The 9 Best Wired Earbuds of 2023

Stay plugged in with the best buds you can buy

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If you want high-end sound and portability, turn to wired earbuds. This category is often referred to as “In-Ear Monitors” or IEMs for short because a lot of the first-rate earbuds emulate the sound found in musician-grade monitors for stage performance. These are the fancy headsets you see your favorite artists wearing so they can hear themselves.

Final Verdict

If you want a nice balance between price and feature set, go for Etymotic’s 2XR. Or, if you’re strapped for cash, the 1More wired earbuds from Amazon are also great.

Whether you want high-end sound for your earbuds or a backup pair to toss into your bag for flights, here are the best-wired earbuds, including budget-friendly to high-end options.

in this article

Best Overall

Etymotic Research ER2XR In-Ear Earphones

 Etymotic Research ER2XR Extended Response High Performance In-Ear Earphones


What We Like
  • Solid bass response

  • Excellent fit

  • Detachable cable

What We Don't Like
  • No extra bells and whistles

  • Not the lowest profile in your ears

Etymotic Research is a brand that makes solid IEMs and highly effective earplugs. These strengths make the 2XR a solid choice for most people for a few reasons. First of all, the three-layer, traffic-cone-style ear tip fits comfortably in most ears while also providing the level of isolation that you’d expect from a brand with an earplug pedigree. Etymotic claims they reduce up to 35dB of external sound.

The 2XR is the extended model, which means there’s added support for sound deep in the bass part of the spectrum. The ultra-thin, metallic blue enclosure of each earbud detaches from the included 4-foot cable, making the headphones supremely repairable. If a cable frays, buy a new one, rather than replace the whole set of earbuds. Overall, the 2XR provides stellar sound quality, comfort, and durability for a reasonable price.

Detachable cable: Yes | Cable length: 4 feet | Frequency response: 20Hz to 16kHz | Accessories: Extra ear tips and filters, zippered storage pouch, detachable cable, shirt clip

Runner-Up, Best Overall

Sennheiser CX 300S

 Sennheiser CX 300S In Ear Headphone with One-Button Smart Remote


What We Like
  • Simple, classic design

  • Balanced sound with a bit of extra bass

  • Affordable price point

What We Don't Like
  • Nothing flashy in the sound department

  • No detachable cable

  • The design could be boring to some

As far as well-known audio brands go, Sennheiser is in the top handful. The CX 300S wired earbuds are a top pick because they provide a ton of value for the average listener without having to empty your bank account. The headphones look and feel familiar, with a traditional "bullet-style" design and a low profile fit in your ears. This design is great for a subtle look but might be a problem for people who need a little more snugness in the fit.

The sound tuning is balanced and musical, with a little extra oomph in the bass. These earbuds don't deliver nuanced high-end frequency ranges but will sound great for most styles of music. You can pick up the CX 300S in a few different colors, and because it's Sennheiser, it'll last you a while if you take care of it.

Detachable cable: No | Cable length: 4 feet | Frequency response: 100Hz to 10kHz | Accessories: Extra ear tips, carrying pouch

Best for Bass

Sony MDRXB55AP Earbud Headphones

 Sony MDRXB55AP Extra Bass Earbud Headphones/Headset with Mic


What We Like
  • Next-level bass response

  • Inline microphone for phone calls

  • Colorful options

What We Don't Like
  • Design feels a little dated

  • No detachable cables

  • Sound can be muddy for some mixes

Sony has a strong presence in the truly wireless earbud and professional over-ear headphone spaces. However, there’s still some solid punch with the Sony MDRXB55AP. These classically designed in-ear buds feature a 12-millimeter neodymium driver with a powered bass port to provide a positively stunning amount of bass, a category that’s traditionally lacking in IEMs.

While the design is classic, it doesn’t allow for detachable cables, and the heavy bass response of the earbuds might not be suitable for all types of music, particularly more delicate mixes. The earbuds are available in multiple colors ranging from classic black to bold, fire-engine red, and they come with a decent carrying pouch and multiple ear tips.

