Finding the Best In-Ear Headphones

Last Edited: October 15, 2017 by

best-in-ear-headphones

Welcome to our Best In-Ear Headphones guide where we have carefully collected the best headphones designed for in-ear headphone enthusiasts from across the web based on critic scores, user reviews and real world performance.

In-ear headphones offer users discreet and convenient listening. They are small and easily slip into pockets making them one of the most portable headphone types available. The higher end models can come with up to four drivers, carving out sonic magic with such detail that you will be left utterly speechless. Thankfully, technology is always improving, meaning cheaper in-ear headphones are becoming available that are equally as capable as their higher end, multiple driver powered competition, catering for everyone’s sonic pallet along with their wallet. We hope that this guide assists you in selecting an in-ear headphone that appeals most to you.

Top Picks

Sony MDR-XB90EX

Sony MDRXB90EX In-Ear Headphones

The Sony MDR-XB90EX in-ear headphones have received positive reviews for their overall decent sound. Users found that they packed a solid low end and neutral mid, with bright highs, that some found slightly too crisp. Some critical users pointed out that the bass was slightly too muddy for their liking. The glossy finish of the headphones with the hints of silver detail impressed users, reporting the headphones as having a modern look and design. They are said to offer decent sound isolation and their vertical in-ear design is said to be rather comfortable. There were some who found that they fell out during exercise, but these have not been labeled as exercise headphones. They have a tangle free wiring that users have also reported as looking and feeling strong and durable. The bassy Sony MDR-XB90EX in-ear headphones have been generally well received by customers, especially those who like bass heavy music genres. The treble frequencies may tire out the ears of some more sensitive individuals, however.

Pros

  • Good bass
  • Neutral mids
  • Modern looking gloss finish
  • Good sound isolation

Cons

  • Bass may be slightly muddy
  • Treble response may be too bright for some

Summary

The Sony MDR-XB90EX in-ear headphone is perfect for bass lovers, delivering a powerful low end, but the high end may be slightly too bright for some.

Sony MDR-XB90EX
$99.50
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from Amazon.com
(as of 21-11-2017 07:59 UTC) Details

Sennheiser IE80

Sennheiser IE80 In-Ear Headphone

The Sennheiser IE80 in-ear headphones have a solid sound signature, which is to be expected with the reliable quality that Sennheiser is known to deliver. The powerful neodymium magnets drive out an accurate sound and they have knobs that can tune the amount of bass on each earbud. When fitted with the right earbud tip suited for your ear canal, it will offer some decent sound isolation too. The earbud tips have been described as uncomfortable by some users, stating that purchasing more comfortable tips to replace those included by Sennheiser made a huge difference. The cables are replaceable, which is great, as this guarantees a resolution to the potential durability issues that were reported by some customers. Those who had issues with parts breaking were assisted in a very pleasing and professional manner, with the Sennheiser customer service team offering an awesome service. The microphonics of these received good reviews with users saying they deliver very little unwanted audio signal from cables bumping or rubbing against clothing or body parts. They come with a neat carrying case and three interchangeable ear tips for different ear sizes. The Sennheiser IE80 in-ear headphones deliver awesome audiophile sound quality, but the earbud tips may need to be replaced as they may be rather uncomfortable for some trying to use them for extended periods of time.

Pros

  • Awesome sound quality
  • Bass control knob on earbuds
  • Minimal microphonics
  • Replaceable cables
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Earbud tips may be uncomfortable
  • Potential durability issues

Summary

The Sennheiser IE80 is another Sennheiser headphone that delivers great sound reproduction, but they may not be as comfortable for everyone.

