From cheap earbuds to the top of the line, in-ear headphones offer a lot of options for all situations, whether you want to use them at the gym, at the office, or during your commutes. Earbuds are ultra-portable and very convenient thanks to their small size and weight. While earbuds rest at the edge of the canal, in-ear headphones have special tips that are inserted into the ear canal.
Picking the right type of headphones is a highly personal decision. Many listeners are comfortable wearing insert-style earphones that fit in the ear canal or earbuds that rest in the bowl of the ear, but others find them irritating. Some users prefer on-ear or over-ear headphones, while others balk at their size or complain that they interfere with eyeglasses or earrings. Depending on what you plan to use them for, you may also want to consider buying wireless and/or noise-canceling models. Use this guide to help you find the type that suits your specific needs.
Premium audiophile company Master & Dynamic took a break from ear-melting home theater systems to drop a pair of true wireless earbuds. You’ll pay handsomely for them, but the Master & Dynamic MW07 Plus offer some of the best sound quality you’ll find in a pair of earbuds. You could mistake them for stones thanks to the unique designs on the acetate chassis, which are handmade. Because of that, no two sets of MW07 buds are ever alike.
All headphones are technically “portable,” but we use the term to describe small, lightweight models, some of which can be folded and tucked away in a pocket or purse when not in use. This category also includes earbuds for use with smartphones—those that come with a microphone and in-line controls for volume, skipping tracks, and connecting or disconnecting calls. Note that while smaller, lighter headphones are often more comfortable than their bulkier brethren, you might trade sound quality for comfort.
Stereo headphones have been around since before the first Sony Walkman, and that's roughly how long we've put up with tangled wires while listening to music on the go. That's long enough, if you ask us. Fortunately, this is where wireless headphones come in. They're convenient for any situation where you don't want to deal with dangling cables—especially at the gym. And now that many phone makers are ditching the headphone jack, wireless headphones are a good way to ensure compatibility with just about any new device.

Everything about the JLab JBuds Air Icon is fantastic except the sound. These earbuds pair easily, fit comfortably, and have an intelligently designed charging case with a USB cable built in. They’re water and sweat resistant, too. But even with three EQ options, they can’t compete with our picks sonically. In our tests, the “balanced” mode produced soft and blurry bass and sibilant highs, the “bass boost” option was crazy-loud and reverby in a way that obliterated every other instrument, and the “signature” mode had bloated, woofing bass that covered male voices. If you listen only to podcasts, these earbuds are excellent, but music fans would likely be disappointed.
When it comes to choosing between the two types of headphones I think the biggest difference is pretty obvious. One will have a cable and the other will not. The advantage of going wireless obviously comes from the freedom of not being directly tethered to your device. You are able to leave your phone on a desk or in a bag an listen to your music without getting in a tangled mess.

In general, a flat sound isn’t a very exciting one. So many headphone manufacturers give a slight boost to certain frequencies in order to make them sound more appealing to the listener. This isn’t exactly a bad thing, since some people like more bass in their music while others prefer vocals and instruments to take precedence. A flat sounding pair of headphones is used while audio is being produced or mixed so that the audio will sound its best regardless of what kind of device it’s played on later. If you’re not producing or mixing audio, you don’t necessarily need a pair of neutral headphones unless you prefer that kind of sound.
Surprisingly, many of these wire-free models can be used at the gym and even get wet, despite the fact that each earpiece has an exposed charging contact on the inside. Check the IP rating of these; some workout-friendly earphones are only IPX4-rated, so they can stand up to sweat but might be hard to wash. Others are IPX7-rated, which means they can survive getting rinsed and dunked.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best in-ear headphones and earbuds to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
Each type of headphone has their own distinct advantages. What is right for you might not be the best headphone for someone else so before get into the list we want to give you some points to consider before your next purchase. If you just want to see the list of the best wireless headphones feel free to skip the next couple of sections and go straight to our top 10.
The necessary solution that (nearly) all of these designs share in common is a charging case. Each case protects the earpieces when not in use, and charges them simultaneously. Most of the cases carry two extra full charges, so you can recharge your earphones on the go. It's not unlikely that this weak aspect of the true wireless realm will improve to the point that it will no longer be an issue.

The best wireless noise cancelling earbuds that we’ve tested so far are the Bose QuietControl 30. If you’re looking for more comfortable earbuds with great isolation, they're a great choice. They have great active noise cancelling, reproduce audio fairly well, and have a comfortable earbud fit. Like most in-ears, they have little sound leakage, which makes them a decent choice for use at the office. Their neckband design ensures your music is always at arm's reach.

