A big part of choosing a pair of earphones comes down to personal preference, intended use and price. Here we have our top recommendations for you. These are the earphones that score the highest review marks across all earphones types including regular noise isolating, sports, running, wireless bluetooth and noise cancelling. These are the cream of the crop, providing an excellent listening experience and are some of the best in ear earphones.
Overall Top In Ear Headphones
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Things to Consider when Choosing In Ear Headphones
There are several factors to consider when choosing the best in ear earphones – here is a breakdown of the most important points:
As with most things these days, you get what you pay for. Quality of design, materials and manufacture come at a price which ultimately effect the look, feel or longevity of the earphones but also, and more importantly the sound quality. There are occasions when a cheaper set of earphones will meet the audio quality of a more expensive pair – but this is rare. If price is a major factor for you, we have created several pages showing the best earphones within a range of budgets:
under £100, under £50, under £30 and under £20.
Many of the best earphones manufacturers have been pioneering developers of audio equipment for decades. They design their earphones on the back of years of research and experience and will often create better quality products as a result. If in doubt, we would suggest choosing a well know manufacturer that has a proven track record of producing high quality audio equipment. This includes brands such as (in no particular order) Sennheiser, AKG, Sony, Denon, Philips, Bose, Pioneer, TDK or Panasonic.
The type of earphones that you buy will depend on what you intend to use them for and to a certain degree, personal preference. Earphones typically come in 3 fit types that fit in the outer ear, insert into the outer end of the ear canal or fit into the ear canal & extend further inwards. The second two types both tend to come with different sized ear adaptors to help get a good fit. These ear adaptors will also help to block external noise – this is known as noise isolation.
If you want a pair of earphones for sport or gym use, then you may want to find a set that has ear hooks or a band that runs round the back of your head – these 2 additions both help secure the earphones in place during exercise.
- Special Features:
Other features to keep in mind include: iPhone or Android compatibility, wireless bluetooth, volume control, built in microphone (mic), music controls (play/pause, next track, previous track etc), waterproof or noise cancelling. If you are looking to use earphones with your smart phone (iPhone or Android) either wired or by a wireless bluetooth connection – we recommend that you check the compatibility with your smart phone before you make a purchase!
- Frequency Range:
Measured in hertz (Hz) or kilohertz (kHz) this tells you the range of audio frequencies that the earphones can reproduce. A typical range will be 20-20,000 HZ – the first low number represents the bass frequencies (lower is better, anything under 40 should be acceptable ) & the higher number represents the treble or top end frequencies (higher is better, anything over 20,000 should be acceptable). A bigger range doesn’t necessarily mean overall better audio quality – but it is a factor that should be looked at.
- Driver Size:
This is the physical size or diameter of the small speaker inside the earphones. Here, generally bigger is better. A larger audio driver will be capable of delivering lower frequencies and a more accurate sound overall. Not all manufacturers provide this information, so it can be a little hit and miss – but it is a detail worth looking for. You may also see mention of the magnet type used in the drive itself. Cheaper earphones will use a standard ferrite magnet, with higher quality earphones opting to use higher powered neodymium magnets for greater accuracy and power.
- Jack Type and Material:
The jack plugs on virtually all earphones will be a 3.5mm diameter – they will on occasion come with a 6mm adaptor for plugging into stereos or hi-fi’s etc. The jack plug itself tends to come in two basic types, either straight or a right angle. the straight type will extend further from your audio device while the right angle type will be more compact. The right angle type seems to be more popular these days – although this can be a personal preference. The jack plug connection itself will be plated with either nickel or gold. Gold is the better conductor of the two, but in reality there is very little difference when it comes to using them.
- Noise Isolating vs Noise Cancelling:
Most of the best ear phones on the market today are either noise isolating or noise cancelling. These are very different things & sometimes the terms are used incorrectly within product descriptions – some care should be taken here.
Noise Isolating refers to earphones that fit very snuggly inside the ear canal, blocking out external sounds – an attenuation level is sometimes given. This goes someway towards making the audio quality better by removing external noise – but will never remove it completely. Most of the best ear phones on the market are noise isolating. We have a guide dedicated to choosing the best noise isolating earphones.
Noise Cancelling earphones have active circuitry in them that uses an inbuilt microphone (mic). The basic premise is that the external noise is taken, then inverted & also added back into the audio you hear. Because the external noise is inverted, it is actively cancelled out meaning you don’t hear it. The added bonus of this is that you can listen to you music at lower volumes and still not hear external sounds. Noise cancelling earphones will always cost considerably more due to the extra technology that goes into them. We have a guide dedicated to the best noise cancelling earphones.
The rest is now up to you. Have a look through our reviews and guides and choose the best in ear headphones for you and your lifestyle.