Top 15 Best Earbuds for Sound In 2018 – Ultimate Guide
While Internet is agog with the best headphones lists, some of us yearn for the convenience offered by the tiny in-ear headphones. Most of us aren’t big fans of full-sized headphones clamping down on our ears especially in summer. No matter how well they are designed, headphones do sweat out your ears in the summer. Earbuds are the best remedy to the parched ears both sonically and physically. This time we went through the choicest earphones in every price category to pick up the 10 best earbuds for sound. These have proven their worth in terms of audio, comfort and value for money. Most of them are wired but we cover a wide range of features too.
How do best earbuds for sound stand out from the crowd?
Many people will try to sell you the story of how ‘audiophile earbuds’ is just a label, that all earbuds sound almost the same. A lot of earbuds over $100 may even sound similar to a casual listener while an audiophile will notice the difference. There’s genuine technology under the hood that sets these best earbuds for sound apart from the rest of the lot.
There are two types of drivers that usually power the earbuds:
Dynamic drivers: The dynamic drivers are modeled on the usual speaker drivers. It’s basically a transducer that converts electrical signal into acoustic signals. The electricity causes a diaphragm to move which produces the sound. The true benefit of dynamic drivers is their clean bass response.
Balanced Armature drivers: These drivers are used in most of the best earbuds for sound in audiophile territory. This is because they are easy to pack into the small earbuds. They produce audio by creating movement in an armature using electric current. This armature physically affects a diaphragm to create audio.
The normal earbuds use single dynamic driver. The best earbuds for sound use multiple balanced armature drivers usually. In this configuration, separate drivers are assigned to reproduce separate frequency regions like bass, mids, highs. They are divided up between the drivers using Crossover networks which identify the frequency and send them to the correct driver. While dedicated drivers for different frequency regions sounds like a great idea, it’s much more difficult to realize. You have to cram the drivers and crossover networks into a small space. This is why the earbuds like Shure 535 and 1More Triple Driver earbuds look larger than your Apple earpods knock-offs. But they are pretty slim for the technology they pack.
An interesting detour from tradition is the Sennheiser IE800 earphone. Even though these are expensive and premium earbuds for sound, they use a single dynamic driver to achieve it. This has the unique advantage of sounding cohesive over the triple and quadruple-driver earbuds. There’s no need to collate the frequency back from separate drivers which can get out of sync and sound less integrated. The investment of Sennheiser goes into achieving audio like that of multiple drivers with a single driver.
The audio quality also depends on the seal you get from the eartips. The bass is most affected by the lack of seal. Earbuds may sound tinny and thin without proper seal. Some silicone eartips are great but nothing beats the Comply foam eartips in creating seal. These enter the ear canal and expand to fit. You also get double-flanged and triple-flanged eartips which might help.
Are the best earbuds for sound expensive?
To be able to create fine, detailed audio you either need multiple drivers or the brilliant technology of Sennheiser. Packing so many drivers into a small space along with the Crossover network is difficult. The earbuds should not weigh down your ears. They should sit comfortably and securely. So where the technology rises and size drops, the trade-off is price. Most often you would end up paying $100 or more for such earbuds.
We have also covered a couple of earbuds in sub-$100 range. These have defied the price range to give you great value for money. This is considering people on smaller budgets who are beginning to make the transition to better, more detailed sound.
What defines the audio performance of earbuds?
The following parameters dictate how well the earbuds perform:
Frequency response: This is the range of frequencies that the earbuds can reproduce sonically or physically(in case of sub bass). The best earbuds for sound cover a large frequency range without ramping off. They have good bass and treble extension.
Spectral Flatness: The best earbuds for sound should have an almost flat frequency response. This way, if you want to highlight any particular frequency region, you can boost it cleanly. The bass-boosted earbuds do not pick extra bass from the song. They just boost the existing bass detail. Isn’t it better if you can control the amount of boost yourself with an equalizer?
Dynamic range: Dynamic range gives you the range of the volume you can hear from the earbuds. This is the ratio of loudest signal you can hear to quietest. The higher the dynamic range, the easier you can hear it in ambient noise. These best earbuds provide great isolation.
Driver Matching: The drivers in the left and right ear pieces of the earbuds should be matched for proper audio reproduction. The drivers of the best earbuds for sound are carefully matched for equal sound throughout the frequency spectrum.
Number of drivers: As we explained above, multiple drivers per ear piece of the earbuds usually means better audio. Having a single driver forces it to produce all frequencies which it might not do deftly. Dedicated drivers are much better at playing out each region separately.
Circuit Quality: The best earbuds have solid build under the hood. Their minor parts do not rattle when the bass turns up. Cheaper headphones will start ringing their tiny parts as the music gets too complicated.
Which are the best earbuds for sound in the market currently?
We went through scores of earphones to find the best earbuds for sound. Some of the older earbuds have prevailed in this list because they stayed ahead of the curve. These earbuds were selected based on:
Audio: We paid most attention to audio while selecting the best earbuds for sound. Tinny sound is a major complaint with earbuds. We made sure that the best earbuds selected here sound substantial in their performance, no matter what budget they come under. We also checked there’s no harshness in treble or bawdiness in bass. Neutral to bass-boosted, all audio signatures have been covered provided the audio is well-defined.
