The best in-ear headphones excellently isolate the surrounding noise and play a wide range of sounds, with a response frequency between 20 and 20,000 Hz. In addition to sound and bass quality, the best in-ear headphones are easy to carry and are very comfortable, even if worn for a long time.
We researched and considered more pairs of headphones than we can count. We couldn't really identify the best in-ear headphones, as this depends on your lifestyle, what you need them for and how much you're willing to spend.
That being said, we've picked some of the best in-ear options for you to consider. We created this list in such a way as to be as comprehensive as possible, with headphone suggestions for excellent performance, with special features and even options for swimmers and athletes. Some cost about two bucks while others are specially chosen for a small budget. Regardless of the choice, there is no doubt that any of these headphones will bring you a smile when you turn them on.
The Best Headphones In Ear in 2021
Bose SoundSport – Hi-Fi
Jabra Elite Active 65t – Sport
Sony MDR-XB50APL – Reduced Budget
Sennheiser CX 300-II – Noise Canceling
Skullcandy Smokin 'Buds 2 – with Microphone
Bose is, without a doubt, one of the companies that produce the best in-ear headphones on the market. SoundSport headphones come with three sizes of unique “StayHear” tips, designed for both comfort and stability during movement. The headphones are also breathable, which is a major advantage when you pay for a quality set.
The sound quality for the Bose SoundSport buds is much higher than average, and the sound is adjusted in such a way as to emphasize the loud part and the voice. The environments are also very well defined – their sound being very "tight". This results in a lower emphasis on bass, but overall a much more balanced and natural sound
Overall, Bose SoundSport are the more conventional sisters of SoundSport Pulse; leaving aside the heart rate monitoring feature. They are comfortable, have a sound worthy of the most critical audiophile, are easy to use and cost no more than their high-quality rivals.
The Jabra Elite Active 65t, a choice that also appears on our list of the best Bluetooth headsets, is truly one of the most high-quality and versatile in-ear headset options. With a lifespan of five hours, an IP56 waterproof rating and a multitude of useful application-based features, it offers the highest level of sound even during the most intense workouts and exercises.
The headphones are very comfortable and offer excellent passive noise insulation. The sound is clear and detailed, with a strong bass and a surprisingly high register. The five-hour battery life per charge places them among the best you'll find on the market, with a charging box that adds two additional charges.
Jabra's Sound Plus app lets you adjust equalization and choose whether or not to use the built-in smart assistant (Siri on iOS, Google Assistant on Android) or Amazon Alexa – a great option for those who use Alexa at home. Like Apple AirPods, headphones automatically play and pause music when you remove them from your ears, but they also go a step further by adjusting ambient sound – which is perfect for hearing what's going on around you. during training or to be able to pay attention to traffic while pedaling to work.
The IP56 rating means you don't have to worry about damage to your headphones with liquids or moderate amounts of dust. Simply rinse them after a particularly hard workout and they are like us.
If you're looking for cheaper headphones that don't sacrifice sound quality or bass power, the Sony MDR-XB50APL is exactly what you're looking for. The 12 mm drivers make these headphones the perfect tool for anyone looking for a strong bass sound.
The low frequency spectrum available is not the widest, the deep tones that MDR-XB50APL manages to produce are very impressive, especially compared to the low price of headphones. Sony tends to create headphones that are made of metal or have metallic accents, and these buds definitely have that design.
The headphones are available in four relatively attractive colors, which will look good both at the gym and on the way to work. In addition, they have a flat-design tangle-free cable and a small remote control that allows you to answer calls or pause / play music.
The MDR-XB50APPL sits close to your ear, insulating the sound very well, which is perfect for when you're trying to listen to music or talk on the phone in a noisy gym. The headset also includes a microphone that has a good level of quality, so you don't have to use your smartphone's microphone during a call.
Another set of headphones with powerful bass, Sennheiser CX 300-II are perfect for anyone looking for a great listening experience. Apart from the impressive bass, these buds have a very warm sound (no sharp treble that can bother), which means that they are perfect for the intimate listening offered by the in-ear headphones.
