The 9 Best Earbuds to Buy in 2018

Shop for the best budget, exercise and sound quality earbuds

When it comes to plugging into our music, there’s no need to settle for the cheap earbuds that come with your portable music player. Plus, there are plenty of options in the market, no matter what you’re looking for; whether you’re an audio aficionado or just want a pair that won't break the bank. While it might seem overwhelming to go shopping for your next set of earbuds, we’re here to help. Here are our picks for the best earbuds of 2018.

Best Overall: Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling

Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling
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The Bose QC20 are hands down the best noise cancellation in-canal earphones on the market, giving over-ear noise cancelling full-size headphones a run for their money.

The rechargeable lithium-ion battery feels nearly bottomless, providing up to 16 hours of use. Depending on your device of choice, you can buy a style intended for Apple devices or a style made for Samsung and Android devices. And while silence is golden, you can activate Aware mode for the moments when you need to be alert.

For $50 more you could spring for the newer Bose QuietControl 30 Wireless Headphones, which are impressive in their own right, but there’s really no need since the QC20 are just as good. One five-star reviewer on Amazon gave them a B+ for sound quality because of a mediocre bass, but said “the soft silicone of the QC20 ear tips rest so comfortably against your ear openings that you simply forget you're wearing them at all.”

Best Budget: Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbuds

The Panasonic ErgoFit in-ear earbuds are no-frills headphones that offer a comfortable wear day in, day out. Incorporating generously sized 9mm neodymium drivers, the ErgoFit adds a bass-heavy sound with crisp treble that is surprisingly good for the entry-level price. The ultra-soft earbuds come in a range of colors and sizes to suit your style and allow for maximum comfort. An optional in-line microphone works well for phone calls and is compatible with Apple, Android and BlackBerry devices. The 3.6-foot cord adds enough length to easily listen to a device placed in a backpack or pocket, while the thin and light build makes them a must own for commuters and travelers. 

Best for Value: TaoTronics Active Noise Canceling Headphones

TaoTronics TT-EP01 Active Noise Canceling Headphones
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When it comes to headphones, getting the most ​value means getting the most features at the lowest cost. The TaoTronics headphones are clearly the winner, as they have active-noise canceling and a premium aluminum alloy construction that you’d normally associate with headphones that cost four times as much. The active-noise canceling can reduce background and ambient sounds by up to 30dB, but it only lasts up to 15 hours before the battery pack needs to be recharged.

As for comfort, the headphones come with three pairs of earbuds and three pairs of ear hooks to help you find the right fit on your ears. If you need to make calls, these headphones work for that as well, thanks to the included a microphone. Keep in mind that because these headphones are less expensive, they may not have the same sound quality and noise-canceling prowess are the higher-end ones.

Best for Sound Quality: 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones

1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones
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Sound quality is a huge reason to upgrade from the standard earbuds that are included with a smartphone because those earbuds often don’t use the best components and drivers. The 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones take our runner-up position for best sound quality because the three drivers are there to create a high-end and dynamic listening experience with full bass and easy-to-discern mids and highs.

As for design, these earbuds feature a lightweight aluminum construction that is designed to fit comfortably in your ear canals. The cord itself is four feet long and has both a microphone and a three-button remote for controlling your music. 1MORE claims to have collaborated with music industry veteran and sound engineer Luca Bignardi to get the sound just right and it shows in customer responses. Reviewers on Amazon have raved about the sound quality on these earbuds, specifically noting clear and balanced sound along with great bass response.

Runner-Up, Best Sound Quality: Pioneer Rayz Plus Noise-Canceling Earphones

While these Pioneer Rayz headphones are only suitable for iPhones, we figured it made sense to include at least one exclusively lightning-powered headphone set in this list considering the number of iPhone 7s in the world. They also happen to be a great sounding pair of headphones.

First off, the Pioneer Rayz have smart noise-canceling that continually adapt to the noise around you, and they don’t require a battery to run (like many noise-cancelling headsets) because they run off the lightning port. Speaking of battery, these headphones also let you charge your iPhone while you use them.

Another cool feature for these headphones is an iOS app that lets you modify your headphone sounds and smart button settings. The app includes an equalizer for changing your mids, highs and bass, plus a “HearThru” mode that lets you hear the world around you while listening, which might come in handy if you are walking on the street.

Best for iPhone Users: Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic

Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic
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Apple earbuds might conjure up the freebie pair you got with an old iPod, but this pair is more than that. Apple’s premium in-ear earbuds with remote mic are built with ​pro-quality sound and all-day comfort in mind. The design is also meant to minimize ​on the number of times you reach into your pocket, with shorthand buttons for basic controls built into the wire. With high sound quality, a durable and comfortable build, and minimalist Apple design, this pair is sure to be a hit as everyday earbuds.

Best Design: Beats by Dr. Dre - urBeats Earbud Headphones

Beats by Dr. Dre - urBeats Earbud Headphones
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The latest generation of Beats by Dre audio equipment is recognized by its stylish use of metallic hues, bringing a refined and luxurious look to listening equipment. But if you do not want clunkier headphones or don’t want to shell out that much, these earbuds are an excellent option. Available in rose, gold and silver, as well as red/black, they have a premium metal casing that cuts down on unwanted vibration. Also expect superior audio quality with an emphasis on bass, as well as a tangle-free cord that won’t get wound up in your bag. Noise isolation and a microphone for phone calls round out the features on these stylish earbuds.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best Beats headphones article.

Best for Exercise: Beartwo Wireless Earbuds

True wireless earbuds unlock a whole new world of possibilities when working out. This pair from Beartwo makes annoying chords trapped behind your back and bands behind your head a distant memory. It uses Bluetooth V4.1 to connect to your device, while a humanistic ergonomic design keeps the earbuds in your ears during even the most vigorous workout. The earbuds last for a four-hour charge, and you can keep them full on the go with a portable charging and storage dock. You can also switch between Smart Stereo Mode and Mono Mode, so you can share with a friend who forgot their pair.

Check out our other reviews of the best exercise headphones on the market today. 

Runner-Up, Best for Exercise: Bose SoundSport

Bose SoundSport
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Bose makes what is arguably the best workout earbuds on the market. Bose’s SoundSport earbuds come with three sizes of their unique ‘StayHear’ tips, designed for both comfort and stability during movement. The earbuds are also sweat-resistant, which is a major plus: When you’re paying for a quality set, you definitely want the added peace of mind knowing that ear sweat isn’t going to break them.

The sound quality of the Bose SoundSport earbuds can be described as above average and the soundstage is mildly tuned to emphasize the ranges outdoor exercisers tend to enjoy the most. Vocals are emphasized and there’s a clear mid-range, with less emphasis on bass.

The earbuds come in five different colors: charcoal, energy green, frost, neon blue and power red. Bose SoundSport earbuds also feature a clothing clip and thin cables, which means they won’t get caught and restrict your movement when you’re working out.


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