The humble headphone has come a long way, and now we have everything from noseplugs that use your cheekbones to transmit sound to tiny little in ear gadgets no bigger than a nail.
Earbuds have become the standard and they’re often the cheapest choice, requiring less materials to make and easily replaceable.
It can be difficult though to know what you’re looking for as many people use earbuds as a term for items that are actually canalphons or earphones.
Earbuds specifically sit outside the ear rather than having that nobbly little silcone bit that squishes inside your ear canal.
They have a speaker that is similar but smaller to headphones that sits inside the shell of the ear pointed into the ear canal.
They’re actually not very efficient and even if they fit well usually let noise in, however they are cost effective which is why many phone manufacturers include them as a bonus.
Earbuds are also good if you don’t want to be completely detached from your environment which can also be a safety choice.
If you’re looking for basic sound at a cheap price then earbuds are the way to go.
Best Earbuds Reviews 2017 – Comparison Table
|Panasonic Ergofit||Yes||96 dB||4.4 /5|
|TaoTronics Bluetooth||Yes||175h Stand By||4.3 /5|
|LESHP 2 in 1 V4.1 Bluetooth||No||Lightweight 5.9g||3.9 /5|
|RHA T-20i High Fidelty||Both Options||Noise Isolation||4.7 /5|
|1MORE Triple driver Earbuds||Yes||Three Drivers||4.4 /5|
Best Earbuds Reviews 2017
Panasonic Ergofit In-Ear Earbud RP-HJE120-K Black
The number one bestseller is actually a hybrid earbud and canalphone. These rest outside the ear with a large plastic bump but have a soft silicone portion that sits into the ear canal to better direct the sound.
There are 8 different color options and they can color match with the ipod/iphone colors too. They have a wide frequency range for a fuller sound and a 3.6ft cord that colormatches the bud.
There are three different ear pads so the buds sit better in the canal and won’t slip out. These help to block out some of the ambient noise that would otherwise get through.
The earbuds themselves have 9mm neodymium drivers for better quality and more dynamic sound and a sensitivity of 96db with a 20-20 frequency response versus a 16ohm impedance. They weigh 0.14oz and cost practically nothing.
- 9mm neodymium drivers
- 6ft cord
- Color choice
The reason these are number one is that they are basic, unassuming and cheap. While you’re not getting symphony quality sound (and you shouldn’t expect it for this price) it does sound better than most other bargain level brands like Skullcandy.
They’re acceptable for running and exercising, though they’re not waterproof or sweatproof so they my short out. The fact that these are also impressively cheap is also a real selling point. The audio is crisp and clear.
No microphone attachment means that if you’re using these with your phone and need to take a call you’ll still have to speak directly into the phone but can listen to the audio through the ear buds.
There’s no base and the sound is pretty tinny. The wires are really thin and and cheap which means they’re easy to short and not very durable.
TaoTronics Bluetooth Headphons 4.1 built in mic – $XX.xx
Following the same cheap concept the TaoTronic bluetooth version are much more snug and secure thanks to the in ear loop support.
This is ideal for exercising because they wont come loose. When not in use the two buds are magnetic and they will connect together to form a necklace.
These connect using Bluetooth 4.1 technology and have up to 175 hours of standby time and 5 hours of playback.
They have a microphone on the wire which makes them ideal for using with all smartphones and tablets. There’s also an option to double link where you can connect the headphones to two devices simultaneously.
They pair fast and use an aptX codec for clear quality sound. These can stand up to dust and moisture well and have Clear Voice Capture technology to make your voice clearer and the soft silicone bud help to cancel out noise.
There are three different sized silicone buds for a better fit while the outside is made from aluminum to look smart while still being sturdier than plain plastic.
They weigh 0.5oz, significantly more than the Panasonic but much better quality. There’s also an iOS feature where you’ll see an additional battery meter on the screen.
- 5 hours battery
- Ear Loop
The option of the ear loop and the snug bud means these are very secure, especially compared to other designs with buds alone. They stay in even during intense activity.
They’re solid and the length is ideal since it’s got enough cord not to be too tight on any size neck. There’s very little sound lost when the buds are snugly fit. These are affordable and the manual is straightforwards enough to follow.