Sennheiser IE80
$249.99
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from BestBuy
(as of 24-07-2016 09:39 UTC) Details

In-Ear Headphones Under $100

Panasonic RP-HJE120-K

Panasonic RP-HJE120-K headphones

The 31k plus reviews clearly shows that the best selling Panasonic RP-HJE120-K is an incredibly popular in-ear headphone. They deliver a clean sound at an unbelievably low price, but some did find that they slightly lacked some bass. The lack of bass could apparently be attributed the earbuds not being fitted properly to one’s ears, with one user pointing out that putting them in properly made the audio significantly clearer and bassier, along with drastically increasing the sound isolation. Those less enthusiastic about excess bass were happy with the sound these delivered. Their ErgoFit design delivers incredible comfort, allowing the eartips to conform to the shape of your ears, coming with three different sized eartips to suit everyone’s ears. They are said to have great noise isolation, with one user suggesting it blocked out the sound of a jackhammer outside of his office window. The eight different colors will suit most people’s tastes and the 3.6-ft cord is definitely long enough for even the tallest individuals. The Panasonic RP-HJE120-K in-ear headphone is definitely a great headphone and incredibly well priced for the performance that it offers.

Pros

  • Excellent price
  • Great sound
  • Very comfortable
  • Durable

Cons

  • May lack some bass

Summary

The Panasonic RP-HJE120-K earbud headphones are a great purchase, delivering great sound at a great price. They may lack some bass, but that is subjective and could be due to users not wearing them properly.

Panasonic RP-HJE120-K
See Price at Retailer
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from Amazon.com
(as of 07-04-2017 07:22 UTC) Details

JLab Audio Epic2

JLab Audio Epic2 in-ear headphone

The JLab Audio Epic2 has been described as having one of the more solid sub bass of the in-ear headphones available on Amazon. Users found that their overall sound remains clear even with the boosted low end, delivering a pleasingly warm sound. They are also said to be comfortable, coming with 8 different earbud tips for almost every differing ear canal and user preference. The 45 degree cord-to-earbud angle is designed to ergonomically fit ears, which could be why they have been described as comfortable. They have an inline controller that allows one to change volume, tracks and to take calls. Users did find that the mic is slightly far away from their mouths, however, making calls difficult at times. Another issues that popped up in a few reviews was that the controller sometimes activated by itself, interrupting listening sessions. One reviewer said that it only happened while out on runs, suggesting these are no good when one is not stationary. This may be due to a few faulty devices, however. Many found that their Bluetooth connection was solid, along with the range, with one user finding them to have the best Bluetooth connection of all the headphones available. All-in-all, they JLab Epic2 in-ear headphones deliver an awesome audio experience, especially for bass lovers, but they seem to be riddled with faults, but hopefully these reviewers received lemons.

Pros

  • Great bass
  • Great overall sound
  • Comfortable with 8 different ear tips
  • Great Bluetooth range and strong connection

Cons

  • Potentially faulty inline controller
  • Durability issues

Summary

The JLab Audio Epic2 in-ear headphones have a solid bass response and overall sound quality, although there do seem to be a few reported issues with the controller, but this may be due a few bad ones being sent out.

JLab Audio Epic2
$16.48$9.76
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from Amazon.com
(as of 21-11-2017 08:15 UTC) Details

Skullcandy Method

Skullcandy Method in-ear headphones

The Skullcandy Method in-ear headphones have a solid low end that will thrill bass seekers, while still maintaining a decently sculpted mid and high presence, delivering tracks clearly and in a pleasing manner. The fit is questionable as some users found that they can fall out their ears while on the move, pointing out that they required constant readjustment. One user pointed out that they come with only one size earbud tips, along with a replacement pair that is exactly the same size. This could explain why they constantly fall out of one’s ears, as not everyone’s ear canals are the same size. They have Sticky Gels technology, which will benefit those whose ears these fit, as they are said to become 30% stickier when worn. They have an L-shaped cable that some may find quite intrusive if they have their playback devices in their pockets. The single button inline remote has a mic too, allowing you to take calls, while the button plays/pauses your music. The Skullcandy Method in-ear headphones are great if they fit your ears, offering a solid sound for bass seekers.