In addition, the headphones come with an external noise cancellation feature, which not only increases the quality of hearing but can also be useful for those moments when you want more peace (at the library, on the plane, at the gym). The CX 300-II uses an asymmetrical design in their wiring, so the two headphones are connected by a shorter cable that wraps around the neck. The design ensures that these headphones will be securely attached to your ear so that they do not fall easily and are comfortable.
Overall, Sennheiser created a very good pair of headphones with a simple aesthetic; The basic design is one, we consider, elegant – able to look good and integrate into any environment, whether it is the gym, work or everyday life
Skullcandy is a premium audio brand and this pair of headphones at a lower price lives up to the name's expectations. The design is minimalist, but the audio level and attention to detail are superb. Smokin 'Buds 2 is a complete solution that, in addition to a very good sound, also offers a microphone to make calls.
The one-button design means you can answer calls in a simple way. It can also be used to browse songs and pause / play music. This minimalist but effective design is a great advantage for those who do not want to complicate themselves with multiple buttons. The quality of the microphone is decent for a headset in this price area. Battery life is 6 to 7 hours and the quality of Bluetooth performance is excellent.
The audio quality offers what can be described as a fun sound with strong bass, without sacrificing the clarity of audio details at low volumes. Instead, Smokin 'Buds 2 suffers when it comes to clarity at high volumes, the sound becoming slightly distorted.
In conclusion, the Skullcandy Smokin 'Buds 2 Wireless headphones offer excellent value for features. The biggest attraction remains the wireless functionality that comes with 6-7 hours of use and the very good quality microphone. In addition, if you like a sound based on bass, then you will enjoy what is offered here.
Questions and answers
The benefits of in-ear headphones depend largely on your budget. One of the few things common to all intra-aural headphones is their portability. Beyond that, aspects such as sound quality, comfort, sound insulation, bass depth, clarity of environments, etc. depend on the price of the headphones.
That being said, there is one thing about in-ear headphones that we really appreciate: the value for money is unbeatable. A pair of in-ear headphones under 150 lei (such as Sony's MDR-XB50APL ) offers a sound and bass that is almost impossible to find on or over-ear headphones.
However, portability is not to be neglected at all. If you are like most people, at the gym and on the way to work or school, you most likely prefer the "incognito" look of an in-ear pair. Moreover, a correct pair of in-ear headphones such as the Sennheiser CX 300-II offers a level of sound insulation comparable to a pair of over-ear headphones several times more expensive.
Finally, the small size of the in-ear headphones bring extra comfort if you wear glasses (so you don't have pillows that will bother your ears) or if you don't want to bother your hair.
Even the best in-ear headphones can sound awful or quickly become uncomfortable if they are too loose, too tight or not fitted well in your ear. Make the most of the headphones you buy by following the tips below to get the right fit.
- Pay attention to the size and material: the secret to a proper fit of the headphones is to use a foam / silicone tip of the right size. So try the different sizes of foam and silicone tips that come with the headphones. Foam tips are more forgiving of size differences, so they are a good choice for those between "standard" sizes.
- Place the tip of the headphones firmly in your ear: To get the best sound, you need to seal your ear canal with the tip of your headphones. So simply pushing a headset into your ear is not enough to create adequate insulation. Try to gently pull on the outer edge of the ear to make it easier to insert the tip into a comfortable position. You should notice a decrease in ambient noise when the tip is positioned correctly. And when you listen to music, you will notice a wider range, especially a stronger bass.
- Attach the sports headphones carefully: Try wrapping the headphone cord behind your head and around each ear. For in-ear headphones that are tilted to fit in the ear canal, place the part marked "L" in the right ear and the part marked "R" in the left ear (as opposed to the usual placement). Some headphones, such as those made by Shure, are designed to be worn this way, so check before changing sides.
Although the intra-aural headphones are quite small, this does not mean that they are impossible to clean. You just have to pay attention to two parts – the driver (the helmet itself) and the tips (silicone / foam tips).
- Remove the rubber tip. These get in your way and make it harder to reach less accessible areas of the headphones. That's all you need to disassemble.
