Whilst in-ear headphone models aren't generally considered as good as over-ear or around ear sets, there is a number on the market which provide impressive audio. Join us today as we take a glance at the 10 best sound quality earbud headphones in 2021.
Despite their driver size and diaphragm diameter limitations, we are finding an increasing number of products on the market that are capable of pumping your playlists directly to you in a portable compact package.
Table of Contents
- View The Best Sound Quality Earbuds Below
- 1. Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass Earbud
- 2. Jabra Elite 65t Alexa
- 3. Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbud
- 4. Bose SoundSport Wireless
- 5. Samsung Gear IconX (2018 Edition)
- 6. Mpow Flame Bluetooth Headphones
- 7. Betron BS10 Earphones Headphones
- 8. Apple AirPods
- 9. Bose SoundSport Free Truly
- 10. ENACFIRE E18 Wireless Earbuds
- Sound Quality Earbuds Buyers Guide
Of course the audio quality is typically better with higher-end models but we have done our best to rustle up a few worthy candidates that won't break the bank.
View The Best Sound Quality Earbuds Below
Staying Comfortable -Comfort is especially important with in-ear earbuds. If you're not sure what shape will work best for your ear type, try to find a pair that comes with multiple sizes of ear tips so that you have ample flexibility. Take special consideration to an in-ear set of headphones you plan on working out with. These earbuds should be comfortable but also sturdy enough to stay put while you're moving around.
1. Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass Earbud
We are opening with a great set from Sonys Extra Bass headphone series which has raised a few eyebrows since it cropped up on the market.
They are a lightweight wired option, the wires are designed to be tangle-free for convenience as well as durability.
They feature large 12mm drivers which deliver distortion-free bass, with far more presence and detailed dynamics within the mix than many of their competitors.
They utilize ergonomically designed, hybrid silicone tips which nestle inside your ear canal. They have a snug but comfortable fit to help them stay in stay put allowing for freedom of movement.
They are decked out with an integrated microphone which is controlled with the touch of a button.
+ Great bass.
+ Large drivers.
+ Hybrid silicone tips.
Why We Liked It - They produce powerful sound with a great mix and are very conservatively priced for a pair with such merit-worthy audio.
2. Jabra Elite 65t Alexa
Next we have a fantastic true wireless Alexa compatible option, which have hard-working slightly larger than average divers, the additional surface area allows for surprisingly better audio production despite seeming fairly nominal.
They feature comfortable ergonomic tips which sit in the ear and stay correctly in place, allowing their wearers to roam.
They are constructed durably from great components. They boast top-engineering with their onboard Bluetooth and integrated microphone which is second to none when it comes to calling handling. The signals are kept incredibly clear and the vocals are very detailed.
They can also function via a customization iOS App which allows the listener to shape and store music profiles and keep track of charging needs. The storage case provides 15 hours of streaming use.
+ Large fine-tuned drivers.
+ Great bass.
+ Charge as you go
Why We Liked It - The vocal clarity is pretty impressive they have been finely tuned in the early engineering phases, when used in conjunction with the proprietary app they provide some of the best hands free equalization going.
3. Panasonic ErgoFit In-Ear Earbud
We have taken good look at the ErgoFit models from Panasonic in the past they are another noteworthy example of an affordable earbud that serves up superior audio in its class and price range.
They are wired with a 3.6 ft durable cable. The tips themselves come in 3 different sizes, each slimline in design, to sit within the ear comfortably. They are fashioned from a premium ultra-soft foam which you squish upon insertion, it then re-expands to provide a snug fit.
The drivers employ neodymium magnets, the cones measure just 9mm (a typical ear-bud size) but they are very high performance. They work very effectively producing dynamically balanced audio with impressive power. The high-end frequencies are beautifully bright adding great definition and the are overall very well-balanced.
+ Comfort foam tips.
+ High-performance drivers.
+ Bright trebles.
Why We Liked It - They serve up audio with great depth, they appear very well made and the comfort tips are impressive.
Earbud Type - Keep in mind that earbuds can be specialized based on the user. Some earbuds, for example, have a boosted low end designed to appeal to music lovers who appreciate lots of bass. For a crystal clear view, check each earbuds frequency response before purchasing so you know exactly what's being enhanced or taken away.