Comfort: Earbuds plug into the ear canals. So we looked for buds that do not cause discomfort with long-term use. Earphones that fall off the ears often were also avoided. We recommend Comply foam eartips with all of them.
Budget: We covered the best earbuds in a wide price range. This list has something for everyone. These were compared based on their value for money rather than their absolute value.
Features: The earphones covered in this best earbuds list offer a number of features like replaceable cables, L-shaped plugs, Bluetooth capability, metal build and what not.
TOP 15 BEST EARBUDS FOR SOUND IN 2018 – COMPLETE CHART
|1. Shure SE215 Sound Isolating Earphones with Single Dynamic MicroDriver||Provide up to 37 dB of isolation and a customized fit||$$||4.7|
|2. 1MORE Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones||Two balanced armatures and a separate dynamic driver||$$||4.6
|3. MEE audio M6 PRO Universal-Fit Noise-Isolating Musician’s In-Ear Monitors with Detachable Cables||Studio-tuned sound with crystal clarity and deep bass||$$||4.6
|4. Shure SE535 Sound Isolating Earphones with Triple High Definition MicroDrivers||Spacious Sound with Rich Bass||$$$||4.5|
|5. Bose SoundTrue Ultra in-ear headphones||Deep, rich sound across a wide frequency range||$$||4.5
|6. Jaybird X3 Sport Bluetooth Headset||Hydrophobic nano-coating will keep moisture away||$$||4.4|
|7. Sennheiser IE 800 Audiophile Ear Canal Headphones||Dynamic linear-phase 7mm transducer||$$$||4.4
|8. Symphonized NRG 3.0 Earbuds||Studio-tuned audio with crystal clarity guaranteed||$$||4.4|
|9. RHA MA750i Noise Isolating Premium In-Ear Headphone with Remote and Microphone||Reinforced, 1.35m oxygen-free cable||$$||4.3|
|10. Sony MDRXB50AP Extra Bass Earbud Headset||High-energy neodymium magnets for powerful sound||$$||4.3
|11. Final Audio Design Flagship Balanced Armature Earphones, Stainless Steel
||Two Year Warranty||$$$||4.2|
|12. Audiophile Elite Earbuds
||fine-tuned 16 Ohm impedance||$$||4.2|
|13. Actionpie in-Ear Headphones Earbuds
||6.0 MM*(Two Driver units)||$$||4.1|
|14. HiFiMan RE-400 In-Ear Headphones
||8.5mm Titanium driver||$$||4.0|
|15. RHA T20i (Gen. 2): HiFi Noise Isolating Stainless Steel In-Ear Headphones with Remote & Mic
||3 button remote and microphone||$$$||3.9|
Shure SE215 earbuds have been in the market for a long time but no other earphones have yet matched their value for money. The Shure sound here plays in the major league in spite of the affordable price-tag. The design is also classic Shure with detachable cables! It’s like Shure is offering their A-list earbuds in a different name here. The accompanying accessories including foam eartips is the cherry on the cake. Frankly, we would be nitpicking if we find faults with SE215 at this price, hence their place in the best earbuds for sound list.
Design and Features
We picked up the clear model of Shure SE215 earbuds for testing. These are stunningly beautiful with their see through shells that bubbles around the delicate circuitry. The black model is also translucent. The ear pieces are built beefy because they must sit in the small of the ear. These are wrap-around the ears kind of earbuds. The eartips project from the ear pieces at an angle. The cable connecting to the ear pieces is memory wire that is bent to go around the ears. Together these offer a very secure fitment. Only if you have very large ear cavities will these ear pieces fall out. They do not cause any discomfort when worn because of these smooth plastic exterior.
The detachable cable of these earphones is their most noticeable part. The cords connect with a locking mechanism with each ear piece. There are colored markings on each ear piece and cable which have to be lined up to remove the cable. The color of these marks also differentiates right earbuds from the left. The cables is shimmery and textured so it resists tangles. The 64-inch cord terminates in an L-shaped plug.
These earbuds are also sold in a special edition SE215m+ which has an Apple-compatible 3-button inline control. Usually audiophile earbuds like these don’t have inline controls. The SE215 are shipped with 2 sizes of silicone eartips, 3 sizes of foam tips(yay!), an earwax cleaning tool and a zipped fabric case with carabiner clip. The accessory haul is also excellent at its current price.
Shure SE215 earbuds sound like a dream even for their debut price. These pack a single dynamic driver which somehow manages to maintain the underlying qualities of Shure’s higher-end triple-driver earbuds. They walk a tight line between accuracy and fun audio. The gorgeous bass here just pumps with energy. We expected plenty of bass but we didn’t expect it to be so responsive. The bass carries its weight effectively through the complicated songs. It might not be completely accurate but it’s the kind of low-end punch that all audiophiles barring purists enjoy. That being said, SE215 doesn’t emphasize any part of the frequency spectrum more than the other. It is tonally balanced.
