Best in-ear headphones: buying guide

Did the earphones you found along with your electronic device not fully satisfy you? Have you bought a smartphone without earphones supplied but can’t resist without music? Don’t worry, because you are in the right place, at the right time. In fact, with this buying guide of mine, I want to help you choose the best in-ear headphones for your tastes, for your listening needs and for your pockets. The market is really full of devices of this type, of every price and of various quality, so that we can really satisfy the need of each user.

There are several in-ear headphones on the market, but also many different types. Consequently, making your choice is not always easy. The term in-ear establishes the shape of the terminal part of the headset, but there are different types: for example, they can connect to the MP3 player or smartphone (which we can generically call source) via cable or wireless, usually using Bluetooth technology. . In terms of quality, the cable is often preferable, however in some circumstances it is better to rely on the extreme convenience of wireless and clutter-free solutions.

There are also some terms to know before understanding how to orient yourself in choosing a model rather than another, nothing difficult but that can summarize the listening quality of a product without necessarily having to test it. The in-ear headphones are not necessarily inferior in quality compared to the more voluminous headphones and in fact the various manufacturers offer on the one hand particularly cheap models that can be purchased with negligible costs, but on the other also models for professional listening of several hundreds of Euro. To find out more, please read on.


  • What are in-ear headphones
  • In-ear headphones with cable or wireless
  • How to choose the in-ear headphones
  • Which in-ear headphones to buy
    • Best in-ear headphones (less than 50 euros)
    • Best mid-range in-ear headphones (between 50 euros and 100 euros)
    • Best high-end in-ear headphones (more than 100 euros)

What are in-ear headphones

What are in-ear headphones and why are they considered different than traditional headphones? The differences are simple to understand, but let’s start from the beginning: generally a headphone is a device that allows you to listen to music on the move, or in total isolation, consisting of two speakers and pavilions similar in size to those of the human ear joined between of them from a rigid support. They can be wired or wirelessly connected and are usually relatively bulky when they need to be carried around.

Earphones were invented for running, cycling, gym or, more generally, to move without hindrance of various kinds, earphones were invented, much smaller than headphones and formed simply by the cable and small appendages at both ends that are inserted by resting in the pavilion headset. The in-ear earphones are special types of earphones in which these appendages with the transducer have a shape such that are able to slip into the ear pavilion until it reaches the ear canal, and finally supporting himself with the latter.

This allows for several advantages, but also some disadvantages: an in-ear headset often offers higher sound quality than a traditional headset and more effective soundproofing similar to that offered by headphones. This is because by occupying the ear canal it blocks the entry of any external noise and all the sound pressure of the transducer is conveyed towards the eardrum. However, an in-ear headset can be more annoying to wear than a traditional headset and can cause greater discomfort with prolonged and loud listening. By virtue of this, if you have changed your mind, I suggest you read my guide to buying the best headphones on the market.

In-ear headphones with cable or wireless

There are various types of in-ear headphones that can connect to the source device either via cable or wirelessly. The former are usually the cheapest because they don’t need a chip to handle the Bluetooth connection, while the latter are generally the most comfortable. Each solution has indisputable advantages: for example, in-ear headphones via cable usually have a higher audio quality because it is not degraded by digital compression that occurs via wireless and have a lower constructive complexity, resulting in more interesting value for money.

On the other hand, every time we want to use the in-ear headphones via cable, it is necessary to connect the 3.5 mm connector, an operation that in the long run can cause damage to the same or to the output in the source. In addition, the cable can be a hindrance in some circumstances. It is precisely for those who come across these circumstances that I recommend wireless in-ear headphones, usually made thanks to Bluetooth technology. They are more comfortable and absolutely preferable for those who play sports or for those who move often (by bike or motorbike) without wanting to do without their music.

Lacking a power cord, wireless in-ear headphones make use of a built-in battery that can naturally drain in the middle of listening. They need to be charged often, with the various models generally managing to last for 5 or 6 hours on a single charge. In recent years, earphones that come with a case with integrated battery have become popular on the market. In this way, they can also be loaded on the fly every time they are placed in the box, without having to rely on a wall socket, for an autonomy that can even reach the whole day.