The three sizes of buds are ideal for a good fit no matter your ear size. The connection is solid and doesn’t skip even with vigorous exercise.
There’s very little bass and they take about 2 hours to charge, not horrible but not great either. There’s some distortion with the microphone and it almost makes voices sound robotic.
The earbuds do come in three sizes but they’re large sized and even the small ones are slightly large which could be uncomfortable if you have small ear canals.
LESHP 2 in 1 V4.1 Bluetooth Earbuds with Power Bank – $XX.xx
For cute and stylishness these are really cool looking. The buds are bluetooth and wireless and have 4 color choices. They’re off brand so not the best quality but the design is clever.
Both buds fit into the power bank to charge and the bank can also be used to charge phones or other USB devices.
These have an aluminum body and have a 900mA battery. These have 50 hours of standby time and weigh a tiny 5.9g or 0.27oz each.
These are ideal for any activity where you don’t want a cord getting in the way, or for parents with grabby handed toddlers. There are also optional ear hooks for stability and three different sized ear tips for comfort.
- Lightweight 0.27oz
- 2 hour battery
- 4 colors
Ideal for small ears these have buds that run small. There’s a range of about 25 feet from the device which is ideal if you’re moving around the room or exercising since it mean you can leave your phone safely elsewhere and no worry about dropping it.
They’re a fairly cheap price for bluetooth headphones and provide decent sound quality for the price. They’re waterproof up to IPX5 and have a usage time around 2 hours.
There’s no microphone so these can’t be used for calls unless you speak directly into the phone. The quality is not great and they’re far from sturdy.
The quality control on these is a little poor and it’s chancey if you’ll get a great product or a total dud, but that’s off-brand quality for you.
The life of the power bank is rather sad, you won’t get a full charge on your phone at all, perhaps half depending on your phone.
RHA T-20i High Fidelty Noise Isolating Dual Coil – $XXX.xx
Another combination device, these are professional grade with an on cable remote, microphone, and a unique coil driver which creates neutral tonal balance and high quality sound.
These have great quality and design but they work especially well. They’re worth the money and have a three button remote so you don’t have to hunt your device down to adjust the volume or answer calls.
The driver has impressive clarity, resolution and detail and comes in an injection molded housing that’s made of a tough stainless steel to protect it.
It has a unique tuning filter system whereby you can swap out with 1 of 3 filters for more bass, or treble depending on your preference. This is especially important if you want to listen to different types of music.
As well as the snug in ear bud there’s also a moldable over ear hook to keep them firmly in place that’s made using a steel spring so it won’t snap easily.
This positions the cable behind the ear and gives the earbud a better angle into the ear canal an with the dual density tips helps stop ambient noise getting in.
The headphones are rated for hi-res audio and have a 1.35m reinforced cable with shielding to prevent interference.
They’re sensitive to 99db, have a 32ohm resistance and a power of 5mW all in a tiny 18g weight. It comes with 10 silicone tips an a clothing tip, case, ear tip holder and a filter holder.
- Noise Cancelling
- Dual Coil 5mW
- Ear hooks and filters
You’re getting impressive noise cancellation with these, they really work as well as over ear headphones to block out sound. They’re very comfortable and with so many options to adjust the fit there’s no way you won’t get one that works.
The three year warranty is also great and for something this price it’s essential as it’s easy to damage a cable. The shape fits well in the ear and the swappable filters are great if you’re serious about listening to your music how it should be.
The dual coil helps to create a better range since one coil focuses on the lows while the other has the highs making them good all round.
They’re rather costly, and while the company does produce quality pieces with great sound they’re earbuds rather than symphony headphones.
They’re great for iPhone but the remote doesn’t work for all the functions on Android depending on the model which is very frustrating.
Symphonized NRG Wood Headphones Red
Back in the more affordable range, Symphonized comes in 6 different colors and have noise isolation similar to the technology of the RHAs. They have a strong bass and powerful sound as well as a remote feature with microphone.
They’re impressive for such a cheap price. The silicone tips come in three sizes and there’s a carrying pouch to store everything in and keep them from tangling.
