Best In-Ear Headphones Buying Guide: Welcome to TechRadar's round-up of the best earbuds and earphones you can buy in 2018.
As much as we'd love to stay home and listen to music using our pristine umpteen-watt floor-standing speakers, at some point, we have to leave home.
But just because you're heading out for the day doesn't mean you have to leave exceptional sound quality at your doorstep - a great pair of in-ear headphones (earbuds) can contend with some high-end systems and cost much, much less.
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 best wireless headphones if you're looking for more suggestions on which headphones are the best at cutting the cord, or our guide to the best true wireless earbuds for some earbuds that are completely wire-free.
Can't decide which type of headphones to buy? Check out our guide video below!
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.
The best earbuds of 2018:
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
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. Their rubber cable is annoying and its remote control feels cheap but these are just nitpicks. But, for their 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
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: Optoma NuForce BE Sport3
3. Creative Aurvana Trio
Creative's triple-driver headphones put 1MORE's to the test
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 19g | Cable length: 1.2m / 3.9ft | Frequency response: 5Hz - 40,000kHz | Drivers: 10mm | Driver type: Dual Balance Armature, Bio-Cellulose Dynamic | Sensitivity: 103 dV/mW | Impedance: 16 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
If you have the money for some truly spectacular in-ears, the Creative Aurvana Trio are well worth their $249 (about £180, AU$300) sticker price. They’re darn comfortable, sound great and offer extreme clarity in nearly all areas of the audio spectrum. If $249 feels a bit too far out of your price range at the moment but the idea of a triple driver headphone sounds appealing, you should probably stick with our first choice, the 1MORE Triple Driver Headphones.
Read the full review: Creative Aurvana Trio
4. 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
The RHA T10i are here for one simple reason: their sound quality is incredible, thanks to the snug seal created when the headphones are stuck in your ear. 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're more expensive than other buds on the list (hence why they miss out on the top spot), but there's good reason they're near the top of our list.
Read the full review: RHA T10i
5. RHA S500u
These cheap headphones have no right to sound as good as they do
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: 14 grams | Cable length: 1.35m, dual material | Frequency response: 16 – 22,000Hz | Drivers: Micro Dynamic | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 100dB | Impedance: 16 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
If you have a tendency to lose or break headphones but still value sound quality, it’s hard to think of a better value than the RHA S500u.
These headphones have no business sounding so good for the price: Sound quality is balanced with a slight mid-bass bump. Bass is slightly emphasized but not egregiously and features good impact while maintaining good control. And highs, while sibilant at times, makes music sound more exciting.
Read the full review: RHA S500u
6. 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
There's no shortage of sub-$200 headphones on the market, but the Beyerdynamic iDX 200 iE stand out thanks to their excellent build quality, sound and design.
They're one of the most well rounded in-ear headphones we've ever heard. No, they're not cheap, but again, you get what you pay for.
Read the full review: Beyerdynamic iDX 200 iE
7. 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 them 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
8. 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
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
9. 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
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 (which sit pretty at the number one spot on our list).
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
10. Optoma NuForce HEM6
An understated pair of headphones with a phenomenal sound quality
Acoustic design: Closed | Weight: .2 oz | Cable length: 1.38m | Frequency response: 18 - 40,000Hz | Drivers: 5.8mm | Driver type: Dynamic | Sensitivity: 113dB+/-3dB | Impedance: 37 ohms | Battery life: N/A | Wireless range: N/A | NFC: N/A
While they can't quite top other in-ears like the exceptional1MORE Triple Driver or RHA's T10i, Optoma's NuForce HEM6 does bring a lot to the table. Namely, that includes a great-sounding – and ultra-comfortable – pair of headphones.
So, why are they so far down the list?
While the NuForce BE Sport3 strikes the perfect balance between performance and price tag, the HEM6 skews a bit towards the expensive side without offering enough of a difference in performance to warrant the sticker price. That's not to say these are a bad pair of headphones – they're quite the opposite – it's just that we feel there are better values out there in the headphone world.
Read the full review: Optoma NuForce HEM6
- Check out TechRadar's exhaustive guides to the best headphones to buy today including the best on-ear headphones and the best over-ear headphones.
- For some more specialist pairs, take a look at our guides to the best wireless headphones, the best true wireless headphones, and the best noise-cancelling headphones.
- Looking for some headphones you can take in the pool or on your run? Check out our guide to the best swimming headphones and best running headphones.