The 10 Best Earbuds For Android
This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in September of 2016. If you want to get the most out of the audio from your Android device, try a pair of these earbuds that are made especially for that operating system. They will work well with tablets and smartphones, and are ideal for listening to music, watching videos, and gaming. Most options also have built-in microphones and controls for making phone calls and navigating your music collection. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
February 20, 2020:
There are tons of earbuds on the market today and they all have different interesting features and are good for different things. When it comes to use with Android, there is one issue. With so many different forks of the operating system and so many competing pieces of hardware running it, smartphones and wired headphones often have a tough time playing nicely together. For that reason, you'll find that wireless earbuds are often the way to go if you want complete and reliable control over your phone. There are a couple high-quality wired models worth checking out, though, that claim to offer consistent Android control. The SoundMagic E11D do so in part thanks to USB-C compatibility (the adapter is included) and the Samsung Active work well with most smartphones, but they don't let you fast forward or reverse your music.
As far as wireless options go, it's hard to overlook the Sony WF-1000XM3 -- a true wireless pair -- and the Sony WI-1000XM2, which use a neckband, as they're both packed with some high-end features. Among those features is powerful noise canceling, which can be especially impressive on top of their passive isolation. The only major drawback to these two, really, is that they're pretty expensive.
If you're looking for something a little more affordable, don't worry. The Samsung Galaxy Buds offer excellent sound quality thanks to their AKG-tuned hardware, and as they're designed by Samsung, you can be certain they work perfectly with Android. The Phiaton Bolt BT 700 have a slightly different sound profile due to their balanced armature configuration, and while they are pricey, they succeed where many traditional dynamic drivers fall short in the eyes of demanding audiophiles. The Soundcore Liberty Air 2 may not sound quite as intricate, but they're a bit more stylish, and the Anker SoundCore Life P2 are an even more budget-friendly version from Anker that really doesn't make too many sacrifices.
Audeze iSine Series These fancy in-ear speakers don't have bells and whistles like wireless connectivity or in-line controls. But from the first moment you see them, it's quite apparent that they're built with top-of-the-line technology. In fact, these are some of the only planar magnetic earbuds yet to be released, and as long as you have a decent amp between them and your smartphone, they can provide a listening experience that few wireless models can match. audeze.com
Understanding The Most Important Earbud Specifications
Ideally, the impedance of your earbuds will perfectly match the impedance of your music playback device, though this is rarely the case in reality.
When buying a pair of earbuds, and all headphones for that matter, you'll often see a number of confusing specifications thrown around. For the average person, these seemingly random numbers can be very confusing. But, as with anything, knowledge is power, and knowing just a little bit about what these specifications represent can go a long to ensuring you the best pair of earbuds possible.
Frequency is one of the most important specifications to look at first. It is represented in a range that looks something like 20Hz to 20kHz. These numbers represent the highest and lowest frequencies that the earbuds are able to produce. The wider the range, the better a pair of headphones will be at perfectly recreating every nuance of your music. A pair of headphones with 15Hz low end frequency will be capable of much deeper bass than one with a 60Hz low end frequency. The high number isn't as important as the average human ear can only hear up to 20kHz, and music will rarely ever reach such high notes anyway. All you need to know is the wider the frequency range, the better the earbuds will generally sound.
The next specification to look at is impedance. Impedance refers to the opposition to the flow of electrical current a device creates. It is measured in ohms. Ideally, the impedance of your earbuds will perfectly match the impedance of your music playback device, though this is rarely the case in reality. When buying earbuds for use with a mobile device, the important thing to know is not to exceed a certain amount of ohms, as smartphones and similar devices don't create enough current to power high impedance headphones. A good rule of thumb is to look for a set of earbuds for mobile use that has an impedance at 32 ohms or less.
The final two specifications to look at are sensitivity and total harmonic distortion. Sensitivity refers to the level of sound pressure headphones create in response to a 1 mW signal. The greater the sensitivity, the louder a pair of headphones will get at any given input level. If you want earbuds that can get as loud as possible with just the small amount of power produced by your phone or mp3 player, choose a set with a very high sensitivity. THD tells us how much distortion headphones will have when used at high volumes. It is expressed as a percentage, and the lower the THD percentage, the better.
Choosing The Right Pair Of Earbuds
When choosing your next pair of earbuds, consider how you intend to use them. If you need a set for running or other athletics, it is smart to choose earbuds that have some sort of mechanism to help them stay attached to your ears. There are styles available that wrap around the back of the ear, as well as some that feature a small curved portion above the speaker that hooks onto the crus of helix (the little extension of cartilage just above the opening of your ear). Both of these designs do an excellent job of keeping earbuds in place as you move about during exercises.
How loud a pair of earbuds sound to you, how deep the bass is, and the quality of the music, is all highly dependent on the seal earbuds create.
Bluetooth earbuds are a great choice for somebody who plans on using their earbuds during high motion activities. With Bluetooth earbuds, there is no pesky wire to get caught up on your hands or other items. There is nothing worse than having your earbuds violently ripped from your ears as you jog because they got caught on your swinging hands.
We spent a lot of time in the last section discussing specifications and how they affect sound quality, but something that is actually just as important to sound quality, if not more, is how the earbuds fit into your ear. How loud a pair of earbuds sound to you, how deep the bass is, and the quality of the music, is all highly dependent on the seal earbuds create. If there is not an airtight seal between your skin and the earbuds, the bass will not sound as deep, not the treble as high, nor the volume as loud. For this reason, the ideal pair for one person, may not be the ideal choice for another. Your best bet is to choose a model that comes with a variety of tip sizes, so you can find the one that creates the best seal with your particular ear size and shape.
Why You Need To Match Your Earbuds With Your OS
When choosing earbuds for smartphone use, it is important that you match them up with the operating system of your device. The audio output of any earbuds will work fine with with both iOS and Android devices, but the same is not true for the inline remote control. Android devices process input differently than Apple devices. This means that a pair of earbuds with an inline microphone and remote control that work perfectly on your iPhone won't necessarily work with an Android device.
To understand why a given set of earbuds works with one system and not the other, we must look at the configuration of the TRRS connector. TRRS stands for tip, ring, ring, sleeve, and each component is a different channel. Both Android and iOS devices use headphones with a TRRS connector, but the layout needed for each of these devices differs slightly. The original TRRS connector, and the one older Android devices use, has a channel layout of left audio, right audio, mic, ground. Apple, in true Apple fashion, decided to create a new TRRS connector with a different layout. Their channel layout is left audio, right audio, ground, mic. Many newer Android devices are switching over to this layout, though, so hopefully in the near future, all devices will use the same type of TRRS connector.
For both types of devices, to skip songs, the signal is sent down the ground channel. To adjust the volume, the signal is sent down the mic channel. This means that a pair of Apple earbuds with the new TRRS layout will be sending the signals down the wrong channel if used with many Android devices, and vice versa.
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