
You may think that, because earbuds are smaller and more compact, they won’t produce as high quality of sound as other headphones, such as the best noise-cancelling headphones with over- or around-ear designs. As technologies for speakers and dynamic drivers advance, earbud creators are producing products with clearer, higher-quality and customizable audio like never before.
Some in-ear headphones sacrifice a little bit of sound quality in order to remain more stable in your ears. For example, some earbuds have a wing to prevent movement, even through rigorous activity. There are also many in-ear headphones that rely on dynamic drivers to produce more accurate sound waves using airflow rather than natural sound travel.
If you want the best earbuds with the highest quality sounds, look for innovative earbuds with advanced drivers and sound balancing-materials, such as stainless steel or tungsten. If you’re a music lover or audiophile (someone passionate about high-performance sound reproduction), you should also be looking for earbuds with more than one driver.
How Earbud Fit Effects Sound Quality
If earbuds don’t fit right, it doesn’t matter how great their audio performance or noise cancellation technology is – they won’t sound good if you’re not wearing them correctly. Once you find earbuds with ear tips that you can comfortably and securely wear, this can improve the sound quality of the earbuds enormously.
Earbuds come with different “tips” – tips have different shapes and designs that make a big difference when it comes to sound protection from outside influences.
What makes ear tips different from one another? A lot of it has to do with the material because this has an effect on how sound travels from the earbuds to your ear.
- Silicone: Silicon rubber is one of the most popular and comfortable ear tip materials.
- Memory foam: One of the best materials for noise isolation is memory foam – this will dampen all noises attempting to penetrate your ear. The problem with memory foam is that it can irritate some people’s ears as well as lose its shape after a certain period of time.
- Plastic: Beware of earbuds with plastic casing. While plastic earbuds may hold their shape for longer and have more durability, they provide very little noise isolation compared with other materials.
The shape of earbuds also plays a large role in the quality of sound you hear. Older, “traditional” style earbuds were made to sit in your ear (resting on the ridges). While this is generally comfortable for most people, it means that the earbuds can easily loosen and fall out of your ears. Traditional earbuds also lack in sound quality compared with newer styles.
Newer earbuds, more properly called “in-ear headphones or in-ear monitors”, are earbuds that include a tip that goes inside the ear canal. The best in-ear headphones work by sealing your ear canal in order to block out noise from your surroundings. The shapes and sizes of earbud tips vary depending on the brand and manufacturer.
What makes in-ear headphones so great? They can provide a clearer range of sound, from bass to mids to treble. However, some in-ear headphones are better at sealing out sound than others. This is where fit comes into play – if your in-ear headphones don’t fit properly, you’re going to experience a lower quality sound spectrum. To alleviate this issue, most earbuds come with different size options so that you can find something that fits your individual ears.
13 Best Earbuds You Can Buy in 2020
The Ideal Earbuds for Everyday Life
While they are mostly designed for athletes, the Powerbeats Pro earbuds also work for the office lifestyle. They come with an elegant design, a secure fit around the ear with multiple eartip options, and a close-to-perfect sound balance.
They are powered by the Apple H1 headphone chip, support Class 1 Bluetooth technology, and deliver up to 9 hours of complete musical bliss. With the right eartip size, you have a perfect isolation from the outside world and can enjoy your favorite tunes in the gym or on a noisy train.
Furthermore, the Powerbeats Pro are designed to be water and sweat resistant, which means you can wear them regardless of your level of activity.
To make sure there are no connectivity issues, the earbuds connect individually to your device. They also feature a speech-detecting accelerometer and come equipped with multiple microphones that focus on transmitting your voice without the noise around (during phone calls).
Finally, the Powerbeats Pro are delivered with a charging carry case that contains them when not in use and prolongs the battery life to 24h. This way, you won’t miss your favorite tunes, and you can carry the earbuds in a backpack or purse.
- Easy to wear during sportive activities
- The design is a good fit for offices as well
- Good phone call capabilities
- Each earbud connects to your device
- Charging carrying case
- Good battery life
- Powerful and balanced sound
- Connectivity is easy, fast, and reliable
- The price tag is a bit high
- The case is rather big and bulky
- After a while, you start feeling them on your ears
TaoTronics Active Noise Cancelling Earbuds (TT-EP002US)
Shut The World Up & Enjoy the Silence
The strongest points of these earbuds are the ANC feature and the 15-hours battery life. The Active Noise Cancellation feature dims all environmental noise by up to 25dB. The headphones are also equipped with a monitoring mode, which lowers the sound in your headphones and allows you to hear people communicating.