4. Bose SoundSport Wireless
Next up an awesome wireless workout earbud option, which are currently dominating the industry, providing high quality audio.
They feature Bose Engineering's proprietary 'StayHere' tips which are ergonomically designed with a flexi-fin. Wearers turn as they place them within the ear and they lock in place within the auricle of the ear. This means your workouts can be as rigorous as you fancy.
They are well-crafted and feature premium components, the drivers outperform the majority of their class and the level of audio quality blows essentially all of the competition out of the water.
Their internal electrical components are sealed to help keep them sweat resistant and protect the outdoor elements, they carry a high IPX certification.
The buds are linked with a cord which they can dangle freely about the neck from for convenience between listening when out and about.
They have an integrated microphone and are bestowed with the industries leading ANC technology operated via inline controls.
The noise cancellation provides pristine lines for voice calls and reduces outside decibels as well, though it is a little demanding of the lithium-ion batteries as this set only provide 6 hours of listening which is less than many others manage.
+ StayHere tips.
+ Premium parts.
+ Expert engineering.
+ IPX certified.
+ Excellent audio
Why We Liked It - They are a critically acclaimed pair of earbuds, the audio is second to none.
5. Samsung Gear IconX (2018 Edition)
Our fifth find is this exceptionally made compact earbud set from Samsung which are high-quality inside and out.
Like the Bose pair above these too are marketed as a sports model and have an earbud design aimed to help keep them in place during motion. It incorporates a semicircular wing tip which tucks inside your auricle, it is ergonomically formed from a soft silicone composite and Samsung provide a range of wing options and tip sizes too.
The drivers are very accurate and perform well, providing powerful stereo sound with fab dynamics and crisp definition. They are controlled by utilizing intuitive sensors that users can operate via tapping and swiping combinations. They are donned with a great-quality microphone too, which can also serve as a remote voice activated control of operations.
The Bluetooth is up-to-date and their storage case doubles as a portable recharging dock which provides an hour of playback for every ten minutes on a charge. It also harbors 4Gb of storage for audio files and can transfer wirelessly or via USB.
Impressively, the IconX model is also capable of keeping track how many calories you have burnt as well as the time, pace, and distance traveled during a run with their built-in activity tracker. They can also connect to Gear Wireless app-assistance for additional conveniences.
+ On-board storage (4Gb).
+ Intuitive controls.
+ Quick recharging.
+ Activity tracker.
+ App assistance.
Why We Liked It - They are packed with bells and whistles and as sports models go they are very aptly suited but the on-board audio secures them a place in our top ten for best quality audio in an earbud.
6. Mpow Flame Bluetooth Headphones
A firm favorite in the lower-price regions for the team here is this set by Mpow which are a very well built set of quality headphones. They feature sturdy but flexible over-ear hooks to support their ergonomic earbuds and allow for use whilst running or jogging.
Each earbud is linked together via a short cord which sits loosely at the back of your neck. When you remove the earbuds momentarily for whatever reason they are then free to hang around your neck. They hold a high IPX certification which means that sweat shouldn't be a problem and neither will the rain.
They seem to secure themselves a place in a number of our articles and this is undoubtedly due to their optimized low-end handling.
The bass has been fine-tuned during the engineering process to respond far more authentically in the low-frequency regions. This gives a more accurate bass response and allows for richer bass texture within the mix.
They have integrated hands-free operation and active noise cancellation, they pair effortlessly and provide stable wireless from a distance of up to 33 feet. The battery capably handles approximately eight hours of use.
+ Over ear supports for sports.
+ IPX 7 waterproofing.
+ Rich bass.
Why We Liked It - The bass has awesome definition and they are very well made.
7. Betron BS10 Earphones Headphones
Now for another wired set which go the extra mile for the sake of durability and sound quality. Their stylish industry inspired design allows for far larger diaphragm inclusion, they have very sensitive large 12mm drivers which produce audio directed to your ear via the ear tips.
The driver is tailored with a bias towards the bass and mid-range frequencies, though they have a broad frequency response.
