Looking for the best earbuds or in-ear headphones? We can help. As much as we love the sound and bass performance of big, hulking over-ear headphones, there are some situations where they simply tend to cause more problems than they’re worth – that’s where a good pair of in-ear headphones come in.
Whether you’re at the gym, traveling, or just hanging out, sometimes you just want something a little more compact, something that won’t weigh you down, or maybe even a pair of headphones that are sweat-proof – and these qualities are precisely what in-ear headphones offer.
We’re on a mission to provide you with the best in-ear headphones around. As such, we’ve looked far and wide for the best earbuds on the market so that you can do all your research and make a purchase all in one spot.
Here are the top 10 best earbuds, ordered by audio performance-to-price ratio:
1. RHA T10i
Premium earphones for any taste
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .09 pounds | Cable length: 4.4 feet | Frequency response: 16-40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 100 dB/mW | Impedance: 16 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Amazing sound quality
Leading off our list is the RHA T10i. It’s here for one simple reason: the sound quality is incredible, thanks to the snug seal created when the headphones are stuck in your ear. OK, plus the bass is also robust for such small earphones.
The RHA T10i look slick with a metal finish around the drivers and around the cable as well. They also come with several replacement tips if the defaults don’t fit your ear canal. They’re more expensive than other buds on the list, but there’s good reason they’re in our top spot.
Read the full review: RHA T10i
2. Beyerdynamic iDX 200 iE
Beyerdynamic’s buds are some of the best for Apple devices
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .1 pounds | Cable length: Up to 4 feet | Frequency response: 10 – 27,000Hz | Drivers: Neodymium | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 35 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
No Android support
There’s no shortage of sub-$200 headphones on the market, but the Beyerdynamic iDX 200 iE are at the top of the pack. Their excellent build quality, sound and design make them one of the most well rounded in-ear headphones I’ve ever heard. No, they’re not cheap, but again, you get what you pay for.
Read the full review: Beyerdynamic iDX 200 iE
3. Klipsch Reference X6i
Audiophile sound on the go
Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: 18 grams | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 10-19,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 110dB | Impedance: 50 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Balanced, spacious sound
Lots of cable noise
Awkward carrying case
The Klipsch Reference X6i are a wonderful-sounding package. Their comfort, build quality, sound quality and features make it great value for the money, too.
They have some problems (like an awful lot of cable noise while you’re moving around with them on), but if you’re looking for balanced sounding in-ear headphones for $179 / £165 / AU$399, we can wholeheartedly recommend the Klipsch Reference X6i. Stated simply, they’re supremely comfortable audiophile-level in-ear headphones for an affordable price.
Read the full review: Klipsch Reference X6i
4. Shure SE215
Excellent midrange in-ear headphones for a bargain
Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: N/A | Cable length: 5.3 feet | Frequency response: 22Hz-17,500kHz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 20 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Lacks in-line controls
If you’re in the market for the best in-ear headphones, you should really be looking at Shure’s entire catalog of truly excellent in-ear options. Of them all, however, our current favorites are the Shure SE215s – they’re not the top-tier performers from the audio company, but we think they offer the best performance-to-price ratio of any of Shure’s headsets.
Sure, the headphones look great in their futuristic-looking translucent, space grey color but its best trait is that you can snag the Shure SE215s for ~$100.
Read the full review: Shure SE215
5. Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear
Fully-featured and powerful in-ear headphones
Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: .3 pounds | Cable length: 4.2 feet | Frequency response: 15-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: 18 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Different model for each mobile OS
With the appealing candy apple detailing, Sennheiser gets you in the door. But once you’re in, you’ll stay for the killer sound quality that comes from the Momentum In-Ear earphones.
These are the among the best deals in the headphones market as it stands today. The company has a version available for each flavor of mobile OS – Android and iOS – so everyone can get in on the goodness.
Read the full review: Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear
6. V-Moda Forza
Headphones you can dress up or down to meet your needs
Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: 13.5 grams | Cable length: 2.6 feet | Frequency response: 20-40,000Hz | Drivers: 5.8mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99dB @1kHz 1mW | Impedance: 14 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Brilliant modular design
Lots of cable noise
The V-Moda Forza offers a lot: It sounds good; it’s built to last and its modular design is like nothing we’ve seen before on an earbud. The Forza, therefore, are perfect for anyone who wants a headphone that can do it all, from working out to taking these with you on the morning commute to the office.
Sure, it’s not the most balanced sounding or highest resolution, but the water resistance and modular design of the Forza make it a pretty compelling option.
Read the full review: V-Moda Forza
7. Optoma NuForce BE Sport3
One of the best wireless headphones you can buy
Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: 18 grams | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20-20kHz | Drivers: 6mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 102dB +/-3dB at 1kHz | Impedance: 16 Ohm | Battery life: 10 hours | Wireless range: 10m (30ft.) | NFC: N/A
Great battery life
Remote weighs cable down
NuForce knocked it out of the park with the BE Sport3 headphones. They’re an incredible value for a pair of wireless headphones that sound good, last all day, have a bulletproof build and incredible noise isolation. While they’re not the most dynamic or resolving headphones, NuForce shows us that the future of wireless headphones is a bright one.
8. Beats X
Good-sounding earbuds that can charge in five minutes
Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 8 hours | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: No
Quick Charge feature
Balanced sound signature
Lacking in clarity
The Beats X is a bold new product for what has quickly become a traditional headphone maker. Instead of sticking to bass-heavy workout earbuds or wildly expensive over-ears, the company has crafted a new pair of musically inclined in-ears for anyone already sick of losing their brand-new Apple AirPods.
It has a few problems of its own – including poor noise isolation and a lack of fidelity – but if you’re looking for a no-fuss pair of earbuds that charge in 5 minutes and don’t mind dropping some cash on them, the Beats X are for you.
Read the full review: Beats X
9. Bose QuietControl 30
In-ear noise cancelling as good as any from over-ear cans
Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: 28 grams | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 10 hours | Wireless range: 10m (33ft.) | NFC: Yes
Stellar noise cancellation
Sound isn’t great for its price
Neckband will be divisive
Life is full of trade-offs, and it’s the same with the Bose QuietControl 30s. On the plus side you get a level of noise cancellation that’s on a par with the brand’s over-ear headphones, but the compromise here is on sound quality, which is simply not as good as that of other in-ear or over-ear headphones we’ve tried.
Read the full review: Bose QuietControl 30
10. Apple AirPods
Wireless with good sound, but Apple’s AirPods are too expensive
Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: N/A | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: N/A | Impedance: N/A | Battery life: 5 hours | Wireless range: 10m (30ft.) | NFC: N/A
Pairing is quick and easy
Sound is quite good
Easy to lose
No in-line remote
There’s lots to like about the AirPods including their sound quality, and how seamlessly they pair with your device. But despite some positives, we just can’t give the AirPods the top spot on the list. At the end of the day their lack of in-line remote means that there are easier headphones to use while out and about, and Siri isn’t a good enough replacement. They might not fall out as easily as we once feared, but they don’t feel secure enough for their price or strong enough in the performance category to make up for their faux-pas.
Read the full review: Apple AirPods
Have a pair of headphones you want to recommend? Let us know in the comments below!