The midrange sounds warm and rich. A touch of boost in the bass does wonders for the vocals and guitars. They sound substantial and enjoyable. The treble is completely smooth. Due to the comparison offered by the bass, it doesn’t come off as detailed as bass. But it takes the bite off the bright song. If you favor bass, and most people do, you won’t notice the over-polished treble.
The soundstage of the SE215 earbuds is another surprise. For such tiny drivers, they sound wide and deep. The instruments are placed with plenty of playing space resulting in an expansive presentation of audio. The clarity throughout is worthy of twice the price. All frequencies sound clean and uninhibited because of the detailing and clarity. Unless we are absolute bassheads, we would pick these over V-Moda Zn any day.
- Detachable cable
- Exceptionally balanced and fun sound
- Powerful and well-defined bass
- Excellent accessories
- See-through design
- The around-ear architecture may not work for everyone
1More Triple Driver in-ear headphones come from a young manufacturer who has no business being on the top lists already. But these are impressive enough to garner a place. If the bold architecture isn’t enough, there’s the killer build with premium materials. The audio is the clear highlight though. At their price, we were blown away by the clean and dynamic audio. The richness that captivates audiophiles and casual listeners like is evident here. All these make a pretty strong case for them to be on the best earbuds for sound list.
Design and Features
The 1More Triple driver earbuds carry off the bling without looking cheap or too gaudy. We picked up the black model which is actually a combination of black and rose gold. The ear pieces are conical housings made of aluminum. They have been layered with plastic for classy aesthetics. The eartips project at an angle from the ear pieces. The cable joint to the ear pieces is protected by a long pipe of metal. These earbuds wouldn’t die on you anytime soon.
These earbuds boast of Kevlar-reinforced braided cable. The thick cord ends in a slim straight plug which fits well through any phone case. The cable also has a 3-button inline control that carries a multifunction button and two volume up/down buttons. These earbuds comes with a hard carry case. They are available in a black/titanium model. While these ship with their own silicon and foam eartips, we suggest you buy the Comply Foam eartips. We got excellent audio performance with the Comply tips on.
The 1More Triple Driver earbuds have been tuned by the Grammy award-winning Sound Engineer Luca Bignardi. And he must have totally owned that award because 1More sound fantastic. The triple Titanium drivers offer a rich, warm and detailed audio. The bass plays with resolute oomph and gets you dancing. With quantity comes great quality too in 1More. The bass is well-defined and detailed. It extends well so even at low volume, 1More sound clear and substantial. The tight seal provided by the ear pieces also helps to hear at low volume.
The midrange is flushed with layers of details. The warmth works wonders for the vocals and the strings. They sound more decadent than transparent as the purists would want. But this only makes the earbuds exciting. The treble is smooth and detailed. The richness of sound may come at the expense of some accuracy. But the alternative is clinically clean sound which is boring except for the purists.
The 1More earbuds run off 32Ohm impedance. Although most earbuds average 16Ohm impedance only, 1More is not that much harder to drive from the smartphones and other portable music players.
- Rich and dynamic sound
- Well-defined clean and powerful bass
- Metal ear pieces
- Kevlar-reinforced cable
- Inline control
- Ear pieces protrude a bit from the ears
We had a Shure déjà vu when we first saw the MEE Audio M6 Pro earbuds. The same clear case and the same detachable cable. But we balked at the super-affordable price tag. We figured the audio cannot be all that good. M6 Pro caught us off guard there too. The studio-like audio quality with more agility than the price can muster greeted us. We didn’t even look at these earphones twice before putting them in our best earbuds for sound list.
Design and Features
The MEE Audio M6 Pro earbuds could be entirely modeled on Shure SE line. But we aren’t complaining. The material may not be as high-tech as the Shure under the hood though. The clear model has a clear shell that shows off the circuitry underneath. They also have a smoky model with translucent black ear pieces. These earbuds have to be wrapped around the ears just like Shure SE215. The eartips stand at an angle from the driver casing. They fit comfortably and do not pop out easily.
The part of cable near the ear pieces has been stiffened to adapt to your ear shape. The cable is detachable and attached through tiny plugs to both ear pieces. What’s totally serendipitous is that MEE packs a spare cable of the same type in the pack. So you have to buy a new cable only if BOTH the cables fail. It’s awesome to have contingency plans for our contingency plans. The SE215 is shipped with 3 sizes of normal silicone eartips and 3 sizes of double-flanged eartips. MEE is also gracious enough to provide a pair of foam eartips A screw-on 6.3mm adapter and a zippered fabric case is also provided. Physically, these earbuds bang massive for the buck.
The MEE Audio M6 Pro earbuds are designed to be studio monitors so they are balanced accordingly. There’s not even a hint of bass boost. But when bass-heavy music is played, M6 Pro rise to the occasion. They cannot beat the meaty and raunchy bass of Shure SE215. But at half the price, it’s not an even comparison. Bass is defined though not as light on its feet like higher-end earphones. If you were to play really complicated music on both, you would know the difference.
