In-ear headphones have made great strides in recent years, especially in comfort and overall audio quality. But, if you’re looking for a great set, you’re going to need to wade through an ocean of different options. Luckily, we’ve put together this handy guide to help you find some of the best in-ear headphones available right now.
When you’re looking for in-ear headphones, there are a number of things to look for. Comfort is a big part of a great in-ear headphone set. The chance is you’re going to be wearing these headphones for hours at a time, so finding a set that’s comfortable and fits well is important. Audio quality is also a good factor to check into, as you’ll want the headphones you purchase to sound good when listening to music, playing games, or whatever you get up to.
If in-ear headphones aren’t your preferred type of headphones, then you can also check out the best wireless headphones for some more options that might fit better. We also recommend keeping your eyes on these Black Friday headphone deals if you want to pick up a great set for a discounted price.
Best in-ear headphones overall: Bose QuietComfort Noise Canceling Earbuds
Pros: Great noise canceling, weather and sweat-resistant, wireless charging
Cons: Price, a little bulky
Few brands are as recognized in the audio market as Bose and for good reason. While the cost of these in-ear headphones isn’t as cheap as others out there, Bose continues to deliver great audio quality alongside fantastic build quality with the Bose QuietComfort Noise Canceling Earbuds. It was a hard choice between these in-ear headphones and the Sony WF-1000XM4, so make sure you check those out for another high-end option worth every penny.
Complete with what Bose calls the “world’s most effective noise-canceling” technology, the Bose QuietComfort earbuds are a delight in every way imaginable. Not only do they offer high-fidelity audio when using them, but the inclusion of three StayHear Max ear tips allows you to easily swap between the different options for the best possible fit, providing passive noise canceling as you listen. Bose has also equipped this set of earbuds with noise-rejecting microphones, which should help focus on better call sound when using them.
While these headphones are a bit bulky compared to some of the other in-ear options out there, the IPX4-rated weather and sweat resistance mean you can take them out into the rain, or wear them during workouts as needed. You’ll also find support for up to 6 hours of battery life on a single charge, with another 12 hours stored in the case. If you want a great pair of noise-canceling earbuds and don’t mind spending on the top-end of the spectrum, Bose’s QuietComfort earbuds are sure to be a hit worth jamming out to.
Best in-ear headphones for gaming: HyperX Cloud Earbuds
Pros: Perfect for Nintendo Switch and other consoles, solid audio quality for the price
Cons: no mic mute or volume controls
Over the past several years, HyperX has become a staple in the world of gaming peripherals. From keyboards to headphones, the team at Kingston has created a solid lineup of affordable and good-quality products. When it comes to gaming, though, sometimes going with something simple is best. That’s the case with the HyperX Cloud earbuds.
Designed with gaming on the Nintendo Switch and mobile in mind, the HyperX Cloud earbuds are wired, which means less chance of audio lag when playing intense games like Call of Duty Mobile or Fortnite. The included 3.5mm audio connector means you can link up with just about any console, too, including the newer PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Of course, you won’t get access to surround sound and other high-end features, but for the price, you really can’t ask for that.
What really makes these headphones stand out, though, is the level of comfort offered. Many in-ear headphones can get uncomfortable after a while, and when you’re gaming, chances are you’re probably going to be sitting around with headphones on for at least a few hours. HyperX has become so well known in the world of gaming headphones because of its dedication to comfort and ease of use, and the HyperX Cloud Earbuds are no different. Looking for more great gaming headsets? We’ve got you covered with our guide to the best gaming headphones.
Best budget in-ear headphones: Skullcandy Dime True Wireless
Pros: Price, IPX4 sweat and water resistance, case fits easily in the pocket
Cons: not great for larger ears, button controls could be better
Skullcandy is a name that many of us have probably grown accustomed to seeing in the checkout lines at supermarkets and grocery stores. While it has shed some of the teen angst that it used to carry in the early 2000s, the company continues to offer solid headphones for a decent price. Perhaps one of the most notable pairs it has released in recent years, the Skullcandy Dime True Wireless brings true wireless in-ear headphones in one of the smallest and cheapest packages available today.
For just $20, users get access to IPX4-rated water resistance, 12 hours of battery life, and the ability to call, skip tracks, and change the volume. The real standout about this pair of headphones, though, is the size. The charging case is as small as the key dongle for a car, which means you can store it easily in any pocket, purse, or backpack as needed. These buds also automatically connect when removed from the case, making it easy to pop them in and start listening to your favorite music.
Of course, you aren’t getting the highest quality earbuds at this price so don’t expect anything like the AirPods Pro. The sound quality won’t deliver what you’d expect from a more expensive set, either, but, if you’re looking for a great pair of in-ear headphones that won’t break the bank, Skullcandy has you set.
Best in-ear headphones for working out: Bose SoundSport Wireless
Pros: Cable keeps buds secure, great audio quality
Cons: Low battery life, no water resistance
When you’re working out or partaking in any kind of intense activity, having a good set of earbuds that won’t fall out is crucial. Once again, Bose offers a solid entry to our list with the Bose SoundSport wireless. These headphones offer great audio quality while also delivering sweat resistance and a handy cable to help keep them from slipping off your neck during your morning run.
Unlike other in-ear headphones, the Bose SoundSport earbuds do not offer any kind of chargeable carrying case, which means you’ll need to plug the headphones in directly to charge them. This is easy enough, but for those who like being able to throw their charging case on a wireless charger, it could be considered a con.
The battery life here isn’t exceptional, either, with Bose promising only 6 hours of battery per charge. It’s long enough to get your workout done, but if you plan on partaking in any longer activities that you want to listen to music throughout, you might be disappointed by the battery life on these buds.
There’s also no real water resistance here other than basic sweat resistance, which means swimmers or users who go into wetter environments aren’t going to want to chance taking these bad boys in.
Best wired in-ear headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-E50
Pros: Great quality, no cable noise, can be used for hours comfortably
Cons: Price, cable is a little short
While there are plenty of great offerings out there for users who love wireless in-ear headphones, those looking for premium wired in-ear headphones don’t need to look any further than the Audio-Technica ATH-E50.
Audio quality has always been a big benefit of Audio-Technica headphones and the ATH-E50 delivers exceptional audio while remaining light and comfortable for hours of use. The accurate full-range response and silicone earbud tips provide sound isolation, letting you focus on the content you’re working on.
The wires mean less audio lag, which is great for users who rely on audio playing at peak performance. It also means that you won’t have to concern yourself with keeping your headphones charged so you can use them. Instead, you can simply plug it in and get to work. You will need to make use of the dongle to listen on iPhone, but other devices that support 3.5mm inputs work perfectly.
The cable included here is a little short, but that can easily be remedied by picking up a 3.5mm cable extender if you need something longer. There’s also no cable noise—if that was a concern—which is something that consumers with cheaper wired headphones often have to worry about. These headphones don’t offer noise-canceling technology, but you can check out our guide to the best noise-canceling headphones for more options.