The 11 Best Earbuds to Buy in 2018

Shop for the best budget, exercise, and sound quality earbuds

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones

1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones
Courtesy of Amazon.com
4.4

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' 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.

Best Value: TaoTronics Active Noise Canceling Headphones

TaoTronics TT-EP01 Active Noise Canceling Headphones
Courtesy of Amazon.com
5

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 as higher-end models.

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

Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic
Courtesy of Walmart.com
4.3

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
Courtesy of BestBuy.com
4.7

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.

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

Best Noise-Canceling: Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Canceling

Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The Bose QC20 are hands down the best noise cancelation in-canal earphones on the market, giving over-ear noise canceling 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. 

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-canceling 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.

Runner-Up, Best for Exercise: Bose SoundSport

Bose SoundSport
Courtesy of Amazon.com

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.

Best Wireless: Jaybird X3 In-Ear Bluetooth Headphones

If you’ve done some research, you’ve likely seen the Jaybird X3 featured on multiple sites — and for good reason. The X3 has every quality you’d want in a good pair of wireless headphones: balanced sound with a strong bass, comfortable fit, long-lasting battery and durability. Starting with audio quality, these earbuds feature 5.8mm drivers, packing a robust sound and frequency response ranging from 20Hz to 20kHz. You can even customize your listening experience with the Jaybird MySound app, allowing you to adjust the audio specifications to your own preferences. The buds themselves are lightweight silicone fins (three interchangeable sizes are included) designed to fit securely in your ears. The X3 also benefits from a long-lasting battery life — 8 hours — and a sweat-proof, weather-resistant build making it ideal for outdoor workouts.

Best Battery Life: Audio Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint In-Ear Earbuds

The strongest selling point of these earbuds is perhaps the ratio of quality to price. They boast 90-percent noise-canceling ability — a notable achievement given the numbers posted by other wired headphones on the market. Even if they don’t block out all ambient sound, the noise level is still low enough that it’s not distracting while keeping you aware of your surroundings. The audio quality is crystal clear, well-balanced and offers nice bass. As for design, the earpieces feel almost weightless in your ears — even after hours of use. This particular Audio-Technica model uses AAA batteries, which some might see as an inconvenience. However, considering the battery lasts for an incredible 60 hours of playtime, it’s not a huge issue in our book.

Best Splurge: Shure SE535 Sound Isolating In-Ear Stereo Headphones

If you have the money and are prepared to spend it, then invest in Shure SE535 Sound Isolating In-Ear Stereo Headphones. The brand carries a highly respected reputation when it comes to audio quality — no other company compares. The SE535 delivers high-definition sound and a powerful bass that’s unmatched. The secret? The earphones contain one tweeter and two subwoofers in each bud, creating a bold, rounded sound that other products can’t deliver. It also features noise-canceling capabilities, blocking out up to 37 dB of background noise.

As for physical specifications, the Shure is lightweight, comfortable, and its over-the-ear design eliminates the hassle of tangled wires. It’s also detachable, so you can pair the earpieces with other cables, or go wireless with the Shure’s Bluetooth-enabled attachment, which is sold separately.

Tested by

How We Tested

Our reviewers spent 70 hours testing four top-rated pairs of earbuds. They popped them in and listened to their favorite tunes everywhere from city streets to the comfort of their own homes. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these earbuds — including comfort, durability, and sound quality — and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a Pair of Earbuds

Noise canceling - The noise-canceling feature doesn’t have to be left to over-the-ear headphones. Many earbuds also include this feature, which cancels out all extraneous noise. Be careful, though: If you’re using the earbuds primarily for working out, you’ll want to ensure a little outside noise sneaks in for your safety.

Sound quality - When it comes to sound quality, look at the drivers. Generally, earphone drivers measure between 8mm and 15mm and it’s thought that the larger the driver, the louder the sound it’s capable of producing. However, that also depends on how close the driver sits to your eardrum, which is why earphones can have smaller drivers.

Comfort - The most common complaint we hear about earbuds is that they don’t fit in listeners’ ears properly. And let’s be real: There’s nothing more annoying than constantly fiddling with them to find the right fit. While size and shape is really a matter of preference, most earbuds come with a slew of tips and wings so you can customize your comfort.

Test Results: 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones (Best Overall)

4.4

What We Like

  • Excellent sound quality

  • Many fit options

  • Durable

What We Don't Like

  • Don’t block out outside noise very well

  • Volume button issues

1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones
1MORE In-Ear Headphones
1MORE Triple Driver Headphones
1MORE Headphones

The sounds quality of these earbuds scored high marks with our testers. “They have a really crisp, clean, sound,” one reviewer explained. “I'm almost surprised by the nuance it adds to my listening experience.” Our testers also appreciated the variety of ear tips that were included to ensure they found their perfect fit. One thing our reviewers weren’t as psyched about, though, was the fact they didn’t block outside noise as well as other earbuds. One tester also had an issue with the volume buttons not working when she used the earbuds with her phone.

Test Results: TaoTronics Active Noise Canceling Headphones (Best Value)

5

What We Like

  • Above-average sound quality

  • Very comfortable fit

  • Excellent noise-canceling ability

  • Long battery life

What We Don’t Like

  • No carrying case included

Earbuds land all over the map when it comes to fit, so it’s reassuring to hear one tester describe this pair as “super comfortable.” She used them every day over multiple weeks and never had any issues. What makes them so easy to wear? According to our testers, the ability to customize your fit is the game-changer — the earbuds are adjustable and also include hooks. In addition to superb comfort, these earbuds get top marks where it matters most: sound quality. “Compared to other earbuds I've had in the past,” one tester said, “the sound quality is much better. And the fact that they fit comfortably in my ears is a plus!” Our reviewers also confirmed that the battery life held true to the promised 15 hours.

Test Results: Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic (Best for iPhone Users)

Apple In-Ear Headphones with Remote and Mic
Courtesy of Walmart.com
4.3

What We Like

  • Mic and volume control are built into cord

  • Great fit

What We Don’t Like

  • Sound quality can vary if you get too active

Our testers loved that these earbuds were both stylish and comfortable. According to one reviewer, “They fit perfectly. I can barely feel them, which is really good for long-term use.” Unfortunately, this pair may not be the perfect pick for your workout needs, with one of our testers noting that he heard some static when he moved around too much. Stick to the streets and the office and these earbuds should work well for you.

Test Results: Beats by Dr. Dre - urBeats Earbud Headphones (Best Design)

Beats by Dr. Dre - urBeats Earbud Headphones
Courtesy of BestBuy.com
4.7

What We Like

  • Amazing sound quality

  • Effective noise-canceling ability

  • Very easy to use

What We Don’t Like

  • Fit varied from tester to tester

Setting up these headphones is easy — even for earbud novices. According to one reviewer, users just need to “pick the right size ear tips, plug in, and play!” He also added, “For iPhones, you do need the adapter that likely came with your phone, as this pair uses the traditional round plug.” These earbuds also had excellent sound quality. “The sound is very clear at any volume,” one tester said, “whether you're listening to a podcast or music with a heavy bass. The noise-canceling effect is also solid. They can handle pretty much anything you throw at them.”