The midrange is more expressive though. There is a good amount of details littered through the midrange. There’s a touch of harshness to the upper mids which is barely noticeable in most songs. The treble is beautifully crisp and clean. There’s no sibilance at upper frequencies. Another quality that made us appr eciate the M6 Pro as studio monitors is how well the bass, mids and treble integrate with each other. They sound very coherent although the soundstage is intimate.
- 2 Detachable cables provide
- Highly affordable for features and sound
- Tonally balanced audio for the price
- Detailed and clean
- Stunning clear design
- Soundstage is normal
The Shure SE535 earbuds cap the prestigious SE line at a lofty price. These are audiophile earbuds through and through. They have the clean sound with the same energy as warm, bass-boosted earbuds have. They have gone up a notch in terms of comfort and design. The accessories kit is also more elaborate although Shure has never been short in this department. With an exciting limited edition piece, these earphones jump straight into the best earbuds for sound list.
Design and Features
The Shure SE535 earbuds have taken a big leap over SE215 price-wise. But their design show improvement to speak for it. These are still wrap-around earphones for the ears. But the ear pieces are slimmer and contoured to sit in the cavity of the ear more comfortably. This is impressive considering the fact the SE535 pack triple drivers over SE215’s single driver. The cable that connects to the ear pieces has memory wire in some areas. You need to fiddle a bit initially to get them aligned to your ears. But eventually they adapt to the curve of your ears.
The 64-inch cable of these earbuds is detachable. The Kevlar-reinforced cord is longer than that of the usual in-ear headphones. We suppose this is so that you can connect the SE535 to audiophile gear like DAC. We suggest using a shirt clip to balance the weight of the extra cable length. There’s a limited edition wine red model of SE535s that come with a spare cable with a 3-button inline control compatible with Apple device. It does cost $50 more than the normal version.
The SE535 earbuds are backed by a cavalry of accessories. The chief amongst these is a small extension with a volume wheel. You get 3 sizes each of silicone and foam eartips and a pair each of triple-flange and yellow foam eartips. A 6.3mm adapter and an airline adapter are supplied. This is packed with a semi-hard zippered case. These earphones are available in bronze and clear models.
The Shure SE535 earbuds move in for the kill armed with Triple High-Definition micro drivers. With dual woofers and a tweeter pumping the sound, all frequencies get a great representation. In spite of the separate drivers the audio is completely cohesive. All frequencies bond seamlessly over the crossover. The noise isolation is notably great. This enhances the overall listening experience and lowers your average listening volume.
The tight bass moves with such ease that tunes literally dance circles around the complicated mixes. Bass does not have the slightest boost but it’s still energetic so we found it just enough to suit every genre. Wherever we wanted more bass, we EQ’d and since there’s no native coloration, it responds well to the EQ. The midrange is clean and intricately detailed. It maintains its composure through the entire volume range. The treble is sparkly and beautifully detailed. Its detailing is even better than that of SE530. Shure SE535s beat all competition in their price range.
- Smooth and highly detailed audio
- Pin-point balance
- Detachable cables
- Number of sleeve options
- Volume wheel extension
- The around-ear design is not for everyone
Bose has a way of making you feel cozy and comfortable with their audio accessories. And the SoundTrue earbuds are the prime example. Although the audio signature is smooth and nothing jumps out at us from the mix, these quickly became our go-to earphones. The physical comfort of wearing them made the listening experience that much more enjoyable. There’s the no-nonsense presentation of Bose and voila, all that lands them right into the best earbuds for sound list.
Design and Features
The Bose SoundTrue Ultra earbuds are distinctive in that they don’t plug in much into the ears. They come with the special StayHear eartips that secure them to ears. The ear pieces have rather long posts to mount the tuning filters. So the ear pieces sit loosely in the ear without the driver casing touching the entrance of ear canal. But they hang on tight because of the fin-like structure coming from the StayHear eartips. With the right size, they provide a good seal too.
The cable of these earbuds look normal but they are pretty resistant to abuse. They have an Apple-compatible inline control at the chin length. The tangle-resistant cord terminates in a straight plug with a shirt clip connected in between. We suggest using the shirt clip because of cable noise. The sensitive joint of cable from both sides is encased in a thick box. A small wallet case with zipper is shipped with them along with extra sizes of StayHear eartips.
Bose offers a tonally balanced audio in the SoundTrue Ultra earbuds. Bose may not be the top-of-the-line here but the comfort of the lightweight earphones makes up for it. The bass is tightly reined in from trampling over the midrange. But it has a definite punch. The midrange is clean and detailed. But it’s not detailed enough to expose the defects in a bad recording. The treble is crisp and natural. We have seen similar sound signature all across the Bose line-up. They often depend on other features of their headphones to compliment the just-above average sound, in this case comfort.
One thing we particularly appreciate about the SoundTrue Ultra earbuds is that they flatter all genres equally well.
