In-ear headphones are a simple, easily storable and practical tool for listening to music on the go. Their flexibility and compactness make them an ideal alternative to over-ear headphones for people who don’t have the storage space for the larger, bulkier item.
However, if you choose to use in-ear headphones, then you want to be careful to make sure you choose the right ones. If you just use the headphones which come with your phone (or other device), then you’ll very soon find that they have an inferior sound quality and they are likely to break far too easily through standard wear-and-tear.
So, if you’ve decided to buy a set of better quality in-ear headphones then you’re in luck, because you are reading an in-depth run-down of five of the best on the market. Once you have read our reviews, you should be well equipped to make the right choice when you decide to buy.
The 5 headphones that we have selected all have different qualities which make them worth buying, and with the help of this guide you should be able to easily sort the good from the bad.
What you are looking for when you buy in-ear headphones
The main features which you should be looking for if you are going to buy a set of in-ear headphones are sound quality, durability, comfort, other features, and price.
Sound quality is pretty straightforward; you want a pair of headphones which will convey whatever you are listening to with a high degree of fidelity (this is especially important if you listen to music with very low/very high notes).
Durability is all about how resistant the earphones are to the stress and strain that they will encounter as they are used and carried around.
Comfort is very important if you will be wearing the headphones a lot; uncomfortable headphones can be an irritation and, even more importantly, could lead to long-term medical problems with your ears.
Other features mean the miscellaneous things not yet covered which may or may not matter to you depending on what you are looking for—from a microphone for phone calls to noise-canceling technology.
Finally, the price is variable and although, as a rule of thumb, you can usually expect more expensive headphones to be better, you want to be careful that you aren’t paying through the nose for a brand name when there might be a much cheaper set of headphones which actually perform better.
|Mpow Jaws Bluetooth 4.1 Stereo Headset||$$||4.1/5|
|Samsung (2 PACK) OEM Wired||$$||2.9/5|
|Symphonized NRG 3.0 Earbuds||$$$||4.2/5|
|Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones||$$$||4.1/5|
|Betron YSM1000 Headphones, In-ear,||$$||4.5/5|
|Panasonic RP-TCM125-K In-Ear Buds w/ Mic & Remote||$$||4.3/5|
|Actionpie In-ear Headphones Earbuds||$$$||4.8/5|
|TOBETB SE-570 Headphones Stereo Wired In-ear Earphones||$||4.9/5|
|Honstek X1 In-Ear Headphones with Mic and Remote Control||$||4.4/5|
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at some headphones.
This is a budget set of headphones available in a range of colors and in two different versions: with mic and without. For your comfort, it comes with three sets of different size ear-pads, so you can choose a set to better fit your ears.
It also comes with a 3.6’ cord which should be long enough to easily thread through clothes and bags while leaving enough of the cord slack so it shouldn’t suffer from too much strain.
The included ear pads are snug and flexible enough that they should fit comfortably in your ears without falling out
Nine color options with color-matched cords
A purely aesthetic feature. If this matters to you then great, but it will have no impact on your listening experience.
Comfort length, 3.6’ cord for extra convenience
It’s always good to have a long cord on your earphones, and this should definitely increase the life of the equipment so long as you take care not to put too much strain on the cord when you use it.
Integrated inline switch and mic [optional]
If you take a lot of calls on your headphones, then this is always a handy feature; it just makes moving from music to phone call a bit easier while you are moving around.
- Low price
- Color choice
- Long cord
- Optional switch/microphone
- Small and easy to store
- No Bluetooth
- No noise-cancelling technology
This is a good set of budget earphones. The inclusion of a choice of ear pads, the long cord and the choice of colors makes this a much better alternative to the headphones which come with your device; this sort of headphone has a tendency to break after a year or so of use, but if you take care not to strain the cord when you use them, then you should be able to extend the life of these headphones considerably beyond that.
Besides, at such a low price, if you do have to buy a replacement after some time then that shouldn’t be any cause for concern.
Mpow Jaws Bluetooth 4.1 Stereo Headset
These Bluetooth headphones are designed for people who are more serious about their listening experience. The ear-buds are attached with wires to a band which you wear around your neck for extra stability while you move around, and to which you can attach your ear-buds when they are not in use.
They come equipped with a microphone for taking phone calls, and noise-cancelling technology, so you shouldn’t lose any sound while you are in a noisy environment. The battery is advertised as working for 13 hours of listening and it can be recharged with the included micro-USB cable.
Comfortable behind-neck design
The neckband is definitely a creative way of securely using your wireless in-ear headphones without the risk of losing them if they fall out. However, it does add some extra bulk to the item.
The neckband is made of flexible silicone, which should provide enough strength to give these headphones a very good lifespan, though it might be worth considering buying a carry case for extra safety if you plan on carrying the headphones around in a bag.
The use of Bluetooth 4.1 and the inclusion of noise-cancelling technology should guarantee you a good quality of sound all the time that you are using the headphones, though the quality of the connection will naturally decay the further you move from the device to which you are paired.
Intelligent shark-like magnetic design
The “shark-like” magnetic clips, to which you can attach the ear-buds when they are not in use, are an excellent way of protecting the buds from damage while they are in transit.
The inclusion of a microphone means you can easily switch between listening and calling while you are on the go.
- Reasonable price for a lot of features
- Neckband is durable
- Shark-like clips will increase lifespan
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Neckband is bulky
- Won’t fit in pocket
- Extra purchase of carry case is advised
If you don’t mind the extra bulk and you are prepared to buy a carry case, then these headphones would make an excellent purchase. They manage to pack a lot of features in at a comparatively low price, and they should last for a long time as long as you take good care of them.