- Hold the headphones with the mesh facing down. Take your old toothbrush and gently rub the wire mesh to get rid of any traces of wax or dirt. Because the floss is flexible, the floss on the toothbrush will have no problem cleaning the sound path.
- Tap your back several times with your finger to make sure all the unwanted dirt has fallen off.
- Now that the wire mesh is clean, you just need to focus on the curves and crevices of the rest of the headphone body. Make a mixture of alcohol and water and soak an ear stick in it. Carefully rub each crevice.
- Rub the affected areas with alcohol with a soft cloth soaked in warm water.
- Move the headphones on a towel and let them dry for at least 3 hours. Check periodically.
Cleaning Rubber Tips
Each pair of in-ear headphones come with removable silicone / rubber tips. They are made for removal, but house the greatest dirt, ear wax and other unwanted debris. You need to focus on them.
- Remove the tips by slowly pulling them with one hand, while holding the head of the headset lightly with the other hand.
- Use an ear stick soaked in an alcohol-water solution to remove solid debris. Repeat this action several times until all the mess is gone.
- Soak the ear tips in warm soapy water and leave them there for about 4-5 minutes.
- After removing the tips from the soapy water, wipe them well and let them dry on paper towels.
Warning – Avoid when cleaning headphones
Technically, the tips are meant to be removed and replaced with new ones from time to time. Therefore, it would be fair to have 2-3 spare parts. Do not overdo it with soap and be careful not to break the wire mesh when using a toothbrush to clean it.
The simple answer is yes, you can sleep with your headphones on. However, if you intend to sleep with your headphones in your ears, you should avoid headphones on or over the ear, as this may disturb your sleep. In particular, wired headphones can become dangerous, as the cables may become tangled.
If you plan to sleep with headphones to block outside noise, try to limit yourself to genres of music or podcasts that will help you sleep. We also recommend that you set a timer on your phone so that your audio does not stay on all night.
The difference between in-ear, on-ear and over-ear headphones is the way the headphones sit in or on the ear, as the case may be. Virtually every imaginable helmet falls into one of three categories.
- In-Ear Headphones : small headphones that go into the ear, allowing them to be close to the eardrum. They are generally lightweight, portable and often relatively inexpensive compared to on / over ear headphones. In-ear headphones are the most versatile of all three types so their small size makes them ideal for both the gym and the office or public transport. An example would be Sony MDR-XB50APL , but for more models see also our article on the best in-ear headphones .
- On Ear Headphones : Headphones whose sponge cushions sit on your ears, rather than around them. This type of headset generally tends to be smaller and lighter than the circum-aural headphones (over ear), which leads to a low decrease in external noise. The supra-aural headphones can also cause discomfort due to pressure on the ear, compared to the circum-aural headphones that sit around the ear. Comfort may vary depending on the material and quality of the cups. Overall, on-ear headphones are a middle ground between the comfort and portability of in-ear headphones and the high audio performance of over-ear headphones. An example of such a headset is the Sony WH-CH500H .
- Headphones Over Ear (circum-aural): circular or ellipsoidal pads headset that includes ears. Because these headphones completely surround the ear, the circum-auricular headphones can be designed to seal completely, thus attenuating external noise. Most professional headphone models are over ear due to their very good ability to isolate outside sound. Precisely for this reason, most of the choices in our article about the best headphones of the moment are circum-aural. Due to their size, over-ear headphones can be heavy. To reduce weight discomfort, an ergonomic design for the belt and headphones is required. One such pair are Skullcandy Hesh3 .
In-ear headphones are a better option, as unlike in -ear headphones that propagate sound directly to the ear, over -ear headphones provide some buffer between the music and the ear canal. However, although in-ear headphones are a safer choice than in-ear headphones when it comes to hearing, they are not without drawbacks.
Like in-ear headphones, most over-ear or on-ear headphones have low or mediocre quality and do not transmit bass efficiently. It is worth investing in better quality headphones to improve your listening experience and protect your hearing.
We recommend that you use the headphones for no more than 90 minutes a day, at 80% of maximum volume. If, however, you feel that you are wearing headphones a lot, a good rule to follow is the 60/60 rule: wear headphones for no more than 60 minutes in a row, at no more than 60% of the maximum volume.