How to choose the in-ear headphones

To choose the best in-ear headphones for your needs you need to know some terms and some basic notions of the audio world, in order to better understand the quality of the product without having to listen to it live first and avoiding unpleasant surprises after purchase. Below you will find the definitions of the items that you can find alongside many of the in-ear headphones offered on the market today.

  • Frequency Response– this value, expressed in Hz, indicates the range of frequencies that the earphones can cover. Knowing that the human ear can perceive frequencies ranging from 20 to 20,000 Hz, buy earphones with a wide range of frequencies and a low gap. The gap is the number of decibels (dB) within which the earphones are able to remain over the entire frequency range (and therefore are able to guarantee high fidelity of sound).
  • Impedance– is a value, expressed in volts/ampere (ohms), which indicates the resistance exerted by the earphones on the audio signal. The higher the impedance the better the sound quality, however at high impedances the maximum sound volume is lowered. For optimal listening, you should have the same degree of impedance on the earphones and on the device from which the sound is reproduced (e.g. smartphone, tablet or computer).
  • Sensitivity– this is the value with which the acoustic pressure expressed by the earphones is indicated in relation to the applied voltage (2.83 volts listening to 1 meter away). It is calculated in decibels. To simplify the concept as much as possible, a higher sensitivity equates to a higher maximum volume without distorting the sound.
  • Noise Canceling– In-ear headphones offer a great degree of isolation from outside noise, but sometimes that’s not enough. That’s why there are more advanced (and expensive) headsets that have active noise canceling technology. Active noise cancellation ensures complete isolation from external noise even in the most “noisy” situations (eg plane travel) but requires more energy and therefore leads to higher battery consumption.
  • Sound quality– in addition to evaluating the technical parameters above, before buying a pair of earphones it is good to inquire about the type of sound they offer. There are, in fact, earphones that reward the bass by penalizing the other frequencies, others that offer a balanced sound on all frequencies and so on. You have to choose earphones that sound good and that offer a sound in line with your musical tastes.
  • Microphone– earphones with a microphone allow you to answer calls and interact with services such as Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa, those without a microphone do not offer this functionality. It is also good to check that the microphone is equipped with good technology for reducing external noise.
  • Set of ear tips available – the in-ear headphones come with sets of ear tips (usually one small, one medium and one large) that can adapt to various types of ears. Before buying in-ear headphones, therefore, make sure that the sales package includes rubber pads of various sizes.
  • Control Compatibility– Many in-ear headphones have buttons for media playback control, volume adjustment and call answering. However, in some cases the commands only work on Android and not iOS / iPadOS, or vice versa. Before purchasing headphones for your smartphone, make sure there are no known compatibility issues with it. Also check which commands are available: in some cheap earphones, there are controls for calls but not those for volume, for example.
  • Resistance to water and dust– when buying earphones to be used in sports, or in any case in fairly “busy” situations, it is good to check that they are resistant to water, sweat and dust.

Which in-ear headphones to buy

Is everything clear so far? Well, then I’d say it’s time to put the chatter aside and see which are the best in-ear headphones of the moment. Enjoy the reading!

Best in-ear headphones (less than 50 euros)


If you are looking for extremely low-cost headsets but still be able to offer a good yield, you should model  MDR-EX15LP home Sony. They offer excellent sound quality and decent resistance. They have a frequency response of 8 – 22,000 Hz, an impedance of 16 ohms and a sensitivity of 100 dB / mW. They also have a microphone and playback controls, which are absent on the variant called  MDR-EX15LP, for this reason even cheaper.

Klim Fusion

Among the best-selling cheap wired earphones on Amazon there are also the Klim Fusion. They have comfortable memory foam pads and excellent technical parameters, with a frequency response of 15 – 21,000 Hz and a sensitivity of 118 dB. They have controls on the cable and microphone. They connect via the classic audio jack, but possibly a variant that uses the USB-C port is also available.