Traditionally, Beats headphones are known for their bass-heavy sound quality, which can range from “a bit much” to “completely overwhelming.” However, Beats has comparatively reined in the lows on the Powerbeats Pro, and this pair sounded pretty darn great in our tests. Are they completely neutral and authentic? No, but we found the extra bass boost pleasant, and it didn’t blur or reverberate. Higher frequencies such as consonants and cymbals were clear and didn’t pierce in our tests, though audio purists could accuse them of lacking some sparkle or detail. The effect was similar to that of a solid set of speakers with the subwoofer bumped up a smidgen. If that’s something you like, you’ll love these wireless earbuds. Overall, we think the sound quality is as good as the Jabra set’s; it’s really a matter of preference. The Jabra earbuds give you the ability to adjust the EQ, whereas with this Beats pair, what you hear out of the box is what you get.


Case in point: the Koss PortaPro headphones first hit the market in 1984 and have become such a favorite with audiophiles that the company leaves the design (and the price tag) untouched. You can still pick one up for less than $50, and they come with a lifetime warranty, no receipt necessary. Check out our favorite budget headphones for more selections.

The strongest selling point of these earbuds is perhaps the ratio of quality to price. They boast 90-percent noise-canceling ability — a notable achievement given the numbers posted by other wired headphones on the market. Even if they don’t block out all ambient sound, the noise level is still low enough that it’s not distracting while keeping you aware of your surroundings. The audio quality is crystal clear, well-balanced and offers nice bass. As for design, the earpieces feel almost weightless in your ears — even after hours of use. This particular Audio-Technica model uses AAA batteries, which some might see as an inconvenience. However, considering the battery lasts for an incredible 60 hours of playtime, it’s not a huge issue in our book.
Additionally, the 75t offers dual-device Bluetooth connection, which means you can be connected to your phone and laptop simultaneously. So if you are listening to music streamed from your laptop and you want to answer a call, you don’t need to manually switch the Bluetooth connection from the laptop to the phone as you do with many other earbuds like the AirPods or the Powerbeats Pro. You can just answer the call, and the Jabra set will automatically swap the audio. And if you take the earbuds out of your ears, your music automatically pauses.

When it comes to choosing between the two types of headphones I think the biggest difference is pretty obvious. One will have a cable and the other will not. The advantage of going wireless obviously comes from the freedom of not being directly tethered to your device. You are able to leave your phone on a desk or in a bag an listen to your music without getting in a tangled mess.
Great sound quality and a secure, comfortable fit are of utmost importance for wireless headphones you’ll use throughout the day. We noted which earbuds got the worst reviews from the pros and passed on those that had consistently poor reviews. Our panelists generally prefer the comfort and convenience of true wireless designs over the feel of collar-style wireless earbuds, and that’s reflected in our main picks. But fit is even more crucial with true wireless designs: If a true wireless earbud falls out while you’re on the go, it’s just one wrong bounce away from being gone for good.
Unfortunately, these earbuds come with a proprietary charging cradle that’s a bit restrictive, since it means you can’t just borrow a friend’s micro-USB cable if you leave yours at home. They also can’t connect to two devices simultaneously like the regular Jaybird Tarah Wireless can. That said, they’re still a solid upgrade on the regular model, especially in terms of battery life. They’re well-rounded wireless in-ears that are not only the best wireless earbuds for running that we’ve reviewed so far, but they're also versatile enough for more casual use.
Here at Sound Guys our main goal is to help you, the reader, find the product that’s right for you. There’s a lot that gets discussed in our reviews and best lists, and if you’re new to audio it can seem a little daunting at first. In this guide we’ll be going over some of the things you should know before you buy a pair of headphones and what you should look for when it comes to picking the pair that’s right for you.

Apple AirPods Pro: These earbuds are a major step up over the basic AirPods, in both sound quality and versatility. If your heart is set on a pair of AirPods, get the Pro version. The added bass response, improved fit, mild water and sweat resistance (rated IPX4), and active noise cancellation make these the best earbuds Apple has made. The easy pairing process (thanks to Apple’s H1 chip) is still nifty, the small charge case is handy, the wind-noise-reducing microphones are effective, and the iOS interface is pretty. However, although the AirPods Pro earbuds are good for Apple fans, they may not be worth the price for everyone else. In our tests, they were much better than the basic AirPods in sound quality but equaled by less-expensive options such as the Jabra Elite 75t.
The Monoprice True Wireless Plus Earphones (38542) are fine but a bit overpriced for what they give you. We found that the controls caused the earbuds to push into our ears a bit, which made the multi-click controls annoying to use. Male vocals got somewhat veiled by the bloated bass, and high frequencies had a shushing quality rather than crispness, but the effect was not the worst we’d heard. Overall, this pair isn’t bad, but we’d like to see it cost under $50.

From cheap earbuds to the top of the line, in-ear headphones offer a lot of options for all situations, whether you want to use them at the gym, at the office, or during your commutes. Earbuds are ultra-portable and very convenient thanks to their small size and weight. While earbuds rest at the edge of the canal, in-ear headphones have special tips that are inserted into the ear canal.
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