Best In-ear Headphones iMore 2020
In-ear headphones sometimes get a bad rap, but the truth is there are a lot of great in-ear headphones that are comfortable and sound fantastic. If you're not a fan of carrying around big and bulky over-the-ear cans everywhere you go and prefer something a little more subtle, in-ear headphones are the way to go. The Jabra Elite 65t stand above the pack as the best overall because of its versatility and price.
- Best Overall: Jabra Elite 65t
- Best Workout companions: Jaybird X4
- Best for iPhone: Airpods 2
- Best Wired: Marshall Mode EQ
- Best Neck Earbuds: Bose QuietControl 30
- Best Low-Budget: Aukey Latitude
- Best Sport: JLab Audio Epic Air
Best Overall: Jabra Elite 65t
The secure fit and design of the Jabra Elite 65t do a lot to help the sound quality. The sound-isolation, thanks to how snuggly these fit in your ear, is excellent and it's easy to tune out the outside world by pumping the volume up on your favorite tunes. Plus, considering the type of headphones these are, the Jabra Elite 65t have excellent bass, and I never found the sound to be distorted, even at high volume levels.
Moving on to the physical headphones themselves, the Jabra Elite 65t have onboard controls that aren't gesture-based. You have to press the button on each ear to do various things like control playback, invoke Siri, and more.
The last thing worth highlighting is the excellent Jabra Sound+ app that lets you control a few different things. It has an EQ that you can adjust with custom settings or pick on of the six presets. The best part of the app is the ability to activate the "HearThrough" feature, which allows the built-in microphones to pick up outside noise and allowing you to hear a bit of what's going on around you.
- Great price
- Fantastic companion app
- Amazing sound isolation
- HearThrough feature
- microUSB charging
- Charging case is a bit bulky
Great price on a great set of truly wireless earbuds
Whether you're looking to workout or just commuting to and from work, the Jabra Elite 65t are a versatile set of wireless earbuds.
Best Workout Companion: Jaybird X4
Admittedly, the Jaybird X4 earbuds are not perfect, but they're certainly the best wireless workout headphones you can buy right now. When you combine their feature set and sound quality, it's pretty hard to consider any other pair of workout earbuds.
They come with a few sizes of ear tips, as well as three fin sizes, so you can mix and match to find what works best for you. Some people may not like the rubber, sort of suction cup-ish ear tips, which is justifiable. If you don't find the perfect fit, they can feel like they've completely dammed up your ears.
The icing on the cake for these 'buds is how quickly they connect and the great playback controls. I turn them on, and they connect instantly and immediately give you the remaining battery percentage, which is just dynamite. And I love the control sounds to let you know you're skipping a track, going back, or turning them off. It all comes together perfectly.
- Phenomenal battery life
- Great sound
- Excellent companion app
- Comfortable fit
- Proprietary charging cable
Best Workout companions
Exceptional battery life and a solid overall experience
The in-line playback/call controls along with the Jaybird app make for an exceptional, intuitive experience.
Best for iPhone: AirPods 2
AirPods, now in their second generation, are considered to be the best product the company has produced in many years for good reason. They pair easily with Apple devices, and switching between devices is a cinch. They also sound better than your standard wired earbuds. Plus, the 5-hour battery life, with another 24 hours thanks to the charging case, means they should last throughout your day and more. However, some people might have trouble getting the AirPods to stay in their ears.
- Lots of battery life with charging case
- Seamless switching between Apple products
- Wireless charging case
- A little pricey
- Only really good with Apple Products
Best for iPhone
Amazing for Apple users
AirPods are an iPhone's best friend. Long battery life, fast charging, and an incredible way to interact with your Apple Products.
Best Wired: Marshall Mode EQ
The Marshall Mode EQ prides itself on delivering a balanced soundstage, but there's an option to turn up the bass by pressing a toggle on the remote. It comes with sturdy construction, a single-button remote that lets you receive calls and control music playback, integrated microphone. Plus, the retro design flair makes it stand out.
- Nice balance sound stage
- Fantastic price
- Four different sizes of ear tips
- Non-replaceable cable
Fantastic balanced sound
When it comes to a balanced sound in a wired pair of headphones, the Marshall Mode EQ are hard to beat.
Best Neck Earbuds: Bose QuietControl 30
While neckbuds (or neck earbuds) aren't the most popular type of headphones on the market, the Bose QuietControl 30 are good enough to convert any non-believer. Not only is losing something on your neck much harder to do with simple earbuds, but they also reduce the strain on your ears.
Bose is known for having good sound quality — especially nice clear bass that doesn't muddy up your music — and Bose QuietControl 30 are no exception. With three different levels of noise-cancellation, you can choose just how much of the outside world you want to hear when you're out and about.
- Reduces strain on ears
- 10-hour battery life
- Great companion app
Best Neck Earbuds
Premium sound on your neck
The Bose QC30 are a reliable pair of in-ear neckbud earbuds. They go around the back of your neck; that way, you have a super low chance of losing them.
Best Low-Budget: Aukey Latitude
If you want to go wireless in the gym (and there's no reason why you shouldn't at this point), but you don't want to spend a ton, then these are the earbuds for you. 1.5 hours of charging gives you 8 hours of playback, and Aukey has a two-year warranty should anything go wrong.
They sound much better than any low-cost pair of headphones have any right to sound, but they only have an IPX4 rating. While they should be able to handle your sweat no problem, it's a good idea to give them a quick wipe after you're done your workout.
- Two-year warranty
- 8-hour battery life
- Only IPX4
- MicroUSB charging
Won't be beat on price.
The Aukey Latitude earbuds are surprisingly excellent. They're wireless, have a long battery life, and have remarkably good sound.
Best Sport: JLab Audio Epic Air
While workout earbuds are good for hitting the gym, sport headphones are for people who enjoy more rigorous workouts or activities and the JLab Audio Epic Air are fantastic.
The JLab Audio Epic Air are meant to withstand sweat and water — their IP 66 rating covers them for powerful water jets — so sweat and rain should be no problem. They also have three different EQ settings, allowing you to customize their sound profile a little bit. The buds themselves have a 10-hour battery life, but the included charging case holds up to 60-hours of charge, meaning you won't have to top up the battery as often as other headphones.
- Earhook design so they won't fall off
- 10-hour battery life
- Controls are a little fiddly
IP66 protection that won't fall out of your ears.
Rigorous workouts are no match for the JLab Audio Epic Air; rain or shine, they're ready to go when you are.
The Jabra Elite 65t stand out as some of the most versatile in-ear headphones you can get today. With impressive sound quality, a fantastic companion app, and a truly wireless design its easy to take a pair of the Jabra Elite 65ts anywhere.
Finally, at five hours per charge and an additional 10 hours in the case, battery life isn't groundbreaking. However, it's easy to manage your battery with intermittent charging to get through the workday and into your evening just fine.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Luke Filipowicz is an iMore staff writer who frequents the gym and writes a ton about headphones, speakers, and all other things audio-related.
Lory Gil is the Managing Editor of iMore and loves using her AirPods, PowerBeats Pro, and many other headphones every day.
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