Updated: We’ve just published a guide to the best true wireless earbuds. Give it a read if you’re looking to cut the cord between not only your earbuds and your phone, but also between your earbuds themselves.
Best In-Ear Headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar’s round-up of the best earbuds and earphones you can buy in 2017.
Apple, whether it realizes it or not, helped shape the modern in-ear headphone landscape. After the earbuds included with the original iPod set new standards for ‘cool’ in tech, in-ear headphones have become one of the most popular ways to listen to music on the go.
Now sure, some will say that over-ear and on-ear headphones have seen a resurgence in popularity, but the compact design of earbuds means that, for many, they continue to be the best way to enjoy some tunes.
They’re great for your commute, since they won’t take up much room in your backpack or purse, and in-ear headphones are also perfect for the gym since they won’t encase your ears in plastic and won’t fall off in the middle of a set.
Not only are the best pairs of in-ear headphones ultra-comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, but newer models can be completely wire-free. We have a few listed below (see: Beats X and Optoma NuForce BE Sports3), but you can check out our full guide to the if you’re looking for more suggestions on which headphones are the best at cutting the cord.
We’re constantly reviewing new pairs of earphones, so we’re always updating this list as we find better ones available. That means while this list might change from month-to-month as better headphones make their way to our test stations, you can rest assured knowing that you’re getting the best headphones on the market at any point and any time you buy them.
Without further ado, here are the 10 best earbuds we’ve tested.
- Optoma NuForce BE Sport3
- RHA T10i
- Beyerdynamic iDX 200 iE
- Klipsch Reference X6i
- Sennheiser Momentum In-Ears
- 1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones
- V-Moda Forza
- Focal Sphear
- Bose QuietControl 30
1. 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone
Your search for great sounding, good value headphones ends here
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: N/A | Cable length: N/A | Frequency response: 20 – 40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99 dB at 1KHz | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Lush sound quality
Excellent build and design
Plastic remote feels cheap
After spending a few weeks with both the 1MORE Triple Driver in-ear headphones and the 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones we were blown away at just how much value each one gave in their prospective price ranges.
For $100 (£100, about AU$168), it’s hard to think of a better sounding and built headphone than the 1MORE Triple Driver. That said, if you want just that little extra refinement and luxury materials, the 1MORE Quad Drivers are still a bargain at twice the price.
There’s very little we can fault the Triple Drivers for. Its rubber cable is annoying and its remote control feels cheap but these are just nitpicks. But, for its price, it’s impossible to do better than 1MORE’s Triple Driver in-ear headphones.
Read the full review: 1More Triple Driver In-Ear Headphone
2. 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.
Read the full review:
3. 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
4. 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
5. 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
6. 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
7. 1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones
More expensive than the Triple Drivers, but More powerful too
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 18.5 g | Cable length: 1.25 m | Frequency response: 20 – 40,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 99 dB at 1KHz | Impedance: 32 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
Beautifully balanced sound
Luxurious build quality
Remote controls work on
Cheaper sibling is better value
They’re expensive, but the 1MORE Quad Driver in-ear headphones are worth every penny. 1MORE hit it out of the park with this flagship pair of in-ear headphones with its balanced sound build quality, smartphone compatibility and price. These in-ear headphones will make mobile audiophiles very happy.
The only reservation that we have is that the Quad Drivers face tough competition from 1MORE’s own cheaper Triple Driver sibling which costs half the price. In terms of value, the 1MORE Triple Driver headphones are the winner but for those who want just a bit better build and more detailed sound, the 1MORE Quad Driver headphones are worth the extra money.
Read the full review: 1More Quad Driver In-Ear Headphones
8. 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
9. Focal Sphear
Focal’s first in-ear headphones will surprise you
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
Comfortable for long periods
Rich, mid-forward sound
No volume control on remote
For a first attempt at making an in-ear headphone, Focal knocked it out of the park with the Sphear. They sound great with all types of music and offer an exciting, mid-forward presentation that will make your toe tap with the music. They may not be the best built or best isolating in-ear headphones on the market but for the commuter looking for a comfortable and great sounding pair of in-ear headphones, the Sphears check all the right boxes.
For about the same money, you can get the excellent Klipsch Reference X6i, which feel better made and offer a more laidback and balanced musical presentation. Also, unfortunately they’re designed for Apple devices so don’t expect the volume controls to work if you have an Android device. Boo!
Read the full review: Focal Sphear
10. 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
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