The earbud bodies constructed from metal and the wires are double twisted and completely covered to prevent tangling. They have reinforced connections to help strengthen the parts of the cord which are subjected heavily to a lot of strain during use. The mini-jack is gold plated for better signal fidelity.
They are ultra lightweight, robustly built and come with a choice of silicon tip sizes.
+ Amazing audio in a cheap set.
+ Robust wired set.
+ Large drivers.
Why We Liked It - We like a lot of the Betron range, they are designed with audio quality at the center of concept, this is a prime example of what they manage to provide for very little investment, the premium end is simply astounding.
8. Apple AirPods
Next we have something a little more exclusive on our list, a set of Apple AirPods. They are a high end brand named true wireless option.
In typically true wireless style they hold a few spare charges in their all-important storage case-come-charging dock. With its stored energy, it enables the buds to be used for over 24 hours at a time. The case is pocket-sized, ruggedly built and is also donned with a lightning connector to give your mobile devices a juice-boost when necessary.
They feature dual beam-forming microphones, dual optical sensors, and a speed and motion detecting accelerometer.
They are uniquely compatible with Apple devices, providing instant pairing and intelligent design.
+ Easy use
+ Spare charges.
+ Quick charge function.
+ Intelligent design.
Why We Liked It - They are a previous model so you can save yourself a few bucks.
9. Bose SoundSport Free Truly
We are enamored with Boses SoundSport series and have had a good look at a number of headphones in their amazing range, like the wireless model that has stolen a spot at number 4 today.
The Free Truly set are their new true wireless model which still feature some of their best attributes just in a far smaller package.
They have the same flexible auricle wing design that helps keep the SoundSport wireless comfortably in place. The tips are ergonomically angled and the buds themselves are ultra-lightweight and completely moisture resistant.
The drivers are once again larger and serve up powerful, full-range audio-rich with a definition.
You don't have to worry about losing the little guys either as they are connected to a 'find my buds' app.
They provide 5 hours of use (per 2-hour direct charge) with a spare 10 stored within their carry case itself. They come in 3 funky contrast color designs to choose from with a range of tips and wings as well.
+ Beautifully built.
+ Impressive audio.
+ Water resistant.
+ App tracking.
Why We Liked It - They allow for total freedom of movement and are very comfortable to wear.
10. ENACFIRE E18 Wireless Earbuds
We are closing our reviews with one last true wireless earbud option this time from ENACFIRE.
They are low-priced but appear well-made and feature very efficient drivers. The audio delivered has great dynamics within.
The on-board Bluetooth is 5.0, widely compatible and very stable from distances of 30 feet. They are simple to use and pair in just one step, with their storage case to bolster them they can provide up to 15 hours use (3.5 per charge).
They have ergonomic tips which come in 3 distinct size selections. They are designed to fit securely within the opening of your ear canal.
+ Well-defined audio.
+ Low priced true wireless.
+ Bluetooth 5.0
Why We Liked It - They are one of the best in this low end price region.
Wirless Earbuds -Wireless earbuds can be great, but they also come with a separate set of considerations. Be sure to fully evaluate total charging, time battery life, and consider bluetooth latency before opting for this type of high-tech earbud.
Sound Quality Earbuds Buyers Guide
Trying to find a pair of earbuds which provide great sound quality is no easy task especially when the market is bursting at the seams with products, some offering unbeatable value for money and others just a cheap imitation.
Generally speaking, earbuds aren't known for their audiophile approval when compared to an over-ear or around ear model. This is because larger diaphragms respond much better, upping their performance capabilities, this is especially true when it comes to producing lower frequencies.
A larger magnetic field and extra cone surface area provide the characteristics required to deliver better audio quality. Of course, this theory depends on how well they are engineered as well.
Fortunately, there are a handful of experienced companies with plenty of expertise in the engineering department. They work unbelievably hard to develop compact drivers which employ very clever methods to function optimally despite their dimensional constraints.
As a result, we are seeing products which perform far better and as these technologies evolve and age the costs drop measurably, leading to affordable audio solutions which serve up premium audio at a fraction of the cost.
That being said, if you have audiophile tastes you aren't going to find anything particularly impressive until you are far above the hundred dollar mark, so you may end up spending much more to satisfy your needs.