The cord is 53”, wrapped in tangle free nylon so you’ll never have that cable ball again. These work with iOS and Android for all the calling features of the remote.
The outside is a wood design that is reminiscent of orchestra instruments (hence the name). There’s little distortion even at high levels and they’re sturdy like steel while being much lighter and fit solidly enough in the ear you don’t have to worry about them coming out during exercise.
- 6 colors
- Carry pouch, ear tips
- 53” cord
The sound is well balanced though it may have too much treble for some users (easily fixed with an equalizer setting), and it’s clear so that you get a better mix of the mids and highs as well as the lows.
They’re pretty cheap considering the sound quality and you don’t get that nasty “thump” from cheap bass.
The wood finish is very attractive and helps make the headphones more comfortable by warming to the skin rather than cold plastic.
They’re not the most comfortable for long use and there’s a bit of an issue with the longevity, but they’re cheap so you can’t expect them to last too long.
The issue with the cheap build quality is that they don’t last long and the cable is flimsy so it will start to short out making them useless even with light wear. The braided nylon is also rather noisy when it moves.
Master and Dynamic ME05 Brass – $XXX.xx
Another high end design, these are small, sleek and smooth with 8mm Neodymium drivers and a brass body for protection.
There’s a remote and omnidirectional mic (two separate units to improve microphone quality) as well as interchangeable ear tips and they’re nice and sturdy.
They’re a little heavy thanks to the brass but still fairly comfortable at 23g.
There’s a 1.2m flat audio able that doesn’t tangle easily and is harder to short out than a round cable. They’re pretuned so that the sound is rich and focused.
These are beautiful headphones and they have thoughtful details like the decorative laser etched letters for L and R as well as a burnished finish to the brass.
They come with a leather storage box, canvas case for the ear ts, 4 eartips, cloth, cable clip and a set of acoustic filters.
The acoustic filters work much the same as those of the RHAs but it’s only one set though they change the sound out to give more treble.
- 8mm Neodymium drivers
- Brass housing
- 2m flat cable
- Case, cloth, eartips, acoustic filters
The sound quality of these is quite good and the heavy duty construction means they’re sturdy enough to take a beating. The spare filters are a nice option, but should be expected at this price.
The flat wires stay untangled and straight, though the cable could be longer. The remote buttons are recessed to prevent them being pressed accidentally and they’re separated so you can adjust by feel. They look smart and classy too.
These are a poor choice for working out as they don’t stay in the ear canal well when flexing and moving. There’s also an issue that when the speaker is turned it gets muted against your ear wall so the sound dips out.
The price is a bit over the top as well since they’re expensive for pretty standard tech in a brassy case. They’re also hefty, the weight of a plastic bottle in each ear which can be uncomfortable after long periods.
1MORE Triple driver Earbuds
With two armatures and a driver in each earbud you’ve got a lot of range to make impressively dynamic sound.
You can really head a strong difference between the deep base and highs. Essentially you’ve got a miniature woofer and two tweeters crammed in.
These are turned by a sound engineer to be the richest sound possible and as close to what the artist intended.
There are 9 different ear tip sizes and the buds are angled to give a comfortable fit which is less likely to fall out with wear.
There’s an in-line remote with an MEMS microphone that is fitted with ground wires to prevent interference and distortion.
It also comes with an outer protective case, airplane adapter, foam and silicone ear tips and a magnetic case.
They’re rated for Hi-res audio and are designed by a young startup business that has won iF awards for their titanium driver designs and come in “best headphones under $100” in a variety of categories.
- 2 colors
- MEMS Microphone
- Triple driver
The remote works for both iOS and Android and with the triple driver there really is no comparison in sound, especially at this price.
They’re beautiful quality and the company is very committed to making their customers happy to grow their brand. The packaging alone is an art and they look smart and classy.
They do need a little burn-in to get going but they work well once you’re passed that.
If you’re a true audiophile these will still fall short because there’s a preference for the upper mids. The wires are easy to tangle and you have to push them in your ears to get them to stay well.
If you just want cheap and basic earbuds there’s tons of those around and you really don’t need to worry about anything sub $50 because the quality is all roughly the same.