Ludos Clamor

The Ludos Clamor earphones are another product characterized by a good quality-price ratio. They have a frequency response of 20 – 20,000 Hz, an impedance of 32 ohms and a sensitivity of 92 dB. They have an attractive design, feature memory foam pads that fit snugly in the ears, and there are microphone and volume controls on the cable. They are perfect for use in conjunction with smartphones, tablets and MP3 players. They are available in different colors.

Mpow Sport Bass +

Are you looking for wireless in-ear headphones that are also good for practicing sports? Then I highly recommend you take a look at the Mpow Sport Bass +. In fact, these are Bluetooth headsets with ear hooks, with an ergonomic design and extremely light. They are compatible with all major operating systems, have an autonomy of about 10 hours of playback, have an integrated microphone and also offer keys for multimedia control. They come with various sets of rubber pads and a carrying case.

Aukey EP-T25

Recently, the trend of 100% wireless earphones has been born, that is, without any cable connecting the two drivers. The Aukey EP-T25 belong to this category. The value for money is excellent: they have 6 mm dynamic drivers that offer high fidelity sound, have touch controls and support the use of the voice assistant of the smartphone to which they are connected. They are able to transmit Hi-Fi stereo sound for up to 5 hours on a single charge and thanks to the supplied case you can get 20 hours of extra charge, for up to four additional charges. They also have IPX5 certification for water resistance.

Best mid-range in-ear headphones (between 50 euros and 100 euros)

HiFiMan RE-400

Among the in-ear headphones with cable I would also recommend the HiFiMan RE-400, which have a frequency response of 15 – 22,000 Hz, an impedance of 32 ohms and a sensitivity of 102 dB. They come with various sets of rubber tips and ensure excellent sound quality, but unfortunately they do not have a microphone.

Sennheiser CX 350BT

Another highly rated pair of in-ear headphones are the Sennheiser CX 350BT. They are Bluetooth, support multi-pairing and have a convenient three-button remote for controlling music and calls and there’s also support for voice assistants. The battery guarantees a duration of 10 hours. From a technical point of view, they offer a frequency response of 17 – 20,000Hz, an impedance of 28 ohms and a sensitivity of 110 dB.

Jabra Elite 65t

The Jabra Elite 65t  are wireless in-ear headphones that guarantee an autonomy of 5 hours in music playback, but also using the battery of the case you can reach 15 hours through on-the-fly recharges. Among the supported technologies we have Bluetooth 5.0, with AD2P profile, and a gesture system to be operated on the back for music playback and the management of incoming calls. They offer good audio quality, have a built-in microphone with ambient sound suppression and three rubber pads of various sizes to fit different ears.

Anker Soundcore Liberty 2

The Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 headphones are a true wireless solution with diamond drivers that reproduce music with flawless precision, with maximized treble and bass. They provide up to 8 hours of listening on a single charge, which can be further extended to 32 hours using the dedicated charging case. They take advantage of Bluetooth 5.0 to connect to devices and through HearID technology accessible from smartphones it is possible to map personal hearing sensitivity to multiple frequencies, in order to create totally customized equalization settings.

Cambridge Audio Melomania 1

The Cambridge Audio Melomania 1  are true wireless earphones using improved 5.8mm graphene drivers with premium aptX, AAC and SBC codecs. They take advantage of Bluetooth 5.0 to connect wirelessly, have commands for music control and support Google Assistant and Siri voice assistants. They are also extremely light (each earphone weighs just 4.6 grams), equipped with silicone and memory foam rubber and waterproof. They offer up to 9 hours of playtime on a single charge and the case offers an additional 4 full charges.