Pros

  • Deep bass that doesn’t kill other frequencies
  • Solid build quality
  • Well priced
  • Sweat resistant

Cons

  • L-shaped audio jack
  • One sized earbud tip that isn’t suitable for all ears

Summary

The Skullcandy Method in-ear headphones are great if their one sized earbud tips fit your ears, as they offer a solid low end for those who enjoy plenty of bass.

Skullcandy Method
$17.50
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from Amazon.com
(as of 21-11-2017 08:45 UTC) Details

Jarv NMotion

Jarv NMotion in-ear headphones

The Jarv NMotion in-ear headphones are designed for active individuals and offer a good sound, with a reportedly good bass response at a reasonable price. Its design for active individuals comes into question when various reports of its bad fit start appearing. Many users found that they do not sit well in the ear canal, even with the ear hooks attached. Their inline controls offer an easy way to control your music and volume and they allow one to take calls conveniently without having to take the headphones out your ears every time. They are sweat and water resistant too, meaning those who endure heavy exercise sessions, expelling a lot of moisture, will not damage the earbuds. The 5 hours of music playback is fairly little, but they do have an apparent quick charge, meaning you can quickly get back to using them. All-in-all, the the Jarv NMotion in-ear headphones do offer a good sound reproduction, but they may require a lot of fiddling around with to get them to sit properly.

Pros

  • Good sound
  • Well priced
  • Sweat and water resistant
  • Great customer service
  • Good Bluetooth connectivity

Cons

  • Poor fit and uncomfortable
  • Short battery life

Summary

The Jarv NMotion in-ear headphones do deliver good audio, but they are seemingly difficult to keep in the ears.

Jarv NMotion
$9.99
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from Amazon.com
(as of 21-11-2017 08:48 UTC) Details

Symphonized NRG 2.0-gunmetal

Symphonized NRG 2.0-gunmetal in-ear headphones

The Symphonized NRG 2.0-gunmetal in-ear headphones are well priced and deliver a solid performance and an affordable price. The sound signature is said to be warm and packs a nice low end for users who like bass. These are obviously not studio monitor headphones, which usually cost an arm and a leg, so the coloration is to be expected. Users find the wooden design appealing and unique and the earpieces are comfortable. They are said to have some durability issues, however, with different users pointing out that over time, they start to suffer some wear and tear. They are compatible with playback devices that take a 3.5mm AUX plug and have a built in microphone and inline controllers to improve your overall user experience. Users did find that the cord picked up some bumps and transmitted some unwanted audio signals, but it didn’t bother many. Their noise isolation is said to be excellent, with users praising this aspect of the headphones. The Symphonized NRG 2.0-gunmetal in-ear headphones are well priced and offer a good performance and excellent noise isolation.

Pros

  • Good sound for price with solid low end
  • Great noise isolation
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish wooden design

Cons

  • Durability issues
  • Microphonics

Summary

The Symphonized NRG 2.0-gunmetal in-ear headphones have nice wooden finish and offer a solid bang for the price tag, but they may have long-term durability issues.

Symphonized NRG 2.0-gunmetal
$26.32$23.31
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from Walmart
(as of 26-07-2016 16:23 UTC) Details

Powerbeats 2

Powerbeats 2 in-ear headphones

The Powerbeats 2 have a rather modern design and their sound delivery is said to be good. They are wireless in-ear headphones that are overall comfortable in the ears, coming with four pairs of multi-sized/shaped eartips, catering for the different ear sizes. They are water and sweat resistant, making them suitable for active individuals, but the nifty inline no-slip-grip RemoteTalk control, was reported by one individual as having broken after moisture contact. In fact, there were quite a lot of reports about the overall fragility of the headphones, with many finding that their Powerbeats broke after a while. Their sporty design does therefore not necessarily equate durability as is suggested by the reviews. They also only hold a charge for around 6 hours, which is quite short compared to other wireless in-ear headphones. The inline no-slip-grip RemoteTalk control allows one to control your music and to take calls on the go and their overall Bluetooth connection strength is said to be solid, along with how easy they are to pair. The Powerbeats 2 in-ear headophones do offer a decent audio experience, but their overall fragility is rather worrisome, with users needing to be aware to not overexert these as they seem to be break quite easily.