Furthermore, the TaoTronics earbuds are just as great during phone calls. This is possible due to the built-in MEMS microphone that transmits your voice without any environmental sounds.
The aluminum build is both durable and lightweight, and the controls placed on the wire are within reach regardless of your position.
- Durable and elegant design
- Easy to reach controls
- ANC and monitoring mode
- Long battery life
- Impressive sound quality
- The remote controls are a bit heavy on the wires
- The cord is a bit short
- Battery drains fast with ANC on
Bose QuietComfort 20
Enjoy High-end Sound in Public Spaces
The QuietComfort 20 are the first in-ear noise canceling headphones ever designed by Bose. And they did a fantastic job with the ANC module that has two positions: reduced outside noise mode and aware mode. Moreover, the tips are soft and comfortable, creating a natural seal that adds to your moments of privacy in public.
Bose QuietComfort 20 deliver a deep and clear sound that’s natural and engaging. This is possible due to the TriPort technology and Bose Active EQ.
The headphones work well with all Apple devices and users can control volume and tracks via the in-line remote control. Finally, the tips are specially designed to fit most ear shapes and sizes, so they won’t fall off while you move through your day.
- Comfortable tips & durable materials
- High-quality sound
- Impressive ANC
- Aware mode that lets sounds in
- Easy to control
- Good battery life
- The in-line controls tug on the cords
- The battery pack can’t be removed
- Cables are a bit short
- A bit on the pricey side
Pioneer Rayz Pro
Small Package with Large Features
Designed to work with iOS and Mac devices, the Rayz Pro from Pioneer come with a series of features that are not usually found in earbuds.
First, the ANC is “smart” and adjusts to the sound around, creating the perfect space for perfect musical experiences. Next, the remote control is equipped with a smart button that can be programmed to either mute/unmute calls, open apps, or launch controls.
But there are other smart features to consider, such as the smart microphone that will automatically mute itself when you’re not speaking. This reduces the amount of environmental noise sent over a phone conversation. Also, the headphones will automatically put music or movie on pause, if you remove the tips from your ears.
Finally, the microphone also picks up Siri voice commands, which makes interacting with your phone a lot easier. Not to mention that you don’t have to choose between listening to music and charging your headphones! The Pioneer Rayz Pro can be used while charging without any sound distortions or inconveniences.
- Compact design
- Good sound quality
- Lots of smart features
- Companion app for settings
- Works with iOS and Mac devices
- Listen while charging feature
- Voice commands
- The adapter may not work on all Mac devices
- Difficult to unplug the USB-C port
- Lighting adapter is a bit big
Cambridge Audio Melomania 1
In-ear Monitors for True Wireless Experience
Cambridge Audio is well-known on the market for the sound quality of their products, and they don’t disappoint with the Melomania 1 earbuds!
First, they come with a compact and extremely cute charging carrying case that adds 36h of battery life to the already 9 delivered by the earbuds. Second, they are easy to fit in the ear canal, seal the outside noises, and only weigh 4.6g each. Since they come with multiple eartips, it’s easy to find the fit that works for you.
Melomania 1 features Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity and the very latest QCC3026 Qualcomm chip technology. The combination results in superior connection, without dropouts, at up to 100 feet (30m). Also, both the case and the earbuds have a rating of IPX5 water resistance.
In terms of sound performance, these earbuds are engineered with graphene-enhanced 5.8mm drivers and feature aptX, AAC & SBC codecs for optimal streaming performance. Moreover, they have built-in advanced microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS) microphones coupled with the latest version of Qualcomm’s Clear Voice Capture (cVc) active noise-canceling technology. This means that your voice calls will be clear, without any background noise.
Finally, the earbuds are compatible with voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Siri.
- Comfortable fit and lightweight
- Latest connectivity, sound, and voice capturing technologies
- Noise isolating with the right eartip size
- Low latency
- Clear voice calls
- Resistant to water and sweat
- Controls could be better
- Mics pick some background noise in crowded locations
- Both the case and the earbuds are fingerprint magnets
Bose SoundSport Free
The Perfect Fit for Active People
If you’re sick of your gym equipment getting tangled in your headphones’ wire, then the SoundSport Free from Bose may be for you!