On Amazon, you can also buy 2-year or 3-year protection if you are concerned about durability. Definitely recommended if you are happy to make extra room for your gadgets.
Samsung (2 PACK) OEM Wired
This is the option if you are on a tight budget. For a reasonable price, you get 2 sets of Samsung OEM wired headphones with inbuilt volume control, microphone and call answer button and… not much else. Not that you’d expect much at this price, but these are very basic, no-frills headphones.
The ear-buds are slightly molded for comfort, but with a one-size-fits-all design, there is a good chance that they will still end up causing you irritation after some use.
Wearing comfort and high-quality sound
The ergonomic molding of the earbuds might fit your ears perfectly, but if they don’t then they won’t provide much extra comfort. They are, however, designed to channel the sound directly into your ear canals, which will increase sound quality over those in-ear headphones which don’t do that.
Clearer sound, richer bass
This is because of the focused ear-bud design, although the manufacturer does claim “groundbreaking wind-sound reducing material,” so your phone calls should be clear in windy situations.
- Includes 2 sets of earphones
- Volume controls
- Call answer button
- Very cheap
- Very little consideration for comfort
- No features to increase durability
- No technological advances such as Bluetooth or noise cancelling
These headphones aren’t really much better than those which came with your device, but at such a low price they might still be worth your consideration, especially if you only intend to use them temporarily and not as your primary set of headphones. You could always give the spare set away or keep it in a draw for a rainy day.
Symphonized NRG 3.0 Earbuds
High-quality and packed with features, the Symphonized NRG 3.0 Earbuds also has a steeped price tag. They come with noise-cancelling tech, a control for volume and track changes, a microphone and controls for taking phone calls and three sizes of ear pads so you can choose those which best fit your ears.
They also have a very stylish design and come in a choice of 6 different colors. They also include a small carry pouch for extra safety while they are not in use.
The headphones have a very attractive design with certain features made of real wood for that extra-stylish finish. The manufacturer advertises “tangle-free cords” in a variety of colors and an in-built volume control.
Structure and sound
The built-in microphone is to be expected at this price. They also feature crisp acoustics with deep bass and zero breakage at every volume level and a gold-plated jack for a stable connection.
In the box
The included choice of different sizes of silicone ear pads is definitely a plus for comfort while the carry pouch (made of eco-friendly materials) should help to increase the lifespan of your earphones.
- Volume controls
- Noise-cancelling technology
- Phone call pick-up/hang-up buttons
- Stylish design
- Choice of color
- Carry pouch
- Choice of ear-pad sizes for comfort
- No Bluetooth connectivity
- Expensive at full price
These are definitely worth buying at the sale price, and worth considering at full price. They are packed full of features, and they have a very attractive design.
However, you should consider other options if the full price tag seems too much for you.
Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones
Oooh boy. With these headphones, you get a lot of great features (with some notable absences), but they come at a cost, with a very steep price tag. Bose has a deserved reputation for manufacturing of high-quality audio products, so you can definitely expect a spectacular audio quality from the “TriPort Technology” in these headphones.
They come in 3 versions—one with phone controls and a mic for iPhone; one with phone controls and mic for Android; and one for audio only. These headphones come equipped with weather- and sweat-resistant technology, and with a sturdy carry case, so durability should be of no concern.
The ear pads come in a choice of sizes (all included in the box) and are specially designed to comfortably and securely clip inside your ear.
Exclusive TriPort technology
Supposedly providing “crisp highs and natural-sounding lows,” Bose is clearly proud of their TriPort technology. Bose has a good reputation for audio, so there is no reason not to believe them.
Sweat and weather resistant
Bose tells us that these headphones are “engineered and tested for lasting quality and durability.” You would certainly hope that at this price you will be buying headphones to last several years, so this resistance to sweat and weather seems like a good feature, especially if you are planning on exercising while using these headphones.
Proprietary StayHear tips
These headphones promise to conform to the shape of your ear for maximum comfort, and with a choice of sizes you should expect to be able to wear these without much irritation at all.
Lightweight carrying case
This is another excellent feature for prolonging the lifespan of your headphones. The fact that this carry case is included as standard with the product is a big bonus, though, again, at this price, you would hope to get your money’s worth.
Inline microphone and remote
Something else which you would expect as standard at this price, the microphone/remote for phone calls has all the features you would expect: volume controls, pick-up/hang-up buttons etc.
So, this is an expensive one. You are paying for the quality of the Bose name; this simply means a better level of audio. You also get a healthy number of features (though, disappointingly, no Bluetooth connectivity nor noise-cancelling tech), so your money would be well spent if you can afford it.
However, if you’re not sure about committing to the price for a a set of in-ear headphones, then you might want to take some time to consider cheaper options. What you can be sure of, if you buy these headphones, is that you will get excellent sound quality, superior comfort, and a decent life span.
These five in-ear headphones offer different examples of what is available on the market. From the good-quality budget items to the far superior, yet far pricier items for people who are serious about audio, there is an excellent range available in the field of in-ear headphones.
Which headphones are right for you is really your decision to make, though hopefully you should now be well prepared for the task of working out whether the included features are worth the price or not.
Ultimately, it will all come down to what you expect out of a set of in-ear headphones: will you use them only occasionally or all the time, will you carry them in your pocket or in your bag, will you only use them at home, will you use them while you exercise?
Answering these questions should help you decide whether it is right for you to pay for a more expensive item, or whether you should opt for the cheap and basic headphones.
More information on all of the headphones featured here is available on Amazon and on the individual products’ websites. If you are not inspired by any of the headphones we have covered, then use the information you have learned here to filter through the masses of other headphones available on Amazon.
In the end, you have to be sure that the headphones you buy are going to be the ones that you really need, but we hope this review will help you make your decision.