The 10 Best Earbuds

Updated December 08, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

10 Best Earbuds
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. 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 picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best earbud on Amazon.

10. Actionpie BS1

The Actionpie BS1 come with a full set of accessories, including a travel case and pouch, so if you are frequently on-the-go, they make a great choice. They boast fairly crisp reproduction across a wide tonal range, especially considering their low price.
  • get as loud as 110 decibels
  • cool transparent casings
  • not especially durable
Brand Actionpie
Model A1-02
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. Shure SE846-CL

The Shure SE846-CL are suitable for personal listening or on-stage use, as they have been designed with all the properties needed for professional 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
  • too expensive for average consumers
Brand Shure
Model SE846
Weight 0.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Symphonized NRG 3.0

It's hard to say no to a pair like the Symphonized NRG 3.0, especially at this price. They look great, with a a duotone cord and a variety of finishes available on their wooden earpieces, plus they come with three sizes of silicone tips and a linen carrying bag.
  • three-button inline microphone
  • each pair is hand-carved
  • angled connector is easily damaged
Brand Symphonized
Model nrg3.0gbk
Weight 0.3 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

7. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H3

Crafted from a solid block of aluminum, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H3 are pleasantly lightweight. They feature custom-designed 10.8 mm drivers that produce a full-toned sound, allowing the wearer to hear all of the highs and mids in impressive clarity.
  • highly accurate sonic reproduction
  • tactile inline remote control
  • price is somewhat hard to justify
Brand B&O PLAY by Bang & Oluf
Model 1643246
Weight 8.3 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. RHA T10i

You can rely on the RHA T10i to stay securely where they belong as you jog, walk, and generally go about your day. Their over-ear hooks are made of strong yet flexible metal, and their handmade drivers provide crisp and clear sound.
  • cut out background noise effectively
  • durable stainless steel construction
  • feel particularly heavy
Brand RHA
Model T10i
Weight 12 ounces
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

5. Bose SoundSport

If you're looking for a pair of Bluetooth buds, the Bose SoundSport have been designed specifically to offer great sound while you work out. They are sweat- and weather-resistant, stay in place while you run or jump, and promise 6 hours of playback time on a single charge.
  • provide battery level voice alerts
  • well-balanced sound at any volume
  • plastic housing degrades over time
Brand Bose
Model 761529-0010
Weight 12.6 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. RHA T20

The RHA T20 have dynamic dual coil drivers that outperform traditional models in clarity and richness. They also come with three sets of tuning filters that screw into their injection molded housings for listeners to adapt the pair's EQ to different musical styles.
  • backed by a 3-year warranty
  • comfortable over-ear hook design
  • inline controls are not intuitive
Brand RHA
Model T20
Weight 11.4 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

3. Panasonic Ear Drops Ergofit

For those on a tight budget who still want a reliable set of highly portable headphones, the tried and true Panasonic Ear Drops Ergofit don't disappoint. They're available in a veritable rainbow of colors, with or without an inline mic, depending on your preference.
  • cord matches earpiece color
  • good reproduction across spectrum
  • cheap and easy to replace if lost
Brand Panasonic Ear Drops Erg
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 5.0 / 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 thanks to their wooden housings and feature a tangle-free cable reinforced with Kevlar. Perfect for music aficionados, they produce a warm and full sound.
  • elegant mahogany finish
  • sweat- and water-resistant
  • good mid-range pick
Brand thinksound
Model rain3-gunchoc
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. 1More Triple Drivers

The 1More Triple Drivers produce high fidelity sound with their patented system, yet still come in at a fairly affordable price. They have an in-line 3-button remote that allows you to take calls, adjust the volume, and skip tracks without reaching for your phone.
  • ergonomic angled ear fittings
  • available with a lightning connector
  • include nine pairs of tips
Brand 1MORE
Model E1001-SV
Weight 1 pounds
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 December 08, 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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