They are truly wireless (no neckband and no headband!) and they stay in place regardless of how you move. While they look a bit bulkier than standard earbuds, you won’t feel them dropping out due to their balanced shape.
The SoundSport Free delivers high-quality sound, with clear and powerful notes without any distortions from the BT connection. The battery will hold for about 5 hours of continuous play, but you get 10 extra hours if you use the charging case.
Because Bose wants you to use these earbuds during workouts, they are sweat- and dust-resistant (IPX 4) and there is an integrated dual-microphone array placed on the right earbud, for phone calls. The buds give the user full control over their music experience through the available controls and the companion app (which also has a ‘Find my buds’ feature).
- Good sound quality
- Perfect fit
- Sweat and dust resistant
- Charging case
- Up to 15h battery life
- Earbuds tracking
- There may be some delay for video
- Phone calls only work with the right earbud
- A bit bulky in design
RHA T20 IEMs (Gen. 2)
Perfect Fit & Perfect Sound
Designed for audiophiles, the RHA T20 IEMs headphones are equipped with RHA DualCoil dynamic driver technology and three customizable tuning filters (reference, bass, and treble) which you can switch as needed. For perfect pitch, the earbuds are fitted with an injection-molded stainless-steel housing, which enhances the sonic properties of the material.
The earbuds fit perfectly in any ear size due to the fully-adjustable over-ear hooks. Moreover, this revolutionary design allows the ear tips to deliver perfect noise isolation, blocking all the outside noises.
Finally, the RHA T20 IEMs are built to last, using an oxygen-free copper cable with a gold-plated 3.5mm connector for clear audio signal transmission. You also receive a selection of ear tips.
- Solid build for long-term use
- Impressive audio technology
- The sound is clear & powerful
- 16 – 40,000 Hz frequency response
- Military-grade noise isolation
- Remote is placed too high on the wire
- Cable quality is mediocre
- Cable tangles easily
- Cable is too long
Industry-Leading Design with Impressive Features
Sony promotes two key aspects of this product: digital noise cancellation and advanced sound technology. The noise cancellation is achieved using a combination of secure eartip fit and Sony’s proprietary HD Noise Canceling Processor QN1e that supports 24bit audio signal processing and best-in-class signal-to-noise ratio. As a result, the sound quality is greatly improved, and users get to enjoy some well-deserved moments of peace and quiet.
The charging carrying case is compact and delivers an extra 18h of battery life to the already existing 6h. Furthermore, to save battery life and make sure you’re not missing on anything, the earbuds are equipped with wearing detection. This means the music will automatically pause and resume when you remove the headphones and put them back on.
Other cool features worth mentioning include touch controls, smart listening, and quick attention mode. Moreover, the Sense Engine function is designed to let users customize the music experience according to their preferences, and there are built-in microphones that work on isolating the sound of your voice and removing background noise during phone calls.
- Impressive sound control possibilities
- Good Bluetooth connectivity
- 24bit audio signal processing
- Digital noise cancellation
- Good voice transmission during phone calls
- Impressive battery life
- Compact carrying case
- Fantastic sound quality for earbuds
- The price tag is a bit steep
- Noise cancellation isn’t 100% efficient
- The app used to control them is a bit confusing
1MORE Quad Driver In-Ear Earphones
Durability Mixed with Powerful Bass
1MORE uses the combination of one titanium dynamic driver and three balanced armatures to create an accurate listening experience with dynamic power and clarity. Moreover, these headphones are built to last, with Kevlar and oxygen-free copper cord for increased durability and high-level transmission of the audio signal.
Not to mention, the sound chamber is made of aluminum and the ear tips are angled to fit the natural curvature of the ear canal.
The in-line controls are well-designed and easy to reach, and the remote also houses the built-in microphone. Also, they work with Apple and Android devices, which means you can use the 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones whenever you want.
Finally, the headphones are delivered with an elegant leather case, 9 ear tips, and other accessories for any situation. This way, you don’t lose them in a large bag, and you don’t run the risk of damaging the cable.