- Neutral, natural sound
- Highly comfortable and lightweight
- StayHear eartips
- 3-button inline control
- Cable noise
Jaybird X3 Bluetooth earbuds have been creating quite a stir in the market. Bluetooth audio always suffers compared to wired audio but if we had to pick a wireless set, this would be it. Designed to outmaneuver the pitfalls of wireless headsets, these look smart and ready for the workouts. The audio has a mature sense of balance that’s usually lacking in sport earbuds. With regard to Bluetooth, these are our best bet for the best earbuds for sound list.
Design and Features
The Jaybird X3 earbuds is a set of two ear pieces bonding together through a flat cable. They connect wirelessly to the other devices via Bluetooth v4.1. Their predecessors, the X2, were large and used to stick out from the ears. But the X3 are much more low-profile in their looks. The eartips are angled away ergonomically from the ear pieces. They come with wingtip accessories which jam inside the ears and keep them secured.
The cable that joins the two earbuds is sufficiently long. It has an inline control. It hosts the main multifunctional button used for call/music management. There are also volume/track navigation buttons. This control also has the charging socket on the underside. The X3 earbuds use a proprietary charger and that perhaps is their biggest pitfall.
The X3 have a relevant ad useful controlling phone app. Two X3s can be connected to one source at a time. They come with silicone tips, Comply foam eartips and cable management clip. The foam tips grip the ear canal and block out the grunting and hissing in the gym. The battery lasts through 8 hours on one charge.
The Jaybird X3 earbuds impressed us with their audio signature. Most sport earbuds go for boosted bass using midrange like a doormat. Not X3 though. You get punchy bass which cranks up the energy of the EDM and Techno genres. The midrange is clear. The vocals and guitars rise above the bass whenever required. The treble is crisp too.
The call quality is also commendable on these earbuds. The sound is not meant to be critiqued like that of audiophile earbuds. Rather they are meant to enjoy over low-frequency hum in the gym.
- Small earbuds for Bluetooth set
- Clear sound with punchy bass
- Wingtip accessory
- Comply foam tips included
- Good battery life
- Proprietary charger
Sennheiser IE800 earbuds shook the world with their spleen-splitting, kidney-demanding price when they debuted. We have been waiting breathlessly waiting for their price to slide down the table. Now as they are at almost half the price that originally started, they are finally primed for our best earbuds for sound list. These are still expensive but the audio has an unmatched capability to play gorgeous bass with such small drivers. If you have the dough, this is a purchase you won’t regret.
Design and Features
The Sennheiser IE800 earbuds look like something out of a Star Trek movie. These are absurdly small next to the Shure SE535s. Perhaps the big bucks are for this very purpose, to bring outstanding audio out from such petite earbuds. These earphones go straight into the ears instead of winding around like Shures. The driver housings are covered in scratch-resistant ceramic which gives them this nice earthy finish. The eartips are specially designed to be oval-shaped. They don’t burrow into the ears. They sit rather close to the threshold of the ears. The ear pieces are very lightweight for everyday use.
The high quality Kevlar-reinforced cable of these in-ear headphones runs 1.1m long. This is short compared to the standard earphones. But the good news is that the cable is modular. The Y-joint of the cord ends in a 2.5mm plug which further plugs to an extension terminating in 3.5mm plug. You can buy a longer extension if you wish. The cable should have been detachable at the ear pieces but the trade-off is earbud size. Also, the 2.5mm plug weighs down the cable because of the low weight of the earbuds.
The IE800 earbuds are the greater fools for using a single 7mm dynamic driver at such a lofty price tag. But the stroke of genius pays off creating exceptional extension on both sides of the frequency response. The bass thuds deep into sub bass like a top-tier full-size headphone would. Bass is tight, light on its feet and very well-defined.
Sennheiser IE800 sound loquacious compared to the surgically clean earbuds at their price. They are meant to enjoy music not critique them. In spite of the healthy bass, instrument separation is perfectly staged on a massive soundstage. The midrange and the treble are both intricately detailed and transparent.
- Exceptionally deep and soulful bass
- Outstanding detailing and tonality
- Extremely lightweight
- Modular cable
- 5mm plug at Y-joint weighs down the lightweight earbuds
Symphonized NRG 3.0 earbuds have the catchy wooden shell architecture. We thought the wood is all theatrics and the audio will no pass our litmus test. But the looks are just a bonus to a fun and enjoyable sound signature at a very affordable price. The wood does make the audio sound warm. And the comfort and customer service urged us further put them on the best earbuds for sound list.
Design and Features
The Symphonized NRG 3.0 earbuds are not kidding when they tell you they have genuine wood ear pieces. They have little silver bands to accentuate their curves. We suggest being careful with them because wood is not as abuse-resistant as plastic. The silicone eartips project straight from the driver housings. They are available in 6 color combinations of the wood and the cable.
Symphonized 2.0 earbuds suffered from a serious cable noise problem. Fortunately the NRG 3.0 cable has a rubber sheathing to prevent the problem. The cable has a 3-button inline control. They come with an eco-friendly jute bag pouch and 3 sets of silicone eartips.
The Symphonized NRG 3.0 earbuds definitely sound much better than they cost. They have nice, mature tonal balance that we expect from more expensive, named brands. The bass is superlative and clean. It is not loose and heavy as expected at the price. In fact, some people boosted the bass with their Equalizer for the gym. The midrange is clear and transparent, the highs are crisp.