Pros

  • Good sound
  • Comfortable and snug fit
  • Modern design
  • Sweat and water resistant earbuds

Cons

  • Durability issues
  • Inline remote may not be so resistant to moisture

Summary

Although the Powerbeats 2 provide a decent audio experience and are comfortable, the overwhelming reports on their fragility suggests they break quite easily.

Powerbeats 2
$139.99
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from Walmart
(as of 07-04-2017 07:30 UTC) Details

Shure SE215-K

Shure SE215-K in-ear headphones

The Shure SE215-K in-ear headphones boast an enhanced bass with a reasonable detailed sound reproduction. They have a single dynamic microdriver responsible for driving out the reportedly good audio quality. They are said to be really good with noise isolation, blocking out a fair amount of external noise, with one user even pointing out that it is dangerously good and could potentially lead to accidents when the headphones are in your ears when walking around busy streets. They are said to have a durable build and their detachable cable is convenient in case one does need to replace it. The customer support is said to be really good at resolving issues that various customers encountered, offering quick and helpful assistance. The design is rather bulky some found, suggesting that they struggled to get them to sit well in their ears, finding they needed constant readjustment. They do come with 6 ear tips, so it may be best to experiment with those until you find one that sits most comfortably in your ears. They attenuate up to 37 dB of noise and they are able to connect to any device with a 3.5mm audio, meaning most audio devices will support these. The Shure SE215-K in-ear headphones are solid headphones for the price range, offering great quality and noise isolation, but their design may be slightly awkward for some ears.

Pros

  • Awesome sound quality
  • Durable build quality
  • Awesome noise isolating abilities
  • 2-year warranty

Cons

  • May be uncomfortable for some due to chunky build

Summary

The Shure SE215-K in-ear headphones deliver an amazing audio performance and quite reliable overall, but their chunky reportedly does not work well with all ear types.

Shure SE215-K
$96.00$89.00
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from Amazon.com
(as of 21-11-2017 07:42 UTC) Details

In-Ear Headphones Under $200

RHA MA750i

RHA MA750i in-ear headphones

The RHA MA750i in-ear headphones have a solid sound signature that deliver a solid low end along with clean highs. Users were most impressed with low end, stating that the bass is not overwhelming and is able to exert a powerful rumble without distorting. Many pointed to their big soundstage too along with their power, saying they are able to play really loudly, maintaining the overall audio quality. They have a neat inline controller for answering calls and turning up volumes, but it is built for iOS devices and not really for Android, meaning it only works with some Android devices. The cord that connects to the controls also feels quite fragile according to some users, suggesting it could easily break if tugged too hard. The overall design is very professional, with a 1.35m oxygen-free cabling ensuring maximum conduction and a 303F grade stainless steel construction. The 10 sets of dual density, silicone and memory foam ear tips are to ensure you find an ear tip that fits your ears perfectly, allowing you to take full advantage of the reportedly solid noise isolation, and to fully appreciate those low notes. The RHA MA750i in-ear headphones are more suited for iPhone or iPad users, and deliver a solid low end and clean overall sound for individuals looking for plenty of quality bass.

Pros

  • Good sound that offers deep bass and clear treble
  • Inline controls convenient for iOS devices
  • Big soundstage
  • Good noise isolation
  • Comfortable
  • Built in microphone

Cons

  • Potential durability issues
  • Inline controls don’t work with all Android devices

Summary

The RHA MA750i is less suited for Android devices, but the inline controls are not necessary to enjoy the awesome sound that these offer.

