The 8 Best Wired Earbuds of 2020

Bring back the wires with these picks

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Shure SE215-CL

Shure SE215


Despite true wireless offerings from Apple and Bose, the earbud space still carries high-quality, wired earbuds. Take Shure's in-ear monitors, for instance — the SE215 has a snug fit, excellent isolation, and a pretty flat response across the spectrum. This gives great clarity, which is important for musicians looking to hear themselves on a noisy stage, but it's also ideal for those who want quality earbuds.

Some of the earbuds' standout features include its high-definition driver that produces 107dB of sound with a spectrum that covers most of the human hearing range at 22Hz-17.5kHz. You'll also get killer isolution (Shure claims you'll block about 37dB of outside noise), thanks to the various sizes of foam tips to choose from. Finally, the rugged 3.5mm aux-ended cable can detach from each bud, meaning if you happen to fray the wire, you won't have to replace the whole unit — just a cable or two. This all makes it a great earbud solution for under $100.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: 1More Dual Driver Earbuds

At just under $50, the 1More Dual Driver Earbuds still pack in a lot of features. These earbuds sport a graphite driver and a separate balanced armature driver, giving off a warm sound. This makes them great for vocal-heavy pop music, phone calls, and even podcasts. It has a frequency spectrum of 20-40,000Hz, 98dB sensitivity, and 32 ohms.

In terms of design, the tips of the earbuds are tilted inward at a 45-degree angle to better suit the listener’s ear canal. This, in combination with the eight sets of included ear tips, means you can get a remarkably good fit and a solid sound stage for your ears. The company even tapped a Grammy-winning producer to tune the spectrum of the earbuds for optimal performance. They also come with a carrying pouch and are outfitted with a rugged, tangle-resistant kevlar cable.

Best Budget: Status Audio IEM-2X

For good quality, well-priced wired earbuds, consider the IEM 2X from Status Audio. Aimed at both musicians and everyday listeners, these earbuds sport dual drivers — that’s one 9mm dynamic driver and a balanced armature driver, giving solid support to sound.

At under $30, they are still built in a premium way, with a machined aluminum casing and a substantial braided cable. The sound covers 20hz-40,000hz, and they push a whopping 102dB, making them one of the most powerful pairs of earbuds at this price point. Rounding out the fit and finish is a premium-looking, pinchable carrying pouch.

To find headphones within your budget, take a look at our article of the best earbuds under $50.

Best Value: Monoprice Triple Driver Earbuds

The headphones from Monoprice provide great value, and their Triple Driver Earbuds are particularly good buys. These buds feature three separate drivers, including one big 10mm driver, pumping out 115 dB of pressure, while most other budget earbuds can only manage around 98 dB. They also cover 20-40,000Hz, meaning these earbuds can produce everything a human ear can naturally hear.

What’s great about the multi-driver setup is that each one is tuned to its own part of that spectrum, meaning each driver can handle its share of the load more effectively. Plus, for around $50 with a decent premium build, you'll feel like you're getting a lot more for your money.

Best for Workouts: Avantree E171

Whether you’re looking for backup earbuds to toss in your gym bag or prefer plugging your headphones on a run, the Avantree E171 is ideal for a few reasons. First, they use a wraparound design that folds over the top of your ears that, when combined with the four different sizes of ear tips, ensures a solid fit. This is key when working out as it’ll be much harder to push them out of your ears.

They're sweat-proof as well, though it’s important to note that Avantree hasn't provided an IP rating. The inline remote features a few buttons and even supports multi-click functions to control your iPhone. On the microphone side, there’s also a shirt clip to make sure the wire doesn’t get tangled. Plus, the wire is almost five feet long and the 3.5mm jack is gold plated.

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best workout headphones.

Best for Musicians: RHA T20i

RHA focuses mainly on in-ear monitors for musicians, and its T20i headphones stand out for its massive frequency range: 16-40,000Hz. This is much wider than other premium, multi-driver earbuds and is pretty impressive considering how small the drivers are. The earbuds are loaded with the brand's proprietary DualCoil drivers, with two independent voice coils that carry their own side of the spectrum. This allows for what RHA calls high-res audio and should give you plenty of performance across everything you’ll need to hear.

The earbuds are constructed of molded stainless steel, and the cable is a reinforced, oxygen-free copper material to ensure longer life. There are a few different fits and materials of ear tip, and there’s even a flexible over-ear wing to ensure they stay in place (great for moments on stage or on the go).

Check out our article on the best headphones for DJs.

Best for Everyday: Sennheiser Momentum

The wired versions of the Sennheiser Momentum present a nice option for those wanting to invest in sound quality, but don’t want to spend as much on musician-specific headphones. They’re designed to look and feel premium, with design options of black chrome and a stitched red style. The specs are also top-notch with 15-22,000Hz on the frequency front, 18 ohms of impedance, 118dB of power, and less than 0.5 percent harmonic distortion.

The 1.3m cable is rubber, not braided, but it's slightly flattened to help deter tangling. Another great feature is the durable, tiny plastic loop against each earbud housing that pulls the cable away from any contact point. This means that if you tug on the cable too hard, it won’t snap out of the earbud. The carrying case also feels premium — a great addition to your everyday bag.

Best Sound Quality: Beats urBeats3

The Beats urBeats 3 earns top marks for sound quality — its small physical driver has a couple of ports to help project bass around your ear rather than into it. Combine this with an acoustically resonant housing and you have a tuned sound response that doesn’t rely on multiple drivers, as well as an innovative approach to sound.

The sleek microphone/remote is compatible with your iPhone, including the ability to use Siri voice assistance, and the flat, tangle-resistant cables and magnetic earbud backs make it easy to store. Plus, they’re small and sleek, with color options of black or black and red. You can also opt for a Lightning connector with these, which makes a handful of other colors available. All in all, these are a simple, all-around pair of headphones that are great for most applications.

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best earbuds.

Our Process 

Our writers spent 3 hours researching the most popular wired earbuds on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 25 different wired earbuds overall, screened options from 15 different brands and manufacturers, read over 30 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 6 of the earbuds themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.

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