Detachable cable: No | Cable length: 4 feet | Frequency response: 4Hz to 24kHz | Accessories: Extra ear tips, carrying pouch

Best Value

Linsoul Tin HiFi T2

 LINSOUL TIN Audio T2 HiFi 2DD Double Dynamic Drive in Ear Earphone Bass DJ Metal Headphones


What We Like
  • Rich, dual-driver sound

  • Excellent metal build

  • Detachable cables

What We Don't Like
  • Design can be odd for some

  • Sound is somewhat bass-heavy

In the wired earbud space, Tin HiFi is a bit of a cult classic, and the T2 is an excellent example of the value the brand's headphones can provide. Designed in the classic red/blue color scheme with shiny, reflective metal shells, these earbuds look and feel tremendous. The dual-driver design means that the 10-millimeter woofer allows for plenty of bass support, while the 6-millimeter tweeter picks up in the higher end of the spectrum—delivering well-balanced sound.

Tin HiFi provides a high-end, silver-plated, braided cable in the box that transmits sound beautifully and detaches from the earbuds so you can replace it if it fails over time. The design may not be for everyone, and the sound can be a tad bass-heavy for earbuds, but the price is budget-friendly and right for what you get. These headphones earn a solid place on our list for value alone.

Detachable cable: Yes | Cable length: 4 feet | Frequency response: 12Hz to 40kHz | Accessories: Extra ear tips, detachable braided cable

Best Design

Moondrop Starfield Carbon

 Moondrop Starfield Carbon Nanotube Diaphragm Dynamic Earphone Without Mic


What We Like
  • Stunning design

  • Natural, balanced sound

  • Detachable cable

What We Don't Like
  • Design is not subtle

  • Not a ton of bass response

  • Bulky enclosure

On looks alone, the Moondrop Starfield wired earbuds speak volumes for quality. Painted with a unique deep blue featuring shimmering accents that are not dissimilar to a high-end automotive paint job, the Starfield looks outstanding from enclosure to cable. That cable brings the beautiful dusky blue color scheme all the way to the headphone jack, which is a nice touch.

It’s not all looks, though. A uniquely designed 10-millimeter speaker on the inside uses rigid materials to provide tremendous focus to your audio. This configuration means the headphones will sound great from top to bottom, without a ton of accentuation on any particular part of the sound spectrum. However, the loud design and flat, natural sound isn’t for those who want a subtle look and a Top 40-friendly, bass-heavy mix. But for those who want a beautiful-looking (and sounding) pair of earbuds, look no further.

Detachable cable: Yes | Cable length: 4 feet | Frequency response: 10Hz to 36kHz | Accessories: Extra ear tips, detachable braided cable, carrying case

Runner-Up, Best Design

Final A4000 In-Ear Wired Earphones

 final A4000 in-Ear Wired Noise Isolating High Precision Clear and Transparent Sound Earphones


What We Like
  • Sleek design

  • Balanced audio

  • Detachable cable

What We Don't Like
  • A little pricey

  • Lacks power, particularly in the low end

Final Audio is another headphone brand that caters to audio enthusiasts, but don’t let that deter you from considering the A4000. With a rigid, futuristic, polygonal design, the A4000 looks slick. The matte blue finish gives the headphones just enough personality in the color scheme without pushing too far out of the professional sphere.

The precision-designed dynamic driver and the chambered enclosures provide a natural, balanced, and truly musical sound. These headphones won’t feel as loud or powerful as others on the list, but that may be okay depending on your music taste. There’s a detachable cable in the box for extra repairability and several ear tip options so you can find your perfect fit.

Detachable cable: Yes | Cable length: 4 feet | Frequency response: Unspecified | Accessories: Extra ear tips and filters, detachable cable, over-ear attachments, premium silicone carrying case

Best Budget

1MORE Piston Fit In-Ear Earphones

 1MORE Piston Fit in-Ear Earphones Fashion Durable Headphones


What We Like
  • Very affordable

  • Solid sound for the price

  • Multiple color options

What We Don't Like
  • No detachable cable

  • Sound lacks detail

  • Not the best build quality

1More is an earbud brand that gets its name because it brought multi-driver earbuds into the budget space. The idea here is that multiple physical speakers inside a headphone will allow each one to focus on one part of the spectrum—like the bass or the treble, for instance—and portray it much more effectively.

The entry-level Piston Fit earbuds feature a dual-layered composite driver to deliver stark highs and powerful lows without breaking the bank. The angled ear tip design positions the driver directly toward your eardrum so you hear a balanced sound stage, all while maintaining a comfortable fit. You can pick up the Piston Fit in a few colors, and each one comes with an inline remote for phone calls.