RHA MA750i
$94.71
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from Amazon.com
(as of 21-11-2017 09:22 UTC) Details

Klipsch Image X10

Klipsch Image X10 in-ear headphones

The Klipsch Image x10 in-ear headphones have received many praises for their awesome delivery of music. The sound reproduction is said to be accurate, with a decently large soundstage for in-ear headphones. They deliver a mesmerizing bass, with clear mids and a crisp, clean treble. Many users found them to be very comfortable, with the soft, oval silicon tips reducing ear fatigue. Klipsch also suggest that they are the smallest ever made according to Klipsch. One would hope that for the price, more effort would have been put into the overall build quality, however. Many reviewers were disappointed in the fact that these broke a few months after their initial purchases. It seems to be the biggest drawback about these headphones, but otherwise they seem to excel at everything they were designed for. Their noise-isolation received many praises and many like the two included carrying cases (a pocket storage case and larger zippered carrying case), making them convenient for those on the move. These wired headphones plug in via a 3.5mm headphone jack and even caters for the iPhone. Klipsch generally has a reputation for delivering good audio products, with the Image X10 delivering the recognized quality sound, but the build quality is rather questionable, as many were disappointed with their fragility.

Pros

  • Accurate sound reproduction with awesome bass
  • Awesome comfort
  • Good soundstage
  • Two carrying cases
  • Good noise-isolation

Cons

  • Many reports of durability issues

Summary

The Klipsch Image X10 in-ear headphones deliver accurate sound from its comfortable housing, but their reportedly poor build quality could be a rather off putting factor.

Klipsch Image X10
$120.00
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from Amazon.com
(as of 21-11-2017 08:04 UTC) Details

Bowers & Wilkins C5 S2

Bowers & Wilkins C5 S2 In-Ear Headphones

The Bowers & Wilkins C5 S2 in-ear headphones are said to have a great sound signature – enhanced but controlled low end, natural sounding and clean mids with a treble frequency that is in no way harsh from being overextended. The cushioned loop design that curls around the ear’s inner rim to hold them in place fits most ears well, but some users did have issues with them staying in their ears. And of those whose ears these did fit, there were issues with comfort, with users finding these to be quite uncomfortable after extended periods of use. They have a micro porous filter, which is made from microscopic steel balls that act as a sonic diffuser, adding to the big soundstage and the rich detail reported by most users. Their inline controls are easy to use, allowing one to switch between music and calls, with users pointing out that the microphone detail is great, allowing for clear calls. There are 3 included silicone ear buds that allow you to choose one that fits your ear canal properly. Finding the one the fits best will also allow for most external ambient noise to be blocked out. The Bower & Wilkins C5 S2 in-ear headphones are not suited for all ears, but are an absolute treat if they do.

Pros

  • Great sound signature
  • Enhanced bass that is well controlled
  • Natural sounding mids
  • Clear treble that is not overextended

Cons

  • May be uncomfortable
  • Fit may not be secure enough

Summary

The Bowers & Wilkins C5 S2 in-ear headphones are not suited for all ears, but if they fit your ears, you won’t regret purchasing these headphones with their great sound signature.

Bowers & Wilkins C5 S2
$149.74$139.99
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from Amazon.com
(as of 21-11-2017 09:09 UTC) Details

High-End In-Ear Headphones

AKG K3003i

AKG-K3003i-in-ear headphones

The AKG K3003i in-ear headphones boast a 3-way driver system that excels at delivering audio, with many users describing that audio as detailed and precise. Many thought of them as possibly a tad too pricey, however, their audio quality is up there with the best thanks to their Hybrid driver technology. Users found that their build quality is slightly questionable. Their housing is solid and made from stainless steel, but where the cable meets the housing seemed slightly fragile to some. There were also some skepticism surrounding their comfort, with users finding that their design required them to be inserted quite deeply into the earcanal, fatiguing some ears. They come with three sound-tuning filters, allowing you to choose the sound output you want, with one boosting the bass, the other for reference sound and the last one boosts the high end. They come with an inline controller that seems to only work with iOS devices, controlling calls (yes, they do have an inline mouse) and giving you control over you music. They come with a very nice durable leather carrying case for those constantly on the go. The AKG K3003i in-ear headphones have reference class audio qualities, but are rather pricey and their design is possibly flawed.