- Clean balanced audio
- Wooden earbuds
- Very proactive customer service
- 3-button inline control
- Wooden earbuds need to be handled carefully
The RHA MA750i earbuds get in your face with their metal design. They are bold with their audio and their design. These earbuds require a significant burn in time to really open up but once they do, they are a real powerhouse. They are a huge bargain at their price. The significant accessory kit also contributes to their place in the best earbuds for sound list.
Design and Features
The RHA MA750i earbuds wrap their cable around the ears. The earbuds are stainless steel pieces, the brash metal broken only by the RHA logo. The eartips project straight from them. There’s a portion of memory wire attached to the ear pieces that adopts the shape of your ears. The ear pieces connect to thick cables that stay untangled. The cable terminates in a metal-encased 3.5mm straight plug. The MA750i also has a 3-button inline control compatible with iPhone. These are a little heavy compared to the plastic earbuds
These earbuds come with 10 pairs of eartips: foam and silicone, single-flanged and double-flanged. These are mounted on a stainless steel earbuds holder and a wallet-like case.
The RHA MA750i earbuds sound impressive once they open up their true character. The tonal balance is same as that of their higher-end audiophile earphones. The bass is punchy and a tad boosted but. But it only makes them sound decadently warm and adds depth and character. The midrange is not bothered by this bass boost. It remained detailed and clear. The audio itself moves with agility over complicated tracks. The bass is not sluggish in spite of its meatiness.
The dynamic presentation of RHA MA750i leaves nothing to be desired at this price.
- Warm sound with punchy bass
- Highly durable
- 10 eartips pair including foam
- Good accessory haul
- Metal ear pieces can feel heavy
If you are a casual music lover, odds are that you favor strong bass. When using these earbuds for everyday gallivanting, you need good bass to keep them sounding smart. And you need something affordable. The Sony MDRXB50AP dishes out oodles of quality bass at a small price-tag. Its popularity alone has bolstered into the best earbuds for sound hall of fame.
Design and Features
The Sony MDRXB50AP earbuds are built to last. Most people have reported having them last for 2-3 years while most of our earbuds bow out by the 7th month. These have a peculiar bass duct design with statement curves. The eartips sit slantingly from the earbuds. They are available in black, red and blue colors. Fortunately they have 1.2m flat cable. Its flat nature resists tangles. There’s a single-button inline control close to the chin. The cord terminates in an L-shaped plug.
The MDRXB50AP comes with a carry case and spare sets of silicone eartips.
The Sony MDRXB5AP earbuds do not let bass run amok over mids and highs as the name suggests. There’s a hint of bass boosting here but it’s very professionally handled. The bass does not mess with midrange and its clarity. Instead you get punch low-end with great extension. The mids are clean and perched on solid bass foundation. The treble is smooth and easy on ears.
There’s no cable noise to disturb your stride. The bass doesn’t get boomy or distorted at the high volumes. The balance is quite Sony-like even in these bass-enhanced earbuds.
- Punchy quality bass
- Clean mids and crisp treble
- Flat tangle-resistant cable
- Single-button inline control
The Final Audio Design Flagship Balanced Armature earphones, also called the FI-BA-SS headphones play with the basics of sound production to come up with a maverick design. These are earbuds with the clarity of balanced armature but the bass of dynamic drivers. These are premium IEMs and they sound every bit like their price. The passionate rendition lands them on the best earbuds for sound list.
Design and Features
The FAD Flagship Balanced Armature earphones look like little pieces of sonic heaven. Unlike the beefy balanced armature earphones, these have a petite bullet-shaped design. That’ because they pack a single BA driver instead of two or three like the usual BA earbuds. When connected directly to the circuit they produce kicker bass that can give the dynamics drivers a run for their money. This also eliminates the crossover circuit and makes the audio sound much more coherent as compared to multiple-driver earbuds.
These audiophile earbuds have a stainless steel earbuds. These aren’t prone to scratches or many smudges. They are handmade in Japan with precision and care. These bullet-shaped earpieces have two vents at the tail end. They can be unscrewed and taken out for cleaning. The stems at the joint of ear pieces and the cable extend long and protect the cable joint.
The cable of the FI-BA-SS earbuds is unfortunately non-detachable. And it isn’t super-durable like the Xelentos either. So we worry for the longevity of these buds. For earphones of this price, it’s a given to have detachable cables. The cord terminates in a 3.5mm jack. We would guard these with our life to ensure that the cable does not fail on us. These come with different sizes of eartips. These are comfortable and you are likely to find the right fit with these.
The FI-BA-SS earbuds have a raw and honest sound signature that brings out the true emotions of any song. This is a warm audio with a midcentric focus. They have impressive extension on bass and treble sides ensuring you get the full flavor of the whole audio. The bass is punchy and full of details. The sub bass extension lends it the much needed depth into the lower frequencies. The bass isn’t for the basshead. Rather it’s subtly balanced and well-defined for purist audiophiles.