Detachable cable: No | Cable length: 4 feet | Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz | Accessories: Extra ear tips

Best for Musicians

Shure SE425-CL Sound Isolating Earphone

 Shure SE425-CL Professional Sound Isolating Earphones


What We Like
  • Excellent, balanced sound

  • Clear, classic design

  • Solid fit and comfort

What We Don't Like
  • A tad pricey

  • Sound might not be full enough for some

  • Design is a little industrial

An entire segment of the IEM space develops highly tuned headphones meant for stage musicians and professional producers. Perhaps one of the best-known names in this particular space is Shure, and the SE425 is a leading example of wired earbuds meant for music monitoring.

Featuring a genuinely balanced feel across the spectrum—so a musician hears precisely how a mix sounds without any coloration—and a comfortable over-the-ear design, these earbuds were made for the stage. With that comes some drawbacks for the average listener, though. You might find the bass and fullness lacking if you’re listening to typical Top 40 music. And the clear design might seem a little industrial and boring to some. Overall, if you’re into pro audio, the SE425 is a great place to start.

Detachable cable: Yes | Cable length: 5.3 feet | Frequency response: 20Hz to 19kHz | Accessories: Extra ear tips and filters, detachable cables, carrying case, 3.5 to 6.3mm adapter

Best High-End

Campfire Audio Holocene In-Ear Earbuds

 Campfire Audio Holocene in Ear Monitor


What We Like
  • Rich, powerful, triple-driver sound

  • Durable machined aluminum build

  • Premium accessories package

What We Don't Like
  • Astronomically expensive

  • Big, loud design

  • Bulky enclosure

If you’re unphased by the Campfire Audio Holocene's price tag, this pair of earbuds might be for you. Campfire Audio is the pinnacle for audio enthusiast-grade IEMs, and the spec sheet shows it. Three drivers sit in each enclosure; two Balanced armature drivers provide tremendous detail and nuance across the mid and high end of the spectrum, and a 10-millimeter dynamic driver provides tons of bass.

The machined aluminum body with an anodized finish offers two things: It gives the headphones next-level durability and provides a truly unique look and feel. The package also comes with an upgraded silver-plated cable for truly premium audio transmission. These features come with an astronomical price point, which could be worth it for the right listener.

Detachable cable: Yes | Cable length: 4 feet | Frequency response: 5Hz to 20kHz | Accessories: Extra ear tips and filters, detachable cable, carrying case, cleaning tool

Final Verdict

Many earbuds, like our top pick the Etymotic 2XR (view on Amazon), deliver tons of value in their sound quality and design but aren’t exactly affordable. The Sennheiser CX 300S (view on Amazon)—our runner-up pick—on the other hand, delivers industry-leading audio tuning without the price tag.

What to Look for in Wired Earbuds

Audio Quality and Response

You want your earbuds to sound good, but that can mean many different things. Look for earbuds that advertise "bass boost" if you want powerful, pop-friendly audio. Look for earbuds that characterize themselves as "natural" or "balanced" if you want an even sound across your music.

Design and Comfort

While some lower-profile earbuds work fine for those who want subtle, everyday headphones, a bigger, bolder design might fit your bill better. Similarly, the size of an earbud’s enclosure significantly affects how it will feel in your ear. While most earbuds offer multiple sizes of ear tips, consider the shape of the enclosure itself and how that might work in your ear.

Accessories Package

Most wired earbuds provide a small selection of ear tip sizes so you can find the right fit for your ears. Premium offerings will opt to include different types of ear tips (silicone, memory foam, etc.). The extra-premium packages provide detachable cables so you can upgrade and replace your cable when/if it fails.

  • Can you still use wired headphones on smartphones?

    One of the most important considerations when shopping for wired headphones is whether or not the device you want to use them with has a headphone jack. Most modern iPhones have done away with this wired port, forcing you to use an adapter dongle. However, even many larger devices like tablets and some laptops have stripped away the 3.5mm input. It’s best to check your specific device before investing.

  • What is an in-ear monitor?

    You may see the terms “wired earbud” and “in-ear monitor” used interchangeably. These devices can be the same thing in many ways, but it’s important to remember that most headphones that bill themselves as “in-ear monitors” tend to deliver a balanced, natural sound—not a bass-forward sound. However, this isn’t always the case, so be sure to read the spec sheet.

  • Do wired earbuds have better sound quality?

    The consumer audio industry has gone heavily in favor of Bluetooth earbuds. The convenience of wireless headphones is hard to deny, but Bluetooth technology creates some unwanted artifacts in your sound, ultimately resulting in lower-resolution, less natural sound. On the other hand, wired headphones simply transmit the audio file from your source device without altering it in any meaningful way. You can also use wired headphones with traditional headphone amps for even more sound-quality benefits.

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