Pros

  • Audio described as clear, detailed and precise
  • Wide soundstage and excellent stereo imaging
  • Nice included carrying case
  • Includes microphone

Cons

  • Potential durability issues
  • Pricey

Summary

The AKG 3003i is a pricey headphone with a few flaws, but reproduces audio that is clear, detailed and precise, which will impress most audiophiles.

AKG K3003i
$749.80
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from Amazon.com
(as of 21-11-2017 07:38 UTC) Details

Sennheiser IE 800

Sennheiser IE800 In-Ear Headphone

The Sennheiser IE 800 in-ear headphones have been described as having awesome clarity, delivering a clean and detailed dose of sonic magic, and for the price they retail for, you would certainly hope so. These are definitely a contender for the top in-ear headphones in their class, leaving the majority of reviewers very satisfied with their purchase. Some did find that the earpieces were slightly too small to stay in their ears when they were on the go, making them more ideal for more stationary listening. They are said to have a solid build quality. Their housing is made from ceramic and their cable is Kevlar, making them super hardy. One user reported that their microphonics are quite bad, which further reinforces the idea that these are more suitable for people who are less active when listening to music. Users pointed out that they have great stereo imaging and a big soundstage, all made possible by the single drivers. Their 16-ohm impedance means that they will work well with any portable audio player and their 1.1m oxygen-free copper cable allows for seamless signal transmission. The Sennheiser IE800 are awesome in their audio delivery, but too much movement will generate a lot of unwanted audio signals from the cables hitting clothing. They are solid for comfortable and mostly sedentary listening.

Pros

  • Superb clarity and sonic detail
  • Solid build quality
  • Great stereo imaging

Cons

  • Microphonics issues
  • More suitable for less active individuals

Summary

The Sennheiser IE 800 in-ear headphones offer amazing audio quality, but are less suitable for active individuals due to their microphonics and small earbud tips.

Sennheiser IE 800
See Price at Retailer
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from Amazon.com
(as of 07-08-2016 05:28 UTC) Details

Shure SE846-CL

Shure SE846-CL in-ear headphones

The Shure SE846-CL in-ear headphones are high end headphones designed for audiophiles, offering quality audio reproduction. One user referred to them as “Unreal, magical, pure bliss” stating that they have an awesome bass response and clean and clear mid and treble frequencies. They have a customizable frequency response, which is achieved through changeable nozzle inserts, allowing you to change the sound signature from balanced, warm or bright, finding one that most suits you. Users found that they deliver good sound isolation, blocking up to 37 dB of ambient noise and are comfortable to wear for long hour listening sessions. One critical reviewer pointed that upon receiving his initial pair, it was faulty. His replacement pair had the same issue. Hopefully this was just a faulty first batch that was sent out, however, it is definitely worth a mention. Some also found that they had some microphonics issues, suggesting that they will deliver less interrupted audio when one is not overly active while using them. They are said to have Quad High-Definition MicroDrivers that are responsible for the quality sound reproduction and they do come with 3 different sized ear tips in case you are worried about the fit.  The high end Shure SE846-CL in-ear headphones deliver great audio reproduction and are a great choice for serious music enthusiasts looking for fantastic sound quality.

Pros

  • Reportedly large soundstage
  • Solid sound isolation
  • Fantastic bass and clean and clear mid and treble frequencies
  • Awesome sound reproduction

Cons

  • Potential durability issues
  • Prone to microphonics

Summary

The Shure SE846-CL is a high end in-ear headphone that will satisfy almost any serious audiophile.

Shure SE846-CL
$999.00
Order Now
from Amazon.com
(as of 21-11-2017 07:46 UTC) Details

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