The mids are the most attractive part of the audio signature. They are warm and transparent but they retain the actual character of the audio. The vocals sound hauntingly real. They are capable of eliciting the emotions the artists intended for you. The sudden rendition of a beautiful track can send chills up your spine. All audiophiles who tested this have agreed that the vocals and guitars are intensely realistic and sound intimate. In this matter, their presentation is very honest compared to the Beyerdynamic Xelentos which put energy and enthusiasm into every song. The midrange of FI-BA-SS is equally transparent but its high fidelity is unmatched.
The treble is sparkly and highly detailed. The bright highs can be the pet peeve of some audiophiles who prefer no bite in the highs. The Xelentos can sound bright without any sibilance. Whereas the FI-BA-SS will sound slightly sibilant with treble-heavy songs. While it can be somewhat fatiguing because
- Raw and emotional audio
- Single BA transparency
- Excellent bass for BA earbuds
- Stainless steel build
- Non-detachable fragile cable
If you figured you cannot get audiophile-grade audio on a budget, the little-known Audiophile Elite earbuds will surprise you. These Plain Janes have a maturity to their audio signature which earbuds worth thrice their price struggle to recreate. The impeccable balance and the punchy audio sounds good with every genre. The flat response and sturdy build make them one of the best earbuds for sound.
Design and Features
The Audiophile Elite headphones choose function over form. They have a minimalistic design which is almost dorky. They have cylindrical driver casings done in sturdy plastic. They extend to straight eartips through a silver band. This band is clearly marked ‘left’ and ‘right’ for the side of the ear pieces. The earbuds are comfortable physically for long hours of wearing. The weight is balanced so they don’t pop off or sag the ears down. They come with 6 pairs of eartips in different sizes and two different materials. Everyone from our team found at least one pair that fit them perfectly.
These audiophile earbuds have tough but stiff cable attached to both earpieces. The cable attachment to the earpieces has stress relief, but we would have liked it better if the driver casing extended some ways over the cable joint. The cable is long but it doesn’t have the give of regular rubber cables. There’s a slider on the Y part which allows you to manage the cable when it’s on. The cord terminates in a gold-plated 3.5mm jack. It does not tangle easily courtesy the above-mentioned stiffness.
The Audiophile Elite headphones are rated at 16 Ohms impedance. So they are easily driven by any portable devices. They require a burn-in period to show their truly vibrant performance. These are a real bargain for their audio. They have a completely flat response when other earbuds this price are being invaded by unruly bass. The lower registers have good extension and are pretty well-defined. So bass sounds punchy without being overwhelming or distorted at high volumes. The bass is tight and responds quickly to rhythm changes. For the full force of Elite’s bass we recommend using the correct earbuds.
The midrange is smooth and clear. It dulls the imperfections in the audio but is also sufficiently detailed for audiophiles to enjoy the music. Unhampered by bass, they present the vocals and guitars in an airy and intimate soundstage. The neutral sound signature ensures that these are perfectly suited for delicate genres like classical, jazz and soul music. The treble has a bit of sparkle and good extension. There’s no harshness in treble so it’s a fatigue-free listen. The audio sounds very open and spacious for the earbuds. These perform consistently well across genres and formats.
The Audiophiles earbuds are also backed by excellent customer service. They are very responsive and customer-oriented and solve issues in a truly audiophile-worthy manner that is expected of more expensive buds. These buds are also excellent noise isolators. With the right eartips, many users commented on how these can close out the noise of the outer world.
- Balanced and neutral
- Smooth audio presentation
- Open and spacious-sounding
- Durable build
- Physically and sonically comfy
- Cable is a tad stiff
13. Actionpie in-Ear Headphones Earbuds
The ActionPie In-ear headphones are another budget pair for the audiophiles. These are made in another country as evidenced by the guide but the audio is worth the trouble. This is backed by a snug fit which keeps them on no matter how much you move your head around. The choice of accessories and audio at this price point make them one of the best earbuds for sound.
Design and Features
The ActionPie in-ear headphones pack two drivers per ear piece. The earpieces are racetrack oval and flat. The two drivers are placed side-by-side. There’s a small tab on the side. The moderate build jams into the ears and this tab keeps the ear pieces stable when the head is in movement. The driver posts angle away from the ear pieces and sit ergonomically in the ears. These are comfortable to put and sleep on the side and yet not so small that they will pop off. These come with two different varieties of eartips in three sizes each.
These earbuds have a tangle-resistant cable with a sturdy casing at the joint. There’s a slider on the cable leading up to the earpieces. There’s a single-button control inline with a mic. This can be used to make calls hands-free. The multifunctional button works with both Apple and Android phones. It allows you to answer/reject calls and play/pause music. Apart from the eartips, the other accessory is a drawstring pouch to carry these around.
The ActionPie in-ear headphones immediately impress you with their noise isolation. Do note that these are not active noise-cancelling headphones so they do not dull the ambient noise electronically. They just fit well with the assorted array of eartips and block out the ambient noise physically. This gives you relative peace to enjoy your music.