Earbuds have plenty of pros going for them most importantly their tiny size which means they fit in a pocket for traveling with. With modern life being quite a fast-paced affair they are more often than not a go-to music solution but if you want to enjoy your playlist properly there are a number of factors to consider to ensure you are getting the best set your budget allows for.
What To Look For When Buying Best Sound Quality Earbuds?
When shopping for a set of headphones with the best sound quality, Driver size is imperative. Earbud models typically start at 8mm and sit between that and 10mm with the majority on average measuring 9mm.
There are many on the market which offer up to 12mms in size, the extra drive space doesn't necessarily restrict their use to larger ear canals either if they have been developed cleverly enough.
Sound quality is of course, relatively subjective, and the genres you enjoy will color your opinion somewhat. If you prefer bass heavy music then large aperture drivers and enhanced bass processing will be important to you. Some headphones have an extended frequency response which can pick up lower frequencies than a standard set.
If you listen to a lot of podcasts and radio talk shows or are often conferencing via your earbuds you will need a set with optimized mid-ranges and higher definition. The spoken word can become muffled if the audio reproduction isn't dynamically balanced and clearly detailed.
Earbuds provide an immersive listening experience they pump audio directly to the listener but this can be exhaustive to your ears. Comfort and functionality should be considered the next 2 vital factors to postulate.
The tip design is critical here as the headphones are worn somewhat internally. The materials used should have a good deal of flexibility and ideally be formed from something skin friendly.
Typical materials utilized in the manufacturing of earbud tips include memory foams, rubbers, plastics, and silicone.
Next, you need to consider the design of the tip itself. If the fit isn't ergonomically approved then they could be damaging to your ears if worn for long periods.
Ear canals vary slightly from person to person and some manufacturers sell their earbud headphones with a few tips to choose from to help provide a better-tailored fit. This is a good way to go to find a comfortable solution.
In terms of functionality, your personal habits will have to be thought about carefully to settle on a design style.
In the past in-ear models were prone to falling out of ears, they were much rounder (as companies experimented with larger drivers to combat the sound quality issues they were having). Today there is a tonne of concepts which employ some sort of earbud support system coupled with their ergonomic shapes.
These include collars, braces, neckties, necklaces, sweatbands, auricle fins, LockFit systems, and over ear hooks. Each help to keep the earbuds in the optimal placement for listening and some provide a stable enough solution to allow for much more motion.
If you have a particularly active lifestyle you will want to look at a sports model. They are developed to allow for rigorous motion, some can even stay in place when users are upside-down perfect for yoga, gymnastics, and suspended sit-ups.
If you are after a sports set you might find our 10 Best Headphones For Working Out article worth a look.
Wired or Wireless?
If you are most likely to listen whilst you are out and about via mainly mobile devices then a wireless set of earbuds will likely be best for you.
They allow users to move far more freely and they are often a bit more durable as the wires receive the most wear and tear during long-term use, and they are also prone to tangling up in your pockets.
To be honest, if you have a lower budget then a wired pair is probably the better option you given that we are looking at sound quality in today's article.
As audio quality goes many Bluetooth models in the lower price region just aren't there yet as far as audio quality is concerned. A direct wire just provides a far more stable signal path to play which gives a more accurate digital reproduction. Bluetooth streaming can sound stuttered and on occasion becomes out of sync with the visuals on your mobile device due to latency issues. Though there are some amazing Bluetooth sets out there if you are able to afford something a little more high-end.
Given the tangling and durability issues, we recommend you source a set with reinforced entry and exit points and something in place to manage entanglement.
If an in-ear model is more suitable for your individual needs but your audio is important to you then as you will have learned from our guide there are a few things to think about which can make all the difference.
Ultimately the budget you have will have to weigh in significantly as will how comfortable and suitable the set is for your lifestyle.
We are optimistic we have found a few models which have many merits and provide the best audio quality respectively. The market is so over-saturated finding a set shouldn't be problematic so long as you have narrowed down your parameters using our buyer's guide.
If you have a very low budget in mind then the manufacturing quality becomes just an important as the audio abilities. Some companies have to sacrifice one over the other in the low-price regions.
Did you Know
If you are unsure about whether you want a wired or wireless option, some Bluetooth models.
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