- Expertly tuned sound quality
- Solid build, designed to last
- Equipped with all the necessary accessories
- Perfectly ergonomic with the ear canal
- A bit bass heavy
- The remote is quite heavy
- The mic picks up all the ambient noise
Bang & Olufsen Beoplay E8
When Technology Combines with Style
The Beoplay E8 earbuds were designed to provide a comfortable fit without losing their sense of elegance and style. Furthermore, the earbuds come with B&O Signature Sound and Near Field Magnetic Induction, which guarantees a pristine audio experience even for audiophiles.
To control the sound and actions (music/calls/chats with your virtual assistant) of your earbuds, you have access to intuitive touch controls on the right bud.
To continue the trend, the earbuds are accompanied by a luxurious leather charging case that keeps the headphones together and prolongs playtime to 16h. Overall, the B&O Beoplay E8 earbuds are perfect for anyone who wants the true wireless listening experience without giving up on style and elegance.
- B&O Signature Sound guarantee
- Impressively stylish design
- Leather charging case
- Touch controls for easy access
- Some noise isolation capabilities
- The price is a bit high
- The accompanying app could be better
- The mic picks up background noise
Perfectly Designed for Athletes
The Jaybird X4 is a product marketed towards athletes and highly active people. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t use them whenever you want!
The design is simple, rugged, and versatile, giving you access to controls and offering a fantastic fit that keeps the tips on even during the activities that require active movement. They are sweat- and waterproof (Ipx7) and offer up to 8 hours of play time.
The Jaybird X4 come with several ear tips options (for a customizable fit) and deliver a powerful sound, with rich bass and clear notes. Moreover, users can customize their audio experience using the EQ available in the companion app.
Finally, the X4 is also equipped with a microphone, so you can take calls while enjoying your outdoor activities.
- Highly durable
- Easy to wear while working out
- 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response
- Powerful sound
- Seat and water resistant
- Long battery life
- The fit can be a bit tricky
- The speed clip can’t be removed
- Proprietary charging system
Jabra Elite 65t
One of the Best Wireless Earbuds Out There
With a truly wireless design and Alexa integration, the Elite 65t is the perfect pair of earbuds! The battery will last for up to 5 hours without the charging case and 15 hours with the case. The integrated 4-microphone technology allows you to have clear phone conversations.
Due to their resistant build (IP55 rating against water, dust, and sweat) you can wear them outside, regardless of weather, or while working out.
The music experience can be customized using the Jabra app equalizer and the BT 5.0 prevents dropouts and interferences.
Finally, you can control the buds using the touchpad and the buttons on the right bud. A one-touch gesture will call out your favorite voice assistant (Siri, Google Now, and Alexa), who will be ready to take your commands.
- Truly wireless earbuds
- Convenient charging case
- Great sound quality
- Customizable EQ due to the companion app
- Comfortable to wear
- The app could use some improvement
- Buttons are a bit tricky to press
- Not a good fit for all ear sizes
- The microphone picks up the ambient sound
Optoma NuForce BE Sport4
The Best Budget Earbuds for the Gym
As their names say, the NuForce BE Sport4 were designed to support your sportive endeavors. With a lightweight design and secure and comfortable fit, these earbuds are the perfect choice when you’re looking to get in the zone during workouts (the noise isolation is pretty good).
The buds are rated IPX5 for water and sweat resistance and they feature an aluminum housing with Kevlar strengthened cable. Moreover, the battery will give you up to 10 hours of continuous playtime and you have the option of a quick charge (15 minutes charge gives about 2 hours of music and calls).
The in-line remote is easily accessible and you can use it to take calls, control the music volume, or access your favorite voice assistant.
Finally, the earbuds are equipped with graphene-coated drivers which deliver crystal clear sound with plenty of bass. Furthermore, the AAC and aptX support make the earbuds useable with both Android and iOS devices.
- Durable design
- Great fit during workouts
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Crystal clear sound
- Can take calls with them
- Long battery life
- The range is not that great
- Controls tend to pull the wire to the right
- Low battery warning is quite loud
Whether you’re listening to music on your smartphone or the best MP3 player, everyone needs a pair of reliable and comfortable earbuds for listening to audio and answering calls while working, traveling, exercising or relaxing at home. No matter your lifestyle, earbuds, noise cancelling headphones and wireless headphones will deliver the sound, voice and entertainment you need to get you through your day.