Best high-end in-ear headphones (more than 100 euros)

HUAWEI FreeBuds 4

Among the best true wireless earphones currently in circulation, we certainly find the HUAWEI FreeBuds 4, which represent the maximum evolution of the first open-fit ANC TWS earphones in the world that HUAWEI launched in 2019. The open-fit 2.0 noise cancellation technology integrated into the earphones HUAWEI FreeBuds 4 uses an innovative dual microphone system to ensure professional-grade noise-canceling performance. In addition, thanks to AEM (Adaptive Ear Matching) technology, the earphones automatically detect the shape of the user’s ear and consequently optimize the level of noise-canceling and the overall sound quality, in order to always guarantee the best experience. .

The sound quality is also guaranteed by the internal components. In fact, the HUAWEI FreeBuds 4 earphones feature a liquid crystal polymer (LCP) composite diaphragm that supports a frequency range up to 40kHz, in order to guarantee high quality audio with rich and full highs, and dynamic drivers from 14, 3 mm, which ensures very deep bass with significantly improved performance compared to FreeBuds 3.

Obviously there are many smart functions, such as the possibility of instant pairing with HUAWEI devices, the ability to connect two devices at the same time (even non-HUAWEI, including smartphones, tablets and notebooks) and integration with the HarmonyOS ecosystem. Then there is the HUAWEI AI Life Audio Connectivity Center , which provides a snapshot of the ten most recently connected devices and allows you to switch between them with a simple touch.

Each headset weighs just 4.1 grams, while the charging case weighs 38 grams (6.3% smaller and 20.8% lighter than the previous model). The autonomy is estimated in 4 hours of music playback, which becomes 22 with the use of the charging case. With active noise cancellation, you get up to 2.5 hours of music playback; however you can get 2.5 hours of audio on a 15 minute charge. For more details, visit the HUAWEI website and the official HUAWEI store, where you can find interesting promos regarding this and other products.

Sony WF-1000XM3

Some really interesting earphones from Sony in this price range are the model called WF-1000XM3. They are characterized by their 100% wireless design and the box supplied with the charger function. There is also an integrated microphone, Noise Canceling technology for cleaning environmental sounds and support for Bluetooth connectivity, with A2DP, AVRCP, HFP and HSP profiles. For pairing with the smartphone you can rely on Near Field Communication (NFC), for a product that lacks nothing. Sony declares the presence of 6 mm drivers with neodymium magnet, while the playback frequency is 20 – 20,000 Hz.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Live

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Live are in-ear headphones with 12 mm speakers and a dedicated low-frequency channel that can also be used in single mode for calls or mono audio. They have no connection cable, while supplied there is a case that is used for charging on the fly and to increase autonomy. There are also three microphones, to eliminate ambient audio from conversations and music playback, and the accelerometer, to track physical activity. The declared autonomy is 6 hours and the charging case can also be recharged via wireless. For the management of the various functions, we have a gesture system to be applied on the casing.

Apple AirPods Pro

The  AirPods Pro represent the top of the range model among Apple earphones. They have a design with in-ear pads that can be adapted to each user’s ear (three pairs of different sizes come with them) and support active noise cancellation. They also have an equalizer capable of optimizing music reproduction in an adaptive way, based on the shape of the wearer’s ear. They are sold with a charging case, equipped with a battery, which allows you to increase the listening time up to a maximum of 24 hours. The case can be charged both via Lightning cable and via wireless on the Qi standard, and with 5 minutes of charge it offers an hour of listening. With each full charge, however, the AirPods Pro offer autonomy in music playback of 4.5 hours, which becomes 3.5 hours in a telephone conversation.

Powerbeats Pro

If you are looking for good quality earphones, with a distinctive sound and above all comfortable during physical activity, then the Powerbeats Pro are perfect for you. They have H1 chips for immediate pairing with iPhones and iPads and through which you can activate Siri with the exclusive use of your voice by saying “Hey Siri”. They can also be used with Android devices, but losing some function related to H1. The autonomy is 9 hours with a single recharge and 24 hours if we also consider the charge that the supplied case can give (however quite important dimensions). With 5 minutes of charging you get an hour and a half of listening, while the controls for calls and music playback are available on both earphones.


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