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Best Overall: TaoTronics TT-BH07 at Amazon
"If you didn’t know better, you might guess that these neckband-style earphones cost around $100."
Best Budget: Panasonic RP-HJE120 ErgoFit Earphones at Amazon
"Its large 9mm neodynamic drivers deliver loud sound."
Best Wireless: TOZO T10 at Amazon
"They house large 8mm speaker drivers to deliver loud and clear audio with powerful bass."
Best for Exercise: Bose SoundSport at Amazon
"They're sweat-proof and weather-resistant, so they will keep up with even your toughest workouts."
Best for Work: Mpow Upgraded A7 at Amazon
"Your calls will be crystal clear thanks to its CVC 6.0 noise-canceling microphone."
Best Battery Life: TaoTronics TT-BH052 at Amazon
"The 3350mAh charging case can recharge the earbuds up to 40 times."
Best for Apple: Apple EarPods at Amazon
"Apple has poured all its design expertise into these headphones and they are built to fit the geometric shape of the ear."
Courtesy of Amazon
If you didn’t know better, you might guess that these neckband-style TaoTronic earphones cost around $100 rather than lingering in the sub-$30 price range. They tout features and technologies that are well beyond their means, such as solid aptX Bluetooth connection, cVc 8.0 noise reduction, and an IPX6 waterproof rating.
Off the bat, their design is simple yet sleek, with ear caps and wings that sit securely in your ear. (If the ear wings are too much, you can easily remove them.) The earbuds are magnetic, so you can conveniently pin them together around your neck when not in use. The one hint you might get that these are a budget pair is from the plastic inline remote, which feels slightly flimsy though is fully functional.
The sound is solid given its pricing and the Bluetooth connection is surprisingly good: the aptX chipset streams music at a higher data rate for superior sound.
You’ll get about nine hours of playtime, which should last most people a full day, and its cVc 8.0 technology ensures that the person on the other end of your call can hear your voice clearly, no matter how noisy your environment is.
To be honest, there’s not much tech you can buy for under $10 today, let alone earphones that deliver solid sound.
As you might expect, this budget pair is fairly no-frills. They have soft ErgoFit ear tips that conform to your ears; three sizes are included so you can find the perfect fit. As far as sound goes, the earphones pack large 9mm neodynamic drivers to deliver loud sound and they have a frequency response rate of 5 – 24,000 Hz, meaning they are capable of producing a wider-than-average range of sound. They also come in 16 different colors so you can stand out in the sea of white and black cords. What you’ll miss in a budget pair like this is an inline microphone or remote, but if you can live without that, these will serve you well.
Wireless earphones are great, but true wireless takes freedom to the next level with no wires whatsoever. The TOZO T10 are ergonomically designed to fit your ears comfortably and, most importantly, securely, so you won’t be constantly fidgeting with them. While some advanced wireless headphones have automatic pairing, this pair does require a little setup, but with just a few taps on your smartphone, you’ll be connected. They house large 8mm speaker drivers to deliver loud and clear audio with powerful bass.
The TOZO T10 are rated IPX8 for waterproofness, meaning you can swim to one-meter depths for up to 30 minutes. That also means they will stand up to intense gym sessions with no sweat and you can even wash the earphones and base without worry. The earbuds will last you about 3.5 hours of playtime per charge, but charge up quickly again in the compact wireless charging case.
Bose has become such a respected brand in audio that it’s incredible you can buy a pair of its headphones for under $50. These SoundSport in-ear headphones come with three sizes of Bose’s proprietary StayHear ear tips that conform to your ear for a secure and comfortable fit. The cord also has an inline microphone and remote to make it easy to shuffle between songs, adjust volume and take calls.
For the athletes among us, these earphones are sweat-proof and weather-resistant so that they will keep up with even your toughest workouts. Note that these Bose SoundSports don’t have active noise-canceling technology, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find that in a budget pair. Not to mention, if you’re running or biking on busy streets, it’s safer to let in ambient noise so that you stay aware of your surroundings. Got an extra $150 floating around? You can upgrade to the newer SoundSport model that’s truly wireless for cord-free exercise.
“Can you hear me now” is cute on a commercial, but not on a conference call. If your job requires you to be on the phone all day, you’ll need a pair of headphones that deliver crystal clear audio. These Mpow Upgraded A7 neckband-style earbuds feature advanced 5.0 Bluetooth technology to ensure a stable connection with your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Conveniently, you can pair with two devices at a time and the neckband vibrates when you have an incoming call so you never miss a call. And when you answer, that call will be crystal clear thanks to its CVC 6.0 noise-canceling microphone. Note that CVC technology is not the same as active noise-canceling technology, which will eliminate noise while you’re listening to music; rather, CVC 6.0 hones in on your voice and reduces surrounding sounds so the person on the other end of the line will hear your voice clearly, no matter if you’re on a loud street or chatty office.
True wireless headphones have revolutionized how we interact with audio, but the biggest drawback is limited battery life. Most wireless earbuds can power you through three to four hours, but that isn’t always enough if you’re, say, running a marathon or taking a trans-Atlantic flight. These TaoTronic earphones are par for the course in that respect, delivering about three hours of playtime on a single charge. Where they really impress us, though, is with the 3350mAh charging case that can recharge the earbuds up to 40 times to give you almost a full week of playtime and even double as a power bank.
Beyond the battery, pairing couldn’t be easier: when you remove the earbuds from the case, they automatically pair with your last device. Bluetooth 5.0 technology gives them a stable connection so you can travel up to 30 feet away before losing signal. Touch controls can be customized so you can answer calls, adjust the volume or skip songs with several short or long taps.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Apple’s EarPods have become iconic. While Apple’s wireless AirPods are the newer release, they cost a pretty penny; the wired alternative is more affordable and perfectly adequate. There are two versions available: a 3.5mm headphone connector and a Lightning connector for newer models with no headphone jack. Other than that, they earphones are virtually identical.
The shape of the earphones are unique and they don’t come with silicone ear tips that can be swapped out for different sizes. So what you see is what you get and they may not fit everyone’s ear comfortably. Still, Apple has poured all its design expertise into these headphones and they are built to fit the geometric shape of the ear, so you may find them surprisingly comfortable. The remote control sits on the cord just below your chin and you can skip songs, adjust the volume and answer calls with just a pinch.