Updated September 04, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

The 10 Best Earbuds

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Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive

This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in March of 2015. For audiophiles, it's hard to beat a set of over-ear monitors, but for most people, they're just too bulky to be practical. These earbuds boast top of the line audio 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. Many also feature inline controls and microphones for making calls. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best earbud on Amazon.

10. Actionpie BS1

9. Shure SE846-CL

8. Symphonized NRG 3.0

7. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H3

6. RHA T10i

5. Bose SoundSport

4. RHA T20

3. Panasonic Ear Drops Ergofit

2. Thinksound Rain3

1. 1More Triple Drivers

Climb Inside Your Ears

Either way, I just saved you and the healthcare industry hundreds of dollars.

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.

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

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.

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.

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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Ezra Glenn
Last updated on September 04, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label operator from New York City. He has traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again. Ezra holds a bachelor's from Bard College, and is currently enrolled in the MBA program at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. His professional experience includes a stint at the Brooklyn-based website “Rap Genius,” and he has run his own artist management and development agency. For the Wiki, he has developed expertise in the areas of travel, exercise, and home goods, and has researched extensively in the areas of electronics, furniture, and pet care.

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