In-ear headphones are a love it or hate it affair. Some people love their compact design and the fact that you can easily wear them under a hat or helmet, while others dislike the feeling of having something sitting directly in your ears.
Light and compact enough for the gym without sacrificing on audio quality, in-ear headphones are perfect for more or less every situation you can think of throwing at them – running, biking, hiking or simply walking around town.
Not only are the best pairs of in-ear headphones (often referred to as earbuds) ultra-comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, but they should be comfortable, too. Newer models might be completely wire-free, but if battery life is a concern for you, you might want a pair of wired buds.
We're constantly reviewing new pairs of earphones, so we're always updating this list as we find better ones available.
Here are the top 8 best earbuds, ordered by audio performance-to-price ratio:
- RHA T10i
- Beyerdynamic iDX 200 iE
- Klipsch Reference X6i
- Shure SE215
- Sennheiser Momentum In-Ears
- V-Moda Forza
- Optoma NuForce BE Sport3
- Bose QuietControl 30
Not sold on earbuds? Check out our guide to the best headphones of any type.
1. RHA T10i
Premium earphones for any taste
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 41g | 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
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: 45g | 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
There's no shortage of sub-13k 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
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 12k, 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: 107dB SPL/mW | Impedance: 17 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
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 ~7k.
Read the full review: Shure SE215
5. Sennheiser Momentum In-Ear
Fully-featured and powerful in-ear headphones
Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: 16g | Cable length: 4.2 feet | Frequency response: 15-22,000Hz | Drivers: N/A | Driver type: N/A | Sensitivity: 118 dB SPL | Impedance: 18 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
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
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
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. Bose QuietControl 30
In-ear noise cancelling as good as any from over-ear cans
Acoustic design: N/A | Weight: 28 grams | Cable length: 1 ft | 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
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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