While the popularity of over-ear headphones may be on the rise, for portability, nothing beats earbuds. While wireless models offer the ultimate in portability, the circuitry and the nature of wireless signals can introduce unwanted noise. Wired earbuds might not be the sleekest choice, but they’re still the only choice for many people.
That said, using the headphones that came with your phone is far from ideal. They never sound the best, and they’re often prone to tangles. So what are the best earbuds for you, then? Funny you should ask. We have a few ideas.
The Thinksound Rain2s were one of the last pairs of headphones we gave our Editor’s Pick award to last year, and because we saw them so late in the year, they were left off a lot of our lists, which started to roll out earlier. Now we’re making sure to fix that error.
The Rain2s are crafted out of wood and polished metal, and this gives them an undeniably cool look while also benefitting the acoustics. They’re comfortable, light, and sound wonderful. Lows are rich and powerful, mids are solid, and the highs preserve detail without harshness.
The only minor downside is the lack of a remote, but even so, this is one of the best pairs of earbuds you’ll be able to find for under $100. If you’re not convinced yet, take a look at our review.
Though the model is starting to become increasingly popular, modular earbuds still aren’t something we see every day. The RHA T10s take a nice base set of earbuds and pair them with swappable filters to allow the listener to customize the sound to their liking.
In our review of the T10s, I mentioned that I was initially very skeptical of the filters, but found myself impressed by how much they actually did alter the sound. The bass filter, for example, increases the bass without negatively affecting the highs, which we didn’t expect from a simple filter.
The RHA T10s are available in two options, with the T10i adding an iOS-compatible remote. They retail for around $200, but they’re absolutely worth it if sound quality is the most important factor to you when looking at earbuds. Check out the full review for details.
In last year’s version of this post, we recommended the Klispch S4 series. While those are still good earbuds, with the release of Klipsch’s new R6 line, there is no reason to stick with the older pair – the new ones are better in every way.
Very much a refined version of the S4, the sound signature is still the same, but the harsh-at-times highs have been tamed and the bass has been massaged slightly. If you liked the sound of the S4s, you’ll like the R6 better. If you didn’t like the S4 series, you may find something to like here.
The remote setup has also been improved. The R6 and R6i are analogues of the S4 and S4i, but whereas the S4a required the user to download an app, here that is replaced by the R6m, which simply includes a single-button remote compatible with Android, Windows, and Blackberry devices as well as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
While Shure’s name is synonymous with high-end headphones and high-end audio gear in general, it’s not a name you often hear talked about in terms of budget earbuds. That said, the Shure SE112 earbuds are a fantastic option for the price, and easily earn a spot on this list.
The SE112s are only available in gray, but that does make it easier for them to fit in with both black and white mobile devices. While they don’t offer many connectivity options, they do include a 50″ long cable, which means that if you’re tall or like to keep your phone in your backpack, you’re all set.
While they might look barebones, the sound that comes out of the SE112s is anything but. The low end extension is nice, the highs shimmer, and while the headphones might be a bit mid-forward, this make for excellent clarity on vocals as well as making this a great pair of earbuds for podcast fans.
The Shure SE112 earbuds sell for $49.00, include plenty of tips for a good fit, and even include a cleaning tool. For more info, take a look at our review.
That’s all well and good, but what if you’re the type who loses earbuds a lot and doesn’t want to fork out $50 for a new pair every time? In that case, our next pick is for you.
At under $10, the Enhanced Bass Hi-Fi Noise Isolating Earphones from Monoprice have already made it onto a ton of lists out there, but that isn’t going to stop us from putting them on ours too. Everything you’ve heard about these earbuds is true. Believe it.
These are barebones to the point that they make the Shures that precede them on this list look positively feature-packed by comparison. For your money you get the earbuds themselves and a bag featuring different ear tips to make sure you find a good fit. That’s it. The cable is wrapped in fabric, which keeps them tough, but also makes them fairly prone to tangling.
So why are they worth it? The sound. You might have noticed that they look fairly large, and that’s no illision. These earbuds pack a large driver that makes for excellent bass and good volume, even when powered by a mobile device. These hold their own with the other earbuds on this list, and considering the price, that’s saying something.
The Monoprice Enhanced Bass Hi-Fi Noise Isolating Earphones currently sell for $7.88 and will cost around $12 elsewhere, but either way, they’re still worth it. At this price, most people would do well to pick up a pair, if only to see what all the hype is about.
We’ve said this in other lists, but here it’s truer than ever: everyone’s ears are different, and some times it can be tough to get a good fit. Two of the items on this list can’t be used with custom ear tips, but it’s definitely worth looking for custom tips if you can use them with your earbuds. Remember: better fit = better sound.
Have we left anything out? Let us know. What do you think are the best earbuds out there?