Best In-Ear Headphones 2023 – You Need To Know
In-ear or earbud headphones are more portable than bulky over-ear headphones and help passively block out background noise while on the go. They’re great for the gym and slip easily into your pocket when you get out of the car or arrive at the office. While earbuds technically sit on the edge of the ear canal, and in-ears have barrel-shaped tips that go deep into the ear, the two terms are often used interchangeably. In-ears tend to be more common, although some people find them uncomfortable and prefer less intrusive earbuds.
We tested more than 275 pairs of earbuds and earphones. Here are our buying recommendations for the best in-ear headphones. Check out our picks for the best true wireless earbuds, best wireless earbuds and in-ear headphones, and the best-sounding wireless earbuds.
1. Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds
Sony is largely responsible for the health of the true wireless ANC headphone market. With the WF-1000XM4, the company has combined performance, ergonomics, and build quality more effectively than ever before.
Compared to its predecessor, the Sony WF-1000XM3, these new wireless earbuds offer enough quality-of-life features that they’re worth the upgrade even though they’re more expensive. What they may lack in aptX support, they make up for in great call quality, great in-app features, and the feeling that you’re buying a pair of classic earbuds.
When listening to Kate Bush’s Lake Tahoe, the WF-1000XM4’s ability to pick out the smallest details or the most fleeting transients and integrate them into the wider picture was evident. “Communication” might seem like a redundant word when it comes to one’s singing voice, but it’s entirely appropriate here: If anything, the WF-1000XM4s are communicative.
2. JLab Go Air Pop
It’s possible to buy a cheap set of earbuds without sacrificing your listening experience or your eardrums. The JLab Go Air Pop is a very affordable option that allows discerning listeners to enjoy solid sound at an affordable price.
Not only do they beat everything in their price range in terms of sound; they belie their low price and sound much better than you’d expect for their cheap price. Our testing of these wireless earbuds proves that vocals are well handled in the mids, bass is reasonably well handled, and the soundstage is relatively spacious.
They might not be able to beat the flagships from Sony, Apple, or Sennheiser, but they certainly can beat them when it comes to audio and features. They also feature reliable Bluetooth connectivity, great battery life, lightweight earbuds, and a comfortable fit.
3. Sound Magic E11C
The SoundMagic E11C headphones are the latest addition to a series that has been one of the most surprising success stories in recent years. Founded in 2005, SoundMagic was relatively short-lived compared to many audio companies. SoundMagic has gone from obscurity to award-winning, best known for its line of affordable in-ear headphones.
The E11C delivers a perfect fit and a balanced, fun and vibrant sound. With updated 10mm dynamic drivers and silver-plated copper wiring, they’re also great value for money. The sound is warm, with decent bass depth, and the mids are crisp and clear. It’s also worth noting that their high sensitivity (112dB) means the E11C can deliver plenty of volume.
A remote control on the left earbud and an in-line mic keep functionality simple. It’s a standard three-button job, so it should work with Apple and Android smartphones, giving you volume and stop/start functions. Given the price, it’s hard to fault these excellent budget picks.
4. Shure-Aonic 3
Shure has a lot of experience with wired in-ears, and that shines through in the Aonic 3s. They are comfortable and light from the start. The cable hangs over your ear and stays in place at all times – although it takes some skill to get the swivel earbuds into place.
Nine different ear tips provide excellent isolation, while an in-line remote and microphone control your music and take calls.
The sound quality from the Shures is absolutely top-notch. They are full of energy and detail, and their sense of rhythm and timing needs to be heard. We can’t think of any in-ears that come close in price.
5.Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) True Wireless
If you still want a premium design but don’t want to pay top dollar, try the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) Truly Wireless. Like its predecessor, the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, they have some features you won’t find anywhere else on this list, such as an H2 chip that pairs seamlessly with devices in the Apple ecosystem and a more immersive Spatial Audio for the ultimate audio experience. While their ANC doesn’t quite match the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless, they still do a good job of fighting hard-to-block noises, like rumbling airplane engines, as well as ambient noise. They last just under six hours of continuous use with ANC turned on, but their case charges an extra four times if needed.
Overall, they are well made and suitable for long listening sessions. It’s kind of annoying that their design dangles out of their ears over time. They have a warm sound character that makes vocals and instruments feel comfortable, making them ideal for most types of content. However, they lack a built-in EQ or presets that can be used to tweak the sound. So if that matters, get the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3 instead. They offer a similar level of noise isolation as well as sound customization via a companion app. However, they are not that convenient.