The 10 Best Earbuds

Updated September 07, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Earbuds
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 36 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. These earbuds have top of the line technology and a range of features, so you can listen to your music the way it was meant to be heard, in stunning clarity and with minimal outside interference. They are also available with in-line controls for taking and making phone calls. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best earbud on Amazon.

10. Etymotic Research HF5

The Etymotic Research HF5 are available with or without a mic, so if you don't need them for voice calls you can save a few bucks. They come with a variety of noise-isolating ACCUFit tips, allowing any user to get the perfect fit, and their sound is distinctly layered.
  • almost no cable movement noise
  • exceptional build quality
  • bass sounds a bit anemic
Brand Etymotic Research
Weight 4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

9. Focal Sphear

The Focal Sphear come with a full set of accessories, including an airline adapter and travel case, so if you are frequently traveling, they make a good choice. They have a ported built-in acoustic chamber that produces good neutrality in the middle and upper ranges.
  • sound pressure level up to 103 db
  • produce tight and punchy bass
  • have a long burn-in period
Brand Focal
Model 3544054725016
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. Shure SE215-K

The Shure SE215-K are suitable for personal music listening or on-stage use, as they have been designed with all the properties needed for personal monitoring, including a low-profile shape and excellent noise isolation. They also have a detachable cable for customization.
  • rugged ergonomic housing
  • no distortion at high volume levels
  • can be difficult to get a good fit
Brand Shure
Model SE215-K
Weight 3.2 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

7. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H3 2nd Gen

Crafted from a solid block of aluminum, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H3 2nd Gen are surprisingly lightweight. They feature custom-designed 10.8 mm drivers that produce a full tone sound, allowing the wearer to hear all of the highs and mids in impressive clarity.
  • accurate sound reproduction
  • tactile in-line remote control
  • produce a lot of cable noise
Brand B&O PLAY by Bang & Oluf
Model 1643226
Weight 8.2 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. 1MORE E1001-SV

The 1MORE E1001-SV produce high resolution music with their triple driver system, yet still come in at an affordable price. They have an in-line 3-button remote that allows you to take calls, adjust volume, and select tracks without reaching for your phone.
  • ergonomic angled ear fittings
  • well-balanced audio reproduction
  • come with a travel case
Brand 1MORE
Model E1001-SV
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

5. RHA T10i

You can rely on the RHA T10i earphones to stay securely where they belong as you jog, walk, or generally go about your day. Their over the ear hook is made of strong, but flexible, steel and their handmade driver provides crisp sound.
  • provide good noise isolation
  • durable stainless steel construction
  • good for all genres of music
Brand RHA
Model T10i
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

4. Bose SoundSport

The Bose SoundSport have been designed specifcally to offer great sound while you work out. They are sweat and weather resistant, feature the exclusive Stay Hear+ tips to keep them in place while you run or jump, and provide 6 hours of playback time on a single charge.
  • bluetooth and nfc connectivity
  • well balanced sound at any volume
  • provide battery level voice alerts
Brand Bose
Model 761529-0010
Weight 14.4 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Bowers & Wilkins C5

The Bowers & Wilkins C5 will keep your ears comfortable during long flights, commutes, or gaming sessions with their cushioned cable loop that wraps around the ear's inner rim. The outside of the housing has a micro porous filter that acts as a sonic diffuser.
  • produce powerful controlled bass
  • very natural acoustics
  • stay put securely in most ears
Brand Bowers & Wilkins
Model C5 S2
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Thinksound Rain3

The Thinksound Rain3 give you a lot of bang, or should we say bass, for your buck. They have a premium look with their wooden housings and the Kevlar-reinforced, tangle-free cable will never break. Perfect for music aficionados, they produce a wide sound-stage feel.
  • passive noise isolation
  • sweat and water resistant
  • very warm sounding bass
Brand thinksound
Model rain3-gunchoc
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. RHA T20

The RHA T20 have dual coil dynamic drivers that outperform traditional drivers in sound clarity and richness. They feature a unique tuning filter system inside the injection molded housings that allows the wearer to adjust the sound signature to their personal preferences.
  • conform to hi-res audio standards
  • over-ear hooks are moldable
  • comes with 6 sets of ear tips
Brand RHA
Model T20
Weight 11.4 ounces
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

Climb Inside Your Ears

There are some catchy tunes out there. It's not always the case that your ability to remember a song is based in some mathematical formula the likes of which Rivers Cuomo is known to use.

In a certain sense, no matter how catchy a song is, as long as you use in-ear buds to listen to it, it's guaranteed to get in your head (see what I did there?)

That's because in-ear headphones utilize a couple of very interesting technologies to execute their specific sound patterns deep inside your noggin.

The one you see pictured here is called bone induction, which works much the way that a tuning fork does.

Sidenote: If you ever want to check whether a bone is broken without the use of expensive x-rays, bang a tuning fork on something and hold the bottom end of it against the area of the suspected fracture.

If the tuning fork's vibration causes you immense pain, your bone is probably broken. If not, you're in the clear. Either way, I just saved you and the healthcare industry hundreds of dollars. You're welcome, America.

Essentially, the vibrations in the buds caused by the low end frequencies translate to the sensitive bones of your aural system, enhancing low end and engrossing you more deeply in the sound.

The other cool thing in-ear buds use are little tapered stoppers on the earpiece, often made of rubber, silicone, or foam. These not only help hold the earbud in place, they do a bang-up job at cancelling noise. They also have a tendency to pull some wax out with them when you take them out, so keep 'em clean.

The Problem Of Glasses

When evaluating the potential performance of a pair of earbuds, it's crucial that you know the environment in which you plan to use them.

If your primary use for these things is going to be out jogging or hitting the gym, you might want something that's designed for a little extra stability in the face of movement.

Even the most expensive, best designed earbuds on the planet can't be guaranteed to stay in your skull while you bounce up and down on a treadmill.

It's not to disparage them; there are just too many variables in play. No two sets of ears are created equal, after all, and designers have to synthesize a ton of data to get their designs to run as far down the middle of the road as they can.

Where does that leave you if you have oddly shaped ears? Well, that's where cord design can make a difference. Some earbuds work like the agent's in the picture; they wrap around the ear from behind for extra security.

If, however, you're a glasses wearer, these get uncomfortable fast.

So, since the odds of you taking your $500 headphones for a run are slim to none, you might be well taken care of by a simple, dangling set of buds with the best sound quality for your sitting and relaxing at home or traveling.

A Budding Industry

Although the history of headphones evolved from sporadic military use alongside the growth of the telephone industry in the late 1800s, it would be a century before earbuds as we call them today would make their first appearance.

Those first buds accompanied early generation Walkman music players. I actually think I owned a pair of these at some point, as their terribly uncomfortable, multicolored bands of metal are bringing back hazy memories for me.

Then 2001 came along, and with that year came the madman who I believe was very thoughtfully played by Michael Fassbender is a recent biopic. I'm talking, of course, about Steve Jobs, and the Apple iPod, the ease of use and iconic white earbuds of which changed the way we listen to music for the foreseeable future.

Since then, audiophiles around the world have demanded that designers pack the kind of sound quality they expect to exist in the high end markets into an earbud.

The results were hit or miss for a while, but with increases in the nuanced use of bone induction and sound cancellation, the little buds have become big players in the industry.

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Last updated on September 07, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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