For their price, these are highly musical earbuds. Casual listeners and audiophiles alike enjoyed the audio. This is a full and rich sound signature. The bass is strong without overwhelming the mids. The lower frequencies have decent extension so the bass sounds defined and fast in spite of being meaty. The midrange doesn’t have any significant bass bleed. The vocals are clear and the dialogs of movies rise above the bass. They are supported by bass rather than be drowned in it. The highs are smooth and have none of that bite. These are best suited for people who don’t like a bright sound signature.
The volume range is wide and you get plenty of volume to close out the ambient noise. These need a break-in time of around 40 hours. The audio opens up after and that sounds bolder. The bass sheds some of the flab and becomes more active and energetic with a burn-in.
- Balanced and bold audio
- Good noise isolation
- Excellent fitment
- Stylish and comfy
- Not as durable as the expensive audiophile earbuds
HiFiMan is known for their affordable planar magnetic headphones. It was only a matter of time they would change the face of affordable earbuds too. The RE400 are truly audiophile earbuds at an unbelievable price point. They cut short on the needless accessories to deliver excellent audio and quality build. These are slightly bass-shy for casual listeners. If that is your kind of sound signature, these are the best earbuds for sound.
Design and Features
The HiFiMan RE400 in-ear headphones go for a minimalistic yet elegant design. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the ear pieces. These are machined out of aluminum. They are lightweight and yet sturdy for being stashed in your backpack or bag every day. The ear pieces are relatively small. The extensions on the cable joint extends some way over the cable. The eartips extend straight out from the driver casing. These come with a 4 sets of silicone eartips and 3 sets of white eartips.
The cable connecting both the earcups have a slider to manage these cables when you have the earphones in. The cable beyond the cable joint at Y-junction is braided all the way up to the jack. The jack is angled at 90 degrees for stress relief. The plug is fortified comprehensively for protection against wear and tear from tugging. A cable clip and a round carry case are included with a zippered. There are no other extras or inline control since HiFiMan purely meant it as an audiophile earbud.
The HiFiMan RE400 in-ear headphones show exceptional sonic maturity for their price. These are delicately balanced across the frequency spectrum. The audio response works around the commandments of accuracy. These have a tight and punchy bass. It extends well into the sub bass frequencies. The bass might seem a little light too the casual listener. But classical and orchestral music gets that ethereal touch from their agile bass.
The midrange is clear and crisp. It is presented with remarkable clarity across the volume range. The details are conveyed effortless, no matter how busy the track is with instruments. And the subtle way in which they play the details keeps them from being too harsh on imperfect recordings and lossy formats like MP3. Still, we recommend that you use quality source material to get the best out of audiophile earbuds. These sound transparent enough except in some songs where they trade it for added richness. Casual listeners will appreciate the bargain.
These earbuds also have above average noise isolation. So the frequencies sound more present in the absence of ambient noise. The treble is smooth with just the required bite. These are best suited for jazz, soft rock and classical. That being said, their neutral signature allows them to perform any genre well.
- Balanced and accurate
- Transparent yet rich
- Aluminum ear pieces
- Study cable
- Can feel bass-light
While audiophiles are used to the process of digital EQ, it could be a pain to pinpoint the exact frequency settings on each and every one of your playback devices? The solution? Tuning the earbuds. The RHA T20i earbuds provide the facility of tuning themselves physically using three tuning filters. The stainless steel build and the horde of accessories is on point. These dive straight into the best earbuds for sound list.
Design and Features
The RHA T20i in-ear headphones have stainless steel ear pieces, a fact that’s not lost on you because of their higher-than-average weight. But that’s offset by the cables. These earbuds are worn in the over-the ear manner. They portion of wire near the earbuds are done in memory wire, so they retain their shape in the way they loop around the ears. The cable is thick to it balances the weight of the ear pieces. These come with 10 different pairs of eartips ranging across size and types. These are mounted on a steel organizer board for easy access.
The highlight of this design is the changeable driver post. These earbuds come with two additional sets of tuning filters. The three tuning filters are marked as balanced, bass-heavy and treble-heavy sound. Depending on your choice, you can mount the filter and get the colored response from all devices accordingly. These earbuds have a thick reinforced cable which ends in a 3.5mm plug. There’s an inline control with playback buttons. These are compatible with the Apple devices. There’s a mic in here too so you can make calls hands-free.
We tried the RHA T20i earbuds with the reference filter and these are delicately musical. These shine both technically and musically. Bass has excellent slam without bleeding into the mids. It is clearly defined and has good extension into the sub bass. The midrange has the liquid flow that comes with effortlessly relaying the details of the audio. The treble is sparkly but within the limits for someone who likes warm and non-fatiguing audio. The overall response has excellent resolution, the detailing bringing out the beauty of the audio.
The bass filter adds some flab to the mid-bass and takes the focus off of the treble. This is again not the kind of slam that bassheads look for. But it’s for audiophiles who have relatively warmer tastes. The treble filter makes the sound brighter and add additional sparkle. It still didn’t get sibilant with any of our favorite tracks.
- Three tuning filters
- Highly musical
- Accurate and transparent
- Highly durable
- Heavier ear pieces